|Summary:||Oh, you knew this was coming. Rowan takes up vigil when she learns of Gedeon's infection.|
|Related Logs:||The March West, A Day in the Field, The Arms Coat Goes on the Outside, Prone, Old Friends and New|
|Oldstones Tent — Frey Army Campsite|
|Cloth walls! Dirt floor! A cot!|
|09 January 289|
Word that the Tordane bastard's injury has become infected has spread wide enough that ears listening for it will have heard it by the following morning. Certainly, if Senna Delacourt had hoped to sew the man shut and have him on the path to improvement, that's been deferred, now. In the Oldstones' tent, Gedeon lies on his back with a heavy blanket drawn up to his shoulders. His coloring is too pale, except for his cheeks and throat where the red flush of fever has added a brighter hue. If his skin is a little clammy, he's not yet sweating the fever out, despite the warm bedding's attempt to do just that. The man is sleeping, but fitfully. His eyes roll beneath closed lids, and now and again his brows lower or his lips part on a small anxious gasp or his head or shoulder jerks a little, muscles reacting to the larger motions he makes in his unsettled dreams.
Squire Rowan arrived early, expecting to hold Gedeon's hand as Senna's needle closed his wound… She hasn't left since. The wounded knight's ex-squire has insisted on doing as much for him as is practical, sitting by his cot like a loyal hound, practically growling at one of the healers when the man tries to apply a cool cloth to Gedeon's feverish brow. She can do that, thanks. And she does, frequently turning, rinsing and refreshing the cloth — anything she can to ameliorate the overwhelming helplessness of watching him suffer. Now she simply sits with his hand in both of hers, pressing a kiss to his knuckles in hopes to soothe his restless twitching. Somehow communicate, through the delirium and pain, that he's not alone.
His fingers twitch as she holds his hand, reaching for something or curling away from it in his dreams. The kiss has Gedeon sucking in a harder breath, eyes snapping open, though their gaze is glassy. Even the blue of his irises seems too light. He looks quickly around the room, attention flicking from spot to spot, though his head remains still. It's obvious, the moment he realizes where he is, as short, panicked sucks of breath in through his nose dissolve into a slow sigh past his lips. "Gods, I hate fever dreams," he exhales. The words are not addressed to Rowan, particularly. It may be a question as to whether Gedeon is even aware he's speaking. "Always so young in them."
She holds his hand the tighter, freeing one of her own to turn the cloth on his forehead. The hand slips down to caress his burning cheek. "It's alright," she assures him, voice low and gentle. "You're going to get through this. And I'm not leaving until you do."
Gedeon does turn his head a little, to peer over at the girl/boy perched beside him. It may be this is the first time he's properly noticed she's there. "Rowan?" In case, you know, she isn't. "You can't… not my squire. Not your knight."
"Who gives a shit?" is Rowan's response, her smile crooked and warm. Certainly not she. "My knight, at present, has two squires, and Caytiv Hill's well-capable. It's you who need me right now," she smirks at herself, then admits, "Or, probably, more me that needs to be here. I don't know. You're sick. I'm staying. Suck it." She gives his hand another squeeze.
"Selfish creature," Gedeon murmurs, though the words sound more bemused than truly upset. "You're a squire. Serving in a time of war. It's not for you to decide when and where you're needed. What became of all those knightly virtues you so espoused?"
"One of them is mercy," argues Rowan, thoroughly the brat. "What's more merciful than comforting the sick? Also sworn to the Mother, remember." She touches his cheek again, then asks, "Will you take a little water?"
"Another is obedience, I believe," Gedeon points out around a small shiver. "You're terrible at that one. Going to get us both labeled as buggers if you keep carrying on so." For the water, there is a small sigh but then a nod.
"I'm not disobeying anyone." Yet. She fetches a cup of cool water, propping an arm behind his head and helping him take a sip. "Everyone already thinks I'm a bugger. You can just claim I've a crush on you — in fact, you can claim it's why you got rid of me. Your masculine bona fides will be intact."
