A Guiding Hand
All the rest of the day since the awful events of Kobeth's flight, R'fal
had been unable to stop thinking about what had happened afterwards with
her rider. His thoughts returned to the moment when he'd seen that dark
stain of blood and he'd known he'd hurt her, though he'd never meant it.
Unable to sleep, he tossed and turned, tormented by guilty thoughts.
What if she was badly hurt? What if she bled and died in the night and
her green went /between/? He should have made her go to the healers. It
was his fault.
At one point, he got out of bed, intent on making her go with him to the
Infirmary, and only Marlath's reassurance that Kobeth was sleeping
soundly and the thought that he'd frighten her dissuaded him.
As soon as it grew light, exhausted with worry and lack of sleep, he
went down to the bathing pool to wash and dress. The apprentice
dragonhealer class met that day, but it was still too early to go down.
He didn't think he could eat a bite of breakfast. Should he go and check
on her? Or would that only make it worse? There was so much he didn't know.
Of course - there was a way to find out. **Now, while it's quiet.** He
stopped by his weyr to collect the hides he'd been studying, then headed
for the infirmary. Although he was an apprentice dragonhealer, he'd been
in and out of there often on errands, and attended some of the classes
on first aid since an injury to a dragon often meant one for the rider
as well. He knew where the healing texts were kept, and that they were
available for study.
The journeyman on duty looked tired after his night shift, and R'fal
nodded at him as if he was doing nothing out of the ordinary. He went
over to the shelves and ran a finger over the bound volumes. There -
that was the one. With a cautious glance at the healer, he pulled it out
and carried it over to a corner that was as much out of sight of the
rest of the infirmary as possible before opening it. As he turned over
the pages, his eyes went wide at some of the diagrams laid out before him.
"Hm. That's interesting. " A smooth, mildly amused voice sounded over
his shoulder as Urlene peered at what he was studying. "I do approve of
learning, R'fal, of any kind, but that book is typically for Junior
Journeyman looking to specialize in women's health. Is this a new
interest?" A golden brow rose. "If you're wanting a good look at a
woman's...outer anatomy there _are_ other options, especially in a Weyr."
R'fal gasped and hastily slammed the book shut, but it was already too
late. "Weyrhealer! Ma'am - I'm sorry - that's not what I..." Guiltily,
he realized that he had become a little distracted from the main purpose
of his visit. "I was just, uh, looking something up. For a friend."
"Hmm... I see." Urlene managed to keep a straight face even though
R'fal's expression nearly made it crack. "For a friend. Of course."
She inclined her head, then leaned over to tap on the cover of the
book. "Be careful. It's our only copy." She moved around the table and
stood across from R'fall, her hands lightly resting on the back of a
chair. "Well, your friend shouldn't be shy about coming to the
infirmary to ask questions. But..." she considered him for a moment,
still inwardly amused at his attempt at an excuse. "...if the question
is sensitive, I understand that some people, especially if they're not
weyrbred, might be hesitant about asking. Perhaps you could tell me
what your friend wants to know and as an apprentice, you can feel
comfortable in relaying the information I give you to them, since they
He looked up at her, considering. The events of the previous day were
hard enough to talk about to anyone, let alone the WeyrHealer, and he
had promised Aviday he wouldn't tell. But he didn't have to name her; if
he said it was his friend, it could be anyone. And if anyone knew, it
would be Master Urlene.
"It is a bit...sensitive," he said in a low voice, glancing nervously
towards the journeyman at the front desk. "Could I tell you in private?"
Urlene was prompt, looking up towards where R'fal had indicated. "Give
us the room, please Hinolin. Close the door. " without question, the
journeyman nodded his assent and left, quietly closing the door behind
him. Urlene pulled out three chairs and sat, tilting her head to the
side. There were benefits to her position, and that was one of them.
"Now, what's troubling your friend?"
R'fal hesitated, trying to work out how to ask what he needed to know
without giving himself away. When he spoke, it was in the same soft
voice, although there was now no-one else to hear.
"Well, he - my friend - he was, uh, with a girl. And it was her first
time." Shells, he wished he could talk about this like some of his
weyrbred friends, though it was easier to talk to the Master than he
would have thought.
