“Are you okays?” Emily asked from the other side of the table.
Elizabeth looked up from her food, she’d barely eaten a bite. Usually Elizabeth was the first to finish on their weekend dates. Emily was too busy talking to eat. But today Emily’s empty plate sat in contrast to Elizabeth’s. “I’m fine. A little tired is all.”
“I had a bad night, nightmares and… I can’t remember. I only remember waking up every hour or so,” she waved it off like it were nothing, “what were you saying?”
Emily didn’t let Elizabeth dismiss the subject so soon, “have you been taking your medication?”
Elizabeth took a slow breath, “of course. I need to buy more soon.”
“It’s been acting up a lot recently.”
“Usually, I’m too tired for it to get the chance,” Elizabeth laughed, “it’s nothing. If anything, it means I’ve been processing it a bit more.”
It. Emily didn’t know what it was. Emily had interrogated Elizabeth on her past, but anything before her apprenticeship at sixteen was waved away. Emily knew it musn’t be pretty.
Another sure-fire way to know it wasn’t pretty was Elizabeth’s admission that she’d been in and out of therapy and on and off of medication almost as long as she could remember.
Emily rarely saw her take the potions. Elizabeth seemed keen on hiding them, as if she were embarrassed by them.
“Well, you know you can count on me for anything, right?”
Elizabeth smiled, “sure Em. I know. So, what were you saying about Charlotte?”
Emily finally sat back and continued to explain about Charlotte’s new hobby.
Usually, Elizabeth walked Emily back to the inn. But tonight, Elizabeth swayed ever so slightly when getting up from her seat. Emily gave her a concerned look as they left the restaurant.
“How about I walk you back to your place tonight?” Emily offered.
Elizabeth shook her head, “I don’t like you walking alone through the streets at night Em.”
“Nothing ever happens here,” she argued.
“That’s because most inhabitants can lift five times their weight and fly, we aren’t that.” She looked up at the few stray dragons still flying around.
Emily smiled, “I appreciate your concern Eli, but I want to see you home safe tonight. You’re not… you look tired.”
Elizabeth frowned, “would you like to stay the night?”
Emily’s eyes widened, «yes!»
Elizabeth smiled back, “okay. It’s a bit of a mess though, I was being with alchemy before our date.”
“You know I only have eyes for you?”
Elizabeth kissed her.
Her flat was a couple too many stairs away from the inn, but Emily understood why Elizabeth had chosen it, they were a short walk away from Charlotte’s. Also it had a small private garden that Emily knew was used for training in the mornings at around 6 am.
The flat was small, but the living area was adjoined to the kitchen giving it a somewhat spacious feel. Although Elizabeth was an amazing chef, the kitchen had very little cooking equipment, instead it was filled with vials and vials of unknown ingredients, there were candles lit and steam flowing.
“What you working on?”
“Trying to make a sleeping potion that’s safe for dragon children. They require something stronger than us humans, but I don’t feel comfortable giving them adult portions either.”
Emily nodded, “any luck?”
Elizabeth hummed, “we’ll see.” They made their way across the empty living room into the bedroom.
It was plain and boring, there was a desk with a bunch of notes and drawings of plants. Probably more alchemy stuff Emily couldn’t dream of understanding.
“Here,” Elizabeth pulled out a night gown from her wardrobe, “it’ll be a bit long for you but should be comfortable all the same.”
“Thanks,” Emily accepted the boring white gown. Elizabeth never did have much of a care for style, other than looking clean and tidy.
They climbed into bed together, cuddled and kissed but ultimately went to sleep early. Elizabeth needed the rest, and it would be an early start tomorrow.
It was nearly a full moon and the light shined through the window into the room. Emily opened her eyes, on guard. She remembered she was at Elizabeth’s. She rolled over to look at Elizabeth, unsurprised to find her absent.
She quietly got up and made her way out of the room. In the living room Elizabeth stood staring out of the window.
“Still can’t sleep.”
Elizabeth’s shoulders sagged.
Emily slowly made her way over and placed a comforting hand on her back. “Do you want to talk about it?” she whispered, “you know I’m happy to listen. It might help.”
Elizabeth shook her head, “it’s nothing.”
“I’m worried about you.”
Elizabeth made her way over to the sofa and sat down. Emily sat down next to her. They cuddled.
“It’s really nothing,” Elizabeth repeated, “I don’t know why it still… gets to me…”
Emily waited patiently, hoping Elizabeth would divulge.
