Chapter 11 : To Craft a Hypothesis
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For the next couple weeks I was sent on a whirl-wind, trying with fail to convince the Healers’ Research Board that my hypothesis was worth supporting. I felt so defeated and was just about ready to give up when Thomas called me into his office when I arrived for my shift in Accidental on a Thursday morning. I prayed I wasn’t in trouble. I hadn’t had a full conversation with Thomas since the full moon when we lost that little girl in the ER, not that that actually counts as a conversation, though.
“You wanted to see me,” I said, opening his office door the rest of the way, albeit hesitatingly.
“Yes, I did,” Thomas said. “I heard about what you’ve been trying to do yesterday over lunch with a colleague of mine that’s on the Research Board.”
I swallowed. “I see.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Thomas asked. “I could help. All I need is to go over your hypothesis and the steps you plan to take toward the conclusion.”
“Honestly, I thought you’d just lecture me about how I still have lots to learn and that was the last thing I wanted to hear.”
“Louis, if there’s anyone who’s on your side,” Thomas said, “it’s me. I know how brilliant of a healer you are and how hard you work. You should have been a Hufflepuff; you never blimey give up.”
I cracked a smile, running a hand through my already dishevelled red hair; I’d been forgoing brushing my hair as of late.
“Now let’s see that hypothesis.”
“Yes, sir,” I said. “Let me just go grab it from my desk in the lab.”
I hastened out of the office, holding myself back from what I really wanted to do, which was sprint down the hall to the labs. Cripes, forget wanting to appear calm and collected. The moment I was out of the outer office of Thomas’s secretary and in the hall, I started running as quickly as my scrawny legs would let me until I was within around ten feet from the lab.
Acting as cool and dignified as I could, I entered and headed straight to my desk and took out my wand to unlock the enchantments I had placed on it to protect the integrity of my hard work being stolen from a colleague.
Once I had the folder that contained all of my well-thought out notes, I headed back out of the lab toward Thomas’s office without paying the few healers who were sitting at their desks any mind. The only thought in my mind was getting back to Thomas’s office and, hopefully, garnering his support. If I could get Thomas on my side, well, then I’d be able to get a definitive yes out of the board.
But as I was walking out of the lab, who should walk in but Elsie. I mentally cursed. Of course she had to walk in at just the moment I was walking out. Life really was complicating and unjustifiable. Now I would be forced to interact before I could get back to Thomas with my notes. Blimey, time just wasn't on my side.
“Louis, I haven't seen you all week,” Elsie said, smiling. “Where have you been hiding?”
“Nowhere,” I said. “I mean, I've been around, just been busy.”
I kept looking ahead, over Elsie's shoulder, and I guess she could sense my anxiety because she looked back at the partially opened door that led out into the sterile white hallway. I tried to feel bad at not giving her my full attention, while at the same time all I that was on my mind was Thomas being on my side.
“Looking for someone?”
My attention was brought back to an angry looking Elsie.
“Or can you just not wait to escape me,” Elsie said. “Maybe the reason I haven't seen you all week is you're avoiding me.”
I gasped, flabbergasted. I had not been avoiding Elsie, while at the same time I had no ready made excuse for her and I didn't want to tell her about my hypothesis for finding a cure for lycanthropy. Her response would surely be a negative one. I mean, Elsie seemed like a fairly positive person, but I'm sure she would be sceptical like everyone on the Research Board. It was basically me against the entirety of the wizarding world; the weight on my shoulders seemed too great for me to bear alone, but I would have to deal.
“You know, if you don't want to be in a relationship with me, then all you had to do was tell me.”
“A relationship,” I said, my voice croaking. “Is that what we are now?”
“Well, it's where I thought we were heading after our kiss in the elevator.”
“Yeah, about that,” I said. “Elsie, I--”
“Save your breath,” Elsie said, brushing her shoulder into mine as she walked past.
Blimey hell, I thought. Now I had to deal with this before I could get back to Thomas. I really wasn't up for trying to understand girls tonight. I mean, I didn't want her upset with me, but I had no idea what she wanted out of me. I did like her. Correction, I liked her a lot. But I had a lot on my plate right now. There wasn't enough time in the day to add girlfriend into the mix of all of my responsibilities. It was overwhelming and I thought Elsie would understand that since she was a healer, too. Apparently I had thought wrong.
Stealing on last glance at Elsie over my shoulder, I regretfully turned away and pushed the door the rest of the way open before stepping out of the lab. It would have to wait until later. Right now Thomas was waiting on me and his support backing my hypothesis meant more right then. I would make it up to her somehow. Not sure how, but I was determined to show her that I still respected her as a friend at the very least. Even if it doesn't work out between us, well I still wanted to be friends. Her encouragement helped me where others in the lab seemed to doubt me as a competent healer and researcher. I needed all the support I could get, what with my low self-esteem in my abilities. It sometimes surprised me at how much I doubted myself when I look back at all that I've accomplished. Almost seems like another person had passed all these great milestones.
