Joined: 28 September 2012
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Joined: 01 December 2013
The following 2 member(s) liked the above post:
Joined: 01 December 2013
Khushi winced as she stretched, her back sore and aching from sleeping on the ground. There was the faint, blue and pink glow of dawn, the early rays of sunlight striking the pool, making the water shimmer. Her eyes widened as she took in her surroundings, and she shot up, her heart pounding in her chest.
The blankets fell from her body, and goosebumps rapidly crept up her arms as the cool morning air washed over her. She shivered, glancing down at herself.
She hadn't even changed out of her wedding clothes, the embroidery from her heavy lehenga bruising her skin. She rubbed at her arms, wincing as the angry red marks seemed to darken, the jewelry denting her skin.
She moved slightly and gasped as the cool metal of her mangal sutra slipped between her breasts, the beads rubbing against her skin. She automatically reached up a hand to touch it, feeling it between her fingers.
She felt exhausted, the weight settling over her. Her head was heavy, and she felt her hands shake as she took the blanket, folding it slowly. She rubbed at her forehead wearily, wincing as she coughed, her throat scratchy and painful.
Was she falling sick? She did not need that right now, on top of everything with Arnav... or maybe it was just the fact that she had cried right before she slept.
She gingerly pushed open the door, her eyes resting on the man sleeping in the bed. He hadn't gone under the bedsheets, sprawled across the bed in his sherwani. Annoyance bubbled up as she saw him sleeping comfortably on the bed, his head lolling into the pillow, the soft blankets underneath him.
She had slept on the cold, hard ground, and here he was, comfortable in his bed.
She dumped the blankets in the corner with more force than necessary, glaring at him.
She could hear the faint whirr of his breathing, his hand fisted in the bedsheet. His mouth was hanging slightly open, his hair mussed.
She felt a pull towards him, the unfiltered, relaxed version of the Arnav she knew. She reached a hand up again, touching her mangal sutra.
The first rays of the sun filtered in through the cotton curtains. They were cocooned in this little moment, with just the two of them and nothing else in the world.
He stirred in his sleep, murmuring something underneath his breath. His brow furrowed as if he was disturbed.
She leaned in closer as he murmured again, turning slightly, his face creased in a frown. Her heart stopped at the slurred word, listening again.
He mumbled again, his voice heavy and thick with sleep. But there was no mistaking the quiet, gut wrenchingly honest plea in his voice. She could see the emotions flit across his face, his hand crumpling the bedsheet as the creases between his eyebrows deepened.
She sank down beside him, sitting carefully on the edge of the bed. Her fingers slid through the unruly locks, and she twisted a stray curl, musing over how it was the only curl in his hair. She liked the way it felt without the confines, soft and loose around his face.
He stiffened under her touch, and she stilled.
Did he recognize her touch?
He relaxed, turning on his side. She let out the breath she was holding, her hand pausing in his hair. She tentatively slid her hand down, tracing the deep lines in his forehead with a feathery touch.
His face softened under her fingers as she eased away the pain, running over the lines until they melded into the surrounding skin. He let out a contented sigh and nestled closer, his fingers slowly unclenching from the blanket.
Her heart warmed at the sight, the soft sigh making her skin tingle. The worry written across his forehead disappeared, and she felt the relief creep seeing him relax, her tight nerves easing.
She wasn't sure whether she was comfortable with that realization.
He made a sound of discontent when her hand stilled, leaning into her touch. She didn't move, trying to come to terms with the feelings rapidly building inside of her, unsettling her.
His voice was a deep, husky rumble, muffled against the pillow and sleepy.
She froze, staring down at him. She could feel her heart pounding down to the tips of her fingers, the insidious warmth spreading through her. She swallowed, her breath quickening as she stared down at his sleeping form.
Why was he saying her name?
Did he know she was there?
Was he dreaming of her?
Did it mean...
She didn't want to think about it, the thrill that shot up her spine, making her shiver.
