Chapter 2 : Risky Business
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Hermione had been living an ordinary yet strange life until now. It was a known fact this young, talented doctor had an air of mystery about her, which even she herself couldn’t figure out. No one knew where she came from; she never bothered to explain nor search for answers deeper within her. Looking for truth is a risky business, because while bravely waiting and preparing for it, in the end it’s always able to shatter a steady, peaceful life within a second. Hermione was aware of this.
Satisfied with only vague memories of childhood that made her feel cold and distant from her own life, Hermione avoided people and situations that might’ve been in any way connected to the truth. On these occasions she would get scared despite herself, running away and ignoring the resurfacing facts indicating something was not right.
This wasn’t natural; the cowardice with which she lived and had to endure.
Ronald Weasley stirred in his sleep, startling Hermione, who had been staring at him fixedly for half an hour already.
Here it was, one of those rare occasions that made her tremble and go pale, numb to the world around her, which even though flawless, felt false and aberrant in the most private and secluded of moments.
The first moment she had spotted him, she knew he wasn’t just a patient that needed his life saved. It’s that feeling every human sometime gets, the déjà vu that spins off the wild associations, hazy ideas and strangest feelings. Hermione felt this both physically and mentally; her thoughts were a whirl, which was rather unusual for a person so organized and collected. Her skin tingled, and she shivered constantly, butterflies taking permanent place to stay in her stomach.
She was still clueless as to how she managed to perform the surgery so flawlessly when inside she was screaming with confusion. Her medical abilities became automatic, she guessed. Medicine was truly a part of her, though she didn’t even know where all the knowledge had sprung from. Just like everything else, it was always there.
Was it possible she had just lost her memory and this man that shook her world while being unconscious had been a part of her life before? It was the only possible explanation. But Hermione hadn’t lost her memory. She remembered things, places and people that were long gone from her life, but there was a rupture between her childhood, and adolescence, and the now. The now was real, tangible, perfect…and before felt as though it had never happened, though she knew it had. Who could understand it?
For a person who always had an answer for everything, this annoyed Hermione to her wit’s end.
Forcing herself to get back from her turbulent feelings, Hermione took in the presence of the sleeping man, stabilized, out of danger. She let her eyes linger on him, trying to identify the face with freckles and the long nose, his vivid red hair sprawled across the pillow. If only she could distinguish the face, because when looking it at it, she felt amazing tenderness and longing swell in her heart, one that could never match what she felt for Jonathan. Maybe this was what distressed her so much.
The answer to who he was seemed to be hovering in the air, waiting for Hermione to grasp it, but every time she felt like getting to the conclusion, it all slipped away and she was left with that unnerving feeling of not knowing.
Unaware of what she was doing, because in a right state of mind she wouldn’t dare, she took a step closer to his bed, slightly bending her head a little. Feeling his breath on her skin, her eyes widened as his calm expression altered. He seemed to be going through a nightmare of sorts, face contorted in anguish and eyes shut tightly. Wanting to reach out and soothe him, Hermione felt her entire body shake. The man turned his head abruptly, his nose brushing against hers, sending Hermione flying upwards to straighten up and take three steps back.
Ready to turn around and storm out and never set eyes on this stranger again, Hermione froze momentarily, rooted to the spot, her heartbeat speeding up to the point of failing her.
“Her-my-o-nee,” he whispered, the few tangled syllables parting his lips slowly yet firmly. Immediately the muscles in his face eased, while Hermione stared, her heart fluttering against her ribcage like a trapped bird. Backing away, she bumped into a bedside table by an empty bed, sending a glass vase resting atop it flying to the floor, shattering into a thousand pieces.
Gasping, she hastily bent down in an attempt to clean the mess, and then it felt as if her heart stopped completely, for the man had woken up, sitting up, staring down at her in bafflement.
Their eyes were locked for a moment, Hermione’s mind going completely blank. It was like suffering an intellectual breakdown; she could hear a voice yelling in her head, “Think, think, think!” She couldn’t. The only thing she was sensing was his eyes. His odd, pale blue eyes that watched her apprehensively and with mystification.
“Where am I?” he asked slowly, his hand flying up to his forehead. The pain after the surgery still had to be there, Hermione thought immediately. Standing up instinctively, she walked over to him and checked his eyes and pulse, postponing the moment she would have to speak, trying to get rid of her newfound curiosity.
“You got hit by a car this morning, Mr.…” she glanced at his card, “Mr. Weasley. You’re at the Royal Victoria Hospital right now.” Her voice was surprisingly steady. “You were extremely lucky. We stopped the internal bleeding and other than that you’re only bruised. All functions are normal and once you’re strong enough, we’ll do some more tests to be completely sure everything is all right.”
