"Time to wake up," a voice said and someone nudged me gently.
Angel was standing beside me with a black shirt.
"Morning," I yawned and she smiled.
"Well, it's more like evening but it's nice to see you awake. Sally is demanding to come see you."
I nodded and sat up, making sure the sheet still covered the part of me I didn't want Angel seeing. She helped me pull the shirt on and gently rolled the sleeves down my arms. I winced as her hands brushed against my wounds and she apologized. She then draped another blanket over me so that it covered me from the waist down to my feet. After making sure I was ready, she opened the door.
The little girl came barreling into the room and, before Angel could stop her, she jumped on me. I winced but wrapped my arms around her, feeling the wounds reopen. I did my best not to cry in pain, though, as she pulled out of the hug.
"Did you die?" she asked, her eyes full of tears and I smiled.
I kissed her nose. "No, Sally, I didn't die."
"When will you get to play with us again?"
I sighed. "It own't be for a while, sweetheart."
She frowned. "Did you get hurt?"
"Yeah, yeah I did honey." The tears spilled over her cheeks. "But the princess is taking very good of me," I added quickly, smiling at Angel.
"Don't worry about him, sweetie," Angel said, stroking Sally's hair.
"You'll make him all better, right?" Sally asked, holding our hands. "Because he promised he would marry you and we'd all live happily ever after. Just like the stories!"
Angel laughed, a little pink, and kissed her forehead. "Yes, I'll make him all better."
Sally visibly relaxed and cuddled on my stomach and I was thankful that wound hadn't opened. Angel saw how the blood was making my sleeves stick to me, though, and bit her lip, obviously trying to think of what to do.
"I learned how to add," Sally told me.
My blood was running down my arms. She didn't need to see this. I looked around desperately.
"I'm proud of you," I said and Angel hurried to a cupboard. I couldn't see what she was doing as I said, "What else did you learn?"
"If you mix blue and red you can make purple pain."
I gasped in shock. "Purple paint? Wow!"
She giggled just as Angel returned with more bandages that were hidden under a new shirt. Sally saw the shirt and frowned.
"Does David need a new shirt?" she asked.
"Well, just look at this one," Angel said, plucking at the neck of the shirt. "It's all dirty!"
"I don't see how it's dirty," Sally frowned.
"That's because only adults can," I said and she made an 'o' shape with her mouth.
"Mommy told me how grownups can see stuff we can't." I nodded. "But I'll be a grownup soon and then I can see it!"
I looked down at my hand to see blood. Shit.
"Hey, Sally, can you be a big helper for me?" I asked and she perked up. "I left all of my drawing stuff in the painting room. Can you go get some of it for me?"
"Yeah!" she said and hopped down. Before she got to the door, she turned. She stood straight and pointed at me. "Don't you get out of bed until you're better, David!"
Angel and I laughed.
"I won't," I promised.
She beamed and ran out, closing the door. I let out a groan of relief and peeled the shirt off. I winced at the blood and shut my eyes, feeling queasy.
"You're really good with her," Angel said, taking the bandages off and wiping up the blood. She put pressure on my right arm first.
"So are you."
"I love children," she whispered.
"How many do you want?" I asked, getting a brief image of children running through the halls.
I could feel her hands shaking as she cleaned the wound and rewrapped it with new bandages. I frowned at her silence, feeling like I said the wrong thing. She cleaned my left arm and soon I was back in a clean shirt.
"We'll have to get someone in to change the sheets," she sighed to herself. She pulled a rope and a servant appeared almost at once. "We need some more sheets, pillows, and a blanket."
The servant bowed and went down the hall.
"Angel," I said quietly, catching her hand before she could walk off. She didn't look at me. "What did I say?"
She sighed and sat beside me on the bed. I rubbed the back of her hand with my thumb.
"We found out a few years ago that I can't have children," she said in a small voice.
"What?" I breathed and she nodded, looking anywhere but at me.
"I.... Well, we had a nurse come by. I kept missing my monthlies. She looked me over and...."
I pulled her into a hug and sighed. "I am very sorry, my love."
"I understand if you don't want to marry me now," she whispered into my chest and I felt some tears through my shirt.
I made her look at me and kissed her deeply. "Of course I still want to marry you. Nothing will change that. I love you, Angel."
She smiled, her tears stopping. "I love you, too."