He murmured her name again, and body seemed to sing with the stirrings of something. She craved to hear her name on his lips again, leaning in unconsciously towards him, trying to hear the elusive murmur.
She couldn't be caught here, he couldn't know that she-
That she what?
She withdrew her hand as quickly as she could, as his eyelids fluttered, shifting on the bed. She could feel him awakening and realized where she was sitting, heat sweeping up her cheeks.
She stopped still, hoping that he would go back to sleep. She knew he could sense her, his fingers twitching with awareness as his body came out of the dreamless state. She waited with bated breath, praying he would turn around and slip back, just so she could extract herself.
He took a deep breath, and then his arm became heavy, his entire body relaxing once more. The movement behind his eyelids seemed to slow, his breathing becoming steady as his head sank into the pillow.
She breathed a sigh of relief, slowly sliding herself out of his grasp. She picked up her skirts and fled into the bathroom, trying to ignore her traitorous heartbeat.
His eyes snapped open as soon as the door shut, dark and alert. He remained in his position, his mind whirling as he memorized the shadow of her touch. His body was still, as if he were worried that movement would shatter the moment, turn it into a dream.
Why had she sat next to him?
Why had she fled?
Was there something she didn't want him to see?
She opened the door before he could process those questions, the answers remaining blurred in his mind. His heart stopped when he saw her, all of the blood in his body suddenly rushing like waves against the beach in a storm.
He could see the ends of her long, wet hair brushing against her bare waist, the slight curve of her stomach visible just above her petticoat. The sight of her bare stomach, uncovered by a sari, made his head spin with desire, the little droplets of water sliding into her petticoat torturing him.
She was murmuring underneath her breath, and he could see her hands rubbing at the ends of her hair as she reached for her sari. He tried desperately to keep his gaze from stopping at the curve of her blouse, determinedly shooting up to her face, focusing on her eyes.
She felt his gaze on her and met it. She sucked in a breath when she saw the barely controlled hunger in his eyes, her entire body feeling as if it was on fire. His gaze slid down to her mangal sutra, and then moved slowly back up, stoking the flames.
He was staring at her with a possessive need, a look she had never seen before. It knocked all of the thoughts out of her mind until she was unable to focus on anything but him, the unmistakable draw that pulled her closer to him.
She felt the cool air on her stomach and gasped. She flushed furiously as realization crept in. Her mouth parted in horror as a soft scream escaped her lips, and she whirled around, slamming the bathroom door as she clutched the sari to her chest.
She looked down at herself, her face flaming at the realization that she had walked out in only her blouse and petticoat.
She had completely forgotten that sharing a space entailed this, that she was sharing a room with him.
She could feel his desire filled, sleepy gaze through the door, making her entire body feel leaden and impatient at the same time, craving for something she didn't want to face.
Her hands slipped as she tried to pleat the sari, and she cursed as the fabric slipped to the ground, the edges stained with water. The water spread quickly, darkening the fabric as the pink dye swirled into the ground.
She hastily lifted it, remaking the pleats messily and stepping out of the bathroom. He was waiting on the bed pateintly, his hair still mussed the way she had left it, his eyes piercing as they focused on her.
She looked away immediately, rushing to the closet where she could hide behind the door until he slipped into the bathroom, pretending to fold her lehenga. She waited with bated breath as his footsteps moved towards the bathroom, keeping her eyes trained on the dark shadows in the closet.
She hadn't heard the click of the door...
She tentatively looked around, noting that he wasn't in the room. She tiptoed over to the dresser, closing her eyes and sighing with relief that he wasn't there to fix her with that gaze that was far too intimate for her liking, reminded her of all that this could be.
She couldn't let herself believe that, not even after...
"You will sleep next to me. We will not just share a bed, but a life, and I'll wait... forever, if I have to."
His soft murmur rang in her mind, and her hands slowed in rubbing the towel. Her fingers curled at the memory, a shiver running through her as goosebumps began to crawl up her arms.
She shook her head. Her head spun and she grabbed the side of the dresser, steadying herself. She felt her her stomach lurch, and swallowed, trying to ignore the nauseous feeling.
