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To sleep, the everlasting dream (jp: Cuylar, Garatt)


Aaron
 

Tr’foshe had said that he needed something to make him sleep. That if he could sleep, he would feel better. It felt just possible that this was true; at least if he could sleep he could maybe just catch up enough that people would stop shouting and setting more work.

So, looking pale and hollow-eyed still, Garatt trailed obediently over to the Infirmary, looking like a boy who was highly in need of a check-up in any case.

"Hi," said the Healer once Garatt made it to an exam room. "I'm Cuylar. You must be Garatt. How are you feeling?" He looked like absolute ass, but Cuylar was not about to just tell someone that. It was not the best bedside manner.

“The Assistant Candidate Master said you’d be able to give me something to make me sleep,sir.” Garatt was too tired to remember who in the Weyr warranted a sir and who did not. It felt safer to err on the side of caution.

"You can just call me Cuylar," he answered. "So, you've been having trouble sleeping?" He began to look Garatt over, going through the standard checkup. "Is something bothering you?"

Was anything bothering him? Garatt stared at him listless for a moment until Cuylar reached to take his pulse and he flinched back, pulling his left hand away. “Just…” Explaining felt exhausting.”Just..everything.”

Cuylar sat down in one of the chairs in the exam room.

"If you want to talk about it," he said, "then it won't leave this room." For the most part, he could keep whatever secrets the kid might have. As far as he could see, Cuylar was already concerned there might be some kind of abuse going on. It could happen anywhere – even Arolos.

Easy to say, hard to trust, and Garatt looked at him warily, moving to protect his left hand with his right. “All of the CandidateMasters hate me,” he said after a moment, but there was no indignant passion behind the statement. Just tiredness, explaining a fact he was certain of to another adult who was in the end going to do very little. “They.. they don’t think I ought to be a Candidate I don’t think and.. And they’re probably right but.. But I don’t want to go home.”

Cuylar could certainly relate to that. While "home" would have served him much better had he gone there, when he was a lad, that had not been where we wanted to go. But after what he had seen…

The unhatched eggs were not quite on the same level as what Cuylar had seen, but that did not mean Garatt's experience was invalid… and then, there might have been more to it than that, too. After all, there was the much more recent unpleasantness with the girl posing as a boy to try to get close to the gold eggs.

"What do you want to do?" he asked.

“I don’t know,” Garatt admitted unhappily. He fidgeted in his chair, picking at a loose thread on his sleeve. “I’m.. I’m not really good at anything and.. And besides if he knew I wasn’t Standing my father would want me to go home.”

"When I was a Candidate," said Cuylar, "I saw something on the Sands that really haunted me. And it made me want to be anywhere but there. I couldn't bear the thought. But I didn't want to go home either."

Cuylar had not wanted to avoid home so much as to stay with a boy he loved. And his heart always ached when he thought of him, even then.

"So I took a job in the Infirmary. Convinced Master Kregg to let me stay. And some of the people who were there with me then are here with me now. Like Journeyman Cremsden. And I know that if you wanted to give it a try, he would welcome you to the Infirmary with open arms."

“My father wouldn’t want me to.” And Garatt wasn’t entirely sure he’d want a job in the Infirmary even if he did. He’d been in there for chores. People bled a lot. “He-- If I was going to be a dragonrider, that’d be okay? He says that’d be an honour. But, if I’m not doing that..”

"No higher honor, eh?" Cuylar smiled. He knew the type. But he wondered just what Garatt had at home that would be so important that even a Healer for dragonmen would not be considered nearly as good as a dragonman.

"I'm not going to tell him anything, of course," said Cuylar. "But they do bring in families for Hatchings, yes? He'll be expecting you to be on the Sands. Hmm… What's it like at home that it's better to be here like this?" he asked, gesturing to all of Garatt.

“They don’t want me to Stand for this one anyway,” Garatt admitted in a small voice. “And it’s not-- if I’m home, I’m meant to be getting ready to-- to run the hold and-- I’m not good at it.” Right now it felt as though he were good at very little.

