Author's Notes: Took a little while for me to update this time. I've been pretty busy with work, and I've been sick as well.
Also, I've broken the 300 mark with 301 reviews! Thank you so much, everyone!
Disclaimer: As stated in previous chapters
Infection: 1. an infecting with germs or disease; 2. an influence/impulse passing from one to another and affecting feeling or action.
– In The Face Of Anger –
Chapter Twelve: The Infection
Man, it's an amazing day to be outside, as per usual: sunlight lit up the kingdom in all its glory and not a cloud could be seen in the sky. The breeze was cool and pleasant, and all the soldiers were outside, attending to their duties while basking in this picture-perfect day.
Unfortunately, I was trapped inside. Gwendal finally cracked and silently threatened to make my life hell unless I agreed to do some paperwork. So, while everyone else was enjoying the warmth of the sun, I sat inside and tried to appreciate the streaks of sunlight that filtered through the windows behind me.
"Your Majesty," He said through gritted teeth, "These papers cannot be approved by anyone other than you. I have taken care of all other papers, so if you can't take care of this work, don't be surprised if I reconsider your position as the Demon King." As if he thinks I'm cut out to be King at the moment, anyway...
It's not like this work is particularly hard by any means – I only had to sign my name. Gwendal had read through all of these papers and sorted them into 'To-Be-Signed-By-The-Maou' piles, so I didn't even have to read what was written before me. I just signed 'Shibuya Yuuri Harajuku Fuuri' on the dotted line at the bottom and hoped that these papers would somehow benefit the rest of Shin Makoku.
I paused and stared blankly at the half-signed document.
Gwendal and I hadn't been on good terms for a while now... Ever since he sided with Murata and Ulrike in regards to my sixteenth birthday decision, I've been trying to avoid him as much as possible. The guy was aggressive and very, very opinionated when it came to these sorts of things, so opposing him was generally a bad idea (Not that I didn't oppose him regularly...). It was rare that he and I ever agreed on anything, and considering our perspectives are conflicting once again, all I can do is avoid arguments by trudging through paperwork.
I wrote 'Shibuya Yuuri Harajuku Fuuri' again, and again...and again...There are still four stacks remaining! And these are huge stacks – the reason they're in stacks is because they would have fallen over otherwise! Meanwhile my 'signed and completed' pile barely exists...
Minutes ticked past and finally I groaned, stood up and stretched. The kinks in my spine were momentarily eased, and I moved out from behind my desk to approach the large windows behind me. The day was truly glorious, but I can't even go outside to enjoy it...sigh...
I pressed the palm of my hand against the glass and felt the warmth of the sun through it. I looked up towards the great globe in the sky and said to myself, "Time sure has gone by."
It's less than two weeks until the twenty-third of July...the day that I was born. And on this upcoming date I would have to make a decision I'm not sure I'm ready to make.
Give up my family or get married... Both of them are such huge commitments! Am I really expected to make a commitment like that at such a young age? Come to think of it, a normal mazoku would have the appearance of a three-year-old when they turned sixteen... Wait, how in the world does that make sense? Conrad mentioned that he chose to live among the demon tribe rather than with the humans... That's a big decision to make when you look like you should be in kindergarten. Man, I'll never understand how ageing works among mazoku...and Conrad's only half-demon, so that's even more confusing...
"I want to take this thing seriously," I stated to the empty room, "I don't want to appear slack or non-committal. But, still..." I allowed my forehead to press against the glass unhappily.
I wanted to be a good King and do great things for Shin Makoku. Does that really mean I have to abandon my life all together on Earth? If not, then do I have to agree to a political marriage? I don't want any of that! I can't imagine a worst way to spend your sixteenth birthday: Completely severing your ties with your family and friends, or getting married before ever going out on a single date.
My family would absolutely kill Gwendal, Murata and the others if they knew that they were the ones prohibiting me from returning to Earth. Mom and Dad would be outraged (In which Dad would typically have to calm her down, even if he wants to throttle them as much as Mom) and Shouri would go way over the top, as per usual...
