Floo Network

[Meridian Clinic] Evil Woman / Turn To Stone

Started by Deitha Albron, February 17, 2021, 11:40:50 pm

Odhrán Ó Dálaigh

Finally, Odhrán felt as though he was getting somewhere. Her genuine smile proved that he had made the right decision in trying to help. He thought they'd forged a fragile connection and the words he was hearing now seemed more truthful and genuine than things she'd said earlier. It was obvious that someone she'd once trusted had abused this trust. It was important that he avoided letting her down again.

"I understand," Odhrán said simply. "Let me give you a bit more of an overview so we can decide together if you would like to stay awake for this or if you would rather be sedated. There are advantages and disadvantages to either approach."

He knew he was about to embark on a longer speech and therefore summoned a glass of water to him to take a sip.

"If you are awake during treatment, it is easier for me to perform. I will be able to see and understand your reactions and that will help me place the desired block in the correct place. 

I work with a blend of legillimency and memory charms. Rather than spending hours sitting down with you and talking about what is troubling you and how, I can just take a look directly. If that's painful or not, really depends on the patient and how much they can let themselves trust me. If you can relax while I take a look, the legillimency will be uncomfortable and feel like an intimate invasion, but it wouldn't physically painful. If you're struggling to relax, panic or try to push me out, and to be fair that happens with many patients and is not always under their conscious control, I might have to apply some force to get things done. That can be painful. Think and throbbing headache or severe migraine. Usually a sharp needling pain cutting right through your head.

Setting a block also means cutting your subconscious access to whatever fantasies, memories and experiences are triggering your nightmares. This process can be physically painful if I have to retrieve something you might not want me to access. I suspect, in your case there are some things you are even struggling to let yourself have access to so I am expecting that I will have to be quite forceful to see where I need to set the block. You can expect sharp needling pains and you might see bits and pieces of the memory or fantasy flash before your eyes, which might be emotionally upsetting. Hopefully, only for a minute or two, and I will try to distract you from this process as much as I can.

If I sedate you, you'll wake up with a mild headache and some signs of disorientation. The treatment might take a lot longer and I can't promise you to get the same quality of result. Without your reactions to guide me, I can make a best guess, but there is always a chance we will have to repeat this a few times to be sure I get the block in the correct position to get you your good night's sleep.

No matter which option you go for, I would try to set this up in a way that you can access everything you want consciously during the daytime, but that some things can't be retrieved while you sleep. Being able to cast that at all is a very specialist skill and hard to get right. I might not get it perfectly right the first try. If you have any gaps in your memory after treatment during your waking hours, please come see me again. I can fix that. It's a low risk, but I just want you to know that it can happen.

The good news is that I don't think the treatment will take very long. If we're going to do this with you awake you can always pause me if you're really struggling really badly during treatment. Or if we try it while you are awake and you find it's just unmanageable we can switch approach. I normally agree with my patients that they can raise their hand it they can't handle it. And there is no shame in that. I know it can be a lot.

And I believe I mentioned that this remains reversible, so if you're experiencing an uncomfortable change afterwards it is easy to undo."

Odhrán stretched his hands and fingers and clicked his wrists, expecting that Deitha would want to go ahead with treatment and get it over and done with.

Deitha Albron

Deitha sat there, trying to take in everything that the healer was saying. He was, of course, being very professional and honest about what he was about to do, which was exactly what he should be doing. It didn't matter much to Deitha, to be perfectly honest, and somewhere in the midst of all the talking she found herself quietly trying to talk herself out of going along with it.

Therein, of course, was the problem. She'd talked herself into going along with it, whatever it was, no matter how much it would be awkward or painful but in the moment of him doing his professional duty, she'd started to be less convinced, even though she was nodding and making positive noises, almost as if on some kind of automatic response.

Something about the way he stretched his hands and fingers and, especially, clicking his wrists, caused her to snap back into the right headspace.

Summoning whatever inner resolve she had left, she simply said, "Please, let's just get on with it. The longer we talk about it, the less I am going to be OK with just getting this done." Teeth gritted. "It's going to hurt, it's going to be very unpleasant. I know it's going to bring up things I don't want to think about. Let's just get it done."

But as much as she was trying to project confidence, she really didn't feel it and she hoped that he really would begin swiftly because this was teetering on the edge of some pivotal feeling of "I went and spoke to someone, isn't that enough for a day, or a lifetime?" but he really sounded like he could help, and that he'd do his best to not leave her a drooling puddle on the floor. It wouldn't be good for business that way anyway.

"Do you need me to sit somewhere or lay down or something?"

Odhrán Ó Dálaigh

"Understood," Odhrán said simply and then honoured her request to get on with. She wasn't his first patient to get more nervous as the reality of treatment sunk in. He produced his wand and looked straight into Deitha's eyes. The incantation, 'legilimens', was enunciated quietly but very precisely. His eyes narrowed slightly, as if trying to bring the world into sharper focus.

