Chapter Thirty Three - Hashimotos
When all was said and done, however, she didn’t have an immediate answer to her problems. She didn’t have a nice girl to introduce to her bachelor friends. She was, granted, planning on playing fairy godmother to Christopher’s baby boy when he was born. Yet another thing she needed to check up on, though Allison wasn’t due for another month. Which, considering that was equal to the entirety of her time here, felt like forever away.
Life was funny. When she first got here, she’d had such grand plans. Go to school, date, start a business conglomerate. You know, typical teenage girl stuff! She wanted to bring all the good things from her world to here so she could have a long, comfortable life. Now she was planning her will and the crystals she needed to make to give this world as much of a hand-up as she could before she was gone again. It was… a change, to say the least.
Even if she figured out how to heal her spirit, she just had this feeling that her time in this world wasn’t going to be as long as she had been hoping. Humans were short lived creatures? Sure. She was the creature who was growing at an exponential rate. She felt a bit like a shooting star. Sure, they were beautiful and burned bright, but they also burned out quickly. “What are you thinking about?” Briar’s voice disrupted her musings and she looked up at him, a bit startled. He looked a bit concerned as he explained, “Your emotions are all over the place, so I can’t actually gauge if you’re okay.”
It seemed the patience of dragons was long, until suddenly it wasn’t. He’d gone this whole time just quietly observing her, but monitoring her emotions, of all things. Sure, she had sense motive, but she wondered if it wasn’t some sort of dragon thing, or if he was monitoring her link to his siblings, or...what. It could be anything. She met his gaze steadily as she shrugged a little helplessly. “I’m generally an optimistic person. I try to find the good in things, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have to fight the darkness that creeps in.”
At the edge of her hearing, she vaguely comprehended more footsteps moving their way and figured her five minutes were up. Standing, she smiled at Briar as she explained while walking to the door, “Honestly? My situation right now is less than ideal. I’m trying to come to terms with and plan for the worst case scenario while still hoping for the best and searching for a solution. So yeah, my mood is probably pinging all over the place. Emotions and logic aren’t always super cooperative.”
She turned back to the door, throwing it open as she let her words hang there like awkward ornaments. She’d been aiming for having a sedate, stately look on her face, but that went out the window as she caught sight of her new visitor. “Ren!” She smiled at Marion as she bounded forward, pulling the older woman into a hug and sending her two fellacai into the air as they chittered at her. Her own little ones flew from the corners of the room to dance around with their old friends as Jade finally pulled away, grinning as she studied her teacher. “Glad you could make it! Come in, come in. Thanks for bringing her, Marion…” Jade’s voice trailed off as she noticed that behind Ren was another girl, looking to be Jade’s general age.
For his part, Marion looked ready to explain when Ren hooked her arm through Jade’s and then the younger girl’s, pulling them both into the room as she told Jade, “Jade, I’d like you to meet your next candidate, Abigail Fremon. My niece.” Jade let the door close behind them, waving a bit to Marion to let him know it was fine as she grinned at the two girls.
“Oh, Ren, I think I see your nepotism showing.” She stuck her tongue out, then leaned around her to get a good look at the girl as she stuck her hand out and said cheerfully, “Lovely to meet you, Abigail!”
The girl smiled prettily, taking her hand and tentatively shaking it when Jade bobbed it up and down. It seemed Ren had told her cute little niece a bit about her and her strange ways. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Duchess Jade.”
Waving her hands airily, Jade grinned at the girl as she informed her, “None of that, Abby. Can I call you Abby? But seriously, just call me Jade. I’m still not used to the whole duchess thing.” She towed the two women further into the room and steered them towards the couch, but Abigail’s eyes were wide as she took in Briar and the three little dragons crawling all over him like a human cat tower. Kittens! They were like kittens! With sharp, pointy teeth, but still, she couldn’t help but giggle at the thought that this was not the first time a great, mythical dragon had been called a kitten, even if it was only in her mind. Shaking those thoughts off, she introduced them, “Ren, Abigail, meet Briar, Vivi, Zuzu, and Devon.”
Jade didn’t even bother with their longer names, but she pointed them out as she named each of them. Ren and Abby were both trying to stand up again to curtsy, but Jade gave them a look and they settled down, with Ren still bowing her head as she replied, “It’s an honor to meet you all.” The dragons nodded back to her in return, acknowledging her greeting without saying anything. She still looked a bit starry eyed, so Jade poked her in the side, and when Ren’s eyes slid over, Jade nodded toward Abby. “Oh, right. So as I was saying, this is Abby, my brother’s daughter. She was about as close as I got until…” Her eyes flitted over to her tiny ones playing in the air, her face softening with unadulterated affection.
