A/N: So this is a bizarre little crossover I'm doing for the If You Dare Challenge. Each chapter will be a prompt from the challenge. The story is set in the present day in both universes; all will become apparent soon. Thanks to Katie for encouraging me to try this - I was and still am very unsure about the whole idea.
The prompt I used for this chapter was #424 - Uproar.
Serena Campbell yawned; she had to start drinking like a responsible human being. She was a consultant surgeon, for crying out loud – if Raf or Fletch had come into work in this state, she would have their guts for garters. Swigging her coffee, she sat down at her desk and huffed slightly. It was on mornings like these that she wondered why on Earth she chose this line of work when she had so many other options. Having said that, she wondered every day why she married Edward and couldn't find a logical and reasonable answer for that, either.
There was a knock at the door. In came Raf DiLucca, her trusted registrar. "There was a call for you today. An older Scottish lady," he informed her.
"Who?" Serena asked, not in the mood for guessing games.
"Didn't say. I looked up the area code – oh-one-five-two-oh," he smiled at her.
"Raf, that's not helpful," Serena laughed impatiently. "You must know as well as I do that she could have called from anywhere from Achanashellach to Applecross to Lochcarron to Shieldaig. I went up there as a kid. Every village for about fifty miles has the same damn area code."
Raf chuckled lightly. "Tell me about it. Well, she said she'd get hold of you another way, so I'd get checking your emails if I was you!" he grinned, leaving to head back onto the ward.
Serena let out the breath she had held when she heard that someone from that area was trying to make contact with her; she had not been back to the north-west of Scotland since she was eighteen, nor had she ever planned on returning. Nothing tied her to the area any longer, other than seven years of education, and the struggle to pass two different sets of exams at once. Her friends had all thought she'd gone mad, but she didn't regret her decision in the slightest.
Serena sighed, and picked up her coffee in a paper cup, ready to head to her customary Monday morning meeting with Henrik Hanssen. Not that she disliked the man – though they had their differences in the past – but she did often find him difficult to decode. On the way up, she took out her phone and checked her emails, as Raf had advised, but there was nothing from anyone but Hanssen, who was reminding her to meet with him some time before ten o'clock.
The lift opened onto the fifth floor, straight down the corridor from Henrik's office. The sound of her boots on the empty corridor floor was echoing through her, more than it usually did. Shrugging it off, she knocked on Hanssen's door and waited to be beckoned in. While she waited, she briefly glanced at the floor; there she found a cat sitting at her feet. It had given no noise of warning as it approached her, and sat there bold as brass, almost glaring at her in defiance. She distantly heard Henrik's call to enter, but she was fixated on the cat. "Shoo," she said, waving her hands at the animal – but it did not budge.
Serena sighed. Animals never had been inclined to do her bidding. She remembered vividly a massive black dog when she was twelve years old, and to this day she could have sworn it wore an expression of amusement when she had attempted to turn it away from her.
With the plan in mind to tell Hanssen about the cat in the corridor, she opened the door and stepped in. "Henrik, will you please get someone to take that cat away? It won't move for me," she said upon walking into the office.
Silently, Hanssen moved around her and looked out his office door. "I can see no cat, Ms. Campbell," he informed her, throwing a confused look at her. Serena stared at the spot where the cat had been sitting. He was right – it wasn't there. She looked around the office, thinking it might have slipped in past her, but no. It wasn't anywhere to be seen.
"Oh, Merlin's beard," she muttered, stunned by the cat's disappearance, accidentally using language she had abandoned thirty years ago. Internally, she kicked herself, for she knew Hanssen had heard her.
"I beg your pardon?" Henrik asked, eyeing her with both concern and incredulity.
"Oh, don't you start," she snapped. "You were going on at Jesse Law about Odeon not so long ago. You're not the only one who can pick a phrase."
"Alright," Hanssen answered her evenly. "We shall get down to business then. As you know, Dr. Digby is-" But there was a knock at the door. "Come in!" Hanssen called, sounding somewhat impatient. It was Morven Shreve who walked in, looking like she would rather not say whatever she had been sent to tell them. "What is it, Dr. Shreve?"
"There's a cat in the AAU locker room," she breathlessly answered, holding her side. "It's not doing any harm, but it won't leave. Cara keeps trying to pick it up to take it out but it wriggles out of her hands every time. Nurse Fletcher wants to know what you want him to do."
