Shirayuki sat at her desk in the herbalist wing of Clarines castle, a soft breeze wafting in through the window from the gardens at the foot of the hill. After putting the final touches to her paperwork she replaced her pen on the desk, leaning back in her chair she stretched her arms out to unkink her tensed muscles. Glancing idly towards the window she spared a moment to admire the cloudless midday sky. After having spent the morning cooped up in her office she decided it was time to reward herself with a few hours sequestered in the greenhouse to tend to the plants.
Tucking her paperwork away in the desk drawer she headed out of her office and down the corridor leading towards the castle gardens. She barely made it halfway down the corridor before-
"Shirayuki, can you come in here please" the voice of the Chief called after her, freezing Shirayuki in her step.
Shirayuki turned back down the corridor to the Chiefs office which served as a meeting place for the Herbalist staff. She stepped aside to find the Chief sitting at her desk, surrounded on all sides by paperwork and herbalist materials.
"Shirayuki, you have a visitor" the Chief indicated towards the meeting table with a graceful wave of her hand.
While she had been expecting Zen Shirayuki supressed a guilty pang of disappointment when instead she found Miss Kiki Seiran sitting at the meeting table.
"Hello Shirayuki" Kiki said. "I apologise for the interruption; I know you're busy"
"It seems Miss Seiran is in need of our services" the Chief interjected.
Kiki rose from her seat and stepped towards Shirayuki. "A training accident whilst sparring with the new recruits" Kiki explained. "I took a hit to the side of my stomach with a training sword before I stumbled back and fell pretty hard onto my right shoulder"
As she spoke Shirayuki noticed that she was favouring one side as she walked, consciously trying to keep her shoulder straight as she moved.
"She'll need a quick look over to make sure there is nothing seriously wrong and perhaps something to treat the bruising" the Chief leant back idly in her chair. "I'm confident you can see to that"
"Me!" Shirayuki yelped. "But I-"
"You'll be fine" the chief reassured her. "It'll be good for you to get some hands on experience"
Kiki sat up on the patient's bench in the observation room of the Herbalists wing. She patiently watched as Shirayuki scoured the counter tops and the glass cabinets lined with a veritable cornucopia of medicinal herbs and concoctions. Upon finding the one she had been searching for Shirayuki plucked the clay pot from the shelf and returned her attentions to her patient. Shirayuki decided to begin at the stomach.
"Could you lift your top up a little?" Shirayuki asked.
Kiki lifted her training top to reveal her athletic, creamy white belly marred only by the large black mark which stained her left side. Shirayuki tenderly placed her hands to Kikis stomach, feeling the soft skin beneath her fingertips. Shirayuki was rather timid as she began her examination, far more familiar with creating remedies and concoctions than administering them.
"I'm surprised this could happen to someone with your experience" Shirayuki said.
"Sometimes the greatest threat to an experienced swordsman is a middling swordsman" Kiki clarified. "You never know what they will do-"
Kikis explanation was cut short by a sharp hiss as Shirayukis fingers traced the boundary of the swiftly developing bruise. "Sorry" Shirayuki apologised. "It's important to be sure about the scope of the injury" satisfied as to the extent of the bruise developing on her side Shirayuki turned her attentions to Kikis shoulder. Shirayuki hooked her finger underneath the lip of the collar of Kikis training top, offering little assistance in gaining a clear view of the injury. Shirayuki stood awkwardly, unsure of precisely how she should proceed.
"Here" in the end Kiki simply answered for her. "Let me help you with that" without hesitation or modesty she reached down to lift the hem of her training top across her flat stomach, over the gentle mound of her breasts before casting it off completely.
Shirayukis cheeks flared an even brighter shade of red. Her eyes darted wildly around the room, trying to look anywhere else she could think of, she began to feel an overwhelming urge to make a break for the door or leap out the window. The cursory glance she could muster, thankful that Kiki was wearing a simple white bra underneath, confirmed Shirayukis suspicions. The bruise on Kikis side was accompanied by another dark mark developing across her right shoulder. Although not a detriment to her health the bruises would undoubtedly become painful if not treated swiftly.
"Shall I take this...?" Kikis hands reached up to trace the clasp of her bra.
A muffled squeak involuntarily left Shirayukis lips as she snapped her gaze aside in anticipation. Although she couldn't see it a devilish smile was emerging across Kikis lips. With the same brazen confidence Kiki unhooked the clasp of her bra and slipped the garment from her shoulders.
When Shirayuki mustered herself to return her gaze any small amount of courage she may have gathered was shattered almost instantaneously. In that moment Shirayuki wished for nothing more than to have the ground open up beneath her so she could escape her embarrassment.