"Little brother, your big brother will protect you from these evil demons! They will not take you awaaaaaayyyyy!" Man, I shudder at the very thought... Although, being kidnapped by my crazy older brother and being taken back to Earth wouldn't be that bad, all things considered...
I want to be a good King! I really do, but I can't give up my family or Earth...I can't...
Likewise, I can't marry Wolfram, either. As appropriate as it would be since we're already engaged (Even though that was completely accidental), I can't go through with a thing like that when I still feel like a kid. Isn't marriage supposed to be a life-long commitment? I refuse to commit myself like that! I haven't got the experience or the maturity to say that I want to be with Wolfram until the day I die. As much as I care about him, I...
He wants to get married to me, I know that. But, what are his reasons for it? It's definitely out of pride, but is it 'cause he cares about me in the same way I care about him? It's hard to tell; the guy gives off the weirdest signals. Half the time he's yelling and screaming at me, and the other half he's saving me or holding hands with me... I don't get it.
"Then..." I looked towards the sun again, as if it was the source of my sudden burst of clarity. Have I learned nothing? Have I learned nothing from trying to understand him? For weeks and months I've been trying to get to know him; trying to understand his jealousy and his anger. To some extent I understand that he wears a mask to hide his true feelings – and that he's moody as hell – but if I can't even work out if he genuinely returns my feelings...
Wolfram, do I really not understand you at all?
"Maybe..." I murmured quietly, brows furrowed. "Maybe...it was my own feelings that I began to understand more..."
Several loud knocks resonated through the room followed by a call of "Your Majesty!". Barely able to conceal my scream of fright, I immediately darted back to my seat and pretended to look busy in case it was someone coming to check if I was getting my work done. "A-ah, yes? Who is it?"
"Your Majesty! It's me, Dokaskos!" The man announced from the other side of the door. "I have very important news for you, m'Lord!"
I stopped pretending to work and sat up straight, then I said in a clear voice, "Come in!"
The first thing I saw appear through the doorway was his shiny bald head, gleaming as if he had polished it recently. He was breathing very heavily, like he had sprinted all the way here. Hmm, now I'm curious... If he ran all the way here to deliver this message, then it must be important. Good! If it's important enough, it might be a legitimate excuse for me to abandon my paperwork here and now! "Is everything all right, Dokaskos?"
Taking several more deep breaths, he straightened up and brought his hand sharply to his forehead in a formal salute. Just as quickly, he brought it back down to his side and bowed deeply. "M'Lord, it is related to the current situation of your daughter, the Princess," He informed me through his nasally voice.
My eyes widened in surprise. "G-Greta?" Her current situation? "Wait, where is she?"
"Your Highness, it would appear that she has returned to Shin Makoku," He elaborated, his voice clear and firm. Before I could ask more, he added, "In fact, she arrived at Blood Pledge Castle but a moment ago."
I blinked several times at him. "Wait, you mean she's already here? At the castle?" I asked incredulously.
When he nodded affirmatively, I could only stare at him – stunned – for several moments. I didn't move at all, completely frozen.
Then, to his alarm, I jumped up suddenly and began to bolt towards the door. He hurriedly moved to the side to allow me to pass, and then I turned and began sprinting down the hallway.
"Other way, Your Majesty! In the entrance hall!" Dokaskos called after me, which caused me to abruptly turn and hurry off in the opposite direction. The soldiers and maids observed me with great interest as I ran throughout the winding corridors and hallways, desperate to see for myself that my daughter had actually returned. How long had she been away? I'd lost track of the number of days and weeks. Had it been over a month?
I skidded to a halt at the top of the stairs that descended into the entrance hall. There was a small group of familiar people standing in the centre of the hall, although I couldn't see any sign of Greta. Curiously, I walked slowly down the stairs, trying to get a better look at the people standing there and whether Greta was with them or not.
Conrad, Günter and Gwendal noticed my arrival and turned to acknowledge my presence. With their bodies half-turned, I was able to see the individual who stood in the middle of them all, and...
"Greta!" I looked at her in awe, overjoyed at seeing her small figure back inside Blood Pledge Castle. Unable to contain myself, I leaped down the stairs (Much to Günter's horror) and hurried towards them, a large grin on my face.
