Originally posted on tumblr, for the prompt: "the things you said with no space between us."
"If you wanted to get me in bed, you didn't have to try so hard." He laughs to himself, an empty, joyless sound.
Elijah is beyond responding. His head rests in Niklaus's lap, brow burning with fever and hair soaked with sweat. In the hours before delirium took him, he'd removed his shirt and bound it around his torso to hide the bloody, festering bite mark just above his left hip.
Niklaus reclines on the bed, holding his brother. One hand rests on Elijah's stomach, the other tangled in his hair. Elijah murmurs in his sleep, his body seizing and shaking through restless dreams.
One ill-advised encounter with a werewolf pack on a full moon, and Elijah is now bedridden. It has been nearly two days, and he has only worsened.
Mother said, after they transformed, that they were invincible. That under her magic, no werewolf could harm them. No sickness could touch them, no wound would linger on their skin.
Will Elijah prove her wrong? Will his fever overcome him, making him the second of Niklaus's brothers to be lost to wolves?
There is no wolf left in Niklaus, and yet his insides still curl in shame.
Elijah tenses without warning. His back arches; his fingers wind around Niklaus's wrist. "Brother, please."
Niklaus opens his mouth, ready to soothe his brother, ready to acquiesce to any plea Elijah might make.
But Elijah continues, his bloodshot eyes staring past Niklaus into the stone ceiling. "I meant you no harm."
"Brother," Niklaus murmurs. He presses his palm to Elijah's chest, marveling at the heat from his fever. "I am here." With his other hand, he strokes Elijah's hair.
"No," Elijah insists, shaking his head. "I did what I thought was best. Please understand—" He flinches violently, nearly bucking himself off Niklaus's lap.
The movement shoves Niklaus's hand into his brother's temple. He is jolted into Elijah's mind—a trick they learned just years ago. With only a touch, they can share memories, dreams…fantasies.
Elijah's mind is far from any blissful fantasy today. Flashes of fire, blood, mix with chanting and screaming. Niklaus cannot at once identify the scene, viewed through Elijah's eyes and not his own. Only when he glimpses his own face contorted in pain, his body stretched across a wooden rack, does he understand.
This was the night his father (not his father) chained him down while his mother pressed a burning rock against his forehead. This was the night he pleaded with Elijah for hours, begging for help, for mercy. Elijah held his wrists while Father fastened the chains. Elijah stood back while Mother chanted, forced blood down his throat, sent magic burning through his body until he nearly lost consciousness.
This is the night causing Elijah such unrest.
The memory is so sour with guilt Niklaus's mouth wrinkles.
He does not hold Elijah in constant contempt for that night, but it has not escaped his memory entirely. In his bouts of anger, he spits the events of that night into Elijah's face and watches, satisfied, as his brother's expression melts into despair, and he will not meet Niklaus's eyes for at least a day after.
Elijah's fever is dredging his deepest fears, concocting a nightmare in which Niklaus seeks retribution for this old betrayal.
Given his brother's current condition, there is nothing Niklaus wants less.
"Please." Elijah's plea is little more than a whimper. His vacant gaze is full of anguish. Pain.
Niklaus stares down at him helplessly. He runs his thumb across Elijah's lips, hoping the feeble gesture will bring him some peace.
It unsettles him, seeing Elijah so weak. Elijah is his anchor, his guiding hand when his emotions blind him.
When the spilled blood of mystical hunters sent his mind spiraling into insanity, it was Elijah who held him, cared for him, fed him from his own wrist, and whispered reason into his ear until his own mind returned. Half a century passed, and Elijah stayed.
Two days with Elijah incapacitated, and Niklaus wants to scream.
He breathes in deep, reaching in the confines of his soul for some of the patience his older brother carries so well.
He places his hand on Elijah's forehead, allowing his brother's thoughts in once more. Turmoil still echoes through Elijah's mind, old memories swirling around visions born of fear.
Niklaus pushes his words through, cutting through his brother's anguish and praying to whatever gods he can remember for Elijah to hear him.
My brother. Elijah. 'Lijah, he adds. Reverting to the childish diminutive he'd used in happier days.
He feels like a child.
Elijah lies in his arms, screaming silently for help, and Niklaus cannot even muster the words to calm him.
Instead of words, he floods Elijah's mind with memories. Happier moments. Dancing at a festival. Sharing the blood of a woman. Shooting in the forest, Elijah's encouraging hand at his back.
We are more than your nightmares, the two of us. Don't think of them. Think of me. Don't leave me.
Please, please don't leave me.
Elijah startles, his hands shooting upward to claw at the arms restraining him.
"Blood," he gasps, seeming still unaware of who holds him. "I—need—please."
"Here," Niklaus offers his wrist.
Feeding from each other is strangely euphoric. Tasting the blood of another vampire, especially that of their own siblings, sends a warm buzz through them. Afterward, they often feel their tongues have reached far deeper than below the surface of skin.
Perhaps this will be the connection, the shock, to wake Elijah from his near-death state.
Elijah ignores his wrist and lunges upward, catching Niklaus by the throat.
Niklaus gasps at the sharp, bright burn in his neck. If this is what Elijah needs, he'll give it to him.
Elijah feeds with abandon—noisily, recklessly, violently. So unlike his normal self. Niklaus breathes determinedly through the pain. Elijah. 'Lijah.
He grows dizzy from blood loss, as Elijah shows no intention of slowing down. Black clouds his vision, and he feels his body slump forward in a faint.
Before Niklaus loses consciousness, he is aware of one word that blooms deep in Elijah's fevered mind. One word to bring him hope that Elijah is not lost forever.
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