The Scent of Happiness
Standard disclaimer applies; not my characters or settings or backgrounds. But they are my words.
She woke to the scent of flowers; light, sweet, hanging in the air around her. Eyes closed, ignoring the soft beep of machinery and the whispering tread of medical personnel, she could almost imagine herself in the Moon Garden of Yedor, back on Minbar. The garden had been surrounded by a high wall on three sides, and had been a favorite of hers; a place to linger, to walk, and to think. It was especially beautiful when one moon was full and the other in crescent. At that time, it was forbidden for children and younglings to visit. Of course, children were normally asleep that late, and students were confined to their dormitories or compounds by both rule and custom. The Garden at moonrise was for adults.
It was for lovers.
Turning to one side to ease the ache that radiated from the wound in her back, Delenn opened her eyes to see a tight cluster of white flowers lying on the table next to her bed. Just under the blooms, at the top, the stems were tied together with something silver that glinted even in the dimmed lights of the medical bay. Reaching out to touch the coiled petals, she couldn't suppress a gasp as the pain flared and surged.
Easing her hand back down to her side, she shifted her gaze to see a large dark shadow in a chair drawn up next to her bed, near the foot of it. "John?" she asked, confused as to why he would be here. It must be the middle of the night; it was long after his duties should have ended.
"I stopped on my way back to my quarters and bought you this." He stood, and picked up the small bouquet. "I thought you might like something besides steel and bandages and hospital gowns to look at." Handing her the flowers, he added, "I don't know what they are; I just asked for something small and white, that would smell sweet but not too strong."
She held tight to the flowers and wished she could see him more clearly. The light that filtered in from the central bay was in her eyes, and he was in shadow. "Thank you," she said, not knowing what to add. If she started to speak, she might not stop, and there were so many things she wanted to say.
"I was watching you sleep." He laid his hand lightly on her cheek, touching it gently as if it were a flower in full bloom, as if more pressure from his fingers would dislodge the petals. "I didn't mean to intrude, but I wanted to leave you the flowers, and I didn't want to wake you."
Delenn felt a thrill of warmth run through her at the thought, then stopped her speculation with a cold dose of logic. There was no reason to suppose that John was aware of Minbari rituals.
"You were sleeping so peacefully..." John settled back into the chair, and added, "You were smiling."
She could hear the question in his voice, but her silence continued, her voice muted by fear. Words had so much power, and there were still so many secrets. Finally, she managed to say, "I was thinking of what you said earlier." Tucking the flowers under her chin, she held onto the stems, her fingers tangled in the silver ribbon. The scent was all around her. Unable to keep her eyes from drifting shut, she whispered, "That is why I was smiling."
John had resumed his vigil. "I know," he answered in her dreams.