Chapter 4 : Doubt
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I don’t see Thomas again for the rest of my shift so I ended up riding the lift up to the top floor where all the higher-ups have offices, and it was also where all the research facilities were located. He had told me that he was going to introduce me to the team and that was exactly what he was going to do before I left. I’m not exactly sure whether he would actually be in his office, though it was worth a shot.
I knocked on the closed door with my knuckles and waited.
I opened the door to find my supervisor sitting at his desk filling out paperwork. The first thing I noticed the closer I got was my name at the top of the page. Then I remembered. I’d finished the last of my supervising hours during this shift. I’d been counting down until my supervision was over and when it finally was I’m caught off guard because it was no longer the number one thing I was looking forward to.
“I’m just finishing up your paperwork,” Thomas said. “You’ll be reporting to Healer Nadine Fuller for your assigned rounds from now on as she’ll be making your schedules. Though, since you’ll be spending the bulk of your time in research as well, you’ll still be reporting to me since I’m head of research.”
“Cool,” I said as I sat down in one of the chairs in front of his desk. “Are you still going to introduce me to the team before I leave?”
“What time is it?” Thomas asked, looking down at his watch before standing. “I had no idea it had gotten this late. I’ve been filling out paperwork for a few hours now. Come on, I’ll take you to meet the team now.”
I followed Thomas down the hall around a corridor and then another corridor before we finally reached the research lab that I’d be working in. There were three people diligently working when we entered; one was sitting at a telescope, examining a sample, another was working on a potion, and the final was writing faster than I’d ever seen anyone scrawl with a quill. The room was also vaster than I thought it would be with several chrome lab tables with drawers and various instruments, parchment, ink, and quills on top of each. However, there were a couple tables that were void of anything, as if they had yet to be claimed by an owner.
“Looks like you’ll only get to meet three today,” Thomas said to me before turning to address the three healers that were hard at work. “Could I have a bit of your time? I have someone I want you all to meet since he’ll be working with you, starting next week.”
“We told you, Thomas, we don’t need any help,” a Witch replied. “We’ve got it under control.”
“Really,” Thomas said, “because the results say otherwise.”
“Well, we haven’t exactly been given a lot to work with, have we?”
Thomas didn’t dignify that comment with a response. “This is Louis Weasley. He’ll be working with you on tracking down the werewolf, or werewolves, that are attacking these children. Louis, meet three of your fellow researchers: the snarky blond Witch is Miranda, the wizard with ink on his nose is Quentin, and the Asian concocting up something sweet is Will.”
All but Miranda acknowledged me with a curt nod before continuing with their work. I suspected I would be toeing the line around her while I settled into the research. She was clearly the oldest, probably in her forties. I was rubbish at deciphering ages, though.
“Don’t mind Miranda,” Thomas said in an undertone, though still obvious. “It’s just always her time of the month.”
Miranda glared at him, making it clear that she had heard him and heartily disapproved.
“You’ll be the youngest researcher on this case,” Thomas said, elaborating. “There are a few others who are closer to your age, though they’re all in their late twenties.”
“Which are all the researchers who dined to leave instead of staying overtime today,” Miranda said, clucking her tongue the way a scolding mother would. “Honestly, Thomas, you should be bringing in healers who are older and don’t mind putting in extra hours.”
“I’ll choose who I want on the team, thanks though,” Thomas said. “Louis will be a great addition, plus he doesn’t have a life so he’ll be able to work overtime.”
“Uh, thanks for that,” I said. “At least I think there was a compliment in there somewhere.”
“Great, we’ve got another Thomas on our hands.”
“Where’d you find your prodigy?” Will asked as he stirred the potion.
“I supervised him after he finished his training,” Thomas said. “He just finished his supervision today.”
“So you mean to tell us,” Quentin said, quill froze above the parchment, “that not only are you assigning an extra healer to our team, but you’re also assigning a complete novice healer to our team.”
“Come on, Quentin,” Thomas said, blowing out a frustrated breath. “You know I wouldn’t assign him to this team if I didn’t believe he couldn’t help the case.”
“Yeah, I suppose,” Quentin said. “But don’t expect any of us to baby him.”
I felt insignificant. They all were acting as though I had absolutely no experience. And I guess they were right that I hadn’t done any lab research before but that didn’t mean that I wasn’t capable. I had gone through all my training and completed my hours of supervision. I was ready to be a fully qualified healer. More importantly, I was ready to be treated like a healer instead of some trainee. I had paid my dues. Or so I’d thought then, though the reality was that it took a lot longer than training/supervision to gain proper respect from your colleagues. I had a lot of learning and growing up ahead of me.
“Don’t worry about him still being fresh out of training,” Thomas said. “He’ll learn as he goes. If he has any questions he can always come to me with them, though he shouldn’t have to since you’re all supposed to be a team and that means you work together.”