She took a deep breath, as the nausea slowly faded away, glancing surreptitiously at the half open door of the bathroom. She could see him rubbing the brush in foamy circles on his darkly stubbled cheeks, the white cream covering his skin.
There was something private about watching him do this, a calming, relaxing feeling as his hands moved in practiced circles.
He leaned forward into the mirror and she did too, watching with mesmerized interest. She had never really been privy to such an essential moment of a man's day, and the idea intrigued her in a way it never had before. Her eyes widened as she caught sight of the knife in his hand and she gasped aloud as he brought it to his cheek.
The knife slipped, at the sound as his eyes shot to hers, a grimace curving his lips as blood began to seep from the wound. He cursed roundly, bending down to the water and splashing the wound, wincing as it stung.
She leapt from the bed with a fear she hadn't known, the dizziness that assaulted her pushed to the back. Her mind completely stopped at the sight of the red water against the white of their sink. She burrowed through the layers of shirts, flipping open drawers as she searched for the anti-septic.
What if he had been hurt badly? What if that wound became infected? What if something happened to him, what would she d-
Why did she feel as if she had been cut instead of him, the worry nearly paralyzing?
She pushed the thought out of her mind as her hands finally touched the bottle. Sighing with relief, she ran to the bathroom, her stomach churning. Her eyes immediately went to his cheek, relief flooding through her once more at the sight of the innocuous, thin line that had finally stopped bleeding.
She hadn't anticipated just how relieved she would be.
He turned around to grab a towel, only to be handed anti-septic, wrapped neatly in his towel. He glowered at the woman who was now his wife, but she merely looked back at him, ignoring his silent tantrum.
Sighing in irritation, he took the bottle, keeping his gaze on her.
"Don't do that again."
He said gruffly before she could apologize profusely, cutting her off. She closed her mouth, watching as he skillfully spun open the bottle, rubbing it against the wound.
One would have thought he had been mortally wounded with the way that had bled, he thought ruefully, flinching at the burn. He bathed quickly, dumping the cold water over his head in a futile effort to reduce the imprint of her fingers against his scalp, gently easing the guilt away.
If only she had known what he had been dreaming about.
He dried his hair quickly, closing the bathroom door carefully as he buttoned his pants. He slipped on his shirt, walking over to his dresser as he always did to button it up. He stopped dead at the sight, staring at her with a mixture of wariness and thrill that coursed through him.
She was there.
He had always known her hair was long, but there was something... different about seeing it this way. It was a thick wave of silk, the ends curling around and framing her face beautifully. Her face was still flushed from her bath, a freshness there that made her almost radiant.
The usually faint lavender was stronger, and he felt the tug that made him want to reach out and touch the locks, allowing them to fall through his fingers. He almost laughed at the pang of envy he felt towards the ends of her hair that brushed the skin at her waist, soaking up the little water droplets.
She was... his.
No other person had seen her this way, so uninhibited as she went about her morning routine.
The thought filled him with a strange sense of satisfaction, a contentment that he had never felt sweeping through him. His stomach unknotted and he felt relaxed, captivated by her.
She silently moved over to give him room, her eyes fixed on the mirror in front of her. He glanced at her out of the corner of his eyes, watching as she leaned forward, pulling the bottom of her eyelid down and swiftly swiping the light pink a dark black.
She leaned back, studying herself critically as she ran the tip of her pinky underneath her thick lashes to clean it up. His gaze followed the soft bow of her lips, down the curve of her neck, lingering on the mangal sutra that slipped into the faint shadow.
He glanced at her parting, suddenly annoyed that it was no longer filled with the dark red powder. The streak of possessiveness startled him. Her eyes met his in the mirror, and he immediately diverted his gaze, staring down at the buttons that he had yet to close.
He snuck a glance at her, her cheekbones highlighted with a distinct pink, her gaze fixed on the fingers that began to do the button. He smiled to himself, hearing her breath catch, the determinedly steady breathing that seemed entirely too loud in the silence of the early morning.
