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This was an RP with Le Fabulous Galaxy~ biggrin.png She's really awesome. And she makes a terrific Once-ler! Melody is my OC, and there is a loooong story behind her, buuuuut, yeah. So anyway, here's this! I'm uploading it in parts because it is long as heckkkk.

So without further adieu, here is part one!

~~~~~

The day was dreary and dead, as it usually was, with the sky a dark cloud that was merely a reminder of the mistakes he had made.

Once-ler stared up at this sky through the cracks in the boards covering his one remaining window, still hoping that perhaps that would fade away to reveal the bright blue sky that was meant to be there. He sighed deeply and ran a hand through his head of dark hair and gave his snub of a nose a quick swipe. It had been tickling like crazy the past few days, and had begun to run as well.

Ihh’tschh!” he sneezed unexpectedly into his gloved hand, bending slightly at the waist.

Well. That was new. The Once-ler rarely sneezed, even when he did come down ill on occasion. He sniffled absently and rubbed at his nose with a long index finger.

Downstairs in the Lerkim, Melody rushed about, preparing The Once-ler’s breakfast. Marshmellow pancakes. She smiled to herself as she flipped them onto a plate, the melted marshmellows making them stick together.

“Perfect!” She sighed, her smile growing wider. She couldn’t wait to see his face when she brought these to him. They were his favorite, after all. He hadn’t asked her to do it, nor was he aware she was doing it. But it was doing little things like these that she hoped would be the trick to subtlety letting him know she cared.

Even after what he’d done, she cared.

She walked up the flight of stairs that seemed to go on forever, while trying to balance the plate of pancakes in her hand. When she had finally reaches the door at the top of the stairs, she took a deep breath and knocked. “Sir?”

Once-ler nearly jumped at Melody’s voice, and stopped rubbing his nose immediately. “Come in,” he called, and only then realized that the irritation in his sinuses hadn’t quite subsided. He sniffed once in a hope that that would diminish it, but it only increased the tickle instead. The Once-ler brought a gloved wrist to his nose just in time to catch two more sneezes just as the door opened behind him. “Huhht’shoo! Ih-Htshh’oo!” He coughed quietly and wished absently that he had tissues nearby. “”Scuse me…” he murmurred.

Melody blinked swiftly stepping into the room, shutting the door behind her. She froze at the sound of his sneezes. “Er- Bless you, sir!” She could feel her face heating up. Blushing. Was she blushing? She couldn’t think of any reason she would be. He had just sneezed. That was no big deal, right? Right.

So why did her stomach feel like this?

“I… Made your breakfast.” She smiled, trying to recover herself quickly.

He immediately spun around to face her, large eyes wider than usual. “Melody, y-…” A small smile pulled at his lips, which weren’t used to too many smiled these days. “Thank you. Really, this is greahhh…” His voice trailed off before he succumbed to yet another sneeze. There was a small bit of warning this time, and Once-ler used it wisely. He buried his small nose into the fabric of his gloved hand and sneezed, the expensive cloth muffling it. “Mmbtshh! Hh…Hbbtschh!” He sniffed and gave a tired sigh. “Sorry, Melody,” he told her hoarsely, realizing then that his throat was beginning to feel scratchy.

Getting sick was the last thing he needed right now.

Melody could feel the blush returning to her face as he sneezed again. she spoke quickly, trying to regain herself.

“Bless you, sir! I don’t think I’ve heard you sneeze so much in all the time we’ve spent!” What was wrong with her? What was this pounding in her chest and seemingly her whole body… This blooming explosion?

Noticing the hoarse nature of his voice, a thought popped into her head. A thought that seemed so incredibly hard for her to voice, for some reason. She could say the words perfectly in her mind, but when she went to voice them, they got jumbled up and she stuttered. “Are…Are you getting sick, sir?” The blush returned once more, harder.

Why did just the thought of Once-ler, her dearest, onliest friend, sick and vulnerable suddenly seem so appealing to her now?

The thought of getting sick sent a shudder of dread down his back. It wasn’t as though he had anywhere to be, but being ill, of course, wasn’t exactly a nice experience. “I hope not,” He sighed truthfully, spinning around in his chair to look out at the sky again. Once-ler sniffled again, already growing irked with the constant sniffs. “Do you know if we have any tissues around, Melody?” he asked, placing an absent hand on his pounding temple. “Or maybe handkerchiefs, I don’t know…” His irritated throat felt suddenly inflamed, and he coughed harshly into his fist.

The concern for the state her friend was in pulled through her confusion at her own reactions as she tried to think. “Wait one moment, I’ll check. ” She turned quickly and walked down the stairs much faster than she had gone up.

Searching the place for tissues was much more difficult than Melody had thought it would be. But she eventually found a box and started to head back. As she passed by the bathroom, she turned in and checked the medicine cabinet.

“Thermometer…. That’d be useful…”

After rummaging through the various things inside the cabinet, she found a small-ish digital thermometer. “That’ll do.”

She hurried up the stairs and came back into the room where Once-ler sat. “I found the tissues, sir. And I’ve brought the thermometer as well.” She held the box of tissues out to him.

He glanced up from his position, with his elbows rested on his knees and aching head hanging, the lengthy black hair falling into his eyes. Once-ler nearly whooped in joy at the sight of the tissues; He had thought hoping for them was useless, and his nose was starting to run again and tickle like crazy.

“Thanks, Melody,” he said, and couldn’t get to them quick enough. He ripped open the box and plucked a crisp, fresh tissue from it an instant later. Once-ler didn’t even care if Melody saw; He folded it in half and have his nose the good blow it deserved. “Ohh, thank you,” he sighed again, wiping forcefully to clean his nose completely. Once-ler’s eyes finally saw the thermometer. Now that he thought of it, he was starting to feel a bit warm…But he had always hated taking his temperature since he was a kid. “Do I have to check my temperature, though…?” he murmurred, more to himself than Melody, and forgetting for an instant that he was a grown man.

Melody smiled a bit nervously, her face turning bright red, embarrassed by the fact that she had caught herself staring as he had blown his nose. The overwhelming urge to take him into her arms hit as she heard his muttered protest to taking his temperature.

“I do think it would be a good idea, sir.” She gave him an almost pleading look. “it couldn’t hurt anything. Right?”

Once-ler nodded slowly, feeling like he was a child being taken care of by his mother. But not his own mother; His own mother didn’t care too much when he would fall ill. He knew that Melody cared, though.

“I suppose it wouldn’t,” he agreed with a sniffle, nearly groaning when he realized that congestion was becoming evident. Once-ler took the thermometer from Melody and placed it under his tongue, knowing he had to leave it there for at least thirty seconds. This plan was discarded, however, by his bothersome nose, which chose that moment to misbehave once again with a stunting sneeze. “HahHA’tsshh!

The thermometer fell from his mouth and onto the cold wooden floor. Sniffling, Once-ler bent to pick it up, only to suddenly become dizzy. He grasped his head and groaned quietly, leaning against the wall. He didn’t even care if he seemed pathetic; He FELT pathetic.

There went another internal explosion.

Melody knelt down and picked the thermometer up off the floor, then moved closer to Once-ler. “Maybe the thermometer’s not such a good idea.”

She put the thermometer in the pocket of her apron and took a step closer. “Here.” On impulse, she placed her hand against his forehead, and wondered where this feeling of wanting— no, needing — to care for him was coming from. She had certainly never received much care from her parents, so where was she learning all this?

She removed her hand, giving him a sympathetic smile. “You don’t seem to have too bad of a fever, but you are a bit warm… Perhaps we should get you to bed, sir. You might feel better if you attempt to get some rest.”

Once-ler had to agree with her; He was feeling pretty terrible, after all, but all he ever really DID was rest, now that he was blocked off from the world. “I should, yeah,” he told her, plucking one more tissue from the box. He gingerly wiped at the nose that was growing sore due to all his sniffling, coughing quietly into it. “Um, Melody, I…”

On one hand, he didn’t want to bother her, but on the other, he really didn’t want to go downstairs and risk feeling dizzy again…

“Could…I have some tea? Please?” he tried to smile warmly at his friend, though his pounding head made it difficult to give her a genuine smile. Once-ler suddenly felt another sharp tickle in the tip of his nose, and he tried desperate to chase it off by twitching the runny appendage back and forth with a large sniff.

“Oh!” She slapped her forehead. “I should’ve thought of that. Of course I can make you some tea.” She turned to exit the room, then stopped just before she reached out for the doorknob. “Would you like me to get you anything else while I make it?”

“I’m fine, thank y-you,” he told her gratefully, voice beginning to waver with the sneeze that he was fighting terribly. Once-ler grabbed another tissue and held it expectantly before his face, nose crinkling in anticipation, upper lip trembling slightly. “HahhHHtschh’oo! Hh-Hhhtchh!”

