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Chapter 3 : Attack
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The alarm screeched into my ear the following morning. It was not melodious in the slightest. At least all of my healer robes were clean now, though. That was the only good thing about today. I squinted at my watch, using the little bit of silvery light coming in through my bedroom window. It should have been a crime to wake up when the moon was still at its peak. What were the chances anything disastrous ever happened at three o’clock in the morning? Slim chances, my friend, very slim indeed.
Cursing at having to wake up at such an ungodly hour, I stumbled in the near darkness to the bathroom. Maybe a shower would wake me up. If not then there was always coffee. I had never been a fan of coffee, still wasn’t, but it really was some kind of magic. Well, not technically, but you get the picture. It woke me up.
Forty minutes later and I was wearing the hideous lime green healer robes that clashed with my red hair and probably not in a good way either. But who am I to try to pretend I knew anything about fashion.
That said, I poured myself a cuppa and floo’d into work instead of Apparating since my friends were still sleeping off all the alcohol they had consumed at the Leaky. It was impressive how those two could still drink themselves shitfaced on work nights. I always felt more haggard each time I got drunk, and I’m not even in my mid-twenties yet. Twenty-three isn’t that old, is it? I don’t feel old, I mean I normally don’t. I did that morning, but that was because I hadn’t gotten much sleep in the past week or month. Okay, so I couldn’t exactly remember the last decent night’s sleep I’ve had. What healer keeps track of their sleep hours anyway?
“Louis, just the healer I was looking for,” my supervisor, Healer Newman, said the moment I stepped out of the fireplace in the staff room, brushing ash from my robes in the process. “I need your assistance in the ER pronto.” And with that said, Newman promptly marched out of the staffroom, clearly expecting me to follow so I did. He was my supervisor after all; if I wanted a good report after my supervision was over then I had to do whatever he told me to do. If he told me to jump off the roof of St. Mungo’s then I’d have no choice but to leap. Okay, maybe not, but you get the point. I had to listen to him.
“So, what’s the deal?” I asked, matching my pace with his.
“There was another attack that occurred around a few hours ago,” Healer Newman said. “Apparently the family was camping, celebrating the end of summer before the older kids went back to Hogwarts. Well, the youngest, a six-year-old boy, wandered out of the tent he was sharing with his siblings after they had fallen to sleep. Bottom line, a werewolf attacked him and he was found just feet from the family’s camping site.”
“But that would mean that the werewolf had been lurking right next to the site,” I said.
“Exactly,” Healer Newman said briskly. “Which makes it look like it was planned.”
We reached the ER on the Dai Llewellyn ward and I follow Thomas through the swinging doors. The sight I’m faced with catches me off guard, causing me to stumble back a few steps. The mattress of the gurney was covered in the child’s blood from the fresh, open wounds; those four claw marks, glistening red, made it real and I threw myself into action. However, I was unsure of what exactly to do. I haven’t helped out on any of the previous attacks before so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but now that I’m staring it in the face I’m not sure I could do this. It was too much seeing that child laying limply on that gurney as a team of healers roamed around him with their wands raised; potions and medical supplies sitting on a table nearby.
“Grab that ointment over there, Louis,” Thomas said, seemingly unfazed as he took a seat on a swivelling stool beside Thomas. “The wound needs cleaning before it can be sealed.”
I swallowed as I rolled over to the table and grabbed the ointment. Returning back to the gurney, I handed Thomas the ointment.
I still don’t know how I managed to assist Thomas and keep it together, but I did. It was a couple hours later when I found myself standing next to Thomas before the boy’s grief-stricken parents.
“He’s sleeping now,” Healer Newman said. “You’re more than welcome to go and see him. We’re hoping he’ll wake up within the next several hours at the most. Until then we can’t give him anymore potions for pain and healing.”
When the boy’s parents left us standing in the hallway to go check on their sleeping son, Thomas looked straight at me expectantly. All I could do was stare back blankly.
“I need you to speak with the Daily Prophet reporter that’s waiting downstairs in the lobby,” Thomas said, “Also, any other reporter that has decided to show up while we were treating the boy.”
“Why don’t you just hold a press conference?”
“Can’t, I have to speak with a couple people from the Werewolf Control Unit branch of the Department and Control of Magical Creatures.”
“But why can’t you get another healer that’s spoken to reporters do it?”
