“ Oh God how are we going to fix this?” Coral muttered softly, looking over the frayed and burnt mess of two weeks worth of effort before their trip, before this... before Fitz's death... They'd needed those reports for a progress meeting with Queen Myrrh in the morning, who'd been even more callous and prickly the past six months. Coral could feel panic rising within her, Laurel was dead. No, ifs, ands, or buts about it, Laurel was going to have a heart attack and die right here and Coral was going to lose her best friend over a stupid report to a woman with too much bile and bite to realize she was running her own flesh ragged.
“ Get me my coffee pot, my strongest coffee, the locked box under my bed, the energy drinks from my fridge and my bag. Then disappear.” Laurel replied with gravity that Coral had heard with distressing frequency as of late. It held the thinly veiled anger and sorrow that filled her mistress' voice since Fitz had died. It was the gravity her voice held when she had a stupid, stupid plan.
“ Princi, what in the name of fizz are you going to do?” Coral asked, only slightly less terrified for her boss as the woman went about collecting the items herself.
“ I'm going to commit abominable and unholy acts in the sight of both God and science, but we will have everything ready for tomorrow.” The princess replied, her hands carefully setting down the ingredients she'd need.
“ Oh God Laurel, you're gonna give yourself caffeine poisoning again aren't you?” Coral felt herself shriek, horror knotting itself deep within her as Laurel moved about like some sort of machine or caged animal.
“ No- no I learned from last time. Activated charcoal drip's on stand by... the vein for it's exposed. The probability of me collapsing in the middle of a meeting with my parents is only 45.67238% this time.” The princess had obviously been thinking about this a lot, Coral could even see that Laurel had gotten out the medical tape and wrapped her arm.
'She's done more than thought...' Rang hollowly through Coral's head.
“ And last time you said it was only 49% and we ended up having to send you to the hospital. Laurel you're gonna end up killing yourself with this.” Coral stressed her words, remembering the way her mistress' body had collapsed, the angry and upset looks on the King and Queen, the way Laurel had looked helpless. She couldn't go through that again. Neither of them could.
“ I promise I won't. The math all checks out this time, I ran the numbers, I'll be fine. I can get it all done, I can do it.” The princess muttered, only half talking to Coral, as if caught in some spiraling trance of work and mourning and rage.
“ Laurel... it-it isn't worth it.” Coral warned softly, reaching out a hand to the princess' shoulder.
Laurel swatted the hand away, measuring out her potentially deadly brew and shaking her head.“ Yes it is, I'm this close to cracking the algorithm. And this project is preventing me from working on what's really important, I-I've almost solved the mystery and then I can figure out everything...I can fix everything.”
“ Laurel you can't just keep pulling these stretches without sleep. This is the kind of thing you'd fuss at Zack for...This is the exact crap that killed Fitz. Do you wanna die that young Laurel? Do you want to leave us like he did?” Coral knew she shouldn't have said it. Knew as soon as the words left her mouth she wanted to take them back. Laurel reacted as if struck by a whip, her eyes growing wide and then narrowing in a more threatening manor than Coral had ever seen directed at a person. In that moment; Laurel looked exactly like her mother.
“ ...take it back.” The princess' voice was low, almost hostile. It was cold and unfriendly, like every conversation Queen Myrrh ever had. Coral wasn't staring at her best friend, she was staring at her queen incarnate, bitter hatred dripping from the reflections' lips.
“ Excuse me?” Coral asked, eyes widened as she took a step back. She wasn't threatened, she could easily take down the furious woman in front of her if she wished, but the sheer force of the peach woman's anger directed at her felt like a slap to the face.
“ Take it back.” The princess growled, her knuckles turning white as her grip on a spoon tightened.
“ I don't-” Coral stammered, watching as a full range of emotions crossed the princess' face. Anger. Fear. Disappointment. Betrayal. Hurt. And then back to anger.
“ This isn't what killed Fitz, I don't know what did, but I bloody well know it wasn't bloody caffeine! Something is going on and I'm the only person in the kingdom that seems to recognize it. Why can't you be more supportive like Maeve? She-she helps me, she keeps me working. Do-DO you just not want me to fix things?!” The princess slammed a fist on her table, angry tears pouring from her eyes as she seemed to try and understand, but only could see whatever betrayal her tired mind could conceive.
“ Laurel that's not what I-” Coral began only for a whisper to cut her off.
“ Get out.” The princess said softly, returning to her task as if only a machine.
“ What?” Coral asked dumbly. But the princess ignored her, walking past to begin her brew.
“ J-just leave Coral. I-I need some time alone...” Was all she said.
Coral left that fight, their first fight in years, with hurt feelings. She was angry with Laurel's stupidity, angry that she couldn't get her to listen. And mad at Maeve for stealing her best friend.
Maeve belongs to