Uggh, sick. The tissue was drenched. Once-ler sniffled wetly, trying to appear casual, and crumpled up the filthy tissue.

Melody bit down on her lip hard to attempt to hold back a squeak. He was just so cute! “B-bless you, sir.” She could feel herself blushing again and mentally cursed herself for it as she hurried downstairs to make his tea.

“Thanks, Melo…dy…” Once-ler frowned when he realized that she had already hurried off down the stairs. She probably just doesn’t want to get sick, he concluded, feeling a bit guilty. He sniffed hard and rubbed freely at his nose, making a mental note to ask Melody to wash his gloves whenever she got a chance.

Only then did he remember the breakfast she made him, which was sitting atop the small corner table, still steaming. Even with an aching head, congested nose and hurting throat, there was no way he would pass up Melody’s cooking. So the sickly man began to eat, absently realizing how glad he was that he had Melody around.

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These stairs were perfect for thinking, Melody noticed as she walked up. Preparing the tea took her less time than she'd thought. Maybe it was the constant thinking that seemed to put time into slow motion. She had to get some thinking done now, because she certainly couldn't concentrate in there.

She didn't know what it was. There was just something about the Once-ler's pitiful situation that made her heart pound faster. Something about his sniffles that made her want to hold him tight and never let go. Something about his sneezes that drove her absolutely wild. Could it be she was... Attracted to him?

She knew she very well that she was attracted to him. That was nothing new. But they were feelings she could control. Though it seemed in his current state that the feelings were more intense. Something she felt she shouldn't be feeling. At least not towards this man. The man who had saved her life.

Her thoughts went blank again as she reached the door, knocking. "Tea, sir." She entered the room, the steaming mug of tea in her hands.

Once-ler looked up from his final bite of pancakes and gulped in down hurriedly. "Thanks, Melody," he told her gratefully, the steaming cup of tea looking massively appealing. He took the cup from her and wished that his sinuses were clear so he could smell the sweet aroma of Melody's excellent tea. Once-ler took a sip and sighed deeply. Even while feeling horrible, this had him feeling genuinely happy, if only for a moment.

"Hihh-!" he gasped suddenly, and didn't have a moment to put the cup down. Once-ler dropped his head in an effort to stifle his sneeze into his chest, but that, of course, was anatomically impossible, though he didn't realize this until the sneeze was upon him. "Ihhtschh'OO!" he sneezed, this one wetter than those that came before it. His body shook with the powerful sneeze, and hot tea splashed from the cup and onto his suit. The Once-ler winced slightly, more in irritation than pain, and groaned miserably, sniffling repeatedly in his discomfort.

"Sir!" She gasped, taking the cup from his hands and setting it on the corner table. "Are you all right? It didn't burn too badly, did it? You're not hurt, are you?" The concern Melody showed almost too often was written on her face.

"Maybe you should get out of that suit." She was going to leave it at that, then stopped and blushed harder when she realized what she had said, and how ti would sound. "I-I mean... You should get into pajamas... Or... something more comfortable. Besides," She said, looking down at his gloves, "Your gloves could probably use a wash."

The Once-ler looked up into Melody's worried gaze and felt a stab of guilt for making her anxious. "Yeah, I-I'm fine, sorry..." He frowned down at his mess of a suit, the wet clothing making him shiver. "I'll...I'll change, you're right. Let me just..j-juhhst..." He clamped a hand over his nose and mouth, nearly doubling over with the power. "Ihhtschh! Mbbtschhh'oo! Hh-huHH-Uhhttchshh! Ugggh..." Once-ler released a shaky sigh of misery, and didn't even remove his hand from it's protective spot over his nose. He merely slid off the glove and tossed it to the ground, wincing at how disgusting he had turned it. He leaned forward, elbow rested on his knee, and held his pounding head up with a hand.

'Must function... Must continue to function.' Melody's brain repeated that over and over, but it was getting harder and harder to do so with The Once-ler looking such an adorable mess. She couldn't stop the sympathetic look from returning.

"I-I'll give you some privacy so you can get changed." She knelt down and picked up his gloves, being careful to avoid the mess. "And I'll see what I can do about these... In the meantime, if you need anything at all..." She let her voice fade, her eyes looking everywhere-- anywhere but his.

He was about to thank her wearily, but upon glancing up, she was gone again. Thinking nothing of it, Once-ler stood and wobbled slightly due to a sudden dizzy spell. Once that passed, he began to remove the green suit, which served as the reminder he deserved of what he had done to the forest.

'Don't think about this now,' he urged himself, sliding his thin legs from the trousers. 'You already feel horrible enough as it is.'

It was then that the tickle returned to the appendage between his eyes once more, and he groaned audibly. When was this sneezing going to give him a break for more than a few minutes? No longer caring, the shirtless Once-ler buried his nose into the fabric of the expensive suit and sneezed viciously, so much so that it hurt his overworked nose coming out. "HiHHtschh'oo! Ihh...Hh-hihh...IyyischhOO!" Once-ler cleared his throat and coughed before tossing the suit carelessly to the floor and sliding into his comfortable pajamas, relishing in the warmth they brought to his shivering form. "Okay, Belody," he called, and nearly winced at the congestion in his voice. Once-ler gave a quick blow into a tissue before she came in.

Entering the room cautiously, Melody smiled caringly. "There, now isn't that a bit better?" Her soft green eyes were lit with practically every emotion thinkable at that moment, yet her mind processed very little at that moment.

Once-ler nodded, but quickly stopped when the action made him dizzy. "It is. Thank you, Melody. For the breakfast, a-and tea, and...everything." He managed to smile lightly, even in this miserable state, and sniffled his small nose to prevent it from running any further. It was actually beginning to tickle, but he really didn't want to ruin this moment with his good friend that he appreciated so much.

The blush returned to her face, stronger this time. "There's no need to thank me sir, really. Wh-what I mean is... What you've done for me surpasses any of the small deeds I do for you."

Once-ler looked up at her and smiled slightly. Of course he had helped her out---anyone with a heart would. And he had gained an amazing friend in the process. "I still really appreciate it, Melody. I don't know what I would do without you in this lonely old house..." He sighed and sunk onto his bed, which suddenly felt softer than usual. He plucked a tissue from the box nearby and gently wiped his nose, which was already growing chapped from the rough tissues. "Hey, Melody, do we have anything other than these tissues? They're just...rough." Great. Now he probably sounded like a pansy.

Melody's heart wanted to melt. He was too sweet.

She bit her lip, trying to think. They didn't have handkerchiefs, she was sure of that... "I don't believe we've got anything else..." She trailed off, still racking her brain. He was sick, the last thing she wanted to do was make his already sore nose more uncomfortable. "Unless you'd like to use a Thneed, we've got plently of those." She added, jokingly.

The Once-ler wanted to chuckle at her joking suggestion, before realizing...They didn't need all those Thneeds anyway. They were long out of style, and all the did was remind him of the mistakes he'd made.

Plus, the softness of a Thneed would probably feel amazing on his tickling, miserable nose.

"Why not?" he said with a shrug, the very thought of its softness feeling like bliss.

Melody was slightly shocked for a moment, but recovered quickly, an amused smile on her face. "You're serious, aren't you?" She laughed quietly. Then she bean to think. "We do have quite a bit of them..."

She turned back toward the door. "Give me a moment." She walked down the stairs for what seemed like the hundredth time that morning. Not that it bothered her. She would climb these stairs nonstop for the rest of her days for him.

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The factory part of the Lerkim was still large as it always had been, but it felt so much colder and emptier now that they were alone. This was her first time being in here since the day things has gone bad.

A pile of Thneeds sat on the assembly line, the last ones that would ever be made, and they sure weren't going to be sold. Oh no, they'd be put to much better use. Melody grabbed one quickly from the pile, and exited the factory setting, heading back to the stairs.

It wasn't until she had entered The Once-ler's room that she had realized how dusty it was, and couldn't help but wonder how sensitive his poor little nose would be to it.

"Thanks, Melody!" he called after her, hardly able to wait until a Thneed was available to comfort the nose that was already growing irritated again.

I never sneeze this much with a cold, thought the Once-ler absently, and rested his elbow on the nightstand.

When he removed his arm from the table, there was a fine outline of where his elbow had been, and Once-ler nearly laughed at how clueless he had been.

"I'm sure the dust isn't aiding this situation," he said audibly to himself, and felt a dire urge to sneeze then, as if on cue.

