Because I wanted to write some Fayelica fluff.
Storylinewise, this follows the same continuity as 'Everything Under Heaven', although it's not that big a deal beyond knowing that Celica lives in Ram with Faye.
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
The sun perched gloriously in the sky, its golden rays shining a promise of life and plenty down on the land. The flower fields were a sea of colour that waved gently under the morning breeze as butterflies flitted to and fro. The sound of birdsong filled the forests that surrounded the village, accompanied by the chatter of people going about their lives.
All in all, it was a particularly beautiful spring day in Ram Village, which made it even more upsetting that Celica was currently incapable of really appreciating any of it.
Mostly because she was at that moment lying in bed, feeling like her throat, nostrils and temples had declared war on the rest of her body. Aching pains travelled up and down her muscles and legs, and her eyes felt like tiny balls of searing fire that threatened to swell and consume the rest of her head.
She felt a cool hand brushing up against her forehead, and blinked gummy eyes open as a vision in pink and yellow slowly came into focus.
“Oh wow. That's some fever you have there.”
Celica opened her mouth to reply and managed to force out a noise that was a part affirmative-sounding grunt, part groan of discomfort.
Faye appeared to understand anyway, if her behaviour (or at least what Celica could make of it) was any indication. Reaching over, she grabbed and added what had been her pillow onto Celica's own pile, giving her a slightly softer and floofier resting place. That done, she gently pushed her back onto the bed.
“Rest up, okay? I'll make you something to eat.”
Celica managed a nod as Faye vanished into the kitchen. Alone, she sank further down into the pillows, exhaustion already dragging her back into slumber.
She heard the patter of paws as Rufus entered the room, but after a few cursory sniffs he realized Celica was in no mood for playing or scratches, and he proceeded to chase the sounds of Faye working in the kitchen.
Closing her eyes, Celica rested her head against the pillow, and slept.
She slowly became aware of someone prodding her shoulder, and she stirred, blinked. Waking up wasn't any easier this time around, but the tray Faye was holding promised a hot meal and so she pulled herself into a sitting position.
“I figured you'd want something hot and filling,” Faye shrugged. “So I made some chicken broth.”
Even feeling as lousy as she was, Celica managed a smile at that. Faye's cooking was always delicious, and always something to look forward to – even when her sense of taste was blunted by a stuffed nose.
“Here,” Faye continued as she settled herself beside Celica and dipped a spoon into her bowl. “Open wide.”
Celica snorted and barely kept herself from rolling her eyes. “I'm not an invalid, you know. I can feed myself.”
“Yeah, I know you can.” Faye rolled her shoulders once. “But come on, how many chances do I get to pamper you, nowadays? I want to do this for you. So come on, open wide.”
The thick broth definitely helped, and by the time she had finished eating, Celica felt just a little bit better. She leaned back in bed again as Faye stood and collected the utensils.
“All right, I'll just be out a bit,” she said with a glance outside the window.
“Hm?” She was starting to feel drowsy again, but she managed a raised eyebrow and a questioning stare. “Where are you going?”
“Oh, just Fleecer's Forest. Grab some herbs, some roots, and I can get a brew of my nan's herbal remedy going!”
She would later admit that she hadn't been paying that much attention to what Faye had been saying; she'd gotten the gist of it and that was enough.
“Well, stay safe,” she mumbled as she closed her eyes.
“Yeah, meanwhile you rest up, okay?” As she heard the sound of footstep fading in the distance, she felt her cot shudder. Rufus had clambered onto it and curled up at her side, apparently deciding that if Celica had the privilege of napping through the entire day, so did he.
Celica rested her hand against Rufus' back, feeling the warmth of his body, and with a sigh, she closed her eyes.
It seemed like only a moment later that she felt another nudge on her shoulder, and Faye was standing there again, this time with a cup in her hand.
“All done!” she said in a bright, cheery voice. Almost too cheery, really. “Here, Celica. Drink this. And make sure you finish the whole thing!”
“All right,” she managed a nod and a grateful smile as she reached for the cup. “Thanks for making... this?”
Whatever was in her cup resembled a sludge. Which was worrying enough, but there was also the fact that it was purple.
Was it supposed to be purple?