She gritted her teeth, frustrated by the way he was affecting her. They were standing far too close for her comfort, the air crackling with awareness of them. She didn't like the intimacy of the moment; or maybe she liked it too much.
The thin cotton of his pale blue shirt contrasted beautifully with the tan of skin, making the heat pool at her center. She swallowed audibly, unable to resist glancing at the strip of skin still visible from the unbuttoned buttons.
And then there was the way he was looking at her.
She hated it, hated it so much that she couldn't stop the slow burn that seemed to consume her, the dark, appreciative caramel gaze making her heart race. She hated that she had unconsciously taken a little extra time to apply the kohl, running her hands through her hair in the mirror in the bathroom just once, making sure the frizziness had been reduced just a little.
Her eyes slipped back to those mesmerizing fingers, now deftly working the buttons. She could see the fine hairs that curled against his chest, the ones that trailed right down, disappearing into neatly pressed black pants. Shocked by the direction of her thoughts, she hastily reached for a bobby pin, craving familiarity as she pried it apart, sticking one in her mouth.
Arnav cursed mentally when she slipped the dark pin into her mouth, watching as those tantalizing lips pursed appealingly to hold it in place. The pink of her tongue was just pressing against her teeth, and he found himself adjusting the way he tucked in his shirt, loosening his belt slightly.
Damn it. He was acting like a depraved man, one with no control.
His lips twisted in distaste when he saw that she had pulled her hair back into that tight bun, covering the thick strands with her pallu. He glanced up once more, irritation filling him.
She turned around to leave, but was stopped by his gruff voice.
"Your sindoor. Ma would want you to have it for the pooja."
She turned back to see his hand holding out the pot, twisted behind his back as he stared at the wall in front of him.
She pushed away the twinge of annoyance she felt at the fact that he didn't even look at her as he handed her the red powder that symbolized their union, frustrated that it was even affecting her.
Why did she care?
He didn't seem to care for her much anyway, seeing as he was still going to move back to England.
She had done this for Ma, Papa, and NK.
Only for them.
Lost in her irritation, she didn't notice the satisfaction that creeped into Arnav's eyes as he followed the pinch of her fingers, the small curve that tugged at his lips as she swept the powder through her parting. His gaze lingered on the red stain even as she walked out, the tightness in his chest loosening as he stared down at the red powder in his hands.
Khushi came down the stairs, swaying slightly, as she paused. She held a hand to her head, the burning heat making her groan. Her legs felt weak as she took the steps slowly, feeling exhausted.
She stopped in the doorway to the living room, holding the frame. Anjali turned around, fixing Khushi with a knowing grin. Khushi flushed deeply, realizing the meaning behind that grin.
"Ma, isn't she a little... red today?"
Anjali's gaze shifted downwards, and Khushi suddenly felt like pulling her sari tightly around her. The marks left from her necklace were faint but visible, and she saw Anjali raise an eyebrow as she took them in.
"Accha Khushi, batao, how was it?"
She rolled her eyes as Anjali nudged her shoulder, sending a wink towards Ma. Khushi's turned pleadingly towards Sakshi, who merely shrugged her shoulders with a wry grin.
"Kya Khushi, you're not telling me anything!"
Anjali whined, pretending to be wounded.
"Do you really want to know about your brother's..."
Khushi trailed off with a sly smile, knowing it would silence her for a bit. Anjali grimaced, shuddering slightly.
"No. But I'm willing to make that sacrifice for you..."
Anjali grinned, leaning forward conspiratorially. Khushi blushed, rolling her eyes as she took the thali from Sakshi. She glanced around for Arnav, her eyes searching him out.
He should have been ready by now...
(continued in next post)
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Joined: 01 December 2013
She winced as her head began to throb, the ache growing stronger by the minute. She didn't see the worried glance Anjali shot her way as she lifted a hand to her forehead, pressing it to her fiery temple.
