Chapter 2 : The Study
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My house had not changed since we bought it. It was a wooden log home nestled in between two Muggle farms with bush behind it. It looked exactly as it had when I moved out after Hogwarts. Even my room was the same. Mum and Dad weren't the kind of parents who turned their kids' rooms into spas and fitness rooms after they moved out. No, they were the type of parents who left the rooms exactly the same in hopes that their children would move back eventually.
Mum tried to convince me to move back for six months after I got a flat with Victoire when we began Healer training. She visited us nearly every day, bringing baked goods, advice, and offers to clean with her. Eventually, she came to terms with the fact that I was grown up and wasn't going to move back home. That was when the Saturday evening family dinner started.
She was worse with Matt. At first, she flat out refused to let him move out. He wound up staying home for about a year after graduating Hogwarts, partly because of Mum and partly because he just couldn't find a job. Not many people want to employ werewolves. Then he got a job in Werewolf Support Services and a few months later he told Mum he was moving out to live with Albus.
Dad had to convince Mum that Matt would be ok. I think it helped that I lived in the same flat building as Albus. Mum still went over there at least three times a week, though. I didn't think she was ever going to stop doing that with him.
“Amy! Matt!” Mum greeted us at the door with tight hugs. It was like she hadn't seen us in years, rather than just twenty-four hours.
“Hi, Mum,” I smiled as I stepped into the house.
“Dinner is just about ready, so you can come right into the kitchen,” Mum instructed.
Matt and I followed her into the kitchen, where Dad, Uncle Jack, and our house elf, Ellie, were already at the table. I sat down next to Uncle Jack and Mum put the last dish on the table.
“How are things at St. Mungo's?” Uncle Jack asked as he served himself some spaghetti.
“Good,” I replied. “Busy as usual. I've got a new potion that's nearly finished. It'll be ready to be sent off for testing tomorrow, but I won't get the results back for awhile.”
“I'll be crossing my fingers,” Uncle Jack said and turned to Matt and Dad. “What's new in the old Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures?”
“Not much,” Dad said as he served himself some salad, “Had some issues about people wanting to keep Grindylows as pets in their ponds. Bad idea if there are Muggles around. Had to Obliviate a few Muggles last week. I really don't see the appeal in Grindylows as pets, though.”
“People are stupid,” Matt agreed, “Honestly, they should just get pygmy puffs and be done with it.”
“That they are,” Uncle Jack shook his head, “There is nothing appealing about a Grindylow. What about you, Julie? How is training?”
Almost two years ago, Mum decided to go back to school to train to be a nurse. I don't know why she didn't do it sooner. She already knows nearly everything a nurse does, after taking care of Matt for so many years. But soon she'll have certification and she'll be able to work at St. Mungo's or something.
“Oh, it's wonderful,” Mum smiled, “I'll be certified in a few months. I'm mostly doing clinicals at St. Mungo's at the moment, which is really nice. It's such a rewarding career.”
“Glad to hear it,” Uncle Jack said, “I could always see you as a nurse.”
“How about you, Jack?” Dad asked, “How are things in New York?”
“Pretty good,” Jack said, “I'm actually considering retiring from the book store. Perhaps traveling a bit, looking for obscure magical objects.”
“Like when we were young,” Dad mused.
“Exactly,” Uncle Jack winked, “Any chance you're considering retirement?”
“Nope,” Dad grinned, “Ministry can't get rid of me just because I'm getting old.”
“You just work too much,” Uncle Jack replied.
Dad has always been a little bit of a workaholic, but ever since Matt graduated from Hogwarts, he's really thrown himself into his work. I suppose it's because there really isn't anything else for him to do. I think he needs a hobby.
We finished dinner and then moved onto dessert. Mum had made a chocolate cake and everyone sang happy birthday. Then I had to eat my cake without talking, which was a tradition that we had been doing on birthdays for as long as I could remember. Matt tried to get me to talk while I ate, but it didn't work.
After dinner, my family gave me presents and cards. Mum and Dad got me a personalized stethoscope, which was nice because I had recently lost mine. Matt got me a really nice bracelet with my birthstone on it. Uncle Jack got me a few books about the history of potion brewing.
