"Chise? I'm home," Elias stepped into the house, closing the door behind him and looking about for Chise. The sun was high outside but the house was still dark, closed up the way he had left it that morning. He dipped into the living room to find it void of any presence and likewise with the kitchen. All was quiet.
Heading back into the hall, he passed by the bathroom, peering in through the open door and finding it empty. How strange , he thought, proceeding to the back yard. Maybe she's working outside today.
Once outside, he found Silky shaking out a freshly washed sheet and stretching it over the line to dry, securing it with pins as he approached her.
"Silver, have you seen Chise this morning?"
"Mmhmm," she hummed a response, pointing to the second floor of their home.
"Has she been down at all?"
"Nnhnn," she shook her head, reaching down into the laundry basket and shaking out another sheet.
Even stranger. I wonder if she isn't feeling well. He thanked his brownie and hurried inside.
It wasn't often Chise stayed inside. By this time, she would have already taken care of the chores for the day and would have likely been in the kitchen making lunch or talking to Ruth and Silky while Silky made lunch - along with attending to any customers that came by. Occasionally, when it stormed, she would hide in bed or wrap up by the fire - but it was nothing short of a beautiful, early autumn day.
Rounding the staircase, he noticed the door to her study, once her bedroom, was open and the light was off. Not in there. She must still be in bed.
His suspicions were confirmed when he pushed open the door to their room and found his mageling curled up in bed, blankets secure around her, and her teddy bear held tightly in her arms and Ruth sleeping at her feet.
"Hi, Elias," she mumbled softly into her teddy. He flicked on the light and she buried her face into the stuffed animal, tightly closing her eyes.
"My eyes! Turn it off!"
"Oh, sorry," he quickly remedied his error and stepped around the bed to her side. He shrugged off his coat, setting it at the end of the bed next to Ruth and sat on the edge next to her. She turned her body to face his, leaving her bear behind.
"Hey," said Chise, smiling meekly as he brushed her red hair away from her face and rested his hand on her side. "You weren't gone very long."
"Four hours isn't long?"
"What?!" She quickly pushed herself on her elbows and sat up, rubbing an eye. "Oh no, I must have fallen asleep, I would have sworn I've only been up here a few minutes...I just needed to rest a bit. After Silky changed the sheets it looked so comfy….I'm sorry," she pulled the blanket off and went to get down when he put a hand up, effectively keeping her in place.
"Do you feel well?" he asked. She cast her gaze down to her fingers, fiddling with them.
"Yeah," she mumbled back. "I'm fine."
"She's not," Ruth said, a touch of annoyance decorating his voice. He'd rather not have been woken up; sleep kept him from feeling the pain.
"Ruth!" Chise hissed. "It's not a big deal. I'm fine."
" I'm not!" The black dog groaned with huff, interjecting over Elias' concern. "And neither are you. Tell your husband what's wrong so he can fix you and subsequently me , before I tell him myself." Chise narrowed her eyes at him then looked to Elias who was staring at her, arms crossed.
"I'm fine, okay? Honestly. It's just a little cramping. Someone is just being a big baby about it."
"It's never been this bad before, maybe something is wrong."
"It's normal, Ruth, it just happens like this sometimes. I'm sorry!" She threw her arms up at him, frustrated and growing tired of his complaining.
"Nothing this painful can be normal! That was a ridiculous amount of blood too, I don't know how this one is still oblivious to it, you could smell it a mile away."
"RUTH!" Chise covered her face, embarrassed.
"Blood?!" Elias silently gasped before putting two and two together. Sleepiness, cramping, blood. He was starting to see the big picture. He looked at Chise still hiding her reddened face in her hands. He could tell she was experiencing embarrassment by her reaction but he couldn't see why. After all, this is something all women go through. He and even Chise have made remedies dozens of times for the women in the village. "So you're menstruating. Why didn't you say so?"
Menstruating. The word slid out of Elias and circled her like a serpent, creeping up her back and making her shudder. Ugh . Why did he have to say it like that? She threw herself backward and pulled the blanket up over her face.
"Chise," he sighed, tugging the blanket down only to be met with a whine and the blanket being pulled back up. "Why are you embarrassed? You said yourself this is normal. Every month, an adult human female's uterus will-"
"I know what happens!" she yelled her muffled retort through the blanket. "It's just private, okay?" God, this is the worst.
He took a moment to rest there beside her, not saying anything further, not wanting to upset her. He contemplated what he could say to make her feel better, but everything that came to mind only seemed like it would further disturb her. She never really spoke about this in the past, even when he knew she was going through it - he could sense the subtle changes about her. She would be slightly more irritable, she would take more time to do simple tasks, sometimes being clumsy in doing so, she would be quick to retire at night, her voice changed, and she bathed more often yet despite bathing her scent was also different.
The differences were nearly muted but they were part of her - to which he found himself very in-tune. He would always give her the space she needed for it, wouldn't question when she asked for money to go into town by herself to 'pick up a few things,' wouldn't pry. He had never been privy to the inner workings of a woman, well, of anyone else for that matter. Assuming it was nothing to talk about - he never did. Yet, still, she hadn't been this taken by her monthly cycle, even when it wasn't exactly monthly or regular, she was still able to function as normal. Ruth had certainly never complained. He wondered if perhaps something was wrong.