I beamed. The servant came back in with her arms full of sheets, blankets, and two new pillows. Angel helped me out of the bed, wrapping the top blanket around my waist and averting her eyes. I leaned on her for support while the servant worked. I could hear Sally running down the hall so I quickly snatched the bloody sheets and hid them behind Angel.
"I got your stuff!" she said proudly and held the basket out to me.
I ruffled her hair, making her giggle. "You're such a big helper. I'll be better in no time with you around."
Her face broke into a proud grin.
"Can I draw with you?"
"Actually, I think it's almost dinner time," Angel said, shifting a little to keep the sheets hidden when Sally looked at her. "And David needs more rest."
"Maybe tomorrow," I told her.
Sally pouted but nodded. She hugged me around the middle and I had to grip the blanket around me so it wouldn't fall. She left, skipping now that she knew I was okay. Well, mostly.
"I'll bring you some food," Angel said when they all got me back in bed.
"Eat with me?" I asked and she smiled, caressing my cheek.
"Sure. I'll be right back."
I kissed her fingers and leaned back against the pillows. The sheets were warm and I closed my eyes for a minute.
"David," Angel whispered and I jolted awake. "Sorry."
She was holding two trays with steaming food that made my stomach growl. I hadn't had a proper meal in four days.
"Don't be. I just dozed off." She placed the tray on my lap and got into bed beside me, putting the other tray on hers. "What are we having?"
"Roasted duck with mashed potatoes and broccoli," she said and started cutting up her duck.
I picked up my knife and fork and tried to cut mine. The action sent a shooting pain up both of my arms and I grunted.
"Oh!" She quickly took my plate. "I'm sorry! I completely forgot!"
I watched as she cut the duck into small pieces for me. She looked more beautiful than ever. Her hair was pulled back in braids and I reached out to touch it. It was as soft as I remembered it and she blushed when I rested my hand on her lower back. She placed the plate on my tray and I beckoned for her to lean over. I kissed her gently.
She smiled and started eating again. "You're very welcome."
"I've never seen you braid your hair," I said, taking a bite of the duck.
"Sally did it for me."
"I like it."
She smiled then sighed. "She's been in a right state since you got back. When we wouldn't let her in to see you right away, she threw the biggest tantrum I've ever seen. Christina handled it well, telling her you were just very tired."
I sighed. "I wish this hadn't happened," I admitted and she squeezed my free hand.
"I know. But you'll pull through."
"How long do you think until I'm able to walk?"
She shook her head. "I don't know. The nurse should be here soon, though. You can ask her."
We finished our meal in silence. When we were both done, she got under the covers with me and rested her head gently against mine. We spoke quietly about nothing particular and I played with her hand. It was the most comfortable I had ever been. About half an hour later, the nurse came in and Angel got up to help.
I winced when I saw my ankle. It was an ugly shade of dark purple and had swollen even more.
"Be a dear and get my cream please, Princess," the nurse said and Angel dug around in her bag. "This is an ointment I made this morning," she explained to the two of us. "It will reduce the swelling and also speed up the healing process."
"What is in it?" Angel asked.
I closed my eyes and clenched my teeth as she spread it around my ankle. I could hear the nurse talking but the pain was making me see stars, even with my eyes shut. Angel held my hand and the nurse apologized.
"I know it hurts," she said in a soothing voice. "I'm almost done. I'll put this on two times a day."
"When do you think I'll be able to walk again?"
She wrapped a new bandage around the splints. "If this ointment works as I hope it will, then in five days."
I groaned. "Five more days in bed?"
She smiled apologetically and took out a clipboard. She put two fingers on my wrist and I realized she was taking my pulse. She wrote the results down then looked at all of my wounds.
"Did you change your bandages?" she asked.
I nodded. "Sally got a little too enthusiastic so Angel helped me."
"You did a very good job," the nurse praised and Angel smiled proudly. "You've got the makings of a nurse in you, my dear." She removed the bandages from my chest and stomach. She frowned. "Wait. This isn't right...."
"What's wrong?" I asked and she ran her finger gently on the skin around the wound.
I groaned in pain.
"It shouldn't be red and inflamed like this. I think it's infected." She looked at me sadly. "This is going to hurt a lot, David, but I need you to work with me, okay?"
I nodded and gulped as she took out two very painful looking tools. One looked like tongs and the other was a long stick with a grip at the end. She also got out a bottle of clear liquid, a jar of cream, and some gauze.
"Hold his hand," she whispered to Angel. She gave me a thick rod. "Use this to bite down on."
This wasn't boding well.