“You know what I mean,” Quentin said. “I have enough on my plate without having to show someone what to do.”
“I repeat: he’ll be fine.”
Somehow I doubted I’d be fine. I mean, I’m positive I could do the work, but as far as these three were concerned... well, let’s just say that I could feel the tension knotting in the back of my neck at the mere thought of conflict.
I was no stranger to conflict, but that didn’t mean I particularly enjoyed it. Brody had always joked by saying I should have been a Hufflepuff for all the times I did something another way just to avoid a conflict. I had been a Gryffindor, by the way. In fact, I’d actually followed in my father’s footsteps and ended up a Prefect and later Head Boy in my final year. Yeah, I suppose I was a bit of a brown-noser who hated conflict, but in my defence I was a smart brown-noser.
“I should get going,” I said because it was true. “I’m supposed to meet up with my flatmates tonight.”
“See, already ducking out early,” Miranda commented with a sideways glance in my direction before going back to her tissue sample.
“He actually won’t be starting until the next shift week,” Thomas said, but I wished he wouldn’t. It’s not like it would change how any of them felt about me coming in after they had done so much work together without me.
I actually felt like I was forcing myself into an exclusive group that I wasn’t old enough to join. I knew I should feel like I belonged, but it didn’t. I felt like an imposter trespassing on all of their hard work.
I only ended up staying out for a couple hours with Brody and Michael before coming home to crash in my bed. I had to be back at the hospital at four in the morning and it had been pushing half after eleven by the time I decided to call it a night. Brody and Michael might be able to get by with little sleep, but I couldn’t. I would be rubbish if I hadn’t managed to get at least a few hours.
The shift was pretty uneventful compared to the previous day. All I did was spend it in the Accidental Spell Damage ward and I didn’t see Thomas at all since I had completed my supervision hours yesterday. All in all it was a dull day and by the time I was punching out to leave, I could feel my energy draining from lack of sleep. But I couldn’t go home.
My parents had scheduled a family dinner for us to catch up on our lives. Thus I would be the only single person at dinner tonight, not counting my little nephew. It made me feel like an extra wheel that wasn’t needed in my family when I knew that wasn’t true. It was just how I felt at times.
But I still arrived at shell cottage like I had told my parents I would by half after seven. Everyone was already there, waiting for me to start dinner. I had to brace myself because I knew my nephew would run at my legs and sure enough I felt his small body colliding smack into me, hugging my shins.
“Remus, buddy,” I said, lifting him effortlessly and tossing him up and catching him as though he were a sack of potatoes. “How’ve you been?”
“Gweat,” Remus lisped, giggling.
“I really wish you wouldn’t do that,” Victoire said, appearing in the entry way of the kitchen.
I laughed. “Come on, Vic, you know I won’t drop him.”
“You can’t be sure,” Victoire said. “Accidents happen all the time and he’s only three.”
I turned my attention to the smiling toddler in my arms. “What do you think, Remmy? Should I stop throwing you up high?”
He shook his head.
“Well that settles it, then.” And as if to make my point, I tossed Remus up before catching him in my arms again.
“Louis,” Victoire said.
Man, she sure had that mum stance down.
“Alright, no more tossing the kid around,” I said, but when she turned around I muttered under my breath, causing Remus to giggle behind one of his small hands, “Whenever your mummy is within sight.”
Dinner was a celebration of sorts in honour of Teddy and Victoire’s news that was announced before dessert was served: Victoire was pregnant again. The table was abuzz with mindless chatter to fill the silence with, yet anyone could tell how nervous Victoire was about being pregnant again as she worried at her bottom lip every so often. I understood where her worry came from since it was clear she hoped that this child would not be born with lycanthropy like Remus had been. And could anyone blame her, really? It wasn’t right that Remus had to turn into a werewolf once a month; he had done nothing to deserve this fate. He was just a child for crying out loud.
Then Dom announced that she and Braden had gotten engaged last week, eliminating the heaviness at the table with this unexpected news. I barely knew Braden enough to be happy at their engagement. Sure she had dated him for a couple years, but Dom and Braden moved from city to city so often that I barely ever saw them.
After dinner it seemed it was my turn to be interrogated as my dad turned his attention toward me.
“So, how’s the hospital, Louis?”
I had been dosing off while everyone else caught up after dinner in the den. But when my father addressed me I jolted to attention so suddenly that my knee crashed with the corner of the coffee table. Cursing, I rubbed it as I looked over at where my dad sat perched in his armchair; my sisters and I used to fight over who got to sit in that chair when he was at work. The memories hit me harder than I thought and it took a moment to push them aside.
“They’re still working you those horridly long shifts, aren’t they,” Victoire interrupted. “I hope you aren’t going out every night you’re off with those mates of yours.”
It had always been clear to me that Victoire disapproved of my friends, mainly because she had caught Brody peeping on her from a tree outside of her bedroom window when he had stayed over for a week the summer before fourth year. But honestly, it wasn’t that big of a deal.
