Sleep. Sleep was nice. It was oblivion. The serene nothingness that gave her some pause from the world. Then, in a burst of nausea, Eurydice’s world came together and she was absolutely certain she was dying. All of her sensations were both on fire and somehow locked into a clammy, deathly coldness, and they were burning underneath her skin. Her head felt as if it had been cracked open like a vase, the pieces of her skull lodged in her pounded, squeezing brain.
And her stomach.
A single flex and her entire body was protesting, her belly lurching its contents up to her throat but Eurydice swallowed it all down, and retched dryly the remaining acid fretted the back of her mouth.
“No…” She groaned, spitting her hair from her mouth as she tried to escape the stifling heat of the blankets and furs she found herself tightly cocooned in. Blindly she failed one hand out into the cold air and grasped out at all she could, clenching at random fabric. “Wh…ere…”
“Shush…love, go back to sleep.” A voice cooed at her softly and she felt a solid, warm hand wrap around hers. The touch rose goosebumps across her sweating, yet freezing skin.
Eurydice scrunched her face up, “Can’t breathe.” She muttered, shoving at the blankets again as she rubbed her other hand over her sore, wet nose.
Cullen chuckled. “Yes, well, that is liable to happen when one is sick.”
“You don’t remember? You fainted during your tour with the Lady Janiver. Josephine thought you were poisoned at first. As did I. You gave us all quite the fright.”
Fainted. Hm. If she tried hard enough, she could recall a watercolor memory of tea at her hands, and the flowers in the garden spinning on their stems before there was a crash of glass. She must of dropped a cup. Oops. Eurydice sniffed but her nose clogged and all she could do was let out a nasalized breath from her open mouth. Frowning, Eurydice tried to brace herself on her elbows and force herself to a sitting position but Cullen had his hands on her shoulders and was trying to keep her down.
“No, no, no. Stay down. You’re in no shape to moving after that spill. Lay down.”
“I can’t breathe.” She whined, hacking out a rattling cough. “I don’t want to stay here. It’s too hot.”
“That’s because you’ve trapped yourself in every fur in the room.” She could almost hear him rolling his eyes at her. Again, he pushed to the bed as he said, “Here, just stay there…I’ll fix it…” His warm hands came away from her, leaving her to weakly grab at him like a child grabbing at a toy.
Fighting with the crust over her lashes, Eurydice struggled to open her eyes.
The room was dim, the only light basking from the crackling fire at her hearth, and she strained to find Cullen. His shadow shifted in the low light, gold hair catching red, and watched as he bent by the side of her bed, a chair pulled up by her head, and fiddle with something. She heard water dripping, and then Cullen bent over her and placed something damp and cold on her feverish forehead.
The pain didn’t recede but the suffocating heat gave way to a slight relief. Eurydice closed her eyes and sighed with an almost delight.
“Better?” Cullen’s voice was close to her ear and she felt the bed dip, his fingers running through her matted hair.
“Mm.” She answered and cracked an eye open to look at him. She noticed there was no armor, his hands bare, if she reached up she would touch thin cotton and not the thick tunic he usually wore. “Are you staying?” She touched his hand and asked. “No work to be done?”
He paused, his thumb brushing repeatedly over her skin, and whispered, “There is always work to be done. But it can wait the night.” He smiled, bending down and kissing her flush cheek. “I won’t be going anywhere.”
Eurydice melted into his touch, her eyes drooping, her vision fading as another bout of blissful sleep came to take her. She tried fighting it but the lull of Cullen’s touch and the gentle snap of the hearth were turning into a lullaby, and she was falling fast. “Good…” She managed to slur, her voice hushing and then disappearing entirely, “Stay…”