"Hh-hih! Hih...Ihh..." He held a hand before his nose, expecting the sneeze that seemed to be stuck, eyes beginning to water in anticipation.

Looking up from the soft pink material in her hands, she realized she had entered the room at exactly the right time. Without sparing a moment, she handed the Thneed to him, trying to not stare as the beautiful pre-sneeze expression took over his face.

"Th-hih!-Thhihh..." Unable to hold the sneeze back any longer, Once-ler buried his nose in the blissfully soft Thneed and sneezed until his heart's (or, nose's, more like) content. "Ihhtschh! Hihhhpschh'oo! Hihhhitshh'OO! Sdf..." He blinked drowsily before having to close his eyes once again. "HiHHTschh! Oh...ugh..." Even with the perfectly soft Thneed, the sneezes were still miserable, making his eyes and nose run life faucets.

And this is only the beginning of it, he realized with a wince.

The not-staring was becoming harder and harder to do. So much so that by the end of his fit, Melody found herself doing exactly that. Her hands gripped tightly at her apron as she brought herself back into the moment, realizing that despite the fact that he look utterly and completely adorable, he was miserable.

She blinked twice before managing to stutter out a very quiet, "B-bless you, sir.", blushing hard at her own stupidity.

"I-I suppose the factory isn't the only room in there that could use a good dusting.. I'll have to take care of that soon.." Her mind latched onto that thought as being good enough to change the subject to.

He sniffed and wiped his nose on a dry part of the Thneed before glancing up at his nervous friend. "Are you alright?" he asked hoarsely. Once-ler cleared his throat, but that barely helped. "Is it that you don't want to catch my cold? You can tell me if it's is, I'll be alright," he said, lying slightly. He really did want her company...

"N-no! I-I mean," Her face was nearly completely red in embarrassment. "It's not that I-I just... Wh-what I'm trying to say is.... I-I mean..." Melody stopped and took a moment to calm herself, to try and get her thoughts together, and to try and get her hands to stop shaking as they were. She breathed deeply and tried again. "It's not a concern of mine. I'm here to take care of you, sir, and I will do so until you are well again."

He watched her for a long moment, unable to comprehend why she was so nervous. But she wouldn't lie to him, at least, he hoped she wouldn't, so he decided to take her word. "Okay, Melody...But if this is getting too gross for you, you tell me, okay? I don't want you getting sick," he said with a sniffle, and gave his nose a thorough blow into the Thneed that felt like heaven.

"O-of course, sir."

She felt bad for lying... No.. Lying wasn't the word. She hadn't lied. She just hadn't told him. Not telling was different from lying.. Wasn't it? Well then she felt bad for not telling him. From the day he had taken her in, there had been no secrets between them. Save for the one that involved the three words she could hardly bring herself to think, let alone say out loud to him.

And now there was this. This feeling... This pleasure of seeing him so vulnerable, so in need.

"Do you need anything else, sir?"

Once-ler thought for a moment, and glanced down at the Thneed that he knew would be rendered useless in no time at all. But he had already sent her everywhere in the house for tissues and tea and everything else. "I'm alright, Melody, thanks," he said, taking the last sip of amazingly hot tea that soothed his throat instantly. Only then, though, did he realize that he must have had a fever; his flannel pajamas were feeling ridiculously hot.

Melody smiled sympathetically, it seemed as if that was all her face knew how to do in this moment. She thought for a moment, taking note of the heightened color in his cheeks, and the fact that he was a little more pale than before.

"Perhaps you'd like to try the thermometer again? Just a test." She said, slipping it out of the pocket of her blue floral apron. "I think your temperature may have risen a bit.."

He hesitated a moment to make sure that the urge to sneeze wasn't anywhere near. "...Alright," he said at last, and accepted the thermometer under his tongue. Only after he closed his mouth did he realize that, no, he didn't have to sneeze, but it was near impossible to breathe.

Just thirty seconds, you'll be fine, he told himself, though the lack of oxygen didn't help the irritation of the fever and flannel pajamas.

Melody's heart nearly leaped out of her chest at the sight of him. He was the cutest thing her eyes had ever seen. And now, like this, she seemed to want him to herself even more. The words that burned in the back of her mind, those three, meaningful words, they longed to come out, but were stopped in their tracks, always. The subject was always changed, or she talked herself out of it. Sometimes she wondered if she would ever get the chance to tell him. Of course, just being there for him, and being able to make him smile from time to time was enough to make her the happiest she could possibly be.

Her thoughts were interrupted by another glace at Once-ler. A stray bit of his hair had fallen in his face and stuck to his forehead. She focused in on that tuft of his hair, as if she were trying to move it with her mind. It bugged her, just sitting there. Though it added to his adorable look, she couldn't stand it any longer. She bent over him and reached her hand out, gently brushing the hair out of his face, blushing when she realized what she was doing.

"I... Um.. Sorry.. It bugged me."

He smiled warmly around the thermometer, being careful not to open his mouth, and desperately wanted to hug his best friend. Heck, he always wanted to hug her, after all she had done for him. For taking care of him, and sticking around when even his own family left...

Even if they were idiots, he missed his family. His mother especially. She and him weren't especially close, but she WAS his mother, and sometimes the only thing Once-ler genuinely felt he needed was a hug from her...

But he wouldn't ever see her again. So it didn't matter.

The thermometer beeped, and he released the long-held breath in relief.

Still blushing, Melody reached for the thermometer, taking it gently from her friend's mouth. She glanced down at the numbers, which stared back up at her.

"101.4," She read aloud. Not high enough for her to be worried, but still higher than normal, and enough to make him uncomfortable. And whenever he was uncomfortable, she was restless. Not that she wasn't restless enough on her own.

It had always seemed that hen he was in a low mood, or something was bothering him, it not only affected him, but Melody as well.

101? It couldn't have been, he felt like he was suffocating...

"Maybe I need to change into something lighter..." Once-ler murmured quietly, more to himself than Melody, and gave his nose a wipe with his wrist before remembering the Thneed. He blew his nose solidly into what used to be a Truffula tree, only for his headache to intensify, as well as the irritation in his snub of a nose. "Ihhtschh!" he sneezed, barely making it into the Thneed. "Hh-tschhh'oo! Ugghh..."

He didn't care about looking pathetic anymore. He leaned forward so his forehead was pressed against the delightfully cool fabric covering Melody's shoulder and sniffled miserably. "I hate this," he whispered brokenly. "This cold, a-a-and everything that's happened, and..." The Once-ler's eyes slid shut, and it was all he could do not to break in front of her.

Melody let out a breath she wasn't aware she'd been holding. "I know," She whispered softly, "I know things seem bad right now... But there's always a bright side to things, right?" Though her words were meant to cheer him, she realized that she wasn't even sure if there was one herself. "And- And just know this," She was blushing again, she could feel it, "Everyone else may have left, and things may look pretty grim, but you'll never be alone. I'll always be here, sir." And her words were true. "No matter how bad things get, you can count on me."

Once-ler stayed in that position, his sniffles being the only thing to break the silence. After a moment, he slid his arms around his best friends' waist and hugged with all his might--which wasn't much, due to his weak state.

"I know you're always here..." he said quietly, ignoring the nose that was pleading to be blown. "And I'm never going to stop appreciating it, Melody. I don't...even know what I would do without you to remind me that I'm not entirely alone, no matter how much I feel like it sometimes..." He paused and took in a deep sniff in an effort to rid himself of the tickle caused by his dripping nose. "I-I ju--huhh--"

The sneeze snuck up on him entirely, and Once-ler didn't have time to turn away from her, much less release Melody from his grasp. "HuhhschhOO! IhhHHtschh!" The instant the sneezes were out and he could think clearly once more, he scrambled awkwardly away from Melody, face burning with more than just fever. "Sorry, sorry, I-I di-hih-!" With a hand half covering his face, his mess of dark hair snapped forward with the next two poweful sneezes. "Ihh'psshh! HihhHHtshh!"

The heart inside of Melody's chest skipped a beat, then began to pound hard, sending a rush of something through her whole body. It seemed everything inside of her was racing. She shook slightly as he had pulled away quickly and completely, still sneezing. She bit down on her lip and waited for the sneezes to pass before getting the courage to move. She gently wrapped both of her arms around his waist, allowing him to rest his head on her shoulder, and held him. He may have been a sneezing, sniffling mess, but for the moment, he was her Sneezing, sniffling mess. And she didn't want it any other way.

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Le course there is more! This thing is freakin' loooong.

