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~ Trisday, 19th of Maius 11831~

“Mix a flat teaspoon into a hot drink twice a day, once with breakfast and a second time before bed,” Lizzy said, holding up a packet of medicine and herbs. “You’ll begin to feel better after the second day, but keep drinking until you finish the packet. It is still morning, so take the first dose when you get home.”

“Oui, mademoiselle, thank you, I will.” The patient accepted the mix of medicine, looking over the unmarked packet. He shook it to see how much was in it. “And if I have any more questions?”

“Then please come by at any time, just say you are here for the clinic.”

The man, who had had a sore throat, headaches, and chills for a couple of days (though felt much better just being near Elizabeth) got off of the examination table. He fidgeted with a few askew buttons on his collar— Lizzy had had to listen to his lungs and he had been appalled at first that a lady would see him without a shirt, but Vivien had been busy, and Lizzy would not take no for an answer. In his haste to return to modesty several buttons were in the wrong hole.

“Thank you, again, my lady. And do I need to pay for the medicine?”

“No, monsieur, the herbs come from our garden. I suppose your taxes are paying for it in that way, but at the moment—non. His Grace is offering his services and medicines free of charge.” Relief washed over his face and he thanked her again before leaving.

Lizzy smiled and moved over to the cleansing station of the room, pushing up her white sleeves so she could wash her hands and be ready for another patient. Nearby Salome helped to take out the dirty leftover water, and a servant brought more packets of herbs that Wolfram and Pierre had made that morning for common ills.

The north-eastern wing had been remade into a clinic over the past several days. Valentin and Nina helped to spread the word of its upcoming existence, and Pierre sent two of the château’s carriages to the hospital to bring in extra patients. At first there had been only a few people coming in, most sent from the hospital without being aware where they were going, but good word spread, and curiosity even faster.

Pierre, Vivien, Elizabeth, and Wolfram had planned to each take shifts being in or near the clinic to provide help, but currently there needed to be at least two of them there at a time to keep up with demand. Salome and Maiolaine, and her children, helped alone at first until some servants decided to do their duty and assist the duc. Bastien and Eliana had run off to play after, but Apolla insisted on staying to help the last two days even without her siblings. She had told Elizabeth that she too wanted to be a nurse when she was older, even if she did not have her father’s magic.

There was a hush, and then rapid murmuring behind her. Lizzy looked up quickly, expecting to see a wounded patient, but sighed as it was only Pierre and Aimé coming into the room. Her beloved wore a solid black suit with matching black gloves, the attire his choice of doctor’s robes, and prince Aimé was rather informally dressed. As one would be to see a doctor and need to be closely examined.

“I insist,” Aimé was saying. “It is already a shame that I was not your first patient upon completing your degree. At the very least you can give me a once-over and tell me what’s wrong with me.”

“Nothing is wrong with you,” Pierre replied, leading his brother to an examination table. “You merely refuse my diagnosis of health and want to endorse the clinic by coming here.” Aimé chose his moment to cough harshly and to Lizzy’s ears it sounded exaggerated and false. The grin that the prince wore was not helping in his insistence that he was truly ill.

She moved to go help Pierre deal with Aimé, but the doors opened up again and more patients took her attention. Valentin and Nina, talking loudly to each other even as he held the door for her and kept an arm around her waist, came in without breaking stride in their argument. She was allowing him to lead her in even if the words she spoke were insistent that she was fine and they should return home.

“What is wrong?” she said, going over to her friends. Neither seemed overly ill and it was quite possible this was just a ruse to come see the clinic.

“Nothing,” they both replied in tandem, Valentin with a grin and Nina a frown.

“We married,” Nina said, beginning to explain. “Two nights ago. Lady Veriette spoke of an important night and my dear silly husband dragged me to the church an hour later because he simply could not wait. And so we wed and have spent the last few days at…home.”

“She is with child!”

Nina slapped her husband’s arm.

“You cannot know that, and I do not know it either! How would you so quickly!”

“Well there was that night last month when I first suggested we marry and—” Her hand pressed to his mouth to stop his talking. He grinned behind her fingers and kissed them in reply.

“I told you to shush, we already went to Confess that!” She snatched her hand back when Valentin moved on from kissing to nibbling on a finger. She wiped her hand on her skirts with an amused glare.

Elizabeth blushed, leading them over to her station and helping Nina up onto the table. Such things were never spoken of in mixed company, but Valentin and Nina had little shame. She pulled the curtains that had been set up around them closed so as to give themselves more privacy.

