Needlepoint grows up surrounded by spinning wheels. “You were cursed, my sweetness,” explains her mother, not sorrowfully. “One day, sooner rather than later, we will stutter and slow to a stop, and dream out the long years between empires.”
So she spins, and weaves, and cards; she brews tapestries and carpets in her cauldron, potions out possibilities in her wool. Her fingers blanch and scar and grow thick with callus, her fingers knobbed and clever and her feet patient, patient. She can never spin without somehow bleeding; that needle gravitys her in and dyes her thread just faintly red.
On the last day of her seventeenth year they throw a ball, and invite everyone. Needlepoint stutters welcome, cloistered warmly within her latest shawl. The Bad Un is there, tall and dark and shy, eyes surly and quick to anger. “Oh,” cries Needlepoint, “you came! Wait, wait, w-wait, I have something!” She dashes upstairs, bruising herself gleefully on the corners, and is back before the Bad Un has time to do more than wonder.
“It’s… a blanket?” asks the Bad Un. It’s a thing of beauty and sympathy, Needlepoint’s love letter to the Bad Un, forgiveness and anger skeined together. “I don’t understand.”
“Oh, well,” she sighs, “it’s warm anyway,” and spins away toward an expected, undreaded fate.