(This story is a sequel to “Gone”. It is also part of the ”Trying to have a child outside of Recognition” storyline - see list for related stories..)
The shocking news had spread as quickly as a forest fire through the tribe: Snowfall had lost the unborn cub she had carried under her heart. Despite the joined effort of Willow and the herbal healers, she had lost the cub. Just lost it.
Newt tried to wrap his mind around this, tried to make sense of the tragedy. It seemed so unreal. The spark of a new life had been there — Willow had confirmed it, and so had Snowfall — and from one heartbeat to the next, it was gone.
Newt felt deeply for Snowfall and her lovemates. He had shared his genuine sympathy and regret for their loss and could tell they had appreciated his condolences, but aside from that, he didn’t feel as if it had helped much to ease their pain. Standing before them had made him feel helpless. There was so little he could do or say to help them. What they needed the most right now, he had realized, probably was just time and each other to work through this. Newt was willing to give it to them.
Still, there was one elf, Newt knew, whom he could help a little better: Fadestar. Her grief and sorrow hadn’t gone unnoticed by him, of course.
At first he had feared that his friend would withdraw herself from the others, like she had done after her unwrapping. If she had done so, Newt would have understood it fully, yet he would have hated to see it happening.
But Fadestar hadn’t withdrawn. She had voiced her grief openly and had shown support to Snowfall, Kestrel and TrueEdge as well as she could. Truly, she wasn’t the shy girl-cub anymore who had climbed into the den he had occupied in his stubborn refusal to accept the world outside of it. She had left behind the cub she had been and had shown that she dealt with this like an adult.
Still, Newt felt the need to show her his support and assure her that she could lean on his shoulder whenever she needed to. She would do the same for him, that much was sure.
It was near dawn when Newt found his friend in the weaver’s working den. He saw her sitting in a corner of the den, holding something that seemed to be a little patch of silk. Fondly, she rubbed her finger over the smooth surface and smiled a gut-wrenching, sad smile.
Being careful not to startle her, Newt slipped into the den and went over to her side. He was pretty sure that even if she didn’t look up at him, Fadestar had already sensed his presence.
When he stood right next to her, he wanted to tell her that he was sorry, but he just had opened his mouth when Fadestar looked up at him, her grey eyes steady but not completely dry. The pale herbalist’s mouth closed again, and for a moment the two just looked at each other until Fadestar shifted and made room for Newt to sit down next to her. He followed her invitation without a second thought.
“I was going to make a blanket for the cub,” Fadestar stated out of the blue, her eyes fixed on the little patch again.
Newt frowned and looked at the piece of woven silk as well. It was a perfect square and just as big as her palm.
“My father made one just like this for each of us. Kestrel, Moon and me,” the young elf lass went on, sensing his bewilderment without looking at his puzzled expression. “He’d make a patchwork blanket for each of us. One square for each moon my mother was pregnant with us. He’d tan and prepare each piece himself while thinking of his unborn cub and working all his hopes and dreams for us into each piece each month and decorating each of the patches with what had stuck with him the most at the end of the moon.”
Newt listened silently and finally smiled. “That’s a wonderful idea,” he said in a hushed voice.
“Yes, it is,” Fadestar confirmed with a nod, still running the little patch of silk though her fingers. “I wanted to do the same. I wanted to weave a patch each month and decorate it for the cub, until I would have a full blanket I can give to it."
Her sad smile faded away and her grey eyes started to shine with fresh wetness: “And now the memory that stuck the most with me this moon is not the silly story Crackle told, or the sweet taste of Starskimmer’s summer brew… it’s the red spot on Snowfall’s furs that’s imprinted in my memory.”
Newt was quick to offer his support and comfort by pulling her against him with one arm. He felt Fadestar leaning heavily into him, finally taking her eyes from the silk patch and burying her face on his shoulder. Gently he wrapped his arms around her, rubbing her back while she wept ever so quietly.
His eyes found the patch and he reached for it, taking it from her. He didn’t know what to say to comfort her. Maybe he didn’t need to. All she needed right now was a shoulder to cry on. Right now no one was sure if the lovemates would give it another try, but in his hope Newt stored the patch in the pouch on his belt before he wrapped his arm back around Fadestar.
**I’ll keep that until you need it again,** he told her, his sending filled with comfort and boundless hope for the grief-struck family.
He heard her choked chuckle and felt her head nodding on his shoulder. “Thank you,” she whispered and tightened her arms around his slim chest. “Thank you so much for keeping it for me.”