Chapter 3 : 03. No Such Thing as a Good Day
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03. No Such Thing as a Good Day
We pick up three weeks later, when the charismatic heroine is rather rudely awoken by her pager at 3 am.
“Bugger,” A vague image of my mother telling me not to swear first thing in the morning came to mind. I knocked around the place for a good five minutes, eyes still closed. When the small, black, nearly-broken pager reached my hand, I opened my eyes just a crack to read the message.
Emergency. Ground floor. Prewett, Tobias. 8.
I was out of bed two seconds after and out of the door in another five minutes. By the time I had arrived at St. Mungos, Tobias Prewett, a pale, skinny excuse for an eight year old, had been hooked up to a bottle of zinziger extract and Mermish paste.
“You got here fast,” Nessie looks relieved. “I have another one, an old man, on the first floor. Can you handle this?”
“’Course I can.” I tried to stifle a yawn and failed. Nessie gave me sympathetic look and rushed upstairs. “Alright. What happened to Mr Prewett?”
“Swallowed a Mandrake toenail accidently, we would assume,” one of the interns said.
“At 3 am?” I asked incredulously, checking his pulse and pupils, then his tongue. “The toenails are bloody vicious. Judging by the uncharacteristic bump in his throat, I’d say it’s lodged somewhere in his oesophagus.”
“Do we need to operate?” Mary or Minnie or whatever her name was asked.
“Oh no, just get me a catheter and the endoscopy tube.”
“Dr Morrowitz said to limit the use of – ”
“Muggle equipment, yes, thank you Mary,” I cut across. “I’m not about to use a bloody wire and hook when we have better options. Actually, the tweezers will do, never mind the catheter. You, are you getting me that endo tube or not?”
Two minutes and forty seconds later, I could see the eraser-sized Mandrake toenail poking out of Tobias Prewett’s inner oesophagus on the screen. Adam and Mary used the clamp to keep his mouth open while I manoeuvred the tweezers down his food pipe. One minute and twenty four seconds later, I dropped the Mandrake nail into a petri dish and left a bezoar in the boy’s mouth. Five minutes and fifty one seconds later, the boy’s pupils returned to their normal position and he began coughing up green sludge.
“Give him some of the lunar syrup once he gets to bed. Three doses of mimosa honey between now and tomorrow afternoon. He’ll have to stay the night, just in case,” I gave the boy a pat on the head and shuffled out of the E.R. and upstairs to the offices.
“Shel!” I called. “What shift am I on?”
“Your usual. When did you get here?” Sheldon told me, looking apologetic.
“Three thirty or something, they called me in for an emergency,” I shrugged. “I’m here all day then? Any good surgeries?”
“You’re all bloody sadists,” he chuckled, going over the list. “Montgomery is scheduled to deliver quadruplets at 12:30, and Sheen is doing a craniotomy on the Longbottom kid. That one hasn’t been confirmed though. Was the emergency a regular?”
“Nope, never seen him before. Swallowed a Mandrake nail,” I sighed. Sheldon wasn’t sure if he ought to look amused or confused. He settled for something in the middle. “Yeah, don’t even ask. Do I have any of the usual suspects today?”
“Umm. There’s a Candy Hooper, age 3, made an appointment yesterday. Post-op check up, I believe? That’s at three in the evening.”
“Twelve hours away,” I chuckled, shaking my head. “I’m going to see if I can scrub in on any of the good surgeries today. Thanks Shel, see you later.”
Half an hour later, I was sitting with Meredith in the on-call room going over Candy Hooper’s post-op lab reports while she spread herself on the couch, staring at the ceiling.
“Has he called you then?” she asked, sounding bored. Her position didn’t suggest otherwise either.
“Who?” I asked, not looking up from the reports and pushing my glasses up my nose.
“Who? Seriously?” Mere snorted. “Alexander, you idiot.”
“Oh,” I continued to look uninterested. “No, he hasn’t. I don’t expect him to either. He’s just big talk, I doubt he’d be of any help.” I mumbled.
“You never know. He’s probably got half the Wizengamot under his charm already.”
“I don’t doubt it. Anyway, Professor McGonagall sent me a letter saying she knew an Elias Rump who used to be an associate to the ex-Chief Warlock. I’m going to try and get an appointment with him sometimes this week,” I told her.
“Take Alexander,” she said simply. I stared at her like she was mental; wondering if this was one of those moments when Meredith just said things for the heck of it.
“For what?” I asked incredulously. Why on Earth would I need to take him along?
“Well, in my opinion – ”
“Which I never really ask for but you’re liberal enough to give anyway,” I interjected.