I felt like I was walking my doom as I headed back to Thomas's office. What he thought and said had the power to make or break my hypothesis. Suddenly I was nervous. I mean, I had been nervous when I had propositioned my hypothesis to the Researching Board of Healers, but that was different somehow. Thomas was more than a supervisor to me. He was a mentor.
If he shut down my hypothesis, then it would be like a door slamming in my face. I would lose my determination. Or at least I feared I would.
“Took you long enough,” Thomas said as I entered. “I was afraid you had left.”
“Nope, still here.”
“Well, let's see, then.”
Swallowing back my fear, I handed the folder with all my hard work over to Thomas to tear apart because surely that would be what would happen. He could either make or break it, and the chances of him breaking it were stronger. I was still fairly green when it came to healing, especially researching.
I watched as Thomas opened the folder that I had treated as though it were my life for the past week. He stared thoughtfully at the pages and I tried to keep a positive head as I waited.
“Not bad,” Thomas said.
That was all he said. Nothing more. I tried to will him with my mind to say more. I wanted to know what was going through his head. But he didn't say anything else. All he did was continue reading the pages I had scribbled on in dark green ink. It always amazed me when other healers were able to read my handwriting as I could remember being scolded by the professors at Hogwarts for my sloppy penmanship.
After several painstaking minutes, Thomas finally closed the folder and looked up at me. His slight smile was encouraging, though I still couldn't help but feel doubtful for what he would say.
“You make some pretty solid estimations in your notes,” Thomas said, and I could feel the but coming. “But on the whole it isn't as together as it should be. Right now it all resembles untwined strings.”
I nodded, defeated.
“But that doesn't mean you should give up,” Thomas said. “In fact, I encourage you to renew your efforts to solidifying the foundation more. It'll all come together once you piece it all together. All you have to do is tweak your hypothesis.”
“Yeah, I guess I can do that,” I said. “Anything else?”
“Well, nothing for me to add, but you might want to talk to Michael.”
“Because he's about to start going through the hospital's files to see if we can't pull up a DNA match on a werewolf since there wasn't a match in the werewolf registry.”
“Do you think he'll find anything?”
“I'm not sure,” Thomas said. “He might. I mean, it's not like St. Mungo's, or any hospital, registers werewolves as it's actually the werewolf's responsibility to get registered with the Ministry of Magic's Werewolf Control Unit. I can only assume other wizarding hospitals run on the same policies with their ministries as we do.”
“Alright, I'll talk to Michael,” I said. “I think he's overseeing the fourth floor anyway today, which is where I'm scheduled.”
“Ah, yes, Healer Fuller did mention that she liked you in Accidental Spell Damage,” Thomas said. “She didn't want to believe me when I told her that was your best area of practice when you became certified. I'm glad she came around, but you know you're the reason she came around since you stuck it out and proved yourself to her.”
I nodded. “I should be heading to Spell Damage now,” I said.
“Alright,” Thomas said. “Keep me updated on your research and I'll help you out the next time you go up against the Board.”
Nodding once more, I stood and left the office. Instead of taking my research back to the lab, I decided to just put it in my locker under countless enchantments before taking the elevator down to the fourth floor. I hadn't been avoiding Elsie purposefully before, but now I was. I didn't need the distraction, nor the drama. I would talk to her after I had a finalized hypothesis.
I helped several patients before I saw Michael coming out of the main station at the end of a hall when I was leaving a private room; the patient inside was purple with green polka dots and it was being pushed off as accidental magic by their young son. It had taken all my self-restraint not to laugh.
“Louis,” Michael said when I approached him. “How're you doing, mate?”
“Alright,” I said. “Thomas told me to talk to you. About the lab research for finding the werewolf.” I felt like I was rambling. I probably was. “He said you were looking for matches in the hospital's registry now.”
“I am,” Michael said.
“Well, I'm actually trying to develop a hypothesis that will pass the Board in order to concoct a cure.”
“Nice,” Michael said. “That's hard work. Not many people have decided to specialize in lycanthropy, mainly because it's so hard. Not to mention everything has to be exact, or it's no good. We only have a couple brewers who can successfully concoct the Wolf Bane's potion; have you tried making that yet? Wait, you probably did in training.”
I nodded. “I succeeded after several botched attempts.”
“And you're just telling me this,” Michael said, eyes widening. “I've been hoping to promote a few more healers to brew potions for the past few months to no avail.”
“I'm really not a potion brewer,” I said. “I mean, I excel at brewing potions, but I just don't have the patience for it.”
“Don't have the patience,” Michael repeated dubiously, “And you want to develop a forumula to cure lycanthropy?”
“That would be different,” I said.
“I suppose,” Michael said. “That is if you limit yourself to only concocting experimental potions. But you know it would serve you better to just become a brewer, even if it's only a day a week, for the extra practice in brewing potions that are definite, from Pepper-Up to Wolf's Bane and so forth.”
“I guess you make a good point.”
Michael raised his brow. “Does that mean you'll consider the offer?”
“Promotion to brewer,” Michael said. “At least one day a week in the Brewer's lab.”
