A/N: So, in my 'Of Accidents and Whale-Watching' fic, it was mentioned that Erza was a model patient until she got into massive denial whenever she got sick. I decided I ought to develop that idea a little further :D Enjoy!
"She's got the flu."
"Lies! And refrain from talking as if I'm not here!" As she said that, Erza Scarlet lay in bed, shivering like someone had dumped her in a frozen wasteland and pulling the covers all the way up to her chin. Even pale and clammy, she shot a glare at the two people standing by her bed.
Jellal sighed. He loved the woman to death but she was the most stubborn person on the face of the world. She'd had a fever since early in the morning, thrown up twice and could barely move a muscle, nonetheless she was yet to stop denying that she was anything close to 'sick'. Even as Porlyusica herself stood in the room and said it herself. "Erza, I think the situation speaks for itself. You might as well just acknowledge it. You're sick."
She glared at him. "Erza Scarlet does not…"
"… get sick," he finished for her. "Yes, I have heard loud and clear the first dozen times. And, yet, somehow Erza Scarlet is sick."
Porlyusica, fed up of hearing the girl wasting her time, gave a hard tug on the bed covers and pulled them from over Erza. The patient let out a girlish scream that didn't fit her at all and started shivering harder. "I guess since you're not sick, you won't need this," the healer said.
"Give that back! It's freezing!" she shouted, wrapping her arms around herself. She was wearing her usual pink Heart Kreuz pajamas and those weren't nearly enough to shield her from the cold she felt (which, she was unwilling to admit, wasn't related to the room's temperature at all).
"Oh, is it? So, I guess your boyfriend's just standing over there in short sleeves because he likes freezing his backside," the healer replied.
Erza glared. "I have no romantic connection to him anymore. He's a traitor!"
Jellal let out another breath, pinching the bridge of his nose as he recalled how she'd dramatically told him that 'it was over' if he dared to step out of the house to fetch Fairy Tail's Medicinal Advisor. He'd ignored her.
Porlyusica let out a growl worthy of her Earthland counterpart. "How do you put up with this one, boy?" she asked Jellal. "No wonder you joined the dark side when this was your alternative. Do yourself a favor and run for your life before there are marriage vows involved."
Erza glared. "I am still in the room!"
"And you are still sick!"
"I've never been sick a day in my life," she scoffed before being hit with a coughing fit. Jellal, always the good boyfriend (ex-boyfriend?), handed a glass of water resting on the bedside table over to her.
"Really? Then how come I'm already so fed up with you?" Porlyusica replied. "Let me tell you how: selective memory!"
"I…" Erza coughed some more and took another sip of her water. "I have no such thing! And I'm not sick either. I don't get sick!"
"Like I said, selective memory!"
Jellal sighed. "Erza, hoping the flu will go away by pretending you don't have it makes about as much sense as trying to win a battle by ignoring it. You don't have to be ashamed of being sick," he told her. "Just let Porlyusica do her job and I'm sure you'll get better in no time."
Her lips trembled with fury as well as the cold. Somehow, Jellal translating the situation into her preferred warfare-based language did make it sound like the evidence of a breach to her system was piling up on her. How was that possible? Germs… how could such diminutive enemies manage to bring her down, even if temporarily, when armies of demons couldn't? Oh, they would pay. They would pay dearly. They had committed a strategic miscalculation of massive proportions by thinking they could get away with invading her and win. Obviously the losses would be massive on their side. No one invaded Erza Scarlet without her permission. No one.
"Well, Erza?" Jellal asked.
She gave him a look for a second before turning away, unwilling to admit defeat. She would be damned if she couldn't defeat a microscopic army on her own!
