Marie’s cough was getting worse, a rough, hacking thing. Regan retrieved the herbs she asked for from her workroom and diligently followed her instructions as she walked him through making the foul smelling tisane. She told him told let the bundle of herbs steep for exactly one hour before she fell back asleep, so he watched the clock, pulling the bag out of the water at precisely the one hour mark. He ladled some into a mug, and brought it to the bed, setting it on the floor while he woke her.
“Chère” he whispered in her ear. He brushed his hand across her forehead, tucking her sweaty curls behind her ear. A fever, pretty high one too. He sighed and pulled her into his lap, propping her up so she was sitting.
She opened her eyes groggily. “Regan?”
“Yes chère.” He held the cup to her lips. “You need to drink this.”
She took a sip and made a face at the bitter brew but drained the cup slowly. That little bit of effort seemed to have exhausted her and she slumped back against him. “Thank you mon loup.”
He laid her back on the bed, placing a gentle kiss on her brow. He went outside, scooping a handful of clean snow into the washbasin. He splashed some water from the pitcher over it and brought the basin and a clean washcloth over to the bed. He dipped the cloth in the cold water and began wiping her face and neck. She arched into the coolness, moaning softly, so he kept it up. “Water” she croaked. He fetched her a cup, pausing to scoop some snow into the mug. His arm went under her shoulders to help her sit and she drank greedily.
“How long…” her question was interrupted by a coughing fit. He rubbed her back until it passed. She leaned against his chest. “How long since I had the tea?”
He looked at the mantel clock. “2 and a half hours.”
“I should have a cup every 4 hours.”
He nodded and kissed the top of her head. She fell back asleep quickly. He eased her back down and put a cold compress on her forehead. He made some soup, more to have something to do than out of any hunger. She would need the energy though.
He woke her at the 4 hour mark and gave her another cup of the brew. While she was awake he fed her half a bowl of soup, spoon feeding her until she turned her head away form it. Her breathing seemed easier while she was sitting, so he propped her against his chest and held her while she slept, keeping a watchful eye on the rise and fall of her chest. Coughing fits woke her twice before the next dose was due. He gave her water each time and wiped her down with a cold cloth.
At the appointed time he brought another cup of the tea and a cup of the soup. She gagged a little at the tea, but finished it. She only ate a few spoonfuls of the soup before another coughing fit exhausted her. Her fever still raged and her hair hung in damp ropes around her face. He had to get her temperature down. He scooped her into his arms and stepped out into the night. He sat on the stump he used as a chopping block and arranged her in his lap. “Forgive me” he whispered as he grabbed a handful of snow and rubbed it on her chest. Her eyes snapped open and she squeaked in protest but he didn’t relent. He pulled her close and ran more snow over her back. He ran another scoop over her head and neck. He kissed her forehead, hoping to feel her temperature closer to normal. She was still too warm, so he repeated the entire ordeal once more. It would have to do. He didn’t have the heart to do it a third time. He carried her back in and stripped the wet nightgown off and wrapped her in a quilt. He got her to drink a cup of ice water before pulling her into his arms to sleep.
He was dozing when her coughing woke him. “Something… wrong. Should be…working. Must be… spell.” she gasped between coughs. A spell. She had taught him a thing or two about magic. Like salt water can break them. It would also break anything she had active, so the wards on the cabin would have to be redone but that was a small price to pay. He wrapped her in the quilts and carried her to the sea.
The water was relatively calm, the waves lapping gently at the sand. The moon shone in the cloudless sky as he toed off his boots and set her down, unwrapping her gently. He removed his coat and sweater then cradled her in his arms. He walked into the surf until it was up to his thighs. Fuck it’s cold! “Sorry, chère” he whispered then tossed her in. He held his breath as the water closed over her. 5 seconds, 10 seconds, 15 seconds. He was already walking towards her when she rose up, sputtering and coughing. He helped her to shore.
She collapsed to hands and knees, still coughing and gagging. He tried to pull her close but she held up a hand to stop him. It was as if she were trying to get something out of her throat. The coughing fit continued until she spat out a large scorpion. She picked up a rock and smashed it, over and over, until it was a smear. She wiped her mouth on her arm and looked around for him, shivering.
That restarted his brain. He grabbed the quilts and wrapped her in them. “You okay?”
“Better now. Thank you.” She buried her face into his neck. “Take me home?”