There is a small wince as his head his lifted, which causes his neck to lift, his shoulders and chest to shift and his belly muscles to tighten. Or try to, around the place where they're severed. Gedeon accepts the drink of water, taking a few small swallows before he stops and shakes his head. Because swallowing makes those muscles move, too. "So, this is how it's going to work, now?" he queries quietly enough that the words won't travel past Rowan's ears. "When one is hurt, the other rushes to their bedside, and in between, we ignore one another?"
"I have no idea how it's going to work," says Rowan, just as soft, gently and very slowly lowering him back. She sets the cup aside, then takes the cloth from his forehead, rising it in cool water, wringing it out, and replacing it. "I expect we'll figure it out as we fumble along. All I know is you're hurt, it's grave, and I'm here. I can be here — I'm not half a world away, or even in another town. I'm not going to toss that providence back at the gods."
"Providence," Gedeon says with a wry smirk, weak for all he tries to call it up, "I don't think that's what this is, unless it was also providence I should be sliced and now sickened. Well," his brows lift his what he uses for a shrug just now, "Perhaps it is."
Rowan snorts softly. "Hush," she murmurs, her smile painful. "You might want to practice a little piety at death's door."
"You have to believe it will get you anything, first," Gedeon murmurs, using his free hand to tug the covers a little higher. "Circular logic, they call it. Why…" he blinks slowly, eyes staying shut for a moment, "why is it so damnably cold?"
"Can't hurt to hedge your bets," says Rowan, wryly. She helps pull the covers up and tuck them around him, smoothing back his hair. "You've lost blood and you're running a fever," she explains gently. "It's going to be hot and cold, hot and cold, until it breaks. Try to rest."
"Oh," is Gedeon's opinion of the fever and the blood loss and the hot and cold flashes. His lips quirk and he peers over at Rowan through fever-glazed eyes. "Suppose it wouldn't, but I'm trying to be more forthright. Impress this girl I know."
Rowan smiles at that, uttering a low, sweet, aching laugh. "Are you, now?" she murmurs, combing fingers back through his hair.
"Mmm," Gedeon agrees, letting his eyes close as fingers thread through his hair. "Not that she'll have me. She's better options."
She goes on stroking his hair, swallowing the tears that rush to gather on her lashes. "I don't know. Brave knight, fair of face, heir to Stonebridge — she'd have to be pretty foolish to pass all that up."
"Bit more complicated than that," Gedeon murmurs, tilting into her touch a little. "She saw me for what I am. Didn't suit." His eyes open again and he says, a bit more sincerely, "You should go."
"But first, she saw you for what you could be," replies Rowan, softly. "Which is why she loved you. And maybe she believes you can still be that, which is why she loves you still." She shakes her head slightly. "Not until the fever breaks. You want me to go, mend."
"Can't love potential," Gedeon opines softly with a slow sigh, "Can only hope for it. You're his squire, Rowan, and he needs you. The mercy you offer me is a cruelty to him."
"I can believe, and hope you come to believe the same," Rowan says on a breath, aching. "I'm not good at many things, but I can believe passionately and fanatically and despite all reason. It's really best not to provoke zealots." She sets her jaw. "Melodramatic and ineffective," she states of his argument that she's being cruel to Jarod. "Depriving him of his extra squire is hardly cruel. Stop fucking arguing with me."
"Your actions tell him something he doesn't want to know, and which isn't true," Gedeon argues yet further. "You need his trust, his confidence. He needs to be reminded you're loyal. Go be a zealot about something actually worthwhile."
"He knows I'm loyal," Rowan insists, sighing, her patience as frayed as her nerves. "He also knows I'm not the kind of person who's just going to — to abandon someone I love, just because things… I wouldn't have done it to him. I won't do it to you. Love is complicated and dumb — but it doesn't just go away because we can't live happily ever after."
Gedeon peers up at Rowan for a long moment before breathing out slowly and letting his eyes close again. Too tired to argue further or too disinclined to keep pushing her away. "As you like," he murmurs, trumped.
Rowan breathes out, closing her eyes as well for a moment. "Thank you," she whispers. She wets and wrings out the cloth for his forehead again, retucks the covers, and settles in for the long haul.