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Morning Tea

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I woke out of nightmares thrashing, tangled in a sweaty blanket, and would have flailed my way onto the deck if the scent of tea hadn't stopped me. Something rich and floral, but not overly sweet... One thing the provisional republic would never lack, no matter the disruption, was good tea; even with the government currently rearranging itself, at least some of the plantations continued in their work.

Seivarden came in with a tray, and the scent grew stronger. I started to untangle myself and get up, but she set the tray down and said, "I know it's hard for you, but could you please stay in bed for once? Medic's going to have my head otherwise."

I compromised by leaning against the bulkhead, upright, but not, technically, out of the bed. "The worst of it is over," I said. "And I have work to do."

"Not today, you don't. Medic's orders, and don't worry, no one's going to let Tisarwat take it all over, either." Awkwardly, she tried to straighten out the blanket and tuck it around my shoulders.

I wanted to take over and do it myself, but the nightmare had undone any rest I'd gotten earlier, and there was something pleasant about even Seivarden's inexpert care. And the tea did smell very good, though I didn't recognize it. "What tea is that?"

"I can't remember the name, something long and fussy. That horticulturist sent it over a little while ago and Kalr Five recognized it - said it's good for colds." She poured it into a bowl, the chipped one, more smoothly than she once had, and brought it over to me.

I took it, and my fingers trembled as the heat seeped into them; Seivarden put her hands around mine, steadying them so I could take a sip. The taste was sweet and a little smoky, spreading a warmth I'd been missing throughout my body, and for a silent, perfect moment, nothing needed to be done, no step had to be taken, nothing at all was wrong.