I wake up as sunlight steams across my bed. I stretch lazily and open my eyes...eye
It all comes back to me like a flood when one eye remains darkened. I reach up to feel a patch that I vaguely remember getting.
I sit up and look around. If this is Hippocrates Imenhotep’s idea of a psych ward, it’s vastly different from St Mungos. There are no locks on the room, no shackles. I get up and move across the room, peering out into the halls. I am not accosted by security or bossy ward matrons.
I reach up to touch my forehead and I feel oil there just above in between my eyes. I recall chanting. I recall talking to someone, telling them things I never thought I’d ever tell a living soul, even Susan, so horrible were the memories of my job. I remember crying, regret, joy and warmth. But I don’t feel invaded like I did when I first got here. I wonder how long I’ve slept?
I peer into a room where men and women clad similarly to me in white cotton robes with braided belts about their waists sit and play games. Wizards chess as well as traditional Muggle style as well as checkers. I’m impressed with the order of this place compared to St Mungo’s until one gentleman picks up a black checker and eats it. And they call me sick!
"Ah, Mr Finch-Fletchley," says a man who strides up to me to shake my hand, introducing himself as Hippocrates Popodopulous. I almost laugh. Who names their child Hippocrates? Oh, people who have kids, that’s who... And is a stupid name like Hippocrates or Hanklesphinkter a pre requisite for the shrink profession?
"I’ve been waiting for you to wake up. How do you feel?"
</i>How do I feel? I don’t exactly know...</i> I want to be angry for being locked up here, but I’m not locked up. I want to be angry at Mad Eye for discussing my past with a stranger, but Ernie vowed to vouch for me in the eyes of my friends that I would never use drugs again, and I agreed to his terms and I guess in the absence of Ernie, Mad Eye carried on his promise.
I can’t say as I blame Moody for wanting me to stay here. I wasn’t the picture of mental health when I finally reached the Tavern to get help. but who could blame me? I had been in the river Styx, which goes by so many names, each more cursed than the next. Cocytus _ the river of lamentation...
I want to be mad because I’ve never even told Ron or Susan, who were there with me, how it felt to have a limb ripped from my body while someone tried to teach me a lesson about an eye for an eye, and here although I can’t recall doing it, I know I’ve spilled my guts. About the Chief, Alex. Pettigrew, my job as a Hit Wizard and the guilt it brings with it.
I want to see Susan. I want to know how my friends are but the guy who stands before me asks me if I feel ready to leave. I was about ready with an angry retort when I realize that there is something about this place that forces you to tell the truth. No, I’m not ready yet.
I about die as I lean in to whisper a private request of the young Mind Healer. He blinks, tries not to look at me strangely and calls someone to lead me to another wing of the hospital on floor three, a wizard’s section. I look toward the witches wing, wondering if Lavender is still on this floor and what is wrong with her to end up in a strictly witches section. My thoughts are too orderly and intent here.
Other blokes sit and stand around me, nervously reading magazines and I feel self conscious like I’ve never felt before in my life. No one makes eye contact as one by one blokes are called in and blokes leave, being told that their counts will be in by this afternoon, whatever that means. It’s like being in a lift waiting to get off at your floor. Great, why did I have to use the term, ‘get off’?
I swallow nervously as a witch calls my name loudly and I want to yell at her. Not so loud, bloody hell, can’t a guy have some dignity here? Merlins, Grandfather, why are there witches working here...in this section?
What’s worse is that this witch is about my age. I don’t know why that matters. I doubt this would be any easier if she were McGonagal’s age. Great, now I’ve done it, thought about McGonagal, it’s never going to happen now.
The witch hands me a little plastic cup. It seems a bit small. How am I supposed to... Why did I have to think of McGonagal!
In my mind I see a broom cupboard door fly open at Hogwarts and a stifled gasp erupts from an aged throat. ‘Stop that at once Mr Finch-Fletchly, you’ll shoot your eye out!
I can’t do this.
"Would you like a magazine?" the witch asks me from behind the obviously too thin door, bemusement clearly evident in her voice. She opens the door!Yeah, laugh it up, Leslie, I think, squinting to read her name tag as the irony hits me full on. I’m wearing an eye patch...I haven’t even done it yet and I’ve gotten my eye shot out! And how am I supposed to do this when that witch won’t stop talking! She closes the door again and this time, I lock it. Maybe I should pile the desk and a few chairs against it. Why is there more than one chair in here? Why is there even one chair in here? Why is there a desk in here!
I have no idea why I’m putting myself through this. Pomfrey told me when I was twelve that the odds were that I’d never be able to father a child. Artemis confirmed that her curse of sterility upon the cast out basilisk was transferred to any living victims of it’s watered- down stare. How can I tell Susan, though, when I first have to prove it to myself.
Yeah, I’m sure most males would prove that they are sterile by giving it the old college try for like seven or fifteen years or so of constant sex and I admit the thought had occurred to me, but I owe it to Susan to find out for sure and tell her the truth. She has the right to know. I can’t damn her to my future without the truth.
"No, no magazines," I tell the witch. I can still see her shadow in the frosted glass. Yep, they have thinkers here in Greece but the architects have a real sense of humour. Yeah, that’ll help...NOT! I just stand there. Five minutes goes by and still I stand there.
"Is everything alright in there?" the witch calls in. I jump out of my skin. Well, that’s not exactly true as I’m still fully clothed, the belt of my robes still snug against my waist.
"Leave me alone, I’m having a hard time," I snap back, groaning as I hear her snicker at my unintended pun. This situation reads like a trashy novel.
Chapter one. I unfasten my robes, dropping my belt to the floor revealing my...pyjamas. Curse these layers. I can’t do it!
I feel stupid. I have no idea what is going to make this happen. And the novel continues.
Paragrah two. My pyjama bottoms fall to the floor and I bend to step out of them, getting my foot tangled in my discarded belt and falling butt-side up to the floor... I then end up trying to regain my footing, landing on my arse on the floor causing me to yelp loudly from the crab bite which is still tender. I can hear cheering from the waiting room...they think I’ve just...Noooooo!
Paragraph three. Standing once again, realizing that I have no coordination or strength in my right hand, which is still healing. Hahahaha, wonder if I’m fooling around on myself if use my left? Okay, not funny. I can’t do this...I so can’t do this!
But this is for science. It’s not as if I’d be doing this for fun...anymore...Dont’ go there, we’re all young and curious at one time!
And then semantics come into play. How do you hold the er...receptacle and...you know...at the same time when you have one bad hand?
That’s it. I can do this. I reach down, look away, because I can’t watch, and yelp from my cold hands. I stop. I spy a magazine lying on the desk and as a last resort, I pick it up. It’s a hunters and anglers volume. ’Field And Stream’.What the hell else is this room used for? I think frantically, looking around for any signs of taxidermy victims. The front cover has a picture of Salmon swimming upstream. How pathetically ironic...
"Are you sure you don’t want another magazine in there?" the witch calls in, at least I thought it was the witch. The voice is different. No! It’s Susan...here!
I drop the bottle, scramble for my robes, forgetting my pajamas and trying to think desperately of an excuse for being here, other than the obvious. To make matters worse, a mermaid in a painting in the sea near a Greek Village gets a look of amusement and disappointment on her face and she screeches haughtily as I drape my pajama shirt over her face. Okay, I can’t do this, but I can tell Susan the truth. I have to.