“Cinda gave me this to give to you, too,” Mum handed me an envelope.
Cinda, my maternal grandmother, was nearing 95 years old and lived in a Muggle nursing home a few kilometers away from my parents' house. My grandfather, Richard, had died five years ago and Cinda did not adjust well. She lived in Australia for a few more months and then Mum insisted that she move to England. She got sick shortly after that and had to go to the nursing home.
I opened the envelope and found a card, along with a very generous check and instructions to 'get yourself something nice'. Cinda had never held back for birthday or Christmas gifts, even after she went into the nursing home.
“I'll visit her soon,” I said as I put the card and check back in the envelope.
“Good,” Mum said quietly, “She's not doing too well.”
I swallowed hard. “What's wrong?”
“She's just getting old,” Mum sighed.
I nodded. “Yeah, I'll visit soon.”
“I'll go with you,” Matt said.
“She'll be thrilled to see you two,” Mum smiled.
Matt and I stayed at the house for a few more hours, playing Exploding Snap and talking. It was nice to have Uncle Jack there. He was the king of Exploding Snap and by the time Matt and I left, we both had faces covered in soot. Mum and Dad's faces matched.
We left when Mum and Dad decided they had to go to bed. Mum made us tell her every detail about the full moon plans, down to the exact minute Matt would go home to transform. We both assured her that everything would be fine and we would contact her if we needed anything.
“Always a worrier,” Matt muttered as we walked out to the yard to disapparate, “Our mum.”
“Always will be,” I said.
I breezed into St. Mungo's bright and early on Monday, ready to work. Mondays were always hectic at work. They consisted of me playing catch-up on what went on in the hospital during the weekend, unless I had been on call of course.
“Farina's in a foul mood,” Lynne, one of the nurses fell into step next to me as I walked through the waiting room towards the lifts.
Lynne Warner was a middle-aged woman with greying red hair and glasses that were always perched on the tip of her nose. She was slightly overweight and around my height. She was also one of the nicest nurses in the entire hospital. I was very happy that she worked on my floor.
“What happened this time?” I groaned.
Eleanor Farina was in essence the matriarch of St. Mungo's. She was the hospital's director and the boss of all the bosses. Nothing happened in the hospital without her knowing about it and any major decision had to be run by her first.
She was strict, had absolutely no sense of humor, and was not someone you would want to cross. The funny thing was that she was a very small person. Not only was she short, but she was quite skinny as well. She also dyed all the grey out of her hair and wore large amounts of make-up so she barely looked older than me.
“Someone left one of the brewing rooms unlocked on Saturday night,” Lynne told me, “She's trying to find out who it was. It wasn't you, was it?”
“Merlin, no,” I assured her, “I was at my parents' house that night.”
It was a well known fact that all brewing rooms had to be kept locked when not in use. They were just too dangerous to leave unlocked. Only brewers and Farina herself could unlock them. I almost felt bad for the poor sap who had left the room unlocked. Almost. It had been pretty stupid of them not to lock it. What if a patient had wandered down there?
We entered a lift and rode it up to our floor. It was still quiet, as it was not even nine o'clock, but I knew it would be bustling before long.
“Eckerton!” someone said from behind me.
I knew the voice even before I turned around. That high pitched but forceful voice could only be that of Farina.
“You got an alibi for Saturday night?” she barked.
“I was at my parents'. My mum will vouch for me. As will my dad and brother, if you care to owl them at the Ministry. Plus my uncle if you care to owl him in New York,” I told her.
“I'll do that,” she replied and then handed me a chart, “And you're on clinic duty this afternoon. One until five.”
I groaned inwardly. I didn't really like doing clinic hours because they took away time from brewing and research. “All right. I'll be there.”
Farina left and I walked the remainder of the way towards my study. Lynne said goodbye to me at the nurse's station, where she joined Dina, a very quiet young nurse who had only been working at St. Mungo's for a few months.
“Morning, Morris,” I said to Healer Sterling as I walked past his study.
“Morning, Amy,” he replied, “You've got a few letters. They're on Natalie's desk.”
