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Tonight was the night.

Edan was going to take Cora out for a nice dinner, take her to her favorite spot to watch the stars during the Dark Hour, and then... Then he was going to surprise her with a gift.

 

He had gotten her a telescope.


She'd only mentioned missing the one she'd left in Eleosa once or twice - but then again, Cora rarely spoke of things that she thought were gone forever. She'd said enough that he'd known it had been one of the few things her mother had truly cherished - and Cora's attachment to the device could only ever be understated.

It was something he could never truly replace, but his gift might make a pleasant enough substitute.


He'd been so excited at the prospect of giving it to her when he picked it up, but now, after a full day of helping around the guildhall, he just felt exhausted. He could have sworn they'd kept the fires hotter than normal, too.

By the time he reached home, his face hurt. His throat hurt. Even his eyeballs hurt.

He thought about how nice the bed would be to snuggle up in - while Cora wasn't there, it meant he could spread out as much as he wanted, and take as many blankets as he'd like.

And that is exactly what he did.

 

❇❇❇❇❇

Cora was surprised to find Edan's things strewn on the floor in a line, leading to the bed.

He'd told her he had a surprise for her after she got home, but surely... If he'd left a mess like this, he must have been exhausted.

As she picked up after him, she decided it might be a good chance to get comfortable for a bit as well. She greatly enjoyed having chances to nap with him, though she would never admit it openly. And then, after he woke up... They'd both be refreshed enough to enjoy the sky during the late hour.

As she gently pulled the curtain aside to join the Nobleman, she was surprised to see him bundled up and shivering.

"Oh no," she mumbled as she moved to his side, placing her hand on his forehead.

He was burning up.

How long had he been in bed like this? Had she missed him feeling ill when they woke in the morning?

As she worried, she went to get a bowl of cool water and a washcloth, in order to help bring his fever down. There was no way she was going to leave his side.

The last time someone she cared about had been so suddenly ill...

She banished the thought from her head, and picked up one of her textbooks to study from. He would be fine in a few days.



"Cora-"

She startled awake upon hearing Edan rasp her name, sometime around midday. "W-wha? Are you okay?"

"I... I'm so thirsty..." he managed, as he clumsily put his hand on her arm.

She could feel the heat he radiated through her sleeve, and could see the sweat that had gathered along his brow.

"Okay," she said quietly, as she gently wiped away the sweat that had gathered on his brow. "Can you sit up?"

He nodded slowly, though he faltered as he tried to pull himself up.

Cora helped him up, and helped him move to the other side of the bed. "Stay here," she ordered, as she went to fetch him a glass of water.

She watched him intently as he gulped down the liquid, wanting to make sure he didn't end up dribbling all over the bed, or somehow choking himself in this state.

Once he'd finished drinking and had set the glass on the table by the bed, he mumbled, "Thank you," deliriously as he laid back down. He didn't bother to pull the covers back over himself, as he croaked about how hot he felt.

Before he could change his mind and burrow back under the covers, she took the opportunity to ensure he'd had dry clothing and bedding. His clothes had been clinging to him from sweating out the fever.

As she'd helped him change, she made sure to check him over for any rash or other symptoms of something more serious than a cold. He'd attempted to apologize to her for having to go through the trouble of caring for him, and she'd shushed him for worrying when he should be resting.

"It's fine," she said, smiling as she tucked him back into bed, and set a cold compress on his forehead. "Let me look after you, okay?"

He whined and reached up to touch her cheek in response. "I don't... I dun wanna make you worry about me. I love you too much to let you be sad like that..."

Cora felt her face heat. She wasn't sure she cared if it was the fever talking; just hearing him say those words made her happy.

"Like I said, it's fine... Just get some rest. I'll be right here if you need anything," she promised.

With a nod and a pathetic whine, Edan quickly fell back to sleep.

❇❇❇❇❇

When Edan awoke at midday several days later, he found himself surprisingly clear-headed.

Cora was asleep at his side, having dozed off sometime after he'd asked for her to tell him a story. Hopefully, he hadn't commanded her...?

Realizing how much of the past few days were a haze, he wondered what else he'd done. Or hadn't done.

It wasn't long before her eyes fluttered open, and she gave him a sleepy smile.

"Hey there..." She mumbled, reaching out to feel his forehead. "Your fever's gone down a bit. You feeling any better?"

Edan froze, unsure of how to respond. "Yeah, but... First-- I- I... I take back anything I... I might have said." His voice was still scratchy, and it hurt to talk. But that was as good as any other recission might be. "It was... it was all a m-mistake while I was delirious. Probably."

He watched Cora's eyes widen slightly, as the color in her cheeks seemed to deepen. "Even the part where you said you love me?"

"What- ...I- I only m-meant... J-just commands." His thoughts ground to a halt. "I... That... I didn't... It's not untrue... But..."

"I love you too." She couldn't help giving him a mischievous grin before kissing him on the nose. "Now get some sleep, before your fever comes back and you ramble at me about telescopes for another hour or something."

Mortified, Edan couldn't help mumbling, "Oh, Saint Aeryn... I guess you found the one under the bed..."


"Wait, what?"