Acts of caring in WIP Wednesday

In a lot of books, one main protagonist cares for the other during an illness or after an injury. It is a way for a hero or heroine to show that they care, an opportunity for each of them to see the kinder, gentler side of the other. Particularly in the mannered world of the Regency, this helps move the relationship along.

This week, I’m inviting you to post a passage about one of your characters caring for the other. Interpret that how you will.

My piece comes from A Raging Madness, where they pretty much take it in turns to be injured or ill, and to look after one another.

Light was filtering through the curtains when Ella woke. Her head felt stuffed with rags, and her thoughts skittered away from any kind of coherence. She had dreamed her nightmare, the old nightmare of the moment her girlhood ended. But this time, her assailant was not Gervase, and Alex was in the crowd, and did not turn away in disgust and horror.

She pulled herself up to sitting, and leant back against the pillows to give her head time to stop spinning. Out of the corner of her eye, she caught a glimpse of something that should not be in her bed chamber.

Was that Alex? Sleeping in her chair, with his head back and his mouth open? She shook her head and looked again. He had not faded like her other dreams, and besides, she had never dreamed him here, in her bed chamber in the Redepenning townhouse. And in a chair at that, not tucked beside her in the large comfortable bed.

She had a screaming thirst on her, as if she had been drugged again… And with the thought came disjointed memories from the previous night. Nothing in sequence or in detail, but enough that she whimpered, and Alex was awake in an instant.

“Ella, I have you safe. We will sort it out.”

Those words were among the memories; repeated over and over again in Alex’s dearly beloved voice. Something was very wrong that he felt the need for such reassurance.

She tried to speak, but her mouth was too dry and it came out as a croak. Alex filled a glass from the jug on the side table and brought it to her.

“What happened?” she asked, when she could speak. “What is wrong, Alex?”

“What do you remember?” He pulled the chair closer to the bed and sat beside her, possessing himself of one of her hands, and she clung to him as she tried to sort her fragments into a coherent picture.

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2 thoughts on “Acts of caring in WIP Wednesday

  1. Too many to mention, really — John and Mary spend a lot of “The Long Shadow” propping each other up in various ways. But there is this one bit, where John stupidly breaks his leg badly and gets an infection from it (this actually happened). Excerpt below.

    ***

    Warren sent for Hunter, who examined the wound on John’s leg in silence. Mary, standing on the other side of the room with her hands clasped as though in prayer, caught only a glimpse of the angry redness of the skin fringed with yellow. Then Hunter barked, ‘Fetch my bag. I must make a plaster.’

    Mary was vaguely aware of Hunter pressing a hot, watered-down, wax-like mixture to John’s leg, and of Warren taking a basinful of blood from his arm. She did not ask why: she simply sat by John’s bedside, holding his hand and bathing his brow. She had to do something to help him, otherwise she felt she might go mad with frustration and worry.

    For most of the next day the three of them fought to keep John’s fever down. Warren tried everything, from blistering to bark. Mary laid compress after compress on her husband’s head. John’s lack of response worried her. He had been either unconscious or delirious ever since Mary’s return. Neither Hunter’s pokings, nor Warren’s ministrations, drew so much as a moan from him. None of it had any effect whatever.

    At nine in the morning after a sleepless night Georgiana finally persuaded her sister to take a rest. Mary had time only to dash off a quick note to her brother-in-law in Downing Street before collapsing on her bed and giving in to a nightmare-disturbed sleep.

    She was awakened just after noon to see her sister gazing down at her with eyes round with hope. ‘Mary, listen to me. The fever has broken.’

    For a moment Mary did not know what she meant. Then the words rearranged themselves in her mind and she gasped. ‘How?’

    ‘I do not know, but Warren is more cheerful now. Come and see for yourself.’

    Mary could see the change in him immediately. John was lucid for the first time in twenty-four hours, propped up in bed with his injured leg elevated on a pillow. His lips were white from blood loss and chapped from fever but he managed a smile when he saw his wife. She lost him then in the tears that blurred her vision; she had only an impression of sweat-streaked skin as she leaned over and kissed him.

    ‘How do you fare?’ she said, and nearly laughed at herself because of the stupidity of the question. John squeezed her hand as strongly as he could.

    ‘Much better for seeing you.’

    ‘I haven’t left your side,’ she said, and John lifted her hand to his lips.

    ‘I know. Warren told me.’

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