Chapter 6 : A Pattern
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I ended up sleeping through the alarm I had set on my wand. I usually didn’t sleep through alarms, but I did that afternoon. I wasn’t late, though. Well, I wasn’t technically late; though I’m sure I didn’t set a good image for myself by being three minutes late. The tension in that lab when I walked in and the other researchers saw me was so thick that I might as well be wading through concrete as I made my way over to the desk that Thomas had told me would be mine, which was barren compared to the other desks in the lab.
“Who’s the new guy?”
I turned at the deep voice, which belonged to this buff guy that you wouldn’t have expected to find in healer robes let alone a research lab.
Before I can open my mouth to introduce myself to the people I hadn’t met last week, though, Miranda cuts in. “Louis Weasley, the healer fresh out of training/supervision that Thomas thinks can help further our research.”
“He looks so young,” Valerie said, though she herself didn’t look all that much older than me. “Since when did they start letting Hogwarts students into the healing program before they graduated?”
“Excuse me, but I’m 23,” I said, insulted. “I graduated from Hogwarts, top of my class, five years ago.”
“Are you sure?” Buff wizard said. “You look like you still haven’t hit puberty, and your voice isn’t very gruff.”
“Ignore them,” a blond witch said, stepping forward and I realised that she was the girl who had yelled at me about arriving late for my shift on the fourth floor last night. I swallowed, not entirely wanting to relive that moment. “They’re just jealous that they’re not on as fast a track as you are.”
“I know you,” I blurted out without thinking.
The blond witch laughed. “No, you don’t know me,” she corrected. “Just because you saw me doesn’t mean you know me. I’m Elsie Short, in charge of the background histories of our patients.”
“Louis Weasley,” I said, feeling dumb for introducing myself after Miranda had just told the whole lab my name. “I’m still not sure exactly what my job here will be.”
“That’s alright,” Elsie said, clearly ignoring the groans from the other healers. “None of us were sure of what we were doing when we first started researching. Our jobs just sort of found each of us once we were briefed on the entirety of the cases that are subjected for further investigation.”
“Well, now I don’t feel quite as inept as I had.”
Elsie laughed. “I’ll introduce you to the others.”
The rest of the healers had gone back to their individual research at their desks while Elsie and I had been exchanging introductions. She started to lead me around from desk to desk, giving me a name of the healer at each and what their focus was on. Aside from Quentin, Miranda, and Will, there were three other healers, not including Elsie and myself: The buff wizard’s name was Ned, which I never would have guessed, but he was apparently the healer whose job it was to make the connections between each of the werewolf attacks on children; then the witch that had said that I looked so young despite looking young herself was Valerie, who I learned from Elsie was 27 and in charge of the political relations side of things in dealing with the press on top of accessing the scene of the crime after an attack happened; and the final was Michael whose job it was to look for similarities in lycanthrope strain types in the hopes of finding the werewolf among those that were registered. Among the whole team, Elsie and Michael seemed to be the only two who didn’t mind my joining them. Or at least Michael at least seemed indifferent to my being there and Elsie was at least being tolerant.
“If you have any questions then just ask,” Elsie said. “If there’s anything that drives any of us crazy it’s a new person who acts like they already know everything. I’ll go get all the research we’ve gathered and connected thus far.”
I went over to my desk and sat down while I waited. Placing both palms on the cool surface of the lab table, causing a shiver to run up my spine, I had a sudden thought of being in over my head.
“Alright, I know there’s a lot in here,” Elsie said, returning with a thick manila folder, “but a lot of it is more speculation than fact. We’re still unable to pinpoint a single match based on the DNA found at each of the crime scenes.”
Maybe that was why I was here, I thought, to find a match.
“Well, I’ll leave you to it,” Elsie said. “I have to get back to my current project of finding connections between the most recent victim and the suspects, which are all of the registered werewolves until we find clearer evidence that point us elsewhere.”
For some reason I had been hoping that Elsie would have pulled up a chair and went through the folder with me, but I had no idea why. It’s not like I liked her. I had just met her. But I still felt closer to her than the other healers because she had treated me with respect. Sometimes, like now, I confused myself.
