Chapter 12 : Some Family Time
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I spent more hours in the lab than I had when I had first been promoted, though I was doing my own work instead of what the others were doing. Though, admittedly there was nothing left for the team to do. The result ended with less hours clocked in lab time for all the researchers a part of it. All except for me since I used my additional lab hours to work on my notes.
A good thing about the identity of the werewolf being found in old hospital records was that Elsie was rarely ever in the lab anymore. I still ran into her in the halls when I was on floor duty. But for the most part we usually worked on separate floors. I know, I know, I shouldn’t be avoiding her, but technically I wasn't. At least that was what I was telling myself. And I really was keeping busy. I was so close to nailing down my lycanthropy research that I barely wanted to go home to sleep.
My friends were worried about me. I guess mainly because I hadn't been out for drinks with them in weeks, but the full moon was rapidly approaching again. Each day that passed had me renewing my vigour at finding a cure so that I could begin brewing and testing.
Speaking of brewing. Michael had asked me a couple more times before I accepted his offer of becoming a brewer. It would only be part-time, but it gave me unrestricted – and unlimited – access to the brewer's quarters. Knowing the enchantments in would serve as highly useful for when I would need to begin experimenting with different formulas while using the basis of the Wolf Bane's potion.
So far, since dinner at Shell Cottage, my mum had sent me a few owls. Knowing she would more than likely show up at my flat, I had dutifully responded back with prompt and sufficient replies. I wasn't going to give her another reason to show up unannounced. She had also informed me that I was to go to Nana Molly's for brunch on Saturday as the rest of the Weasley-Potter clan would be there. Apparently Nana Molly was annoyed that barely anyone had been stopping in to visit and she was growing restless with impatience. I had wanted to use Saturday, especially since I was off the whole day and night, to do more research on lycanthropy, but there really was no arguing with my mum, nor Nana Molly.
That was how I found myself apparating to St. Ottery Catchpole at noon on Saturday. I figured if I got there relatively early, I'd be able to slip out after a couple hours. If I could escape that was, I thought. Chances were I wouldn't be able to get away to return back to the hospital's medical library to do further research due to my mum keeping an eye on me the whole time I was at the burrow.
“Louis, it's great to see you,” Nana Molly said. “It really has been much too long. Let's take a look at you.”
I stood in front of her as she lifted my arms out to the side to inspect me, or rather my weight.
“Much too thin,” Nana Molly said. “And bags under your eyes, too. That won't do, no not one bit. Come, I'll fix you a plate with extra helpings.”
“I'm actually fine right now, Nana.”
“Nonsense,” Nana Molly said, clucking her tongue. “Your parents are here already, they're in the kitchen. Your mum's been fretting over whether you'd actually remember to show or not.”
I heaved a sigh that felt more weighty than relieving. Just a couple hours, that was all I had to stay before I could get back to my half-baked hypothesis.
“Oh, good, you're here,” my mum said, leaning through the doorway into the kitchen to speak to my father. “Bill, he made it. And he looks exhausted and worn down.”
“You need a hair cut,” Nana Molly said, pulling my attention from my mum. “And please don't tell me you fancy growing it into a ponytail like your father started to do when he was around your age.”
“I'm not, Nana,” I said. “I just keep forgetting to get it trimmed. I'd magic it myself, but I don't trust myself not to ruin it.”
“Hair grows back,” Nana Molly said. “Also, I'll trim you up after brunch.”
I nodded, not up for telling Nana that I would be ditching out right after we eat.
“So, uh, where are the others?”
“In the garden,” my dad said, entering the kitchen. “They started a game of quidditch just now, you should join them.”
“I was never much of a player, dad,” I said. “You know that.”
“Yes, but you don't have to be good to play for fun.”
I shrugged before heading out through the door that led into the backyard. I noticed most of my cousins flying around on broomsticks in the garden, but on the patio sat Victoire, Molly, Hugo, and Lucy. I sat down in one of the vacated chairs.
“Louis, how have you been?” Molly said. “I feel like I haven't seen you in ages.”
“I've been good, just busy at the hospital.”