At that point, Porlyusica was done caring about what she wanted and started dispensing advice and medication to her traitorous ex-lover. "There's no instant cure for the flu – Wendy's magic can speed it up at the most. I sent her on an errand to the next town over but she should be back in a few hours, so I'll tell her to come by then," the old woman informed Jellal as she checked vial after vial for whatever she was looking for. "Until the symptoms are gone, she'll just have to rest and drink plenty of fluids. No alcohol, no smoking, no visits to the guild. Make sure she eats even though she won't want to and brew this into a strong tea every eight hours to help with the fever," she added, handing him a vial with some sort of herb in it. "You used to be a wizard saint at one point, so I trust you're strong enough to tackle her and shove it down her throat in her weakened state if she doesn't comply. Don't bother me anymore unless the fever is high enough to turn a temperature lacrima black or she seems to be in the brink of death," she instructed. "That is all."
With Erza's immediate fate set in stone, all that was left for him to do was accompanying Porlyusica over to the door so she could leave. After putting some water in the kettle and setting it to boil with the herb Porlyusica had given him, he returned to the bedroom only to find Erza hiding under the covers, likely throwing a tantrum. He sighed – she was taking being sick way too dramatically.
"Erza, this kind of thing happens to everyone," he assured her from the doorway. "You don't need to take it so personally."
She didn't respond, her head still hidden under the covers, although he saw the lump on the bed move as the sound of a cough reached his ears.
"I know you can hear me," he declared. "Are you going to drink the tea when I bring it or will you put up a fight?"
"The day I cannot tackle a measly army of bacteria on my own is the day when pigs will fly," she dramatically declared from under the covers.
Jellal just rolled his eyes, knowing she was simply being ridiculous. "The flu is caused by a virus, not bacteria," he informed her. "And you're being unreasonable. You carry an arsenal on you at all times to fight your enemies. Obviously, it won't do you any good this time around, so you'll have to rely on this tea as a weapon instead."
She gasped inside her cocoon of blankets. Again with the battle-oriented metaphors. And, again, they were working! Too well, actually, because it actually made sense. She did, in fact, not own any sword small enough that would manage to ward off her invaders without tearing her apart in the process.
He huffed and shook his head. "I'll be back with the tea in five minutes. Please don't make this more difficult than it is," he requested, making his way back to the kitchen to check on the kettle.
He wondered if he would have the guts to actually force the liquid down her throat. He thought himself capable of a lot for her wellbeing, so maybe if there was a way that wouldn't hurt her… he wondered if he could use sleep magic to make her so drowsy she wouldn't resist. He doubted it. Even then, she would be pretty furious afterwards, stubborn the way she was.
His girlfriend (ex-girlfriend?) was still hiding under the covers when he returned with a full mug. Well… that just wasn't going to work out.
"Erza," he called, approaching the side of the bed. He saw her pulling on the covers, cocooning herself further. He sighed… it was like having a kid. Seriously, not even Meredy had been that silly the few times she'd been down with a cold back when she could legally be considered a kid. "Erza I have the tea. It will help you fight the enemy," he declared, sticking to her language. "A good warrior would know better than to refuse it." Was he using manipulation? he wondered. Damn, her illness really brought out the worst in him.
She grunted under the covers but pulled them down a little, just enough so a mop of messy red hair and a brown eye could be seen. "…'t probably tastes awful," she mumbled in a muffled tone. He wasn't sure how she was able to make such a deep scowl with only one eye visible but she worked it out.
"I added in loads of sugar," he assured her, familiar with her sweet tooth.
The scowl softened and she pulled the covers down a bit more, just enough so only her head was poking out, even as she moved to sit up. "It's cold."
"That's the fever," he said, sitting on the edge of the bed. "I'm sure it'll get better once you drink this. I brought you a straw."
She made a strange sound in return, which he took as satisfaction, and drank through the straw, making a face the moment she felt the taste. "No amount of sugar could make this taste decently," she commented.
"The sooner you drink it, the sooner you'll feel better," he reminded her.
She drank the whole thing while shooting him a glare, as if it was his fault the tea tasted absolutely disgusting. He was sure that if it turned out not to do anything to lower her fever, she'd hold him personally responsible as well. He had, after all, 'betrayed her' by getting her to admit weakness, so all evils in the world would be caused by him alone for the foreseeable future, which was ironic because when he should have been blamed, she wouldn't do it if her life depended on it.
