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The day before clinical rotations began, Hermione rummaged in her closet for her old Comet Two-Sixty broomstick. She had to brush off the dustbunnies before she could read the logo again, and the speed settings were infantile compared to Harry’s legendary Firebolt, but she didn’t need extravagance. She needed freedom.

Outside, the mist hung over the campus of Hogwarts College of Medicine like the obscurity of a dream. Droplets drifted from the sky at such a gentle pace that Hermione’s sweater never felt damp. She closed her eyes as the cool mist sprinkled over her nose, and the breeze flowed through her sleeves until her arms weighed nothing at all. For just a moment, she believed that she was born with wings.

Upon leaving the main campus, Hermione soared up and down the rolling hills, brushing past the last of the cherry blossoms beside the trail. She glided to an arched wooden bridge overlooking a pond, where mallard ducks slept with their beaks burrowed in their feathers while ducklings frolicked nearby.

I could live like this forever, she thought, as she leaned against the railing of the bridge with one arm around her broomstick. From her vantage point, the towering trees blocked her view of the nearby houses, and she imagined that she was venturing into a rainforest.

2016-04-30 16.12.16 HDR

Hershey Gardens, Hershey, PA

When she thought about the upcoming week of her life – no, she didn’t want to think about it. It wasn’t happening. It wasn’t going to happen. She identified as a second-year medical student, the kind of student who hid in the Hibernation Cave for twelve hours a day, surrounded by sticks of sugar-free gum and empty coffee cups, and boasted about how much her studies were tiring her. She shivered at the idea of becoming an apprentice doctor who spent fourteen hours a day on her feet and five hours a day studying, with the remaining hours divided between napping and personal hygiene.

Aside from the shift in identity, there were other, perhaps more grave, factors to consider.

“I had an interesting patient with this condition,” Hermione had heard the upperclassmen say, many times over. “We went through these interventions. He died the next day, though. And there was another patient with that condition, but he lasted a couple of days. And then there was another patient – “

For all of her experience with dramatized notions of death, Hermione felt an electric shock pulsing up her spine when she realized how often her senior classmates had encountered death, and how ordinary of an occurrence it had become to them.

I’m not ready for this, she wanted to say out loud. Not ready not ready not ready –

But she was.

She had waited her entire life for this moment. At long last, she was becoming a healer. For the first several weeks and months, she would begin as a cringeworthy, bumbling fool of a healer; she harbored no fantasies in that regard. But eventually, as Harry had reassured her yesterday, they would all wake up one morning and discover themselves as doctors. MDs. Not point-five MDs, but young, talented, caring, vibrant, brilliant, complete MDs.

We promise to listen with open minds and open hearts

To teach and to learn

We promise to advocate for all persons

By protecting life and upholding human dignity

They had recited this oath out loud at their White Coat Ceremony, but at the time Hermione had been more concerned about keeping pace with her classmates than with pondering the implications of her words. Now, she held the sounds of the moment in a corner of her mind, froze them in time, and relaxed as they soaked into her being.

Yes, she thought as she stood on the bridge by the rainforest, immersed in the threshold between spring and summer. This is who I strive to be.