I ended up burying myself in the research before me for the next few hours before I got struck with an idea. The first thing I had started to notice was the pattern of each attack happening every full moon in a different camp site, then I had noticed the distance between each of those campsites. The first had occurred about 20 miles north of London, then the one after that occurred in a campsite ten miles away and the next after that ten miles from the previous and so forth. And there was more as it appeared that whoever was staging these attacks was travelling north, which meant that the next attack would occur on the next full moon at ten miles north of the campsite where Jonah had been attacked. So far there had been three attacks in all and if the pattern I had picked up on was accurate, then there would be a fourth in sixteen days.
I had just pulled out a sheaf of fresh parchment from one of the drawers of my desk and was rummaging for some ink after finding a quill when I felt a poke between my shoulder blades. To say that I wasn’t startled would be an understatement. I caused the folder with all the research within it to slide off the side of the desk in a cascade of papers separating until falling into a scattered heap on the stark white linoleum flooring.
“Relax,” Elsie said. “I was just checking to see how you were coming along. If you have any questions about any of it now would be a good time to ask while we’re all here.”
“No questions,” I said. “But I did pick up on a pattern between the attacks. Did you know that each campsite that an attack happened at is just 10 miles north of the previous?”
“To be honest, we haven’t exactly thought of location,” Elsie said. “We’ve been more worried about finding a connection between the victim’s family and a werewolf that could have attacked for a vengeful reason.”
“Well, I think location is the key to catching this werewolf once and for all because if he sticks to the same pattern, then he’ll be at a campsite 10 miles north of the one where he attacked Jonah.”
“Please don’t tell me you’re getting personally involved with a victim.”
“I’ve spoken with Jonah, yes,” I said. “What’s so wrong with talking with victims?”
“It prejudices our views,” Elsie said. “You’re less likely to be able to view things fairly when you know the victims because you start to rush through any and all research.”
“Well I won’t let my talking with Jonah cloud my judgment.”
“You say that now.”
“I won’t and I mean it.”
I don’t know why I felt defensive, but I did. Elsie didn’t know me. I had always been fair despite my connections with other people. There was a reason I had always been brought in to commentate the Quidditch matches while still at Hogwarts. The professors had liked that I didn’t trash talk a team that was going up against Gryffindor despite the fact that I clearly wanted my own house to win. I had remained fair to both sides, keeping my comments on the matches separate from my feelings.
In fact, I was so impersonal that my mum always told me that she could never tell if something was bothering me the older I got because I hid it so well. I mean, she still knew when something was up, but she rarely ever could pinpoint whether that something was good or bad. She said I got it from my dad, which pleased me. Anything that I did that followed in my dad’s footsteps made me proud because I had always looked up to my dad as a role model. He was just so tall and formidable with his scarred face, showing himself as someone that didn’t let things get him down or stop him from living his life the way he wanted to. He had continued to fight in the war against Voldemort, even after Fenrir Greyback had attacked him. That was what courage looked like in my eyes; courage was never giving up, no matter what was thrown in your path.
“Fine, whatever you say,” Elsie said. “I have to go, but if you have any questions then I’ll be in the lab on Thursday.”
I nodded in response. I appreciated her advice, I really did, but I didn’t need her to dictate who I could and couldn’t talk to. I was my own person.
After she had left, I tried to put my focus back on the paper work before me, but I couldn’t. It was like the words were swimming around on the pages, escaping the clutches of my concentration. This was the first time I had allowed someone to get to me enough to distract me from work and I wasn’t so sure what to think. I definitely didn’t like her in a way that would distract me from work. It must have just been what she had said about not getting close to patients.
I knew how to separate work from my personal life. The last thing I needed was someone telling me that I shouldn’t interact with patients. It also had me remembering that Thomas had taught me that interacting with patients was the perfect way to clear the air of any tension. No offense to Elsie, but I think I trusted Thomas’s judgment a bit more than hers.
Deciding that I wasn’t going to be able to be able to concentrate enough on the papers before me, I decided to pack it in and call it a day. I had discovered a pattern and I fully intended on telling Thomas at the end of the week. But now I had to go because I wanted to stop at Vic’s house before heading home. He had to ask that favour of her.
Author's Note: Hope you enjoyed the chapter! Updates every other Tuesday will begin again now that I've finished the semester up and passed all my classes on top of graduating. Thanks for all the reviews/reads and I promise if I haven't responded to your recent review(s) then I'll make it my priority to some time this week. Thanks again and feel free to let me know what you thought of this chapter in a review as any feedback is very much appreciated.
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