“ – it’s always better to have someone who’s in the field, with you. Rump or whatever his name is might not give you what you’re looking for simply because you’re not in the law, you’re not associated with the law in any way.”
“I’m a citizen of the United Kingdom, aren’t I!”
“Oh don’t give me all that self-righteous BS. He’s not going to swallow it. You need legal aid,” Meredith snapped and I glared at her.
“I’ll take Gina.” I settled.
She shrugged. “Okay, whoever. But you know how Gina is. I just think it’s better to take Alexander given the fact that he’s so ... so ...” She looked around, thinking of a suitable adjective.
“Yeah. But Gina’s secretary to the Minister of Magic,” I said, before realizing it. “Oh shit, I wasn’t supposed to tell anybody. Don’t tell a soul about it!”
“What really?” Meredith was up in her seat. “Ask her if she can get me a date!” she giggled. I rolled my eyes at her, returning to my reports.
“I think it’s better to take Gina. She’s got so much influence, sitting with the Minister,” I shrugged. Meredith shook her head.
“You just don’t want to call him.”
I looked up and gave her a look she knew too well.
“What, you really don’t! Okay well, ask Gina. If you think she’s going to be better at dealing with this than Alexander, give her a call,” Meredith giving up was a bad sign. It meant that I was invariably going to be proved wrong and that she was going to get to rub it in my face. “But if it doesn’t work out, and if Rump is the last contact you have, you’re letting your pettiness come in the way of the lives of millions of Half-breeds.”
Damn. Was she trying to guilt-trip me?
“We’ll find other people if it doesn’t work out with Rump,” I said weakly. She raised her eyebrows at me and shrugged.
“The ball’s in your court,” she said. “What have you got there?”
“Candy Hooper, I operated on her a week back. She had chronic arrhythmia because of fetal distress at week 9, but she was fine soon after surgery.”
“Was that the one you did with the Chief?”
“It was. If something had gone wrong, I think he would have noticed,” I mumbled, scratching my head. “Her ECG isn’t normal, look at this. Merlin, and last time, that new anaesthetist Robin? He forgot to check her tests and we found out she wasn’t answering nitrous oxide. She almost woke up with my hand inside her mediastinum.”
“That’s an unhappy experience to have at age three,” Meredith said. “It looks like she’s going to need another surgery.”
“I don’t want to operate on her without making sure I won’t have to do it again. Besides, she’s still on the inhaler. She’s definitely not ready.”
“What happens if you do or don’t do the surgery this time?”
“If it’s the arrhythmia again, which I doubt it is, because there’s no murmurs or anything, then she definitely will need surgery, in which case, I doubt her lungs will hold up. It was really hard the last time because of the accident with the nitrous oxide. Stupid Robin. We had to compound it with ether. She was in the MCU for nearly two days; we couldn’t take her off the ventilator till after that. So surgery would be ... highly unfavourable at the moment,” I sighed. “And if we don’t. I don’t know what else this could be, maybe another swollen atria or something, maybe?”
“Yeah, could be. Look at that bump there though. Did you find any lumps?”
“No, nothing. If we don’t operate though, you know what happens.”
“Valve expansion equals to not good,” Meredith said, sighing and shaking her head. “She could ..”
“Yeah, she could die,” I sighed, rubbing my eyes. “I doubt she’ll survive another surgery. The arrhythmia was supposed to be taken care of so that she wouldn’t need another surgery till maybe her early twenties or something.”
“Well, you know those two-in-one cases,” Mere gave me a pat on my back.
“I’ll check her out today, I have her at three. I hope it’s not valve expansion. Ugh why do I always get the bad cases!”
“No such thing as a good case,” Meredith sat back on the couch and gave me a just-another-day-at-work expression. I collapsed onto the bunk and closed my eyes.
During lunch hour, an hour before my meeting with the Hoopers, I called Gina to ask her if she’d come with me to talk to Elias Rump.
“Gina! It’s Molly,” I said, trying to sound cheerful. It sounded like she was speaking from a dungeon filled with angry trolls. “Err where are you?”
“Molly, sorry, I’m just getting out of the Lestrange hearing,” she said. “Give me a second!” I waited on the line till she got to a quiet place. “Yeah, okay, I can hear you now. Merlin’s beard, I think the whole world was at that hearing.”
“How’d it go?”
“Well she’s murdered about a hundred people, so it’s Breakfast at Azkaban from now on,” she sighed.
“Until she escapes. Again,” I sighed.
“Oh, you don’t know security at Azkaban anymore, Molly. Not since everything’s gone hush hush. Things are fifteen times worse than it was when they had dementors around.”
