Chapter 3 : Day Four
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Also I have to give a beyond huge shout-out to CelticKisses. Without her help, I doubt I would have gotten through this chapter. Thanks a million, love! Believe me when I say that it’s greatly appreciated!!
“So, what do you think, Hugo?” Healer Mitchell asked, draping her arm across the back of her chair as she pinned me with her icy stare. “Does it sound like something you’d be interested in pursuing?”
Though her face was blank, I could hear the accusation in her voice. It was as if she was daring me to say no, challenging me to retract my promise. Tearing my eyes away from the elegant angles of her face, I stared at my hands with a furrowed brow. The temptation to say no was outweighing the desire to say yes even though I knew that if I said no I would come to regret it. After all, this could be the answer I was searching for.
I pushed the thought aside. I couldn’t be afraid of the risks nor could I fear the dangers on the horizon. Not if I wanted to get better. So it was with a heavy sigh that I gave my consent to the bizarre treatment. Once again, Healer Mitchell beamed at me as she pointed her wand towards the notepad beside her, dictating the time for tomorrow’s appointment. Before I left, she called out to me. “Oh, and Hugo? I’d recommend bringing along a family member. You know, for support.”
I nodded as the apprehensive knot in my stomach tightened. “Okay.” Closing the door behind me with a snap, I stepped out into the hall and sighed, hoping to God that I had made the right choice.
Even though I had assured Mum on countless occasions - mainly over painfully awkward dinners - that I was more than fine, she wasn’t keen on letting me out of her sight, which was why we were sitting on the front porch of my parents’ house, chatting aimlessly amongst ourselves about the woes of our young lives. As it just so happened to be my own home I was chosen to go first, but it was difficult to talk when I knew Mum was peeking through the curtains every few minutes. Muffliato Charm or not, I was nervous she would overhear something and come storming outside, turning the situation from comfortably relaxed to awkward with a single look.
Gesturing for them to lean forwards and lowering my voice, I retold the uneventful events of my third meeting with Healer Mitchell. It should have only taken a few minutes, but both Louis and Lorcan kept interrupting, making inappropriate comments about the healer. Molly remained silent, but Lily growled in frustration and thwacked Lorcan on the back of the head. One would think that would be motivation enough to stop talking, but Lorcan wasn’t the sort to notice cues.
Rolling my eyes at their behaviour, I ploughed onward. “She wants to try something called electroconvulsive - or electroshock - therapy.”
“She wants to do what?!” Molly’s voice cracked at the end of her outraged exclamation, her golden brown eyes widening to an impossible size.
I started to reply, but Lorcan promptly burst into a fit of uncontrollable laughter the moment the first syllable left my mouth. It was impossible to speak over his loud guffaws, so I decided to wait until he regained his composure before continuing. When he didn’t show signs of stopping, Lily tossed him a look of utmost annoyance and dug her elbow deep into his ribcage. Other than making him howl like a wolf to the moon, it did little to silence his laughter. She huffed in frustration, giving him the cold shoulder as she folded her arms over her chest.
Sometimes I didn’t understand how the two of them maintained their relationship. They were always at each other’s throats, arguing and huffing and causing general discord wherever they went. Lily wasn’t afraid to get physical and Lorcan had been on the receiving end of an expertly thrown punch one too many times to be considered healthy; after last Easter, Louis and I were convinced that his brain was permanently damaged. However, when they weren’t fighting, which wasn’t very often, they were adorable to the point where even teddy bears would vomit up their stuffing if they saw them together.
“Oi! Stop laughing, you twat! Hugo is trying to tell us something!” Louis reached around Molly and attempted to slug Lorcan on the arm, but he missed. His fist ended up colliding with Lorcan’s trachea instead. The blonde choked violently.
Eloquent? Maybe not. Effective? Very. Entertaining? You have no idea. There was something oddly fulfilling in watching Lorcan Scamander clutch at his throat. He looked sideways at his girlfriend but was pointedly ignored. I’d have to give Lily a pat on the back once we stopped laughing.
Ah, Karma. It could be such a sweet, sweet thing. Well, sometimes.
