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Chapter 10 : If You Can't Find 'Em
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By the time we walked through the doors into the lab all thoughts of our kiss in the elevator completely flew from our minds. Or rather it flew from mine. But I could tell that the kiss was the last thing on Elsie’s mind, too, since she made an immediate beeline toward Michael to ask if they had been able to pull enough from the DNA brought in by the Werewolf Control Unit in order to find a conclusive match from the werewolf registry. I headed toward where she stood with Michael just in time to hear him say that they had a full DNA strand, but so far hadn’t been able find a match. They had only managed to get a quarter through the registry so far, which meant there was still a seventy-five percent chance that it was a registered werewolf.
If the werewolf wasn’t registered... Well, I didn’t want to think about that. None of us wanted to think that way.
“Alright, Louis and I can help look for a match on the registry,” Elsie said. “We can split it up in parts and that way we’ll get through it quicker.”
“Okay, then,” Michael said. “I’ll leave the pair of you to split it up amongst yourselves. Thomas just sent me a message to handle the press that has camped out in the lobby since the girl was brought in. The press is really going to have a field day with this attack.”
“There may be protests against werewolves in society after this attack because it led to a death,” Elsie added. “It wouldn’t surprise me.”
I was more listening to them than actually participating. My head was still reeling from being in the ER helping operate on the girl before she passed away. I knew I would witness death, but that doesn’t make actually witnessing it any better. In fact, it only made it worse because I thought I had mentally prepared myself for death. But of course I hadn’t.
“It wouldn’t surprise me either,” Michael said. “But for now I really should get down to that waiting room before all those hungry reporters upset our patients.”
“Good luck,” Elsie said before she turned to me. “Come on, Louis, let’s sit down before we plough through this list.”
I followed her over to a desk in the corner. There were moving portraits of Elsie with, I’m assuming, her family and friends standing at angles surrounding the desk. There was also a cup full of an assortment of pens and quills, a couple inkwells next to it, and a stack of papers and folders piled in one corner. She sat down and immediately got to work, handing me the top half of the registry. I waited as she copied down the DNA on a blank piece of parchment.
“If you find a match,” Elsie said, “come straight back over here and let me know.”
I just gaped at her. I had been expecting us to huddle up at the same desk as we worked, but apparently not. Sighing, I headed toward my desk and sat down in the swivel chair before getting to business.
It took me a few hours to get through my section, but only because my mind kept wandering.
When I had finally finished looking through my list I headed back over toward Elsie’s desk. She looked up from what she had been writing on a sheaf of parchment with a peacock quill. All she did was shake her head before I could ask if she found a match. Apparently it was going to take catching the werewolf responsible before we discovered who it was.
“I could really use a firewhiskey,” Elsie said, and before I could respond she had stood and addressed our fellow researchers, “Anyone up for a drink?”
Everyone around me concurred with Elsie and before I knew it my hand was in Elsie’s as she pulled me out of the lab. I guess I didn’t get a say in whether I wanted to go to the pub or not. I had no choice in the matter.
We took the lift down to the main floor to use the floo in the waiting area. There were still a few reporters milling about when we reached it, but they barely paid us any mind as they were nodding off in their chairs. Obviously it had been a busy night for the reporters on the job, too. I still say we had it harder than anyone tonight, though. The victim died after she had arrived at the hospital and was in our care.
“Louis,” I turned to see Lily.
“What do you want, Lily?”
“An interview,” Lily said. “Please. I promise not to alter anything you say. I’ll be truthful to everything you tell me about what happened tonight with that little girl.”
“What makes you think I was in the ER tonight?”
“Well, were you?”
I hesitated for only a fraction of a second. “I was.”
“Then why not agree to do an interview with me.”
“Lily, I really don’t want to talk about any of what happened tonight.”
“But you will do the interview?”
I had to give it to her, she was persistent. But Elsie was having none of it. I’m glad one of us could stand up to my family members.
“Back off,” Elsie said. “The last thing any of us want to do is be reminded of what happened earlier tonight.”
“Elsie, be nice,” Michael warned. But that only earned him a glare from her. “She has a job to do just like us. There’s no need to be crass.”
All Elsie did was shrug her shoulders before heading toward the floo, pulling me along behind her. I wondered if this meant we were suddenly going out. Not sure how I felt about that considering we had only just shared a kiss while briefly trapped in the elevator. I mean I liked her, a lot, I really did. But I wasn’t sure whether I liked her enough to date her. Did I want to date her? I had no blimey clue and my head was hurting just thinking about it all.