"I don't feel any better," she impatiently declared.
Jellal chuckled. "Of course you don't. It's just barely reached your stomach. Give it some time."
She pouted as she lay back down, allowing Jellal to tuck her back in.
"Alright, I'll get this back to the kitchen and get out of your hair so you can rest a little," he declared, collecting the empty mug he'd deposited on the bedside table previously.
Because she hadn't hid her head back under the covers yet, he could see her frowning deeply at that. He got a feeling she might be a tad less hostile at the moment and want him to stay. She didn't say a word, though, too proud to succumb to a state of neediness when she was supposed to be mad at him even in her illness.
"Unless you don't think you would be bothered by the lights being on if I read here instead," he suggested instead.
He saw the frown softening a little but she still didn't allow herself to look too eager. It was kind of adorable, really, watching trying to act frosty when she was, in fact, burning up. She looked away, non-commitant. "Do what you want," she mumbled gruffly.
He smiled. "Well, then I'll be back in a minute," he promised.
She annoyed herself with the fact that she actually counted down the seconds and felt like scolding him when he cut it a tad too close by walking back into the room, book in his hands, at the fifty-eight-second mark. Mavis… why couldn't she just stay mad at him? He had ratted her out to the forest witch against her loud protests and yet now all she wanted was to cuddle up with him and have him stroking her hair as her fiendish invaders suffered an agonizing death!
And, clearly, Jellal knew her too well. Before climbing onto the bed, he went to the closet and got an extra pillow, which was better shaped to serve as a back rest, and placed it against the headboard. Then, having propped himself up against it in a half-lying, half-sitting position, he placed his usual pillow on his lap – although he didn't say the words, the invitation was there: 'cuddle up all you want'. Now, all she needed to do was to take it up.
She frowned. Damn him. He was making temptation far too high, getting right into his reading rather than embarrassing her with verbal encouragement to get comfortable. Taking a breath, she pondered the situation. On the side of the cons: she was mad at him and even though she hadn't actually meant it when she'd 'broken up' with him, how weak would it be to let go of that pretense that quickly. As for the pros: first up, she felt like she was freezing and she could already feel the heat irradiating from him even through the covers; second, his pillow – that wonderful-smelling pillow that she snatched and sniffed every day she was at home as soon as he got into the shower because it smelled just so inhumanely good – was waiting invitingly on his lap; third, knowing him, if she took him up on the offer, he wouldn't gloat, true to the complete gentleman he was; and last, but not least… she really wanted to do it, pride be damned! Conclusion…
… screw the cons.
As expected, he didn't say anything when she shifted on the bed and moved to wrap herself around the pillow on his lap, though he did smile gently behind the book he wasn't actually reading. He waited a good two minutes before closing the book and placing it on the bedside table, only to run a tentative hand along her hair. When her only response was a sigh, having already expected him to do it, he went on stroking her hair silently, much to her pleasure.
It took five minutes of it for her to feel human again and not just the site of a massive battle between invading viruses and her own antibody army. By then, she could hardly care about him ratting her out and started to feel a bit bad for having given him such a hard time for it.
And so, after some inner debate, she decided to address that matter. "…'m sorry," she mumbled against the pillow before turning to look up at him. "I acknowledge that I may be acting a little… unsettled. I'm not used to this. Being under direct attack by such cowardly enemies."
He chuckled. "I think the word you're looking for is 'sick'."
"Don't ruin it," she mumbled. "I suppose I should be glad you're around to look after me even at times when I don't act like a very good girlfriend."
"Girlfriend? I thought I'd already been dumped like a hot potato, seeing as I sicced Porlyusica on you," he replied, feeling a little playful.
"I will consider your redeeming qualities and forgive you for that," she informed him.
"What sort of redeeming qualities?" he asked, curious.
She sighed. "You make a good pillow. But I'm rethinking that one already – good pillows don't talk back this much."
