The End of Innocence Part 8

Trowa pulled the cloth from the basin of cool water and wrung the excess moisture from it. Grasping the edge of the blanket, he hesitated.

During the week that Quatre had been ill, the Viscount had allowed no one, but himself, to care for the blonde. He used the excuse that he couldn't trust the people of the village not to try and sneak the young lord out. Truth be known, even unaware of it himself, he couldn't stand the thought of someone else laying hands on Quatre's pale, smooth skin.

Pulling the blanket aside, he started to bathe Quatre with the cool water, noting that his skin didn't feel as warm as it had. Maybe his fever has finally broken. Quickly finishing his task, he wrapped a clean blanket around the slender blonde and pulled him into a sitting position.

Trowa then sat, on the bed, behind him and took a cup from the small table beside the bed. Using one arm to support the slim form, he raised the cup and forced some of the liquid into the boy's mouth, urging him to swallow it. It was a tedious process, he could only get small amounts at a time into him.

But, the healer, Lady Catharine, had insisted that he get a full cup of the brew each morning and evening. The willow bark and golden seal she'd infused in the liquid would aid in lowering his fever and regaining his strength, along with whatever else she had added. He'd make sure that the medicines got into Quatre, somehow.

He wasn't going to be responsible for young Winner's death.

//Set him free.// Lady Catharine's voice echoed through his thoughts. //Then he'll die... you'll never have peace here.//

Trowa gently lowered the blonde back onto the bed, setting the empty cup back on the table. Reaching back he smoothed Quatre's silken, blonde hair from his forehead. "I cannot." He said softly, his hand sliding across the boy's cheek, stopping to caress a full lower lip with the pad of his thumb.

"I cannot release you. The Baron would never allow you to live free. I can't bear the thought of you losing your life, because of your father's mistakes." I can't bear the thought of losing you. Losing your bright presence within this hall. You confuse me... you stir anger in me like no one else... but I can't bear the idea of you not being here. Just come back to us... we'll figure this out. Come back to me!

Standing, he looked down at the pale, drawn features, his heart clenching at the realization that he'd done this to this beautiful, vibrant soul. This is the result of my rage!

"Quatre Winner!" His voice echoed through the chamber. "You have to fight... recover. Your people are in confusion! They need you!"

Getting no response, his shoulders sagged. He walked over to his chair and slumped in it, his emerald eyes staring blankly into the fire. Dammit all! I don't understand... but...

... I need you too.


Quatre's eyes fluttered open and he was immediately aware of two things. He ached from head to toe and duo's worried face leaning over him.

"Duo?" He whispered.

"Aye, cousin. How do you feel?" Duo replied softly.

Quatre blinked slowly. "Worn out and thirsty."

The chestnut-haired boy smiled. "That's a good sign." He got up and walked to the chamber door.

"Sonja!" He called out. "Bring some water up to the Viscount's chamber, please."

Quatre heard a faint voice from the hall as his cousin returned to sit on the side of the bed.

"You gave everyone quite a scare."

"What happened?" Quatre frowned. "I remember arguing with Viscount Barton..." He raised an eyebrow as Duo snorted at the mention of Trowa's name. Getting no explanation, he finished. "Then, I was so very tired and hot. I decided to sleep for a while."

"You slept alright! This was the ninth day of your little nap."

"Nine days?"

"Yea, Lady Catharine says you caught a fever." Duo decided not to mention the rest of what that healer had said.

A soft knock on the door drew the pair's attention.

"Milord? I brought water."

Duo slipped across the room and let a small black-haired girl in.

"Thank-you, Sonja." He said as she set her tray, bearing a pitcher and cup, on the table.

She smiled at him and turned her storm-grey eyes to Quatre. "I'm glad to see you awake, milord. We all feared for your life."

Quatre nodded and she turned to leave. "Sonja." He called out.

"Yea, Lord?" She turned back to him.

"I know it's been difficult to accept but, Viscount Barton is now the master here. Hilde, Duo and myself are no different than you are. You should not address us as if we were. Could you please pass that on to the others?"

Her eyes widened. "But..."

"Sonja... we don't want trouble. The Viscount is a fair man, but if the people don't start working with him, instead of against him, I'm afraid there may be. Please, Sonja."

Tears sprang to her eyes as she silently nodded, slipping from the chamber.

Duo wordlessly handed a cup of the cool water to Quatre. Drinking slowly, the blonde's eyes studied his cousin's face.

"You don't approve?" He asked handing the cup back to Duo.

Duo scowled even more and slammed it down on the table.

"No! I don't approve or agree! His treatment of you had been inexcusable!"

"There's naught that can be done about it."

"Don't you think I know that? It doesn't mean I have to just accept it!"

"And what else do you propose to do?"

Duo studied Quatre's finely sculpted features and cursed. "You're in love with him!" He snapped. "He's chained you... beaten you..." He shook his head. "I don't think he's exactly into your type... everyone knows he spent time with Kara, when he first got here! Not to mention he's here to take your dead father's place! I can't believe you'd fall for someone like that! How could you!?" He cried.

Quatre sighed. Love him? I'm definitely attracted to him... but... love?

"He's not that bad, Duo and he didn't beat me. He pushed... I fell."

"Same difference." The violet-eyed boy snorted.

"No! It isn't. I deliberately disobeyed him. He's hurting... I don't know why or how... but he is. And he's confused. I think... I confuse him even more. That confusion causes anger. He can neither control nor predict the situation, sometimes, it drives him into a helpless rage. I just need to be more careful not to anger him so."

Duo shook his head. "You are a fool. When you are stronger, I intend to argue about your stupidity... and I may beat you!" He sat back down on the bed. "Right now, you need to rest."

Quatre lay back, cavorting the feel of the pillows under his head. Pillows!? He thought with a start. Trowa's Bed!?

Duo saw him stiffen. "No, cousin. It's alright. As much as I hate to speak kindly of him, he put you here. This morning was the first time he'd left your side and that was only because Heero dragged him away to attend matters with the village."

Quatre nodded and relaxed. "See, Duo, he's really not that bad."

"And your affections have blinded you!"

His eyelids were suddenly very heavy. "Stay for a while, please."

Duo lay down beside Quatre and gathered him into his arms. "Aye... I won't leave. You are the brother of my heart... I won't leave you."

Quatre snuggled down into the warmth of his cousin's arms. "Glad you are alright." He murmured sleepily.

"I'm fine. Now rest."


Trowa fumed silently as he strode down the hall to his chamber. Heero hadn't needed his help. He could have dealt with assessing the repairs needed in the village without him. Opening the door, It had all been a ploy to get me out of the hall for... He stopped short.

On his bed was Quatre, curled up in his cousin's arms. Fighting down a wave of anger he stalked across the room, not even hearing Heero's footsteps behind him.

"Shit!" Heero's soft exclamation woke the young Scot.

Duo's eyes widened as he saw Trowa towering over him and Heero standing in the doorway.

"Out!" Trowa ground out in a dangerously low voice. "Now!"

Duo didn't argue, he knew that the Viscount had issued orders for the two of them to be kept apart. And, with the exception when he'd learned of Quatre being ill, he was a little wary of the tall, slender man. He slid quietly from the bed and crossed the room.

Stopping, his eyes met Heero's and he was stunned by the absolute fury he saw in the cobalt depths.

Without a word, Heero turned and stalked off.

Duo fled to his chamber.


Willow bark was often used as a fever reducer and pain reliever. Matter of a fact... this item was the basis for modern day aspirin. Golden seal is rumored to help the weak regain strength and boost the immune system.


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