~~~~~

Once-ler was more than surprised when Melody held him, especially after he had pretty much used her shirt as a tissue. But she felt so...comforting. He slid his eyes shut and sniffled, sliding an arm around her as well. "...How are you dot cobpletely repulsed right dow?" he asked, unable to care about the congestion in his voice. "I-I bean, How ca-hah!-cad..." His lashes fluttered and brow creased. Unable to get the Thneed that was just out of reach, Once-ler clamped a hand loosely over his nose, and his tense muscles jerked with each sneeze. ""Hssh'eEW! Ihhtschh'oo! Hh-huh-! I-I'm s-hhh--HiHHtschh'OO! Uhh..." he groaned miserably, sniffling worthlessly.

"Bless, sir." Melody's face burned a bright red. What could she possibly say to him? She couldn't possibly tell him. She racked her brain for a few moments, each second of silence making her grow more nervous, soon enough she was shaking noticeably, and was barely able to stutter out a response. "I-I don't mind it so much," she blushed harder, "I-I suppose with anyone else i-it might get to me, but..." She stopped herself before the words came out on their own.

How could she tell him? Should couldn't possibly tell him. Not now, in this state. Her mind kept repeating the words that would have finished her sentence off; 'But it's you, and I would risk anything and everything to care for you.' Just the thought of saying the words made her even more nervous.

He missed the last few words of her's; He was starting to nod off.

Don't fall asleep, you're having a conversation, he scolded himself, but that only seemed to make his eyelids feel heavier. " 'M sorry..." Once-ler murmured, for sneezing on her, and falling asleep, and everything else that had gone wrong. "Really sorry..."

Melody allowed her hand to stroke his hair gently. "You don't have to be sorry for anything, sir." The moments of silence allowed Melody to calm herself, and eventually she began to hum softly to an unknown tune. She wasn't even aware she'd been doing it until she caught herself smiling.

The tune didn't aid in his fight against sleep, and Once-ler finally just gave up. He leaned closer to Melody, so his head of messy hair was rested in the groove of her neck, and sighed. Even with stuffy sinuses, aching head and a faucet-like nose, he couldn't help but feel content with her here. With the last person who would ever care about him.

"Hh...hih-!"

Uggh, would his nose ever give him a break?

Thinking quickly, Melody reached for the Thneed, careful not to move too much as to disturb her friend, and handed it to him. It had to be more comfortable to sneeze into than her shirt, that much she was sure of.

Once-ler saw the Thneed through his squinted eyes, and hurriedly snatched it to cover his nose. "Ih...IhHHtsch'oo! Hhtschh'ooH..." The last sneeze was weak, and he barely managed to give his nose a light blow before slumping back against Melody, the Thneed tight in his grasp. "Sorry..." he croaked almost incoherently.

"Bless you," Melody's voice was nearly inaudible, "You shouldn't keep apologizing for things you can't control..." She let her hand, which trembled slightly, reach to his face and brush the hair away from his eyes. His eyes. She couldn't help but think how beautiful they were. Or how beautiful he was in general... She couldn't stop herself from thinking it, even when things went wrong. She was undeniably in love with him. But the thought of his knowing this sent a stab of something close to fear through her.

"Okay," he told Melody quietly, absently aware that he didn't feel hot anymore; Warm, still, but no nearly as uncomfortable as before. Once-ler stifled a small yawn into his fist and gave his nose a wipe with the Thneed.

"Perhaps you should lay down? It may be a bit more comfortable for you." Truthfully, she didn't want him to move from her side. She could've stayed like this for days on end if he wanted her to. But his comfort came before her feelings.

Once-ler really didn't want to leave the side of his best friend, but she was right. He needed to lay down and sleep, but...

He didn't want to be alone. He was so sick of being alone.

"Would you...want to stay here?" he asked quietly, before hurriedly adding, "It's fine if you have things to do, or would be bored or something, or...yeah."

Melody's eyes lit up. "Of course I'll stay!" Her eyes shifted nervously, "I-I mean, if you want me to, I'd be glad to oblige." Her face was still red, though slightly less, and the smile she was wearing seemed to be stuck.

He allowed himself a small smile, and inched away from Melody. The right side of his body, the side that was pressed against Melody, was colder than the left side, and Once-ler shivered slightly before snatching a blanket from the end of the bed. "Okay," he said, slowly unfolding the blankets. He yawned again and wobbled to his feet, feeling dizzy out of nowhere. The dizziness was occompanied by a tickle in his nose, and he felt like swearing out of irritation with it.

Melody stood quickly beside Once-ler, ready to steady him if needed. As she stood silently beside him, she realized that she still had to look up to see him. Though she had grown quite a lot since they had first met, Melody still found it quite strange how she only came up just below his eye level.

He saw her watching him, prepared to steady him if need be, and couldn't help but chuckly lightly at her worried expression. "I'm fine, Melody," he croaked, trying to appear stronger than he actually felt. This didn't help with the massive coughing fit that overcame him just then, however.

She cringed slightly as the sound of his coughing and gave him a sympathetic glance. "Would you like me to get you some water, or more tea? I-it's not a problem..."

He was about to politely decline, feeling as though she had already done more than enough for him, but...

More tea sounded excellent.

"Um...was there any more tea?" Once-ler asked, smiling sheepishly.

She smiled sweetly. "Of course." Melody was about to head downstairs when she remembered the plate that had once carried a stack of marshmellow pancakes. She picked up the plate, then grabbed Once-ler's cup and headed down the stairs, which all of a sudden didn't seem to long. After reheating the tea and pouring it into the cup, she made her way back up and knocked before entering again, as she always did. "Tea, sir." The smile grew on her face once more as she stepped through the door.

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Gahhhh one of them needs to make a move before I explode! Haha I'm glad there's more :D

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The second Meldoy disappeared, Once-ler threw open his closet, feeling warmer with each passing second. At last, he found the only two remaining articles of normal clothing he had left; A gray vest and gray trousers. They weren't exactly comfortable for sleeping, but they were much better than his hotter than Hades flannel pajamas. Heck, he would have just slept without anything on if it weren't for Melody being around. But he didn't mind; He loved her company.