“Louis, it’s not that hard,” Thomas said. “All I need you to do is tell them the facts: a boy was brought in after being bitten by a werewolf and that his condition is stabilized. You’re great at healing, but you need to work on your communicative skills. Don’t make this into more than it already is, okay.”
“But what if they want more information?”
“Then tell them flat out that that’s all the information that we have for them as of now,” Thomas said. “And it’s the truth, too.”
Feeling that I was definitely not getting out of this, I headed off down the hall and rode the lift down to the main lobby. Instead of announcing my presence by calling any reporters that happened to be waiting, I headed over to the Welcome Witch’s desk where Shelby had just hung up the phone. Hopefully asking Shelby to point me in the direction of the Prophet reporter wouldn’t flag any extra attention.
“Louis,” Shelby said, smiling. “It’s been a while. I don’t usually see you on the main floor. Are you just getting in?”
I checked my watch before looking back up at her. “I’ve been here for a couple of hours.”
“Ah, how’ve you been?”
I had always felt awkward talking to Shelby since we had dated back in my first year of healer training. Shelby was only a couple years older than me and had once dreamed of being a healer, too, but she wasn’t ambitious. Working as a secretary seemed to be enough for her. We hadn’t lasted long, either. Let’s just say our relationship had been more like a fling that had fizzled away to nothing; like the fizz of a soda pop.
“Alright,” I said. “Look, Shelby, I’m only down here to speak with that Prophet reporter. Do you think you could point me to where he’s at?”
Shelby frowned, clearly hurt by my bluntness. I felt bad but I had a job to do.
“Right, of course that’s why you’re down here,” Shelby said, clearing her throat. “Well, there are actually a few more reporters that have shown up since and they’re all sitting over there.” I looked to where Shelby was pointing. “Good luck talking to them.”
I swallowed as I headed back toward the lobby waiting area. I had never been good when it came to public speaking. The moment I stepped into the centre of the lobby where they’re all waiting, I’m ambushed as they quickly spring forth from the stiff chairs they had been sitting in. I also noticed my cousin, Lily, among the reporters; she works as a writer for Wizards Weekly magazine. The moment she recognised me she started elbowing her way through the crowd of reporters; being petite is definitely not a disadvantage for her as she learned quick growing up with two brothers like James and Albus.
“Louis,” Lily said. She was all business. “How’s the boy? Is he infected?”
“Of course he’s infected,” I replied, somewhat shortly. “He was bitten by a werewolf. Come on, Lily, I know you’re smarter than that.”
Lily rolled her eyes. “Alright then, how is he doing? And is this at any way connected to the other werewolf attacks on children that have taken place in the past few months?”
Louis sighed as he turned from her to address all the reporters at once.
“The boy, named Jonah O’Malley, is stable right now,” I said, using the healer voice that I was taught in training to deliver any type of news. It was always good to keep yourself separate from the patients to avoid becoming personally involved. “He’s sleeping and only his family is permitted to visit him.”
“What about in the afternoon or evening?” a reporter near the back asked.
“I can’t say exactly whether Jonah will be stable enough to answer questions, especially since he’s only six,” Louis said. “However, I can tell you that he may not be able to see any visitors outside of his immediate family in, at most, a couple weeks. We, his healers, need to ensure that he is responding positively to treatments.”
“What sort of treatments are you providing?”
I frowned momentarily before recovering. “Jonah is receiving the standard treatment that we provide for all of our patients who have been bitten by werewolves as per our protocol in dealing with these types of medical issues. Now if you’ll excuse me, I really must get back to my rounds.”
There was the beginnings of what I associated with white noise starting among the small cluster of reporters as they all began talking at once, but I don’t stick around to listen to any of it. I had a job to do. In fact, I needed to find Thomas and give him my acceptance of the promotion he had offered me a couple days ago. I couldn’t stand not knowing why all these children were being targeted. I needed to help.
Of course, as every healer knows, it was hard to find a fellow healer when you were looking for them. That said it was hours before I saw Thomas again. I went about my rounds for the morning and when I went up to check on Jonah at one o’clock it was to discover the boy awake. Thomas was waving his wand over the boy as he checked on the Jonah’s vitals.
“There you are,” I said, coming to a stop at the foot of the bed. “I’ve been looking for you all morning.”
Thomas doesn’t even look up from the coloured sparks and smoke emitting from his wand as he ran the diagnostic tests before picking up the clipboard to record the results. “I’ve been in conferences all morning. How’d the press conference with the reporters go?”
“Alright I suppose,” I said. “They wanted more information.”
