Jules sighed as he made the final round of his shift. He was incredibly tired. Things had been fine when Ghia had left; then patients she sent had started arriving. Then he’d really had to work.
Which was not to say he didn’t like work. Quite the opposite. But Head Healer was a larger job than Chief Medical Officer, and the responsibility had been thrust upon him quite unexpectedly. He’d stumbled a bit in his duties, but with the help of the other healers under Ghia’s command he’d recovered admirably.
Ah, well. The crisis was over. Again. After this shift, he had a full day off; so he had only to survive another….
The midnight bell tolled. I guess I’ve survived the shift. He waited long enough for his replacement to arrive before leaving to enjoy his day off. Mainly with sleep.
Halfway to the barracks, he changed course, heading to Aro’s room instead. He’d heard a rumour about the major–several, actually–and worried about his friend. It wasn’t like Aro to be in a drunken stupor. He must be really upset over Anala.
Anala wasn’t dead yet as far as anyone knew, and besides, she wouldn’t want Aro acting so in her absence.
Jules resolved to give Aro some company. The man certainly needed a friend, and maybe Jules could convince him to snap out of it.
Rounding the last corner, he saw he was not alone in the hallway. Just ahead was a short female figure, clinging to the wall for support. Wait a minute….
“Ghia!” The figured turned at the sound of his voice, and Ghia’s tired eyes met his. She smiled weakly, reached a hand to him, and fainted.
Jules muttered an invective and sprang the remaining distance to her side. He gathered her limp form up in his arms and shook her gently, checking her pulse.
“Ghia,” he said softly, “Wake up, girl.” He smoothed her hair back and ran his hand over her forehead. No fever, but there was no doubt in his mind that she wasn’t well. That was Ghia. Of course, she was working herself to death.
Her eyelids fluttered then, and opened slowly. He quirked his mouth in a half-smile and looked down at her. “Your eyes are gold again, Healer,” he said softly.
She made a face. “Damn,” she said, closing her eyes. When she opened them they were their regular hazel again. “Better?” she whispered. He nodded, then moved to help her up. She got to her feet shakily, thanked him, and then turned to go again.
“Not so fast, wench,” he stopped her. “Why aren’t you resting? Actually, why are you here at all? I thought you were still at the clinic.”
She shook her head, unable to form coherent sentences. “No. Nightmares. Need…warn Aro. Anala…danger.” She looked up at him, pleading, but her eyes couldn’t focus and she swayed on her feet. Hastily he looped his arm around her waist and she leaned into the embrace.
He sighed and shook his head ruefully. “I don’t want to argue this with you, but you’re too tired to be doing this. Look at you!” he added as she stumbled into him. His other arm went around to steady her and she rested her head on his shoulder. “Ghia, you’re killing yourself. You need to rest.” His arms tightened around her protectively and he turned to press his lips against her forehead.
This roused her and she made a “mmm” sound against him. She shook her head and pushed her hands against his chest, and his arms loosened enough to let her stand on her own two feet. She frowned, concentrating, and then began to speak with obvious effort.
“Not…it’s not me. Anala. Poison. No…drugged.” She nodded decisively, as if coming to that conclusion just then.
Jules interrupted, unable to stop himself. “How does Anala being drugged affect you like this? She’s on Voco, for Bellona’s sake!” And you’re here, and you are who matters to me.
“Mmmmh,” she said again, frustrated, and her hands gripped his shoulders hard in her struggle to get the words out. “Some…connection. Don’t…understand…either. Made…link when I…” Her brows knit together and sweat broke out on her forehead. “When I….” She tried again, but the words didn’t come. “When I….mmmh!” She moaned in frustration and flailed her arms.
Gently Jules caught her hands in his own and made soothing noises. “Shhh, Ghia, I get it. When you healed her, before she left, right? You made a connection then?” he asked for clarification, letting her give him the answer he already had, and she thought hard for a moment, then nodded, smiling at his understanding.
Oh, great. He had a drug-addled Ghia on his hands who was extremely angry over the loss of her usual verbosity. What fun!
This is no good. He had disconnect her from Anala so that she could function but he wasn’t Magi, nor did he know how to reach the other Magi in the castle. He had to snap Ghia out of it, or get her to contact Rosa.
Her eyes rolled back in her head and she started to fall backwards again. He caught her and gave her a shake. “Ghia! Stay with me, girl,” and his arms moved up her back to support her better. Her eyes opened again and she looked around fuzzily; he brushed her hair from her eyes–it was so pretty, unbound–and cupped her cheeks in his hands, making her meet his gaze.
She looked up at him and blinked slowly, readjusting her focus. She looked almost confused, which amused him. He had been sure Ghia was never confused about anything.
Unlike himself. These days the one thing I’m not confused about is how much I like my friend the healer — and fat lot of good that clarity does me, when she doesn’t feel the same say.
He couldn’t help but think how gorgeous she was, and how much he wanted to kiss her.
It would probably shock her out of her drugged stupor. It would also be a breach of consent, and probably anger her enough to castrate him. As Jules was rather fond of both Desirelle’s sacred laws and his bits and pieces, he didn’t think kissing her now would be the best idea.
Sighing, he relegated his friend the healer to his fantasy life and returned to the reality of trying to wake her up. Without kissing her.