“Oh, right! I keep meaning to fix that. Hold on.” Since Jade was still locked arms with Ren, it was a simple thing to send a pulse of healing magic into her as her eyes closed, watching the mental map of Ren’s body. On the surface level, everything seemed fine, which was probably why Ren hadn’t been able to find a healer to fix her before this, and Jade was sure that she’d tried. At the very least, as a professor she had access to Scylla on campus. Which meant the problem was either something on the molecular or hormonal level that the people in this world seemed ignorant of, or it lay with her husband.
Betting on the former, she took a deeper look, noting that Ren’s thyroid was slightly swollen. It was a slight difference, but it opened up a whole slew of problems as Jade looked through, then held out her other hand across Ren again and said absently, “Abby, hold my hand for a moment.” She felt the girl tentatively touch her, then Jade’s magic flooded into her too, mapping out the two women simultaneously as she compared and contrasted the various systems with her own. She hadn’t really been the perfect specimen of female health until...what, yesterday afternoon? That sounded right. But now that she figured she was ‘fixed’ she should be a decent template, right?
Mostly, she was checking hormonal levels against what she remembered from her studies at the hospital. She didn’t have the testing that would tell her actual numbers, so she was trying to get a feel for what was wrong instinctually based on her past knowledge. Thankfully, she’d noticed that her new intelligence had allowed her to recall her past life in more clarity, which was especially helpful in moments like this. Because something was wrong.
Absently, Jade asked, “Ren, do you often feel tired? Have problems with certain foods? Digestive problems? Cold sensitivity? Put on weight easily?” She rapid fired the questions, but it was Abby who responded in surprise.
“How did you know? She’s always complaining about not having enough energy.” Jade could read the excitement at maybe finally knowing what was going on with what was obviously her favorite aunt.
Ren was nodding, however, “Yes, to all of those. I’ve had to watch what I eat carefully, and there are many things I can’t eat without feeling sick for days. The healers can treat the symptoms, but they never figured out why it was happening.” And Jade could see it. The brittle nails, the hidden hair loss, dry skin, things she hadn’t needed to ask about because they were plain as day. Little things, things that doctors never seemed to take seriously, but all together added up to a whole mess.
With a sigh, Jade let go of Abby to pat Ren as she told her, “In my world, we would have called what you have Hashimoto’s. It’s an immunocompromised system stemming mostly from your thyroid, this tiny little organ in your neck that produces a whole slew of hormones that can royally screw up the rest of your body if it goes astray. The longer it goes undiagnosed, the worse it messes you up.” Constant blood tests, medication for life, it was simply something you got under control but never really fixed.
Well, at least that was the case on Earth. Here, she took great pleasure as she mixed in a bit of creation magic to help her thyroid along, producing the missing hormones and rebalancing her body, plus just straight up healing the thyroid so it would function normally. Magic might’ve reduced her symptoms before, but she was glad for her friend that they would finally go away. She knew that terrible feeling of going to doctors in pain and only having the symptoms treated, rather than the source. Of them not knowing what to do with you.
“There, that should do it.” Finally letting go, Jade opened her eyes to find an awestruck Ren and a still slightly worried and anxious Abby. Smiling, she told Ren, “If anything still hurts, let me know and I’ll take another look, but I think I fixed everything.” There was no guarantee she hadn’t missed something, but she’d been as thorough as possible. Ren still looked like she was struggling for words, so Jade leaned around her and completely changed the subject. “So, Abby, tell me about yourself. What do you do?”
Abby looked completely taken aback at the abrupt change in conversation, and she couldn’t help but ask, “That’s it?” Jade just grinned and raised a brow, and Abby shook her head, obviously trying to get her bearings back. She started hesitantly, “Well, our family owns about half of the farms in the city, so after I graduated Dracona last year, I came back and I’ve been helping to grow and oversee the other workers.”
Jade stared at the girl, looking for signs that she was actually four or so years older than her, but there were none. She was a baby face, and she gave her a small smile. “Too bad you graduated, maybe we’d have met sooner otherwise. Did you ever consider staying in Abala?” It was an innocent enough question, but it said a lot about a person.
Abby flushed a bit, shaking her head. “No, I umm…have someone…”
Ren seemed to finally have collected herself at her niece’s stumbling words, and she interjected, “Abby was, of course, offered a position in the capital. However, her parents, and perhaps more importantly, her fiance are here.” Her eyes twinkled, and Abby was flushing even more. It was actually really cute, and she was glad the girl had found someone she so clearly adored.
“So, have I met him? What does he do? What’s he like?” It felt like it had turned into something of a girl’s gossip session, but really, she was feeling out the permanence of Abby’s place here. She might be fully qualified and Jade was predisposed towards her anyway just because of Ren, but she wanted someone who would stick around to help the city.