As I got closer, however, I began to slow down when I noticed that she didn't look as happy and healthy as she had when she had left. Well, she certainly looked happy to see me, but she also looked undeniably ill.
Her face was flushed and feverish, her eyes bloodshot and watery, and her nose was raw and appeared to look extremely sore. Used tissues were clutched in her hands, and her hair looked rather dishevelled, as if she had neglected to brush it for a few days.
The manner in which she said my name, too, sounded strained and croaky.
I was so caught up in my musings that I was caught by surprise – literally – when she ran up to me and wrapped her arms around my waist, bowling me over. "Oof!" Was the only sound that came out of my mouth when my rear made contact with the floor, Greta still clinging onto me.
"G-Greta..." Her face was concealed by my chest, so all I could do was stare down at her untidy, auburn curls. "Are...are you sick?"
"Yuuri!" She gazed up at me through watery eyes, her nose dripping ever-so-slightly. "I really missed you, Yuuri!"
"I missed you, too, Greta..."
"Your Majesty." It took me a moment to realise that a vaguely familiar voice was addressing me. Once noted, I saw Greta's biological father, Handsel, offering me a formal bow, his hands clasped behind his back. "Forgive me for returning her like this."
I didn't like the way he said 'return', as if he was implying she was an object he had borrowed. It was as if he had rented out a movie or something. Maybe I'm just being catty...
"It's..." It's not okay, really. "What happened? Did she catch a cold?"
"The flu, Your Highness," He informed me, appearing quite guilty. "During our cruise, the cool air seemed to badly affect many of the children Greta was playing with, and most caught terrible colds or the flu." As he said this, Greta coughed harshly into her hands, each cough causing a sick, twisted sensation in my chest. "Eventually Greta, too, caught the flu from spending time with them, and also from being exposed to the cold air."
Did he really allow her to play with all those sick kids? And, furthermore, did he allow her to be exposed to those cool, sea breezes? How can a parent be that irresponsible? Of course she was going to get sick!
Although, considering this is possibly the first time he's taken care of a child, maybe he's a bit clueless...but getting sick in those conditions, well, anyone could figure that would happen!
...Maybe I'm just holding grudges 'cause he took Greta away from me for so long, but...well...I can't help but glare at him a little.
"I am very apologetic, Your Majesty." His guilt was shining through brilliantly, and he offered me another deep bow. "This is not what I intended to happen, truly..."
"The cruise was a lot of fun, Yuuri," Greta told me, gaining my attention. Despite her sickness, she looked at me pleadingly, with a small smile on her face. "He warned me that I'd get sick if I kept playing with everyone, especially since it was so cold, but I didn't listen!" Well, I guess I could forgive him a bit... "It really was a lot of fun..."
"Greta." She and I turned to face Gwendal, who offered her a stern yet kind expression. "Have you decided to remain here at Blood Pledge Castle? Or will you go with Handsel and return to human lands?"
I felt my insides turn cold at his inquiry, but Greta's response eased my concerns – "I want to stay here at the Castle. Papa already knows that's what I want to do," She added, looking at her father as she spoke. "I want to stay here with Yuuri and everyone else. But..." I looked at her imploringly. "...But, I want to see Papa, too. So, umm..." She looked at me again with her large, watery eyes. "So, Yuuri, would it be okay if he came to visit me some time?"
I agreed to her wishes in half a second, smiling at her comfortingly. "Yes, that's no problem at all." I stood up so I could address Handsel properly, resting my hands gently on Greta's shoulders. "Mr. Handsel, you have my permission to come visit Greta." I looked at him seriously, "Greta has put her faith in you, so be good to her."
Handsel seemed to be taken aback by my words, but nodded and bowed respectfully. "Absolutely, Your Majesty."
"Perhaps it would be appropriate for you to attend His Majesty's birthday ceremony," Günter said, and at his words I began to feel a little ill myself. The ceremony... "It's only ten days away now." ...it's only ten days away... Dear God...
