Keeping Warm

Author’s Note: So I am starting out a new test version of the digital care package. I’m going to do a set that’s all for Dillon and Larina’s story, since I have been trying to get past where I keep ending up blocked and finish their saga. I have a lot of stuff from their past, and it felt right to go there with this one, though I admit it made it difficult to find a song that went with it.

In the end, I cheated a bit and used one I used before, but I think it still fits if I look at the overall arc of the friendship Dillon and Larina share, so… I’m going with “Keep Warm” by Ingrid Michaelson. I chose a soft blanket as the prompt/item in the care package.

I know this isn’t necessarily the happiest of little fics, but I couldn’t resist this image, either.


Keeping Warm

“He started coughing at breakfast,” Sorina said, shaking her head. “By this afternoon, he was hacking. That poor boy. I’ve never seen anyone get sick quite so fast.”

Burditt grunted, going to the window and looking out at the night. It wasn’t as dark as it should have been, not when the snow was making the ground outside bright, but Larina thought he figured it was still too dark. “Sometimes I think Morely doesn’t have the sense God gave a mule. Letting that boy run around at all hours without proper clothes in this weather all because he’s too scatterbrained to remember that a little kid needs care—”

“Burditt,” Sorina said, her word a warning. Larina knew that tone. That was the one she used whenever he was talking about something he shouldn’t in front of her or her sister. Or Dillon. This time it was both of them, though she didn’t know how much Dillon could hear when he was coughing like that and shuddering—his eyes hadn’t opened in hours.

She reached over to pull the blanket up over him again. “How sick is Dillon?”

Sorina sighed, touching her hand to Dillon’s head with a grimace. “If the weather were better, I think I’d take him into the doctor. Right now, though…”

“I don’t think even the truck will make it to the end of the driveway. I haven’t hooked up the snowplow yet, but I will,” Burditt said, folding his arms over his chest. “First thing in the morning, if his fever hasn’t broken, we’ll take him in to the hospital. Right now, we’re just going to have to wait.”

Larina bit her lip, looking back at her aunt and uncle. She was afraid they were going to make her go back to her own room—it was late—but she wanted to stay here until she was sure Dillon was going to get better.

“Come on, Larina. Time you were in bed.”

She pushed the hand off her shoulder. “Dillon is so sick, though. Please—don’t make me leave him when he’s like this. He’s—I don’t think he should be alone while he’s so sick.”

“You can’t watch over him all the time.”

“Yes, I can,” Larina insisted stubbornly, knowing that she always would. She’d always try, at least. “And tonight, I’m staying here with him. Someone should be there. When he was with his dad and his dad was hurting him and he was in pain or sick, he had to be alone. He’s not alone here. We promised him that. I’m going to stay.”

Burditt put a hand on Sorina’s back. “Little bit’s right. We did promise him he’d be safe and looked after here.”

“He’s not alone when Moxie’s with him.”

“That’s not the same,” Burditt and Larina objected at the same time. He laughed, and Sorina rolled her eyes. “You can’t fight both of us, and you know you have a soft spot for him, too.”

“It’s hard not to,” Sorina said, brushing back some of Dillon’s hair. “He’s such a sweet little boy, and I don’t—I don’t know how anyone could have done what his father did to him because hurts just seeing him like this—and I know no one did it, it was an accident, and he’ll get better, but this poor thing. First his father, now this…”

“He’s going to get better. And he’s here where he’s safe,” Burditt reminded her. “We’ll take good care of him no matter how long he’s sick.”

Larina nodded, adjusting Dillon’s blanket before crawling up next to him and taking his hand even as he coughed. He didn’t open his eyes, wasn’t aware of what she’d done, but she didn’t care. She was going to be right here when he woke up feeling better. She wasn’t leaving his side.

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