I woke to an argument.
"Grandfather, please. She needs me!"
"You sit still while I change your bandages! She might be sick, but you aren't in good shape yourself. Now sit!"
"Grandfather!" Elthinor whined.
I could practically see Elthinor crossing his arms and sulking. I opened my eyes to see the ceiling. A dull ache pounded slightly in my side, and I cringed, remembering just how sick I had been. I decided to see how much better I was and slowly sat up. My head spun, but I managed to remain in an upright position. I sat back against the wall to wait. Five minutes. Ten minutes.
"All right Elthinor, you're done," Aloron said exasperatedly.
He was at the door in a second, an exclamation coming from him when he saw me awake. "Filynora! You are alive!"
"Yes," I said quietly, my throat sore and my voice scratchy. "But everything aches."
"That's quite normal. I am surprised, though. I thought for sure you would die. The poison is quite potent. I was near death after only a few hours. You lasted a good two days." He tilted his head back and closed his eyes. "Thank you God for allowing her to live."
I smiled. "I guess I have a little more time here."
"I guess you do," Elthinor replied, smiling back.
Aloron appeared behind Elthinor. "Good afternoon, my dear. So glad to see you alive."
"Good to see you, too," I replied. "Can I have some water?"
"Oh! Of course," Elthinor said quickly, running to get a bucket of water.
He ladled out a spoonful and held it to my lips as he sat down on the edge of the bed. I glared at him, but drank from it. I knew he would refuse to let me hold it myself, so why argue? He smiled knowingly, his green and silver eyes twinkling in merriment. He was obviously trying not to laugh, so on the second ladleful I 'accidentally' knocked over the spoon and drenched his lap. He yelped and jerked up, carrying the bucket of water with him. He stared at me for a moment, then grinned.
"Elthinor you'd better not!" I exclaimed, knowing I could not bolt out of the bed without pain.
He laughed as he dumped the entire container of water over my head. I gave a yell and I heard laughter that belonged to neither of us. I suddenly realized that I had forgotten Aloron, who was holding onto the doorframe to steady himself in his mirth. I snatched the bucket from Elthinor and wacked the green and silver Elf with it. The wood made a dull noise as it connected with his head. Our eyes met for a brief moment, and we began to laugh with Aloron. Once we all stopped, Aloron straightened and I was helped out of the bed, which was stripped of its blankets and sheets quickly. The soaked pillows were tossed off and Leah walked in with Laetitia, both talking and sounding curious. They froze when they saw me.
"Filynora! Why are you all wet?" Laetitia demanded.
"Elthinor dumped a bucket of water on me," I replied.
"She dumped water on my lap!" Elthinor snapped playfully. "So she started it."
Elthinor and Aloron were shooed out, and the shutters on the window were closed. The two females stripped me out of my clothes and got me into some dry ones, remade the bed, then forced me back into it. It was still a little wet through the new sheets, though. Elthinor and Aloron were allowed back in, but Laetitia gave the former a dirty look.
"You had better not do that again. She needs rest."
"Oh, fine," Elthinor said. "But if she starts it again, I will retaliate!"
I laughed at the overly dramatic way he said that and he smiled at me. He slowly sat on the bed; I was reminded just how hurt he was. His wrists had dark bruises on them. Peeking over the edge of the bed, I saw his ankles had the same markings. I felt angry, and my face began tingling. Elthinor's smile immediately faded. He reached over and placed his hand against my cheek, stroking it with his thumb.
"What is wrong, Filynora?" he asked softly.
"He hurt you," I said, my voice breaking.
"I'm all right. Or I will be. You know I will be." He paused then a mysterious smile curled his lips. "You know you look quite beautiful with those on your face," he said tenderly.
I blinked at that. Where in the world did that come from? Me, beautiful? Not likely. I was anything but beautiful. Me? I was messy. Plain. Boring. Unoriginal. A boy. Or nearly one at least. I looked away from Elthinor and saw him frown out of the corner of my eye.
"Nothing," I said and smiled. "Now, am I allowed to eat?"
"Of course," he said, but he was staring at me strangely.
He moved to stand, but I grabbed his hand. "Have Aloron do it."
"Yes, have the old Elf do it," Aloron laughed then held his hands up before I could get on to him for it. "I'm kidding. You both stay down. I believe Leah is making lunch."
I smiled to thank the old Elf, but he simply waved his hand as if it were nothing. I settled back. Elthinor and I sat in companionable silence. He was studying me intently, which made me shift uncomfortably.
"What?" I finally asked.
"Oh, nothing," he said slowly then looked down at his hands.
I frowned but said nothing. I did not understand why he was being so strange. I expected him to be joking and happy, teasing me about dumping water on me. But he looked so serious. And he kept glancing at me. Was it something I had said? Something I had done? I hesitated then placed a hand on his again, squeezing lightly.
"Did I do something wrong?"
He looked surprised and straightened. "Nothing wrong, per se. You just…You are beautiful, Filynora."
I frowned. "Quit saying that."
"But you are!"
I stopped talking, but he continued to stare at me. I did not like it. The tension was broken by Aloron entering the room with two plates in his hands. He paused, looking from Elthinor to me, then frowned.
"I brought your food," he said slowly.
I reached for mine. "Thank you."
He handed Elthinor the other one. "Is there a problem?" the older Elf asked slowly.
Elthinor looked at me then began shaking his head. "I don't think so. But I shall inform you if that changes."
I looked down at the food and began to eat. Elthinor did the same, and Aloron just stood there staring.
"Are you sure?"
Elthinor met my eyes, but I quickly looked away again. "No," he said then left it at that.