"Ok" Shirayuki said it more for her benefit than anyone else's.
You can do this. You wanted to be a Herbalist, treating patients is part of the job.
She hoped she hadn't said that out loud. Shirayuki composed herself, forcing her mind to focus. Kiki wasn't unattractive, quite the contrary. Her muscled physique matched with her youthful skin and noble grace made her the envy of many and the desires of many more. It was nothing Shirayuki hadn't seen before, they'd shared rooms together, taken baths in the hot springs. But this time it was different, this was the first time she had been called upon to examine her friend in such intimate-
No, not intimate! Rigorous, rigorous detail.
The grace with which she disrobed with such confidence as though it was the easiest thing she could have done.
"Could you turn around?" Shirayuki requested.
Kiki turned herself away, presenting her back to Shirayuki. The young girls heart began to settle, compelling her quivering hands to steady to begin her examination. Shirayukis hands touched lightly against the peak of Kikis right shoulder. "Any pain anywhere?"
"Nothing so far" Kiki said.
Shirayukis hands shifted across Kikis shoulder, feeling the soft muscle tensing and relaxing beneath her touch.
"Actually, I'm starting to feel something now" Kiki said. "It's a bit further down"
Shirayukis fingers began to retreat from the peak of Kikis shoulder, following the downward curve of Kikis back searching-
"Actually, I meant the other way" Kiki clarified.
At her instruction Shirayukis hands reversed their course, climbing over Kikis shoulders and beginning her descent down her front. As Shirayuki continued her assessment something about Kikis last comment made Shirayuki ponder, a thousand possibilities circulated in her head about the implications ranging from the mundane to the deadly serious. Shirayuki found herself becoming so pre-occupied with her diagnosis she had not realised quite how far her hand had descended, feeling the gentle rise of a curve beneath her finger tips she now grasped how perilously close she was to intruding upon-
A hand reached out, long fingers wrapping firmly around her wrist. Shirayukis balance faltered, her feet surrendering beneath her weight and causing herself to stumble forwards. As she fought to regain her footing she found herself pressed against Kikis uncovered back, the grip around her wrist tightening. The soft wisps of long blonde hair fluttered before her eyes, the sweet scent of lavender cascading over her. Shirayukis panic continued to grow as the relentless beating of her heart began to run away from her. Her only consolation was that Kiki was in no position to witness the amazing new shade of beet red she never knew her cheeks could muster.
"Just kidding" Kiki said, repressing a soft giggle beneath her lips. "Just focus on my side and my shoulder and you'll do just fine" Kikis grip on Shirayukis arm released, drawing Shirayuki back to her feet.
Shirayuki fumbled for the pot of salve, steadying her quivering hand, as she took an ample supply of the salve onto her finger tips. With a series of recurring circles she rubbed the cool balm into Kikis shoulder. The effect was swiftly apparent, the soothing cream offering blessed relief to the enflamed skin. Taking another dab of salve in her hand Shirayuki traced the salve across the dark patch of skin which blemished Kikis side.
"Ok, done" Shirayuki said. "You can, you know…"
"As you wish" Kiki giggled.
Shirayuki could not help but breathe a deep sigh of relief as Kiki redressed herself with practiced precision, allowing Shirayuki to finally meet her gaze without feeling the encroaching burn of her enflamed cheeks.
"Rest up for today" Shirayuki instructed. "And if it's still aching come back in tomorrow and we'll give you some more salve"
"Thanks Shirayuki" Kiki said. "I knew you'd be good at this"
With her treatment complete Kiki departed to allow Shirayuki to resume her normal duties in peace. As the door closed in her wake Shirayuki felt the tension which had been sustaining her leave her body. Surrendering herself to her sudden onset of physical and mental exhaustion Shirayuki flopped unceremoniously down into her chair at her desk. Supporting her head in her hands she appreciated the moment of silence as an opportunity to contemplate and make sense of what had just transpired.
So, how did it go?
A familiar voice diverted Shirayuki from her trance, looking up to see the Chief leaning casually against the doorframe.
"Pretty good, I guess" Shirayuki admitted. "I checked her bruises, applied some salve and told her to come back tomorrow if she needed anything else"
"Good to hear" Chief replied with a genuine smile. "Seeing as you did so well perhaps now I can delegate all of Miss Kikis medical appointments to you"
Sure, all of Kikis appointments-
"Wait" the implications finally dawned upon Shirayuki. "What did you…"
Before an answer could be gained the chief had absconded, leaving Shirayuki to her work.