Nodding, he heaved a sigh and looked up at Hermione with a strange look on his face. He opened his mouth as if to say something, but then he closed it and averted his gaze.
“Do you know me from somewhere?”
The question escaped her lips before she could stop it. Standing there, even more shocked than he was, she stuffed her hands into the pockets of her white coat, trying to look calm and composed.
“Why would I?” he asked with his brows forming one line, and his eyes shooting upwards to stare at her. “I cannot deny you’re awfully familiar and-“ His voice trailed off and his ears went pink. “I don’t know you and I’m sure we’ve never met before. But, why would you assume I know you?”
Hermione stepped from one foot to another, her eyes darting all over the room. She put a lot of effort into avoiding his gaze; for some odd reason she found it implausibly alluring. Thinking hard what to say next, forbidding herself to blurt out another silly, confusing question, Hermione shrugged her shoulders.
“You-you said my name in your sleep,” she replied almost inaudibly and then chuckled nervously. “It could be a coincidence, of course. It’s just that I don’t have a … common name. But, coincidences happen from time to time, don’t they?” she added, not believing this herself.
The man looked down and seemed to ponder this for a second. He then lifted his head and there was some kind of a goofy, confused smile playing over his lips. “Look, I’m sorry if I’ve upset you. This sometimes happens to me, you see. Recalling things and names I don’t recognize. It’s kind of funny, actually.” He hesitated, not noticing that Hermione had gone rigid. “Sometimes I think as though I was living a life that’s not mine and there is another world, from which I’ve been ripped out of.”
Hermione’s breath got stuck in her throat; somehow the sharp breath she inhaled never found its way out. Her heartbeat sped up to an unhealthy pace and her vision grew hazy.
Shaking her head, Hermione bit back the sudden laughter that overcame her. What was wrong with her? she wondered, feeling ridiculous.
The answer lay before her with red hair and confused, dizzy eyes. Something significant was happening and Hermione had an odd sense of foreboding. Here he was, Ron Weasley, a name and a face she couldn’t connect with anything, and yet looking at him felt more familiar and real than anything had ever felt. She had tried to tell herself that she was being weird and fidgety, just exaggerating little feelings and questions within herself, only to hear him utter the doubts and uncertainties that were identical to her own.
“Excuse me, but are you all right?” he asked after a moment, appearing to be at great unease, just as she was. Running a hand through his hair, he peered closely at the name tag on Hermione’s coat. “Your name’s Hermione?”
Snapping out of her daze, Hermione’s body turned to gelatin as soon as he spoke her name, uttering the four strange syllables in a way she had never heard them uttered. From the look on his face, he didn’t recognize the name just as he didn’t recognize her at all, yet still when their eyes locked with each other, there was the same questioning and frightened glow.
“I have to go,” Hermione said hastily, turning on her heel and striding to the door quickly.
“Wait!” shouted Ron, but the door was already shut in his bewildered face. He sat there without moving for several minutes, thinking over everything what had just occurred. The small pain in his head was slowly subsiding, yet it was still clouded and blurred. The feeling of emptiness overtook him, and he suddenly knew that if he didn’t find out who this woman was, he would not rest. There was something about her; something that made him feel like a person coming home from a long, trying journey at last.
What a name. One he had never heard before, and still wasn’t surprised in the least to how strange it was. As though he had once heard it a million times before.
Passing through the halls like a ghost, striding quickly, Hermione finally found her office and headed straight to the file cabinet. Throwing out folders precariously, she searched for the letter W, so startled her fingers were trembling. Soon she found it, and there was the newly created folder for Ronald Weasley. There was no information on him, just an address near the centre of Edinburgh and other useless information.
Throwing the folder on her desk, she left her office, hardly bothering to close the door, running to find the head nurse.
This was different, she knew. This time, running away and hiding wouldn’t do. It wasn’t a thought or a strange dream pointing her in all directions. Nor was it a speck of a memory flashing through her mind, associating itself to the idea that it belonged to her. This was nothing that could be so easily ignored.
For the first time, Hermione wanted to know. For the first time, Hermione wanted to risk the safety of her life and plunge into the secret and mysterious past that never brought her comfort or answers. Curiosity was eating her from the inside, and she was suddenly hungry for the truth at last. Making up her mind quite suddenly and resolutely, Hermione decided she would try to find out who this stranger was and how he connected to her past, and connect some of the dots in her own life, though she did not know how to go about it or where to even start. However, she would have to do it without Ronald Weasley and his startling presence.
Author's Note: I'm sorry it took me so long. Sometimes I'm this lousy author who swerves in and out of fandom, but I hope it won't happen very often from now on. Thanks for reading, please review. :)
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