Permotio was called to do Infirmary duty, once Rumex and her twin had reached the milestone age of ten. Now nearly thirty-one, the memories of her previous two times in the Infirmary, were still open and bleeding like fresh wounds. The death of Pax still remained in her nightmares so many years on.
The Infirmary was as it always had been: the harsh lights reflected even more harshly on the sterile white walls. Since Permotio became Lady in Waiting, she had asked for the walls of the Infirmary to be scrubbed clean daily. This involved, at the start of the daily clean up, scraping fragments of blood, flesh, and worse from the newly sterile white walls.
As she was working in the Infirmary, Permotio was forced to wear the standard uniform. A white apron covered her royal purple robes. Since her father was killed, Permotio had the chance to do what she wanted. Although she could before, she now no longer had to ask for permission.
The doctor was waiting for Permotio to arrive. Standing in the doorway, he performed the customary swooping bow. While still bent at the waist, he spoke. "My beautiful Queen, dost thou granst me with thine presence?"
Permotio motioned for him to stand before he could continue. "I insinuate, alleviate the formalities, Adrogantia. Just because I am soon to be the Highest Metuere Monarch, doesn't mean that you have to treat me like a queen...even though I am. Why have you called me here?"
The doctor - whose real name was Adrogantia - stood up completely straight. He adopted his usual voice, one of wisdom and knowledge, and a hint of authority. "Permotio, there has been another death. Caedes, the only male now in your family, was trying to kill Fidelis. Fidelis killed him to save his own life. Fidelis would like to speak to you." The doctor beckoned Permotio inside. She entered cautiously, and watched intently as the doctor tapped the wall three times. Fidelis stepped through the wall, like a ghost. "Permotio, the wall is an illusion, but Fidelis is real."
Fidelis bowed his head down, but looked up at her with his eyes. "If I had known he was your brother," he pleaded, "I would not have killed him, but hurt him enough to stop him killing me. He tried to kill me. I am so sorry."
Permotio stepped forward, standing directly in front of him. The doctor left wordlessly. Fidelis' armour was bloodstained, and covered in mud and dirt. "My sweet prince, it is fine. Caedes murdered everything with a pulse. It was he who killed the rest of my brothers, so he could have the power. Well, he killed all except Cavum, but you know about him." Permotio paused, letting the unshed tears from Cavum's suicide fill her eyes. "I forgive you, Fidelis." She let her lips hover above his, just for a moment, before they kissed. Permotio slipped her arms around his neck, resting her bent elbows on his shoulders, clasping her hands together. His hands rested on her thighs - she was not allowed to wear corsets during Infirmary duty - pulling her closer. After ten years and two children, they had not stopped being in love with each other.
"Sweet Goddess," Fidelis muttered, after Permotio eventually pulled away from him. "You've still got it, girl." His breathing had not returned to normal. His face became suddenly solemn. "I am sorry. I didn't know it was your brother. It's just...oh what's the word? He tried to kill me. His eyes were literally red!" He paused and looked at Permotio's smiling face. "What's so funny?"
Permotio started to giggle uncontrollably. Although she was thirty, Fidelis made her feel like a teenager. Through the giggles, she managed to say, "You're ready!" She pointed to his groin as she spoke, where a rather large bulge had appeared.
Adrogantia entered the Infirmary through the emergency doors, but he was not alone. Thrown on his shoulders was a young boy, no older than thirteen. He was bleeding heavily from a thigh wound. It was hard to tell if it was a stab or a shot wound; there was too much blood. The doctor motioned silently for them both to help him. Permotio packed the wound and checked the boy's pulse. Fidelis passed things from hundreds of hidden cupboards; he knew where everything was without being told, like he was the one who put everything in the cupboards. Adrogantia, the doctor, did his best to stitch the wound on the unconscious child. The stitches were not holding. The blood was pumping even faster, until it slowed to a stop. Permotio continued packing the wound, until Adrogantia laid a sympathetic hand on her wrist. "He's gone, Permotio, and there's nothing we can do now."
Permotio collapsed crying into Fidelis' chest. His arms wrapped around her, pulling them together, clinging to each other for dear life. Her tears washed away her brother's blood. His tears washed away the arterial blood from the child. The doctor left with no emotion, as usual.
Rumex came in, after hearing her mother's wails of despair. She tugged at her mother's apron, to get her attention. She smiled, and hugged her mother's legs. Permotio patted Rumex on the back, wiped away her tears, and rested her head on Fidelis' shoulder. They looked like a true family; the mother, father, and daughter walked calmly. Both adults were putting up a facade to convince Rumex - but mainly themselves - that everything was all right.
The happy family remained in Permotio's chamber until Verna collected Rumex for her classes. Permotio rested her head on Fidelis' shoulder, and wrapped her arms around his waist. He placed gently his hands over hers. "It'll be OK, Permotio. There are many deaths, daily, in the Odium clan, as well as the Metuere castle. It's just another death. I know how you feel; I feel like I should have done more to help as well. But ten years on, we still need to tell the elders what we know about the war. Let's stay focused on that, huh?"
Permotio looked up at her secret husband. "You really think I can forget the death of a child? But you are right; it is just another death. How are we going to tell the elders?"
Fidelis had a devilish look as he replied: "Permotio, you know what makes me think better...Shall we try it?"