I let Elsie go through the floo first before I followed. Coughing as I stepped out of the fire grate at the Leaky Cauldron, I brushed the soot from me as best I could and followed Elsie toward the bar where Hannah was serving drinks. When I had reached the bar I noticed Frank sitting on a stool looking forlorn. I let the other researchers order their drinks as I took the stool next to him.
“How’s it going, mate?”
Frank looked up, startled at first from being pulled out of his trance. “Louis, I didn’t notice you come in. How was your night?”
“Wretched,” I said. “I was called in to help in the Dai Llewellyn ER when the most recent victim was brought in and the little girl died on us. First death of this string of werewolf attacks, as well as the first death I had witnessed as a healer.”
“Yeah, it really is.”
Frank sighed before looking back down at the gleaming top surface of the bar. He was obviously in a funk of a mood. I wondered if it had anything to do with Lily. I’m sure he would eventually get around to telling me when he was ready.
“I ordered your drink, Louis,” Elsie said, handing me one of the mugs of firewhiskey she held. I took a large gulp, relaxing as it burned its way down my throat.
Frank stared at the pair of us, perplexed. “Are you two together now?”
“Erm,” I started, unsure of what to say. I didn’t want to be the first to call us a couple. It had only been a kiss and it had happened a few hours ago. It was all happening fast.
“We’re just friendly co-workers,” Elsie said smoothly. “Since when did you have to be romantically involved with someone before you could buy them a drink?”
“I suppose you don’t have to be with them,” Frank said, “but there’s something different about you now, an intimate vibe.”
“Frank, I didn’t know you were going to be here,” a familiar voice shouted from across the room before Albus joined us. “I feel like it’s been ages since you’ve been over to family dinner. Lily says you’ve been busy with training.”
At the mention of Lily, I noticed how Frank flushed before looking down to study the amber liquid contained within his tankard. I don’t know how obvious it was to others that Frank liked Lily, but I did know that Lily was completely oblivious. Albus was pretty smart, but I don’t think he suspected Frank of liking his sister. Too bad because I’m sure Albus would prefer Frank dating Lily instead of Lysander. Not that there was anything the matter with Lysander, just that he and Lily didn’t mesh well together.
“You should be less of a stranger, mate,” Albus said, punching Frank’s upper arm. “Your parents are more social than you.”
“Sorry,” Frank said. “I’ll make more of an effort.”
“So, have you seen my sister around?” Albus said. “I’m supposed to be meeting up with her and Lysander.”
“Nah, I haven’t seen her since earlier this week.”
“I saw her,” I said. “Though not here. She was loitering in the lobby at the hospital with the other reporters. I swear the lobby is more like a playground for reporters on full moons anymore.”
“Wait, that reporter is your sister,” Elsie said. “I’m so sorry.”
“That you have such a pigheaded, pushy sister.”
“Ah, she isn’t so bad,” Albus said. “She just gets into this role when she’s working. My mum has tried to tell her that she needs to tone down being aggressive, but she hasn’t listened yet.”
I laughed. “She is so Aunt Ginny’s daughter.”
“Don’t let my mum hear you say that,” Albus said. “But yeah, my dad says the same thing. Of course he doesn’t say it when mum’s within hearing distance.”
“Al, there you are,” Lily said, coming over with a bounce in her step before she realised who he was with. “Nice, Al, I didn’t know you were going to invite anyone to crash. No offense, Louis, Frank.” She completely ignored Elsie and I had a feeling it wasn’t an accidental slight.
Frank nodded toward her before glancing back into his tankard. Just watching him was depressing me.
“Lily, you’ve met Elsie,” I said. “We work together in the lab.”
Lily nodded before turning back to her brother. “Change of plans, it’s just us tonight.”
“What happened to Lysander?”
“Never mind him.”
“Ah, Lily, you’re not going to pull me into your drama tonight, are you?”
“Who said anything about drama?” Lily said. “It’s not my fault Lysander is a wanker.”
“Frank, tell my sister she should just break up with Lysander once and for all,” Albus said. “Seriously, I’ve lost track of how many times the pair has broken up and gotten back together.”
“Oh, shove off it,” Lily said, pushing him. “I can’t help that I love him, even if he is a jealous idiot, and he has no reason to be jealous.”
“I still don’t see why you’re with him,” I said. “From all that I hear about him from Frank, I think you could do better.”
“Not you, too, Louis.”