“That’s reporters for you,” Thomas said. “They’re never satisfied with what you do tell them.”
“I also wanted to talk to you about that, uh, promotion you offered me.”
For the first time since I’d walked into the room Thomas actually looked up at me. If I had known that would have gotten his attention then I would have gotten straight to the point. But I digress. The point was that I had his full and undivided attention now. Even Jonah was watching me with big, blue eyes that seemed to be able to pierce right through your soul; it left an ache in my heart for the boy because his life would no longer be the same. Looking at the smallness of Jonah in that adult-sized hospital bed only solidified my decision.
“I wanted to accept it.”
“That’s great,” Thomas said. “I’ll take you up to meet the team you’ll be working with after lunch.”
“Will you be taking a break today, then?”
Normally Thomas ate in his office over a stack of paperwork. He wasn’t that old, probably in his early to mid-thirties, but he was moving quickly up in the ranks. I could only hope to be as lucky as to gain the type of renowned that Thomas had by the time I reached my thirties.
“Just a quick one in my office,” Thomas said, hanging the clipboard back at the end of the bed. “Gretchen came up a few hours ago to tell the Head Healer to make sure I actually took a break to eat all of the lunch she packed me today.” Gretchen was his fiancée. “If I don’t take ten minutes to eat then she’ll fuss. I don’t know how she knows when I don’t eat, but she does.”
“Maybe she charms your lunches?” I said, but within a couple seconds Thomas and I were laughing at the silliness of the suggestion. Later I would discover that Gretchen actually does charm Thomas’s lunches to let her know whether he eats or not, but that wouldn’t be until after they were married. But all we could do now was laugh at the obscure possibility of Gretchen charming his lunches.
After leaving Jonah’s room, I made one last stop on the children’s floor before lunch to run afternoon vital checks. Then, while riding the elevator down to the underground floor where the cafeteria, staff room, and some of the head healers’ offices were, I ran into Frank Longbottom II.
Frank had finished Hogwarts the year after I had, with my cousins Lily and Hugo. His parents, Neville and Hannah, were family friends and that resulted in us seeing a lot of each other growing up. Of course we hadn’t really hung out at school since we were in different years, but we had become closer friends since he started his healer training the year after I had started mine. We had obviously been in different training courses, but we had still been able to relate a lot more since we were going through the same thing. In fact, had I not become closer friends with Frank then I never would have found out how he felt about Lily. Of course he still hadn’t told her for fear that it would ruin their friendship, but I still knew. I had encouraged him to tell her that he liked her initially, but he hadn’t and now Lily was going out with Lysander; those two had literally been going out off and on since the end of their fourth year. Honestly, I didn’t know why they continued to get back together when their break-ups were often messy. But I was staying out of it. It was Frank’s job to pick Lily back up at the end of each of their break-ups, or rather he had made it his job.
“Guess who I saw earlier,” I told him as the lift door slid shut behind him and descended.
“I give up, who?”
“My cousin,” I said.
“That tells me so much,” Frank said. “You have a ton of cousins; it could have been anyone of them.”
“Point taken,” I said. “It was Lily. She was here on behalf of Wizards Weekly for more information on the boy, Jonah O’Malley, who had been bitten last night.”
“She really is like her mother.”
“You’re comparing the woman of your dreams to her mother,” I said. “There is so much wrong with that.”
“Oh, shut it,” Frank said, though his face had turned as red as a Quaffle.
The lift jolted to a stop, they really needed to inspect it, and the doors slid open to reveal the bright florescent lighting that was a contrast to the dimness due to the single light bulb that was inside of the lift. I headed down the hall to the cafeteria with Frank. Over lunch I told him about the research position that I was being promoted to and how Thomas was going to introduce me to the team later. Frank was still in his last year of training and then he would have to fulfil his supervision hours. I remembered all too well how rough that final year of training was. After lunch we headed back to our posts, his to the training room and mine to the Accidental Spell Damage floor. I always spent a few hours in Accidental Spell Damage in the latter half of my shifts. But the only thing on my mind was that I was going to get to meet the research team on the werewolf case. I was actually going to be working with them. I couldn’t believe my luck, yet I could. I had worked hard to earn this.
Author's Note: Well, here's chapter three as promised. I hope you enjoyed it and thanks again for all of you who have been reading and those few of you who have reviewed. I really do appreciate it and I respond to all reviews. All kinds of feedback makes me happy. (: Thanks again! Chapter four will be up in two weeks.
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