“At least think about and let me know.”
“I'll think about it.”
“Now, about that werewolf,” Michael said, getting us back on topic.
I ended up following him into the main station to discuss how he was going about to find the werewolf who had attacked a different child for the past few months. We talked for near an hour before parting due to an influx of patients that had arrived with Spell Damage crisises. One thing you never had to worry about on the fourth floor was down time. It was the one of the main reasons I preferred working in Spell Damage. You rarely, if ever, had to do mind-numbing busy work to fill in the gaps between healing patients.
By the end of my shift I was knackered. I quite literally collapsed on my bed in a heap of limps, not even bothering to change out of his healer robes. I had completely fell into an REM sleep within seconds, well maybe not seconds but definitely less than five minutes. I never had trouble sleeping. The only problem I had was finding the time to sleep.
There was a pounding noise coming from the living room. A couple minutes of blinking my eyes in an attempt to wake up allowed me to decipher that someone was knocking on the door. We rarely ever had guests at the flat. Rubbing the back of my head – mussing my hair to cause it to stick up with the action – I made my way down the hall and across the living room to answer the door.
I received a surprise upon opening it when it was none other than my mum standing on the other side, and she looked mighty stern with her hands on her hips – clearly adopting that stance from Nana Molly. Both of them had the ability to instantly feel like I had done something wrong even though I'm pretty sure I hadn't done anything to warrant getting in trouble. At least I didn't think I had. I racked my brain trying to figure out why my mum could be here in front of me, angry, but came up with nothing.
“Did I do something wrong?”
“Louis Alexander Weasley,” my mum said. “Why haven't you responded to my owls?”
I stared at her. Owls. She was stomping angrily into my flat because I hadn't responded back to her owls. Is it not enough that I've been too busy to think straight? Blimey women in my life demanding contact. First Elsie, now my mum. I just kept messing up with women today.
“Don't just stand there, gapping at me. I know you have better manners than that.”
I closed my mouth because I had been gapping at her. “I've been busy.”
“That's no excuse.”
“I also haven't opened any scrolls from you.”
My mum marched through the room and across the hall into the kitchen. It only took seconds before she was stomping back over with tightly furled parchments in hand, waving them in my face so I could clearly see my name etched in ink on all of them.
“They were just sitting on the table,” my mum said. “You'd think you would've seen them when you ate your meals over the past fortnight.”
“Yeah, about that,” I said, instantly regretting it when she threw me a scolding look that caused me to jump into overdrive to explain. “I've actually been eating more at the hospital.”
“That's not food,” my mum said, her French accent even more pronounced now that she was livid. “You're coming over for dinner tonight.”
It was an order. There would be no talking myself out of going over tonight, especially since she was likely not to leave unless I agreed to leave with her. I loved my mum, but sometimes she pestered me way too much. I wished she'd fuss over my sisters a bit more; it would shift some of the attention she focused on me.
“All right, I'll go,” I said.
She kept staring at me as if waiting for something.
When I didn't say anything she snapped. “What are you waiting for? You're father is already home and supper is just about ready.”
“Can't I change out of my healer robes first?”
“Go on, then,” she nodded in the direction of the bedrooms, still not making any move to floo or apparate.
Sighing, I went back to my room and changed into some muggle jeans and t-shirt before coming back. Having cotton on to what she was on about, I grabbed a pinch of floo powder from the pot on the mantel and tossed it in. “Shell Cottage,” I said as I stepped in after the flames had burst green. A few seconds after I stepped out of my parents' fireplace, my mum was following closely behind.
“Hullo, Louis,” my dad said from his perch on the sofa, a copy of the Evening Prophet in hand. “Nice of you to join us. Are you staying for dinner?”
“Looks that way,” I said. “I mean, do I really have a say in the matter?”
All he did was look at me pointedly.
“Figured as much,” I said.
“You know how your mum is.”
I nodded as I collapsed next to him on the couch. I spent the rest of the evening talking to my parents about nothing and everything at the same time over dinner and, after, tea. Basically I told them about working, but I purposefully left out the major detail of looking for a cure for lycanthropy. I knew they would be supportive – to supportive – but I couldn't handle the prospect of failing, never mind telling them, later on down the road. It was better this way. There was a fine line when it came to intertwining family and work, and I was not about to cross it just yet until I was positive.
Over the next few days I would find that equations were more involved in the hypothesizing process than I had originally thought. One does not simply throw words haphazardly in paper format to appear like they knew what they were going to research, no they actually did the math. It was a good thing I had been so good in Potions or I would have given up just a few hours of struggling through my notes. And then good news arrived in all its furriness when I went in to put in some hours in the lab on Tuesday: Michael had succeeded in tracking down the werewolf's DNA by subpoenaing magical hospital files. Now the only problem we had was where the werewolf was hiding.
Author's Note: So far this chapter is unedited. I just finished it and decided to update now and edit later. Hope y'all enjoyed it and thanks for reading! Let me know in a comment what you thought of the chapter and where you think the story/plot/characters are heading as I love any and all kinds of feedback. :)
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