Where was he? Why wasn't he-
She swayed slightly, but felt a warm hand catch her other hand. She looked up to see Arnav looking down at her worriedly, scanning her face. His brow furrowed as his hand steadied her, scanning her face carefully.
She shifted uncomfortably, trying to subtly sneak out of his grasp. His gaze discomforted her, the warm, caramel eyes making the heat flame up. His voice was husky as he spoke, laced with concern.
"Sorry, I got caught up in responding to something... Khushi, tum theek-"
She muttered shortly, trying to hold herself steady. The warmth of his fingers against the inside of her wrist was unnerving, but she couldn't wrench her hand away without drawing attention.
"You look tired, Khushi."
Arnav tried, his grasp tightening on her wrist as he gently lead her to face the images of the Gods. Khushi shook her head determinedly, biting back the anguished cry that threatened to come from her lips at the way her head spun with the movement.
"I didn't get much sleep last night."
She said without thinking, her voice scratchy. She heard a snicker from Anjali and a wry smile pulled at her lips, the motion taking entirely too much effort.
She vaguely heard Anjali in the background as she clutched the thali, even the quiet sounds entirely too loud for her.
She restrained a groan when Anjali began to ring the bell, the echoes of their harmonized voices grating against her ears. She shifted in her spot, trying desperately to focus on the puja, to ignore the worried glances Arnav sent her way, his grip holding her up.
Khushi barely felt Arnav's hand move to the small of her back, leaning into the comfort his touch provided her. She felt woozy, the ache in her body coming back with a vengeance.
She was probably just tired because she hadn't gotten enough sleep last night...
She wished the puja would end, the normally soothing notes making her head pound. She shivered, goosebumps crawling up her arms as she moved closer to Arnav, relishing his body heat.
Was it always this cold in this house?
She blindly placed the thali down, a wave of nausea hitting her again as she bent down. She felt a spark of relief as the last chant faded away, the noise dying down as she silently apologized to Devi Maiyya. She leaned forward as Sakshi reached up to place the kumkum between her eyebrows, her feathery touch making her flinch.
Sakshi paused, gently holding Khushi's elbow as she placed a hand to her forehead. It was hot, definitely much warmer than usual. She shot a questioning glance at Arnav, whose worried gaze was trained on his wife.
"Khushi, you have a fever. Are you feeling unwell?"
Khushi swallowed down, desperately trying to control her churning stomach. She shook her head, mustering up a faint smile. Sakshi regarded her for a moment, opening her mouth to protest.
"Khushi, are you sure?"
"Haan Ma, I'm fine. I'll just go make the halwa."
She disappeared to the kitchen before anyone could stop her, longing for privacy. She was not oblivious to the worried gazes following her, but ignored them, determinedly moving forward as she tried to forget the tremors that shook her, the way her head felt heavy.
She reached for the suji, holding on tightly to the granite counters as her legs threatened to give way. Her hands shook as she spooned it into the pan, mentally telling herself to focus despite her swimming vision.
She reached for the lighter, her hair sticking to her forehead as sweat beaded on her skin.
She managed to get out, her legs threatening to give out, and she swayed. She could faintly hear the familiar beat of his jog coming closer, her vision closing in just as she felt a pair of arms slide around her, bracing her fall.
She barely caught a glimpse of his panicked expression before it went black, her body going slack in his arms.
"Khushi. Khushi, Khushi."
He shook her gently, the panic hitting him full force as her eyes fluttered shut, her limp weight heavy against him. He patted her cheek, his heart pounding in his chest as worry pulsed through his veins, desperate to get her awake.
"Ma! Anju! Khushi fainted, Ma!"
He called, his gaze still fixed on his wife. He reached a hand to her forehead, cursing profusely when he felt the burning heat against his cool fingers. Her face had drained of all color, and he could see the beads of sweat on her forehead, the sight of her pale cheeks making him frantic as he slowly lowered her to the floor.
The damned woman just had to sleep outside.
He turned on the faucet, splashing the cool water onto her face as he wet a towel and patted her face with it. She flinched, a faint groan slipping from her lips as they parted.
