Not much gruesomeness below the cut. :)
A bell or so later, Lars hopped onto a table in the castle physician's examination room and watched Physician Rolle prepare a suture kit. "I... I don't need stitches," Lars said. "Not today."
Rolle paused, peering over his spectacles. "You? With all that blood?" Rolle tsk tsked and returned to his threads and snips. "I've never known you to be afraid of a few stitches."
"The only cut I have is inside my lip," Lars said, shrugging, "and a few scrapes and bruises on my knuckles. I don't need stitches for that."
"All right," Rolle said, giving Lars his full attention. "Broken bones? Contusions? Dizziness?"
Lars reddened and tried to push his worry away. "No. Snap. Maybe. I--" He shook his head and muttered, "Hells."
Rolle put a calming hand on Lars's shoulder. "These things sometimes happen, especially to young men your age, but I find it rather difficult to imagine that either you or Jess would be unfaith--"
"Goddess no!" Lars leaned back, knocking off Rolle's gentle grip. "No. Not that. We haven't even done anything like that with each other, let alone with someone else." He grimaced, unable to comprehend kissing anyone but Jess, let alone lying with another girl. "That's... awful. No."
"Lars," Rolle said patiently, "snap spirochetes aren't something a boy can pick up while going innocently about his business. There has to be some sort of romantic exchange involved. Fluids and things."
Lars sighed and shoved out, "I caught a rapist today. We fought. I castrated him. He had snap. Bad." He felt his lip quiver but he forced it still again. "Should I start the medications? I don't want to take any chance that Jess might get sick, especially not something like this."
Rolle offered an encouraging smile. "We'll do a full exam, okay? Let's start with your hands."
Lars let Rolle work, asking only minimal questions as the physician closely examined and swabbed every scratch, scrape and scar on Lars's hands, face and arms.
"What did the barber put on your hands?" Rolle asked as he finished collecting his samples and put the little dishes away.
"A lye-based antiseptic scrub followed by a soak in a tincture of mercury," Lars said, reaching for his notebook. "I wrote it all down."
Rolle read Lars's notes and nodded. "I'll give you a light dose of mercury and zinc cream for your hand, but there's a new inoculation all the medical ledgers are touting. It supposedly works wonders if the disease is caught before the chancres turn to rash, and has virtually no hazardous effects. It's a miracle, they say, just a simple filtrate of green mold."
"Really?" Lars let his breath out in a relieved rush. Maybe he wouldn't have to suffer through the bloody diarrhea and vomiting of arsenic treatments, let alone the potential lifetime of pain. "Just a shot of mold and I'll be okay?"
"Five, actually, to be sure," Rolle said, moving to the medicine cabinet. "One every other day should clear it up before you have a chance to develop a single pustule."
"Oh thank you thank you thank you," Lars said, smiling at the ceiling. Even though he and Jess hadn't made love yet, he had every intention of completing that task. The possibility of telling her they had to wait even longer because he might have caught snap from a rapist was too awful to comprehend.
Rolle smeared a thin layer of gray goop on Lars's right hand and wrapped it before readying a syringe. "I really don't think you've caught it, those scrapes on your knuckles have barely broken the skin, but just in case, tell Jess I said nothing but kissing for at least a phase, and if she has bleeding gums or bites her tongue, not even that. Okay? You keep your germs to yourself until I make sure you don't develop any chancres and nothing unexpected grows in the incubators."
"Sure. No problem," Lars said, happily relieved. He didn't wince at all when Rolle plunged the needle into his shoulder.
"After you've had all five doses, you kids can go back to whatever you've been doing, but use a prophylactic for anything beyond the kissing. Anything. Until a moon from today."
"I told you we're not--"
"Lars, I've seen the two of you together," Rolle said, turning to put away his tools. "If you're not laying together yet, it's not far off. Here. Explain it all to Jess and use these. Doctor's orders." He turned back and gave Lars an envelope of folded prophylactics before checking the wrapping on Lars's hands. "I really don't think you'll have any trouble. The disease is very contagious, yes, but your exposure was minimal and the correct treatments were prompt. We'll know for sure in a few phases. Keep that medicine on for a full quarter bell then wash it off with soap and hot water. I don't want you to get mercury burns or become toxic, so no more mercury for you unless you develop lesions, okay? I'll see you back here day after tomorrow for another inoculation. If you find a rash or a blister, anywhere, see me right away, all right?"
"Yes. Of course." Cheered despite his embarrassment, Lars hopped down from the table and pocketed the envelope. "Thanks."
Rolle smiled and shook his head. "You're going to be fine. Try to stay out of trouble for once."
Lars chuckled and turned to go, but paused near the door. "Hey, do you have enough of that green mold stuff to send to Merilee in Miller's Creek? The guy got five or six little girls before we caught him."
"Filthy bastard. And those poor girls." Rolle's cheek tightened and disgust was plainly etched on his face. "I'll send a batch out to Merilee today."