"That sounds like a fantastic idea," Handsel agreed. "I have some friends who live nearby, so I should be able to stay with them." Suddenly, he looked guilty again and bowed. "With your permission, of course, Your Majesty...?"
I nodded but my insides felt shaky. "Y-yes, that's fine by me! You are welcome to attend the ceremony..."
He nodded and looked down at Greta, who was still standing with me. "I will take my leave now. I will see you soon, Greta."
I felt Greta's shoulders escape my hands as she ran to Handsel and gave him a hug (Although it wasn't nearly as enthusiastic as the one she had given me). "Okay, Papa. I'll miss you!" Maybe I was being selfish, but I couldn't help but feel sad by this whole situation. I didn't want to share Greta with her biological father...the connection between those two goes far beyond adoption papers...
Once Handsel had left the castle, I focused all of my concerns on Greta, who was having an awful coughing fit. "I'll take Greta to her room. Could someone fetch Gisela for me? I'm sure she'd be able to help Greta's cold."
Günter replied, "I doubt that Gisela can cure the flu, but I'm sure she could find something that would ease her symptoms. I will fetch her at once."
I turned to Gwendal and was met by a fierce, piercing gaze, which made me gulp nervously. "You have paperwork, Your Majesty."
"I-I...well, yes, but given the current situation..."
"Go easy on him, Gwendal," Conrad encouraged him warmly, which caused his older brother to 'hmph' moodily. "I will go and find Wolfram. No doubt that he wants to see Greta as much as you, Your Highness."
"Call me 'Yuuri'," I reprimanded automatically. "And...yeah, that would be...for the best..." A vague stinging sensation tickled my right cheek as guilt snaked its way around my heart.
I hadn't witnessed this sort of scenario in a very long time.
Greta was lying down on her bed, being watched in a motherly-kind-of-way (Although I would not tell him that) by Wolfram, who applied a wet cloth to her hot forehead and rubbed at her hand gently. His eyes were gentle and loving, and they reminded me of the time I found him reading Anissina's stories to her.
Greta opened her bloodshot eyes tiredly to look at Wolfram's beautiful face. I wonder what it'd be like to be cared for by him if I was sick...I hadn't been sick in a while, so I was probably due to be bed-ridden anyway...
"I missed you, Wolf," Greta murmured quietly, a tiny smile on her face. She groaned and closed her eyes tightly, obviously trying to deal with a thundering headache. "My head...hurts..."
Wolfram squeezed her hand a little, trying to console her. "Don't worry, Greta."
"I'm so sorry, Your Majesty," Gisela apologised sadly, stirring some odd-smelling potion in the other corner of the room. "My healing powers are primarily used for physical wounds, not illness." She looked at me culpably, as if it was all her fault for Greta's current state. "All I can do is prepare this potion for her, Your Majesty. You see, it doesn't speed up the healing process, but it helps to numb a sore throat and ease a bad fever, and the steam from the potion helps to clear a blocked nose," She informed me. "What's more, I'm adding a certain herb that will make her drowsy, and sleep tends to be the best cure for colds and the flu, so..."
"Yes, thank you," I said gratefully, slightly overwhelmed by this magical potion. They really need something like that back home... Sore throat lozenges are disgusting... "Is it almost ready?"
"Yes, just a few more minutes, Your Highness."
"Y-Yuuri..." I quickly turned my attention back to Greta, who addressed me weakly. "You...you cured me once when I had a bad cold, remember?" That time on that ship... "Maybe you can do it again, Yuuri..."
"I'll...try," I offered meekly, kneeling down beside Wolfram and taking Greta's hand from him. "Although, I'm not really sure how I did it last time..."
I remember talking to her when I healed her last time, so...maybe I should try it again?
I concentrated on making her better; they were the only thoughts in my mind. I wanted her and willed her to recover, 'cause I just couldn't stand seeing her so unwell. I talked to her and told her that she had to get better, because I was worried and didn't want her to suffer. I hadn't seen her in so long, and for her to be like this was just terrible...
After several minutes, she smiled, "My headache feels a bit better." I was relieved at her words, but then she suddenly withdrew her hand from me hurriedly and covered her mouth as she coughed severely. I listened to those harsh sounds and watched her small body lurch and heave, gasping for air. I felt sick and completely helpless.