He nearly cried in relief as dazed, hazel eyes came into view, slipping his coat around her shivering shoulders. She tried to sit up but he gently pressed her down again, cradling her head in his hands as he murmured reassuringly to her, resisting the urge to shake her and yell at her for making herself sick.
He heard Ma run in, followed closely by Anjali, the anxiousness in his eyes reflected in theirs. He looked up at them, drawing an unsteady breath as his eyes stung, his hand remaining on Khushi's cool cheek as she drifted in and out. He looked back down at her glazed eyes, running his palm over her cheek as he continued to touch the cool towel to her face.
Sakshi stared at her son, kneeling on the floor with unshed tears in his eyes. She could see the fear in his eyes as he held her like glass, speaking softly to her. He had always been loving and protective, but the sheer tenderness with which he was holding her shook Sakshi.
Shaking herself out of her daze, she bent down on the floor next to him. Khushi turned her head towards her, and she placed a hand on her forehead, cursing herself for not stopping her daughter earlier.
She glanced at Arnav, wishing she could take him into her arms. His body was stiff with tension, his eyes filled with worry as he touched a hand to her forehead again. She heard the faint curse as he turned to her, pleading with her to do something.
Her heart caught, all her initial fears about this marriage fading away at the sight of her distraught son. She couldn't doubt the love in his eyes as he looked at Khushi, recognizing the fear of a husband. Arnav's eyes followed her every move as Sakshi called to Anjali to call the doctor, his nerves on edge as he focused his attention completely on Khushi.
She nodded to Arnav, and he immediately swept her weak figure into his arms, painstakingly carrying her up to their room. She felt a familiar hand on her shoulder as she watched his disappearing figure and turned her head up to see her husband, looking down at her.
She could see the concern in Ashok's eyes as he stared after Arnav and Khushi, the lines that creased his face seeming deeper than ever. She sensed the panic of a parent as he squeezed her shoulder.
She didn't know whether it was to reassure himself or her, worry squeezing in her chest. She leaned into his touch, pressing her lips together in a thin line as she forced herself to take a deep breath. She moved to follow them but her husband's hand stopped her, gently holding her back.
"Arnav is there for her, Sakshi."
She could hear the struggle in the statement and turned around. The acute sense of loss of control was reflected in his eyes as he sighed heavily. It was too soon for them to let go just yet.
She gently touched his hand, recognizing his sentiments as her own as he looked down at her. His grip loosened on her shoulder, allowing her to follow them. She heard him shuffling behind her as she took the steps two by two, mentally reciting a prayer as she walked into their room.
Arnav was sitting next to Khushi on the bed, murmuring unintelligibly to her. He turned at the sound of the door, silently asking if the doctor had arrived. Sakshi shook her head and she saw him deflate, staring down at a pale Khushi. His hand moved to her hair, brushing it out of her face.
Sakshi sank down next to him, handing him another towel. She placed a hand on his shoulder, but he barely seemed to notice, his entire attention trained on Khushi.
Arnav touched a hand to her forehead for what seemed like the hundredth time. He knew her fever hadn't gone down, but he couldn't help but hope, disappointment pressing against him every time he felt the heat radiate from her.
She flinched at his touch, but relaxed when his hand gently swept across her forehead, dipped in cool water. She shifted against the blankets, discomfort evident on her strained, pallid face.
Regret speared through him, the anger at himself festering as his hand trailed down her hot cheek. He didn't hold back the harsh curse that spilled from his lips, his free hand fisting in frustration.
Idiotic, stubborn woman. Hadn't she realized that sleeping outside would make her sick?
He glared at her, wishing he could shake sense into her. She was so damned headstrong, her pride getting in the way of everything.
He felt a sharp pierce in his heart as he recalled the events from last night, berating himself for not having put his foot down.
He should have stopped her, damn it. Why hadn't he fought harder to make her sleep inside?
He should have known, at least gotten up and carried her inside once she was asleep, when she would put up less resistance.
