A Friend Should Bear His Friend’s Infirmities
Mireya put on a warm robe over her nightdress and walked quietly through the connecting door and hall she had put in to secretly commute from her state of rooms to her brothers. The light was barely even a glow shaking the veil of night off to the rise of morning. She quietly opened the room to her brother’s bedchambers and made her way to his bed. He was not asleep, he had heard her coming. He could always hear her coming.
She lifted the heavy covers and crawled into bed next to him. They both just lay there quietly for a time listening to the other breath in contentment. Mireya whispered, “What dreams did you have?”
Baldrik whispered back to her, “I dreamed that I was a great big bear and broke into the kitchen. I gathered up so much food I couldn’t hold it all. But then I woke up.”
“Did you get to actually eat any this time?”
“Do I ever? Stupid dreams,” Baldrik and Mireya laughed as quietly as they could, but the joy was full and deep. They were like two small children creeping in the dark to the others room while their parent’s slept. Mireya and Baldrik had done this for years, always Miraya coming in to check on him. Some days she was earlier than even the hint of dawn because her worry for him kept her awake. If he were still asleep, sometimes she slept next to him. And she would then finally sleep the deep and contented sleep of knowing the one she loved most in this world was safe.
“I really like Althea; I’m glad you found her.” Baldrik said, changing the subject from dreams. It had been almost a week since Althea arrived, and though she hadn’t tried anything much quite yet but listen, just the act of letting him release did wonders for his mind. He finally found the courage again to battle the forces that fought against him in his own body.
“I didn’t find her, Durai did. But I’m glad you like her. I like her very much, too.” When Althea wasn’t working with Baldrik, one of her pastimes was listening to Mireya unload her burdens as well. Mireya felt incredibly selfish. She certainly didn’t mean to burden the Healer, and she had far less to trouble her than her brother did. She would love to see Althea take on the many facilities within the Palace or Courtside to divert her and entertain her, but she stayed with Mireya. It was as if Althea knew Mireya had her own distress to face before even Mireya realized it. And Mireya was feeling much healthier as a result. Who would have thought the mind and heart were such an important part of physical healing? Obviously Althea did, and the pair were grateful for her help.
“You know what she said to me, Mireya? She said, ’Your suffering is my suffering now.”
“That does make sense,” Mireya replied. “Healers have been known to take into themselves the pain of those they try to help; especially the more difficult cases.”
“None of the others did that.”
Mireya was saddened by this. She was always very disappointed that the others she brought to her brother were not willing to put forth this effort for him. Though she knew that this was asking a lot, especially since their songs and salves were more than likely not to work, she had a hard time forgiving those who didn’t do all they could for her brother. All she could say in response was, “I know,” in quiet shame.
“And I believe her, Mireya. I mean, sometimes after our talks I’ll notice her walk away with a limp. She may not notice it much, but I sure as Hell did. I don’t ask that of people!” He suddenly felt very unworthy of this kind of devotion. And he sunk deeper into his pillow.
Mireya raised herself onto her elbow. She brought her hand to his chin and turned his face to hers. “You don’t have to ask. You never should. You are a very wonderful person. She does this because she wants to! She sees love and light and beauty in your aura. She told me so. She wants to keep this light burning.” She felt the knot growing in her throat and her tears about to escape. “You big dolt!”
And they both fell back laughing.
Baldrik and Mireya spent the entire morning like this, just lying next to each other, talking about everything and nothing like new people discovering life all over again. Their eyes suddenly seeing with new hope a world full of beauty once again.
“You’ve done very well here in such a short time. And I must say that you fit in quite well in these lavishly beautiful surroundings. You’re like an early spring wind cutting through winter.” Durai was walking with Althea in a semi private garden next to their rooms no longer arm in arm but hand in hand. To most people, such rapid progression in courtship would be embarrassingly hasty. But they didn’t care. The people of Magic danced with the living mystical breath of the earth, and they were not ashamed in being swept up by passion. To Durai, the amount he had slowed for the sake of propriety was painfully exasperating.
“You say such lovely things, Durai.” Althea said as she breathed deep the morning air of honeysuckle and dew. She was very happy. Happier than she ever imagined. Not that she was unhappy in her home, but the connections she made here in the palace with Durai, the Queen, and Baldrik were precious to her in a unique way. Sometimes the winds of change blow to places unseen, but once discovered the sight is breathtaking.
“Will you have dinner with me tonight?” Durai asked.
“I have dinner with you every night,” Althea replied. Althea, Durai, the Queen, and Baldrik had dinner together every night since she arrived, sometimes with more if a person of importance visited, but not often. But Althea wasn’t a simpleton; she knew what Durai meant. How could she be so bold as to actually be a tease? The thought amused her and shocked her.
Durai stopped their walk while his hand still held hers and reached to hold the other as well. He knew she was teasing, and it pleased him. If she felt comfortable enough to coyly play this game, then their trust was sturdier and their bond more secure. “I mean,” he started deeply in a way that sent electricity though Althea’s blood, “will you, My Lady, have dinner with JUST me tonight? In my room.”
Althea was all fine and good with toyfull playing, but she didn’t think he meant to dine in his actual room. She thought there might have been some smaller dining hall for … whoever! She tried to hide that she was breathing heavy. Was her heart beating so fast with fear, apprehension, or was this anticipation?
Thinking there would be no finer moment than this here in the garden with the light and air almost as radiant as she was, Durai couldn’t help himself any longer and lowered himself to her lips. The kiss was out of legends, the kind songs were made from and stories were told of. It was gentle at first, but quickly became hungry and full of need. Althea and Durai left the world they knew to trespass into the place of their dreams and fantastic imaginings. If others were present to look on, they would see the breeze wrap around them and roll their hair as intending to set the scene for a painting. There was no sight for her but colors and artistry of pure sensation of his lips on hers, and there was no sensation for him to ground him to reality than the touch of her skin. If they were not careful, they would be swept into the clouds.
“What is it you’re running from?”
“I don’t really want to talk about it now. The sun is almost set, and we need to focus on a safe place to sleep.”
“Was it that you lost someone? Althea?”