"He said it hurt her. She said she was all right, but there was blood,
and she cried...and he was worried. That maybe he did something wrong,
that she's hurt badly. I didn't know what to...to tell him. My cousin,
back at the cothold, told me once that the girl is supposed to bleed on
her wedding night, or it means that someone else got there first. But he
said a lot of things. So..." He looked down at the book. "I thought
maybe there'd be something in there about it."
Urlene's brows rose and her lips pursed as she listened, but then took
a moment to respond. "I truly wish there was more taught in holds to
young people about how this works. Faranth knows I experienced that
lack of education in my time there." She sighed and spoke carefully.
"The first time for a girl _is_ typically uncomfortable and there can
be pain." She took the book from him, flipped through it and found a
diagram. "See here? That's the woman's passage. Here," she gestured,
"there's usually a thin membrane inside. It's not sealed shut
completely else she wouldn't get her menses correctly. But, it is
pierced or torn through for her first experience and causes bleeding
in a woman's first time. Some women, though, don't have much of one,
so it isn't as bad or it simply doesn't bleed. Some have thicker
membranes and the pain is worse, especially if done roughly or your
friend didn't know how to do it easily. That happens often,
unfortunately, especially in holds. The bleeding is more then." Her
lips thinned. "Some men think that it proves their prowess, but it
usually just means pain for the next few times they share a bed.
Typically, it's best to be gentle and slow for the first time."
The young brownrider looked up at her from the book, unable to hide the
anguish and guilt in his eyes. His memories were confused, but he knew
that what he'd done after Marlath had caught Kobeth had been neither
gentle nor slow. Could he have held back, if his will had been stronger?
The thought that he'd torn something inside her was awful.
But that wasn't what weighed most heavily on his mind. "Is there any way
that...if the bleeding is bad...she could be really hurt? I mean, do you
think she should see a Healer? She said - I mean, my friend told me she
said, that she was going to put numbweed...up there."
Urlene saw the guilt and shame, recognizing easily for what it was. She
spoke gently to him. "Yes, she should have seen a Healer. " There was
no condemnation in her tone or even a gentle reproof. "Numbweed will
work and sometimes it's used in that manner, in small amounts. It dulls
the immediate pain. But, she'll be sore, possibly for days after. And
she may not want to share a bed for a long while. If it's been a while
since it's happened and the bleeding has stopped, there's really not
much that can be done now."
"R'fal, tell your friend that sharing a bed certainly carries
responsibility towards your partner, but they also have to make their
own choices. May I suggest, that if your friend is young and
inexperienced, the best way to make sure this never happens again is to
find someone experienced that can teach them. Classes are all well and
good. But experience is the best teacher. "
His shoulders slumped for a brief moment before he remembered that this
wasn't supposed to be his story. R'fal never wanted to hurt anyone like
that again, but where would he find someone who'd agree to help him?
They'd know he should have done it already, he'd been in the Wings for
months now, and with the stain of the prison mine on his character - not
to mention that his da was staying in his weyr...
His brow creased. Maybe Da would know someone. Not from the Weyr. That
tavern he went to, perhaps. It would be awkward, but easier, in a way.
"Yes, Master Urlene. I'll tell him." He closed the book, more carefully
this time. "Thank you."
"Just a moment, R'fal." Urlene watched his face, his body language. "I
do have something more that I need to say. I can't pretend to
understand the bond between a rider and their dragon, but I do know a
few things that I've learned from my turns here. Many times these sorts
of issues arrive after a mating flight. It's important to understand,
especially for young riders, that young riders are notorious for being
rough. They can't help it. " Her lips pursed in thought. "Only older
riders, those more experienced and secure in their bonds, can control
those passions, but only to a degree. Many don't learn how or choose not
to, since I'm told the release of control for those moments is
sometimes better than other times without the dragon lust." Her voice
softened. "If this experience happened during a flight, there's no
fault to your friend. Do you understand that?"
"Y-yes. I think so." R'fal looked up at her, his eyes wide. They'd
talked about it as weyrlings, but it had always seemed so far off, and
strange, to think that his dragon's lust could overtake him so entirely.
"But even if I couldn't have stopped it, if there wasn't any fault... I
still did it. She was still hurt." Then he caught himself, realizing
what he'd just said.
Urlene's smile was understanding; his slip-up hadn't surprised her in
the slightest, so she didn't mention it. "Yes, she was. But you can't
change that and no amount of guilt or self-loathing is going to help.