But he hadn't, and now she was sick.
He touched a hand to her forehead yet again, huffing angrily when he felt the unwelcome heat.
Why wasn't she responding? Why wasn't she getting better? What was wrong with her?
Where was that damned doctor? What was taking him so long?
He felt his mother squeeze his shoulder but ignored it, moving to get fresh, cold water. He began to stand up, but was held back by a tug on his thigh.
He looked down to see her hand fisted in his pants, grasping the fabric tightly. His heart caught and he struggled to maintain control over himself as he sank back down next to her, placing his own hand over her burning hot one.
His voice was urgent, a desperate plea. He had never felt so helpless in his life and he hated it, hated that he couldn't take away any of the pain from her, that he couldn't make her better.
The click of the door startled him as the elderly doctor walked in, setting his briefcase down by the bed. He walked over to the side of the bed where Arnav was and Sakshi moved to give him room. Arnav was oblivious to his pointed stare, until Sakshi reached out and gently pulled Arnav away from the bed, prying her fingers from clutching his pants so Dr. Mehta would have more room to work.
Arnav glared at her, continuing to hover over Khushi, breathing down the doctor's neck as he worked. He paced back and forth, tapping his foot impatiently as Dr. Mehta worked impossibly slowly, slipping a thermometer into her mouth and waiting. Arnav watched as the red liquid rose up the tube, annoyed by the time it was taking.
"What's wrong with her? Why is she so sick? When will she get better?"
Dr. Mehta slowly put down his stethoscope, smiling reassuringly at the frantic husband. He had seen thousands of them in his career, but his endless patience did nothing but incense Arnav further.
"What the hell is wrong with her? How can you be so calm about this? Did you take her temperature? She's burning, she's shaking so much and I can't seem to get the fever to come down. What's wrong with her?!"
His voice was almost a growl as he glowered at Dr. Mehta, wanting to shake him for being so blas about the whole thing.
"She has a fever, Mr. Raizada-"
"I garnered that much. How can I make it better?"
He interrupted impatiently, cutting the doctor off. Dr. Mehta didn't blink, continuing on calmly.
"Continue to keep her cool. You'll want to pat her down as much as you can with lukewarm water, keep her covered in a blanket, and make sure she gets plenty of fluids."
He handed Arnav a bottle of Vicks and a set of atropine capsules, instructing him on their usage.
"These should ease her symptoms. Call me if she gets worse, or if it persists for longer than a week. She should be fine given time."
Arnav nodded curtly as Dr. Mehta collected his belongings, immediately taking his place next to Khushi as soon as the doctor stood up. Dr. Mehta suppressed a smile, clasping his hands together in a namaskar as he left the room.
"Arnav, you haven't even eaten breakfast yet. Let me take care of her, and-"
He responded forcefully, not even looking at his mother. Sakshi debated arguing but stepped back when she realized it would be of no use, exiting the room with a lingering glance behind.
Arnav's gaze swept over her still shivering body, the chills shaking her to the core. Carefully unwinding her fingers from his, he walked over to their dresser, rummaging around until he found a long sleeved cotton salwar kameez. He glanced back at her, curled up in fetal position, her labored breathing audible even from the other side of the room.
He looked down at the clothes in his hands, knowing she would be much more comfortable in them as opposed to the sari she was wearing. He tentatively walked over to her, sitting back down on the bed with the clothes in his hands.
When Sakshi came back with a plate, Arnav was still sitting by his wife's side, holding her hand as he patted her trembling body down with the cool towel. She watched for a few moments, held captive by the sight of her normally reserved son dropping his guard. His mouth moved in a soft whisper, and she saw Khushi turn towards his voice, her hand clasped tightly within his.
Her eyes caught sight of the salwar kameez he was clutching, and she quietly closed the door behind her.
"Chote, you haven't eaten anything all morning. It's almost lunchtime."
He jumped in surprise, giving her a brief glance before turning back to Khushi. Sakshi placed a hand on his shoulder, turning him to face her.