He heard her knock, and he heard her voice, but it somehow didn't register in his aching head that Melody was coming in, and he didn't think to stop her before realizing that he was shirtless, and barely stepping into the trousers. And Once-ler's nose, in that moment, decided to surprise him by sneezing, more powerfully than ever. "IhHHtschh'OO! Hh-hUHHTscheEW!"

'Do NOT stare.' Melody blushed harder than she ever had before. She set the tea down on the table immediately, hand clamped over her mouth to keep herself from making any involuntary noise. She was shaking again, she could feel it. Willing herself not to stare was getting harder and harder to do. "I... Oh... I-I 'm s-sorry sir!" She said quickly once she had regained her ability of speech. "B-bless you, by the w-way.." She stuttered nervously and quickly exited the room so he could continue dressing in private.

He couldn't think of a single word to get in before she left, not that he would have been able to voice that thought, anyway. Once-ler hurriedly threw on the remainder of his clothes and gave his nose and swift wipe with his wrist. "Okay, Melody!" he called to her, feeling slightly awkward. "Sorry about that, I didn't...hear you..."

She entered the room more cautiously this time. "No, i-it's really m yfault, I-I should've waited for your s-saying so before I entered. I-I apologize.." Her eyes would not meet his, for fear of her face becoming even more red... Which she wasn't even sure was possible at this point.

"No, no, it's my fault, I heard you, b-but didn't..." His words were stunted by a polite yawn into the back of his hand. "Sorry," he sniffed, eyelids feelings heavy again. "Let's just...forget that happened, yeah? No big deal."

"Yes, I think that would be a good idea..." She was finally able to life her eyes from the floor. She couldn't help herself from smiling just a bit when he yawned. Why did he have to be so gorgeous? Why was he allowed to be so perfect, even like this, without trying? Once again the words burned in the back of her mind, but she wouldn't voice them. She couldn't voice them. not directly to him, anyway.

Once-ler smiled lightly and took a sip of the warm tea, throat feeling less raw with each gulp. He sat on the edge of his bed and pulled the covers back, prepared to sleep for hours, when he thought about him friend. "Um, where would you...y'know, feel most comfortable?"

Sleeping in the same bed wouldn't be weird. Would it? No, they were friends! It would be fine, just fine!

"O-oh..." She hadn't thought about it, really. She glanced around, her eyes falling on the chair that sat by the window. "I suppose I would be fine with the chair." What else was she going to do? Sharing a bed would be weird.. Wouldn't it? No, no of course not. She was just overthinking.

He glanced over at the same chair and frowned. "No, that chair's uncomfortable! Come on, we can..." He smiled sheepishly and patted the space next to him on the bed. With a light, humorless chuckle, he said, "How bad can it possibly be?" Once-ler scooted over in the bed and lay his head down on the pillow, smiling in mock charm at his best friend. "I don't bite."

She could feel her face burning again as she slid onto the bed next to him, and couldn't help but smile as her green eyes met his beautiful blue ones. "I-I, er... Do you have enough space?" She asked nervously, "I could scoot the other way more."

Once-ler frowned and pulled her when she tried to scoot away. "No, you're fine, Melody!" Perhaps it was an act thought up in his cloudy, exhausted mind, but he snatched her into his arms and laid back down in bed, comfortable with his arms around her waist and cheek pressed to her shoulder. He sniffled and rubbed at his nose with a wrist before sighing contently. "Are you comfortable?" he asked drowsily, eyes already beginning to slide shut.

Her heart beat faster and her stomach leaped as he wrapped his arms around her. "Yes, I am comfortable, thank you." Melody smiled, and began humming softly once more, hoping to provide a soothing sound for him to fall asleep to. It seemed eerie, falling asleep in silence. Though she knew he had to be used to it by now, she wanted him to be as comfortable as she could possibly make him.

Her humming nearly knocked him out on the spot. Once-ler sniffled, snuggling closer to her beneath the blanket, and realized that he had never felt so great in his life. And finally, his stuffed nose, hurting head and aching throat finally allowed him to fall asleep.

After a while when his breathing had evened out, and Melody stopped humming. She smiled to herself and let her eyes close. This was as perfect as anything, she realized. This is what she wanted. She wanted to be with him. To be there for him and to hold him.

"I have to tell him." She decided in a whisper. Though the though of it sent a stab of panic through her, she was going to do it. "Tomorrow." She breathed, eventually letting sleep take her.

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Once-ler managed to sleep peacefully, though he hadn't any idea how. He dreamed of marshmallows, and Thneeds, and Pipsqueek, briefly, and then...

Melody. For a long, long while. But he couldn't for the life of him remember the details.

"IhhtschhOO!" he sneezed himself awake, creasing brow breaking the peaceful look of his face. "HhuhhptschheEW! Uhh.." Once-ler blinked drowsily, eyes blurry, before realizing that he had just sneezed into the fabric of Melody's shirt. He would have normally scurried away and apologized, but he was felt so tired and sick...

"Sorry," he murmured sleepily, rubbing his nose with a wrist. "You awake?"

Melody stirred slightly, her eyes fluttering open slowly. She brought a hand up to rub at her eyes sleepily. "O-oh!" She blushed again when remembering his positioning next to her. "Y-yes, good morning, sir," She smiled sweetly, "And bless you."

"Th'nks..." he yawned into the back of his palm and wearily looked into her eyes. Once-ler glanced around until he found the Thneed next to him on the bed. He snatched it just in time to save his running nose. "How long've we been out?"

Melody could feel herself smile as she thought. "I'm not sure..." she said quietly, "Did you sleep well?" She'd tell him like she decided to do.... Eventually. After all, she had only said 'tomorrow'. She never specified when.

He nodded, rubbing tiredly at his eye. "Yeah, real well. I had a dream, I think...yeah, I did. I think it was about...Hmm, I can't..."

Melody. It was about her. He remembered now.

Once-ler frowned to himself and released her from his grasp to sit up in bed. "I can't remember, I guess..." he said absently. When he sat up fully, however, a spell of dizziness overcame him, and he flopped back down on the bed, wining slightly.

Dreams.. Melody didn't much like to talk about dreams, in fact, the whole subject made her soft of uncomfortable, since most of her dreams were more like memories. "I've heard that dreams are elusive like that..." She sat up and looked down at him, concerned. "Are you all right? Dizzy again? How are you feeling, by the way? Any better?" She got to her feet quickly, ready to jump at his first request. She always had been quick to wake up.

"Yeah, dizzy..." he said, closing his eyes to avoid looking at the spinning room. "And not much better, no," Once-ler confessed, placing a hand on his forehead. Maybe it was his imagination, but he felt much warmer than he did....last night? This morning? What time was it, anyway?

Melody's face fell from that of cheery morning happiness to concern for her friend immediately. She sat back down on the bed next to him and placed her hand on his forehead, frowning slightly at the heat that met her hand there. She let her hand linger there for a moment, then moved it back to brush his hair back gently.

Once-ler reached his hand up to place it over hers, but Melody had already pulled her hand back. He stopped and pretended to be running his fingers through his soft black hair, a tight ball of awkward unfolding in his stomach.

'Stupid dream! Making me think stupid things...' he silently scolded himself as he glanced up her. Had she always been this cute?

"Hih-!" He snatched the Thneed and sneezed quickly into it, a pain shooting through his sinuses. "Htschhoo! IhhscheEW!" He coughed and reached for the tea on the nightstand. It was cold by now, but at least it was something to drink. Once-ler managed to drain the cup in a matter of seconds, but his throat still hurt like crazy.

"Bless you.." 'Tell him! Tell him now!', Melody's mind whispered. "..Sir?" She was going to do it. She was really going to do it. She gripped at the fabric of her apron,as was her nervous habit. Her face burned and she bit down on her lip, trying to concentrate on the words she would say, and how she would say them.

He gulped the rest of the tea down and faced her. She looked nervous, inanely so. "Melody, are you okay?" Once-ler asked in concern. "What's wrong?"

