“Good afternoon, students!” Professor Maxwell said as he threw a stack of papers down on the table in front of them, “Let’s dive right i- Wait, where is Imogen?”
The other students shared confused glances as they all shrugged.
“Darra?” Maxwell said, turning his attention to the brunette. Darra shrugged as concern flashed in his eyes.
“I haven’t seen her since this morning,” he responded.
As if on a cue, Imogen jumped into the room, stumbling a little in the process. Her face was pale and there were deep, dark circles under her eyes. Kyra felt her heart speed up at the sight of her and she instinctively sat up a little straighter. Imogen slumped down into her seat.
“Sorry I’m late, professor,” she croaked.
“Are you alright?” Maxwell inquired, his brows knitted together in slight concern.
“Yeah, you look kinda ill,” Darra chimed in. Imogen’s face twisted into a pouty expression as she sunk lower into her chair, annoyed with herself that she hadn't been able to hide it better.
“I’m fine,” she deadpanned.
“Imogen, if you’re sick-” Maxwell started, but Imogen cut him off.
“Really, I’m fine!" she insisted, crossing her arms over her chest, "It’s just….allergies.”
Maxwell was seemingly unconvinced, but he had presumably decided to let it go for the time being as he went back to starting the lesson. The rest of the students turned their attention to him once again, save for Kyra, who kept her gaze locked on Imogen. She couldn’t help but feel a bit uneasy by how bad she looked.
“Today we’re going to-” Maxwell began, but he was interrupted once more, this time by the alarm signaling a magical outbreak. The others turned towards the sound to see a holographic-type image of a rug.
“What’s that?” Kyra questioned, curiosity etched all over her face.
“A flying carpet,” Maxwell answered matter-of-factly. Kyra snorted in amusement. The other students looked to her, puzzled.
“Seriously? A flying carpet? Like, in Aladdin?” she scoffed. A hint of a smile crossed Maxwell's face.
“Yes, well, the magical world has been known to have a sense of humor. Why don't you and Darra take this one?" he said to Kyra, "Imogen, I think you should sit this one out.”
Imogen uncrossed her arms and sat up, furrowing her eyebrows.
“What, no! I can do it! I told you, I’m fine,” she protested. Maxwell opened his mouth, seemingly to argue before she shut again, letting out a resigned sigh.
“Alright, fine. Go,” he said with a dismissive wave of his hand. Kyra, Imogen, and Darra stood up and jumped to the park where a crowd of people were beginning to swarm around a carpet suspended in midair. Imogen stumbled after she jumped, this time unable to regain her balance as she staggered back into Kyra. Kyra put her arms out just in time, managing to catch her and steady herself before they both toppled over. Despite the fact that Imogen could barely think straight from the fever, she still felt butterflies invade her stomach the second Kyra touched her.
“Imogen! You’re burning up!” Kyra exclaimed as she gripped onto the elf's arms. Imogen staggered up, yanking herself out of Kyra's grip, a determined look on her face.
“I’m fine!" she snapped through gritted teeth, suddenly thankful for the fever so Kyra couldn't detect that she'd been blushing. "It’s no big deal,” she finished, turning her attention to the magical object in front of them.
“You’re not fine!” Kyra shot back, “You’re pale, you look like you haven’t slept in a week, and your skin literally feels like it’s on fire. You need to get some rest.”
Imogen’s expression softened ever so slightly as she glanced at Kyra. She was annoyed, sure, but she'd be lying if she said she didn't think Kyra's concern was somewhat sweet.
“I’ll be okay, I promise. Let’s just take care of this,” she said as she held up two fingers towards the rug, obviously struggling just to remain standing. Kyra put her hands on her hips, her expression unchanging. She wasn't about to allow Imogen's stubbornness get her any sicker.
“No,” she argued, her tone serious, “You need rest. Now.”
She grabbed ahold of her hand, the both of them trying to ignore the jolt they got on contact as Kyra turned to look at Darra.
“Can you take care of this?” she asked, gesturing towards the rug. Darra grinned.
“This? No sweat. Just take care of my sister, okay?” he replied, shooting a worried glance at Imogen. Kyra nodded.
“Just…tell your parents she’s staying at my place tonight or something.”
“Don’t worry. I’ve got it covered. I'll let Maxwell know too. Just go,” Darra said with a smile as he gestured for them to leave. Kyra grinned as she held up two fingers and jumped into her bedroom with Imogen in tow. Imogen felt dizzy from the jump, and this time she collapsed, taking Kyra down with her as they both landed on the floor with a thud.
“Kyra, is that you?” they heard Kyra’s father call from downstairs. Kyra scrambled to her feet as she ran to the door.
“Uhh…yeah, dad! I just knocked something over! Sorry!” she called back. They heard footsteps approaching.
“Are you alright?” her father called back, his voice a little closer this time. Both girls could feel the panic rising in their throats.
“I’m fine, really!” Kyra insisted, gripping onto the doorhandle, ready to hastily push it shut on the off chance her dad tried to open it. The footsteps stopped for a second, and the girls held their breath, Imogen trying to gather the strength to disappear, before they finally heard his footfalls retreating back down the stairs. Imogen let out a breath as she threw herself back on the floor to just lie there, too exhausted to move another inch, just as Kyra turned towards her. Even though Kyra felt worried about her, she still had to repress the urge to laugh a little at the sight of Imogen sprawled out on her bedroom floor.
