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Chapter 1 : One: Dream A Little Dream of Me
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There I stood. Proud, relatively tall, and skinny. In the center of the brilliantly lit atrium of St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries.
Lights were flashing in all directions before my eyes as photos were being taken of me. I was shaking the hand of the Minister of Magic, Orlando Sackville-West. I could hear the applause of the crowd as we posed for The Daily Prophet.
I looked as if I was straight out of those old American glam movies. I smiled at the press, my teeth shined and my eyes were radiant with every flash, as they offered me compliments and congratulations. Their voices blurred together in a loud murmur of gratitude and praise.
Then the Minister handed me his wand, a token of the bond of trust we now shared, and I cradled it between my long, willowy fingers. Everyone looked up. Above us a large red ribbon floated high near the ceiling, awaiting its release.
The crowd continued to applaud me, showering me in their admiration, and the press continued to capture the glorious occasion. The Minister and I were standing at the center of attention, with our backs to the hundreds of fellow lime green coats behind me.
My co-workers all smiled and congratulated me, but they truly envied me and my brilliance.
For I had made the best discovery of all time; I had altered the Healing world forever.
I waved the wand at the crowd, hoping the Prophet was catching my every move while announcing my beauty and intellect to the entirety of the wizarding world.
I would be on the cover of Witch Weekly soon. I would be even more famous than I ever could imagine. My face, name, and discovery would be listed in papers to come and I would have my own Chocolate Frog Card collectible.
I wrapped my fingers around the thin piece of wood and crossed it over my other arm, displaying the sign of St. Mungos –a wand and bone in the shape of an X. I could sense the very core of the wand I was holding, the magic its user felt, and the power it had as the Minister's instrument.
I was going to unwind the ribbon, marking my entrance into fame and the entrance to the new ward dedicated and named in my honor: Mason's Mending. As I raised the wand in the air and opened my mouth wide to cast the spell that would guarantee my dream, the color of my robes changed.
The lime green that clung to my body turned navy blue. The thickness of the fabric fell to the ground. I looked down at myself. I was weighed down by a giant blue quilt. Nervously, I glanced around, hoping no one would notice the change. The Minister was eyeing me; his head was leaning to the side slowly, eerily. His eyes turned into slants and started to glow.
The cameras ceased. Everyone stared blankly at me as if I had done something incredibly and irreversibly wrong.
Then the room began to shake. The floor began to crack. Lines of tile rose up and crumbled.
I looked around and saw blurs of lime and black running around me, circling me. My ears hurt with the sounds of shrill laughter and screaming. I looked up, suddenly my vision was crisp, and the red ribbon had morphed in a red crystal glowing orb.
It hung precariously from the ceiling as if it was going to shatter at any moment. I looked away from it. The Minister was growing larger and larger and the crowd was starting to come towards me.
The flashing started up again as everyone was getting closer and closer to me.
I screamed, but could not hear my own voice. It was drowned out by the screams of those around me. With the sound of a loud, terrible screech in my ear, I looked up back up towards the orb. It was started to fall and I was beneath it; it's target.
I remembered the Minister's wand in my hand. It was still there. I raised it towards the high ceiling –I faltered, I couldn't speak. The crowd was upon me, suffocating me.
My feet were stuck, in the quicksand that was Mungo's floor.
The red orb was plummeting down upon me.
I closed my eyes.
The flash bulbs stopped.
The room was swallowed in darkness.
Lia Mason awoke with a start. Her heart was racing. The screech of her alarm clock rang in her ears. Her eyes were blurred with exhaustion, but she noticed the red blinking light nevertheless. She stretched to her left and swiftly hit her alarm off.
The room went silent. She blinked.
Sweat poured from her hairline. The beads cascaded down her face. She wiped them from her forehead and looked down at herself, ensuring that she was still intact and in her new apartment. Her navy blue patched quilt was all over the place, covering bits of her bare skin and not others. The sun was shining bright upon her bed through the chink of the curtain that didn't quite reach the bottom of the window.
She looked back over towards the clock, registering the time: 9:05.
"No!" Lia screamed as she ripped the quilt off her body.
She practically lunged across the room, grabbing the outfit she had left out for herself the night before: lime green robes, with hunter green blouse and black slacks to wear underneath, a practical pair of black kitten heels, and her wand.