“Yeah,” Faye coughed into her fist when she saw the expression on Celica's face. “I know how it looks... and smells... and tastes. But trust me, it works! It's been passed down through my family for generations, and I guarantee it'll fix your fever just like that!”
Celica brought the cup closer to her lips, but then paused again. Now that she could get a whiff of whatever it was in there, she found herself hesitating again. Self-preservation instincts, perhaps?
“Yeah, I know what it feels like.” And Faye had settled herself down on the chair next to the bed. “The first time my parents ended up feeding this to me, I was... eight? Around there, anyway. And I think I'd have thrown a tantrum about drinking it, except I was too tired from my own fever at the time. And hey! You've a blocked nose so you won't even get the worst of the taste, I think.”
The two of them shared a brief chuckle at the image before Celica looked down again at the contents of her cup and took a deep breath. “All right then, bottoms up.”
Chin up, Celica. This can't be any worse than the time that ambassador insisted I try Thabean roasted sea slug special, right?
And with a quick jerking motion, she tilted the cup back, moving to swallow as much of it as possible before her taste buds figured out what was going on and started howling in protest.
She wasn't quite fast enough, and she felt her jaw muscles constricting at the taste that reminded her partly of the extremely aged pegasus cheese that people in the palace always considered a delicacy.
Fortunately, Faye had anticipated this and she was now holding up a second cup, which Celica discovered was filled with warm milk and something she wasted no time in gulping down to wash away the worst of the aftertaste.
There was a moment of silence before Celica slumped back in her chair.
“I think my tongue just went numb.”
“It'll pass.” Faye stood, dusting off her hands. “Don't worry, it'll go down easier next time!”
Celica paused, one hand picking at a loose thread on her pillow. “Next time?” she finally said.
“Well, you need to keep drinking it until you get well, of course!” She settle back in her chair. “Well, my nan used to tell me that the reason this brew works so well is that most people are gonna force themselves to become better instead of having to keep drinking it.”
Another brief chuckle shared by the two of them before Faye stood. “Anyway, I should get to preparing dinner. I'll see you later, okay?”
“Hold on,” Celica glanced out the window, noting for the first time that the sun was already low in the horizon. “It's already dinner time? How long have I been asleep? And how long did it take you to prepare that medicine?”
Faye managed a brief shrug in response. “I don't know, I wasn't really keeping track. Anyway! See you later, okay?”
It was quiet now, save for the sound of crickets chirping in the fields. Celica leaned back against the bedrest, gazing up at the moon that hung outside. It was waxing, and while not perfectly full, it was bright enough that it provided some measure of illumination through the window of the house.
“Feeling better?” Faye padded into the room, already clad in a nightgown.
“Mm, mostly.” Celica let out a slow sigh. “I have to admit that medicine really does work.”
“Of course it does! It's a family recipe for a reason, after all!” Faye stepped forward and Celica could see that Faye had brought her a fresh set of sleeping clothes. “Anyway, here. I helped prepare another gown so you wouldn't have to sleep in the same one after a whole day.”
As Celica sat up and started to change her clothes, she felt her thoughts wandering away from her again, and her hands slowed.
“Mm, what is it?” Faye's voice was distract as she fiddled with a lamp by the bedside, working to light it.
“You've spent the entire day taking care of me, haven't you?” She found her voice softer than she would have liked.
“Well, yeah. Of course.” She turned, and Celica could see the frown on Faye's face. “You're ill. Of course I'd take care of you.”
“I know. I simply...” Celica took another deep breath and smiled. “Thank you, Faye.”
Faye paused and sighed before she slumped into the chair next to Celica's bed. “You know, when I saw you asleep here after coming back from the forest, I kept thinking that if you'd stayed in the palace, you'd have an army of maids and royal physicians and – well, whatever you needed, at your beck and call. But here all I can offer you is a scratchy cot and my nan's recipe – which works, but we both know the taste us awful.”
A scrabbling on the floor and a thumping noise came from the doorway, and a wry smile crossed Faye's face. “Well, and Rufus to act as a comforter. For what it's worth.”
“Don't be silly.” Celica reached out, and her fingers entwined themselves around Faye's. “In here, I have you with me. And that's worth more than anything life in the palace could offer. Far, far more.”
A smile crossed Faye's face, and she let herself be pulled down onto the bed.
Celica drifted off to sleep one more time, this time surrounded by warmth.