kindness is the best medicine


    When Nanna informed Seliph that Ares was bedridden, he almost didn't believe her.

    "You're serious?" The young prince asked, head tilted slightly and brows furrowed. Ares always seemed to be perfectly healthy, swinging Mystletainn easily at any and every opportunity.

    "Yeah... shocking, right? Lene says he's actually had a fever for days but kept working himself too hard through it." It may have been surprising, but it sounded exactly like something Ares would do. Lene had asked Seliph to come check on them, so Nanna led him down to Ares' tent while explaining a bit more of what had been going on.

    When they reached their destination, Nanna opened up the tent flap for Seliph to spot the other prince looking much worse than he had ever seen him. Propped up slightly, a damp rag over his forehead, and covered in a heap of blankets, his face was flush and his typical cross expression just made him look absolutely exhausted. From what Nanna said on the way there, he probably was. Lene was tending to him as best she could with their current resources - it seemed as if Nanna had been helping her cousin as well, and Seliph was sure that it was one of Lana's herbal teas over on the table. Ares must have really been out of it, because it took him a good few seconds for his expression to sour even further as he noticed Seliph's presence.

    "Did you really need to call him here?" Oh, yikes. His voice was rougher than usual, and it sounded like he badly needed to cough. Lene frowned.

    "Yes, really. He's in charge and needs to know exactly how your condition is." Ares gave a weak grimace and tried to huff, only to break into a nasty coughing fit. Lene looked at him sympathetically, then cast her gaze over to Seliph. "I don't mean to bother, but would you be able to help out a bit when you aren't busy? It's just Nanna and I right now, so we can't look after him as much as he'll need." Seliph thought he saw Ares flinch as Lene spoke, but he couldn't be sure of it.

    "Oh, well..." He was usually busy, certainly, but Lene was right about Ares not having enough care between the two girls and their also-busy schedules. And Ares was his best friend, after all - Seliph could afford to take the time out to look after him when he was this ill. "Yes, I'd be happy to." He gave a smile and nodded to Lene.

    "That's great! Thanks so much, Seliph!" Lene beamed back and the prince could feel his cheeks go a little red.

    "So I don't get any say in it?" grumbled Ares. Lene turned to him and frowned.

    "No, you don't, because if you did have a say there wouldn't be anyone looking after you at all." Ares scowled and opened his mouth to say something but was cut off by more coughing.

    "Lene," Nanna spoke up, "You have things you need to take care of too, right? I'll take over for now." She walked further in and waved Lene off, while Ares made a rough sound probably meant to be a huff.

    Lene made to exit, pushing Seliph along with her. "Right, thanks Nanna! He'll need more tea soon, and the rag needs to be soaked pretty often. I'll see you later!" Once they left the tent, she turned to Seliph. "I've got one more thing to ask... do you think you could watch Ares during the night? He's been having trouble sleeping so he needs care then, too, but he won't have Nanna or I staying in his tent at all."

    Seliph furrowed his brows. It certainly seemed like something Ares would say, especially while sick. "Wouldn't he have something against me staying too, though?" Lene shrugged.

    "Probably, but you're in charge so it's not like he can really do anything about it. And anyway, he likes you." Seliph nodded, still wearing a thinking expression. He and Ares were best friends after all, and he was probably the closest to Ares aside from Lene herself. And he obviously needed the care‚Ķ

    "Yeah, I'll look after him. You can count on me, Miss Lene!" Lene giggled. All this time and Seliph, future ruler of Grannvale, still called her 'miss'.

    "That's great! It would be best to move your cot and maybe a few of your things in there for convenience. As long as you're nearby, Ares can wake you up if he needs anything." Seliph nodded. "Anyway, I do have some stuff I need to take care of. I'll come get you this evening a bit after dinner for your shift, ok?" After another nod and a small "right!" from Seliph, they parted ways to get work done around the camp. If Seliph recalled correctly, he had a meeting with Lewyn soon, then lunch, then various leadership responsibilities‚Ķ

    It was going to be a bit of a long day, he thought to himself.


 

    The day passed quickly, as Seliph had expected, but thankfully everything around camp was running smoothly. Or, as smoothly as a somewhat ragtag revolutionary group of mostly-young people could be. Dinner was just finishing up as Lene approached him with a small plate of food in hand.

    "Hey, Seliph," she stopped a bit short of sitting down next to him. "I know I said after dinner, but could you take this to Ares? He's had trouble keeping food down today, but it's still important that he gets something in him." She lifted the plate in her hand to clarify.

    "Oh, of course! I do have clean up duty after dinner, though..." Seliph rose from his seat to meet her as she waved his words off.

    "No problem, I'll go ahead and take care of it." They exchanged smiles and Lene handed him the plate. "Just be sure he eats at least some of it, okay?"

    "Got it." Seliph waved to Lana and Ulster before dropping off his own plate to be washed and leaving for Ares' tent. When he arrived, Ares was staring off into space underneath his pile of blankets, eyes glazed over before blinking and snapping to Seliph's position.

    "Oh. It's you." He sounded so tired it almost hurt. He eyed the plate in Seliph's hands warily as he shakily lifted the cup of tea in his own to take a sip. Seliph had come hoping Ares was feeling at least a little bit better, but he honestly just looked worse.

    "Haha... yeah, it is. How are you feeling?" Seliph gave a little smile and came closer, setting the plate on a nearby table for the time being and sitting down next to him. Ares grimaced at the question.

    "No better than before, unfortunately." He had to speak quietly, his throat obviously hoarse. Seliph reached over cautiously to rub Ares' arm, and the blond nearly flinched away before holding himself still and accepting the gesture. Ares had... some issues with being touched, which he had confided in Seliph some time ago. They had slowly been working to get past it together, and now seemed to Seliph like an important time for physical comfort. After a few seconds, Ares sighed, finally relaxing as Seliph ran a delicate hand over his shoulder.