Natalie Caberney was our secretary and both of our studies branched off from hers. I grabbed the stack of letters from her desk and went into my own study to read them.
My study was extremely messy. There were numerous filing cabinets everywhere and books scattered throughout the small room. Miscellaneous charts were scattered everywhere, but I knew where to find them all. It was organized chaos.
I sat down in the comfy chair behind my desk and opened the first letter. It was from Rose, giving me the times of the three appointments with the new people for our study. Two were this morning, but one was right when I was supposed to be in the clinic. Perfect. That meant I'd have to track down Farina before one o'clock.
The second letter was from someone interested in participating in the study. I set it aside for when I would have more time to write a response. The third letter was from 'Magical Creatures Monthly' wanting to interview me about the study. I threw that one in the fireplace. I refused to do interviews for magazines that saw werewolves as 'creatures' and not people. Magical Creatures Monthly was definitely one of those magazines.
Once the clock struck nine, I set off to do my rounds. Rounds never took me long since all of the patients were in the same ward. Mondays were always interesting because they included new patients that I knew little or nothing about.
I grabbed the charts out of the basket on Natalie's desk and looked through them as I walked to the ward. There were four of them. The first two were patients who had been there on Friday. One wizard who had gotten a very nasty burn from a dragon and a witch who had been bitten by an ashwinder. Normally, those bites weren't bad, but this particular witch was allergic to their venom.
The third chart was for a wizard who had been bitten by a manticore. That made me shudder. Manticore attacks were pretty rare because most witches and wizards rarely came in contact with them, but the occasional one did crop up and they were bad.
The fourth chart was for one of my own patients. Some Healers at St. Mungo's did not have any patients they saw on a regular basis and dealt with emergencies only. Others practiced family healing and only saw their own patients, be it for check-ups or emergencies. Still others dealt with emergencies and had a small amount of their own patients as well. I was one of those Healers. I had a few patients whom I saw on a regular basis for check-ups and then for emergencies. They all had lycanthropy. Healer Sterling was the same way. Between the two of us we saw nearly all of the people with lycanthropy in England.
This particular patient really tugged at my heartstrings. Since my job was so heartbreaking, I often had to try and distance myself from patients, but that never worked with this patient. He was only six years old and had been attacked by a werewolf at the age of three.
Although Wolfsbane did work for him, it did not have the effect it was supposed to have. It rendered him very calm and harmless during full moons, but it made him violently ill as soon as he started taking it. Since Wolfsbane has to be taken for the week preceding the full moon, he would often be sick for a week.
His parents had been struggling with the decision whether to keep him on Wolfsbane for years. It was so difficult to decide whether it was really worth it for him.
I opened the door to the ward and went to the wizard with the dragon burn first. He was sitting up in bed reading the Prophet. I examined his burn and pronounced him in good health. I gave him a potion and a salve and discharged him. He was quite happy to be out of the ward.
The witch with the ashwinder bite had been able to leave, too. I warned her not to go near the snakes again and sent her on her way.
Next was the wizard with the manticore bites. He was covered in bandages. He was also asleep and did not wake up as I changed the bandages. That was probably for the best since there was really no way to change them in a painless way. I made a mental note to check up on him later once he was awake.
Then it was time for my youngest patient. His name was Jamie Allen. His mother, Candace, was sitting in a chair next to the bed, holding his hand. She was fast asleep. George, his father, was on the other side of the bed. In George's lap was their four-year-old son, Kyle.
They reminded me a lot of my family when Matt and I were younger. I suppose that was why Jamie broke my heart so much.
“George,” I greeted him as I conjured a chair and sat down in it.
“Amy,” he gave me a weak smile, “Thank Merlin you're here.”
“Been here since Saturday?” I asked as I looked over the chart.
“Yes,” George sighed, “High fever, nausea, the usual.”
I nodded and pulled out my wand. I got up and gently shook Jamie. He opened his eyes and smiled at me.
“Healer Eckerton,” he whispered.
“Hi, Jamie,” I smiled, “How are you feeling?”
“Tired,” he said.
“You can go back to sleep soon,” I assured him, “I just need to get your vitals.”