I whistled. “Anyway. I need to ask you for a favour,” I said, crossing my favours.
“Sure, just hang on for a second,” she said. A few seconds later, she was back on line. “Sorry, I had to check when my meetings were. What can I do for you?”
“I have the contact details of an Elias Rump, know him?”
“Ugh he used to be Baltimore’s associate,” Gina used the opportunity to call him some pretty colourful things.
“Err. Should I not go to him then?”
“No no, if you can get a meeting with him, there’d be nothing like it. He knows everything about the Wizengamot, hell, I’d say he knew more than Baltimore. He and I didn’t exactly get along too well, that’s all.” I slumped in my seat. There we go.
“Oh. Because, Gina I was wondering if you’d come with me to see him. It’s better to have somebody who knows stuff about the law with me, right?” I almost sounded like I was pleading.
“Don’t be silly, you don’t need me for that. I would ask you to take Finnigan but he’s a bloody sleaze and he might be all over you. Why don’t you ask Alexander, I don’t think he’s doing anything today except attending a few charities.”
I swore under my breath and Gina laughed.
“Come on, Molly, you can’t have the chocolate frog and eat it,” she chuckled. “Why don’t I call him for you? I need to talk to him about finding me some JAs anyway.”
I didn’t know what a JA was but I was grateful for the opportunity to avoid talking to Alexander. “Uhh sure.”
“Don’t sound so miserable about it,” she laughed. “If you have Alexander representing you in the front seat, your Bill is good to go.”
“I should bloody hope so, after all the trouble,” I said, though I didn’t really fancy the idea of Alexander in my front seat. I mean, in the front seat of the ... never mind.
“I’ll call him and ask him to let you know as soon as possible. Talk to you later, Molly!”
“Thanks Gina,” and I hung up, feeling more deflated than I was when I had begun the day. I dialled the number McGonagall had given me and waited for an answer.
“Rump residence, who is this?” came a shrill voice.
“Hello, this is Molly Weasley I was – ”
“Who?” the person at the other end barked.
“Molly Weasley, ma’am!”
“Did you call me ma’am? Can’t you distinguish a man’s voice from a woman’s, Colin Breasley!”
My cheeks burned. “Sorry sir, and it’s Molly Weasley!”
“Don’t tell me how to pronounce, Colin Breasley! What do you want?”
“Umm, would you be Elias Rump, sir?”
“Would you be Elias Rump, sir?” he mimicked. I wanted to give him a mouthful at that point but decided against it. “Who else would it be? The Minister for Magic?”
I ignored his question. “Sir, I was wondering if I could get a meeting with you? I’m trying to push a half-breed rights bill into the Wizengamot – ”
“I can’t decipher a word of what you’re blabbering! Youth today, one wonders what they teach you at school! I bet you are one of those Durmstrang ones. They’re famous for the mutterers!”
“Sir – ”
“Oh shut up, Breasley. Come to my residence at four o’ clock today and bring a bloody translator with you!”
“What about five? I’m a big tight for four – ”
“Four o’ clock or nothing!” and he slammed down the receiver by the look of it.
I sighed and took a few minutes to calm myself before poking at the now brown apples in my food tray.
“I don’t understand,” Mrs. Hooper was having a day as bad as I was, if not worse. “Why wasn’t the valve expansion detected during the first surgery?”
“It was premature. They invariably always go unnoticed during the first few stages,” I explained. “Plus, tackling both problems in one surgery, given her respiratory condition, would not be favourable.”
“But doing it now isn’t either, is it?” she asked. “She’s not even fully recovered from the first one.”
“That’s why we’re in a bit of situation,” I sighed. “If we do the surgery at the soonest, which is really what anyone would advice, but not for Candy because she might not hold up ... well, she might not be able to cope,” Mrs. Hooper bent her head and sighed. “And if we don’t do it as soon as possible, well, the valve is expanding is very fast. It could ... it’s the same situation either way, Jane.”
I sighed and hoped she wouldn’t cry. Single mother with a three year old with a heart defect. She probably didn’t even have the money to pay for a second surgery.
“What do we do?” she whispered. At that moment, the nurse wheeled in a fatigued looking Candy. She gave me a shy smile and got out of the wheelchair, walking towards her mother. Her neck and chest had heavy strapping, visible through her tiny t-shirt. Eve handed me her report and left the three of us alone.
“It’s definitely valve expansion,” I sighed, shaking my head. I looked at Jane sympathetically.
“What do you suggest?”
“Our best bet is with surgery. It will be tough, but if we can get another cardio and a pulmonary specialist to scrub in, in case there’s any emergency, we can hope that it will be taken care of. But it’s your choice, Jane. Do you think you’ll be able to pay off this one?”