Chise felt the bed shift as Elias stood up. She heard his footsteps grow faint and poked her head out from under the blanket just in time to see him leave the room. Great , she thought, I didn't want him to leave. Thanks, Ruth.
Her familiar wiggled his way under the covers up to her and rested his head in the crook of her arm, sighing as he did so. She replied with a sigh of her own and pet him on the head, running her fingers through his soft and silky fur. "It hurts," he said, apologetically.
"I know," she whispered. It was true he never did complain in the past about it, though she'd only really gone through his a handful of times. Before she had put herself up for sale, her periods were few and far between, probably caused by how sick she constantly was from malnourishment. Eventually they just stopped altogether until about the third or fourth month after Elias bought her. Now, they were still irregular but mostly light and easily managed. This was the first time in a long time she ever felt this bad. As far as she knew, this time around still was completely normal but that didn't stop the pain and it didn't stop the embarrassment that came with it. At least Elias didn't push it with her, though she wondered if perhaps she pushed him away, maybe hurt him by hiding or not talking to him about it. He never asked her in the past so she assumed he either didn't know or didn't care, which was perfectly fine by her. This, after all, was a private matter.
She was going to have to face the music eventually, she figured, might as well get it over with. After lying there a moment longer, she sighed and rubbed her eyes once more. Throwing the blanket off her and wiggling out from under Ruth, she swung her legs off the side of the bed and slid off, bracing herself with her arm on the bed as a rush of blood hit her head, making it throb. A whimper fell from Ruth as he stood to his feet wearily, spun in a circle twice and curled back up where she had just been laying. Chise rubbed her temples as she moped out of the room and down the stairs to find Elias, who was sitting at the small table in the living room with various materials and reagents spread about before him. The curtains were drawn open and the bright light of the early afternoon blasted in through the windows, warming the room and creating a yellow-white hue in the air.
Chise stood in the doorway and watched him work intently, each movement methodical and careful, yet swift and thoughtful, as if he'd done this hundreds of times before (though she supposed he probably had) - as if he could do this in his sleep. Her stomach sank when she approached him and found her to-do list placed on the table. He was doing her orders. On one hand she was relieved she wasn't going to have to do them, on the other she felt guilty that he was. She never liked shirking her duties, especially when it meant those duties falling on someone else.
"You should have stayed in bed," the Magus said, measuring a dropper of a thick yellow tinged oil, focused on his work. Chise set her elbows on the table and rested her head in her hands, watching him, feeling drained from the walk downstairs.
"I wanted to make sure I didn't upset you," she sighed. Elias briefly looked over at her before returning to his work.
"Of course you didn't," he opened a canister of grated ginger, filling the room with the fresh, sharp scent, dropping a measured spoonful into the small wooden bowl in front of him.
"I'm glad," she watched as he continued to work, always in wonder at his magic. She'd heard people talk about how beautiful it was, and while she agreed, it wasn't until she saw many others use magic that she grew to appreciate how different his was. In fact, both of their magic was quite different from others. She supposed hers was beautiful too, but she rarely had the opportunity to sit back and observe her magic. Right now, she just enjoyed her opportunity to watch her teacher do what he did best.
After he finished, he stood and disappeared to the kitchen, returning seconds later with a cup of freshly brewed tea which he must have already had brewing. He dropped his solution into the tea, stirred it gently and set it before Chise, taking his seat again and readying his space to make another.
The redhead looked down to her tea and spotted her reflection. Dark circles feel under her eyes and her skin was peaked. She raised the drink and took a careful sip, no longer wishing to see herself as she looked as bad as she felt.
It's so...good, she thought, taking in more. It was naturally sweet, floral and with a hint of earthiness that tingled down her throat and warmed her core.
"I was going to do those today Elias, you don't have to do that," she nodded to the list.
"It's no problem," he spoke without looking up, focusing his magic on a glass jar, the substance inside turning from a gelatinous blue goo to a clear liquid.
"What are you making?" She asked curiously, unfamiliar with his ingredient combination or methods. This certainly wasn't on her list.
Still focused on his work, he extracted the milk of a flower and added it to the liquid. "This morning I had a consultation with the Oliver's, the family that moved to town a few weeks ago. It seems their children are having night terrors," he dropped one powder followed by another into the mix and swirled the jar, a light foam appearing at the top. "I actually was just out for a walk since I couldn't sleep, I didn't expect to see them. Could you pass me that lavender, please?"
"Huh? Oh," she passed him the sprig that sat in front of her and he plucked several petals, dropping them into the foam. The violet petals fizzled and steamed as they dissolved into the solution, the fragrant scent dancing with the aroma of ginger still lingering in the air. She sipped away the rest of her tea and set the cup down softly, eyes at his hands which were emitting a swirl of blue Iight that pulsed and sparkled when he held the glass jar in his hands.