She stripped out of her pajamas and tried to pull her trousers on, one leg at a time as she hopped over to the loo. She reached the door and used it as a prop to get her pants on and fastened. The heels were on in two deft hook-and-shove motions.
When she stepped into the loo, the mess of her reflection greeted her. Lia saw that her hair was sweaty and sticking out all over the place, her eyes were bloodshot, and she was paler than ever.
She wasn't sure if it was the nightmare that had caused so much damage or if it was the fact that she was hours late to work after only being employed at St. Mungo's for two weeks. Either way she felt sick and beyond disappointed in herself. Hurriedly she put her blouse on, washed her face, and charmed her hair sleek and straight.
She looked back into the mirror again as she pulled the lime green robe on, one sleeve at a time.
Lia stared at herself and said, "You are an amazing Healer and you will help someone today."
She closed her eyes and breathed in, absorbing her own mantra. She walked out of the loo as she buttoned up the front of her robes and smoothed them down to remove the wrinkles from the fabric. She touched her pockets, double-checking that she had all she needed.
Confident, Lia dashed over to her fireplace, grabbed a handful of Floo powder and stepped into the ashes. She tossed the powder to the ground. Green flames flickered around her as she yelled emphatically, "St. Mungo's Staff Lounge," enunciating every syllable with perfection.
The flames died and she was gone.
Emerald-colored flames whirled, crackling with every movement, circling around the figure that appeared in the pit of fire. Lia stepped out from the hearth and brushed the dust from her black heels and perfectly pressed trousers.
She surveyed the room quickly. No one was there. The mini-kitchen station was void of fellow Healers. The tea kettles were already in the sink and the staff table was surprisingly tidy. She hadn't realized that the cleaners began so early. Or...she was incredibly, incredibly late. A sickening sensation rose in her stomach.
Her watch flashed in her face, she didn't even realize that she has lifted her arm. The big hand ticked with finality.9:12.
Lia wondered if she had time to gather her things from her cubby before she got caught. Or should she assume she had the same assignment and run straight to it?
She didn't have time to debate, she knew, but Lia despised being unprepared and tardy. It signaled unreliability, sloppy work ethic, and, above all, laziness.
None of these traits appealed to her sense of stability and stringent belief in consideration for others' well-being and time. (The two qualities were practically inseparable to her anyway.) Since she was already tardy, she knew that she could not be any more unprofessional by being unprepared.
The click-clack of her heels reverberated around the empty room as she ran over to the cubbies to the left, closest to the door that lead out into the structured mayhem that was St. Mungo's for Maladies and Injuries.
She scanned the names that were listed in an order that was more than frustrating. The names and contents would shuffle every so often as assignments changed and as promotions and discoveries were taken into account. Lia squinted as she craned her neck, and then stooped, to read all the names in the first stack. "Stefano, Gerard; Belby, Damocles; Vance, Emmeline; Strout, Miriam…
"Smethwyck, Hippocrates; Barclay, Jason; Gagnon, Frédéric-Pierre," Lia made a tck noise with her mouth at the mere thought of the high and mighty snot-of-a-man Frédéric.
"...Mason, Mason, Mason?"
She panicked, Where is my name? I was only late once…no, no, no! Where is my name? Craning up and bending down, over two more rows of cubbies, she started to shake a bit, especially in her hands.
The door on the far side of the room clicked, signaling someone's entrance.
Lia didn't look at the person that walked in. She was focused, completely and utterly, on finding her surname and her belongings. With only ten rows of cubbies, she felt that she should be able to spot her name in no time, which is why she went to the cubbies to begin with. She shook a bit more, in her knees now, fearing that her dream was over.
"Fancy catching you here. And late. I’m surprised." A male voice spoke.
Lia didn’t hear it. She wasn’t fully present. She thought she ruined everything for herself by being late once. Her stomach churned.
"Lia?" The voice was louder in her ears, then, suddenly, the voice sprouted an arm in the corner of her vision. A large hand clapped down onto her shoulder. She jumped in her skin. The voice, softer now, spoke again to her, "Lia, are you alright?"
"Where are my things?" She questioned, still searching the names listed on the cubbies up and down, up and down. Her stomach growled again.
The male chuckled. "If you were here on time, Lia, you would know-"
She spun on the back of her heels, turning towards to man, knocking his arm off her shoulder roughly in the process. "Know what?" She snapped at him.