Smiling a bit shyly, Abby explained, “His name is Lord Theron Schulz. He graduated last year with me, and he’s a city guard here. He’s…” Her eyes turned dreamy as she let off a sigh, “A bit of a clutz, but the sweetest guy you’ll ever meet.”
Something clicked, and Jade asked curiously, “Did he happen to have a training accident yesterday?”
Wide surprise, and she could tell Abby wasn’t someone who could keep any of her emotion off her face, “Oh! He did! How did you know that?”
Jade laughed a little as she explained, “I was talking to Count Brendon Bolivar earlier, and he mentioned escorting him home.”
“Oh, Count Bolivar is a good man. He’s always taking care of Theron when he gets hurt.” Abby was positively beaming, and Jade could tell she obviously held the man in high esteem. That actually gave credence to her earlier assessment, which was nice.
“Good, you can say hi when you see him.” She was going to follow her instincts, but she felt a familiar tug along her bonds and glanced towards the door to the balcony. With a flick of wind magic, it opened, admitting her four little ones, the remainder of the turned queens, and a not-small portion of the fellacai flock. Jade’s eyes widened as she mentally sent to her little ones, “Why did you bring so many back?” She really hoped Brayden had been briefed, and told his guards that she was in residence, or there was bound to be an uproar happening outside. And, now that she was thinking about it, she could hear faint shouts outside coming from what was most likely the edge of the estate.
Lilith’s voice seemed a bit apologetic as she answered, “They were anxious about all the queens leaving. They didn’t want to wait in the tree. Is it okay?”
Jade sent love back through her bond to her babies, reassuring them, “It’s fine, I’ll take care of it.” Looking at her guests, whose lack of alarm was at least a relief, she explained, “If you’ll excuse me for a moment, I’m going to make sure they didn’t cause too much of a panic coming in.” Nodding to them, she walked to the balcony, stepping into the crisp sunshine as she focused on her magic, letting the wind carry her voice to the guards of the estate, “Peace, my friends are perfectly harmless. I apologize for startling you.” Okay, so she might’ve added the teensiest bit of compulsion there, but she could hear the noises quiet down and heaved a sigh of relief.
Stepping back inside, she closed the patio doors behind her as a crisp knock sounded. Sighing, she glanced over to see the women looking to the door, but she waved them down, given that they seemed to be playing with several of the fellacai. They were whirling through the room and Jade was rather glad Brayden had given her so much space, given that there were at least four thousand butterflies flitting about. With a thought, she sent a whiz of air to open the doors to the bedrooms, opening up the space to the fellacai, which they quickly began to explore, lessening the concentration at least a bit.
Making it to the door, she opened it with a smile, finding Marion, Count Brayden, and several other guards who were staring wide eyed at the chaos of the room. Brayden looked a little self-deprecating as he asked wryly, “Is everything okay?”
Smiling, she beckoned for him to come in, “Everything is fine. I wasn’t quite expecting this bunch to visit me en masse or I’d have warned you. Any chance we could get, oh, say, a barrel of juice? And please, come in.” She gestured for him to join her, and the guards looked wary, but he waved them off.
“Marion, please have it taken care of.” The man nodded as he bowed, and Brayden waved his guards away as he entered the room, “I’m fine, go back to your posts.” Reluctantly nodding, they left and Brayden allowed her to close the door behind her, not wanting to let any curious fellacai out into the hallway for now.
“I really am sorry about that. I asked them to bring the remaining queens, but they surprised me. However, now that you’re here, we can kill two birds with one stone…” Her voice trailed off as she watched him stare in wonder at the fellacai who came to inspect him, landing on his hands as he stretched them out to provide perches, basking in the glow of his magical aura. She could see Ren and Abby had their own flock of butterflies perched on them, and couldn’t help but grin at how calmly Abby was taking this. She was glad though, since they’d need to get used to it. If their queens were to control the flock, swarms like this weren’t going to be uncommon. Them not running away in fear was a good thing.The awestruck fascination and wonder at the spectacle was another sign that they’d be good keepers.
So she watched to see which of the queens was going where. The little water queens had originally been with Abby, but they moved over to Brayden when he entered. The nature queen, the remaining earth queen, plus the wind and lightning queens were still playing around Abby, however, so she didn’t feel too bad. With a quick activation of her sight, she saw that the girl had all the aforementioned elements, which made sense, given that they were drawn to those with similar elements.