"What's a night terror?" She asked, licking a droplet of tea off her top lip.
"It's like a nightmare," he looked up at her, breaking his focus for a second too long. The solution within the jar thickened and melted into a black colored tar like substance. With a heavy sigh, he sat the jar on the table.
"Oh, Elias, I-I'm sorry I didn't mean to distract you," she nervously hung her head, somehow ready for him to start lecturing her. Instead, he leaned over and pulled her onto his lap, her back against his stomach.
"It's okay, this can be easy to mess up, even for me. Let me use the opportunity to teach you this one. It's a bit advanced, so just watch for now, okay?"
She nodded, her cheeks turning from her pale white to a rosy pink color as she felt his hot breath kiss her neck. He leaned over her shoulder and went over each ingredient and reagent needed, when and how to use magic, recreating what he had just done. She listened to Elias, and while his explanations were easy to understand, she couldn't focus on his words but the sound of his voice: the way it raised and lowered like a melody as he described his process like a child describing his favorite superheros. It was almost entrancing, deep and rhythmic but coated in passion, taking her on a journey from the start of his instruction to the end.
She listened to his voice and watched his hands move with just as much precision and care as before. She felt his warmth soothe her sore back, felt how her small thighs met with his and how his arms wrapped around her in almost an embrace. She wondered, silently, if some day she would be able to perform magic this way, but didn't mind if she never moved from this spot - if she were honest with herself.
"...and that's why you have to focus on timing here. Do you understand?" he asked her, setting down his successfully made potion. She relaxed her body and sank further back and into him.
"Mmhmm," Chise hummed, nodding. Elias wrapped his arms around her midsection softly and nuzzled her forehead.
"Do you feel better?"
Chise blinked. Did she? To her surprise, her pains were gone. In fact, she had stopped feeling discomfort before he'd even pulled her to him. "I do. I should have made some when I sold the last batch, I didn't think I'd need it," she rested her hands on top of his and gazed out the window, seeing dark clouds forming in the horizon.
"As long as you're feeling better now, no worries," the Magus said, keeping still, his hands on her abdomen, feeling and hearing the twisting and churning taking place deep inside her. They sat that way for a few moments before he broke the silence.
"What does it feel like?"
"What does what feel like?" Her eyes were now closed, comfortable sitting this way and comfortable letting the warmth of his hands permeate her lower abdomen and soothe her ache even further.
"This," he softly tapped her belly.
"Umm…" she looked up at him, not sure how to respond. He wore an expression in his eyes of pure curiosity with a hint of a plea, tugging at her heartstrings. "Why do you want to know?" It wasn't like he was suddenly going to sprout ovaries or anything.
"To better understand what you're going through," he said. "As your teacher, husband, and guardian it is my duty to protect you, keep you well and healthy, and guide you. Yet, as time goes by, I'm finding more things that seem to drive me away from being able to do what you should rely on me for. I cannot protect you from this, and while it is a sign of your health, it causes you pain. And my not experiencing anything like this myself...well, I am unable to guide you. So, I wonder," he leaned back and looked upwards. "I wonder if there is some way I can relate, some way to empathise."
The mageling swallowed hard and took a deep breath, exhaling slowly. She leaned her head back, resting just by his neck, and thought about her next words carefully.
"It feels like my insides are trying to break out of me," she paused, taking his hand in hers and guiding it a few inches lower. "From there, to here. It's all types of pains in one. It's - it's hard to describe honestly. You kind of have to experience one to really know." That wasn't so bad. Elias rubbed her stomach softly and let out a concerned hum.
"I can't say I know what that feels like. Whenever my 'insides' move is when I'm changing shape. And that isn't what I would call painful."
"Hmm," this time Chise hummed and an idea popped into her head. "Remember when I first met Angelica and she punched you?"
"Well imagine that pain, only always there. Never going away," Chise explained. "At least not for maybe a week."
Chise could feel his body under her stiffen while he recalled the pain of such an occurrence.
"That cannot be true," his voice was of utter shock. "How could one even function under such distress?"
Chise shrugged, "it's true, and we just do."
"And you're certain there's nothing wrong? Perhaps a visit to a doctor would sort this out."
"No," she turned herself in his lap, her legs crossing his, and looked up at him. "I don't need a doctor, I promise. Besides, you fixed me up better than any doctor would. I'm pretty much pain free."
"I'll believe you for now," he stood up, setting her down and placing his hands at his hips. "But if there are any changes I want you to tell me right away. Do you understand?"
Chise nodded, feeling small next to him. He picked up the jar he'd been working on earlier and tightened a lid around the top.
"Good," he handed the jar to her. "We'll finish the rest later. Are you well enough to walk into town with me?"
Chise smiled, "I am."
"Great, because I have to deliver this and I really don't want to deal with the children again. It was exhausting this morning."
"Was it?" Chise chuckled. "You should have taken me with you, I could have done the consultation too, you know."
"I didn't know I'd be doing it, they just stopped me and I had no choice. It was like I was taken hostage. It was horrible."
"Aww, I'm sorry," she patted his arm. "Want me to deal with the children?"