Chapter Eleven- Comatose
"Az, you've got to wake up now. Come on, you can do it."
Azkedelia groaned and heard a chair scrape against stone tiles and wood creak as someone stood up.
"Az, it's Merlin. Come on, please wake up. Do it for me."
Azkedelia tried to open her eyes, but it felt like her eyelids were sewn shut.
"Az, can you move your fingers?" asked a different voice.
Azkedelia tried to remember what it felt like to move. She heard Merlin's voice.
"Let me try. Az, hold my hand."
Azkedelia felt Merlin's hand cool in hers. She vaguely remembered what it felt like when she used to hold his hand, what it was like before the pain. Azkedelia just barely moved her fingers.
"That's great, Az! But hold my hand. You can do it."
Azkedelia moved her fingers again and felt Merlin's fingers between hers. She felt Merlin tighten his fingers around hers.
Azkedelia felt the bed dip on one side as Merlin sat down. "Okay Az, now try the other hand. You can do it." Merlin slid his other hand under hers. Azkedelia moved her fingers again, this time it was easier to do. Merlin tightened his fingers around hers. Azkedelia tried lifting her right hand.
"What is it, Az? What do you want?"
Azkedelia lifted her hand to her cheek and brushed Merlin's hand across it.
Merlin freed her hand and traced the outline of her cheek bones. "Az, you've got to try to open your eyes. Please try."
Azkedelia tried to remember how to do that simple motion of opening her eyes. It hurt to think. Why did she hurt all over? Azkedelia tried lifting her eyelids. It was hard, like rolling a boulder up a steep hill. Azkedelia tried again and her eyelids opened a small fraction. She saw light! Light…she remembered a time when she was surrounded by light. How long ago was that? It felt like a small eternity. Azkedelia tried again and her eyes fluttered open. At first, all she saw were blurs of color surrounded by light. Azkedelia blinked and the blurs started to focus.
"Az? Az, can you see me? Squeeze my hand if you can see me."
Azkedelia looked at the blur that was closest to her. It had the same colors as Merlin. She blinked again and the blur snapped into focus. Merlin was leaning over her, with tears in his eyes.
"Come on, Az. Squeeze my hand," he whispered in a voice choked with emotion. Azkedelia squeezed his hand in hers.
A tear rolled down Merlin's cheek. "Az? Are you sure you can see me? How many fingers am I holding up? Squeeze my hand for every finger you see."
Azkedelia looked at his hand. Four fingers, four squeezes.
Merlin laughed, relieved. "Headmaster, Dominique, Donia, I think she's going to be okay!"
Azkedelia looked around as the other blurs focused and became the headmaster, her teacher, and her Mythicara.
"Can she speak?" Azkedelia recognized the headmaster's voice.
Merlin shrugged. "It's a miracle she's gotten this far. I hadn't tried that yet."
Azkedelia looked around again. Headmaster DiVanno had turned around and was in a heated discussion with Donia and Dominique. Dominique flinched and Azkedelia guessed he was getting lectured for her latest injury. Azkedelia looked at Merlin, who was still tracing her cheek. She tried to form words, but they stopped at her lips.
Merlin looked at her and pulled her left hand over her stomach. "Az, please talk. Try and say something. Let me know you're going to be completely okay."
Azkedelia took a deep breath and tried again. "I'm sorry I didn't listen to you." Her words were halted.
Merlin looked at her, disbelief in his eyes. "What did you say?"
The words came easier this time. "I'm sorry I didn't listen to you."
Merlin lightly held her chin between his thumb and forefinger and gently lifted her face up. "Az, what are you talking about?"
"You told me not to get hurt again."
Merlin smiled and brushed a curl off her forehead. "It's okay. It was an accident. You didn't do it on purpose."
Azkedelia blinked. "Why do I hurt?"
Merlin's smile fell and his face grew dark. "You were sparring with Kris and he threw you to the ground." Merlin started tracing her cheek again. "Kris has been waiting for you to wake up. He feels really bad. He won't stop beating himself up about it."
Azkedelia leaned her face against Merlin's hand. "How long have I been here?"
Merlin cupped her face. "For about two days. They said if you didn't wake up today, then they would send you to a regular hospital."
Headmaster DiVanno walked back to the bed. "Miss Keystone, glad to see you awake. You had us all very worried."
Azkedelia smiled. "Well there's no need to worry anymore, Headmaster."
The headmaster nodded. "Right. Get well soon, Miss Keystone." With those words, he turned and walked out of the infirmary.
Dominique walked to the bed. "Az, I am so sorry about this. I didn't know anyone would get this hurt. I feel responsible."
Azkedelia put her hand on top of his. "Don't. It wasn't your fault."
Dominique nodded. "I'll go get Kris."
Donia waited until Dominique had left before walking towards her. "Azkedelia Keystone, you've got to be the most accident-prone fey-phoenix I've ever met. It's a miracle you're still in one piece." Donia shook her head. "Just don't get hurt again until you're completely healed, okay?"
Azkedelia smiled. "I'll do my best."
Donia shook her head and walked out. Merlin gently touched Azkedelia's shoulder. She turned her head and looked at him.