"Are you good at being a dragonrider?" asked Cuylar. It was a fair question, he thought. If the kid thought it was going to be easier than running a hold, well. There were different types of difficulty.

Garatt stared at the floor, cheeks pink, still picking at that loose thread on his cuff. “I’m.. not really good at anything really,” he admitted. “I-- I know if they made me run the Hold I’d screw it up. I think.. I think everyone knows that, they just don’t want to say it.”

"Everyone is good at something," said Cuylar. "Here. Let me help you." He stood and opened a drawer, took out a small pair of scissors for cutting bandages and then leaned in to snip the thread.

Garatt twitched back again as the Healer leaned in, not quite a flinch but close. “What if.. What if you’re not?”

"Well, if I weren't good at this, I think they'd have asked me to find another line of work by now," said Cuylar with a warm smile. "But if you're worried about yourself, I've never met anyone in the world who wasn't good at anything. What are the odds you'd be the first one?"

"Listen… and remember, you can tell me anything, and you won't get in trouble. Has someone been hitting you?"

Garatt’s sharp inhale of breath in response to that question might perhaps have been answer enough. The boy went pale - well, paler - and he hugged his left hand tightly to his chest. “I didn’t-- I never said that!”

Cuylar's eyes widened a bit, but he did not otherwise react with surprise.

"All right," he said. "Nobody is going to send you home. And if you need protection, well. I can make sure you get it. If someone were oh, say… giving you a hard time… making you afraid. Hypothetically. I can make sure they wouldn't get away with it."

Garatt stared at the floor again. “It was only once,” he said in a mumble. “Otherwise.. Otherwise I couldn’t go on the trip. Please don’t tell anyone.”

Cuylar raised an eyebrow.

"Someone told you that they would only let you go on the trip if they hit you first?" he asked.

“...I couldn’t catch up on the essays.” Garatt’s voice wasn’t far above a whisper. “I was meant to have caught up if I was going to go. But I just-- I’m tired all the time and my-- my head doesn’t work right any more. I keep thinking I’ve done them right and then they just-- they’re not right.”

"And that's why they sent you for something to help you sleep, yes?" asked Cuylar. "You're safe here," he said again. "I'm not going to hurt you, and I won't let anyone else hurt you, either."

“My brain just won’t let me sleep any more,” Garatt confided unhappily. “I-- I lie down and I’m just so tired, and I just-- can’t. It’s like sleeping stopped working. Sometimes all I can think about is how tired I’m going to be if I don’t sleep.. Then I’m tired in class, and they catch me, or, or I try fidgeting so I don’t fall asleep and they yell at me for it.”

Cuylar nodded.

"They? Are they all haranguing you?" he asked. It seemed to Cuylar that it was the anxiety keeping the boy awake. He could get him to sleep, but if he did not find a way to alleviate the anxiety, he would just be treating a symptom and leaving the problem in place.

“I told you, they all hate me.” To Garatt it was fact, plain and simple. “I -- I tried telling the nice ones, but then they go and find out the others are angry because I can’t do anything and then they hate me too.” He sniffed hard. He thought he’d cried himself out after his earlier weep in front of Trif but no, apparently there were tears left to come.

"Here's what I want to do. But I won't make the decision by myself. I'm going to recommend that you undergo a sleep study. You'll sleep here in the Infirmary for a little while. No one will wake you in the night, and you'll be safe to fall asleep. If you still can't find sleep, then we'll give you something to help," said Cuylar with a soft, soothing tone.

"You don't have to stay there. I'll convince your father we need you here in the Infirmary myself if I have to. I'll tell him you've got the best knack for healing I've ever seen in an apprentice before and you'll save a hundred riders' lives or more before the end of the Pass if you stay with us."

Garatt gulped. “If-- if I sleep here, does that mean I have to stay when the others are on the trip?” Even if he was here at night, being alone in the Barracks the rest of the time didn’t bear thinking about. “Only.. they said I could go on the trip now.”