"Yes, I just..." Melody bit down on her lip harder, almost hard enough to draw blood. "I was just, er.. Wondering if you'd like me to make you some soup or something." The words came out of her mouth in a rush. She couldn't go through with it. She had chickened out, and the burning in her face grew worse in shame.

Once-ler cocked an eyebrow at her. "Oh...That actually sounds REALLY awesome. Only if you don't mind, though!" He was unable to hide a smile with the request, something he used to do when he wanted something desperately from his mother.

His smile washed away all the nerves and forced Melody to smile in return. It was like his smile was almost contagious, and for a split second, she regretted not telling him how she felt. "Of course I don't mind, sir." She hesitated for a moment, almost not wanting to leave his side, but stood anyway, walking back down the hall.

She stepped into her room on the way down to quickly change. Upon walking to her closet she realized that all she had clean to wear was a dress which was decked out in various shades of green. The dress Once-ler had had made for her when he was 'biggering', as he'd liked to call it. A sad smile was all she could offer to the memory as she quickly slipped out of her striped skirt and apron and into the dress, then continued her way down to make soup for her dearest friend.

He watched her disappear, and felt a sinking sensation in his gut. This feeling nearly made him call out that he changed his mind, he didn't want soup, she should just stay with him...

Once-ler sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. These sorts of dreams always killed him in the morning.

"Ihhk'scheEW!" he suddenly sneezed uncovered, and groaned when it burned his sinuses. "Pleeeease let this be over soon..." Once-ler groaned to himself, sniffling dejectly. He laid back down in bed, and found himself staring at the door in wait.

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This is simultaneously adorable and frustrating, I tip my hat to you!!! :wub:

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It'd seemed to take an eternity for Melody to finish making the soup. Or, maybe it just felt that way to her. It seemed whenever she wasn't near to Once-ler, time seemed to move slower. Cliche as it may have seemed, it was true. She knocked on the door, this time waiting until she heard him call to her to enter so as not to repeat the last time.

She carried the bowl carefully, feeling the heat of it through her black and green striped elbow length gloves. It felt strange dressing this way again. she hadn't wore that dress since the night everyone had left... The night the last tree had fell... The night everything went wrong. The dress was a reminder of all of these things, and yet Melody still admired the beautiful design, Once-ler had designed it himself for her, after all.

When she came back into the room, the first thing Once-ler saw was the dress. A smile bloomed involuntarily to his face, and he hopped up from the bed in spite of the headache it gave him. "I remember this!" he grinned, examining the dress carefully. "I designed it, didn't I? Yeah, I remember! I knew it would look great on you!" Once-ler chuckled at the stab of nostalgia the dress gave him, before his grin faded as he realized that the last time he had seen her in this dress was the last day he had been genuinely happy.

No, no, that wasn't true. It was the last day he had been happy with his money and glory. But now...Now he was happy with Melody.

Melody smiled slightly at his excitement over the dress, but when his smile faded, she felt the urge to hug him again growing stronger. She might have done it too, if it weren't for the bowl of soup in her hands. Instead of a hug, she offered him a sympathetic smile and extended the bowl towards him. "Here, sir." She looked up so her eyes could meet his, though the moment they made eye contact, the butterflies fluttered around in her stomach, making her eyes flick away swiftly. This was a usual reaction from Melody, though she herself never really understood why she couldn't let herself hold eye contact.

Once-ler forgot about the dress for an instant and noticed the steaming bowl of soup. He wished he could breathe through his nose to take in the scent that he knew was amazing. "Thanks, Melody," he sighed happily, unable to wait to down the bowl of soup. He sat at the table near the window, the one he would sit at and gaze at the reminder of his mistakes, and sipped it slowly so as not to burn his tongue. He then looked back at her, and in turn, the dress.

"I never told you this," Once-ler said without thinking much about it, "But you look really amazing in that, you know?" He nodded with the statement and smiled. "I told you green looked good on you, didn't I? At least I was right about one thing." He chuckled humorlessly and continued to sip his soup.

The blush crept up on her again at the compliment. It seemed she had been doing that a lot lately. "Well it was your design, after all." She hesitated for a moment before moving to the bed and began to fix the blankets so that they were once again straight. She had to get away from her thoughts. All of them. There were the ones noticing all of the cute things Once-ler did and said, the ones that brought her attention to her body's responses to these things, and then, of course, the ones that screamed at her to tell him. after all, she had been so close to it before. It was just a few words away....

Once-ler nodded and gulped down the rest of his soup, stomach full and comfortable. He was about to continue the discussion of the dress, when his eyes wandered over to Melody straightening up his bed, and he couldn't help but wonder how he had lived with her for so long and hadn't even considered...

'No, no, it's the dream talking,' he told himself silently. 'I don't even remember what it was about. It's making me think I look at her this way now, and...

And...

Maybe I've always looked at Melody this way...and just never SAW it.'

He glanced back up at her and felt a small smile tug at his lips.

After the bed was fixed properly she looked around and noticed Once-ler had finished the soup. She took the bowl and brought it downstairs into the kitchen, making a mental note to do the dishes soon. And to wash some clothes. As she walked back up, she mentally prepared herself for what she was going to do.

"I will tell him this time," She muttered to herself, "I will." But her thoughts were swiftly interrupted when she reached out for the door, and a sharp pain met her right hand. With a cry of pain she quickly pulled her hand back and held it protectively in her left one. She looked at the door, confused as to what had just happened, when her eyes fell upon a nail sticking out from the other side. "How did..." She shook her head and pulled off her glove, looking down at her hand. Sure enough there was a small, yet painful prick in the center of her palm.

He watched her leave the room, and knew that she was off to do another thing to take care of him, as usual. Once-ler sighed and glanced down at his palms, wondering why he wasn't spending every waking moment telling her how much he appreciated everything she did for him.

"Hhmmp'sHH!" he suddenly sneezed, and managed to pinch his nose shut. This brought painful tears to his eyes, and the next sneeze went uncovered. "IhhtscheEW!" Once-ler coughed into his fist and sniffled thickly, wanting already to go back to sleep. This thought was stunted, however, when he heard Melody's quick gasp of pain from outside the door. Though it didn't sound serious, a jolt of panic raced up his spine, and Once-ler hurried into the hallway, unable to care that this movement hurt his head tremendously. "Melody, what's..." He noticed the palm she was cradling, and he realized how foolish he was to panic. "Are you okay? Let me see it..." He took her hand into his own and examined it carefully. He took the sleeve of his shirt and pressed it onto her palm to put pressure on the prick that was beginning to bleed.

Melody flinched and whimpered quietly, almost pulling her hand back. "It's fine, really. It was just a small nail, no need for worry." Then she realized their situation. Her hand in his, their close proximity... She shook her head and looked up at him, her eyes screaming the words that she just couldn't get her mouth to say. 'At this rate' She thought, 'I don't think I'll ever have the nerve to tell him.'

Once-ler removed the pressure from her hand, and saw that the prick had ceased its bleeding. He was about to release Melody's hand, but...He couldn't help but continue to hold it in his own.

'Now or never', Melody thought to herself as she turned her glance down to her hand in his. "Sir... May I be completely truthful with you?" Her face was once again burning, and her hands were already beginning to tremble. 'What an unfortunate time for him to be holding my hand..' She wondered if he could feel them shaking as much as she could.

Once-ler cocked an eyebrow at her, but smiled nonetheless. "Of course!" he said, her hand still held in his. He noticed that it was shaking, and frowned. "Are you okay?" A sudden realization struck him, and his brow furrowed in worry. "You aren't sick, too, now, are you?"

"N-no! I'm fine. I just...." Melody's mind raced to find the right words. "I just feel you should know something.... something I've been thinking for a while." She took a deep, shaky breath and continued, "Sir, after all you've done for me, I feel it would be wrong to keep this from you. Our friendship is the greatest thing to me, and I hope my telling you this doesn't spoil it, but.. I believe I'm beginning to have feelings for you that go beyond friendship." Her whole body was shaking by this point, her face burning more than it ever had, she was sure. Her heart beat so hard that she could hear it. "and- and it's all right if you don't feel the same way, I would understand."