“I had help from my parents for the last one, you know,” she said, and cleared her throat. “They’re all dried up now, so I don’t know who to ask. Maybe I should call Max.” She sounded more like she was talking to herself.
“Are you sure you can’t talk to the insurance company?” I asked.
“I’m sure. I think they have my name blacklisted or something, they don’t even pick up my calls,” she laughed bitterly, running a hand through Candy’s hair absentmindedly.
I sighed. “I’ll see if I can try and get you a cut, but it’s really doubtful,” I said sadly. “What about a loan?”
“You know those bloody Goblins. They know when you won’t be able to repay something.”
“I’ll see what I can do, Jane,” I said, giving her shoulder a squeeze. “Give me a call when you’re ready, or if you just want to talk.”
At 3:45, I got out of the consulting room and checked my mobile, thoroughly displeased to see a missed call from Alexander. Reluctantly, I called him back, hoping he would be too busy being fabulous to answer. No such luck.
“I thought you were playing hard-to-get,” he chuckled and I stopped in my tracks, rolling my eyes. “Gina phoned me earlier. Have you got an appointment with this bloke?”
“Bloke who sounds like a woman and is half deaf, yes,” I said, sighing for the millionth time that day. “Four o’clock or nothing, is what he said.”
“I’ll be there in two minutes,” he said coolly. “Mungo’s, aye?”
“Yeah. Where are you?”
“Bloody charity for the Working Mum’s Federation or something,” he grumbled unhappily and I resisted the urge to give him a sermon. “Two streets away. I’ll be at the main entrance.”
“I’ll be down in five minutes, I have to get to the other end of the hospital to change.”
“Wear something pretty,” I could practically hear him smirking. I hung up.
Ten minutes later, I was in Alexander’s car, driving past the Ministry of Magic.
“You’re being awfully glum today,” he stated and I shot him a glare.
“I’m sorry, having to tell a mother that her three year old daughter is going to die tends to do that to you,” I snapped back.
“Ouch,” he said. “Sorry about that. What are you going to do about it?”
“There’s really nothing that can be done. If we don’t operate, she’ll definitely die. If we do, her chance of surviving it is very small.”
“Tough life,” he said. “Who is this guy anyway?”
“Who, Rump?” I rolled my eyes upon remembering our friendly conversation. A bad habit that was becoming. “He used to be Warlock Baltimore’s associate.”
“I remember Baltimore, he was a good bloke,” Alexander said. “A real stickler for the rules. What’s Rump like?”
“Old,” I said scathingly. “He thought I was a Colin Breasley.”
Alexander chuckled. “Don’t worry, if you can’t manage to charm him, we’ll find some other guys.”
“I’m not about to charm anybody. That’s what you’re here for,” I informed him, not wanting him to get the wrong idea.
“Right, because old men are definitely my forte.”
I managed not to smile. “Are you saying they’re mine?”
When we got to Rump’s place, a large, old woman told us to sit in the waiting room. We did. For more than an hour. An hour that consisted mainly of Alexander trying to make small talk and my trying to stay awake.
“Bloody hell, I can’t believe that arse,” I said angrily. “He said to be here at four on the dot and he’s not even here?”
“He’s probably still walking down the stairs, he’s an old man, isn’t he?” chuckled Alexander and I gave him a look that told him I didn’t appreciate the humour. At that moment, an old man who looked oddly like Ollivander greeted us.
“I’m sorry for the wait, I had a meeting with the book society,” he said. I looked at him suspiciously, the same way Alexander was looking at me before he stepped forward and shook his hand.
“I’m Alexander Price, this is Molly Weasley,” he said, shaking his hand with earnest. “We were told to come by at four o’ clock, actually.”
“Are you certain? Alfred told me that I was to expect a Colin Breasley at five,” he gestured towards the chairs. “Please, do sit.” And so we sat down, again. “I’ll ask for some tea.”
“There must have been some miscommunication,” Alexander said charmingly, shooting me a wry glance. I rolled my eyes.
“Dora, if you could get us some tea, please,” he told the old woman who had let us in earlier and then turned to face us. “Which one of you is Colin, again?”
“Actually, I think I was misheard. I’m Molly Weasley,” I said, trying to be polite.
“Ah, related to Arthur and Percy Weasley?” he said curiously, scratching his beard.
“My grandfather and father,” I said smiling. “Did you know them?”
Alexander coughed and sat back in his chair, while Mr Rump gave a loud, lazy yawn. “Oh yes, I knew Arthur well. We had a bit of a row though, over one of the Muggle cases. And Percy had just come in when I was leaving the Ministry.”