"I'm not going to keep you from having your fun," said Cuylar. "You'll get to go; you've more than earned it. And if anyone says differently, then I'll take you on a trip myself. Elphith and I can take you anywhere you want to go."

“No.. they said I could.” Garatt was hanging a lot on that right now. He fidgeted again, somehow finding yet another loose thread. “I don’t think I’d really be any good at a Healer,” he admitted in a whisper, as though the confession was shameful. “Don’t they have to be awfully clever? And-- and when people get hurt, I mostly just want to run away.”

"What makes you think you're not awfully clever?" Cuylar asked. It was true, there were some folks who were not exactly cut out to be Healers, but Garatt could hardly know whether he was or not without having even tried.

“I’m just.. Not.,” Garatt confessed. “Never have been. At home-- they don’t exactly say it, just..my father sort of sighs, and then he looks at my tutor and he shrugs and..” He shrugged a little himself, drawn tight in on himself. “Do you think some people are just born stupid?”

"I think everyone has different strengths and weaknesses," said Cuylar. "Being bad at bookkeeping isn't the same as being born stupid. Is your father stupid? How could you be stupid if you share his blood?"

“He’s not. He’s like.. The opposite of stupid,” Garatt said. “Maybe I got it from my mother though.”

"Is she, ah…" It was never easy to ask whether someone's family was dead. But if he was not so sure about it, then he may not have known her very well, and well, that implied… "Gone?"

Garatt nodded. Mostly he slipped around the subject in case people looked sorry for him, but this conversation was well beyond that point. “When I was being born. I think if I’d had.. Brothers or something my father wouldn’t have minded so much me being stupid.” 

"You're not stupid. And I very much doubt your mother could have been, either. After all, your father wouldn't have married her if she was," said Cuylar. It hurt his heart to hear that his mother had died in childbirth, but even more that he had been allowed to believe that his father wished he had more children. Better children.

"Everyone has their own strengths, remember? Even people who some might call stupid. Nobody can do everything."

Garatt sighed. “Yeah, but I don’t think I can do anything,” he said. “If I was one of those people who was smart all the time it wouldn’t matter if I was tired, I’d just know it all anyway and catch up.”

"Nobody can be at their best all the time – especially when they're as tired as you look." Cuylar offered a smile. "We'll get you what you need to get some sleep. You'll have to come by to get a new dose every evening, or else I'll come to you. And then when you're back from the trip, we'll do the sleep study."

“You’ll be on the trip?” It made sense, Garatt guessed, that a Healer was on the trip in case a kid bashed their face in falling out a tree or something.

"I hadn't planned on going," said Cuylar. "But I can make it out there and back in just a few seconds each way, you know. I won't leave you hanging."

It teased out a slight smile for the first time. “Thank you.”

Cuylar smiled even more broadly at seeing the little smile from Garatt.

"You're more than welcome. I promise, I'll do whatever I can to help you. Now… is it OK if I finish the checkup?" He grinned to show he was not upset.

Garatt hesitated, fidgeting a little again. His right hand clutched the left arm protectively. “My hand hurts,” he admitted finally, voice dropping to a whisper again as though guarding from hidden listeners.

"Hey," Cuylar said softly. "Listen. Nobody is going to get you in trouble here. This is a safe place. And I'll do everything I can to show you I'm a safe person. I'll be gentle with your hand, OK? And we'll find out what's wrong and fix it."

Garatt swallowed and nodded, holding out his hand to the Healer. It took a moment for him to convince his fingers to uncurl, he’d been holding it carefully and protectively for most of the day. The inflamed red lines across the palm and fingers were clearly cane marks to anyone who had seen them before, not the hardest or most severe beating but still a shock to a boy who hadn’t been used to it. 

Cuylar's eyes widened again, but as before, he gave no other sign that he was as shocked as he was. He would not ask that Garatt tell him who did it. But he would be telling K'ren that someone had done this to one of his patients. He had to.

"Alright. I'm going to wash it with a bit of diluted red wort, and then I'm going to put a bit of numbweed and a bandage on it. OK?" he said.

