Chapter 2 – When It's Over

She lay in the hospital bed, surrounded by people she could not see. She had tubes going out of every spot in her body, or so it seemed, and the beep of the machines rang mercilessly in her ears. She slowly opened her eyes, regretting it immediately: thousands of strange eyes, or at least that's what it looked like, watched her closely. She did a quick search around the room, her brain not really focusing on anyone, but the owner of those friendly brown eyes who was the only one able to comfort her wasn't there. She panicked; without him, she was alone, no matter how many people there were in that room.

"Joseph…" she whispered, reaching for the closest person "Bring me Joseph"

"Your Majesty, he's…" a familiar female voice answered

"Charlotte? Joseph, where is he?" she managed, but was too weak to continue.

"Clarisse" said Charlotte softly

"Please. I need to see him" she had never begged in her life. She had never needed to.

"He is in the room next door, Your Majesty" she heard the Prime Minister saying, but he sounded too far away for her to care.

"Bring him here" she struggled to say. It hurt too much to speak.

"That's not possible, Grandma" Mia was there too, Clarisse thought. How many people were there?

"Oh, God" to talk seemed to get more tiring with each second "Why?"

"He is… We can't bring him here"

"Then get me there. I want to see him"

"How…" Charlotte began, but Clarisse cut her off, angrily.

"Find a way. That's what you get paid for"

She closed her eyes, since keeping them open required an amount of strength she couldn't find within herself at the moment. She knew she had probably been too harsh with Charlotte, but didn't apologize. She was too tired, but didn't fall asleep either; how could she? She had to make sure he was safe. She heard the door opening, and Charlotte talking to someone in hushed tones.

"Your Majesty?" she asked

"Yes?" Clarisse managed.

"We will get you in a wheelchair so we can go to his room. Are you sure you can do it?"

She didn't answer, but Charlotte didn't need any confirmation. It was Joseph they were talking about.

"I still think you need more rest, Grandma"

Clarisse laughed tiredly, but it came out more like a grunt, while trying to suppress a childish answer. She resisted the urge to scream in pain when she was brought to a sitting position helped by Charlotte and a nurse.

The trip down the hallway to Joseph's room took a few seconds, but for Clarisse it lasted hours. Her exhaustion and eagerness to see him caused her impatience to go beyond words. If she could, she would have gotten up from the awful wheelchair and run. But her arm was broken – she had just noticed it – and her legs seemed unable to support her, not to mention the darned tubes on her sides. What were they for, anyway?

Charlotte stopped pushing the wheelchair and opened a door. Inside, Clarisse could see only the outline of a man's body lying on the bed, and hear the terrorizing yet soothing beep of the machines, the only thing assuring her the man wasn't dead. The curtains were closed, leaving the room in complete darkness, saving for the light coming from the hallway. Charlotte positioned the wheelchair beside the bed, and hesitated before asking if she should leave.

"When will he wake up?" ignoring the other woman's question, Clarisse found Joseph's hand under the cover, squeezing it tight.

"No one knows yet. He's been in a coma since the first surgery"

"Surgery?" Clarisse's voice dropped, and suddenly, it was too hard to breathe, once again.

"He had two. I don't understand much of medical language, but…" Charlotte trailed off, in a failed attempt to make a joke.

"There were consequences" It wasn't a question, nor it was a statement. It was merely the hope of being proved wrong.

"That's not certain, Your Majesty" said Charlotte, eager to comfort.

"No, it is not" Clarisse whispered, her mind elsewhere, her fingers gently caressing Joseph's "Charlotte, could you…?" she did not need to finish, for Charlotte was already closing the door behind her. The model of efficiency, Clarisse thought with a sad smile before turning her attention to Joseph's face. He looked so peaceful – like he was resting in the end of an extremely tiring and long day. He was pale, and if she had bothered to search, she would have found many scrapes and bruises along his body, especially his arms. But her stare was solely focused on his face, as if she could force him to open his eyes by looking at him only. She gripped his hand with a newfound strength and longed to rest by his side.

"Oh, Joseph" she voiced her worries "Do me the favour of waking up, will you? I miss you already"

She smiled, knowing he would have probably retorted with a witty comment. Choking back tears she hadn't noticed were waiting by the corner of her eyes, she added:

"When you wake up" she couldn't bare to say 'if' "When all this is over, it's going to be different for us. I will find a way"

She leaned forward to cup his face, a habit she had acquired over the last few years, and one she knew he adored. She remembered doctors usually said patients in coma could still hear what people said to them. Clarisse hoped he understood the implications of her promise and that it gave him strength to wake up as soon as possible. And hoping was all she could do for the time being.

TBC

A.N.: Another one and I hope you enjoy the lack of Heather (which won't last long, by the way). Thank you to my lovely reviewers, (MaddieGaines, Clarisse Renaldi, VictoriaGr, Ursa, negschainsaw and JulieFan35 ), I really appreciate every single word you've written me. More to come soon! But please, tell me first if I should go on with it!