There's nothing worse than a fever during the summer.
For Elena, it's devastating. It's her favorite time of the year, after all.
She didn't get the freedom to gulp down the fresh, balmy air for hours and hours, and ride the horses, and pick wildflowers at any other time. Not that Elena picked flowers. No, she much preferred to jump in the pond on her father's estate and—if fortunate favored—wear her morning dress good and filthy.
If anything, she would rather watch Mithian pick daisies, her chemise barely gaining a wrinkle or freckle of mud, stringing the flowers into little, sunny bracelets.
But now, the only air Elena breathes is from the humidifier in the parlor. She curls up against the window with feet bared, sniffling loudly and piled in quilts, her natural blond curls a frizzy mess. It's beautiful outside. The perfect warm day to spend running and rolling in the high grass, laughing and snorting dandelion fuzz. Elena can't stand this.
Why must anyone ever get sick?
The housekeeper listens on the occasional pathetic groan.
"Goodness me, stop that fussing," Grunhilda announces, rapping her broom smartly on the floor. "What would your dear father Godwyn tell you? I know what he wouldn't tell you, because the Master spoils you rotten, young miss. If you were my little whelp, oh ho ho—you would be getting a firmer hand, that's to be certain…"
Elena sighs, continuing gazing longingly out the window.
"Dis dinks," she complains, wiping her reddened nose.
Grunhilda rolls her eyes, huffing and nudging Elena's feet away to sweep under the windowsill. She huffed a lot. Elena wondered if she often forgot her inhaler.
"We can't always get what we want, especially in your delicate condition." The housekeeper grins a very wicked grin, snickering at an offended, hiccupy noise. Delicate… the rambunctious Elena of Gawant? What a lark! "And get on those slippers I left you, Petal. I'll be waxing next."
Elena's jaw drops, her eyes bugging out.
Before she can protest, a doorbell rings through the parlor.
"You just—OI, get back here!" Grunhilda screeches, but already having abandoned her quilts and tripped over the bubbling humidifier, Elena disappears into the hallway. Chest burning, she races for the entrance, unlocking the door and throwing it open.
The only thing better in that moment than the perfect summer air hitting her face is glimpsing her best friend.
Mithian examines her, smiling tentatively, her lovely brown hair comfortably tousled. Elena liked Mithian's hair. It never frizzed, and if Elena leaned close enough—it smelled faintly like motor oil. Mithian's father Rodor owned a large brand company with various cars and motorcycles, and Mithian knew how to repair a damaged transmission since she was ten.
If that wasn't obscenely attractive to anyone else… well then, Elena had to accept she was living in a completely skewed reality.
"I know I didn't call, love. I'm sorry," Mithian says, tutting sympathetically at the round of wet coughing. "I take it you're not feeling up to company?"
"Doh, doh, day pleeb," Elena insists, beaming and flushing pleasantly.
Mithian's eyebrows furrow.
"Day—dambit, I wahn you do day."
"You want me to stay…?" Mithian translates, smiling bigger as Elena nods, bouncing on her heels, practically feeling like flying. "For a little while I can, and then you should rest. But first, I have a surprise~!" Mithian winks a brown eye and reveals what she had been hiding behind her. Elena hadn't supposed Mithian's arms were at her back for a reason.
Presented in her hands, an overflowing and luxurious bouquet of fragrant roses.
Elena stares down at Mithian's hands, wordless.
And to her mounting horror, a familiar, itchy prickle crawls up her runny nostrils.
"Oh doh," she breathes.
The sneeze blasts from between Elena's lips, gooey with mucus and nearly shouting. When it so graciously leaves her, she claps her hands over her pale, blotchy face. But far too late. Mithian's features appear permanently winced up. Her leopard-print, designer glasses speckled with clear, glistening fluid.
Elena releases a muffled gasp, almost wanting to break down. This couldn't be happening.
The other girl cracks her eyes open, voice composed.
"Uhm, that's… " Mithian slowly and awkwardly takes a crumpled, dry tissue from Elena's hand. "That's not quite the reaction I was hoping for."
"Kill be dow. Id doh dorry, Mideen."
"I—it's fine. Really."
Elena throws herself back inside, snatching up plum-hued cloth napkin from a tray and passing it off to her friend, exchanging it for the roses.
Mithian wipes off her glasses, clearing her throat.
"Did you ever consider that you may have severe allergies?" she asks, and then frowns pointedly at the wounded look. "Elena, no. I'm perfectly fine. There's no need to be sorry." Mithian hooks their arms, balling up the tissue and napkin one-handed. "You mustn't torment yourself, you're ill."
Elena repeats, sniffling, "Ib dorry."
"Yes, I know you are. I've forgiven you." Mithian chuckles, tugging playfully on a pearly blond curl. "How come you're so sweet?"
The flush creeps down Elena's neck, still pleasant. She thumps the rose bouquet and its crinkled paper against her thigh, nervously. Elena doesn't feel like anything sweet. She feel gross and sweaty, and probably reeks like a chronic upset stomach, and yet Mithian's hand rubs her lower back soothingly.
But the quiet coming to a build, interrupted by the gentle cree-cree of insects, seems enchanting.
Lips brushed the warmed, sensitive skin near her ear.
Blood thrumming inside her, Elena turns to a smirking Mithian, jerking an inhale through her mouth.
"Do you have any honey?" Mithian questions, making too much of an effort to look innocent. "It's good for your throat."
"We'll find out," she says, pulling eagerly on Elena's arm.
Grunhilda would chastise her later in private for having Mithian over while the ridiculous floors were being waxed, but if Elena couldn't have her perfect summer day…
Spending it arm-in-arm with her best friend significantly improves everything.
BBC Merlin is not mine. AAAAAND I'M BACK. This time filling prompts from the BRAND NEW FESTS I'VE SIGNED UP FOR. This one from The Merlin Arts Fest 2014! First week prompt(s): "roses, enchanting, running, flying". Hope you enjoyed reading the goodness and yes, please tell me your thoughts!~