(This story is related to the "Willow Healer Storyline" - see listing for more related stories.)
Dreamflight gingerly held the sharp, hand-sized scraping blade and took a deep breath. She knew this was going to hurt. She pressed the tip of the blade against the flesh on the inside of her left arm and felt the sharp stone pierce her skin.
She looked around to make sure no one was nearby. No one seemed to be, and everything was set up perfectly. The hide she had been working on cleaning all night was stretched in front of her, half-finished. Willow's den was in partial view high above on the outer side of the Mother Tree, and the healer was inside. No one would suspect a thing, she was sure of it. 'All right. Quickly, now, and it won't hurt as much.'
She bit her lower lip and pulled the blade back toward her, slicing her arm open. It wasn't too deep, but it was bleeding – a lot more than she thought it would. She dropped her scraper to the ground, grabbed her forearm to stem the flow of blood, and raced toward the stairs leading to Willow's den.
“Willow!” she called. There really was a lot of blood, and she didn't like seeing it. What if she had cut something inside her arm that she shouldn't have? “Healer, I need your help!”
**What's wrong?** came the immediate reply. Dreamflight saw Willow poke her head out of her den as she approached. When the healer caught sight of Dreamflight's bloody arm, she rushed down the stairs to meet Dreamflight halfway.
“I cut myself when cleaning that hide,” Dreamflight said, panting.
“Sit,” Willow said, and when Dreamflight did so, Willow sat next to her and closed her hands over the wound. Willow took a deep breath, closed her eyes, and immediately the familiar, warm, yellow glow enveloped Dreamflight's arm and the pain disappeared.
'It's all for a good cause,' Dreamflight told herself as she watched the flow of blood gradually subside and the ends of the gash begin to knit together. Willow needed to practice with her powers so she would be ready to remove the sick and injured elves – like her mother – from wrapstuff. It was one thing to heal old injuries, like smoothing over the scar on Pathmark's face or re-mending bones that had healed poorly long ago, but injuries that Dreamflight felt would surely test Willow's resolve and would really prepare the healer to mend the wrapstuffed elves happened too far and few between.
At the rate Willow was going, Dreamflight reasoned, it might be turns of the seasons before she was ready to bring their loved ones back. There had to be a way to speed up Willow's progress without putting anyone in real danger... and that's why Dreamflight had started her plan three moons ago. She would find ways to hurt herself so Willow would have to use her powers to help her. She made sure not to do it too often, so no one would suspect she had been hurting herself on purpose. Four hands of days ago, she had just happened to drag her feet on uneven ground until she'd twisted her ankle badly, and before that –
“On purpose!?” Willow suddenly exclaimed, drawing back with a look of disbelief. The wound was there, closed but still pink and very tender. “You did this on purpose!?”
Dreamflight's eyes went wide. “What?” Willow couldn't possibly know that – she was in her den and hadn't been watching! “No, I cut myself when I was cleaning that hide, and--”
“It told me what you did,” Willow said angrily, her eyebrows lowering dangerously. “I can see how it happens sometimes!” She glared at Dreamflight, and something must have clicked, because she took on a suspicious tone. “How many of the other accidents were on purpose, too?”
“I-I just wanted to help,” Dreamflight meekly replied. She wanted to explain she had good intentions behind her actions, “You need to practice more and --”
**HOW MANY?** Willow sent, then. There was anger, hurt, and betrayal there. **I can't believe you did this on purpose! How many more?**
**This, the ankle, and the bruised rib. All of them,** Dreamflight finally admitted.
Willow shook her head in disbelief. **Why?**
**To help you and to help the rest of the tribe. To help make you ready to unwrap my mother and make her well. To give you more opportunities to heal things that aren't old aches and pains so that you'll be able to heal her sooner rather than later.** Dreamflight injected all the heartfelt sincerity and conviction she could into that answer. She wanted her mother back with her so much it hurt!
Willow's jaw dropped at the explanation. **Do you know how stupid that was? What if you had hurt yourself badly and didn't get back to me in time? What if someone else had really needed my help and you had left me too tired to do anything for them? You can't force what I need to do at my own pace! I have half a notion to leave that wound scarred up on your arm and tell everyone what you've been doing!**
**No, please!** Dreamflight put her right hand on Willow's shoulder. She realized how wrong she had been, and how much trouble she might have caused by doing what she had done. What would the others think if they found out? **Please don't! I'm sorry – I just wanted to help you! I won't do it again. I know what I did was wrong, now!**
She'd sent the truth, and Dreamflight watched as Willow took a deep breath and thought for a long while. Finally, Willow exhaled slowly. **All right. But if I ever find out you've done anything like this on purpose again, I'm going to let it rot!**
**You have my word,** Dreamflight promised, and sighed with relief as Willow went back to mending her arm.
Dreamflight went to the river to wash away the blood from her 'incident,' and then returned to her hide to finish cleaning it. She felt miserable. What had she been thinking by hurting herself on purpose? It had been foolish. She could have done more harm than good.
She knew Willow couldn't – and shouldn't – be rushed. But Dreamflight just wanted her mother back with her so badly! Willow had to be able to heal Honey. She had to!
Dreamflight scraped the hide vigorously, trying both to remove the unwanted bits of flesh underneath and to rid herself of her own frustrations. There was a particularly stubborn bit of sinew near the middle that was perfect for stress-relief, so she scraped at it furiously...
….Her hand slipped and the scraper embedded itself deeply into her left forearm, almost into the bone.
Dreamflight gasped. Without thinking, she grabbed hold of the end of the scraper and yanked it out of her flesh. Bright red blood began gushing from the gash; something major had been severed inside.
In a panic, Dreamflight closed her hand over the wound and called for help. “Healer! Healer!”
The response she got was an irritated sending that told her Willow was fed up and wasn't going to listen to Dreamflight anymore.
Dreamflight pushed herself to her feet and staggered toward the stairs. But by the time she got there, she was starting to feel light-headed from blood loss. She couldn't make it up. She crumpled to her knees on the lowest step.
**Willow, help me, please!** She lock-sent images of what had just happened, and of how she had really hurt herself badly this time. **I can't make it to you!**
Willow was by her side in what seemed like an instant, then. The healer wordlessly wrapped her hands around the gash, quickly stopped the flow of blood, and then, more slowly, knitted the wound back together.
A short while later, when she was nearly healed, Dreamflight put a hand over Willow's. “Leave the scar,” she whispered.
Willow nodded, then pulled her hands away. She slumped tiredly against the trunk of the Mother Tree. “Now you know,” she said quietly.
“I won't forget,” Dreamflight promised, and she would keep her word.