His hands shaking, Cailan slowly opened the door to Alistair’s room and peered inside. He jumped as the woman at his little brother’s bedside looked up and then rose from her seat.
“Young Prince!” she exclaimed in her heavy Anders accent. “You know not to be here!”
“I know,” he answered. “I just…” Sliding into the room and closing the door, he leaned back against it. “I just wanted to be nearby, Osanna.”
Osanna sighed and pinned him with a serious look. “He will not die.”
Shaking his head, Cailan stammered, “Loghain…I overheard him talking to Father. Saying children as young as Alistair so rarely survive this.” He’d been going to talk to Father when he’d inadvertently eavesdropped on that conversation. It hadn’t helped the already jumpy state he’d been in since Alistair had gotten really sick several days before after they’d been outside in the newly fallen snow.
Hissing something under her breath in her native tongue that didn’t sound very polite, Osanna moved across the room and knelt down in front of him. As she reached up to brush back a lock of his hair, she said, “He is strong. I know, yes, I carried him here, have cared since he was small.”
“Shh,” she interrupted, thin fingers folding over his lips. Cailan just stared at her for a moment then he breathed a handful of words that terrified him to the core.
“I don’t want him to die.”
“He will not.”
“But how do you know?”
Osanna merely smiled as she answered, “I have already said. He is strong.” She then reached for the edge of her shawl and pulled him close, drying away tears that Cailan hadn’t even realized were trailing down his cheeks. “You must be strong too, young Prince.”
Sniffling, Cailan shook his head and choked out, “I don’t know how.”
“Mmm. Each must find there own way but I shall share mine.” Looking towards the little bed where Alistair lay, she continued, “I know he will be well.”
“Akin but not. It is…” She trailed off and said something in her native language, the words flowing so quickly Cailan wasn’t quite sure where each separate word began or ended. “I do not know it in this tongue. Faith but not. It is the simple knowing.”
Definitely not understanding, Cailan frowned and as Osanna sighed, he mumbled, “I’m sorry.”
“Shh,” said Osanna as she drew him into a hug and he clung to the woman, wrapping his arms tightly around her neck. He’d always liked his brother’s nurse because of her affection – his own had been kind but always aloof, keeping her distance. Osanna treated Alistair almost as if he were her own son.
It was something he’d missed, a feeling garnered from faint recollections of Mother.
After a moment, Osanna pushed him gently away then pointed to an overlarge chair on the other side of the room. Cailan smiled at the sight of it because it was his and Alistair’s chair, where they’d curled up together many times and fallen asleep listening to Osanna (or Father on the rare occasion) telling one story or another. “You may sit there,” she said sternly. Then she ran her fingers through his hair as she added, “We do not need you sick, young Prince.”
“I’ll stay there,” he breathed, almost unwilling to believe he was getting to stay. Father had told him he wasn’t to go to Alistair’s room for fear of him getting sick but he didn’t care. He just wanted to be near his little brother.
Nodding, Osanna released him, gently ruffling his hair as she rose and returned to her seat. By the time she was resettled at Alistair’s side, he was curled up in the chair with his eyes on his brother’s bed.
Smiling at him, the woman leaned forward to brush hair away from Alistair’s face and began to sing softly in her own language. Though he didn’t know the words, Cailan found a strange comfort in them and a surety that his brother would be alright. It was that alone that eventually allowed his eyes to drift shut and let him sleep.