"Damn it..." I cursed in frustration. "I'm sorry, Greta! I tried, but...I just..."
"It's okay..." She managed between her coughs. "My headache-" (Cough, cough) "-is a bit better now-" (Cough) "-so, thank you." She just wouldn't stop coughing!
"Your cough sounds terrible, Greta!" Wolfram said in distress. "Are you sure it's the flu?" He turned to me. "Yuuri, I've never had the flu 'cause mazoku are immune to it, but I know Conrad has had it before, so have you?" When I nodded, he continued, "Well, is it normally this bad?"
"Yeah...well, when I get it it's actually worse, but..." I could sense his worry and it was making me panic. What if this wasn't the flu at all? What if she has pneumonia? Or tonsillitis? Or bronchitis? Those conditions are just terrible! And, furthermore, who decided that she had the flu, anyway? I don't think the doctors in this world are able to deduce as much as a doctor from Earth...! "Oh God, what if this isn't the flu? We need a doctor from Earth!"
"Yuuri, wait!" I got up, about to sprint towards the nearest body of water I could find. "We don't need a doctor from Earth! How would you get one here, anyway?"
"Look, I'll kidnap Rodriguez, it'll be fine-!"
"Your Majesty, I'm finished," Gisela interjected before I could freak out anymore. She brought a tall mug over towards the bed, and I decided to kneel beside Wolfram again, calming down. "I am quite certain she has the flu, Your Highness," Gisela assured me, although I couldn't help but think otherwise. "This will certainly help her, Your Majesty. The flu will run its course, but this potion will make the experience much less discomforting for her."
Greta sat up and took the cup from Gisela. She made a face at the stench, even though her nose was clogged up. "This doesn't smell very good, Miss Gisela."
She laughed a little. "I know, Princess, but it will make you feel much better, I guarantee it." Greta took a sip of the potion removed the cup from her mouth and swallowed, disgusted. "You'll get used to the taste. Try and breathe in the steam through your nose because it'll help to clear it."
"I can barely breathe through my nose at all..." She moaned, sniffing the steam and taking another sip of the potion. As she progressed through the cup's contents, I noticed that her pained expression seemed to be replaced with relief, and when she spoke it sounded a lot less croaky. It took her at least half an hour to down the entire potion, and by the time she finished, her eyes had become foggy and all she could do was lie down and close her eyes.
"You tired, Greta?" I asked, patting the back of her hand sympathetically.
She opened her eyes a little and peered at me, a lazy smile on her face. "Yeah...I am..." She let her eyes slide shut. "I'm glad...that I'm home, Yuuri...I missed you...I missed you, too, Wolfram...and everyone else..."
Then she was asleep and at peace. Wolfram placed the back of his hand against her forehead and announced that her fever seemed to have dropped considerably.
Wolfram and I stood up. "Thank you, Gisela," I said to her, who smiled and bowed in response.
"No trouble at all. I will come by every few hours to check on her fever and give her more of the potion."
"How long until this will pass?" Wolfram asked.
"I'd say that the worst of it will be over within a few days, although other symptoms may remain for a little while," She said informatively. She was right, I thought – the flu usually progressed like that for me.
I thanked her again and she exited the room, taking her medical supplies with her. Wolfram and I soon followed, closing the door quietly behind us.
"I'm happy she's back," I said to Wolfram, looking at the door rather than him, "But it sucks that she's so unwell. I really wanted to spend some time with her since she's been gone for so long."
"Yes, it's very unfortunate," He agreed solemnly.
I turned to face him, and when he looked at me, I felt extremely guilty. "Hey, um, I'm really sorry about...that whole thing...and how you didn't get to say good-bye when she-"
Wolfram interrupted me, "It's okay, Yuuri. I've forgotten about it." My eyes widened as he extended his arm so that he could touch my right cheek tenderly. "I'm sorry that I struck you."
I smiled at the touch and his apology. "It's...it's fine."
