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Love Hurts

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Curled into her side, you wring your hands and glance nervously at Cordelia. She looks worn, but no matter how hard you had tried to convince her, your best friend refused to cancel on your weekly movie night. She sighs and leans her head against the couch, pushing her glasses back up her nose, and you smile. Cordelia is so beautiful; so, so achingly beautiful. You bite your lip, trying to muster up some courage.

“I can feel you staring. What’s wrong?” Cordelia blurts, and you sit up. Her eyes meet yours as she grabs onto one of your hands to stop your fidgeting. Your other hand moves to tug at your hair, another nervous habit, and Cordelia’s brown eyes soften.

“I… umm…” She nods at you, encouraging, waiting patiently for you to work out what you need to say. “I have- I have to have, umm- my wisdom teeth removed on Friday, and I know you’re super busy with all of your headmistress duties, and I definitely don’t want to add to that because you already do so much, and I can see how tired you are and-“

Cordelia’s pale finger suddenly presses against your lips, cutting off your rambling. “Of course I’ll take you,” she says as she brushes your hair out of your eyes. “It’s okay, sweetheart.”

You stutter. “Are- are you sure?” Because I-“

Cordelia takes your face in both of her palms and smiles softly. “I’m sure,” she says. “You’re important, love. I have all of the time in the world for you.“

You nod slowly, like you’re trying to think up another excuse to take back what you’ve said and lessen her responsibilities, but she pulls you back against her side and you settle in, cheek resting on her shoulder. “Delia?”

“Hmm?”

“Thank you.”

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Friday arrives, and you’re so nervous you want to throw up. Your knees shake and your hands tremble as you sit in the hard plastic chair in the waiting room of your surgeon’s office. Cordelia smiles sympathetically at you and takes one of your hands, rubbing her thumb across its backside soothingly. “It’s alright, sweet girl. You’re going to be fine.”

You nod, afraid you’ll start crying if you open your mouth. She’s right, and you know it, but nothing will quell your anxiety. No matter how minor the procedure, surgery has always terrified you. Hell, anything medically related has always terrified you, and Cordelia knows that. She has to physically drag you into your doctor’s office any time you get sick.

You blanch when the nurse calls your name, and Cordelia tugs you up gently. You tighten your grip on her hand and her other arm slides around to your lower back. “I’m coming,” she reassures you. “I promise I’ll be right there with you.”

The nurse leads you to a room in the back, and you take a seat on the dental chair. Your wide eyes linger around the room, scanning over all of the equipment. It only increases your fear, increases the nausea, and you feel like you can’t breathe. Cordelia brushes your hair back and your lip quivers.

“I just need to start an IV in your arm,” the nurse says calmly. “That’s the scariest part of all of this, and then you’ll go on to sleep and wake up not knowing anything has happened.”

You watch as the nurse stretches out your left arm and cleans the inside of your elbow with an alcohol pad. Cordelia cups your chin and turns your face toward her, then brushes her thumb across your bottom lip.

You try hard not to, you really do, but when the nurse pushes the needle into your arm, you whimper and then choke as tears begin streaming down your face. Cordelia’s arms immediately wrap around you in a hug, and she kisses your forehead. “It’s over, love. All done. No more scary things.”

You’re still crying in her arms when the door opens a few minutes later and the surgeon comes in. He sits on the stool next to you and smiles kindly. “All ready?” He asks.

You look at Cordelia, and she nods. “I’ll stay right here until you fall asleep.”

You don’t want to, everything in your body screams that you don’t want to, but you release her and lean back in the chair. The nurse lowers you onto your back and Cordelia stands over you, cupping your cheek and tracing it with her thumb. “You’re alright, now,” she says. “I’ll be right next to you when you wake up.”

You start feeling lightheaded, and for a moment it increases your panic, but then your eyes get droopy and your head feels heavy. You give in; it would take you even if you didn’t, letting the fog pull you under.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

When you open your eyes, your brain feels fuzzy. You’re alert, you’re always alert despite the remnants of anesthesia running through your veins. You have too much medical anxiety for the drug to get a good grip on your senses.

Your head lolls to the side and as promised, there she is. Cordelia smiles at you and squeezes your hand. “Alright?” she asks softly, giving you time to gather yourself.

You nod and tears come to your eyes- they always do. Every surgery, you fall asleep crying and wake up the same way.

“They took your IV out before you woke up. The nurse said we could leave whenever you feel like it. We just need to let her know.”

You nod again, and as you move to sit up Cordelia helps you. “Go easy,” she warns gently. “You’re going to be dizzy. Sit for a minute before you try to stand.”

Despite her words, she keeps ahold of your arm as if you’ll suddenly burst upward to stand without warning. She has good reason to- you will flee at the first opportunity, wanting to get away as quickly as possible.

You humor her for a minute, sitting quietly while she soothes you with a hand rubbing up and down your arm, but then you go to stand and she holds you in place.