The male speaker looked at Lia as if she sprouted a hippogriff head at the side of her neck. Her glare made him uneasy. "Er-that your things were relocated to the patient's request row this morning," he said.
"Oh." She sighed. The stress of the world rose off her bony shoulders.
She hadn't been fired. Her dreams weren’t dashed.
"Your cubby is here, by the by," the man offered with a point of a finger to the last cubby of the last row. Where special requests and last minute alterations for Healers were placed.
She didn't speak as she gathered the necessary items from her shelf, ignoring Jason's presence. Not from the shame of yelling at him, but because he caught her being tardy. Lia couldn’t fathom why they had moving assignment cubicles that were not properly announced, another one of Jason’s silly ideas since his recent promotion, Lia mentally scoffed.
Her new patient's information was attached to her clipboard, along with a pink note from Miriam that she had no time to read. It probably was asking her to go out for drinks, Lia surmised as Miriam loved drinks and loved bonding with anyone with ears. Lia understood the need for female companionship in a place like St. Mungo’s, but that didn’t mean she would accept Miriam’s invitations for gossip mongering either.
Lia brushed passed Jason on her way out the door, quick to start her work. Her behaviour irked him as he awaited some semblance of gratitude from her. When it was clear that he was not getting a thank you, he stuck his head out the door behind her and yelled down the hallway, “You're welcome!"
Her acknowledgement came in the form of a wince because of how loud Jason had shouted. Completely immersed in her new patient’s information on her clipboard, she was bewitched by what the medi-staff had recorded.
For her new patient had no up-to-date medical history listed. And they clearly had not given their real name. Of this, she was certain. Because she knew there was nothing remotely Latin, Greek, French or Irish about the surname Isawup. Nor was there any reason in her brain to believe that the corresponding first name, Siriusly, was in fact someone's given birth name.
She gave an exasperated sigh and tried hard not to roll her eyes. She resigned to read the patient's symptoms and reason for seeking out her help.
Usually, a patient request for Healer-in-trainings like herself meant that she was finally gaining some prestige amoungst the folks around Mungo's. If that was the case, she would welcome the wonky-named patient with open arms and smile. Yet...she doubted admiration for her work landed her this patient.
Siriusly Isawup was undoubtedly a hoax and Lia was not one to enjoy practical jokes. Ever. Especially in such a setting as the Hospital she worked at. If this was some clever jape by Frédéric, he was going to hear about it later, Lia decided. She would happily report his misbehaviour to their superior, Lionel Higgins.
With each step towards the second floor, Lia wanted to seethe and stomp out her frustration. However, the corridors were never empty long and she had to keep a pleasant and confident air about her. She held a respectable position as a Healer-in-Training. She had to fulfill her expectations and she has people to impress. She had to be cheerful, dependable, and respectable. Like she was when she was a Prefect.
She looked at the symptoms once again, to prepare herself for what awaited her at the end of the Dai Llewellyn Ward corridor. She scanned the papers for the symptoms. In some half-legible loopy scrawl the parchment read: a bug bit me unexpectedly and no ointment can cure me.
Lovely, Lia thought, a simple bug bite. Any buffoon with a D in Care of Magical Creatures or even a T in Herbology could have helped this person. She wanted to groan as she reached the closed door on the right, but she knew how shabbily thin the walls were. She didn't want to give the possibly real patient a bad impression.
She resolved to be professional while insisting to herself that this wasn't going to be a huge waste of her skill and time.
She turned the knob and pushed the door open. Lia looked down at her clipboard to check the name one more time before potentially making a fool of herself. Without glancing at the patient, she spoke cheerfully, "Good morning, Mr. Isawup, sorry to have kept you waiting. How are you feeling today?"
"Fantastic!" The man seated atop the medical bed exclaimed, "Especially now that you're here." The impish smile playing at his lips was not missed. Lia looked up just in time to catch the eye of none other than Sirius Black. His hair was hanging in his face like she recalled from years ago.
Because it always hung elegantly across his face mere seconds before he would ridicule her.
She wanted to drop her clipboard and scream, but she couldn't. She wanted to run from the room and from her past, but she couldn't. She was here. She had made it this far to obtain her dream.
She would remain professional, till the bitter end. Her profession and future relied upon her self-control. She wouldn't risk it for the prick from her past, who probably didn't even remember her name.
Lia cleared her throat and her smile tightened, "What can I do for you today, sir?"
Edited: Jan 2014
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