“C’mon, let’s get you into bed,” she said as she reached down and grabbed Imogen by the wrists, both of them once again trying desperately to ignore the wave of excitement they felt at the touch. Imogen just groaned, too worn out to move a muscle. Kyra tried a few different times to pull her up, but it was no use. She wasn’t strong enough to do it on her own.
“Imogen, c’mon. You can’t stay on the floor forever. You’ll be much more comfortable in bed,” she insisted. Imogen groaned again, making no effort to move. “Imo, please. For me,” Kyra pleaded, her tone soft.
She just wanted her friend to be comfortable.
Little did she know, that was all she needed to say to get Imogen to do as she asked.
Imogen grumbled as she slowly struggled to push herself up. With Kyra’s help, she threw herself down onto Kyra’s bed face first, not bothering to take off her shoes or even get underneath the blanket. Kyra playfully rolled her eyes, sitting down on the bed next to her as she pulled off Imogen's shoes, tossing them on the floor. She then grabbed a blanket off the top shelf of her closet and gently laid it over top of her sick friend. “I’m gonna go get a thermometer and make you some hot tea for your throat. Do you need anything else?” she inquired. Imogen rolled over to face her as she pulled the blanket up over her shoulders.
“You don’t have to do this, really. I’m fine,” she insisted, her voice raspy from her sore throat.
“Yeah, you look fine,” Kyra responded sarcastically. Imogen let out a defeated sigh. She knew Kyra could be just as stubborn as herself when she wanted to be.
“Some hot soup would be nice,” Imogen mumbled, hating how small and vulnerable she sounded. Still, if there was anyone she felt safe being vulnerable around, it was Kyra. The ghost of a smile spread across Kyra’s lips.
“You got it,” she said before disappearing out the door. She returned a few minutes later, the soup in one hand and tea in the other, only to find that Imogen was now fast asleep. She smiled to herself as she delicately placed the mug and bowl down on the nightstand, doing her best not to make too much noise and wake her. She gingerly sat down beside her, doing her best not to disturb her, as she watched her sleep peacefully for a moment. Even though Imogen looked like hell, Kyra still felt her heart speed up at the sight of her and their close proximity.
Sometimes she couldn’t believe how smitten she was with this girl.
A few hours later, Imogen slowly opened her eyes, the image of Kyra sitting up beside her steadily coming into focus as Kyra scribbled something in her notebook. Imogen stayed still for a second as she watched her, taking in the sight. Kyra was obviously focusing on something, because her nose was scrunched up the way it always scrunched up when she was concentrating. Imogen couldn't help but smile to herself.
“What time is it?” she croaked out. Kyra seemed somewhat startled before she grinned as she looked over at her.
“It’s almost 11.”
“P.M.?” Imogen yelped in surpise. Kyra chuckled, causing Imogen's heart to race.
Imogen rolled over as she tried to wake up. Her entire body was aching and she felt like her insides were burning.
“Oh, man. I should really go. I’m sure you want to get to sleep and I don’t think you should be sitting this close to me anyway,” she started as she tried to muster up the energy to sit up.
“Don’t be ridiculous, you’re not going anywhere, you’re too sick. You’re staying right here," Kyra insisted, pulling the blanket up to Imogen's shoulders, "And don’t worry about me, I never get sick. It’s one of my superpowers.”
“Still. I don’t wanna hijack your bed…” Imogen persisted. Kyra playfully rolled her eyes as she smiled.
“Imo, will you stop worrying? I’m fine! Besides, if you’re okay with it, we can both just sleep in my bed. It’s big enough,” she responded nonchalantly, returning to her homework, even though the thought of sharing a bed made her feel like her skin was on fire in the absolute best way. Imogen froze.
“You mean…you would sleep here…next to me?” she questioned, feeling like her heart might pound right out of her chest.
Kyra blinked a few times as a lopsided grin crossed her face.
“Yeah…unless that makes you uncomfortable. Which is totally fine! I can sleep downstairs, it’s no big deal,” she rambled. Imogen’s eyes widened.
“No, no! It’s not that I’m totally fine with it! You just…caught me by surprise, that’s all.”
Kyra grinned, her eyes sparkling in the way that made Imogen melt. After a beat, she went back to focusing on her homework and Imogen kept her eyes glued to her for a minute, a bittersweet ache forming in her chest.
She wanted nothing more than to reach out and stroke her hair or hold her hand, to touch her in some way.
But she resisted the urge.
She knew Kyra could never reciprocate her feelings, so she always resisted the urge.
After a while, her eyelids started to feel heavy, and before she knew it, she fell back into a peaceful slumber.
Around midnight, Kyra could feel her entire body begging for sleep, so she put her homework away as she delicately crawled under the covers next to a sleeping Imogen. She turned to face her for a moment as a warm smile spread across her face.
Here was the girl she'd been pining after, the one she hadn't been able to stop thinking about for months on end, asleep in her bed, so close Kyra could hear her slow and steady breathing.
Every fiber of her being wanted to reach out to her, to snuggle up to her, to hold her.
But, she repressed the impulse.
She knew Imogen didn’t feel the same way.
So, she always repressed the impulse.
She laid there in silence for a moment, staring up at the ceiling, feeling heartache and contentment all at once.
After what felt like hours, she was finally managed to fall into a tranquil sleep, the object of her affection right by her side.