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Read Me to Sleep

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Satan rarely catches ill. He is cautious, shrewd, and clean outside of his bedroom. After all, he meets dozens of demons, witches and sorcerers daily between his typical crawls through Devildom, and he always washes his hands before and after eating. 

So, when he feels tendrils of a headache stretching around his overwhelmed brain, he thinks he is simply in need of a nap or time away from his brothers. Locking his bedroom door, he picks up a chapter book featuring a clever human detective and lies beneath his comforter. His stretching topples a pile of novels near the mattress with a clatter and several heavy thumps as the texts are strewn across the floor. He sighs, ignores the mess, and curls into his pillow as he opens the book. 

He awakes the following evening, a full day later, with a stuffy nose, sweat dripping off his temples and his throat sliced with knives. 

There is a knock at the door. Groaning, his muscles screaming at him to ignore whoever dares to interrupt his private time, he stands and half-crawls to the visitor. If it were any of his brothers, he would slam the door in their face and fall to the floor in an exhausted heap. 

But no. It is you. 

You, in a hand-me-down set of mismatched pajamas from years ago that one of the brothers must have given to you as a gift, stand at the door frame with a small box in your hands and a pillow tucked beneath your arms. “I heard you were sick,” you say with a patient smile. “I brought some things to help.” 

Normally, he would fight. Oh, would he fight against anyone trying to baby him while he is ill. Yet, in his haze of sickness, he sees no other option but to allow you inside. 

He wants to welcome you with a cup of tea or light conversation as he would an old friend, but he is far too weak even to lift his blanket to crawl beneath. You seem to notice, as observant as you are at the moment, and leap over a stack of books to help him get comfortable. Sighing, he follows the direction and turns his back to you with a grunt. 

“Leave me,” he says. His voice is little more than gravel and mucus so that clearing it does nothing to bring his usual, smooth tone. “It’s a cold, not a disease. I don’t need a human to help.” 

“But I brought a storybook from when I was a kid,” you say, tapping his shoulder. Your hand disappears when he scowls and swats you away, though he admits that he is curious about this book. Even children’s stories have value, especially when compilations of them are as rare as some of the books in his room. 

He shifts beneath his blanket and watches as you pull a seat close to the bed. To think a human would be stupid enough to approach a demon—not just any demon, but one of the strongest in all of Devildom—when he was sick. 

Nevertheless, he allows his eyes to close as your soothing voice lulls him into a peaceful dreamland. 

When he wakes, you have fallen asleep with your head on his mattress, the book dropped to the floor with pages bent and creased. Smiling, he sweeps a hand over your temple, behind your ear, marveling at how warm human skin is, before he settles it on your shoulder and drifts back to sleep.