"Arnav, if you don't take care of yourself, how will you take care of her?"
He shook his head distractedly, reaching for the towel again. She stilled his hand with a touch, and he looked up at her with an anxious gaze, desperation swirling in his caramel eyes.
"Arnav, beta, you have to eat."
She repeated insistently, tearing a piece off of the roti and urging his mouth open as she had when he was younger. He turned his head but didn't take his eyes off of Khushi, his eyes following her every movement.
"Shall I change her into that?"
Arnav's gaze snapped up to his mother at the quiet question. He hesitated for a minute, realizing that Khushi may feel uncomfortable with him changing her.
No. He had to do this for her. He was her husband. He wanted to take care of her.
He shook his head, obediently opening his mouth for his mother as he placed his hand on Khushi's forehead again.
"I can take care of her, Ma."
He said gruffly, running a hand over her head. The sweaty tendrils of hair stuck to his palm, her eyelids fluttering as she made a soft sound under his touch. Sakshi regarded him with a thoughtful gaze for a minute, looking down at the plate as she spoke.
"Should I help you with it?"
He looked at his mother with a mixed expression, before nodding curtly, handing her the dress. He moved towards the pin holding her pallu together, suddenly recalling the way she had deftly pinned it up this morning, the pleats almost intact.
He methodically unraveled the sari, keeping his gaze trained on her face as the pleats fell into a crumpled mess in his hands. He was very aware of his mother's gaze on his back, the silence suffocating as she watched him.
He unbuttoned the blouse, reaching behind him to take the kurta from his mother's hands. He could see the spheres of sweat dot her body, the goosebumps covering her as she curled into herself. He murmured reassurances as he stroked her hair, rubbing circles on her hand. Sakshi carefully slipped her hands through the holes as Arnav lifted her up so they could pull it down, grateful that she offered little resistance.
He stared at her sleeping form as she turned onto her side, clearly more comfortable in these clothes. Sakshi had left to get more of the medicine, leaving Arnav alone in the room with her.
Grabbing a blanket, he covered her, tucking it into the crevice of her neck. His hand rested on her sweaty forehead, and he leaned down, pressing a kiss to the parting. His nose was filled with the distinctive scent of kumkum, and he was suddenly reminded of the scowl on her face when he had brushed it off of her nose.
His heart clenched as he took in her disturbed expression, wishing that playful scowl would appear again. He curled up next to her, running his fingers through the long strands of hair as he listened to her steady breathing.
He could feel his eyes drooping, and moved closer, cradling her to himself.
Just a few minutes, and he would wake up...
He found he didn't want to let go of her hand, his fingers still tightly entwined with hers.
Note: And that's where I'll leave you for today! I hope you enjoyed the update- please let me know what you thought with a like or a comment. They really do inspire me to write.
As always, please follow @ipkchotidesi or PM me your email for update notifications.
You can also find the update on the blog, just recently opened! The link is HERE.
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Choti, my love, the subtlety in your writing makes me want to drown in the beauty of your words. Each touch, each feeling, so exquisitely written. You make it seem almost palpable - the intense attraction they have towards the other. Phew, the way he stares at her when she comes out of the bathroom ... never mind Khushi, I got goosebumps!
I love the way you've used the mangalsutra in this update. An overt symbol of their marriage but also a covert symbol of their feelings. The cold beads of dread, the warm beads of attraction, the fiery beads of possessiveness.
Anjali teasing her friend was so cute. Her friend first before being her brother's wife. The brother who was totally overwrought at his wife's collapse. Something that you brought out so well. His love for her visible in every agitated action to try and make her well, make it all go away in an instant. And his mother could see that. Her maternal need to soothe him was moving to see. As was the way you showed the tussle in Ashok between wanting to take care of his daughter and letting her husband do it. He is such a superbly written character. The wisdom, the gravitas that is there in his every action is wonderful to read.
And now hoping that he never lets go of the hand he is grasping so tightly.
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Joined: 19 October 2013
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