Chapter 8 Symptoms
Al’s breathing was pained as he gripped my hand in his sleep.
Father said he also had Excessive Magic Disorder, but it wasn’t as bad as this. It just further solidified that this wasn’t an illness that could be cured with medicine, only treated.
This little guy was the spitting image of our mother, and didn’t look anything like me or our older brother as we very obviously took after our father. I worried that might be the reason he always seemed a little flighty, or even a bit aloof. It might even be a side effect of his disease.
I wiped away Al’s sweat as he lay passed out on the bed. I ran the cloth in figure eights across his eyebrows and reddened cheeks. His eyes were closed now, but when they had been open with his gaze wavering, even though he was my little brother, there was a pang in my heart when he looked at me with those violet eyes full of tears.
If it had been my older brother, I’m sure he wouldn’t have been so shaken and would have cared for Al perfectly.
My brother returned with Mother, and it seemed as though Father still hadn’t returned from work. Mother came in holding some Pan porridge; it was made from Pan, a soft fruit, boiled until it was completely liquified. It’s what we normally ate when we weren’t feeling well. It was supposed to be incredibly nutritious.
“How’s Al doing?”
“He still has a fever.”
Mother left the Pan porridge on top of Al’s small desk, then she and my brother got closer to check on him. Al had yet to let go of my hand, anxious as he was. He had developed a habit of hanging onto someone’s hand when he felt ill. But, he had never kissed anyone’s hand before. It did make me happy though.
Just remembering the little kiss had me grinning, and I suddenly realized my brother was staring at me coldly. For now, I would just keep that memory deep inside my heart.
“Solis, hand me a towel. You probably haven’t been able to fully wipe away his sweat with him clinging to you like that. I’ll do it for you.”
It’s true that I was in a bit of an awkward position for wiping him down, but for some reason I didn’t want to have him let go. And when I met my brothers eyes…cold! Those were some frigid eyes! I immediately handed over the towel to him. I mean, that glare! It was way too scary.
Jörg put forth his best effort in wiping down Al’s body with the towel. He was probably jealous that Al had clamped onto my hand and not his. Alwas his beloved little brother after all.
“…Mother, let’s get Al out of these sweaty clothes and into some fresh ones. I’m afraid he’ll catch a cold like this.”
My brother took note of just how much Al was sweating, and after conferring with Mother, she said she’d get his pajamas, then left the room. At the same time, Jörg began to remove Al’s sweaty clothes.
His clothes were so soaked in sweat it was hard to remove them, and Jörg whispered a quiet apology to the exhausted Al as he lifted the little guy up to expedite the process. Even so, Al’s eyes remained shut in his fatigue. It was always worrying when he was too tired to even open his eyes. But I wasn’t the only one worried, my brother’s furrowed brow made that all too clear as he continued to wipe Al off. Even though we all ate the same food, Al hardly gained any weight. I always thought that even if he wasn’t sick, he might just collapse at some point from that.
Jörg deftly dried Al’s exposed upper body. As expected of my brother, he was quite skilled. He wasn’t the eldest for nothing.
When Al finally opened his eyes, he predictably released his hold on my hand. It left me with a momentary lonesome feeling.
“Al, are you awake? Mother made some Pan porridge for you. Do you feel up to eating?”
I wondered if Al was still feeling fatigued, but at Jörg’s inquiry, he covered his eyes and slowly shook his head.
“But if you don’t eat, then the medicine…”
He even refused my encouragement, which was unexpected. Al didn’t usually protest much, so this was quite unusual. Without thinking, I looked to my brother, but even he was bewildered.
Amidst that confusion, magic suddenly radiated from Al’s body.
It happened so quickly that we involuntarily jumped away from him.