“Will that make it stop hurting?” He’d thought that if he just ignored it it would stop, but he’d waited all night and most of the day and the steady throb still hadn’t gone away. Despite wanting to trust Cuylar it was still hard not to flinch away from the Healer touching it. His brain suspected it was going to hurt when touched, consequently he flinched. 

“I-- I did tell him he could,” he asserted again in a small voice. “Because.. I couldn’t catch up on the essays. He said I could.. Could pick which punishment I preferred.”

"The numbweed will make it stop hurting for a time," said Cuylar, struggling to keep the murder out of his eyes. "The essays are to find out what you know. And if you need help learning. The Candidatemasters should be helping you learn it."

Cuylar bit his tongue. This was really not his place. He would have to talk to K'ren. He was the one with the rank, the one who could really do something.

"If this happens again, come tell me. And I'll make it stop hurting again." And give K'ren another piece of his mind along with it, of course.

Cuylar prepared the red wort and then knelt again in front of Garatt.

"This might sting a little. OK? But then I'll put the numbweed on, and it won't hurt any more."

“I-- I don’t think I’d pick that again.” Garatt’s voice wobbled a little, trying to hold his hand still. “I thought-- I thought maybe if it just hurt for a little bit of time-- if, if I were a proper man I wouldn’t care.” Being a proper man could be tremendously important when you were fourteen. Particularly when you couldn’t seem to stop crying all the time.

"Listen. I'm, what, thirty-five? If someone did this to me, it would hurt like a bastard. And I would not be surprised if I cried. You're no less a man for admitting it hurts." Cuylar looked into Garatt's eyes as he gently dabbed the red wort onto his palm.

Garatt twitched a little as it started to sting but managed to hold still. “He said..” Another sniff. “He said no-one acted like a baby about it where he came from.”

"And where is he from?" Cuylar wondered. There was something tickling at the back of his mind, something that seemed so very familiar… 

“F--” The word was nearly out before Garatt’s brain, tired as it was, realised how easy it would be to identify someone from that. And how very angry M’ayen would be. “..I don’t remember.”

Fire flashed in Cuylar's eyes.

"When I was a Candidate," he said as he worked, "my Candidatemaster was a man named M'ayen. And he left me to mourn alone when… when some very sad things happened. He left me to cry all by myself in my bed, because I knew he would never meet my tears with anything but… anything but this." He pointed to Garatt's hand.

"The only friends I thought I had ran from me then because they were in a place I couldn't go, and they saw my tears as… as poison compared to their own. And when I had nowhere else to go but home, it was the Infirmary that took me in. I don't care what happens, I will always make sure you have some place here. Because I know what this is like."

Cuylar finished cleaning Garatt's hand and then began to rub the numbweed onto his palm. It, too, was diluted from full strength, but still potent enough to wash away pain without quite the same degree of stink.

Garatt had jerked a little at that name, almost pulling his hand out of Cuylar’s in startlement. He was studying Cuylar in some puzzlement through the speech. Was it a trick somehow, to make him tell? Because Cuylar was surely far too old to have had M’ayen as a Candidate. 

His shoulders relaxed as the numbweed started to work, and he gave a little sigh of relief. 

“Did..” The question was hard to get out. “Did people hit you when you were a Candidate?”

"Sometimes," said Cuylar. "It was the way they thought was right to discipline people there, in that place at that time. Even some people who I thought were my friends would hit me if I didn't act the way they thought I should." He closed his eyes for a moment to collect himself.

"But not here. Not now. It shouldn't be like this."

“Did you..mind?” Maybe someone older would have noticed and backed off from this line of questioning. Garatt had yet to notice any effect it might be having however.

"It felt like a betrayal every time," said Cuylar. "I trusted them. I thought they were my friends, my teachers, mentors. And then they…" He sighed and closed his eyes for a moment.

"This is not right. And you don't have to put up with it like it is."

“...You trusted M’ayen?” Garatt’s tone held a hint of incredulity because some people surely, just could not be trusted. He pulled his hand back a little to examine it, experimentally wriggling it. “It stopped hurting!”

