By Alone Dreaming
Dedicated to: My Joker and my Steph for being such wonderful support and giving me ideas.
Author's Note: This is a prequel to the movie and the only real AUness about it is that I made both Jakob and Wilhelm younger at the time of Lotte's death. Will is still the older brother, though. Also, this story is fully written (for if I write stories more than one chapter, I always complete them before I post) but I would like feedback to ensure me it's worth my time and energy to edit and post the next chapter. Please enjoy!
Warnings: Angst, a bit of descriptive sickness, and absolutely no slash
Jakob Grimm sat on the uncomfortable bed, staring at the fireplace. He was considering lighting it for he was feeling unpleasantly cold. It would be nice to have the warmth after such a miserable day but after a few minutes of pondering, he decided against it. Despite the fact that he really wanted the fire, both for light and heat, his body was protesting against any kind of movement what-so-ever. He ached so badly that he didn't have the will to shift so the bed would be more comfortable. 'What a way to finish this day up,' he thought with a groan. 'A hard bed and a cold, dark room.'
It was like some sick practical joke that God was pulling on him. He had just finished one of the most miserable days of his life and to top it off, he wasn't going to sleep well. He had woken up with the apprehensive feeling that the day would not go well. The first thing he had noticed in the morning was his sore body, though at the time he had blamed it on the bed, and exhaustion. His throat had ached a bit as well, along with his head and stomach, and he had been fighting the urge to cough. All of it made him particularly foul tempered, which was most unlike him, and utterly pessimistic.
Usually when he felt this way, he would simply stay in bed and tell Will he was too sick to do anything. Then he would lie there, bemoaning his sorry situation for a few grand minutes before going to sleep. Unlike his brother, he didn't fuss very much about anything and found it better to rest than whine while he was ill. Will didn't complain, at least not often, about Jake being ill. He even was sympathetic most of the time and if he wasn't, he did believe Jake. Jake was barely ever sick and had never once pretended to be so to avoid work.
Jake had attempted to tell his brother that he wasn't up to par that morning. He had followed Will around like a puppy but every time he tried to say something, his brother was engrossed in another conversation or simply ignored him. After many fruitless attempts, Jake had given up. Clearly Will was too distracted to care and Jake, despite his crankiness, admitted that it was a bad day to be ill and his brother would need him. They had an "exorcism" to perform on an "evil spirit" in a cave just outside the village. Jake had decided that he would get that done and then crawl into bed and sleep.
And he had mostly done what he had planned. Just one thing had occurred that he hadn't even dreamed of. Even in his sickly, angry state of mind, he had never thought about it. He had never considered that he would fight with Will and instead of earning his pity, earn his anger. He hadn't thought that the comments he heard so often would set him off. After all, he had dealt with them so many times before...
"I think my arm's broken," Hidlick wailed, clutching his limb to his chest. "I can't move it! Look at it!"
The arm did look quite bruised and it was swelling a bit but there was no other unnatural look about it. Hidlick, however, wasn't to be consoled. He sat on the dirt covered cave floor, whimpering and refusing to allow Jake or Will to get a good look at it. Jake had decided that he didn't care after trying several times and was removing his armor while Will continued his attempts to check the arm. Bunst, meanwhile, was sitting on a ledge near the roof of the cave looking rather upset.
Will shook his head and patted Hidlick on the shoulder, "I don't think it's broken but it does look like it hurts..."
"You aren't a doctor," Hidlick pointed out with a sniff. "It hurts like hell, much worse than the other times I injured it."
Bunst peered down from the shelf and said meekly, "'m sorry Hidlick."
"It's not your fault, Bunst," Will replied, and while Hidlick glanced up, grabbed his friend's arm. Hidlick howled, Jake jerked and Bunst nearly fell from his ledge. Will, ignoring it all, felt up and down the limb, frowning. "I really don't think it's broken, Hidlick..."
Hidlick tore his arm away, and backed away from Will. He looked rather ridiculous, still being half-dressed in his demon garb. "That hurt."
"I'm sorry," Will said, not sounding at all sincere. He was grinning a bi now that he was sure his friend was alrightt. "I'm sure you'll be fine, though. Now," he tossed a bag of coins to Hidlick, "there's a town to the north that has a problem with a stubborn banshee. Jake and I'll stop by in about two weeks..."
