When Feuilly woke, his ears were ringing with what sounded like a thousand little bells that amplified with any slight movement he made. He opened his eyes only to be greeted by a blinding light spotted here and there with spots of black. He had no thought in his mind other than a subconscious urge to rise, to move - but his limbs felt like they were weighed down with lead.
As he lay with his eyes squeezed shut, panting heavily, Feuilly tried to make sense of the confusion in his brain. There were questions jumbled there, questions he knew he should be asking, but he could not clear the ringing in his ears for long enough to think. More uncomfortable was the constant feeling of stickiness and damp - he shuddered at the cold of something on his forehead, and with a shaky hand removed a wet towel from his forehead and let it fall to the floor with a squelching sound. Flashes of what Feuilly decided were his memories appeared to him - his cheek pressed against the cold surface of his bedroom floor, fingers carding through his hair, the quiet and serious voice of a doctor - and Feuilly remembered.
He was late for work.
With all the force he could muster in his cramped and aching muscles, Feuilly lowered his legs from the bed, feeling a chill run through his body as his bare feet made contact with the cold floor, and gulping in a breath of air before he let the rest of his body follow and attempt to stand. For a moment he was on his feet, swaying, his vision immediately cutting in and out as his muscles screamed in protest. The world began to spin at dizzying speeds, he saw the ground approaching faster and faster, and he was convinced this was the end, until -
"Feuilly!" The alarmed voice was accompanied by the feeling of strong arms around his waist and slung across his shoulder, lifting him back on his feet and supporting him. Feuilly didn't have the strength to turn his head to discern which of his friends had come to his aid, but it took him only a moment to remember the sound of Enjolras' voice, which, he thought with a distant interest to himself, had an unusual note of what almost sounded like terror in it.
Feuilly was back in his bed the next moment, and he felt Enjolras' hand on his chest - which he suddenly noticed was bare of clothing except for his thin chemise - gently urging him to lay back, but Feuilly resisted.
"Enjolras?" He struggled to form the word for a few seconds, his mouth dry and suddenly accompanied by an extremely unpleasant acidic taste.
"I'm here, Feuilly," Enjolras assured him, and Feuilly saw his brow furrow and the edges of his mouth lift into a tense smile. "You should avoid rising for now unless absolutely necessary. Combeferre says you'll be weak for the next couple of days, and should rest as much as possible."
Feuilly released a long breath and lay back. "I have -"
"Work, I know," Enjolras finished for him, shaking his head. "Bossuet took care of it, Feuilly. You must take this seriously, mon ami. You'll recover in the next few days, but Combeferre says if you strain yourself you may relapse. So please, Feuilly," Enjolras implored, his eyes searching Feuilly's with a frightening seriousness, "take care of yourself. Allow yourself to be taken care of."
Feuilly fell silent. As the minutes bore on, Enjolras appeared to grow more uncomfortable in the quiet. "Are you hungry?" He asked hopefully.
Feuilly shook his head, and gave him the same response to an offer of extra blankets. He looked around the room, his vision finally beginning to solidify into a clear picture. "Where is my work?" He asked, squinting to try and find the half-finished painted fans he'd arranged on his shelves and wardrobe.
"Oh, the fans - I think Joly put them away in a safer place - he needed the space for his medical bag. Besides, Courfeyrac came last night, and with him in the room, we didn't want your work to be knocked about."
Feuilly nodded, staring at his hands and slowly working them in knots to relieve the sudden pressure he felt in his chest. After a while, his eyes fell on a small heap of towels and cloths in the corner a few feet away; then on the crumpled and torn sheaths of parchment strewn on the floor, displaying the messy handwriting of Joly. When Feuilly strained to make out what they said, he saw, monitor for dry mouth, replace towels with fresh ones every hour, hydrate (warm tea or water), apply liniments every two hours. More instructions detailing the steps of caretaking followed for, from what Feuilly could see, multiple pages and scraps of paper addressed to Courfeyrac, then Enjolras, then Combeferre.
Feuilly's stomach churned as everything he'd seen in his room, everything that Enjolras had said and done, finally sank in.
"I was ill," Feuilly said. He swallowed as he thought about all that such a state of being called for. "You - Combeferre - Joly - nursed me? How long was I -?"
Enjolras nodded. "Combeferre and Joly. I found you in your room in the morning…" Enjolras paused as he calculated the amount of time that had passed, his brow furrowing again as he concentrated. "Two days ago."
Feuilly stared at the ceiling. His stomach churned again, but this time he did not dismiss it as he'd done before. "Enjolras," he said quietly, too afraid in the moment to hate how his voice was suddenly small and tremorous. "I - I feel -"
Enjolras was holding him up the next instant over the chamber pot as he retched what felt like the remains of everything in his body. When he stopped, he sat, shuddering, squeezing his eyes tight and waiting for the next wave of nausea to knock him senseless and to choke him in his own sick. But it didn't, and as Feuilly slowly came back to himself he felt Enjolras rubbing soothing circles on his back.
Feuilly lay back down and turned his face away from Enjolras.
"Feuilly," Enjolras said gently, "it's alright. Rest, now, and do not worry about your work or being sick. Combeferre will return soon and he will know how to care for you better than I do."
Feuilly silently berated himself for being distant with Enjolras - he knew how difficult it must be now for him to feel helpless. He turned around and gave Enjolras what he hoped was a smile.
"You are a better doctor than you give yourself credit for," Feuilly said, his eyes already half-closed with sleep. "But you are a far better friend. If I sleep now," he continued, forcing his eyes open so he could meet Enjolras' gaze once more, "you...will be here?"
Enjolras nodded. "As long as you want me to."
With that, Feuilly let his eyelids fall and felt himself finally succumb to the last few days of exhaustion in peace.