The gentleness of his caress matched his smile, and for a few moments we stood there, gazing at each other. Then, all of a sudden, I pulled my head away and covered my mouth as I sneezed loudly.
"Yuuri?" Wolfram looked at me concernedly, "Are you sick, too?"
His question made me worry – I hated being sick. Colds and the flu absolutely destroyed me, and I hadn't been sick in a while...
"Now that you mention it, my throat feels kinda sickly," I muttered, rubbing the back of my head as I mused to myself. "Hopefully it's nothing..."
But, of course, it wasn't.
It was still dark outside when I woke up, feeling incredibly unwell. My stomach seemed to rumble with discomfort and nausea, and my head ached as if I had eye strain. Groaning, I rolled out of bed and stood on my feet shakily. I had to go to the bathroom, but walking there really wasn't doing my nausea any good.
I couldn't take my time walking to the bathroom, either, because I really had to go. I managed to relieve myself once I made it there, but on the journey back my head started to get dizzy, probably from low blood pressure.
But, God, my throat just ached. It didn't feel sore in a scratchy sort of way, but as if my glands had swollen up. I sat down heavily on my bed and reached for a half-empty glass of water, and drank all of its contents. Damn, my throat...
My body felt hot, feverish and sweaty, and my pajamas felt sticky and uncomfortable. I lied back down on the mattress but only covered myself in sheets because a blanket would be far too warm. My head was pounding and I winced each time I had to swallow. My eyes ached from tiredness and my body ached from the flu that was currently ravaging my body.
Mom, why aren't you here to nurse me back to health? Why? Because of Murata...and Ulrike...and because I'm turning sixteen...
I want Mom, and I want Earth...and I want to feel better, because my head and throat are just throbbing...
I'm awake again... I didn't want to open my eyes because my headache was causing my eyes to twinge painfully. My stomach twisted, causing me to reach down and rub at it, as if it would ease my growing nausea.
I needed to go to the bathroom again. Groaning, I sat up, and brought the palm of my hand to my heated forehead. I shut my eyes tightly as my head spun from my movements. I looked to my right and saw Wolfram asleep beside me, and I contemplated waking him up. Squashing the thought down, I turned to the cup on my bedside table but remembered there was no more water in it. I had to go to the toilet, and then I could drink some water out of the tap...
I pushed myself off the mattress and unsteadily got to my feet. It must have been about five o'clock in the morning, 'cause the sky was a dark blue rather than pitch black. Nausea swirled around my stomach as I approached the bathroom, occasionally trying to rise up into my throat, but I fought it back.
After using the toilet, I scooped running water into my hands and drank it down. My throat seared with aggravation, making me hiss in discomfort. I splashed some water on my face, feeling the radiating heat on my forehead and cheeks. I patted my face dry with a towel and began to shakily head back to the bed.
Suddenly, my nausea intensified and I felt as if I was going to hurl. No, no, I didn't want to vomit, I had nothing to vomit up... My throat, it would burn...! I pushed the nausea back down, repeating to myself, 'Don't vomit, don't vomit, don't vomit...!'
Then, all I could hear was ringing. Oh, God, not this... I stumbled towards the window as my vision began to fade into static, and the ringing got louder and louder until I couldn't hear anything else at all. I found the wall and used it to balance myself. All I could see was grey static, and as the ringing sound intensified, pressure built up inside my skull – my head felt like it could explode.
I was going to faint.
Breathing heavily and panicking, I managed to use the wall to lower myself to the ground. I rolled onto my back and lied there with my legs bent so that my knees pointed up towards the ceiling. My hands were resting on my uneasy stomach as I breathed in deeply, trying to ignore the extreme pain in my head. I wanted to cry out in agony as the pressure in my head got worse and worse, but my throat hurt too much to do so.
I need...help... My blood pressure is too low, so I need a sugary drink...that's what Mom always gave me when this happened... "Wolfram...!" I called his name with difficulty, desperate to wake him up. "Wolfram...hey, Wolfram!"
I squeezed my eyes shut tightly as the pressure in my head increased. Groaning, I kept calling out, "Wolfram...! Wake up, Wolf!"