He chuckled. "Okay, I guess I'll go ahead and be a good pillow from now on," Jellal replied. "Go ahead and sleep now. You need it."
She silently agreed, turning back onto her side and letting him go back to stroking her hair as she cleared her mind and let her tiredness take over. It really was nice to be with him like that.
Maybe she owed her fiendish invaders some thanks.
Three days later
"Bastards," she cursed. "Those bastards!"
Jellal sighed. "Erza…"
"The audacity… the gall!" she declared, pacing around the room. "I won this battle! I crushed their invasion! The least they could do was retreat to wherever they came from peacefully! But no! They had to go and play dirty! Now, look at you!"
The blue-haired man coughed as he sat on the bed, wrapped up in every blanket he could muster. "It's not so bad," he said, even though his teeth were chattering from the cold he felt and his voice was hoarse. "I'll be fine in a couple of days just like you were."
"Jellal-san has a point," Wendy said softly, handing him a mug of fever-lowering tea. She had been summarily called over the moment Erza had gotten a wind that Jellal was down with the flu too. "I've already cast my healing spell, so he'll get better really quickly with just some rest and fluids."
"That is not the point! This is a declaration of war – first me, then one of my loved ones…" the redhead rambled while Jellal nearly gagged at the foul taste of the tea. "I must find a permanent solution for this influenza issueimmediately! Wendy, you're learning about medicine. What course of action do you suggest?"
"Hmmm… well, I guess you could take a flu shot every year…" she suggested, a little freaked out at how intense she sounded. "It should enable your immune system to destroy some strains of the virus before they take root…"
"Perfect! Where can I find one?" Erza inquired.
"The hospital, I suppose," Wendy said and, immediately, Erza was headed to the door. The young girl got up in alarm. "Wait! I don't think they give those out in the middle of the night!"
Erza turned around, unimpressed. "Why not?"
"Because they only handle emergencies at this hour, Erza," Jellal remarked as he put the mug down. His voice was full of patience, even though he had a headache comparable to having one's head split open.
"This is an emergency," she reiterated.
"Not really," Wendy said. "You shouldn't take a flu shot while you're sick or for a few days afterwards just to make sure you really are all better."
Erza didn't look too happy but, after a few seconds, nodded. "I see. They want you to prove your worth by beating this virus army on our own before handing over the big guns," she rationalized. "Survival to the fittest. Barbaric, if not a bit rational."
Wendy seemed about to argue with that but, before she could, Jellal shook his head, silently telling her to just leave it at that. The girl went along with the request and cleared her throat instead. "It's getting late, so I'll just get going if you don't need me here anymore, Erza-san, Jellal-san," she said politely.
Jellal nodded, Erza still too busy plotting revenge to reply. "Thank you for coming by, Wendy," he replied before the young Dragon Slayer said her goodbyes and stepped out of the room, finding her own way out of the house.
"Bastards," Erza repeated under her breath after Wendy was gone.
"I told you I don't feel as bad as I look," he lied, managing to give her a weak smile.
She gave him an unconvinced look for a moment and his expression became a little bit sheepish. Then, she got walked around the bed towards her side of it and climbed up. He turned around to face her, dragging his legs back onto the mattress.
"Erza…" His words were interrupted when she pulled him hard against her chest. Thankfully, she didn't have any armor on at the moment, which spared him from the usual painful consequences, yet, unfortunately, he was too sick to really enjoy the fact that his face was pressed up against some of her most enchanting assets.
"We'll beat this together," she said dramatically. "And then, once you're better, we'll nuke those bastards with that shot Wendy mentioned."
"Sounds good to me," he mumbled tiredly.
"Now quiet down and sleep," she told him, despite the fact that she was still making him use her breasts as a pillow.
Painfully aware of that fact, he had to question her order. "Are you sure? Won't it be uncomfortable to you?"
"Shh," she shushed him. "Sleep."
He sighed against the soft surface his face rested on. Oh, well, who was he to refuse such an offer when he was far too weak to argue?