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Until Dawn

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Afternoon sun filled the room. I sat by my bed, watching Watson's chest rise and fall with no coughing fit nor hitch of pain afterward.

"You must have more interesting things to watch, mon cher." Spoken without a cough nor a groan.

"Can't think of any. Your ribs?"

My doctor inhaled, deeply. Wonderful. "Sore. But mending at last. No fear of them piercing the lungs now." He was already sinking back into sleep – weeks of recuperating from a severe beating and a bad cold that had threatened to combine to fatal effect had robbed him of rest for too long.

Weariness sank down on me like heavy hands on my shoulders. I no longer needed fear jostling John; I eased in alongside to regain the doubled familiarity of my own bed and my beloved spouse, and do not remember closing my eyes.

I was awakened not by coughing and suppressed sounds of pain but by warm lips on my own. Still half asleep, I responded automatically to the familiarity of blessed routine; darkness greeted my eyes as the kiss ended. "What time…?"

"Half two." Quiet but strong, no longer a fearful whisper lest coughing be triggered. Another kiss; an embrace. "Let us greet the sunrise together, my dear Beatrice."

Hours ahead of us...

Joy filled me. "Lead on, my dear Benedick."