“Oh, yeah, I've heard about the attacks on a different child each month. That's so wretched.”
“Yeah,” I said. “But how about you? How are you and Finn? And Delilah?”
“Great,” Molly said, practically glowing despite the tiredness of her smile. “She's been sleeping better the past few months now. Finn is inside changing her nappy right now, should be back out any minute.”
Out of all of my cousins, Molly was definitely my favourite. Both of us had always preferred books over quidditch and had decided to stick together against the rest of the rowdy clan. She was older, but didn't treat me like a kid. To her we had always been equal. I also looked up to her because she was the type of person who would go after what she wanted to do, damn the coincidences. Though she had admitted to me that she regretted walking away from Finn when the pair of them had graduated, but it had all worked out in the end since they were now married with a six-month-old daughter. She had also been one of the few people who had been there to encourage me to keep with my training when it got harder in the final year before I started my Supervised Hours with Thomas; she had just moved to Egypt with Finn, but was still making an effort to come back every weekend to visit family. She had gotten better at keeping in contact when she and Finn got back together and she had decided not to go back to Australia.
“Great, can't wait to see how big she's gotten,” I said. I liked kids, really, I did. I actually wanted some later on down the road, but first I had to meet the woman I'd fall in love with enough to want to marry and have said kids with. So far I hadn't felt much more than intense like for a girl.
“Louis, you aren't growing your hair out long, are you?” Victoire asked, scrutinizing me with piercing blue eyes. “Because if you are, it really isn't the look for you.”
“Shove off, Vic,” I said. “I've just been too busy to get it trimmed.”
“You know it doesn't take much to magic a couple inches off.”
I glared at her. I didn't want to get into an argument over my hair. Couldn't she just not nitpick for one afternoon. And it was my hair. I'd cut it or grow it out if I wanted, and there was nothing she would be able to do about it.
“I like his hair,” Lucy said. “It's very rugged in a manly kind of way. Makes him look older.”
Molly raised her brow. “I thought you forced Lorcan to trim his hair every month to keep it cleanly cut.”
“I do, but that's only because he can't pull off the shaggy look,” Lucy said. “He doesn't have the right mannerisms. Lysander can pull off shaggy, though.”
“They're twins,” Molly said, dumbfounded.
“But you can still tell them apart.”
“I can't,” I said.
“Hullo, guys,” Lily said, collapsing in a lawn chair beside mine.
“You weren't playing for very long,” Hugo said to her. “What happened?”
“James happened,” Lily seethed. “He is such a quaffle hog. He thinks just because he's a big shot quidditch player for Appleby that he gets to call the plays. It's insufferable and sucks all the fun out of the game.”
“Did you really expect any more of James, Lily?” Victoire said. “He's always been that way, even while he was still at Hogwarts playing on the Gryffindor team.”
“I'm back,” Finn said, shutting the door behind him and walking over to hand Delilah over to Molly before taking the seat next to her, kissing her lightly on the lips in the process.
As much as it was nice to see two people in love, all it did was remind me that I still hadn't found someone for myself. I wasn't bitter, not by a long shot. I just didn't care to be reminded what I was missing.
“Alright you two, enough before we lose our appetites,” Hugo said, “and I don't think Nana would like that very much.”
Everyone chuckled at that comment.
“So, Louis, how's life at St. Mungo's treating you?” Lily asked once the laughter had died down.
“All right,” I said. “Busy, but all right.”
“Have you seen Frank lately?”
“Nah, I've been busy researching for a project,” I said. “Why? Have you not seen him in a while?”
“Not sense we were all at the Leaky Cauldron on the full moon.”
“Have you tried Floo'ing him?”
“Floo'ing, owling, you name it I've tried it,” Lily said. “I think he's avoiding me, but for the life of me I can't imagine why. He's never been angry at me for this long.”
“Whoa, what did you do to Frank,” Hugo asked. “He's like the most laid back mate I know.”
“What makes you think it was me that did something to him?”
Hugo just gave her a look.
“Honest, Hugo,” Lily said. “I didn't do a thing.”
