taliahale: (stiles)
[personal profile] taliahale
Title: strong as hell (but not hickory rooted)
Fandom: Teen Wolf
Characters: Stiles Stilinski, Sheriff Stilinski, Claudia Stilinski
Rating: General Audiences
Word Count: 656
Summary: So the world is a lovely place the first time you learn that magic cannot fix all things.
Notes: For J and T, who asked for: cats, gen, magic, 2nd POV, and gave me a choice of Rodney McKay or Stiles Stilinski.  It was a really tough decision.  Title from the Iron & Wine song 'Hickory.'
Warnings: Canon Character Death, Death of Animals, Author Attempting 2nd POV

Also available at AO3.

You learn the truth when you’re six years old.

The world is still punctuated by odd bursts of color and explosions of noise; wonder and awe are your default settings.  Your fatherlink is tenuous at best, since the sheriff has no inborn spark, but he’s still a bright, shiny splotch of warmth.  But your motherlink—well, that is a thing of splendor.  Without the spark you’d still know she’s the most beautiful woman in Beacon Hills.  Maybe the world.  You say this once to your father, who laughs and smiles and says ‘I completely agree, you little egotist.’  You ask mother what he means, but she just runs a hand though your windswept hair (picking out a few leaves you hadn’t noticed) and shakes her head.

So the world is a lovely place the first time you learn that magic cannot fix all things.

Later you’ll learn it’s a planned lesson.  One passed down from parent to child for a hundred hundred years.  It’s even written in the grimoire.  Cat was ancient when your mother inherited the beast.  It had already lived a long life as familiar to your grandfather (your namesake) before it took up residence in the little cottage at the edge of the Preserve.  Cat lost her name when daideó passed to the next life.  You know the family name, the one on all the letters to your mother.  It’s as impossible as your given name, a jumble of sound rolling off her tongue.  Seoigh.  But your father said that family names were not for pets, that Old Ones need no name.

You wonder now who taught him that.

Cat spent most of her time on the windowsill in the kitchen.  She stretched out her thin, black form and curls her graying paws beneath her chin.  Cat watched while your mother set the cauldron to bubbling on the stove.  She watched you read picture books and fill out worksheets on the scarred surface of the worktable, your legs swinging free.  You weren’t tall enough to reach the ground for another five years.  She was a warm patch of rumbling that settled into the periphery of your life, until one day her light blinked out.

You walked into the kitchen for a glass of milk and Cat’s body was slumped on the floor, cold and impossibly smaller than it was in life.  You screamed and you screamed and you were lightheaded and red-faced when your mother found you.  Once your tears were spent, soaking the shoulder of your mother’s sweater, she gathered up her supplies and a washbasin, carefully arranging them on the worktable.  The body that once was Cat was carefully placed in the basin.

You watched as your mother gently bathed the beast in spring water, rosemary oils, and a drop from the crystal phial you’re not allowed to touch.  She wrapped it in a clean length of unbleached cotton, and together you buried the beast that was Cat beneath the flowering gorse at the edge of the back yard.  Your mother thanks Cat for her service, and marks the spot with a plain white stone.

When you asked your mother why she didn’t fix Cat, she’ll tell you there was nothing to fix.  It was the start of your learning.  You learn about the seasons, the movements of the sun and stars, the elements, the plants, and you learn that there is a time for everything.  It had been time for Cat to go.

When you are twelve years old, you tell your mother you hate her, and the life’s breath leaves her body.

It was not of your doing.  The cancer had been eating away, gnawing at her insides for a few years, muddling her shade until she was nothing more than a pale gray.  You had no hand in her death, but you cannot take away your last words of anger.

Most days you still hate yourself for that.

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October 2014

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