I shut my mouth. She didn’t need me butting into her personal life; she had brothers and Frank for that. Though, Frank was unusually quiet right then. Usually I couldn’t shut him up when we talked over lunch at the hospital. There was something wrong and I thought I knew what it was, but I wasn’t about to call him out on it with the problem standing before us: Lily Luna Potter. Seriously, I loved her because she was my cousin, but the girl had a plethora of drama that I didn’t much want to ever be a part of.
“I’m staying out of it,” I said, smartly.
Lily rolled her eyes.
“Smart man,” Albus said. “No one wants Lily drama following them around.”
At that I covertly shot a glance toward Frank, who was still studying the contents of his glass without drinking anymore of it. He really had it bad for her. I had known about his feelings for Lily since we were all at Hogwarts, but I hadn’t known it was so bad that it was downright depressing to witness while each were in the other’s vicinities. It was so painstakingly obvious that he liked her more than she him in that moment that I was surprised Lily hadn’t cottoned on yet. She really was dim-witted.
“At least Frank isn’t giving me a hard time,” Lily said, finally making note of her best friend in what might be assumed as a half-hearted greeting. She put one arm around him in a half hug and I watched as he returned the gesture before they separated. “How’s training?”
Frank shrugged. “The paper?”
“Crazy,” Lily said. “I’m still being treated like a rookie who can’t string words together in a coherent sentence despite being the best writer there. The editor-in-chief even told me in not so many words that I was the best.” She stuck her nose up haughtily as I’ve seen her do plenty of times; I’d come to calling it her proud stance as a matter of fact. “But enough of the work chatter, I feel like we haven’t had a proper sit down in ages.”
“I’ve been busy,” Frank said, shifting on the bar stool so that he was facing her. “I don’t have much free time as of late with all the exams and practicals.”
“And I can back him up,” I said. “Having gone through the same training he’s doing to become a healer now, I can tell you that it only gets more rigorous.”
I figured I might as well help Frank out since I could tell he was drowning.
“Oh, pish-posh,” Lily said. “You always made time to get together until the last few months, even when you had a lot going on.”
Then it happened. I hadn’t expected it and I knew Albus nor Lily had been either, but it still happened. Frank completely snapped.
“Maybe I don’t want to spend my down time listening to you complain about Lysander the whole blimey time.”
Then, just when I thought Frank could have done nothing else to surprise me, he stood and stormed from the pub. All Albus and I could do was stand there gaping after him before turning to a slack-jawed Lily. Clearly this had been the first time Frank had yelled at her.
Before I could get a word out in Frank’s defence, Elsie was dragging me off toward the table where our fellow healers were sitting. Like an idiot I let her. I should have planted my feet and refused to be carted off before I could throw words out at Lily. But as much as I wanted to I didn’t. Probably because I actually had no clue what I would actually say to Lily, despite wanting to tell her off.
If only I wasn’t such a good friend. If I weren’t such a good keeper of secrets, then I would have marched back up to Lily and told her right then that Frank liked liked her. But I am a good friend and didn’t turn back to tell Lily about Frank’s feelings. Sometimes I wished I didn’t always feel like I had to be the nice guy and say what was on my mind.
First thing on Monday morning I saw myself sitting down in a cafe in Diagon Alley with Hugo over tea and pastries. I wanted to find out if there was anything besides the DNA that had been found on the crime scene. But of course there hadn’t been. All I had to work with was the DNA strand and a fat lot of good that did me when the werewolf they were trying to catch was unregistered.
It seemed like the only thing to do was to try and develop a cure for lycanthropy, but that was impossible. I mean, there might be a strand of possibility, but first I would have to study someone with lycanthropy versus someone without to figure out how different the genes of each are. But before I started researching I would have to garner enough support from the healing research team, which I probably won’t get since I’m still, basically, a novice. No way would any of the healers on the research board take my hypothesis seriously enough to help support my research to find a cure.
I suppose I could always talk to Thomas about it first. If he thought I had enough steam to make it out the gate with such a flimsy hypothesis to pitch, then perhaps I could gain the support I needed. The odds were already stacked against me, what’s a few more to add to the lot.
Author's Note: Hope y'all enjoyed this chapter! I really enjoyed writing this one, despite it taking me quite a while to finish, and hopefully all of you like how the plot is unfolding. Also, I didn't really edit this chapter in full (just during the writing process when I reread sections) so there are more than likely some errors sprinkled throughout, but my main focus was to update by giving y'all a new chapter. Here's to hoping I can finish chapter 11 faster.
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