Unfortunately, this situation is not uncommon. I've seen this many
times in the infirmary. That's why it's stressed to Candidates and
Weyrlings that no one should go into a Flight untried. It will be the
girl's responsibility to remedy her choices. You can check on her of
course, and perhaps you should, since your dragon may catch hers again
in the future." She took a breath, tapping her finger against her lip
as she rose and considered him. She was no Mindhealer; she only had
basic knowledge required of her for her position; she typically left
that field to Olwinna or Alun, but the boy was so shy, she didn't know
if it would help or if he would immediately reject it.
She turned back to him, lips pursed. "Do you have any female friends?
Peers that might be able to...show you the ropes so to speak?"
Half-distracted by his slip - shards, he hoped she wouldn't find out
which green Marlath had flown, after he'd promised he wouldn't tell -
R'fal tried to arrange his thoughts. "Um...Well, I have female friends.
But most of them have weyrmates, or they talk about bronzeriders a lot."
He couldn't help comparing himself to his wingmates. He'd been
trying to build up his strength, at least since his father's release,
but he still seemed to weigh about half what they did and most of them
called him 'boy' or 'kid'. And then there was his family background.
Stop making excuses, he thought. "I can find someone. I know it's
Urlene's lips lifted. "Bronzeriders do seem to attract quite a bit of
attention." She should personally know. She studied him for another
minute, then sighed and made a quick mental summons. A brown flit
appeared and waited while Urlene jotted down a quick note. "Take this
to Briata, Stitch." The flit grasped the note and disappeared. "Come
with me, R'fal." She gestured at him to rise. "But put the book back
first. Where you found it."
"Yes, ma'am." R'fal carried the book back to the shelves and restored it
to its place, wondering where they were going. He sincerely hoped it
wasn't his Wingleader's office. He'd promised not to tell.
She led him out of the medical library, then stopped to speak briefly to
a senior journeyman. The young woman nodded, then Urlene left R'fal
out of the infirmary, seeming to be deep in thought. She came to a
door, opened it, and gestured for R'fal to go in. She swept in after
him, going immediately to a dimmed glow basket and opened it. She
paused to look around. The WeyrHealer's quarters hadn't been occupied
since shortly after Lorgellen's birth, but it had been kept tidy.
She turned to R'fal, asking him to close the door and studied him,
wondering for a moment why she was even attempting this. Then she
remembered her husband, the pain of her own deflowering and the
subsequent aversion for intimacy that had lasted for turns after. R'fal
seemed like an honest and gentle young man who needed a guiding hand,
much like she had. "I'm going to help you, R'fal. Just this once. I
assume that you find me attractive?"
R'fal's mouth dropped open and for a moment he couldn't answer, unsure
if he'd heard right. There were plenty of stories about dragonriders who
attempted to make romantic advances to the Master Healer. Enough that
he'd never have dared mention it, even if he'd thought a woman like her
could have the slightest interest in a boy like him.
"Yes," he said, truthfully. "Of course. I didn't mean any disrespect,
but I think you're beautiful."
"Thank you." She inclined her head. "I know you don't mean any
disrespect. You're one of the most respectful young men I work with in
the infirmary. If you weren't this wouldn't be happening." Urlene
smiled and arched her brows. "Do you want my help, R'fal? You can
I'll not think any less of you if you did. I can find you someone else
that you're more interested in if you like."
R'fal's heart beat fast, and he was almost too nervous to speak, but
there were all sorts of wild tingling sensations running over his skin
and in parts of him that had only felt that way in daydreams, until the
flight... "I don't think there's anyone else I'd be more interested in."
At this moment, it was hard to believe there was anyone else in the
world. "I would like your help, Weyrhealer, if - if you really mean it..."
"This isn't something I'd joke about, R'fal. I'm very picky about my
partners. Mind you, it'll only be this once and I'd ask later that you
respect that. But for now, we'll take it slow for you. I'll guide you
in what you need to do and maybe next time when you find a partner,
you'll be more confident." She inhaled and slowly untied her gown,
letting it drop down to the ground. She offered a hand. "Come to bed."
In a daze, R'fal reached out and took her hand, letting her lead him
towards the bedchamber. He wasn't certain any more if he was awake or
dreaming, but whichever it was, he knew that he longed to learn whatever
it was she had to teach.
Last updated on the November 11th 2020