He nodded and I waved my wand over him. A few seconds later, his vitals appeared on his chart. He was asleep before I even stowed my wand.
“He's better today,” I told George and Candace, who had woken up, “But only because of the potions. I'll go get his morning doses.”
Jamie could not keep taking Wolfsbane, I thought as I went to get the potions. Getting that ill every month was taking a toll on his body. The past few months he had been tired all the time, not only around the full moon.
“I'd like to talk to you in my study,” I told George and Candace after I'd given Jamie his potions.
They looked at each other and then nodded. Candace sent Kyle to stay with Lynne while we talked and I led them into my study.
Giving people bad news was my least favorite part of my job. I didn't have to do it nearly as often as Victoire did, but it did occasionally happen.
George and Candace seemed to know that I was giving them bad news. They sat down in the chairs in front of my desk and waited for me to begin. Both of them looked like they hadn't gotten a good night's sleep in days.
“Jamie's been taking Wolfsbane for three years,” I began, “And because of that he hasn't really suffered on full moons. However, the Wolfsbane has been making him incredibly ill. I know you mentioned that he's been acting off even when he's not taking Wolfsbane.”
“Yes,” George sighed, “He's tired all the time now.”
“It's because of the Wolfsbane,” I said quietly, “Even though it's out of his system during the rest of the month, it wreaks havoc when it is there and it's been leaving lasting damage.”
“What does that mean?” Candace asked.
“It means that if he keeps taking Wolfsbane, he's going to be left with permanent damage to his immune system and he'll get sick all the time,” I said, “I'm really sorry.”
“We're going to have to take him off it,” Candace said.
“Yes, you are,” I told them, “Not this month because he's already been taking it for a few days and if he goes through this transformation without Wolfsbane I don't think he'll survive in his weak state.”
George put an arm around Candace, whose eyes were tearing up. “Next month, then,” George said.
“Next month,” I agreed, “It's going to be hard, but I think it'll be better in the long run. He won't be as sick before full moons.”
“But he'll be injured afterwards,” Candace choked.
“He will. It'll probably take him two or three days to recover, but after that he'll be fine,” I assured them.
“We don't exactly have a choice,” George sighed.
“I'm working to fix that potion. You know that,” I said quietly, “It will happen. Jamie will get through this. Have you thought much about him going to Hogwarts?”
“No,” George shook his head, “We try to get through one full moon at a time.”
“Think about it,” I smiled, “Even if I haven't created a better potion by then, he can still go.”
“I really doubt Professor Kendrick would let a werewolf attend Hogwarts,” George muttered, “That's too dangerous.”
I smiled. “Send him an owl. You might be pleasantly surprised.”
“I guess it can't hurt,” George sighed.
“No, definitely not,” I agreed, “Just ask him.”
“All right,” George agreed, “We will.”
After a morning of paperwork, owl answering, and the first two lycanthropy appointments it was time to go find Farina and get down on my hands and and knees and beg to be late to clinic duty that afternoon.
Tracking Farina down was always an interesting task. She was rarely in her study. I checked there first anyway and it was as predicted, empty. It didn't seem fair that she had the biggest study and was rarely in it.
I finally found her in the basement. Apparently she had found the culprit who left the brewing room unlocked. She was yelling at Elliot Rodney, the newest brewer who had just been hired the previous week. He was in his mid-twenties, a few years older than Matt, and very tall and good looking. However, while being yelled at by Farina, he looked like he was about to cry. I swear she could bring the Minister of Magic to tears.
“Healer Farina,” I cleared my throat.
She stopped yelling and turned around. She sighed and shook her head when she saw me. “Get back to work, Rodney.”
Rodney didn't have to be told twice. He bolted away and shut himself in his brewing room. I felt bad for him. I cried the first time Farina yelled at me, too.
“What is it, Eckerton?” she asked.
“I would like to request that my clinic hours be put off until two o'clock,” I said.
“And what makes you think that I would grant that request?” she raised her eyebrow.
“I have a previous commitment,” I explained, “I have an appointment with a wizard who wishes to join my lycanthropy study.”
