Title: Samhain Sickness and Solution
Summary: Every so often on All Hallows Eve, illness has a knack for falling upon the ordinary and the not so. One-shot for Halloween.
Disclaimer: I don't own Gargoyles and make no money from writing this.
Warning: Fluff, mention of blood, Magus/Katharine friendship.
This could have come about better, I know, but at three in the morning my focus tends to blur at the edges.
…will we ever stop being afraid of nights and death?
-The Halloween Tree.
The princess was boiling hot to the touch, but still she continued to shake and shiver among the herbs he'd crushed himself in his cracked grinding pot until he'd scraped his knuckles against the clay and some of his blood had been added to the brew (it was of no consequence, and if anything his blood would help more than everything with the minute traces of magic there and then and about his person; the blood would help, he thought, for sure). The marjoram he'd picked that morning had weaved into her dark locks of hair, her sweat making the leaves stick more than they would have otherwise. The nutmeg and chicory clumps seemed to help an hour ago when the large gargoyle by the name of Goliath brought it in, but still, the young sorcerer in training was finicky and sad for the princess.
Sickness was never good when the winter was on the rise and he couldn't bring himself to think of being unable to remove the wet cough from her system before the first snow fall (she would die if he couldn't, and this he knew).
Slithering around under her covers, her much smaller hand (contrary to the belief of some of the castle staff, she had little calluses on the tips of her fingers, scratch marks along the groove of her wrist from fetching a tiny black cat from a tree, things that didn't at all allow her to have skin quite as smooth as royal hands should be) found his on the edge of the sheets. She grasped him firmly and he almost dropped the rag in his other hand (it smelled like chamomile and sulfur, but was warm to the touch because of a quick invocation of magic), but didn't make her let go.
"Please get well," Magus uttered silently, bringing up the rag to her forehead to mop at the sweat beading there, "My princess. Get better."
All the pumpkins on the edges of the castle let out a kind of deep moan that, in the dead set of morning, when she was supposed to be asleep as the young gargoyles were sleeping, had Katharine running up to the tower the Magus had a knack for being about every pagan holiday.
When she got to his room, it was to her horror that she was to find him on the floor, hand clutching at his chest while trying to ignore pain in his other hand that was splayed out in the glass of a broken jug he'd doubtless been holding (a heavy, clear glass jug with yellow diamonds along the middle of it; the liquid staining the floor and mixing with his blood a mixture of berry juice and herbs that Katharine had been taught were for healing) when he'd collapsed in a fit of rising, awful coughing that brought yellow sputum mixed with red to his lips and onto the floor.
He didn't seem to hear her as he dropped his other hand to the floor, the glass digging into the skin of that hand, while his hacking churned and grew into something awful. He most likely would have fallen to the floor if Katharine hadn't taken another moment (those jack-o-lanterns breathed in and out through the cuts in their skin that sounded quite like worry that she couldn't hear, not at all) to drop to her knees and entwine her thin arms around his torso, holding him up; never did she think of the juices on the floor—his blood, oh his blood—staining her robes.
She didn't call for Tom, even when Magus finally did lose consciousness against her form and she had to use most of her strength (muscle and sinew grown from taking care of thirty-six baby gargoyles doing their part to keep her balanced) to bring him up by hooking her arms under his own and over to the bed that the room allowed (it was pitiful even to her much more humble self; just enough room for him to fit if he didn't move during the night with covers that probably didn't fully cover him) to be fit in. She set him down and worried over the blood on his lips that could not have been from his hands.
He had been a little under the weather all week, but had told them not to worry, it would fade over time.
"Oh, you foolish man... You should have told me."
She was still a little cautious around the previous (now current again) inhabitants of Avalon, especially now that she didn't have the Magus to rely on for comfort. Samhain was in the air and some of the darker and more terrible of Oberon's Children kept coming to the place to lurk about and speak with their lord, or bother her and Tom and the gargoyles. She kept having to go to Gabriel to provide company so that when those tricksters Coyote or Raven came along he would have some back-up. The two tricksters always seemed to get bored easily around her—unlike Puck, those two didn't do well for long periods around human females that were no-nonsense and too patient for their liking.
Leaving one of her favorites of the gargoyles to himself as the teasing from the tricksters had passed, Katharine allowed her minor melancholy raise back to her surface as she wandered around to the beach before she tried for the third day to get to the main hall and get a small glass of pumpkin juice or pie without being bothered and then retire. She didn't like being awake on the week of Samhain. She didn't like remembering and bringing open the awful pain of some of the more vivid memories she had of her friend.
Trailing up the castle steps, she almost knocked into another body and had to stop dead before another of Oberon's Children. This one was not unpleasant—not really—but she'd rather not have had to deal with any of the immortals that evening if she could possibly help it.
"Begging your pardon, my lady," Anubis apologized for the shock he'd given the woman, giving a little bow of his head, very proper and polite and unlike many of the others.
Katharine smiled delicately at the death god, and moved around him—only to be knocked into by an odd rise of freezing cold air that had her stop dead in her tracks and look back and forth down the halls and outside the castle.
She turned to the other, who himself seemed to be looking at her with…something of an emotional gentleness.
"What was that?" Katharine questioned politely of the other, light eyes unable to pay mind and be targeted on one thing in the moment but on everything (even the sky).
Anubis shrugged and raised a hand to swirl a finger in a circle (warm air, so warm, cascading from him in the action) before answering as simply as possible, "Perhaps an old friend of yours has come to check on you while the season permits. Odd, though, as most spirits don't travel here that often. We immortals don't make the best creatures to haunt."
Answer given, the death god turned and made back for the way he was heading, leaving Katharine with a smile that she had been needing so badly that week that none of her family (Tom, Gabriel, the other gargoyles) had been able to give her.
Her smile grew wider as another wave of air passed around her—hot and cold and warm—and fiddled with her hair, her eyelashes; warm air especially smooth against her hands.