ashes and snow

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twenty-eight


Her arm around Cailin’s waist to keep her upright, they both slowly made their way into the medical room again. Once they surpassed the door, they immediately saw Hedwig.

He was waiting for them by her bed. Eira barely noticed that he had changed his clothing and was now wearing a fawn tunic and dark trousers. She couldn’t even focus enough to see if he was wearing shoes at this moment. He would freeze his ass off if he wasn’t, but Eira wouldn’t complain.

He was lucky that she still wasn’t able to utter a single word. From the moment they had walked into the room, she had felt Cailin tense up. That didn’t sit right with her. She had other things to care about than this old man.

Her legs felt wankier with every step she took, and she knew that she wouldn’t be able to stand up for some time after she had sat down. Only standing up and taking a bath had tired her out to the point where she felt like she needed to sleep for at least another day.

It was honestly embarrassing at this point.

“Is everything alright, queen Eira?”

She groaned when she finally sat down. Cailin took place right in front of her. Her muscles protested with every move that she made. She leaned her back against the headboard of the medical bed.

She didn’t even complain when the metal dug into her back.

It took her a second to even realize that she was supposed to answer. Her head quipped up, and she opened her mouth. “I-” she croaked. She frowned. Her throat was clogging up again, and she raised her hand to her neck. She swallowed down against the pain. There was no other word she could utter at this point.

Whatever potion he had given her, it was messing with her body. That could be the only explanation. She didn’t grow sick.

She simply refused to.

It would be so... human of her. And losing her magic to it was one of the factors too. She knew that it would come back, but it would take time. Maybe even more time than she could stand. Not using it even though she could feel it crawling beneath her skin was the worst.

“She’s not able to speak,” Cailin interrupted the silence for her. She was barely meeting Hedwig’s eyes. Her was shyness corrupting everything.

Hedwig didn’t notice any of that, though. He was focused on Eira, his brows furrowed. “I see,” he muttered. A second later, he walked toward them, passing Cailin without a second glance. “Can I?” he asked as he lifted his hand to her chin.

She couldn’t do anything other than complying as he tilted her head back. She was tempted to bit his fingers off then and there but stopped herself. Cailin was in the room. She didn’t need her to see that. Especially not if she couldn’t make her forget all of it again.

There was still a slight amount of guilt from the first time she had done it, but there was no taking back what she had done. Taking away memories meant taking them away forever. There was no giving them back.

She had taken loss and guilt before, the memories of a lifeline and one filled with despair. Not once had she regretted her decision to do so, but now, it somehow was different. She had noticed the headaches it had caused Cailin after that. But she had to remind herself that Cailin wouldn’t have wanted to remember the encounter in the woods anyway.

She wouldn’t need to live with the knowledge of what that man had wanted to do to her.

Hedwig pried her mouth open with his other hand and held her there. He hadn’t even asked for permission to do so. How rude. He was so focused on the inside of Eira’s mouth and gums that he didn’t notice the look she and Cailin shared over his shoulder. The girl was holding her hand over her mouth as she tried to keep herself from laughing.

If only Eira could say the same about herself. She was getting angrier with every second, and she was tempted to just cough into his face.

Maybe he would run away and leave her alone because he thought he would get sick himself too...

She was just daydreaming at this point. If she would do anything wrong, they could decide to not let her out until she was better. And she knew that she wouldn’t be the one to decide about that. Arkyn would only listen to Hedwig about this. She knew that.

The gods be damned, all of this was so frustrating.

She just wanted to get out and take a walk and not be in this mess. She needed to feel better, and if that took days, weeks, or even longer, she would lose her mind.

“Your throat seems inflamed,” Hedwig muttered, and she wasn’t sure if he was talking to himself or her. Her eyes wandered to him again, and she stared up into his nostrils. There were things she had never wanted to see from a man. Her nose wrinkled, but his grip was too tight to be able to move away from him.

He didn’t even notice her reaction. A stifled laugh came from Cailin. She seemed to be the only one that was enjoying this.

At long last, Hedwig finally took a step away from her and let her move again. She swallowed and cringed as he laid the back of his hand against her forehead, his brows furrowed.

A few seconds passed before he continued, “And you seem to still run on a low fever... Have you put the potion into her bathwater as I told you, seventy-three?”

Cailin flinched again. It took her a second to nod and mutter her response. “I did.”

Eira’s teeth clenched. Had he poisoned her again? The answer was evident as she felt her magic rumble beneath her skin, crawling through her veins like thousand of ants. Goosebumps appeared on her neck, and she had to keep herself from shuddering.

It only took a couple of seconds for her to feel the weight of everything even harder on her shoulders. She knew that this potion was keeping her from getting better.

She would have to get free of it as soon as she could.


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