This is the fourth part to the "Of Cakes and Bubble Gums" series, the one that I've deleted ages ago. I've been waiting for some inspiration to come so that I could rewrite this one, but that never happened, and I don't want to keep in hidden anymore. So I'm posting the original version, unchanged. Hope it's not really bad.
Regarding "Little White Dress", in case if any of you guys care, I'd just like to say that I'm not abandoning anything, I just don't have time to write anything. At all. I have four days of school left, then it's a month of exams, then it's prom and graduation and everything... I can't remember ever sleeping so little. I love writing and I will never abandon LWD, but just bear with me, alright? Life has been very... crazy, let's just say.
As usual, great thanks to my wonderful beta because she has read this ages ago and I never really thanked her. Thanks, sweetie!
"There you go, Bethy," Annette says, adjusting the pillow under her daughter's head. "I'll bring you some lemon tea."
"And could you also…" Beth feels like she's about to sneeze, but the feeling quickly disappears, "bring some…" Then she sneezes, so hard it makes her head hurt.
"More tissues. Got it," Annette leans in and leaves a kiss on Beth's forehead. Observing her daughter sneeze again, she frowns. "It seems like we're going to need a lot of them. I'll have Shawn take a trip to the store. Anything else you need?"
"I would really love some ice cream right now…" Beth starts and immediately sees her mother's frown deepen, "…but obviously, you're not going to let me have any, so no. Except maybe some more books to read."
"Sure thing, sweetie. I'll tell Maggie to bring you old classics from the living room."
"Thanks, mom," Beth's words almost turn into a moan when she feels her throat get all scratchy again, and she starts coughing.
She didn't expect any of this at all. Who knew that an eighteen-year-old could get so ill after going almost skinny dipping in the river at night. With Daryl - it's something she hasn't told her parents (just said she was with friends) because they would kill him. Literally decapitate him or something like that. Ever since everyone found out about their feelings for each other – feelings that grow stronger and deeper every single day – her parents have gotten extremely protective. And Shawn too. And Maggie. Basically, everyone suddenly remembered she is the youngest and started implementing endless rules that concerned Daryl. Like always leaving her bedroom door open when it's just the two of them in there. Or meeting the curfew (that has always been a rule, except now, if she breaks it, Daryl will be the one to blame). And definitely not going almost skinny dipping with Daryl.
She doesn't regret doing it though. It was too much fun. They'll have to repeat it, just making sure that next time they actually bring dry clothes with them.
Annette comes in with a cup of tea and three boxes of tissues. Then Maggie brings a bunch of books, and Beth smiles contentedly, looking at the titles. North and South, Vanity Fair, Decameron, then there is some Dickens and some Shakespeare. Books are the main thing that always help her get better, ever since she was little. She would stay in bed, make her way through some thick novels, simultaneously clearing out the whole stock of tissues in their house. Beth hates being ill, but she likes some things it usually brings.
An hour later, after everyone has come in at least once and told her to get better, Beth is left alone with the books. She is finishing the second chapter of Vanity Fair and is halfway through another box of tissues, when her eye-lids start growing heavy, and she falls asleep with the book in her hands.
Beth wakes up to the sound of her door opening. She opens her eyes and sees Daryl, standing above her, with his shoulders slouched guiltily. He is holding a small stuffed bear that makes Beth smile happily. She loves to get stuffed animals, especially from Daryl.
"Hey," he greets grumpily.
"Hey back," she says to him, trying to make her voice sound warm, just to loosen up some tension in him. Of course he is blaming himself. He is Daryl, that's what he always does. She sits up and pats the open space on her bed.
Daryl takes a seat and finally gives her the teddy bear.
"Thank you," Beth smiles and manages to put it down and get a tissue just in time, before sneezing into it loudly. "Sorry," she giggles, looking at him, extremely aware of how nasal she sounds. But she can't do anything about it, so why worry? It's Daryl. He's seen her in situations way worse.
"Ain't the one who should be apologizin'," Daryl grunts.
"What do you mean?" Beth pretends she doesn't know how he feels right now. "Could you close the door?"
"But your parents…"
"They know we're not going to do anything right now," Beth rolls her eyes, and Daryl does as she asked.
"It's my fault you got sick," Daryl says, and there is such grief in his voice that it makes Beth heart clench.
"Going swimming at night was my idea, Daryl."
"Shoulda stopped you."
"No, you shouldn't have. Because you let me make my own decisions and respect my choices, and that's one of the reasons why I love you so much," Beth decides to try and change the topic. "You know, I'm really craving some chocolate cookies," she says, taking her phone from the nightstand. "I'll tell Maggie to get me some." Finding her sister's name in the contact list, she waits for it to dial, since the signal can sometimes be spotty at the farm.
Daryl ignores her attempts to switch topics. "I hate seeing you like this. Never woulda happened if I stopped you."
Beth sneezes again. "You can't keep blaming yourself, Daryl! I'm the stupid eighteen-year-old, and it's not your job to fix my mistakes. Although, swimming with you wasn't a mistake, that night was amazing. And people get sick sometimes, it happens. Not your fault."
Daryl sighs tiredly, and Beth is about to roll her eyes, when she hears her phone beep and realizes she forgot that she was dialing Maggie. Her recent calls show a fifteen seconds long conversation with Maggie.
"Shoot," Beth says quietly, looking at her phone.
"Maggie might've heard us," at that moments, Maggie calls her, and Beth panics. "What do I do?" she looks at Daryl desperately.
"Pick it up. You don't know if she heard anything," Daryl nods encouragingly, and Beth is once again in awe of him being able to stay calm in situations like this, whereas she can literally feel her heart sinking with fear.
"Hi, Maggie!" she says with an unnecessary enthusiasm, and Daryl knots his brows at her. Beth shrugs, her eyes wide.
"Hey, Beth. Why did you call?" her voice is as cold as steel, and that gives Beth bad butterflies. The scary ones.
"Are you still in town with Glenn?"
"Could you get me some cookies from Clary's Bakery?" Beth asks, trying to sound as normal as possible.
"Sure," Maggie responds, and Beth starts hoping that maybe she actually doesn't know anything. "I'll be home in an hour. Make sure Daryl is still there," she states peremptorily, and that one single phrase almost gives Beth a heart attack.
"Okay," she squeaks hopelessly, and the call ends. Daryl eyes her questionably. "She knows. We're screwed."
Beth can literally see his shoulders tense.
"Will she tell your parents?"
"I don't know," Beth shakes her head. "You should go, run even. Maybe if they don't see you for a few days, they'll forget."
"Beth, stop," he takes her hand, and that helps the knot in her stomach loosen up a bit. "It'll only make everything seem worse. It's gonna be fine."
The look he gives her is so warm and sincere that Beth feels the panic float away. And the moment is very romantic, except another unstoppable urge to sneeze spoils everything.
Daryl chuckles, observing Beth blow her nose into the millionth tissue. "Have I told you that you look gross?" he asks with a grin, and Beth is about to say something to that, but he doesn't let her. "And still the prettiest girl in the world."
Beth feels like her heart is about to explode with love for Daryl. These feelings are so intense she wants to cry and laugh and scream, and tell him every second. But she opts for something better. She throws her arms around his neck, mashing herself up against his chest and feeling his arms find their way around her back.
"I love you," she says, knowing for sure that he knows anyway. How can he not?
He presses a light kiss to her temple. "I love you too."
"Everything is going to be fine."
She keeps hugging him, hoping he doesn't catch the cold and knowing that they will get through anything together.
Thank you for reading.
P.S. You can follow me on tumblr if you want, I'm lovewhomyouwill there.