“The one you're doing with Weasley?” she asked.
“Yes, that one. The appointment is at one o'clock and I wish to be present, along with Healer Weasley, because she does not have the specialization in lycanthropy like I do. She will not be able to answer all of the wizard's questions,” I continued.
“Fair point,” Farina agreed, “You have until one-thirty to show up in the clinic or face the consequences.”
“Thank you,” I replied and left for the lifts.
One thing that I learned shortly after being hired at St. Mungo's was that Farina never gave you exactly what you wanted. If you wanted to push back your clinic hours by an hour, she would give you a half hour. If you wanted two days off, she'd give you one day off. The best thing to do was to ask for more time than you actually needed. Of course, it was pointless unless you had a good reason.
I was just grateful she gave me time off around the full moon. It wasn't real time off since I did pop into the hospital for a few hours the day after the full moon, but it was still considered time off. It was the least I could do since that was one of the busiest days in the ward.
I ate a very hurried lunch on my way to the very top floor of the hospital. That floor was added after the defeat of Lord Voldemort, mostly to add a psychiatry ward. Psychology and psychiatry still were not very well known in the wizarding world, but they became more so after the war.
When Farina became head of the whole hospital a few years later, she took half that floor and created the clinic. It was added solely for efficiency. She had noticed that a lot of the ailments and injuries that people went to the hospital with were quite minor and could be healed quickly. The clinic is now used for those ailments and the more major ailments are taken care of on the other floors. Plus, that's where people get their check-ups. It really was a good idea.
Rose was already set up in one of the rooms, complete with a clip-board and a stack of information on the psychology part of the study. She was always early and incredibly organized. We made an interesting pair for doing a study together.
“I've got clinic at 1:30,” I said as I walked in, “I hope this bloke is on time.”
The people we had met with earlier had both been late. Only the witch agreed to be in the study, though. The wizard didn't think the amount of money we would pay him was enough.
A few minutes later a middle-aged man with greying brown hair walked in. His face was lined with wrinkles, but his eyes were bright.
“Dan Bartholomew?” I asked.
He nodded. “You two the Healers?”
“Yes,” I said and gestured to the open chair, “Please have a seat.”
“So,” he began, “Healer Weasley said you're doing a study on lycanthropy?”
“Yes,” I replied, “We are hoping to discover the reason why werewolves do not remember what happens while they are wolves. Our first theory is that the transformation itself is so traumatic that the brain represses the memory in order to protect the psyche. However, it could also be that the wolf's memories are just not transferred when a werewolf transforms back into a human.”
“Why does it matter to figure that out?” Dan asked.
“I have a theory that it might help us to figure out why the Wolfsbane Potion does not work for all werewolves,” I explained.
“Oh,” he said, “That might be useful.”
“We're hoping it will be,” I said, “Now, does Wolfsbane work for you?”
“Yep,” Dan nodded, “But I'll still do the study. Just as long as I don't have to stop taking Wolfsbane.”
“No, you can still take it,” I answered, “What you will have to do is come in after every full moon and take a few potions that will allow us to examine your brain and to try and get you to remember what happened during full moons.”
“Will that hurt?” he asked skeptically.
“No,” I replied, “And you will be compensated for your time.”
The man nodded. “Now, do I still keep seeing you every week, Healer Weasley?”
“Yes, this will not affect your appointments with me,” Rose told him, “There are also no known emotional side effects from participating in this study.”
“I think I'll need to think about it,” Dan said.
“Understandable,” I said as I handed him a stack of papers, “This explains everything in more detail. If you decide to participate, owl us the forms on the bottom, signed and dated, and we'll contact you about your first appointment.”
“Do I have to decide before the next full moon?” Dan asked.
“No,” I shook my head, “We've already made appointments for this upcoming full moon and wouldn't be able to squeeze you in anyway. Think about it for a couple weeks and then get back to us.”
“I'll let you know,” Dan said as he stood up.
“Thanks,” I smiled.
“Two in one day isn't bad,” Rose said once he left.
“Nope,” I agreed, “Not bad at all.”
A/N: Thanks to everyone for their lovely reviews! You guys are awesome!
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