"Until he showed me why I shouldn't have…" said Cuylar. "I was a very trusting boy. But it didn't take that long for Fort to beat that out of me. It took a long time to learn how again. And I'm not going to let that happen to you if I can manage it." He grabbed a roll of bandage and began to wrap Garatt's hand, once he was reasonably sure the boy was satisfied with the wriggling.

“You promised you wouldn’t tell anyone.” Garatt reminded him of that anxiously.

"I won't tell him you told me anything," said Cuylar. "But I want to do what I can to make sure I can protect you. And that means making sure he can't retaliate against you, too. You know, you didn't tell me who it was that did it. Remember?"

Garatt nodded uncertainly. “If-- if he found out though,” he said quietly. “They’d all-- all of the ACMs believe him all the time anyway. And they just-- they don’t like me.”

"I won't be going directly to the Candidatemasters. I have my own masters who believe me. And they'll believe me when I say what I saw in your hand, even if I never tell them which one did it," said Cuylar. "Even if I never tell them which Candidate it was. If any of them admits they know, then they'll be as good as admitting they were the ones who did it."

“But they can’t-- they’re not going to tell all of them off,” Garatt said. Firing them was a thought too big for him. “So, they’d just.. Take his side. They always do.” He watched Cuylar work. “...also ‘m going to be the only one with a bandage.”.

"The Healers won't," said Cuylar. "And if the Healers don't, Kassia won't. Surely… she listens to K'ren." She did, did she not?

"You can take the bandage off. If you're worried," said Cuylar. "But I want you to keep it on for now. At least until you get back to the barracks."

A sharp intake of breath at that. “You’d-- they’d tell the Weyrwoman?” Garatt’s eyes had gone wide. “But she-- she hates Candidates! More than anyone! And-- and her dragon nearly killed one! She-- she told them to be mean!” Sort of. Probably. Something might have been lost in interpretation.

Cuylar shook his head. She might have said something like that. Something that someone like M'ayen might have taken for that.

"She doesn't hate Candidates. She might be upset about what happened. But that's not the same thing. And whatever she said, this is a bridge too far." He pointed to Garatt's palm. "This couldn't have been what she meant."

"I understand you don't really have any reason to trust me. But I promise you, I will be careful about this. And whatever happens, I will personally protect you if someone tries to hurt you because of me."

“Please don’t make them hate me more.” Garatt’s voice dropped back to a whisper. Some things clearly could only be discussed very quietly.

"I am going to do my very best for you, Garatt. I'm going to try to be for you what my friends – my real friends – were for me back when I was where you are now," said Cuylar. "My best. I promise."

Garatt wanted to believe him, he did, but he’d had adults say kind things before and then..change. He bit his lip, pulling his hand close to his chest again. It didn’t hurt any more but the instinct to protect it was still there.

“Then-- then can you wait until after the trip?” he asked softly. “Or-- or they might pull me back. And-- then they won’t know it was me, maybe. If I take the bandage off.”

Cuylar did not like that stipulation. But he could let Garatt have this, he supposed. Unless, of course, it came out that he knew sooner but delayed saying anything, and that was used against him.

"Have they done this to anyone else?" he wondered.

“I don’t think--” Garatt shook his head. “They just-- none of them like me. He doesn’t but--” He picked at his cuff again. “They were all, they, they were going to leave me with him during the trip.” Had they known? It felt like they all had to be in it together to Garatt.

"Is your sleeve bothering you?" Cuylar asked. As far as he could tell, this was typical M'ayen fair. He was disappointed to hear that others were going along with him, but he had that effect on some people… 

Cuylar was kind, but Garatt still flushed, dropping his sleeve as though it burnt him. “Sometimes I fidget,” he admitted as though this were a terrible crime.

"Oh." Cuylar smiled, relieved. "There's nothing wrong with that. I was just wondering whether you needed help with fixing something. I know M'ayen doesn't like to see fidgeting. Can't stand for someone to pay even the slightest bit of attention to anything but the back of his head, eh? Maybe, if it's hard not to do it where he can see it, we can figure out a way to do it without him noticing."