“There are some ways to check very early if you have conceived,” Lizzy said. “Though whether that was recently—”

“—or this morning—” Valentin added in quickly.

“—or a month ago, will likely be known only after the child is born and counting from there.”

“I will turn myself into a widow if you do not be quiet,” Nina hissed to Valentin, who laughed at the threat. For all her words she was still holding his hand in hers.

Elizabeth brought out a small jar of mixed barley and wheat, handing it to Nina. “Water these with your urine. If it sprouts you are with child. If it is the barley you will have a daughter, and if the wheat then a son.”

“How long shall I wait to see if it sprouts?”

“Only an hour or so, it will not be as normal plants.”

“Thank you, Lizzy.”

“Of course.”

She chatted with them a few more minutes and told them to return on the morrow if she was with child to be given more vitamins. When they went to leave, Valentin walked over to where Pierre and His Highness were and managed to speak some with the prince (who was in perfect health after all).


~ Hexday, 22nd of Maius, 14:00 ~

Another familiar face came into the clinic when Lizzy was on duty several days later. She had chosen to take another shift with Pierre, catching him between patients to explain how her magic was getting stronger the more she used it, and to steal kisses.

“Monsieur!” The cobbler that had made her shoes came through the doors. He had his arm up close to his chest, cradling it, and seemed pale and was sweating.

“I have an infection,” he said, nodding down to his arm. His sleeve was rolled up and she could see where there had been stitches made to close a great wound. It was red and swollen. “It happened a week and a half ago. I went to the hospital and was treated, but they perhaps did not pay as much attention as they should, or it was a true mistake, but it has become infected. I drank teas, but the swelling did not go down and I thought it best to come see someone.”

“Oui, I see,” Lizzy said, already running her hand over the red skin. “I cannot say if it was intentional, mistakes do happen, but I hesitate to say it was a mistake entirely given what I know. Do you wish to report this to His Grace?”

“Non, non, mademoiselle, it will not be a problem.”

“May I ask how you were injured in the first place?”

“Someone threw a rock through my shop window,” he said. “I and two customers were injured, but the culprit was quickly caught.”

“Oh dear. I am so sorry—”

“Not at all! Business is doing well aside from this mishap. Your endorsement of my shoes has made this summer one of my most profitable, Lady Elizabeth. You have my thanks.”

“I may not keep that thanks in a moment, monsieur. I am going to have to take out these stitches first and then treat your infection, hoping the gash is healed enough that it does not rip open.” She began to mutter under her breath before yelling out for Pierre to come help. She was not skilled enough yet to do all of this on her own, and would need another set of hands.

The cobbler was sat down with his arm out on the table, a servant holding his wrist to make sure he did not move. Pierre took a small knife and made polite conversation to distract the man while he cut and pulled out the sutras one by one, ignoring the wincing. Normally such things would not hurt, but the infection had everything inflamed and sensitive.

“There. Done,” Pierre said, pulling the last one out and disposing of it. “Lizzy?”

“Merci, my love. I will take it from here,” she said. “Monsieur, I am going to gently clean your arm now and put an ointment on it with my bare hands. I am a blancwitch and it should be enough to begin the healing.”

He nodded his consent, and Lizzy was brought a bowl of warm soapy water. By the time she was finished cleaning his arm and drying it off, the swelling had gone down and it was more pink than red. She spread the ointment over it next, feeling her hands heating up as the spirits of her magic moved to quell the infection. She thought if she concentrated they moved faster and healed more, but would have to ask Vivien if that was the case or it merely her imagination.

“Ah, and so you keep my thanks, and I give you more,” he said after she was finished. It looked as if there was no infection at all, and even the mark of the gash was smaller “Merci, dear Lady Elizabeth.”

“You are most welcome.”

That day Elizabeth also saw, though did not treat, the woman that had shown fear at her buying the shoes from the fay cobbler, along with many richer patrons who did not seem all that ill. Valentin and Nina, who were indeed having a boy-child, had spread the knowledge that the prince himself had been to the clinic up at the Duc’s home.

The next day Pierre told two more carriages to go stand in the town-square so that those who wished to come see their clinic could be driven without having to go to the hospital first.

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About the author

VMJaskiernia

Bio: I write dark things that involve magic and romance. I love books and stories, and anime and gaming. I'm trying to Catch 'em All, I collect geeky pins, and listen to a lot of true crime podcasts.

The subreddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/Noctuina/

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