The mental connection was near instant. Odhrán could see a confused plethora of images, showing various facets of Deitha to him. For a moment he just lingered, taking a look without trying to pull any of her thoughts of memories closer. If he'd been asked to comment, he might have said that Deitha's head was a touch more chaotic than others he had looked into, but otherwise normal. Nothing indicated curse damage, mental illness of magical origin or something similar to that. He wasn't sure if he wanted to be relieved or terrified by that. It baffled him again and again just how much damage could be done by ordinary human cruelty no supernatural powers required.

He centred his thoughts on a pretty piece of harp music he liked the play and the beautiful sea view one enjoyed from his study at Arranmore at night. A pale silver moon and a generous dusting of stars reflected in the gentle waves. Once he held the image clearly, he pushed it forward into Deitha's mind hoping her attention would focus on this thought that wasn't hers and clearly didn't belong in her head.

He reckoned his window of opportunity would close quickly so he tried to pull various images from her mind at the same time. Her parents, her first day of school, a happy memory from growing up. Who was that young man? A brother? Odhrán pulled the image closer to look at it. He was too early, whatever had changed her hadn't happened yet. First kiss. A beautiful young woman, but here he was too late, the damage had already been done. Teachers. Transfiguration, Potions, Dark Arts. None of these. Charms. The wave of resentment that hit him made it clear that he was getting closer.

Odhrán took a deep breath and refocused on his Arranmore study once again. Starlight reflecting in his pensieve. The smell of medicinal potion incredients. Clary sage and white man's foot, the sound of graphite on sketch paper. He called on imagery that while on some level personal, was mostly meaningless and easily brought to mind. He pushed some of his thoughts again to provide more of a distraction before continuing to rifle through the content of her mind.

Somewhere in the early school years. Ah... here he was. Odhrán felt a flood of impressions. Nothing had happened. Everything had happened. She'd hurt herself, no, a friend had made her sad, no, she was mourning a lost pet. It was easy to tell that these memories were false. They were too clean, too detailed, too readily offered to have genuinely been created at the time of the incident. What he was seeing were the stories Deitha told herself as well as others to explain what happened. He ignored the lot of them. Instead, he focused on a feeling: helplessness. Sure enough, looking along this path he was met with some resistance.

He changed the angle of his wand, pushed more forcefully, applying more energy to his spell. Now, he saw it.

Odhrán wanted to close his eyes so he wouldn't have to see, but of course the point of this whole exercise was for him to isolate the memory so it could be blocked.

While a moment ago it had taken force to take a look at the images, they were now flooding his mind in wild waves. Panic, despair, fear, and anger all seemed to be equally present and for a moment he felt close to being swallowed up in the maelstrom of her thoughts. Again, he returned his thoughts to his anchor. Arranmore. It was his safe place. Rather than pushing the visual he tried to push the feeling of safety through their mental link.

His wand hand was cramping up. He tried to shake it out, sending sparks flying across the room. Then he attempted another wand movement and spoke his incantations. His words came softly and firmly, trying to get the spell done in perfect sequence. A mere couple of moments later it was done.

Odhrán closed his eyes to let the mental connection break, sinking back into his chair. His head was on fire with pain and Deitha's thoughts and memories where still swirling through his mind. He hoped she needed a moment to recover as well as he wasn't sure he was capable of conversation right this moment.

Deitha Albron

There are few words to describe the feelings Deitha had. She imagined it was like how people being treated for maladies might feel, feeling the mediwizard's hands poking around inside while having your body open and exposed. Except not for her body, but for her mind, her thoughts, her very being being prodded and poked around.

And she heard her inner voice tell all the stories, the tripping over, the Vanishing Cabinet, all of the pale and insignificant lies she'd told everyone who'd ever asked, out of self preservation. Out of shame. She watched in her mind's eye as the healer strode through the pathways of her mind, carefully dismissing the phantasms of her clumsy conjured images until he saw the memory. The real memory... memories. What really happened that day.

She felt her body tense; every sinew and muscle moving towards that fight or flight instinct, with her very being essentially trying to do both.

She let out a cry - probably unheard by anyone in the room, as she herself didn't hear it so much as feel it, and to even call it 'let out' was a stretch; 'wrung out of her' or 'pulled from her' was probably a better description for the strangled sobbing noise that was almost, but not quite, recognisable as a 'no' that escaped.

She was back. There. With them. With the things that happened. Every fibre of her being was replaying the events that had actually happened and knowing that as much as she wanted, this was the one time she couldn't look away. Couldn't pretend it wasn't something else. Couldn't pretend it was someone else.