"Two weeks isn't enough time for my arm to heal," Hidlick whined.
He really did have a reason to fuss, Jake thought, struggling with the armor. During the "fight with the evil demon," the pulleys holding Hidlick up had come free and he had crashed into a wall. Only Will's quick thinking and fast action had stopped Hidlick from being seriously injured and the hoax from being revealed. As far as the villagers knew, the evil demon had been badly affected by a cross Jake had been holding and Hidlick, from as far as Jake could tell, was fine except for some bruises.
Will patted Hidlick's shoulder, ignoring the apprehensive look Hidlick was giving him. "No worries, my friend, I'm sure Jake here," he motioned to his brother, "has some magic beans that can fix you in a second."
It was meant to be a joke, the usual raillery between two brothers. However, there was always the hint of blame hidden beneath the words, always the reminder of what had happened thirteen years before. Jake bit his lip, trying to hold his tongue and not say anything. Anymore, he said little in response to such comments. He would look sad, he would whisper something unintelligible, but he would never go against it. But for some reason, he couldn't hold his tongue.
"Stop it, Will," he said, his voice rough from illness and aggravation. "It isn't funny."
Will didn't seem to understand that Jake was on the edge of breaking. He continued smile in his cocky manner and said, "Oh, I forgot. Magic beans only cure coughs..."
"It is enough, Will," Jake cried, trying to keep the desperation out of his voice. "I don't need you to remind me of the mistake I've regretted every day of my life since I was ten."
It was then that something in the air changed. Everyone recognized it, though the Grimm brothers sensed it much less than Hidlick and Bunst did. Both of them looked away and Bunst hurriedly busied himself with the different ropes and harnesses while Hidlick, his injured arm quite forgotten, began to shed his demon suit. Rarely did they see the Grimm brothers fight but when they did, they tried to make it appear as though they weren't listening. It was hard. The fights were always loud and vicious.
Will's face had tinged a slight pink color and his eyes were filled with fire. His voice trembled a bit when he spoke, "A mistake, was it? So, now we're reducing Lotte's death to a mistake. Just a terrible, awful, tragic mistake. There was no way to fix it or anything. No one had a chance to, perhaps, trade a cow for some medicine, food and firewood?"
"I know," Jake snapped in reply. "I know! Do you think I am proud of myself for it? Do you really think I don't blame myself for it every day? Do you really think I need you reminding me? I hate what I did, Will! I hate myself for being so stupid, so... so ignorant! Does that make you feel better, Will? I hate myself and I don't need you blaming me for Lotte's death. I already do that plenty on my own."
And he had stormed away, unable to take anymore comments. He had thought about going straight back to the room, but fearing that Will would follow him, he took a roundabout way to the town. On the way, he had stopped and retched into a patch of bushes. At the time, he thought it was nerves. He rarely stood up to his brother, ever, and doing so had left him so emotionally twisted that he had felt physically dizzy. Now, he knew that it wasn't just the anger, guilt and regret. It was also the sickness that was dragging him down.
Will hadn't come searching for him and it had been hours. Clearly, his brother was too angry to continue the confrontation, Jake decided. That and he always joined in the celebrations after the "exorcisms." He was most likely down wooing innocent ladies and having a good time. It was a possibility that he had even forgotten what had occurred for the time being. Jake didn't know what combination of things it was, but Will hadn't looked for him and clearly wasn't planning on it.
Now, feeling as poor as he did, Jake wished he had held his temper. He desperately wanted someone to care just a bit about how he was feeling. He wanted someone to build up the fire and pat him on the head. It would be so nice to have someone like that, someone like his mother, who had cared even though he had caused Lotte's death. When he had hurt himself or had been upset by Will's anger at him, she had still loved him. She hadn't blamed him like Will had. Even though her daughter's death had brought her own decline towards the grave, she had never once pointed a finger at her son. If anything, she had loved him all the more.
His stomach churned a bit and he leaned back against the headrest. When Will came back, lady friends or no, he would apologize. He would say how sorry he was for fighting. He would tell Will what an ass he had been thirteen years before and what an ass he had been that day. Maybe then Will would forgive him a little or at least notice that he was not well. He wanted comfort.
