Disclaimer: I own nothing from the world of Harry Potter, they belong to a certain Ms. Rowling.
Thanks to my betas ReadingRobyn and No_Hugs_Peach!
Most witches and wizards live in a place of peace. They have magical cures for diseases and rarely even attempt activities that could cause them harm. Of course sometimes, even with magic, some may sustain burns and others might fall off their broomsticks and have to have some sort of care. That's where Saint Mungo's comes into play.
Saint Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries is the ideal place that all witches and wizards go to fix any well…injuries they might unfortunately come upon. With the supreme healers they have on staff nothing is too much or too gruesome and anything is repairable for the body that is Saint Mungo's.
Within Saint Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries is a wing that nobody talks about. This wing is always ghostly and cold, the nurses and healers avoid doing their rounds there until the last possible minute, they don't go in alone. Their behavior is entirely understandable. People, people being witches and wizards, know that a wing for the medically insane exists, but some of them don't understand the extent of some of these patients' injuries. When people have suffered intense psychological damage, and not the kind that live in the Closed Ward, they are moved to the Shadow Wing.
Nurse Celia Cornwall had worked at Saint Mungo's for almost three months. She was a cheery brunette and was everyone's favorite. Some say that she could've done anything after graduating with top grades from Hogwarts, but she chose to be a Saint Mungo's nurse. Patients were requesting her after her third week, the healers knew her by name, and the other nurses knew to ask her for specific details on her patients. Celia was quickly becoming the light of the hospital.
It was a Thursday after Christmas and there was a light snowfall but the sun was peeking out from behind the clouds making it a rather lovely day. Celia was returning to work after having a bit of time off to visit her family for the holidays. She had tied on her white cap and was walking briskly down the hallway towards the magical burns unit when a tall man stepped directly in front her and stopped her.
Celia nodded, not recognizing the healer that stood in front of her. "Yes, that's me. How can I assist you?"
He straightened his posture and looked her up and down with hard grey eyes. "My name is Ebenezer Earnest. I'm the head healer in the Shadow Wing."
Celia felt her eyes widen as she stared at Mr. Earnest, who remained unaffected. "Oh," she stuttered. "I see."
"Every few years we find a nurse or two that show promise and offer them to assist us in the Shadow Wing. And this time, Nurse Cornwall, we've chosen you. Now I know you might feel compelled to give me an instant yes but I must caution you about this. It's not an easy job, dealing with the insane," he stated, leveling his wire spectacles as Celia stared at him.
Mr. Earnest handed her a card with his name on it. "If you're at all interested show this card to the elevator operator, he'll take you to the wing."
"Wait," Celia called out as he walked away. "Why would I? I mean, what does it have to offer?"
Mr. Earnest turned around, still not showing any emotion. "Nurse Cornwall, it's an honor to be asked to join the staff among the Shadow Wing. The nurses who've worked here for years would kill to have this opportunity. Yet, we chose you; you have only worked here for three months. Still we think you'd be best to join the staff of the Shadow Wing. It offers a life working with medical cases unlike those you've ever seen before. Of course, you may not be able to handle it, in which case, we'll be happy to give the job to somebody else."
Celia furrowed her brows. "I'm a quick learner and I'm strong. I'm sure anything you throw at me I'll be able to handle."
Mr. Earnest nodded sharply. "We'll see. Theresa!" He called out.
Instantly a short woman with long grey hair appeared at his side. Her nametag read Theresa Dewar. Celia didn't recognize her.
"Nurse Cornwall has accepted the position in the Shadow Wing, you'll cover her rounds," he instructed before turning back to Celia. "Follow me."
Celia followed Mr. Earnest to the employee's only elevator. She was nervous, unsure in the decision she had made was the right one. As the doors opened, her apprehension didn't falter, but she stepped into the elevator behind Mr. Earnest anyway.
"You know where to take us," Mr. Earnest said to the bellman, who nodded curtly and quickly closed the doors.
"Excuse me, where exactly is the Shadow Wing?" Celia asked timidly.
"Below the ground floor," he said, not looking at Celia. "It's not listed."
Mr. Earnest turned to Celia with the same cold expression in his eyes. "Because visitors are not welcome."
"What about family members?"
"You think the family wants to see their loved ones in this kind of a condition. There are no visitors." With that he turned away from Celia facing the doors of the elevator.
They rode in complete stillness until the high-pitched (voice?) of the elevator broke their silence. The bellman, who would normally announce the floor with cheer just looked to the floor as they exited, quickly shutting the doors and hurrying the elevator back up to the above ground floors.