She had to watch what happened to her, through her own eyes, but this time with the heightened sense of being 'in the moment', able to see details she hadn't seen before, at least not consciously. To hear nuances in the sounds around here. Textures, ambient details that didn't matter but were somehow in sharp relief to the memory that... that...

That was fading. Fading into a place of calmness and serenity. A quiet island with a sea view, hands dancing over a harp, melodic and tranquil.

Then the connection went, snapped off. Deitha wanted to vomit quite profusely at the suddenness of that level of... intimacy suddenly and abruptly being terminated. She had, for one brief moment - not that she'd ever admit it - been quite relieved that someone finally had seen what she'd seen. That sharing what had really happened was not the worst thing in the universe, even if it might have seemed like it.

Part of her wanted to react with her usual bullish sense of bravado, some jaunty wicked grin and a 'Well, that was fun, we should do it again!' as though it were nothing more than some kind of thrill ride to be enjoyed again and again. Or, perhaps, more akin to laughing at someone trying to inflict pain and using that laughter to deflect that it actually hurt.

She sat forward, taking long, slow breaths, as she realised she was here, now, not there, then. The healer was in the room. A quick furtive glance in his direction and she wasn't sure which of them felt worse.

She summoned up what remained of her strength. "Thank you." She didn't think she'd ever said so much in so few words.

Odhrán Ó Dálaigh

Odhrán found it rather difficult to function. Her trauma was still on his mind, and it was hard to shake the images and their vibrancy. Still, he was the healer in the room and he knew no matter how unpleasant this experience had been for him, it had to be worse for her.

"Just sit for a little while and try to relax," he said to her as he got up. "I'll make you a nice cup of tea and bring you some blankets." He gestured in the direction he'd be going where a small, glass teapot sat on one of his shelves. He strode across the room with purpose, can carefully measured out the amount of tea blend to use. A spell or two later and the room filled with the soothing scent of lavender, valerian and yarrow. There was something about how he stirred the tea that was rather remnant of potion making.

While the mixture infused, he brought her a blanket to curl up in. It wasn't cold outside, but the process of memory manipulation was often highly stressful for his patients and left them with irregularities in circulation for a while.

"If you can, take it easy for the rest of the day. Maybe, if you have somebody to keep you company that wouldn't be the worst idea."

Instinct told him that was probably a tall ask. Deitha didn't seem like the kind of woman who entertained a lot of close friendships.

"I can sit with you for a while, or if you'd rather be on our own that is fine too. Try to give yourself at least 20 minutes before trying to get up and moving again."

Odhrán placed the tea in front of her. "Would you like some sugar or honey?"

With tea served he sank back into his own chair.

"Any difficulty with treatment please just let me know right way. Don't hesitate to call by floo, no matter the time. Also, we should schedule a follow up even if you do not experience any complaints. Just to check that everything Is still in place and indeed working as intended. Once you let me know when to book you in for I can get out of your hair." 

The only thing that saw him through the moment and the conversation was routine. He'd said these words many times before and the aftercare protocol for this kind of patient was always the same. He was grateful for having this skeleton to guide him while he was still feeling rattled.

He found himself wanting to talk about what he'd seen, but his instinct was that this was the wrong move to make at this point in time, even if talking about things would do Deitha some good long term. Instead he just gave her a kind look, willing her to understand that if she felt the need to talk about anything he'd be happy to listen.

Deitha Albron

She tried to process the words she heard but the words didn't really go into her brain. She mostly heard the tone of voice. Calm, soothing, grounded. If she had been slightly more compos mentis she might have also said 'detached' or 'routine' because some part of her picked that up but only very subconsciously. The more intellectual part of her mind would, were it functioning, probably have noticed that no-one would step through an emotively-charged experience like that and be completely unfazed on the other side of it. Not even someone who presumably had seen such things before. The connection that was made had to have run deeper than that.

She sat very still. She smelled the tea beside her - smells often trigger emotions that words or sights don't - and somehow this tea smelled of safety. Like a blend her mother used before Deitha had gone away to school. When the world still made sense. She frowned, it wasn't a tea her mother still drank, as far as she knew. Some part of her mind wondered if the healer had somehow picked that memory out and arranged that tea specifically but the coincidence just seemed too high for that to be a thing.

After a few minutes she reached out, very gingerly, towards the tea. She was surprised her hand was shaking... no, that wasn't the surprise. The surprise was how badly it was shaking.

She looked over at the healer, giving him a sort of hollow almost-deadeye stare. A thousand questions poured into her mind. A million flashes of connection. The link was mostly one way - as it needed to have been - but she began to wonder how much she had picked up from him being there.

Balling her hand into a fist and releasing it again, once, twice, thrice, she found her shaking stopped enough that she felt like she could safely navigate holding the tea and not spilling it or dropping the cup, and she sat there, cup down by her chin, just inhaling the warm, faintly bitter air of the as-yet-unsweetened tea.