She looked away, averting her gaze to the floor, looking almost ashamed. It was out there. She could do nothing to take it back."I'm sorry.", was all she could offer him. 'Oh, what horrible thoughts must be forming in his head this moment... Perhaps I shouldn't have said anything.'

Once-ler blinked at her, once, twice, before a small smile involuntarily bloomed on his face. There was a reason for that dream making him realize how he felt, after all. This was supposed to happen. Even though he couldn't be rich or famous, the fate he had seemed much better all of a sudden.

"Melody," he said, quieter than he had intended. "I cahh...HhitschheEW!" The sneeze interrupted him, and he barely managed to clamp a hand over his nose to in time to cover, the other hand still holding Melody's. Once-ler's lashes fluttered as his nostrils flared dangerously. "Ihhtschh'OO!" He sniffled thickly, forgetting for a moment what they were doing there in the hallway. "Ughh...M-Melody..." He cleared his throat and was about to take both her hands, but thought better of it, as he had just sneezed into one palm. "I...I..." What was he going to say? This fever was getting to him...Oh, of course! "I think I might feel the same," he finally said, able to smile sweetly, even though a bout of dizziness was slowly overcoming him.

"Bless you," Melody said, a bit breathless. Then what he had said sunk in. "You... You mean it?" She looked up, allowing her eyes to meet his, for once not shying away as their eyes met, her's full of hope and relief.

Once-ler couldn't help but laugh at her shocked expression, and wondered absently why he wasn't equally surprised. Perhaps he knew all along this was supposed to happen? He couldn't help but bounce on his heels animatedly as he he said, "Of course I do! And what do you mean, 'sorry'? Don't be sorry, this is awesome!"

He was getting too excited. His head was beginning to spin, and Once-ler knew that he should have sat down and rested, but all he could think of was how she </i> liked </i> him, the way he had always liked her and had refused to believe. Perhaps his mind blocked out these feelings for a reason; She was the only person he had anymore, and even the thought of losing her made his heart race anxiously.

Melody couldn't stop the smile that bloomed on her face and the breath she'd been holding in from releasing. She almost couldn't believe that he felt the same. After all the years of thinking she was crazy for feeling this way about him, He felt the same. Joy overcame her and she wrapped her arms around him suddenly, her body still trembling.

Once-ler smiled and held her back, stomach doing flips as he hugged her tighter. He buried his face in Melody's soft red hair and sighed, being the happiest he had been since the last Truffula fell. Heck, maybe the happiest he'd ever been.

But the dizziness caught up to him, and he was unable to go without wobbling slightly, pleading his body not to drop completely. "'M sorry," he croaked to Melody, holding her tighter so as not to lose his balance. Once-ler snorted humorlessly and wearily nuzzled her neck with his nose. "Some romantic moment, huh?"

"Don't be sorry," Melody said softly, guiding him carefully from the door and into a sitting position on the bed, "It's perfect." As she sat next to him, her hand stroked his soft black hair gently, sympathy practically radiating off of her. She smiled, and for the first time in her life, truly experienced what was defined as love, and had it returned to her.

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Once-ler nearly collapsed on the bed when she brought him to it, the irritating urge to sneeze overcoming him once again. "I hate this," he groaned, rubbing hard at his nose. He looked up at Melody, and quickly rephrased that statement. "B-Being sick, I mean. Not this. I love this ." He held her, then, and wished he didn't have to stop. Even with a spinning head and soar throat and a dripping nose, he had never felt so...AWESOME.

'Never let go...' Melody's mind whispered as her arms wrapped around Once-ler. "But being sick isn't so bad," she tried to cheer him up. "I mean, I know you feel horrible, but it could always be worse." She knew. She had been at the bottom before. "The only thing I had to look forward to when I was younger was being sick," She spoke quieter now, "That was the only time I would be given even a small portion of sympathy." To her, it was a blessing. And to be able to care for him was also a blessing. She almost voiced her thought, but stopped herself at the risk of appearing too sickly sweet. Even she found it obnoxious how she could get like that, sometimes.

Once-ler mentally scolded himself, remembering what Melody had told him about her life before she came to live with him. "It could be worse, you're right. I'm sorry, I should have thought, I..." He lost his train of thought when another dizzy spell hit, and he took in a shuddering breath. "Sorry..."

He wanted desperately to kiss her then. He nearly did, too, when he remembered that he was feeling so under the weather. Once-ler sighed and leaned forward to press his forehead against her's. "I'm sorry," he said quietly, sliding his eyes shut. "I just...I don't want to get you sick, but just know..." A small smile graced his lips when he whispered, "I really want to kiss you."

Melody's stomach flipped at his words. He was too sweet. Not a single hesitant thought crossed her mind as she whispered in response, "I don't care." And with that, she closed the gap between them, pressing her lips against his.

Once-ler's eyes shot open and grew wide when he felt her lips against his, but they drooped shut once more when he realized that this was what he wanted, this was what he had ALWAYS wanted. And he didn't want it to end.

Though his nose didn't seem to agree...

He gasped and pushed himself away from Melody, nose crinkling, upper lip trembling. A wrist barely managed to cover his face before the sneezes overcame him. "Ihhpschh'OO! Iyyihschh'eEW! Hhh...Hihhtschhoo!" He coughed into his fist, chest feeling sore, and looked up apologetically at her. "Sorry," he said hoarsely. " I...probably ruined the moment for you, huh?"

Melody blushed and shook her head. "Not at all." She gently reached out and stroked his cheek, heart feeling like it was ready to burst. She wanted this moment to stay forever. This feeling in her stomach, this pounding in her chest, and this passion in her heart. She never wanted this to pass.

He placed his hand over hers and smiled, quite unable to stop. A moment of sweet silence passed before he chuckled without a bit of humor. "How are you seriously attracted to me right now?" he asked awkwardly. "I must look horrible, all sniffly and drippy and sick."

Her eyes looked away nervously, before looking back up into his. How could she find the right words? The words to describe how some some reason, his sickness ignited a fire inside of her. How she felt the urge to cuddle him close to her until he was better again. How she'd never felt these strange feelings before. Such an odd combination of lust and sympathy... "I actually find it quite...Endearing."She shrugged to indicate that she really didn't know how else she could say it, or what other words she could use without sound completely odd.

He watched her carefully to see if she was joking before laughing lightly. "Endearing? How, if I can ask?" He slid his arms around her waist and hugged. "Sorry to laugh, but...I mean, really, I'm repulsing myself now."

She put her arms around him, playing lightly with his hair. "I'm not sure if I can really explain it," she shrugged, "It's just..." so many words raced through her mind. 'Adorable. Perfect. Attractive.' "It's just the instinct to nurture, I suppose."

Melody almost laughed at her own word choice. The 'instinct to nurture' didn't even begin to cover her feelings.

Once-ler nodded, noticing that the topic seemed to make her nervous. "That sounds reasonable," he said, twirling a lock of her hair absently. "So do you...like it? Or just feel motherly, o-or..." He shrugged and sniffed. "Sorry, is it weird to talk about?"

Melody smiled nervously, the blush returning to her face for what seemed like the millionth time. "It's... A bit weird to talk about, yes..." She hesitated. "And to answer your question I... I do like it..." Her eyes seemed to be trying to look everywhere at once, except at him.

"Oh." He thought for a minute about what to say, eyes traveling around the room as well. "I know you said it was weird to talk about, buuuuuut..." He smiled again, this time mischeviously. "What do you mean? Like, a fever or just feeling crappy or sneezing or what? Cause...ya know...I could totally do that last thing. If that's what floats your boat. Ya know."

Melody paused, thinking it over for a moment. She thought over every bit of what had happened before speaking up, rather quietly. "It's... The sneezing." She nodded, feeling herself growing more nervous, her heart beginning to beat slightly faster.