“Hmm.” I managed, crossing my legs. Alexander cleared his throat.
“Anyway, the reason why we’re here is – ”
“The car outside, is that Arthur’s?” Rump cut across. Alexander and I looked at each briefly, before he went on to tell him that the car was his. “Funny! Even Wizards are into these Muggle contraptions these days. What do you do, Miss Weasley? Or are you a Mrs?”
“Oh no, still very much Miss Weasley, Mr Rump. I’m a healer at St Mungos,” I said smiling.
“Oh!” he exclaimed happily. “I have a brother in law there. Amos Pickering, have you heard of him?” he asked eagerly.
“He’s the head anaesthesiologist there, actually, yes. I’ve worked with his son Robin,” I said, trying very hard not to add in that the boy Robin has very little to call brains.
“Robin was always a scatterbrain,” he offered, and I laughed. So it would seem.
“Anyway – ” Alexander tried to squeeze himself into the conversation.
“What do you do, son?”
“I’m a lawyer and a political analyst, sir,” he said politely.
“Do you work with the Minister?”
“At the moment, yes I am. I’ve just come back from practicing in America.”
There was silence. I gave Alexander a small nod and he started talking.
“Anyway, sir, we’re here to ask for a bit of help.”
“Help? With what?”
“We’re trying to get a bill for half-breed rights into the Wizengamot,” he said slowly and clearly, but confidently. I stopped myself from mouthing a mocking “we?” at him. “We’d like to know how to go about it and if you’d be able to help us.”
“There’s plenty of abandoned half-breed cases, why would you want to start a new one? They all get ignored anyway,” he said, sounding very bored. I opened my mouth to say something rude but Alexander cut across.
“We’re certain we can get this one passed, but we just need to get it to the Warlock,” he said hastily. I sat back in my chair.
“Oh really? What’s your strategy?”
“As an analyst, I don’t think revealing one’s strategy before entering the fray is suitable. People talk, with all due respect. In a court where everyone is determined to defeat you, I think that would be a highly stupid thing to do,” Alexander countered, smiling at the old man as if he was telling him a story. The old man looked impressed.
“Well, I’m sorry, but I no longer have any association with the Wizengamot any longer,” he said, rubbing his hands together. “I had a row, you see.”
“I’m sure you could tell us what to do, though?”
“You need to write the Bill, of course. I’m assuming you’ve done that?” he asked.
“We have most of the paperwork ready,” Alexander answered instead of me. I swallowed. We didn’t actually have the Bill written down.
“Have all of it ready before the Winter Session. If you get it through primaries, then the final hearing is in May next year. It’s a long process between then and now. But first, write the Bill. Get it approved by someone in the Ministry. Someone who has ties with the Minister. If possible, try and get the Minister on your side, so that you do get it through to primaries.”
“I think we might have someone to do that for us,” I nodded.
“Oh but next year is election year!” he laughed. “Elections are in March so don’t expect anything to be done between that time.”
“Will it matter? We don’t get to vote anyway,” I said.
“It matters because the Ministry will be upside down. Rumour has it that Wicket isn’t going to get another term,” he looked fleetingly at Alexander, who had become increasingly fidgety. “Anyway. If you have the Minister in the bag by the end of the month, give me a ring. I’ll prep you for primaries.” He stood up and scratched his beard again. “I hope you don’t mind, I need a shave.”
“Thanks very much, Mr Rump,” I said, feeling thoroughly pleased.
“No problem,” he shook my hand and then Alexander’s and went away. We didn’t say anything till we got back into the car.
“That was ... surprisingly easy,” Alexander said quietly.
“Do you think Gina will help us get to the Minister?” I asked him and he shook his head.
“We need a Bill first,” he started the engine and dropped his hands onto the steering.
“I have the ... notes,” I said lamely. He chuckled.
“We’ll need everything you’ve got. I’ve got a friend, Malcolm Links, he’s good at this sort of this. The three of us and Gina will have to get together for a couple of days and work it out.”
“He said we should have the Minister by the end of the month,” I sighed, rubbing my eyes.
“Don’t worry about convincing Gina, I’ll take of that,” he smiled charmingly and I scoffed.
“I have no doubts.”
“What are we doing, then? Early dinner?” he asked casually and I looked up suddenly.
“What? No! I have to be back at the hospital. I have a surgery at seven.”
“The one you were telling me about?”
“No, this one’s a teenager,” I said.
“What are you doing after?” Always so relentless, I thought.
“Party animal,” he mumbled and I glared at him. We didn’t say anything else till I said goodbye once we reached St Mungos again.
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