Are you all right?
Tor's young voice sounded through Lana's mind though she knew he addressed the black dragon, panting on the ground. She jumped off Tor's back and went to Roland, her hands outstretched to stop the new flow of blood from the wound in his side.
I will be. I just need to rest.
Can't stay here, though. It's too cold up here for Lana.
Between the two of us, we will keep her warm enough for tonight. This is the safest place for us right now. There's no way Salomar's men can climb up here after us.
Tor seemed to consider. You're right! You're smart, Roland.
The black dragon chuckled while Lana worked on his wound. She was tiring fast, giving him a great deal of her energy, but he really needed her help.
"It's not as bad as I'd feared. You need to rest though, and this place is a good one. I'll make do with the furs."
If you can drag that dead wood over here, I'll start a fire for you. They won't see it way up here and even if they do, there's nothing they can do about it.
Lana smiled and made a dash for a good-sized, fallen pine log, but it was too heavy for her. Tor saved her the work by plucking it up in one talon and dropping it neatly in front of the black dragon. She scooted out of the line of fire, and within moments, Roland gave her a roaring fire that would last a few hours at least. She made a bed for herself from the few furs she'd managed bring with them in her travel pack.
Come here, Roland told her quietly, closer to me. I'll keep you warm.
Lana shook her head and laughed. "No, thanks. Tor has nearly squashed me too many times for me to sleep near a dragon ever again."
I promise I won't move a muscle. I'm fully grown, Lana. I do have some control over myself, contrary to when I was Tor's age. He'll learn to settle down as soon as his bones stop aching from the growth spurts.
"So that's why..."
When dragons are his age, they are growing fast, particularly while asleep. The bones ache slightly as they expand and movement is the only way to relieve it. He doesn't even know he's doing it. It's instinctive.
"There's so much I don't know about dragons."
You've done very well with him for a novice, Lana. Your love has guided him. That's the most important thing. He has a kind heart, even after all he's been through.
Lana couldn't respond around the lump in her throat. She moved her furs closer to the black dragon and jumped slightly when he raised his good wing over her head. It was starting to snow lightly.
Under here, Lana. I promise I won't hurt you and you'll be warm and safe while you sleep.
Lana was skeptical, but it really was freezing at this altitude. She could barely feel her feet as it was. Snuggling into the furs, she allowed Roland to wrap his good wing around her, tucking her into his side. He was right. It was toasty warm next to his hot body and the snow sizzled into steam as it touched the wing over her head. She looked out on the snowy sky, the small fire burning steadily in front of her, and realized, in that quiet moment, she was comfortable and completely warm for the first time in years.
"You're a good dragon, Roland. Thank you. After I sleep a bit, I'll try another treatment on your side. I'm too tired now."
That's all right, little one. Sleep now. We'll worry about everything else in the morning.
Roland dozed, careful of the woman at his side. She felt right, cuddled next to him. She unconsciously stroked his flank with her face and hair as she moved slightly, her hands coming to rest in the ticklish spot just where his wing met his body, but he didn't move. He liked the feel of her small, gentle hands on him. Perhaps too much.
He became aware of warmth seeping from her into him that should not be. Taking quick stock, he realized she was reaching out to him with her healing ability, even in sleep.
Lana, sweetling, wake up. You have to stop trying to heal me. I don't want you wearing yourself out on my account. It could be dangerous.
"What?" Her voice was drowsy, still half-asleep as her hands subtly stroked him.
Pull your power back, little one. Do not expend your healing energy like this.
"But I'm not doing anything."
You are. I feel it, Lana.
"No." She faced him, coming out from under the shelter of his wing to meet his gaze. "I feel no power drain."
But I feel your heat. The heat of your healing power.
"That can't be."
Roland remembered then, a legend of his family. It didn't seem possible that this little, unexpected woman could hold the powers his family had thought lost for generations, but then, stranger things had happened since he'd flown north. This would require a great deal of thought on his part and he didn't want to trouble her with the magnitude of the discovery until he was certain.
It's all right, sweetling. Go back to sleep. I must have been mistaken.
She moved back under his wing, settled back against him and was soon asleep once more. Roland watched carefully, gauging the energies flowing once more from her to him and back again. He knew then he wasn't mistaken. Relaxed and out of immediate danger, they were feeding off each other in an endless loop. Neither would suffer ill effects from this kind of innate healing, or so the legends held. This was a rarity among rarities. No pair had formed this kind of bond in centuries, but it seemed this big-hearted, self-trained healer was doing so. It was a miracle. Or perhaps, he thought with a dragonish snort, it was magic.