Blinking, she focused her eyes over on the healer and he seemed to come into sharp relief. Finding her voice, she managed to stammer out a few words in a slightly muted, mousey fashion. "How do you do it? You've just seen... Merlin knows what you've just seen. How do you cope?"

She didn't seriously expect an honest answer. But at the same time, she wondered if she already knew something approaching an answer.

Odhrán Ó Dálaigh

"With difficulty," he answered her question honestly. "And sometimes I don't at all." Odhrán saw no harm in admitting to this. His duty as a healer was to set a good example for his patients. Denying their emotional state was not behaviour he wanted his patients to learn from him and emulate.

"Like with all things training and practise helps. If I can, talking with a loved one helps too. However, that's often not possible with the confidential nature of my work. I have a routine I follow after each treatment. It's easier to get back to normal when there is a set list of steps I don't have to think about. Doing normal things again is nice. It doesn't always work."

He poured himself a cup of tea and took a moment to think about what else he could say. Sometimes, he abused his abilities to look in on people's happy memories. He could hardly tell her that, though it was strangely effective. After a really messed up case, he often found relief in observing normal and ordinary thoughts. He knew he really ought to work on that behaviour. It made him a terrible person, but sometimes he didn't know what else to do.

"Art can help too, but of course you already know that about me. You probably saw some of my memories during the connection. I often push them forward to provide a distraction, but they are there for me as well to keep my focus while treating. Well that and to make sure that if a patient accidentally pushes into my mind they don't see something that will make them worse. Subconscious or unintentional legillimency can happen."

He paused again. "Partial memory extraction after a treatment is complete is also an option, albeit fairly risky to me and my abilities. I can't do what I do after suffering damage to my own mind and memory manipulation is complicated business. And I'd have to trust another healer to cast it. Yet I've had it done a few times after dealing with perpetrators of sexual violence. It's horrifying to have their enjoyment, satisfaction and lack of remorse in your head. It's always a struggle to take such cases where the patient suffers from a compulsive behaviour they can no longer control, especially when underage victims are involved. I'd say that's the hardest thing about this job.

It was nice to chat about this and let his upset feelings and emotions fade as he talked. As messed up as Deitha memories had been, Odhrán had seen more disturbing things. The world was messed up and the full horror of the human condition was terrifying.

"How do you cope? Got any good tips for me?"

Deitha Albron

She raised an eyebrow, she hadn't expected that level of honesty from the healer before her, but she supposed that in his line of work, seeing the traumas his patients go through, it was only to be expected.

Of course, this took a little longer to get from idea to completed thought; Deitha still felt very much as she had been put through a washboard and a mangle, on a purely emotional level - and somehow it reassured her to hear from the healer that her case was neither his first, nor his worst case. Reassured her - and left her wondering darkly just how vile specimens of the species could be.

She inhaled the aroma of the tea again.

"How do I cope? I believe we talked about that." She laughed grimly. "You didn't exactly seem very impressed with it, and I won't deny that visiting my pain on others - even if I can rationalise that they deserve the tiny fraction I visit upon them - is how I cope."

She took a sip of tea, then set the cup back down. Her voice started to feel a little stronger.

"I have sought out the ones who did this to me. I laughed at their fear - but I didn't hurt them. Not physically. Probably not even permanently. But I didn't drop to their level. You might think me a monster but whatever monster I am, they deserved to see what monstrosity they had made, and to know fear the way I know it. The way they made me see it."

She settled herself for a moment, tea cup back under her nose.

"I make no excuses for what I do. I tell myself I am better than those who did... that... to me. I frighten people, but I don't break them. I am better than that. I have had thoughts about what would happen if I were to frighten those who frightened me, to the point that they crack, then they break, and beyond."

She paused, to take a larger mouthful of tea, bracing herself for the next admission. She felt her voice stay strong but take on an oddly hollow and serene note.

"I have fantasised about getting my revenge upon them to that extent. But I am better than that. I can imagine their faces, contorted in terror, unable to deal with what is going on. I can imagine the look on their faces as their minds go blank and their heart fails to beat again and that they have died of fright. I have imagined this. But you know what? I am better than that."

The tea was quite bitter near the bottom. She smiled wickedly, her old defiant tone returning.

"I'd never actually frighten anyone to death. Not even the monsters in the darkness. But I've thought about it. I've imagined it. I've tasted the stench in the air, so to speak. Imagining it and not doing it is how I cope."

She put the drained teacup to one side, swung her legs about a bit, wondering whether to test their strength or not.

She also had some thoughts as to what she might do with the rest of her day - she had no clients today, and perhaps a visit to her brother might be in order. She hadn't seen dear Margoyle for a while, and perhaps a visit was overdue.