Celia tried not to stare at what was before her. This floor looked nothing like the rest of Saint Mungo's. The walls were all painted bright white and hanging, swinging lamps were suspended from the ceiling. Although she couldn't see what was in them, all along the wall were long windows. Nurses weren't bustling about; families weren't happily getting good news because there weren't any families. In fact, the only other people Celia could see besides herself and Mr. Earnest were two nurses jotting down things on a clipboard and a tall, blonde healer walking towards them.
"Nurse Cornwall, so glad to have you with us," she said, shaking Celia's hand in a firm grasp. "I'm Ms. Greene but you may call me Evelyn."
"Nice to meet you," Celia said slowly.
"Now," Evelyn said, turning to Mr. Earnest. "I think we'll get straight to Miss Christianson, if that's all right with you Mr. Earnest."
Mr. Earnest nodded and started walking down the long hallway that was before them. Just as Celia had suspected, behind the long windows were the patients that dwelled in the Shadow Wing. Their names and disease were labeled boldly across their window as if they were in some kind of zoo. Evelyn and Mr. Earnest seemed to be unaffected but Celia had to force herself not to stare. There was a short wizard that was screaming and writhing in pain, though the soundproof material the wall and glass were made of, kept anyone from hearing him. Another wizard threw himself at the glass as they passed, banging and biting at his window. Celia almost ran back to the elevator as she watched a small witch be subdued and tranquilized.
"Here we are," Evelyn said as they arrived at a room where the blinds had been pulled down over the window. She grabbed a clipboard from a hook on the wall. "Angela Christianson. She was instituted three weeks ago for deliria of an unknown cause. All her parents could tell us was that the hallucinations started after a break up with her boyfriend, who we have yet to get in contact with."
"Hallucinations? And they're bad enough to land her in the Shadow Wing?" Celia scoffed. "Shouldn't she just be in the Closed Ward?"
Evelyn looked up at Celia, a half smile on her face. "Her hallucinations come in dream form. They seem to be able to convince her to believe and do anything. They manipulated her enough for her to try and kill her boyfriend. So no, she shouldn't be in the Closed Ward."
"You see, Celia," Mr. Earnest said in a low voice. "That's what separates these patients from those in the Closed Ward. For most of them, we have no idea what caused or causes their inflictions and they, unlike those in the Closed Ward, are prone to being dangerous."
Celia pursed her lips. "For the sake of being professional, what shall I do then?"
"Miss Christianson isn't dangerous or even abnormal as long as she's awake. It's when she's asleep that we see another form of her. We'd like you to talk to her while she's awake as if you were a friend. Then distribute her daily medication, which consists of a very potent sleeping pill, then we'll join you as we analyze Cisn for today," Evelyn said in a matter-of-fact way.
"So she's a lab rat?" Celia said angrily, as she grabbed the medications and stuffed them into her apron pocket.
"No, she's a girl suffering from a disease that we need to learn more about," Mr. Earnest said monotonously.
"One more thing," Celia said as she put her hand on the doorknob. "What's Cisn?"
"Sara Cisn," Evelyn said, returning the clipboard to its hook and pulling the blinds back. "Sara Cisn is who comes to her in her dreams and tell her things. Sara Cisn is the person or thing we'll be talking to while she's asleep. And don't worry, it's a two-way mirror, you can't see out."
Celia nodded and turned the knob, entering the room of Angela Christianson. The room was painted light blue, like all the other rooms and had a bed and a nightstand. Unlike the other rooms there were textbooks laying on a desk and another bookshelf that had muggle paperbacks and even letters on its shelves. There was even a green rug on the floor, making the beige carpet seem dirty.
Angela Christianson was curled up on an armchair, another commodity not found in any other room, reading one of her muggle paperbacks. She was a thin girl with black hair that curled loosely. She wasn't as pale as Celia had expected and her cheeks were surprisingly rosy. She wore a pair of small, oval shaped glasses and looked up at Celia with brown eyes.
"Hi," she said in a timid voice, marking her page and setting the book down on the nearby desk.
"Hello, I'm Nurse Cornwall," Celia said, still surprised at how normal Angela seemed.
"What's your real name?" Angela asked as she pulled on the sleeves of her blue sweater.
"Celia. Celia Agatha Cornwall."
Angela looked back at her, her deep brown eyes calm. "Well, Celia Agatha Cornwall, I'm Angela Margareta Christianson."
"Nice to meet you." Celia smiled, and pulled up the desk chair to give herself somewhere to sit. "I'm pleasantly delighted that you're not…"
"Crazy. Biting at your ankles?" Angela giggled.