“When you’re all done being childish,” Lorcan began moodily as he rubbed his throat, “I’d like to hear more about this electro - well, whatever the hell it is.”
“Maybe if you’d been listening instead of laughing, you would’ve heard him the first time around.”
Lorcan opened his mouth, but Molly interrupted before anything could be said. “As much as we enjoy hearing you two argue, I think there are more important things to discuss. Such as this electroshock therapy business.”
“Yeah,” Louis agreed with a bob of his head, causing his glasses to slip down the bridge of his nose. “What is it, anyway?”
Lily sighed heavily. Molly rolled her eyes. Lorcan snorted derisively. Louis blinked at me, waiting for my answer. Louis wasn’t stupid, but he wasn’t always with it either. Aunt Fleur claimed that he had a higher level of intelligence, which was why he didn’t understand what we were talking about half of the time. Aunt Ginny said he spent too much time around my dad. I was particularly inclined towards both ideas.
“I’m going to get shocked. With electricity,” I deadpanned.
“Yeah, thanks, I gathered as much.” His voice was dry and his smile amused. “What I meant to ask is what does it do? Like, what purpose does it serve? It hardly sounds pleasant.”
“Oh.” Didn’t I feel like an arse? Blinking away my confusion, I licked my lips and pondered my response. “Well,” I started. “According to Healer Mitchell, they’ll attach leads to my skull and these little metal things will transmit a certain voltage of electricity to my brain and induce seizures.”
“Are you mental?” Lily exclaimed. “‘Inducing seizures’ - it’s madness! I fail to see how this is going to help you, Hugo.”
Lorcan decided to toss in his own two Sickles. “I agree with Lily.” The statement earned him a few eyebrows, to which he held up his hands and added, “Well, she’s got a point, you know! Don’t you think it’s a bit, well, stupid to allow yourself to be electrocuted so you have a seizure? You’re trying to heal your brain, mate, not damage it further.”
An impatient sigh escaped me. “For the last time, my brain is not -”
“I thought they only used electroconvulsive therapy on schizophrenics and catatonics,” Molly said suddenly, startling us all. We swivelled our heads in her direction, waiting for an explanation and she continued, “The electric impulses stimulate the brain, right? And since the problem lies in the brain, the sensation would relieve all of the symptoms and provide the stricken with some relief, even if it’s only temporarily.”
A beat of silence passed before Lily said, “How in the name of Merlin’s pants do you know all that?”
“I read,” she shrugged. Molly was indeed the polar opposite of her father, a desire to read being their only similarity. It only accentuated that there were some things that even genetics couldn’t overcome.
Lorcan sniggered. “What, the dictionary?”
“No, but you should since you obviously mean the encyclopaedia. And no, Louis, I haven’t nor do I even plan to read it, so don’t bother asking. It’s not as clever of a remark as you think it is.” Molly ignored Lily’s laughter and turned her gaze towards me, a determined glimmer in her hazel depths. I took a deep breath as I steeled myself for what was coming. “Look, Hugo -”
I stopped her before she could begin. “I don’t need a lecture from you, Molly. I appreciate the concern. Really, I do, but I’m not going to change my mind because you think I should.”
“I never said that you should change your mind. You didn’t give me a chance to say anything at all, so don’t put words in my mouth.” Her eyes were hard as she pinned me with her stare. “All I was going to say is that you should look into this electroshock business before you commit to it. Ask Healer Mitchell about what it is that she plans to do. Don’t just sit there and keep mum because you’re scared of looking like an idiot. This is your brain we’re talking about, Hugo. You’re a person, not some lab rat she can toy around with. Just remember that.”
“Would you hurry it up? We’re going to be late!”
“I can’t walk that fast! Not in these ruddy heels.”
“You were the one who decided to wear them.”
“I wouldn’t have if you’d told me we’d be walking.”
“Everyone needs a bit of fresh air now and again,” I said, shoving my hands into the pockets of my trousers as I picked up the pace, if only for the sake of overexerting my irritating sister. And here I thought it would be a good idea to bring her along.