Finally, I the sound of, "Yuuri...?" I heard his bare feet pad across the floor, and he cried, "Yuuri!" when he found me lying on the floor. I still couldn't see anything, but I sensed him kneeling down beside me and felt him move to lift my head off the floor.
"Wait, Wolf..." I groaned as he lifted my head. "I need to lie down. Gimme a second..."
"Yuuri, let me take you back to bed! You can lie down there, not on the floor..."
"N-no...don't move me, I...need to lie down..." I opened my eyes but I couldn't see his face, just static. "I can't see..."
"You what?" I could hear the alarm in his voice, and heard him move restlessly since he wanted to pick me up. "Wh-wha-? I'll get Gisela, hang on!"
"No, it's okay!" I assured him, despite his panicked/frustrated sounds. "I...I need you to get me a sugary drink, like...like juice..."
"Juice?" He said incredulously. "Why...?"
"It'll help, trust me," I told him, and I felt the pressure in my head begin to fade and my vision clear. I could dimly see his face looking down at me, his expression helpless and confused. "Trust me, it'll fix everything."
He didn't really know what was wrong with me in the first place, but he nodded and headed towards the door, no doubt going to give orders to one of the guards to get me my drink. As I waited for him to return, I lifted my head a little to see if I could sit up, but my head felt too dizzy, so I lied back down.
"Here," Wolfram said after a few minutes, producing a glass of orange juice and a straw. I smiled at him gratefully and took the cup in my hands. I elevated myself ever-so-slightly and sipped through the straw, feeling the juice burn my throat as I drank. I ignored the pain and continued drinking, taking small sips at a time and lying back down in-between.
"Yuuri, what's going on?" Wolfram asked concernedly, eventually helping me to sit up as I felt my dizziness begin to fade away. "Did you faint?"
"Almost," I told him with a mirthless laugh, sipping at my juice. My head began to ache again, and as I lied back down he allowed me to rest my head in his lap.
The ringing had disappeared, I could see again and the pressure in my head had faded, but now my body was racked with heat and shivers, and I shook subtly. Wolfram noticed my movements and looked extremely worried. "Yuuri..."
"I have the flu," I informed him, my teeth chattering. "When I get sick, waking up can be a real pain, and my blood pressure gets too low so I often pass out. The sugar in this juice helps to clear my head... Mom used to give me juice whenever I got sick."
"Are you sure you don't want me to get Gisela?" Wolfram's fingers danced through my hair and along my scalp. My fever caused my skin to be extra-sensitive, so his touch was sending shivers down my spine.
"You can get her in the morning, once she's awake," I said, my head becoming foggier as my fever progressed. "I don't want...to bother her...when I've managed alone so far..."
"Yuuri, you're burning up!" He said anxiously. "Gisela won't mind, Yuuri! I can go get her, and-"
"I don't want to be a bother to anyone..." I murmured quietly, turning so that I was lying on my side and reaching to grip at the end of his nightgown tightly. "I'll...be a good King..."
"Yuuri, what...?" His confusion was evident, I knew that much, but now I was rambling, and that was all I could do. He lifted me gently to my feet, and even though my head ached and I trembled from my fever and the effort, I knew that lying down on the bed would help immensely. He led me towards our bed and sat me down on the edge, touching my forehead with the back of his hand.
His hand felt a lot colder than my head, and I gasped at the touch in gratification. "Wolf, that feels nice..."
I could see him blush at my words, but he didn't respond. "Your fever is as bad as Greta's."
"Sleep...is the best cure for a fever..." I murmured, falling backwards on the mattress in exhaustion, despite his cry of, "Yuuri!"
He came around the other side of the bed and sat beside me, then helped to turn me so that my head was on my pillow and my feet were at the end of the bed. "Hey, Wolf," I addressed him in my deluded state, "Run your hands through my hair. It felt so nice..."
He complied and I smiled widely at the sensations. My scalp always became ultra-sensitive whenever I got sick, so the gentle touches made me moan quietly.
Wolfram seemed to be bewildered, thrilled and embarrassed at the same time, and seemed to pause whenever he heard me make a sound. He would continue his ministrations quickly, however, and soon I was so lost to the touch that my headache began to fade.
