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To be taken with a cauldron of salt

As he had expected, Ron was having an excellent time on trauma surgery. He knew absolutely nothing about anything, and yet he was an indispensable member of the patient care team. At the moment, he was standing by the bedside with his hands in his white coat pockets while the rest of the providers swarmed around him (or around the ICU patient, rather).

“Pen!” someone called from behind the bed.

“Notecard!”

“Tape!”

“Suture scissors!”

“Flashlight!”

Ron rummaged inside his white coat pockets for the requested items and tossed them to the appropriate providers. In the meantime, the requests continued to pour in, and Ron hurried to fulfill the demand.

“Stethoscope!”

“One liter IV saline!”

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Ron smirked at his colleagues’ looks of incredulity as he conjured the bulging bag of fluid from his inside pocket. He felt a gargantuan weight lift from his shoulders, and the seams of his white coat were no longer in imminent danger of ripping open. His heart swelled with the knowledge that he was contributing meaningfully to patient care.

“Lidocaine!”

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Lidocaine.

The smugness faded from Ron’s face. “I don’t typically carry needles and syringes filled with local anesthetic in my pockets,” he said. “Mechanical pencils are bad enough.”

The resident shook his head as he placed another subcuticular stitch in the wound. “That’s your job. Carrying stuff.”

***

Later that morning, Harry scanned the operating room schedule in search of a short case to observe before lunch. He arrived at the assigned OR with ten minutes to spare before the procedure; the patient had already been prepped, draped, and put to sleep, and the OR nurses were discussing weekend plans while they waited for the attending surgeon to finish his previous case. All appeared to be well.

Within thirty seconds of introducing himself to the OR nurses, however, Harry began to doubt his decision. The circulating nurse – a tall, brawny man who had been joking about his Friday-night fist-fight with an oak tree – stopped in his tracks as Harry spoke.

“Is he in a good mood today?” the circulating nurse asked the scrub nurse.

The scrub nurse shrugged.

“Well, regardless, you’ll want to introduce yourself to the attending, once he comes in,” the circulating nurse said to Harry, with a look of sympathy poorly disguised as a quivering grin.

“I’ll do that,” said Harry. “Not a problem.”

At that moment, the double doors erupted with an earsplitting BOOM, closely followed by shockwaves that rattled the scissors and scalpels on their trays. Dr. Snape strode into the operating room with his oversized scrub jacket billowing behind him like the cape of a Dark Lord. He wasted no time in heading straight for the patient’s operating site on the chest, which he examined with an expression of passable approval. The OR staff observed this series of events in utmost silence.

“Er, Dr. Snape?” His voice cracking, the circulating nurse approached Dr. Snape in the midst of the inspection. “Harry’s a medical student here who wants to watch – “

Dr. Snape glanced at Harry, raised an eyebrow, and nodded briskly at the circulating nurse. He then left the OR the same way he had entered – his cape rising like dragon wings, his outstretched arms colliding into the double doors, unsuspecting passersby gasping in the hallway, the doors slamming shut behind him, and a sudden hush in his wake.

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The legendary cape

The OR staff quickly began to prepare the surgeon’s gown and gloves, motivated to be ready for Dr. Snape once he returned from scrubbing at the sink.

“Thanks,” Harry whispered over his shoulder.

“Anytime,” said the circulating nurse.

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