He woke in the middle of the night, knowing something was wrong. The room was quiet, the dead-silence of the thick-walled rooms that he’d gotten used to over the last year. The lights were off, the room dark. Beside him, Shahin lay sleeping, breathing shallowly…
…but her skin was freezing, so cold that if he turned the lights on, he was certain there would be ice crystals forming across her shoulders and arms. He sat up slowly, setting a hand on her forehead and willing a small flame into being, hovering in the air to provide him with light.
His hand burned with the cold, touching her, and her skin glittered with ice, it seeming to crawl up her arms like gloves. “Shahin.” He said her name quietly, then began a complex Working, using multiple domains to slowly alter the energy within her body rather than simply applying external heat.
The magic of her body seemed to be fighting him; her shoulders warmed up, slowly, but her hands and lower arms stayed encased in rock-hard ice.
“Shahin.” He repeated her name, frowning. This was something else, certainly. A magical attack, or... possibly part of her Change? He recalled those early days of unintentional conflagration.
She stirred, moaning quietly, and pressed towards him, but didn’t open her eyes, didn’t seem to wake at all. Not good. Well, this was what they had a doctor for, right? Not just for drugging the students, he thought wryly, as he slid his arms under her. She snuggled against him, her head on his shoulder, seeming to seek out the warmth, naked against his chest.
Ah, yes. Pants might be a good idea. Clearly he was getting too distracted here; he’d have to work on that. At the moment, though, he just pulled away and stepped into a pair of jeans. He regarded Shahin with a frown, finally just throwing a sheet over her, rolling her slightly in it. She still didn’t wake, just curled more tightly against him. The ice was making its way back up her arms again, already past her elbows.
Definitely beyond his abilities. He lifted her carefully, stepping back and opening the door.
She woke in the hall, gasping as if suffocating and flailing blindly in his arms.
He held her tightly, moving quickly through the halls. “Easy, easy Sheen, I’ve got you. You need to go to the doctor’s.”
“So cold,” she murmured, settling into his arms. “Doctor’s?” She blinked up at him with eyes that had turned sapphire-blue. “I don’t like the doctor.”
He inhaled sharply, nodding. “Yeah, well, she knows what she’s doing, and this is beyond my skills.”
“What is?” She was beginning to sound more awake, more coherent.
“You’re... something, I’m not sure what. Changing, probably.”
“Something?” She glanced down at herself uncertainly. “I’m also naked!”
“Mostly,” he agreed. “I thought it was important to get you here ASAP. Speaking of which, here we are.”
She shut her mouth on whatever she was going to say and, instead, tugged the sheet more tightly around herself. “I…” She seemed to see her wrists for the first time. “Emrys?” she squeaked.
“Yeah,” he nodded, opening the clinic door and stepping inside. “You see what I mean?” Even at this hour, the nurse was on duty; she looked them over with a practiced eye.
Shahin, in response, tugged the sheet further around her. “What’s happening to me?”
“That’s what we’re here to find out,” he said to both of them, stepping forward.
“What do we have here?” the nurse asked, trying to move the sheet away from Shahin to get a look; Shahin just clutched it closer around her.
“She’s cold. Not like a cold person; I mean ice is literally forming on her.”
“Oh, oh my. Well, take her into Exam Room One, then, and I’ll wake the Doctor.”
He nodded and did as he was told, a bad habit he’d have to shake next week, setting Shahin down gingerly on the exam table. She didn’t quite let go of him, maintaining possession of one of his arms, twisting it up in the sheet with her. “…have to get a collar for you…” she murmured.
“Not right now. We’ve got bigger things to worry about.”
She slapped at his arm with her free hand, scraping ice crystals across his skin. “Pushy,” she complained. “Of course not right now.”
“At least you feel well enough to argue,” he chuckled.
“I was born arguing.” She glared in his direction, but it swiftly turned into a weak chuckle. “Ow…”
“Caitrin will be here any second,” he said soothingly. “Just rest a moment.”
She leaned against him, taking his advice.
It was only a few moments until the door swung open, and Dr. Caitrin, looking wide-awake and very tidy for the middle of the night, strode in. “All right, what do we have here?” she asked crisply.
“You tell me,” Emrys said, pulling the sheet a bit to reveal Shahin’s arms.
The doctor hissed softly. “That is not normal. When did this begin?”
“She was fine yesterday, and like this when I woke up.”
“So sometime overnight.” She began murmuring a complex Working that started with a diagnostic and twisted in a way Emrys had never thought of. ”Does she know…?”
Shahin pulled herself into a sitting position. “He doesn’t Own me, you know,” she snapped, although the “…now…” she added more quietly diminished the effect.
“We’re just trying to help. You can take over from here if you want.”
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