Henrik glanced at Serena, who met his gaze with her nerves twitching. However, before Hanssen could address the issue at all, both Serena and Henrik's phones rang. She looked at the screen and informed Hanssen of who it was: "It's Ric Griffin."
"Guy Self." He didn't sound enthusiastic and Serena couldn't blame him; of all her colleagues, Guy Self was the one she liked the least.
"Hello," Serena answered the phone.
"Serena!" barked Ric, sounding like he was ready to throttle someone. "Why on Earth are there about half a dozen letters addressed to you all over my desk?!"
Serena hesitated before he answered, "I don't know, Ric. You'll have to excuse me," she added, for she heard two sets of footsteps, both heeled, approaching the office. She hung up, and so did Hanssen, when Jac Naylor and Bernie Wolfe burst into the office. "Where's the fire?" Serena half-laughed, hardly believing they had run all the way from Darwin and Keller respectively.
"Owls!" Jac exclaimed.
"Everywhere!" added Bernie. Her blonde hair was in her face, though she showed no other sign of having run up several flights of stairs; Army life made a woman fit, Serena guessed. "Never seen so many of them in my life! And they've dumped a load of letters in the Keller staffroom."
"Same on Darwin!" Jac professed. "All addressed to-"
"-Serena Campbell!" they two women exploded in unison.
"What's going on?!" demanded Morven, who looked instantly like she had just sworn at the top of her voice when she realised how she had just spoken to four consultants.
But Bernie and Jac weren't exactly reserved about matters, either. "Owls, Henrik!" Jac shouted again. "I've never seen anything-"
Bernie was next to interrupt. "They're not even behaving like owls!"
"And what about the cat?" added Morven, seeming a little panicked now.
Jac's head whipped around to stare at the junior doctor. "Cat?! What cat?!"
"On AAU, in the locker-"
"How did a cat get into Acute-" Bernie began, only to be cut off by Jac again.
"Owls, cats, in a hospital!"
"It's a health and safety-" began Bernie again.
However, it was Henrik who cut them all off at once. "Silence!" he ordered them. "Calm yourselves!" Once the three women quietened down, Hanssen proceeded to ask them, "Now, what is this about owls delivering letters addressed to Ms. Campbell?"
Bernie took a breath, her military calm returning to her at long last. "Yes, they're scattered across Keller's staff room."
"And nobody thought to take a letter with them?" Serena asked, one eyebrow raised as she pulled her gaze across the three women. Was this their idea of a joke?
"How were we to know you were here?" snapped Jac. "Anyway. What are we meant to do about the owls?! Patients are asking questions now. My aortic valve replacement is convinced he's going mad."
Serena rolled her eyes at their reactions; she shouldn't have expected anything different. "The owls have done their jobs," she told them sternly. "They'll go of their own accord. Dr. Shreve, just keep the cat in one place, please, though I doubt she'll let you take her out of the locker room anyway." Morven nodded and ran back down the corridor, leaving Jac and Bernie to share an exchange of looks that plainly asked if the world had just gone completely mental. "I think I know what's going on," she added to Hanssen. "I should have recognised that damn cat!"
Without another thought, she barged past Bernie and Jac, who both looked suitably exasperated, and ran to the stairs, trying to beat Hanssen down to AAU. What had happened was obvious. Why it was happening was something Serena did not understand. Thirty years ago, she had elected to study medicine, to go away to Harvard, to build her life here, in this world. Why was that decision chasing her now?
Hurtling down the stairs, she found she was not half as fit as she once was. Her breathing was heavy and her legs wanted to stop by the time she was at the second floor. With a glance out the window, she saw what was freaking out Jac and Bernie; there were owls in the trees, owls on the cars, owls on the benches...no wonder the Muggles were taking notice. Who was desperate enough to get hold of her that they would cause this uproar to do so?
But the answer was downstairs.
And when she ran into the locker room, and locked the door after ushering Cara Martinez out, she faced the cat; she was bent over, clutching at a stitch around her waist she had gained from the physical effort of outrunning Hanssen, whilst hungover, down here. "Professor McGonagall," panted Serena. "What in the name of Merlin do you think you're playing at?!"
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