Ever since Molly’s warning a few days ago, I had been apprehensive about this appointment with Healer Mitchell. My cousin had raised some legitimate concerns about the procedure and what, exactly, Healer Mitchell’s intentions were.
As a manner of reassurance, I had asked Rose to come along with me for support. I would have asked Lorcan or Louis, but unlike me, they were employed. My sister, on the other hand, currently wasn’t and though I knew Mum would be more than willing to take a day off of work, Rose seemed like the better choice. I was already nervous as it was, I didn’t need my anxious mother making it worse.
“Slow down, Hugo!”
I threw a glance over my shoulder and laughed. “If I walk any slower, Rose, I’ll turn into a sloth.”
“I could turn you into one right now if I really wanted to,” she growled lowly.
“You mean if you could. You’re rubbish at Transfiguration, Rose.” My sister hated it when I pointed out her faults, but she deserved a taste of her own medicine for once. It was just a bit odd being the one administering it.
She glowered at me. “Says the boy who can’t even brew a decent Hiccoughing Solution.”
“Thorn! It’s been a while, mate. When’d you get here?”
Rose made an unintelligible in the back of her throat and marched in front of me. She had only taken a few heavy steps, which were more like stomps, when the heel of her left shoe suddenly snapped and she stumbled.
“Shit!” she exclaimed, nearly falling to the ground, but I caught her elbow before such a tragedy could happen. You would think that I would get a thank you or a smile, but not from Rose. She glared at me, pursing her lips into an impossibly thin line before bending down to retrieve the stump of her heel. A pained look crossed over her face as she curled fingers around the snapped heel. “Let’s go.”
I decided that it was best not to say anything in response. Rose loved her shoes probably more than she loved her boyfriend, Teddy. And a great deal more than she loved me, of that I was certain. “I’m sorry for your loss, Rose.”
“Shut up, prat,” she spat venomously as a smirk graced her lips. Ah, Rose. She might have a nasty temper, but at least she was consistent in her delivery. I threw my arm over her shoulder and she promptly shrugged it off. “Are you trying to make us late?” Her smirk increased as she picked up speed, limping along awkwardly.
Sighing as I rolled my eyes good-naturedly, I lengthened my stride and caught up with my sister. We fell into an amiable silence as we walked - well, Rose limped - down the street side-by-side.
“Ladies first,” I said with a grand sweep of my arm when we reached the storefront. She snorted derisively as she stepped through the plate of glass with ease. After quietly reassuring myself that I had made the right decision, I followed her through the window, stumbling into the main lobby. Once through, Rose latched onto my arm and dragged me towards the lifts, almost as though she could sense my apprehension.
“What level?” she prompted, jabbing the call button impatiently.
I didn’t have to look at her to know that she was raising an eyebrow. Thankfully, she didn’t say anything further as the grilles of the lift slid open and we stepped into the metal box. Since I was nearest to the panel, I pressed the appropriate button, crossing my arms over my chest as we began the ascent. The silence in the lift thickened when we lurched to a stop on the second floor and a witch with long, knotted dark brown hair squeezed inside.
“Fo - Oh! Never mind then. Looks like we’re going to the same place!” She flashed me a bright smile, her eyes wrinkling at the corners. I assumed that the smile was supposed to be friendly and heartening, but it only heightened my awareness that I was entering the loony bin.
The bell chimed, eliminating the necessity of my reply. This time I grabbed onto Rose’s arm and pulled her through the doors of the lift and down the hall towards Healer Mitchell’s office, leaving Crazy Lift Girl in the dust. Of course, I didn’t know for a fact that she was crazy, but it was more than likely that I was right. Why else would she be going to the fourth floor of St. Mungo’s?
Someone called out my name as we passed the nurse’s station. “Mr. Weasley!”
Stopping short, I looked over my shoulder and saw a petite blonde waving frantically at me from behind her desk. Once she had my attention, she picked up a stack of parchment from her desk and hurried over to me, a welcoming smile on her face. It was a cute smile and unlike Crazy Lift Girl, it was reassuring. In fact, everything from the long lashes surrounding her green eyes to the cheery yellow trainers on her feet was cute.