Elizabeth shook her head. “I need to sleep. Staying up late and pondering will get me in trouble with my therapist later this week.”
Emily held back her disappointment and instead nodded, “okay. Would you like me to prepare you a tea or…?” she looked to the kitchen, the mess of vials.
Elizabeth smiled and shook her head, “no. I’m fine. Come on.”
They went back to bed. Emily woke up at around eight, surprised to find Elizabeth still in bed. She’d expected the woman to have gone off to train by now. Emily wasn’t as quiet as Elizabeth as she tried her best to climb out of bed and sneak out of the room.
“Hm?” Elizabeth looked up at her through messy black strands all over her pillow.
“Just me,” Emily whispered, kissing her forehead, “it’s still early, I’ll wake you soon.”
Elizabeth hummed before going back to sleep.
Emily decided to try and make Elizabeth a nice breakfast in bed, searching through the cupboard for food she recognized.
She located a box of tea she knew was definitely tea because it had been a gift from her.
Her favourite tea from her hometown.
She put water in the kettle and lit the fire to put it over. Before locating some flour, water and eggs. Half an hour later she showed up in the bedrooms with pancakes and tea.
“The sun has risen,” she informed as she sat down on her side.
Elizabeth groaned and sat up.
“I couldn’t find anything that was definitely food to put on the pancakes,” Emily handed over the tray.
Elizabeth smiled, “I don’t cook often at home.”
“I mean, six out of seven days a week I eat all my meals at the inn and on the one-day off I eat out with you for supper. I think fuck it, I’ll support local business and get take away for lunch that day.”
Emily smiled, “can’t argue with that. Feeling any better?”
Elizabeth nodded, “I’m fine Emily.”
Emily wasn’t convinced. Elizabeth ate slowly, her eyes half closed and she looked about ready to fall asleep.
Emily watched but didn’t say anything until the plate was empty, “I think you should take the day off.”
Elizabeth shook her head in a dismissive manner and got up. She walked over to the wardrobe. She opened it, paused. Her hand moved to her chest as she picked out an outfit. Then she removed the hand from the wardrobe and she swayed on her feet.
“You’re in physical pain,» Emily was up and by her side, «do we need to go see a doctor?”
Elizabeth shook her head, “I said I’m fine.” She was beginning to sound annoyed.
But Emily wasn’t deterred, “sit down.” Her voice was firm. She guided Elizabeth back to the bed.
“Emily please,” she was making an effort to sound angry but it came out more desperate.
“You need to take a break, a mental health break.”
“My mental health break is working and having a distraction.”
“Does Charlotte know?”
Elizabeth frowned, “somewhat.”
“Good, I’m going to go get her and you’re spending the day with her.”
“Emily, please…” she took deep and frantic breaths as Emily got changed into her clothes.
“I’m not letting you come to work like this. I’m sorry,” she leaned down and kissed her, “I love you and I’m worried about you.”
Elizabeth watched Emily move towards the door. “I ran out of medication.”
Emily turned around to look at her.
“Four days ago.”
“And you didn’t get more?”
Elizabeth sat on the bed, her eyes were on her hand that was touching her chest still. “When I started taking them my therapist said it was temporary, until life went back to normal. Working and being with you, it finally felt normal and I though… I foolishly thought I could manage.”
Emily walked back, she knelt down in front of Elizabeth and gave her another kiss. “I don’t know what it is your fleeing from Elizabeth, what part of your past is hurting you. But there’s nothing wrong with needing help. Be that medication or me or a day off, okay?”
Elizabeth nodded, there were tears in the corners of her eyes, “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be, you didn’t do anything wrong. But I need to go get Charlotte or the inn won’t be open today. You’ll go with her to buy more medication?”
“Good,” Emily gave her another kiss and was about to leave.
“Wait,” Elizabeth stood up.
“Emily…” Elizabeth hesitated, she blushed, “could you come back here tonight?”
Emily blushed and nodded, “anything for you.”
Elizabeth’s shoulders sagged and she sat down again. Emily left to send Charlotte and open the inn.
Charlotte stood in the doorway with the kind of smirk that told Elizabeth she was in for a long day.
“I can explain,” Elizabeth whispered from her sitting position.
“Oh no,” Charlotte crossed her arms and her smile widened even more, “Emily told me everything.”
Elizabeth looked down to her knees.
“You’re in love,” her tone was a mixture of excitement and taunting.
“I should have never quit my job for you.”