Mustering up the lingering bits of strength in his limbs, he grabbed his book from the bedside table. He would stay awake until Will came back with whatever lady friend he may have picked up and then request to speak to him privately for a moment. Then he could go to sleep with a piece of mind. With a pained cough, he flipped through the pages of his book and began to read.
He awoke with a start and rolled over to the edge of the bed just in time to vomit. There was nothing really in his stomach but the bit of bile and water that was there came up easily and splattered on the floor. The action burned his throat and caused him to start coughing the same way he had the night before. It sounded worse now, though, and he felt as though the sleep had done him more harm than good. Groaning, he rolled back and weakly wiped his sleeve across his mouth.
He didn't recall falling asleep nor did he recall his brother coming back in the room. However, Will was there, sleeping in the other bed. How he didn't hear the hacking and the stomach purging was beyond Jakob, for it sounded incredibly loud to him. 'He must have gotten up here very late,' Jake rationalized, hand on middle. 'He's exhausted.'
There was light coming in through the dusty window and from what Jake could tell, the sun had been up for a few hours at least. If he listened carefully, he could hear the town going about its daily business outside. Children were laughing, dogs were barking and adults were shouting. It was clear proof that the world kept on going even if one person felt awful.
Jake looked over at Will, knowing he was in need of some sort of help. He had never felt this ill before and it was making him nervous. Another cough crept up on him and tears of pain came to his eyes. When he got his breathing under control again, he glanced hopefully at his brother. He was disappointed. Will was still sound asleep, the coughing not bothering him at all. He was alone in the bed, his arms wrapped around a pillow and his head resting on the mattress.
Clearly coughing and throwing up was not going to bring his brother out of his late night partying and alcohol induced slumber. Jake weighed his options. He could lie here, feeling awful and pray that someone came to check on them and noticed he was ill. Or, he could struggle out of bed and wake up Will. Neither one of them seemed like pleasant options. On the one hand, he could wait hours and hours before someone checked in or Will came to. On the other hand, walking the mere six feet to Will's bed seemed like an undoable task.
He finally settled on a third option. Hoping that his voice would stay with him, he called out, "Will..."
He sounded awful even to his own ears. His voice was a cracked and broken whisper and Will didn't even twitch. In fact, he almost seemed to be sleeping more peacefully than before. Feeling very weak and slightly frustrated, he tried calling again, putting more force into his voice this time. The action caused him to cough and he was bent in half before he knew it. The edges of his vision began to blacken as his oxygen deprived brain began to shut down once more and he stared into the dying fire wondering if this would be the last time he would be awake.
"Jake!" a little voice cried, and a small face appeared before his eyes. "Jake! Are you feeling sick?" A sweet smile graced the lips of the child and she fiddled with her long, dark hair. "Do you want me to wake up Mama and Will?"
Had his mind been a little less foggy, he would have been sure he was hallucinating. She couldn't be standing there at the foot of the bed, her face full of love and health. He hadn't seen her in thirteen years and she hadn't looked so healthful in over fourteen. But there she was, in her favorite dress, her hair pulled up half-way with a ribbon and her large brown eyes filled with the adoration she had for both her older brothers. She tilted her head to the side.
"I think you are sick, Jake," she said, now looking slightly worried. "I'm going to get Mama and Will. They'll know how to make you feel better."
His head was spinning but the coughing spell had ended and he could breathe again. Between gasps, he murmured, "L-Lotte?"
"Of course, silly," she replied, reaching out and brushing her hand against his head. "I'll go get Mama and she can send Will for the doctor. That will make it all better."
"No...pl-please..." he whimpered, trying to catch her hand but failing. "D-don't...leave..."
She looked very confused and put out her lip as she often did when she didn't understand. "But, Jake, I can't get Mama unless I leave and you don't feel very well..."
"Stay," he begged. "D-don't leave me...again... I l-love you... I'm s-so sorry..."
She put her hand on his head once more and he didn't realize that he couldn't feel it. Her eyes glowed a bit, filled with concern. "I love you, too, Jakey. Don't be sad. I'll always love you. I'm going to wake up Will first and he'll stay with you while I get Mama. She'll make it all better."