The smile just grew on his face when he realized with a lovely stab to his heart how painfully cute she was. "See? That's something new I know about you." He held her hand tight, wishing that he wasn't sick so he could kiss her again without feeling guilty. "I should know this sort of stuff. I should know everything about you, what with all this time we've had." He frowned, feeling guilty as how little he genuinely knew about her. "That'll change, Melody. I promise, you and I...Feel right. This feels perfect. And it's only gointo get better. After all..." The smile found its way back to his face, and he gingerly touched her nose with his reddened one. "We've got all the time in the world."

Butterflies floated and fluttered in her stomach as she gazed into those beautiful, breathtaking blue eyes. "It doesn't matter how much you know about me," she said quietly, a bit breathless, "You could know nothing of me save for my name, and it wouldn't change a thing." She couldn't help the half-grin that played on her face. "This does feel right... Perfect, even." The truth of her words hit her, and hit her hard. This is what she had wanted for years. And that was exactly what it was. This moment, this situation, it was genuinely perfect.

He held her once more, and his eyes wandered over to the boarded up window. And for the first time, a jolt of panic didn't race up his spine. He had done wrong. He had ruined just about everything.

But this...Once-ler wouldn't ruin this. He refused to.

Melody smiled, cuddling as close to him as she could get, holding him tightly, as if he might disappear at any moment. As if she would wake up from her sweet, sweet dream that felt all too real. And she began to wonder if it was that. Just a dream, an illusion, conjured up by her mind, which hadn't been able to think clearly since the day before.

Once-ler gave her a light kiss on the forehead, glad he finally had something to look forward to, before leaning against the wall. He yawned lightly and allowed his eyes to slide shut before falling asleep, along with Melody, once again.

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Soo Cute!!! I think I just died from the adorableness. I have to confess I have never read nor seen the Lorax, but I still love this!

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And here is the final part! <3 Hope you enjoyed reading this as much as we enjoyed RPing it!

~~~

From the moment Melody's eyes fluttered open the next morning, she felt something was off. There was a dull ache behind her eyes, and her throat felt scratchy. But the main thing that caught her attention was that she could hardly breathe through her nose. Though she couldn't breathe through it, that didn't stop it from tickling. She sniffled slightly, trying to push it back, but all that did was intensify it. She quickly turned her head to the side with a soft, "IhhtSshuu!"

This stirred Once-ler from his surprisingly comfortable sleep. "Hnn...bless you," he yawned, rubbing sleepily at his eye. "Morning, Melody. How did..."

WHAT. He wasn't stuffed up! His head wasn't aching, and neither was the rest of him! His throat was a bit soar, and his nose still felt a little sniffly, but heck, that wasn't nearly as bad as before!

"I'm feeling so much better!" Once-ler sighed in relief, sitting straight up in a hurry. His head wasn't spinning, either! "Melody, I feel great! I'll make breakfast, and then you and I can..." He stopped, and finally looked at his...girlfriend? Friend with benefits? What were they now? "Hey, are you feeling alright? Still tired?"

Melody sniffled again and had to clear her throat before attempting to speak. "Yes, still tired I suppose," She said, dismissing her symptoms as simple morning grogginess, "I'm glad you're feeling better." She gave him a genuine smile and sat up, finding that the motion set her head to spinning. She blinked a few times and ran a hand over her face, rubbing her eyes.

Dispite his happiness due to feeling better, Once-ler cocked an eyebrow at her. "Hey, are you sure you're okay?" he asked, a sinking suspicion filling his gut. "Oh, don't tell me I got you sick," Once-ler continued worriedly, placing the back of his hand against her forehead. He frowned at the result. "Ohh, Melody, you're burning up."

Melody frowned, feeling stupid for not recognizing it sooner. She opened her mouth to say something, but her nose had other plans. She turned away quickly, just barely having time to bring a hand up to cover the sneezes. "IhhtiShhoo! Hih-HhisShhew!..H'Iihshoo!" She groaned as she turned back, realizing the sneezed had managed to make her head hurt. "Sorry.." She muttered quietly, looking up at him innocently through her lashes. All thoughts of what she had wanted to say to him before had disappeared.

Once-ler gave a low moan of sympathy before holding her tight. "Bless you," he said gently. "Melody, I'm so sorry I got you sick. Ohh, you look like you feel awful..." He pressed his lips to her warm temple and sighed deeply. An instant later, an ironic smile tugged slowly at his lips. "I warned you not to kiss me, didn't I?" he said teasingly, placing a hand on her cheek.

Placing her hand over his, she gazed into his eyes. "As I said before, sir. I don't care." She leaned into his hand. "It was well worth it." Despite her current state, a smile played on her lips as she went to stand up. After all, she couldn't just lay down all day; that wasn't the type of girl she had been raised to be.

"W-W-Wait!" said Once-ler hurriedly, making sure he was nearby to steady her in case she felt dizzy. "Lay down, Melody, you should rest. Let me make you some soup! Wait, do I know how to make soup...? I know how to make tea! I'll make that!" He took her hand and squeezed it. "Come on, please rest. I don't want you to feel as bad as I did for longer than you have to, Melody. Please?" He smiled charmingly and gazed hopefully into her eyes. "For me? Your favorite Oncie?"

Melody hesitated, her head spinning. She knew she probably should rest, and he seemed eager for her to do so... But it just wasn't what she was used to. "Are-are you sure you don't want me to assist you? It wouldn't be a problem..." Her statement was not helped by the coughing that followed. She cringed, this cold had definitely looked a lot better on him.

He couldn't help but chuckle at her sweetness before gently pushing her back onto the bed. "I'm sure. I want you to feel better. You took care of me---heck, you've been taking care of me for a while now. Let me do the same." He kissed her on the nose and smiled gently. "Alright?"

Melody's face burned with more than fever as she looked up at him. "Alright... But you let me know if you need help with anything." Truth be told, she wanted nothing more than to lay there and cuddle with Once-ler for the rest of the day. But she couldn't possibly expect him to want to stay in bed another day, especially since he had spent practically all of the previous day there.

"Alright, Melody," he agreed, glad she had complied, and pulled back the covers. "You get comfortable, okay? Oh, and what do you want? Tea? Soup? I'll try to make soup, anyway. How about a bath? Want to take a bath? Or..." Once-ler took her chin in his hand and tilted her feverish face so their eyes met. "Or do you just want to lay here? 'Cause, you know...I'd be good with that." He gave her a slightly lopsided smile, and his nose sniffled for the last time.

A small smile formed on her face. "Please, you don't have to make me anything. I'd really just like to lay here... But you don't have to lay with me if you don't want to," She added quickly, "I mean, you did spend the majority of the day in bed yesterday. This must be the last place you want to stay today."

He didn't answer her directly- Just hopped in bed, pulled the covers back, and swept his hand over what would be her spot in bed, as though it was an elaborate prize. Once-ler hoped the small smile on his face told her just how much he did really want to be here.

Melody was nearly ready to burst with happiness, even in her current state. Though her head pounded, she couldn't help but give in to the grin that found it's way to her face as she lay down beside Once-ler, cuddling up next to him. "Thank you." She whispered quietly.

He ran his fingers through her hair and sighed contently. "No," he whispered back, hugging Melody as tight as he could without hurting her. "Thank you . For everything, Melody." And he pressed his lips to hers in what would only be one of the first in many more to come.

She wrapped her arms around Once-ler's waist, her cheek resting against his shoulder. She didn't want this to end. Ever. This was perfect, this was everything she was always wanted it to be. Her eyes closed as she took in the moment. She wanted to hold on to it for as long as she could.

Once-ler placed a hand on the small of her back. "Go back to sleep," he said quietly into her hair. "I'll be here when you wake up. I'm always going to be here."

Melody sniffled, letting her eyes fall shut. She wasn't tired, or at least her mind wasn't, but this was perfection. She muttered out a cautiously quiet, "Thank you, sir... For everything." And she meant it. Everything happens for a reason, as she reminded herself constantly. And this was it. He was her reason.

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