“Wait,” Cordelia says. “Let me tell the nurse you’re ready, and then you can get up.” She resettles you in the chair, pushing you to lean back against the backrest. “Promise me you’ll stay right there until I get back. Promise me.”

“Promise,” you whisper, voiced cracked as it travels up your dry throat.

She raises an eyebrow and gives you that hard stare she’s always giving the girls at the coven when she wants them to behave. “I promise,” you say again, but words make your mouth hurt so you pat the chair. “Stay right here.”

Satisfied, but probably still doubting your sincerity, Cordelia cracks open the door and peeks around before setting off down the hallway. You think back over this morning, and your chest feels warm when you remember how nurturing and supportive she has been toward you. You wish you could kiss her so she’ll understand how much you appreciate it, not on the side of her head or on her hand, but on her lips.

Your thoughts are interrupted by Cordelia’s return, a small plastic bag hooked onto her right arm, and the nurse trailing behind her. “Ready to go?” The nurse chirps enthusiastically, and you nod. “Alright then, let’s get you up.”

“Slowly,” the nurse says as she and Cordelia each grab onto one of your arms.

They tug you up, and you stumble as the room spins a little, but then everything clears and you lean into Cordelia. Her arm wraps around your back and she smiles at the nurse. “Thank you. I can get her to the car on my own.”

If you weren’t still in the middle of your surgeon’s office, you would cry over how kind she is to you. She’s doing as much as she can to comfort you, removing everyone else so that it’s just the two of you. The trip to the car is slow, but the lack of strangers helping you eases your anxiety.

By the time you arrive back at the house, you feel more like yourself, sore and sleepy, but more steady on your feet. Or, at least you think you would be, if Cordelia would let you get out of the car.

“Wait,” she says sternly. “Do not get out of this car until I get over there and help you.”

“I’m fine,” you argue back, but she ignores you and exits the van. You manage to open your door before she can reach you, and a part of you wants to hop out on your own just to spite her. Cordelia is nothing if not smothering and overly concerned. You appreciated it at the surgeon’s office, and you know you’ll appreciate it through your recovery, but right now you’re cranky and in pain and just want to walk without help.

Arm linked through yours, she guides you slowly into the house as if you aren’t steady enough to stand on your own, and you are steady enough, you know that now that she finally let you leave the car. “Alright, let’s get you upstairs and tucked into bed,” Cordelia says, but then she frowns and bites her lip. “Or maybe stairs aren’t the best idea right now and I should just set you up in one of the rooms down here.”

“I’m thirsty,” you interrupt before she can consider her thoughts too hard. You’re fine. Stairs are fine.

“Oh, alright. Head over to the couch and I’ll get you some water.” She lets go of you to trek towards the kitchen, apparently trusting that you can safely make it six feet to the sofa on your own, but you turn on you heel and follow her instead.

You make it a full three steps before Cordelia grips your arm again. “Okay, you can sit at the table if that’s what you prefer.”

But you plant your feet firmly in front of the cupboard containing the drinking glasses, and she almost trips at the sudden stop since you’re still attached. She turns to look at you.

“Just sit down at the table, and I’ll get your water,” Cordelia repeats.

Exasperated with her coddling, you roll your eyes and drop to the floor at her feet. You watch her blink a few times, confused, eyes lowering to you and mouth gaping like a fish before she shakes her head and decides sitting anywhere is safer than not sitting at all. Cordelia hands you your glass of water and watches as you remove the gauze from between your teeth then sip from the glass.

You screw up your face. “Tastes like blood.”

“It probably will for a while,” she consoles. “They said you were likely to experience bleeding for the first twenty four hours or so.”

“I want something stronger. Like juice.”

“You can’t have juice. Only clear liquids.”

Cordelia stares down at you, and you swirl the water around in your cup.

“Some juices are clear liquids. We have that weird cranberry shit you and Misty like. It’s clear.”

She sighs and opens the fridge, pulling out the bottle to hold it in front of your face. “Can you see through that?” You squint, eyebrows drawing together as you try to see through the foggy liquid. “Thought so,” she says with finality, and you scowl. “We do have some Gatorade, though. Would you like that?”

You nod and she switches out your water for the sports drink. When the first bits of liquid hit your tongue, you screw up your face again. “Tastes like bloody Gatorade.”

She groans, smacking her hand on the cabinet and biting her lip. “Again, you just had oral surgery. Your mouth is bleeding. Everything you drink will taste like blood right now.”

“Don’t like it,” you mouth, moving to put the bloodied gauze back in its place.

“No, no.” Cordelia catches your wrist. “Throw that away, and we will replace it when we get you upstairs.” She pulls the trash can to you, and you drop the cotton into the bin. She slides it back into place and then stretches her hands out to pull you up off the floor, tucking you back into her side. You let her lead you up the stairs, but she continues right past your room and into her own.

You announce the obvious. “This isn’t my room.”

“No,” she agrees, ”but the nurse said I need to keep an eye on you for the next few days and that will be much easier if you are right here.” She helps you settle into the far side of the bed and strokes your hair. Cordelia snaps her fingers and the bag you had seen in the surgeon’s office appears on your nightstand.

