Meggie sat on a park bench, shaking with fever. Her illness was getting worse, causing her icy hands to shake. She had maybe a week before the disease that Orpheus planted in her body took effect.
She hunched over and put her head in her hands. She thought back to the time when she had been imprisoned in Capricorn's castle. She thought about Farid, and wondered what he was doing now. And lastly, Dustfinger. Oh, how she missed him.
She thought of his face, the three scars given to him by Basta, the slightly bumpy nose, that had broken at one time, the sandy eyebrows and hair.
What she wanted most of all was to see him again, hear his laugh, his slight Scottish accent. But that would never happen now.
"Meggie?" she opened her eyes, and there was the man of her dreams, or at least his boots. Oh how she missed those boots. Her eyes traveled up his body, and she drank in the sight of him, his sandy hair, his blue eyes, he looked exactly the same, but younger.
How could this be?
He must have had someone read him younger for all those years he missed in the human world.
Meggie slowly stood up, shaking slightly. Then, she hugged him. He was surprised at first, then he gently hugged her back. Then, the pain in her stomach came back, and she sank back to the bench. Dustfinger looked at her worriedly.
"Are you alright?"
"Yes" she whispered in reply. She had never felt better, Dustfinger was back, and that's all she needed. Then, her world turned black.
When Meggie woke up, she was in her room. The familiar room with the light blue walls, ocean blue curtains and the window seat. She loved this room, it used to be her mother's. Now, her mom slept in Mo's room, which was fitting.
Then, Meggie remembered all that had happened. She ran downstairs and into the kitchen, sliding to a halt. Her father was sitting there, reading the newspaper, and her mother was making pancakes.
"Where is he?" She asked, unable to keep the tone of joy out of her voice.
Her father pointedly looked over her right shoulder. Meggie turned to see that Dustfinger was standing right behind her, his blue eyes piercing into hers.
"Are you feeling alright, Meggie?" he asked, clearly worried about her since the last incident.
"Never better" she replied, giving him her biggest smile. Then she turned pink when she realized that she was wearing only a thin nightgown. Dustfinger must have followed her train of thought, since he flushed as well.
"Excuse me, one moment" Meggie said, dashing back up to her room to change.
Mo ruffled his newspaper, looking at Dustfinger over his glasses.
"What" Dustfinger said blankly.
"You touch my daughter in any way inappropriately, you die" Mo said casually, going back to his reading. Dustfinger swallowed. Risa came in from the kitchen, giving the other man a small smile.
"We must thank you, Dustfinger. Meggie has not been the same since the castle, with her illness and all. I think your return will do her good" Risa said quietly. Dustfinger opened his mouth to ask about the illness, when Meggie clattered into the sitting room, pulling on gloves and a scarf.
"Come on, Dustfinger. Let's go for a walk, tell me all abut your travels"
Before Dustfinger knew what was happening, he was being whisked outside into the brisk fall air and down the country lane.
"So, what brought you here?" Meggie asked, skipping down the road to keep pace with her companion's long strides.
"I- wanted to see you" Dustfinger answered, a hint of a blush on his cheeks. Meggie laughed.
"No treasure, no evil men... Just us?" Dustfinger nodded, refusing to crack a smile. Meggie bumped his side, finally getting him to crack a small smile.
After they went along the road for a while, Meggie turned off down a small path. The sound of running water met their ears, and Meggie sighed.
"I like it out here in the country, it's... somewhere that isn't busy" Meggie said. Dustfinger nodded in reply.
"Certainly nicer in the fall season" He commented, Meggie made a noise of agreement.
Secretly, Meggie's mind was racing. She shouldn't have done all the running around that morning... It was shortening her mobility. Already she was tired and felt feverish. Soon the stomach pain would start and she would get weaker and weaker.
"What did your mother mean, Meggie... When she said you were ill?" Dustfinger asked, scuffing the ground with his boot. Meggie gasped slightly.
"I- ah..." Was all she could reply. Dustfinger met her eyes, still awkwardly scuffing his boot in the leaves.
"Orpheus read a curse off of an ancient seal while I was imprisoned, and the curse latched itself on my body" Meggie pulled up her shirt to reveal an ugly black mark with faded words barely visible that was painted across her abdomen. Almost like a page of words that had ink spilled on them.
"The mark is sapping away my life, making me sick. I only have a few more days or so left" Meggie continued. Dustfinger stared at the black mark covering Meggie's flat stomach.
God, why did it have to be her? She was so young, so innocent... Meggie lowered the fabric to cover the mark, and Dustfinger shook himself. He was speechless, and she needed him to say something to her, comfort her.
Dustfinger's fists clenched and unclenched, and Meggie could see he was trying to choose what to do.
She stepped closer, tears collecting in the edges of her eyes, and wrapped her arms around Dustfinger's middle. He started at the unfamiliar contact, but then relaxed into it, holding Meggie close to him. They stood like that for quite some time.
Then, Meggie moaned in pain, her knees beginning to give out. Dustfinger realized she was shaking. He picked her up and began to walk back to the house, a stone of fear rolling around in his chest.