"Wait," he whispered, but she was already gone. He was sure he could still hear the soft padding of her feet and smell the flowers she wore around her neck but he couldn't see her. The room was empty again except for Will and him. "L-Lotte.."
"Here, Jake," came a whisper somewhere near his ear. "I'm just waking up Will!"
"Wh-" he began but was stopped by another coughing spell. He couldn't seem to get them to stop. His lungs were seizing, expelling the bit of air he had acquired. His vision was darkening again and a roaring filled his ears. He was going to die now, with his sister gone, his brother asleep and his mother not present. He had never thought he would die alone.
He barely heard the cursing coming from the other bed and the yelp that accompanied it. He was fully absorbed in his world which consisted of his failing body and his darkening mind. In fact, he didn't realize that someone was beside him until hands grasped his shoulders and a frightened voice called for him.
"Jake? Jake! What's wrong?" the voice said, and one of the hands moved to his face. "Jake, can you hear me?"
He could hear the person but he couldn't say so. He was so tired, so worn out and so ready to rest. A long peaceful sleep was very appealing. 'Perhaps, this is how Lotte felt,' his blurred mind thought. 'Just ready to sleep.'
"I'm going to get Mama now, Jake," Lotte said in his ear. "Will is going to watch you until I come back with Mama."
"Lotte," he whispered in reply. "D-don't..."
"I love you, Jake," she murmured. "Don't be scared. Will is going to be here while I'm gone."
But he was scared. He was terrified even. Didn't she know that he and Will were on very bad terms? She had to realize that! It was because he had made such a rash decision that had ultimately led to her death. She couldn't leave him here, alone, with his brother who was angry at him. She had to stay and care for him. Will could always go fetch Mama.
And in a brief moment of lucidity, he realized that his mother and Lotte were dead and that there was no way that either of them were coming.
"Jake?" the voice asked again. "Jake? You have a fever. Why didn't you say something?"
He knew that it was Will who was talking to him and he was confused. Will sounded almost frantic with worry. There was no anger in his tone like there had been earlier in the day. The blame was gone as well but Jake found that he was still frightened. What if Will remembered that it everything was Jake's fault? What if he left as well?
"'m sorry," Jake mumbled. "Didn't w-want to w-wake you... L-lotte s-said sh-she should though."
The response didn't calm Will at all. He seemed to grow more agitated and pressed Jake back against the flat pillow, dragging the blankets over him. "Lotte? Jake, Lotte's..." He trailed off for a moment and chewed on his lip. "I'm going to fetch a doctor. You need a doctor."
"No!" Jake cried as loud as he could, which was really just a rasping whisper. "D-don't leave me... I kn-know your m-mad... j-just wait until L-lotte comes back with M-mama. Please?"
"Jake," Will said slowly, his voice shaking. "They aren't coming. They're dead, remember?"
He did remember but for some reason, he couldn't make sense of it. His feverish mind kept insisting that Lotte had just been there, saying that she was going to fetch Mama. Lotte had never lied to him before, he rationalized, shivering under the blankets. It only made sense that Mama and Lotte were both still alive. They had to be.
"B-but sh-she was there. Sh-she woke you up," he whispered. "Sh-she said you w-would stay..."
Will shook his head, his hand on his brother's cheek. "She wasn't here, Jake. She's dead. I woke up because of your coughing." He pursed his lips. "Jake, I'm going to leave for a little bit. It'll only take me a minute, I promise."
"N-no!" he begged, grasping the front of Will's shirt with one shaking hand. "Pl-please st-stay...I..."
His lungs protested horrendously and the painful coughing began again. The hand wrapped about his brother's shirt released almost immediately, moving to his chest instead as though it could stop the coughing. Will, meanwhile, forced him to sit up, and rubbed his back, looking completely helpless. Even Jake's fuzzy, fever twisted mind could see that Will wanted to bring back a doctor but didn't want to leave Jake hacking and frightened.
At some point, he blacked out. It wasn't for a long time but it was long enough for Will to rush out of the room and leave him alone again. A familiar fear grasped him once more, and he struggled to follow Will. His limbs did not agree with this pursuit and instead of helping him move, they lay limply on the bed. He was left to wait, praying that his brother would return or that his mother or Lotte would appear. He couldn't stand being alone.
Please review! I need to know if the next chapter is worth posting!