    "Do you need your rag soaked again?" Asked the smaller man, gesturing to the piece of cloth laid on Ares' lap. A nod, and Seliph picked it up and dunked it into the cold water bucket either Lene or Nanna must have placed nearby, wringing it out and laying it gently on Ares' forehead when the man leaned back. Seliph returned to his seat next to the bedding and hummed softly in thought.

    "How is the camp doing?" Ares had his eyes closed, likely relishing the cool of the damp cloth, and his voice was gentle.

    "Everyone's doing well. Lene said she would handle clean up for me for tonight's dinner... Which reminds me, you should try to eat if you can." Ares exhaled heavily but made a noise of confirmation. Seliph exchanged the cup of tea for the food plate with a spoon and knife, and Ares shifted again into a somewhat more upright position. Lene had been sure to get foods that would be easier on his stomach - a slice of bread, gently flavored rice, and just a small portion of the night's roast. It took only a few seconds before Ares made a face as he found it difficult to maneuver his utensils properly. Seliph gave him a sympathetic look.

    "Do you need some help?" he asked. Ares nearly growled at him.

    "No."

    He tried a few more times to pick up some of his rice.

    "... Yes..."

    Seliph gave him a soft smile and gently took the spoon and knife from him. Before he could do anything with them, however, Ares turned his face away.

    "I feel like a weak fool." He sounded hurt. Seliph frowned, and reached out to touch his shoulder again.

    "You aren't," he said firmly. "You're an extremely strong, brave, intelligent person, Ares. You're just sick," he supplied with another gentle smile. "You can't be strong and healthy all the time. Sometimes, you just have to let people look after you." At some point during his little speech their eyes had met, and they held each other's gazes for a while before Ares looked down at his plate.

    "Okay," he said in an even softer tone than before. Seliph took it as a cue to scoop up some of the rice and bring it up to Ares' mouth. Obediently the taller man opened, closed, chewed, and repeated until a decent amount of the rice was gone. At that point, Ares shook his head and made a sour face. "I don't know that I can keep any more down right now."

    "That's fine," Seliph replied, and returned the plate to the nearby table. He settled once again at Ares' side and the wet cloth returned to the sick man's forehead. "It's getting pretty late... Lene said that you had been having trouble sleeping, though?" Ares nodded.

    "She gave me something for it just before she left, so... I should be alright, at least for most of the night-" He was interrupted by a short coughing fit. "Seliph... you should get some sleep."

    The blue-haired lord made a little hum of agreement. "You too, okay?" He received another nod from Ares. He had moved his cot into the tent earlier that day (to the other man's weakly voiced dissent), and curled up in the covers after changing quickly into his nightclothes. "Goodnight, Ares," he said softly, hoping the man across the room could hear him.

    "Goodnight, Seliph," he received after a few seconds of silence. With that, he tucked himself in comfortably for the night.


 

    "Seliph.." The blue prince awoke to Ares nearly whimpering his name, eyes glazed over and struggling to prop himself up on his cot. Seliph hurried over as quickly as he could without tripping in the dark of the tent, taking one of Ares' hands without thinking. The blond's skin was clammy and slick with a feverish sweat as he used Seliph to pull himself up into a sitting position. "I'm-" he started, before lurching away from the smaller man and vomiting on the floor.

    "Oh!" Seliph kept his voice down as much as he could when startled. "Oh, hold on, let me go get-!" He made his way over to the bowl Nanna had left in case something like this happened, and made a mental note to himself to thank her in the morning. He hurried back over when Ares groaned and placed it down beside the bedding. "Here you go..."

    Ares wobbled a bit and leaned over it shakily, heaving and panting with wet trails of tears streaking down his cheeks. Seliph moved in gently, gathering the poor man's hair back and supporting him with an arm wrapped around his chest. With another lurch forward Ares was sick again- and again. At that point Seliph was sure that there was nothing left for his friend to throw up anymore.

    Sure enough, Ares leaned back a bit and clung to Seliph, wheezing and trembling in a feverish stupor. Seliph held him gently by the side, keeping his hair back in case of another heaving fit. After a few minutes passed and none came, Seliph delicately brought Ares closer, wrapping an arm around his waist and stroking his hair in an attempt to soothe the man's shaking. To his surprise, Ares relaxed into his hold rather quickly, pressing up against him with closed eyes.

    "I'm going to lay you back down, okay? I have to clean this up; I'll be right back." Ares nodded weakly and allowed himself to be coaxed back down onto the cot. Seliph was immensely grateful that Nanna and Lene had anticipated this happening, because at the back of the tent there were enough simple supplies to get rid of what hadn't landed in the bowl. Quickly cleaning what was in the tent and tossing the contents of the bowl out a good ways away from anywhere it might bother someone, he returned and placed the bowl itself nearby Ares' cot.

    "Do you need anything else?" He asked softly, crouching down next to the man.

    "Mm... cloth," Ares choked out, voice weak and more hoarse than before. Seliph nodded and retrieved it, quickly soaking and wringing it out before returning and laying it on Ares' forehead. The action earned him a weak sigh from his friend.

    "If that's all, I'm going to go back to bed. Is that alright?" He received a nod, and moved to head back to his cot, but was stopped by a hoarse whisper from Ares.

    "Seliph... thank you. For doing this." Seliph smiled and slipped back under his covers.

    "Of course, Ares. Just be sure to wake me again if you need anything, alright?" He heard a grunt of confirmation and closed his eyes. "Goodnight, sleep well."

    "Goodnight."