“Open up,” she says, pulling out two strips of gauze.

“No, Delia, I can do that. My mouth is all gross. Give them here.” You stretch out your hand, but she pushes it back down on the bed.

“No way, love,” Cordelia chides. “You can’t see inside your mouth right now, and I won’t have you injuring yourself or putting them in the wrong place. So open.”

You oblige, and she leans in close, squinting.

“Delia,” you croak, smacking your lips at the weird feeling of numbness once she’s done placing the cotton on your gums.

“Yes, sweet?”

“Thank you.”

Her face cracks into a huge smile. You know you give her a hard time sometimes, but you also know that she has spent her entire life being under appreciated. You like to remind her every chance you get. “I mean it, Cordelia. You are the kindest person I have ever met, and you have the biggest heart. I don’t know what I would do without you.”

She blushes, and you smile. You like it when she gets shaken up over your compliments. She deserves them, and you would do anything to help her self esteem.

Cordelia tucks the covers up by your chin. “Get some sleep. I’ll be here.” She leans down, and you think she’s going to kiss your forehead again, but her lips meet your own instead.

And oh, oh you just melt. They’re soft and warm and feel more like coming home than your own house did when you were a child.

Cordelia jerks back, eyes wide and fearful as her hand rises to cover her mouth. “I- I,” she stutters, “I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t- I shouldn’t have done that.”

You sit up and reach for her. “Delia,” you urge, tugging her toward you. “Shh.” You pull her lips back to yours and kiss her hard. She reacts immediately, moving her lips against yours and moaning. Your head spins with emotion, feeling happier than you’ve ever been, but then there’s a sharp pain in your jaw and you pull back, groaning. “Owwww. Stupid surgery.” You grunt, low in your throat, wanting nothing more than to continue kissing her.

Cordelia chuckles, boasting the widest smile you have ever seen. “Sorry, love, but I promise there will be plenty of time for kissing when you’re better. Get some sleep. I need to run and get your pain meds anyway.” You pout, and she strokes your cheek. “None of that. I’ll be back before you wake up, and you’ll definitely want them when the numbness starts to wear off.”

You slide back down in the bed and Cordelia resettles the covers over you, pressing a kiss to your forehead. “Sleep tight,” she whispers.

“Hey,” you call softly as she reaches the door.

Cordelia turns back, leaning against the facing with a wispy smile. “Hmm?”

“Love you.” You’ve said it to her a million times, but this time, it feels a little different, a little better.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

You try to sleep, but your stomach growls and turns over itself with hunger. After fifteen minutes, you give up, pushing back the covers to make your way down the stairs and into the kitchen. Barely five minutes later, that’s where Cordelia finds you, standing in front of the microwave and twirling a fork in your hand.

“What exactly do you think you are doing?” Cordelia’s voice is stern and she has a hand on her hip, the other holding a grocery bag with your pain medicine.

“Umm, making food? I couldn’t sleep because I was hungry so I thought I’d come down here and-“

“Absolutely not.” She struts toward you and takes the fork out of your hand. “I’ll take care of your food. Go back to bed. You shouldn’t have even come down the stairs by yourself.”

You stroke your finger down the side of her face, and she shivers under your touch. “Delia, I think I am capable of heating up a potato.” You think you have her, but then she grabs your hand and her face becomes stern again.

“Bed,” she forces, “and don’t get up again.”

“Or what?” Your lips quirk to the side in a mischievous smile. Despite your teasing, you love her overprotective nurturing side; wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

Cordelia gives you that face again, the ‘you better listen to me or else’ face she gave you back in the surgeon’s office when she wanted you to know how serious she was about you not getting up on your own.

You turn and trek toward the stairs, but look back over your shoulder at her. “What if I have to pee? Am I at least allowed to get up then?”

Cordelia is trying hard to remain impassive and unimpressed, but you see the twinkle in her eye and the beginnings of a smile on her lips. “I meant what I said. I’ll bring you a bucket.”

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

It’s dark when you open your eyes. Your jaws ache, but there’s a hand moving soothingly up and down your arm.

“Just me,” Cordelia whispers, and you squint to see her kneeling in front of you in the dim light from the cracked bathroom door. “It’s time for you next dose of pain medicine, then you can go back to sleep.”

“Time’s it?” You mumble. She’s keeping track of your medicine, making sure to stay ahead of your pain, and if you weren’t still half asleep you know you would cry at her thoughtfulness.

“Only ten.” Cordelia helps you sit up and you swallow the pills with water, refusing to let go of her hand.

“Stay,” you breathe, dragging her down onto the bed beside you.

“I will,” she promises. “I just have to do a few more things and then I’ll be right here.”

“No,” you moan, moving to rest your head over her heart. “Cuddles now.”

Cordelia chuckles and wraps an arm around you, gently stroking your side. “Okay, okay, cuddles now. Sleep well, my love.”

“Night, baby,” you whisper, already falling back asleep. “Love you."