“None of them like it,” Garatt admitted. “It-- it was fine before, but it’s like now if I move they notice.”

"None of them?" It seemed unusual that everyone on the Candidate staff would be falling in behind M'ayen. What was he telling them? Cuylar knew he did not need a specific reason to be picking on Garatt – he was just The Unlucky One. But for the others to be going along, he had to have told them something…

"Are you sure you don't want me to say something? This isn't normal."

“...what if it’s just that I’m a really awful Candidate?” Garatt’s voice dropped back to a whisper. It had been a lot easier for him to tell himself that it wasn’t just him before it was - or felt like - all of the staff.

"What if being bad at being a Candidate doesn't mean you're a bad person? I was bad at being a Candidate. And I Impressed anyway! When I wasn't even trying to. Dragons don't care what M'ayen thinks about you. If one of them wants you, they'll have you, and it doesn't matter how good your essays were or how long you could sit still in a classroom," said Cuylar.

“No, I mean,” Garatt swallowed, not looking at him. “What if I’m just-- if, if there’s something wrong with me?” Because sometimes it felt as though M’ayen could maybe just see right into his head, into the lurking fear that had taken root when the dragons had defended their eggs. Everyone else had been able to see that it wasn’t the dragons fault after all. No-one else seemed to dwell on it.

"I'm a Healer – if there was something wrong with you, wouldn't I notice?" Cuylar countered. He was not going to let M'ayen win on this, if he could help it.

“..I guess? Maybe?” Garatt looked uncertain. “But-- I can’t do anything right for anyone else.”

"If your teachers don't give you what you need to succeed, then how can they expect you to do it?" asked Cuylar. "Can you concentrate on class if you're constantly worried about getting in trouble for not concentrating?"

“Everyone else manages!” Garatt sounded frustrated. “And it’s-- it’s not just them, I wasn’t any good at home either!”

"Everyone else can't sleep? Is trading in piles of work for lashes on the hand?" asked Cuylar. "I don't think it's you. Because I was where you are when I was your age, and it wasn't me."

“You can’t have been as stupid though, not if you’re a Healer.” Garatt said with certainty. “Because Healers have to be really smart, don’t they?” He looked again at his hand; newly numbed, freshly bandaged. “If-- if I’d just managed to catch up--” Then he wouldn’t have had to.

"You weren't meant to catch up," said Cuylar. "They kept you from it on purpose so they could push you to think you chose this." He pointed to Garatt's hand. "To think you're stupid. And they're holding the trip over your head now to stop you from telling anyone what they're doing. This isn't you. It's them."

“But my father thinks I’m stupid as well!” Garatt’s voice raised above a whisper finally as he hugged his hand to his chest again. “And my tutor. They-- they can’t all be wrong!”

"Why can't they? They all learned what ‘smart’ is the same way from the same line of people. Powerful people who decided that ‘smart’ meant people who think like they do. If they admitted that smart isn't what they thought, then they would have to admit that they're not as special as they thought, either." Cuylar folded his arms.

Garatt just gaped at him for a moment. It was one thing having an adult be kind to you and tell you they were on your side. Quite another to have another talk like that, as though they might be angry for you rather than just slightly pitying. And Cuylar wasn’t just another Candidate like Asheran; he was a proper adult, and one who looked as though he could be quite fierce in his own right with his arms folded like that.

Cuylar let his hands fall to his side, and his face softened.

"Are you all right?" he asked. He had not meant to scare the boy, but perhaps he had gotten carried away. There was… a little baggage there for him, he could admit.

Garatt nodded, still staring. That wasn’t exactly a scared expression, and he’d spent the last twenty minutes or so looking some shade of terrified so that was notable. That was.. Something akin to awe. “You really think that?” he asked after a moment in a hushed whisper.

"I can all but guarantee that," said Cuylar. He offered a smile. He had never seen anyone look at him quite like that, but it was nice to try to help a kid and not be shut down. He still felt guilt in the pit of his stomach over his inability to reach Kel.