“Hi, I’m Nurse Fraun, but you can call me Lindsay,” she said in a rush, wedging the papers under her arm to hold out her hand. I shook it and smiled, unable to help myself. “It’s nice to meet you, Mr. Weasley. Healer Mitchell warned me that you would be a little late.”
I chuckled. “Oh, so she knew that my sister would break her heel?”
Nurse Fraun’s eyes widened as she swung her gaze over to Rose. “You broke your heel?”
Rose looked less than amused by the overwhelming concern in the young nurse’s voice. I buried my head in my shoulder to mask my laughter. “Of my shoe.” She held up the offending heel with a grimace.
“Oh, I thought you were seriously injured. Crisis averted!” Nurse Fraun said with a laugh, wiping away the invisible sweat on her forehead. Readjusting the pile of papers in her arm, she flipped through the stack until she found the one she was searching for. “Weasley. . .Weasley. . .We - AHA! Here you are. Looks like you’ll be in Exam Room Three. Now if you’ll come with me.”
Rose and I started to follow, but Nurse Fraun stopped us. I looked down at my sister, who shrugged. “Um, is there a problem?”
“Only patients and authorized personnel are allowed past this point,” she said, indicating the thick red line on the floor. “It’s part of the enchantment, you see. It’s our way of keeping track of the patients. You wouldn’t believe how often relatives try to break their loved ones out of the ward!”
“So I have to stay here? With all these crazy people?” Rose wrinkled her nose in distaste as her eyes swept the room.
“Now, Miss Weasley, they aren’t all crazy,” Nurse Fraun admonished in a very Know-It-All tone. An image of my mother popped into my head and I groaned inaudible. Well, I could scratch Lindsay Fraun off my list. Bollocks.
“I’m sure they’re not,” muttered Rose as she rolled her eyes in exasperation. “Look, Blondie, this is the first time that my brother’s had any sort of medical procedure done, so can’t you make an exception just this one? I want to be there for him when he wakes up.”
Perhaps addressing her by Blondie wasn’t the best thing Rose could’ve done, for Nurse Fraun looked affronted. Puffing up her chest, the nurse said, “No, Miss Weasley, I cannot make an exception ‘just this one’. I could lose my job if I allowed you access to the exam. Besides, your brother looks like a fit young man; I’m sure he can handle himself.”
Rose scoffed. “Listen here, you little -”
“If we don’t hurry, Mr. Weasley,” Nurse Fraun said loudly, “We’ll miss the specialist and this is the only opening he has for the next six months. So, if you please.” She sent me a pointed look.
I rubbed the back of my neck, torn. Cursing inwardly, I smiled apologetically at Rose. “I’m sorry, but this is really important to me and I don’t want to miss the opportunity.”
“I know it is, which is why I’ll be waiting for you.”
“Don’t mention it, Huggsie,” she grinned, adopting the nickname she’d given me when I was born because she couldn’t say my name properly. “See you in a bit.”
“Yeah,” I nodded my head in agreement, attempting to return her smile. “See you in a bit.” With a departing wave, I followed Nurse Fraun down the hall, pausing by Healer Mitchell’s door.
“What are you doing, Mr. Weasley?”
I pointed towards the door. “Aren’t I supposed to discuss the procedure with Healer Mitchell? She said that she was going to explain the process to me more thoroughly.”
Nurse Fraun furrowed her brow in confusion. “I don’t know why she would promise something like that. She’s not even in the building at the moment.”
The knot in my stomach tightened and I felt like I was going to be sick. “Was there some sort of family emergency?” I asked helplessly, hoping against all hope that Healer Mitchell hadn’t willingly abandoned me.
“No, she went out to lunch with Healers Conrad and Llewellyn. She said she would be back by the time the anaesthesia sets in.” I blanched at her words and Nurse Fraun laid a hand on my arm. “Are you all right, Mr. Weasley? You look a bit peaky.”
I pushed her hand away, shaking my head. “I-I’ll be fine,” I said though I knew for a fact that I wouldn’t. For possibly the hundredth time since I had agreed to see Healer Mitchell, I wondered what exactly I had agreed to and whether or not it was worth it.
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