“Yes, I’ve been working long hours,” I said, choosing to only answer her first statement before turning back to answer dad. “Things at the hospital have been – what’s the right word – hectic what with all these werewolf attacks in the past few months.”
“How’s your training hours going?” my dad asked.
“Just finished the other day, actually,” I said smugly. “And I’ve been assigned to work with the team of healers researching the evidence left over from the werewolf attacks.”
“Will you still do rounds like a regular healer?”
“Yeah,” I said. “I’ll just be scheduled hours for researching on top of regular shifts.”
His mum worried over me. “But wouldn’t that suck up any free time that you have? You already barely have the time to sleep and eat as it is.”
“I’ll be fine, mum,” I said. “Honest.”
“Promise us that you won’t let your work consume you,” my dad said. “You should be having fun while you’re still young instead of working all the time.”
I promised, but only to get my parents off my back. The day I request to be scheduled fewer hours each week will be the day I retire; in other words, years and years to come. I loved my job and was getting blimey good at it. Though, my dad made an excellent point and I would try to make more of an effort to go out with Brody and Mike whenever they tried to pull me out for the night. I had left the flat a couple times that week with them and that was more than usual. Now that I’m a fully qualified healer and on my own at work I can allow myself to have more fun. But somehow I doubted I would be having fun anytime soon; I had to prove myself to the rest of the team I would be working with to find a definitive match to the culprit that was biting these children.
“I can tell just looking at you that you have no intention of lightening your workload,” my mother said. She knew me so well. “Just promise that you’ll get enough sleep, and don’t you dare skip any meals, mister.” My Mum still had a bit of a French accent, but it had mostly melted away over the years of living on the English coast. Apparently it had been worse when she had first started learning English, but now she sounded more English than French. “If I don’t hear from you at least twice a week, then I’ll start showing up at the hospital with meals on a daily basis.”
She would do it, I knew she would. There was no doubting my mother; when she said something it became law with my family. It would be irrefutable to argue with her.
Meanwhile my sisters were laughing at me being scolded like a child by our Mum. They should have been my sounding board of support, but not my sisters. My sisters had too much fun poking jokingly at me to back me up. So instead I shot a helpless look over toward my Dad in the hopes that he might talk my Mum out of her threat, but all he did was shrug his shoulders and make a face that clearly said that there was nothing we could do to change her mind. They were all cowards, the whole lot of them. The only person who ever dared go up against Mum was Nana Molly and that was only because Mum stepped down anytime we went over there. Nana Molly was the only person that my Mum let call the shots, and together those two were merciless. A perfect team. Kind of funny since Dad had once told us that there had been a time when Nana couldn’t stand Mum, but when I asked Nana more about it she just brushed my questions off.
“Fine, I can tell I’m not winning here,” I said. “I think I’ll go back to my flat. It’s getting pretty late and I have to be back at the hospital early tomorrow.”
“Alright, but I expect to see you sometime next week,” my Mum said. “I don’t want you waiting weeks until bringing your laundry over anymore. I’ll bet you wore some of your robes more than a couple times before you came over a few days ago.”
“Fine, I’ll try,” I said. “I won’t have my schedule for next week until Sunday.”
Feeling I had been bullied enough by my mother for one night, I said good night to my family and started to leave. But just as I had reached the hall I felt something tackle my legs from behind and discovered Remus’s smiling face when I looked down. He really was the coolest kid. I wondered where he got that awesome from since his parents were pretty big dorks. Kidding, or am I? I reached down and tossed him up a couple more times before setting him down again.
“You take care of yourself, little man,” I said, bending down to his level and meaning it. Every time I looked into Remus’s young eyes I saw all the pain that he went through. It tore at my heart each time.
“I will,” Remus said, “as long as you pwomise to come over mowre.”
“Deal,” I said before standing up, nooging his head ever so lightly, and leaving.
I wasted no time at all to collapse into bed when I arrived back at the flat. It was dark and quiet as I walked through the short hallway to my bedroom, which led me to assume that my friends were either out again or sleeping. Knowing my friends, I was willing to bet that they weren’t in their beds since it was only nine o’clock, which meant they were probably at the Leaky or one of the hot new Wizards’ night clubs that had sprung up recently. But I didn’t care about that. All that mattered to me right then was sleep and sleep I did, right up until my wand woke me up early the next morning. Tomorrow would be a new day filled with healing and a day closer to next week when I would have to begin to prove myself to my new research mates. Somehow it made me wish that there were still timeturners so that I could reverse time as long as I needed to ensure I was ready before facing anyone who would doubt my ability as a healer.
Author's Note: Thanks for all the lovely reviews so far and I hope y'all enjoyed this chapter. Let me know what you think of it. I always respond back to my reviews... so far I've responded to all except the most 3 most recent reviews. (: As usual, the next chapter will be up in two weeks time.
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