Celia let out a quiet chuckle. "Well, yes."
Angela tucked some loose strands of hair behind her ear. "I'm delighted about that too. I don't have any desire to bite at your ankles or drool."
Celia burst out laughing but quickly subdued it thinking of the man that threw himself at the glass. "Angela…"
"I know, you have a job to do."
"Well yes, I just…"
"I know what's going on. I've sort of done it before." Angela pulled her legs out from under her, sitting cross-legged. "I slept normally, I dreamt that Carson and I were in a meadow kissing, the sun was shining and everything was perfect. I woke up sometime in the middle of the night and yes, it was because Sara came into the dream. She didn't say much, just that she hated how you all knew about her and we couldn't keep her a secret. She begged me to stop telling about her…" Angela suddenly stopped talking and bit her lip.
"What else did she say?" Celia pressed.
Angela lowered her eyes, staring at the dirty beige carpet. "That if I told you anything more someone else would suffer."
Celia inhaled sharply as she felt the sleeping pill in her pocket. Angela stared longer at the floor as she fiddled with the sleeves of her sweater.
"I'm not crazy, you just don't understand what it's like to be…" she whispered.
"Powerless?" Celia guessed quietly.
Angela's head snapped up and she began nod furiously. "Yes. Powerless and completely incapable. She can take over if she wants to. I don't understand it. And I wouldn't let her, but I can't help it. Ever since Carson left she's been my friend, the only one who understands things."
"Carson was your boyfriend?"
Angela nodded. "About four months after we broke up I met Sara."
"You met Sara? She's an actual person?" Celia said, leaning in closer to Angela.
"I…I don't know exactly," Angela said as she wrung her hands. "She just kind of…appeared out of nothing one day after I saw Carson. She disappeared almost instantly but then that night I started dreaming about me and Carson getting back together. A few nights later Sara started coming into my dreams."
Celia leaned back in her chair, sticking her hand in her pockets and feeling the sleeping pill. "I see."
Angela stood suddenly pacing. "I know it sounds crazy, maybe even unbelievable, but give me the sleeping pill and I'll prove it to you."
Celia shrugged, unsure of what to say. She stood up, straightening her apron and left the room to stand alongside Evelyn, feeling Angela stare at her on the way out.
"You've got a knack for talking with patients, Nurse Cornwall," Evelyn said as she watched Angela stagger to the bed. "Good to have you on staff."
Angela collapsed on the bed, her black hair fanning around her face. Celia turned to Evelyn and Mr. Earnest, fighting the urge to bite her nails.
"That must be one…powerful sleeping pill," she stuttered.
Mr. Earnest nodded. "Oh yes, I'm sure we'll be seeing Cisn anytime now."
"Or Angela in a dream state, which can happen," Evelyn said.
They all watched in silence as Angela stood slowly from the bed. Her head was hung and facing the ground while her hair hung in front of her face.
"I know you can hear me," she said in a low voice. "Don't talk. Just listen. I want you to let Angela out."
She kept walking towards them until she was right in front of the window.
"I want you to let her go and if you don't you'll see me."
She raised her head and all three of them gasped in sharply. Angela's once deep brown eyes were black.
"I don't like being kept in here. If I can change her appearance, think of what else I can do. If I can make her try and kill someone she supposedly loves, what else can I make her do? And if I can do this I can come in without her will. So I'm going to tell you this…nicely. Let her GO!"
Angela's body launched onto the glass and started repeatedly pounding on it with her fists. Evelyn quickly shut the blinds and turned away.
"We'll deal with this later. In the mean time, you check on Mr. Taylor, he's three rooms down. Just don't let him see any of your needles," Evelyn called over her shoulder as she walked away with Mr. Earnest. "Don't worry, Miss Christianson is going to get better. We'll get to the bottom of this."
Still, throughout the next two years that Celia Cornwall worked in the shadow wing, they didn't get to the bottom of Angela's condition. Sara Cisn was never able to fully take her over while Angela was awake, but could only make glimpses of herself appear. When Angela was asleep, however, Sara could go so far as to change Angela's entire appearance.
One day, while Celia was doing rounds, she noticed something about Angela. She was gone. Celia was later informed that Angela had hung herself, committing suicide. They cleaned out her room, and moved in a witch that was under suspicion for eating her husband.
But Celia never forgot the day when Sara had first shown her face. She would just reach into her apron pocket and feel the sleeping pill that she didn't give Angela, proving that willpower could be broken. Then Nurse Celia Cornwall would go back to her rounds and shudder, hoping she'd never see anything like that ever again.