See the first chapter
Regulus saw only a solid blackness; though if he focused he could make out faint silhouettes of bright light through the gloom. No…. No, that was too painful! Merlin, this light stung!
Somewhere in the distance, he could just barely hear a choppy, indistinct group of voices. Talking about…. Him??
“….Vitals still stable?”
“Yep. Whatever you gave him on Thursday was heavy stuff. Bloody ingenious, I’ll hand you that.”
“…..Looked like he stepped out of one of those Renaissance faires.”
“Oh yes; my nephew has a certain love of those, can’t stop playing that Dragons and Dungeons game…..”
“Quiet! I think he’s coming round!”
Regulus whimpered and tried to shield his eyes with his hands as he finally blinked awake. The damned light was just too strong. Feeling a haze of tears leaking out of his eyes, Regulus exhaled and removed his hands after a moment.
With more than a little fear; the young wizard examined his new surroundings.
He was lying prostrate in a bed, with two fluffy white pillows behind him. There were two armchairs near the bed, presumably for visitors; but empty (naturally.). The wallpaper was a pale blue, and a few dull-looking watercolor paintings had been hung up on it. The single window near the bed had the blinds drawn.
Judging by the silent, sterile atmosphere, Regulus guessed he was in a Muggle hospital. How curious.
Experimentally moving his left arm a bit, Regulus winced as he felt a pinching soreness there. Looking up; he saw that some sort of tube dripped an unidentifiable liquid into his arm from a plastic bag, which was held up on a metal pole. There was a slightly uncomfortable sensation in his nostrils in addition, and upon tentatively putting a hand there, Regulus discovered that a clear tube had been snaked up into his nose and just over both ears, trailing into a large metal tank beside the bed. And then, most jarringly, his Death Eater robes had been replaced by light gray pajamas.
The glance he shot at the two Muggles standing near the end of his bed was both curious and cautious. One of them was a man somewhere in his fifties; with thinning brown hair and a wispy mustache, wearing a white coat. His companion was a woman, a decade or so younger, with blonde hair so pale it was nearly translucent. Both of them were staring at him as well; blinking rather like they’d just seen something TOO incredulous to be believable.
One of the apparent Muggle healers, the man, scrawled something on his clipboard before saying:
“Charing Cross Hospital, London- Supposedly some bloke found you in a little town by the sea; a good Samaritan. Brought you to the hospital there; but they didn’t have anything to treat you with.”
“So you were dumped here as a charity case.”
The blonde woman finished; her voice brimming with false cheerfulness.
“Now…. What’s your name, young man?”
Regulus’s mind began to race, heart already beginning to quicken at the Healer’s question. No, giving the Muggles his real name was out of the question, so he had better create an alias, and fast. Something different than his real name, yet still similar enough to remember easily….
After only a moment’s thinking, the young wizard answered:
“Reginald. Reginald Ballard.”
The Healer proceeded to ask him several more questions of a similar nature- Date of birth, place of residence, etc. Those two were fairly easy to fake; but when it came to age, Regulus gave his as twenty-two- Seventeen and up may have been considered adult age in the wizarding world; but the last thing Regulus wanted was nosy muggle investigators on the hunt for “Reginald”’s parents- better safe than sorry.
“You look awfully young, for twenty-two.”
“I’m older than I look.”
Regulus smiled wryly as he said this.
One of the Muggle healers, the man, (or as he called himself, a ‘doctor’) left the room shortly after, saying to let him know if there was any further change. Now he was alone with the blonde woman.
Regulus found himself staring a bit as the female healer fiddled with the tube draining into his arm, and attempted to distract her from her current task by bringing up a few questions of his own:
“So. How long have I been here? What do you suppose is wrong with me?”
She only shrugged vaguely.
“Some sort of gastric ailment- You were terribly dehydrated; and your stomach seemed to be inflamed. We never could figure it out; but you seem to be on the mend now. Just take it easy, focus on getting better.”
“Oh. How long have I been here, then?”
Regulus felt his mouth go dry. That long?! It felt like only yesterday he and his house elf had Apparated out of the horcrux cave together before Kreacher had gone to Grimmauld Place; bearing false news about his supposed death.
“Ten days? I…. I don’t remember being awake until now.”
The Muggle woman explained, taking a few shaky steps away from the bed, as though Regulus were some foreign and dangerous wild animal that might attack if she strayed any nearer.
Regulus frowned, unfamiliar with the term.
“Yes. You were given medication to make you sleep because your screaming woke half the patients on this ward.”
A long pause.
“….Am I allowed to leave any time soon?”
“I’m afraid not, Mr. Ballard. We’re going to have to monitor you over the next few days; though if your condition remains the same as it is now, you will likely be discharged within the week.”
Regulus sat back, pathetically, ingesting it all. So based on what this Muggle Healer (doctor?) was saying; if his condition was static- or else improved, he would soon be out of the hospital and home. But… Where was home?
Returning to Grimmauld Place was not an option. That much was very clear- His mother was told he was dead, and ghosts did not pay homecoming visits to their parents! As much as he was loathe to admit this, Regulus knew he’d never be able to return to the Wizarding world at all. As far as anyone was concerned (the Dark Lord especially), Regulus was dead; but perhaps that would not be such a bad thing after all.
Indeed, there truly was was no going back. Regulus Black had died on that beach; the Muggle Reginald Ballard had been reborn in his place.
Satisfied enough with his current decision, Regulus slipped a little further beneath the thin hospital sheets, eyes closing.
“I know, dear.”
Seconds later, Regulus felt something cold rushing into his arm, numbing him and leading him into a gentle, dreamless sleep.