Stepping up to Brayden, she watched as he stroked the little queen on his fingers in amazement, while the other stayed daintily perched on his hair. Quietly, she murmured to him, “Brayden, will you become a protector and leader, bonded to a fellacai queen? Do you accept the conditions of loyalty and service you helped to write?” He glanced up at her, obviously startled, and the other queen winged away with several of the fellacai and disgruntled chirps.
“Oh, sorry.” He whispered to the departing queen, then looked down at the queen in his hand, then up to Jade again before nodding and replying solemnly, “It would be my honor.”
Smiling, Jade patted him on a free shoulder and felt with her magic as the bond snapped in place. It seemed there wasn’t much she needed to do when both parties had already agreed to it, but she stamped her little magical seal over it just to be sure. The wonder on his face was beautiful to behold and she left him to his new queen as she walked over to Abby. The girl still had four queens in her hands, delicately sipping at the juice Ren had apparently poured there so she could feed the little ones.
“If you had to choose one, which would it be?” Her voice was soft so she didn’t startle the girl and her charges. Whereas Brayden’s had made the choice for him, these four all seemed content to stay with her.
Abby looked a little distraught at the thought and shook her head almost imperceptibly as she answered, “I...don’t think I can choose. They’re all perfectly lovely.”
Jade smiled, shaking her head. “Unfortunately, a choice must be made, as you only get one. If you won’t make it…” Her voice trailed off as she communicated her intent to the queens. Ramoth fluttered over, landing imperiously among them and squeaking. Their tiny voices were half lost in the flutter of wings and squeaks coming from the rest of the swarm, given that they were by no means being particularly quiet right now. It seemed the five of them were having a darling conversation, and Jade waited patiently. Finally, Ramoth took off, flying to land serenely on Jade’s own shoulder, a place none of the rest of the fellacai seemed daring enough to try and take from the originals, leaving her mostly fellacai free in a swarming room. It didn’t, however, escape her notice that the dragons were clear as well. It seemed the butterflies still felt daunted around them.
After Ramoth left, three of the others lifted off as well, leaving the wind queen left. Smiling, Jade turned to Abby and asked, “Abby, will you obey the contract you signed, to be a protector and leader, bonded to your queen? Do you accept the conditions of loyalty and service you were given?” She wasn’t varying up her speech too much, because if it worked, it worked.
Beaming brightly down at the little queen, Abby said enthusiastically, “I do!” Jade slipped in, solidifying the bond as new horizons dawned before Abby.
Glancing back at Braydon, who seemed to have been watching Abby’s bond once he broke out of his own reverie, she smiled, nodding to him as she asked, “I think I’d like to send part of the flock to the room where the successful imprintees are waiting, so they can get used to being around and taking care of so many.” She added almost as an afterthought, “Of course, I understand that you have other things to do today.”
Brayden shook his head, glancing down with a grin at the beauty on his shoulder as he said, “I think that’s a good idea. And I may not stay there, but I will at least drop by as often as I’m able.” What he didn’t say was that this room was still a little crowded with all of them there, and that splitting them would lessen the impact on the potential bonded. He was still beaming as he said, “Viscountess Delaney, Lady Fremon, perhaps I could escort you?”
“That would be lovely.” Ren stood, pulling Abby to her feet as well before she walked over to Jade, giving her a long look before she enveloped her in a crushing hug. Her words were whispered and Jade could hear the tears held back in her voice, “Thank you, Jade. For everything. I haven’t felt like this in...I don’t even know how long. Thank you. If you ever need anything, anything at all. I’m here.”
Jade fought back the tears in her own eyes as she hugged the other woman. Smiling, she choked out softly, “I’m happy to help, Ren. Be happy. I’m expecting good news. Remember, I like being the fairy godmother.” She had pulled back a little and managed a silly smile as she stuck her tongue out. Ren laughed, shaking her head, and allowed Abby to take her place.
The girl gave Jade a much briefer hug, glancing at her aunt as she said quietly, “But really. Please come visit our family some time. The least we can do is treat you to dinner.” She smiled as Jade nodded, not knowing when she’d have a chance, but figuring it was an appointment she’d try to make time for when she could. She glanced over to where Brayden was waiting, and he nodded gratefully to her. It wasn’t really appropriate for him to hug her, so she just gave him a little wave as he opened the door, informing the guards and Marion of the change in plans.
Meanwhile, Jade was mentally giving instructions to the flock, “Half of you, follow your queens. Be good and stay with them.” She didn’t really have to worry, given that these were the ones who’d been reluctant to leave their queens in the first place, but she wanted the precaution in place anyway. She watched carefully as they trailed down the hall after Brayden, Ren, and Abby, much to the nervousness of the guards.
Still, when they were gone, the room felt a lot more open again and Jade breathed a sigh of relief. It appeared it was going to be a really long day.