“I never thought about it like that before,” Garatt admitted. He hesitated. “Is it okay..” he said carefully, because disappointing one more adult right now was one adult too many “..if I don’t want to be a Healer?”

"Of course," Cuylar assured the boy. "Just because it was right for me doesn't mean it's right for you." He smiled. Cremsden might be a bit disappointed when Cuylar told him he said so, though.

"What do you want to be?"

Garatt sighed. “Something that doesn’t involve endless studying?” he said rather plaintively. “I like reading just fine but.. But essays!” He sounded honestly despairing on that last word.

"There's plenty of essays with the Healers," Cuylar admitted. "And with the Harpers. I can't say I know for sure, but maybe there aren't so many with the herdsmen," he offered. "Or with the lower caverns."

“Yeah.” Garatt sagged a little. “No way my father would ever approve anything like that. I’m not sure there’s anything he even would approve other that..you know, dragons.”

"What would happen if he tried you take you back, and you just… said no?" Cuylar asked. He knew Garatt was not exactly an adult according to the law, and Kassia was not likely to want to cause a Political Incident, but. It was worth asking.

“I mean. I'd still have to inherit though, wouldn't I?” Garatt said doubtfully.”Unless you Impress you have to.”

"Hm. What if." Cuylar tapped his chin. "What if you were to… ‘suffer an injury’," he said with air quotes, "that left you unable to have heirs of your own? Maybe a runner kicked you in your business." He motioned to his own crotch.

Garatt looked to where he gestured and went pink, pressing his own thighs together instinctively. “That uh.. That sounds like it would hurt an awful lot,” he said weakly, not quite following the deception. “And-- and I’m not sure. I think if I don’t have kids then it has to pass to someone like one of my cousins after me? But-- that gets all complicated and stuff and I think it might need the Lord Holder’s approval or a Harper or something. They were talking about it in one of the lessons. Mostly I think one of our big jobs is uh, not letting that happen.” Which made it all the weirder that his father had been willing to risk his Impressing really.

"Well, we wouldn't actually let something like that happen," said Cuylar with a bit of a grin. That was what the air quotes were for, after all. "We would just send word to your father. Just a little fib so you can have the life you want for yourself doesn't sound like such a crime. I might need to get some help to make it work, but… it's worth a shot if that's what you decide you want to do. Shells, if I brought it up with the right people, they might have a better idea than that."

"And it sounds like your father already has an idea of who he would be expecting to inherit aside from you – if he sent you to Stand. So you wouldn't have to worry about that, either."

“Maybe.” It was a thought anyway. Garatt offered a small smile. “Do you still need to check me over?”

"I do," said Cuylar. "Is it OK if I touch your wrist to take your pulse?" He thought perhaps he had earned enough trust after having permission to apply the redwort and numbweed, but better to ask again after the reaction the first time.

A nod from the boy, although he still offered his right rather than left wrist. Even knowing Cuylar knew it felt better to keep the left one safe and protected in his lap.

"All right. Here we go. Just relax and breathe," Cuylar said as he went through the usual checkup. Even after their chat, the boy still had an elevated heart rate, and after the full checkup, it was clear that if he had not already been barred from this clutch, they would need to have a chat about it. But that aside, there was nothing so alarming that Cuylar would have to recommend he stay in the Infirmary for observation or the like.

He would still be recommending the sleep study if for no other reason than observing whether giving Garatt a safe space apart from the Candidate barracks made as big a difference as he thought it would. But that was not quite the same thing.

"OK. So, my recommendation is still the same. I'll be giving you medicine to help you sleep, and I'll give it to you a bit before lights out every night – including out on the trip. And then when you get back from the trip, I want you to sleep here at night for a little while so we can see whether there's any other problems we need to be addressing. Sound good?"

A nod and another of those shy smiles. “I can watch for your dragon?” Garatt offered.

"You can! Next time you've got a bit of free time, you can meet her so you know who to look for." Cuylar smiled and finished writing his notes. "For now, you should probably get back to your classes."