“There is many a slip ’twixt the cup and the lip.”
- Hazlett: English Proverbs
Must be the
full moon, the doctor decided. That
might be one of the reasons explaining it.
Quite a few more strange patients
than usual for a warm summer night had filed in this evening, he thought, and
according to past superstition, the full moon could and would be blamed. This
phenomenon, called the lunar effect,
was sometimes held to be true, especially among medical types. Like the former
widespread belief in magic, it was supposed to have begun in the Middle Ages.
However, this particular belief –
in increased crime, accidents, illness, odd behavior, even aggression during a
full moon – had persisted until today, even among people who should know better.
This certainly included his staff at the hospital.
As examples, first up tonight had
been a couple of sisters who had somehow mistaken spray epoxy for hair spray.
In a manner defying rational explanation, they had managed to glue themselves
together. After that as corroborating evidence had come a complicated mishap
involving a construction crew, a ladder, and a crane - plus lots of broken
Finally, the ER staff had faced an
extremely harrowing domestic disturbance, involving mistaken identities with
two sets of married identical twins. It seemed that one couple was a bit more,
well, married than the other.
moon and its possible controls, by this point those cases, plus most of the
evening’s other maladies and injuries, had finally been seen to. The head
physician at last had a chance to look up. Now he and the rest of his
department could better focus their attention upon those who were still
Let’s see… He flipped
pages, looking over records. Here’s one…
A minor, no parents… While checking the patient over, a nurse had gotten
preliminary details. Hmmm… He
scratched his head absently. There was
something about this one… Something familiar… Had he been here before?
And if so,
In the ER waiting room, best friend
Ronald Weasley tentatively crumpled the Styrofoam cup. He’d just tried this
Muggle drink called coffee, since his father had mentioned it once. To him, the
mud near Hagrid’s hut would surely have tasted better, and his scalded tongue,
complaining, agreed. Still, it was about all they had, and he did need to stay
have I been doing this? he thought, wondering how many hours he’d spent
waiting for Harry to get fixed up. All
part of the job. That – and praying.
The cut on Harry’s head had come
with a lot of blood, he remembered, shuddering.
Ron wished the two of them had
known how to Apparate, so that they wouldn’t have had to drive. He didn’t have
any Floo powder, had no idea where any Portkeys were, and certainly hadn’t
stuck around to use that house’s fireplace. His family had gotten the old car
back earlier in the summer, but it couldn’t fly any more, so this had been the
closest place to go. He had to admit, however, that at certain times during the
drive he felt as if the car had, indeed, taken flight.
you fight back?” Ron had asked
him, point-blank, flinging up both arms in concern and frustration.
As he had watched, Ron noticed that
his friend, the one who many thought was the literal embodiment of hope for the
wizarding world, still was quite short and slight. For his age, a lot of weight
seemed always to rest upon those slim and weary shoulders. After a long minute,
just as Ron was about to repeat himself, Harry had answered. In a voice so low
and soft Ron had had to strain to hear it, Harry finally replied.
“Of course you know why.”
And, as Ron
recalled now, come to think about it, he did. If Harry had gotten upset and
used magic – like before – he might have been kicked out of school. Harry would
put up with quite a lot to continue to attend Hogwarts.
Then, as if deciding to explain
further at last, the orphan son of James and Lily had told him a bit more.
Harry had said that, earlier, Vernon had been drunk. That it didn’t happen very
often. And that his uncle would never do anything serious.
have to stay out of his way one more day.”
Glancing down at his fingers, Ron’s
train of thought was interrupted, as he noticed the coffee had had one welcome
effect. His hands weren’t shaking any longer. Between stopping the bleeding, trying to keep Harry awake, and driving,
it had been quite a wild ride.
Ron recalled the
latter part of their conversation. Harry had hesitated for a moment.
tell,” he had said. “You
won’t tell anyone, right?” he asked.
The living legacy for the ancient
Gryffindors then paused. “Ron, you
can’t,” he said, looking Ron straight in the eye, serious as Percy.
“Give me your word. Give me your word right now.”
Over in the main station of the
emergency room, the head physician, curious, asked for assistance as he turned
on his computer. As the lights and sounds came to life, he said, “Nurse? I’d
like you to help me look up a name. I need to see if – ”
Hand over the phone, she
“Doctor, an accident’s coming in –
a fire from the west end. Quite a few people. Shall we call in other
Adjusting the stethoscope around
his neck, the doctor immediately shifted gears. He sprang into action, ordering
supplies and equipment. Moving to the nurses’ station, he checked for
additional resources and personnel. Well,
let’s get going then.
For the moment, the cool blue light
of his own computer screen blinked, ignored.
Back in the fluorescent low lights
of the waiting room, Ron rubbed the back of his neck, then slowly ran a hand
through his wiry red hair. Before talking with Harry, while his best friend had
been in X-ray (whatever the heck that was), he recalled slipping out of the
hospital for a few short minutes.
Now suddenly quite uncomfortable,
he unfolded his long legs from the orange vinyl chair, tossing the cup into the
trash. He started to pace.
Thinking back again
to their latest conversation, Ron remembered that he had, indeed, made a
pledge. He could and did assure Harry – the expected heir of Dumbledore – the
one who’d defeated a dragon, a sphinx, and a basilisk – that he would not tell
anyone. Oddly enough, it had been an easy vow to make, because at the time, the
pledge had been technically true.
Harry would be too stubborn to admit it, Ron mused as he moved up and
down the floor, some things are for his
own good. He considered, somewhat
uneasily, what Harry had not asked him. If he had, he might have gotten a
different answer. Harry had not thought to ask Ron if he had already told.
all, Ron thought, a promise isn’t
The moon continued to shine, its
own secrets, too, still unrevealed.