"Az, don't ever scare me like that again." Merlin leaned down and kissed her. Azkedelia pulled him closer. Merlin lifted his hand and ran it through her hair.
He slowly pulled back and put his hand on her injured shoulder. "Az, what were you thinking?"
Azkedelia winced. "I wasn't."
Merlin smiled. "You bet you weren't!"
Kris ran to the bed from the hallway and pulled Azkedelia up into a hug. "Az, I'm so sorry. This is my fault, I should have been gentle instead of throwing you down like that."
Azkedelia pushed back. "It's okay, Kris. It's not your fault."
Kris let her go and helped Merlin lay her back down. "Yes, it is. If there's anything I can do to help your recovery, let me know, okay?"
Azkedelia nodded. "I will, don't worry."
Kris nodded. “Thanks.”
Merlin got up and stood behind Kris. "Okay, she needs her rest. You can go now."
"Oh. Right." Kris nodded and walked out.
Merlin shut the door behind him and looked at Azkedelia.
She laughed. "Something bothering you?"
Merlin walked back to her bed. "They wouldn't check your injuries while you were comatose. So that means I have a lot of work to do."
Azkedelia smiled. "Okay. So what all are you going to do?"
Merlin pulled the blanket down to her waist. "I have to go over and check for any injuries. I'm sorry if I hurt you."
Azkedelia nodded as Merlin gently pushed the hem of her top up and lightly ran his fingers over her stomach, searching for other injuries.
Azkedelia gasped. "That hurts."
Merlin closed his eyes and put his hand on her stomach. Azkedelia twisted the blanket in her hands to keep herself from crying out as Merlin's hands slowly moved up. Azkedelia looked at his face. His lips were moving, but the incantation he was saying wasn't audible. When Merlin opened his eyes again, Azkedelia's face was ashen.
"Az, are you okay?"
She shook her head as tears threatened to fall. "It hurts, hard to breathe." Her voice cracked.
Merlin grabbed her hand. "Az, I'm going to have to look higher, okay?"
Azkedelia nodded as Merlin pulled her shirt up higher. He whistled softly when he saw her ribcage.
"What is it?" she asked softly.
Merlin reached to the bedside table land grabbed a small glass bottle. "You've got a cracked rib, maybe two."
A tear rolled down Azkedelia's cheek as Merlin unscrewed the carved gemstone top.
Merlin held the bottle towards Azkedelia. "Drink this. It'll help ease the pain while I do what I can."
Merlin put the bottle against Azkedelia's lips and tilted it. The medicine tasted like cold mineral water that ran from springs deep in the earth. Numbness started spreading down Azkedelia's torso.
Merlin gently wiped a tear from Azkedelia's cheek with his thumb. "Don't cry, Az. I'll make it better."
Azkedelia grabbed his hand and held it against her cheek.
Merlin smiled and leaned down, brushing his lips across her forehead. "Feel numb yet?"
Azkedelia nodded. "I can't feel a thing from the waist up."
Merlin put one hand on the bruised areas of her skin and whispered a healing incantation. Azkedelia gasped as she vaguely felt something shift in her ribcage. A few minutes later, Merlin was done.
He looked up. "Feel better?"
Azkedelia took a deep breath. "Yeah, I can breathe without it hurting."
Merlin smiled and pulled her top back down. "Well, on to your shoulder."
Azkedelia sat up and leaned forwards. Merlin moved to the other side of the bed so he was facing her back.
He looked at her shoulder. "Thanks to your little flight, Pyro's talon marks reopened."
"So it's back to square one with my shoulder?"
Merlin nodded as he got up and grabbed another tray similar to the one from the first time he dressed Azkedelia's shoulder. Merlin brought the tray back to the bed and started grinding herbs in the pestle. He grabbed a square of muslin and dipped it in a bowl of hot water on the tray. Merlin pressed the wet square against the wound. The blood started flowing again and the white square quickly turned red. Merlin rinsed the square in the bowl of water and pressed it against her shoulder again. After the wound was clean and had stopped bleeding, Merlin grabbed another square and dipped it in the herbal mixture. Azkedelia winced as he wiped the mixture on the wound.
Merlin pulled the muslin away. "Does it hurt?"
Azkedelia nodded. "With the fabric, it feels like you're scratching me all over again."
"Okay." Merlin placed the fabric back on the tray and dipped three fingers in the cool mixture. He gently rubbed the poultice across her shoulder. When her shoulder was sufficiently covered in the green poultice, Merlin grabbed a roll of gauze and tightly wrapped Azkedelia's shoulder.
Merlin helped put her arm back in the sling. "Now keep the sling on and no more flying until you're healed."
Azkedelia nodded. "So now what?"
Merlin picked her up bridal-style. "Now I carry you to your room and you can get some rest."
"But I'm not tired."
The feel of Merlin's footsteps against the stone floor was a softly lulling rhythm, like rain beating on a roof.
Merlin walked towards the grey and lavender stone stairs. "Of course you aren't."
Azkedelia stifled a yawn. "I'm not," she protested.
"Sleep," Merlin whispered as he walked up the stairs. Azkedelia fought to keep her eyes open, but it was a fight in vain. Her eyes closed and the last thing the remembered was the sound of Merlin's heart beating steadily against her ear.