My fever was tiring me out and all of my previous nausea and pain had been reduced to a much more tolerable level. Wolfram massaged my scalp with his left hand and held my hand with his right. His thumb brushed against my knuckles soothingly.
"You know what," I whispered, and before he could say anything, I went on, "I can't imagine going to sleep without you being next to me."
"And you know what else," I continued in my ramblings, "I am terrified of making a huge decision on my sixteenth birthday. I don't know what I want, but I know that I don't want to abandon my family on Earth...so, does that mean my only option is to marry you?" He didn't say anything. "Murata loves to make things more difficult, and...I don't know if I want to marry you, Wolf. Not in these circumstances, you know? And not when I'm so young..."
I rambled more, even though I wasn't sure if he was still listening. He was still massaging my head, though. "I guess this could be kinda insulting to you, couldn't it? I'm really sorry, Wolf. I don't want to upset you. You know that, don't you?"
"It feels like I'm trapped, Wolfram... Either way, something between me and the ones I love is gonna be destroyed all because of this stupid ceremony...I don't want to hurt you, Wolf. I don't want to hurt what we have, and..."
"What do we have, Yuuri?" He inquired.
"I...can't describe it," I admitted, squeezing his hand gently. He returned the gesture. "It's so important, Wolf. It is. I don't want to screw things up."
"Do you think that marrying me will 'screw things up'?"
"Not in that sense, just...I don't want to marry you when I'm not ready. And if you're not ready. And if neither of us are ready and it's just so that I can keep travelling to Earth. Do you even want to be King, Wolf? I didn't think you felt yourself suitable or something..."
"I would do it for you, Yuuri."
I breathed in sharply. "Don't. Not for my sake, Wolf, please..." I opened my eyes and gazed at his face, his expression revealing his confusion and sadness. "You look so sad, Wolfram. Your smile lights up my life." His cheeks turned pink, and even though I was complimenting him in a romantic way, I wasn't embarrassed.
I was telling him the truth.
"Smile, Wolf." I smiled at him to encourage him. "Will you smile?"
"Oh, Yuuri..." His voice was so full of emotion as he said my name. Slowly, he lifted the hand he was caressing up towards his face, all his attention focused on the extremity. My eyes widened when I felt his lips kiss th.e back of my hand tenderly. I had never felt such a powerful and affectionate gesture from him, and I could barely contain myself as my heart fluttered desperately.
His lips were so warm.
He murmured something else, but he said it so quietly that the only reason I knew he had said anything at all was because I felt his lips move against my hand.
I wanted to reach up and hold him but my body was too weak, and my brain was too exhausted to think of anything to say. So, I mustered up the most genuine smile I could.
"I'm so glad you're here, Wolf. I'm so glad...that you're with me..." He moved my hand away from his mouth, revealing one of the most beautiful smiles I'd ever seen.
Eventually, my eyes slid shut again, and I felt him move so that he was lying beside me. I inched closer to him, my feverish body craving his warmth. I knew he was getting tired, too, so I allowed myself to relax and embrace unconsciousness.
Before I did, however, I couldn't help but ask him one more question. "Hey, Wolf... To be a good King, do I have to make sacrifices?"
I only vaguely heard his sleepy response: "No, Yuuri... To be a good King, you have to make good decisions. Decisions...that benefit everyone, including yourself."
Caught somewhere between dreams and reality, I promised myself that I would be a good King.
And that meant making a decision.
Author's Notes: Yuuri's all determined to be a good King now! Shame he doesn't want to be Wolf's hubby, but...eh... Yuuri's a huge wimp when it comes to marriage. What a douche. Then again, I'm 18 and I am so not keen to get married, so...yeah. That kinda makes sense, although he did adopt a child...that was kinda weird...
Sorry, I'm rambling. XD Next chapter shall be out soon! I am quite inspired to write it.
This chapter took me HOURS. Honestly, it was just a lot of writing. I had next to no writer's block and it still took me ages. I sacrificed an entire day for fanfiction! I hope ya'll appreciate it.