“Actually,” I said, but then stopped myself. I shouldn't get into it. Frank needed to tell her himself; he didn't need me fighting his battles for him.
“Yes, Louis,” Lily said, latching on like a Cornish Pixie and refusing to let go. “You were going to say?”
“I was, but I'm not anymore,” I said. “Frank's my friend and I'm not about to betray him by telling you what I know.”
“So you do know something.”
“Lily, he said he isn't going to say anything,” Molly said, gently bouncing Delilah to sleep in her arms. “You'll just have to wait until Frank wants to talk to ask him yourself.”
“Since when did you get sensible,” Lily said, glaring.
“Lily,” Victoire scolded, she had always played mother hen, even when we were kids. One look could send us retreating back into our shells and it still worked right then on Lily.
Then Nana Molly opened the door and a floating bell zoomed out and over the yard, ringing the whole time before returning back to her outstretched hand,
“Food is ready,” Nana Molly said. “Come and get it before it gets cold.”
Everyone in the garden touched down and started heading up to the house as we stood from our chairs to beat them to the food. But still Remus beat us all by running up and past us. That kid had so much energy.
“Uncle Lou,” Remus said, latching onto my leg when he noticed me.
“Hey, little man,” I said, peeling him from my leg and lifting him into my arms. “How've you been? Behaving for your mum and dad, I hope.”
“That's good to hear.”
“Mummy said you might not show,” Remus said. “I'm glad she ended up wrong. Why haven't you come over?”
“I've been busy at work, buddy,” I said. “But I'll try to make more of an effort to visit my favourite nephew.”
“I'm your only nephew, Uncle Lou,” Remus said solemnly.
“Maybe now, but what about when your mum has the baby?”
“But she doesn't know what it is yet.”
“No, but it could be your baby brother, then I'd have two nephews and you'd still be my favourite because I've known you longer.”
The next hour passed by in a blur of activity and chatter as everyone ate what was on their plate. Nana Molly had made good on her promise of making my plate and I ended up with double what I could actually eat. I had never been a huge eater like my male cousins. It definitely was because I hadn't played a sport like quidditch. I mean, I did go through growth spurts and eat quite a bit, but never to the extent of say James, Al, or Hugo. But Nana seemed to think I had gone through their stage of eating everything within sight because that's exactly what she had put on my plate. She even put tomato on my omelet. I hated tomato, always have and always will.
I looked over my shoulder at the sound of my name to find my mum standing there. “There's a bit of an emergency at the hospital,” she said, and I could tell she hadn't wanted to be the bearer of this news. “Thomas fire called and your Papa was there to answer. Apparently there is an influx of patients on the fourth floor and they need some extra healers. He said something about an incident on a muggle street that affected mostly muggles.”
I took one last swig of my pumpkin juice to wash down the last bite of cheesy omelet before pushing my chair away from the table to stand.
“Hopefully you'll be done in the next couple hours to come back here before everyone leaves.”
“Yeah, maybe,” I said, doubting it as the words left my mouth.
I made my apologies to the rest of the family before bowing out and heading across the hall into the living room where the fire place was. I took a pinch of floo powder and tossed it in. “St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries,” I enunciated clearly after stepping into the grate. Green flames engulfed and carried me away before spitting me out in the lobby of St. Mungo's. I breezed through the crowd like a professional and reached the lifts all in one piece.
After I had stepped into a lift, just as the doors were closing someone squeezed in to join me. That someone was Elsie. I hadn't spoken to her since the day I had initially shown Thomas my notes. Needless to say, the ride up to the fourth floor was incredibly awkward. I'm usually used to awkward since that was what I was the majority of the time, but the type of awkward that befell us as we rode the lift was more than I could bear. Yet I didn't want to say anything to risk angering Elsie anymore than she had been on that day. If she had anything to say to me, then she would have to start the conversation.
Apparently she felt the same because she stared haughtily at the golden grilles of the lift as it whooshed down, stopping at each floor. But on its way from the third to the fourth, Elsie reached out and hit the emergency stop button. You know, for how different muggles and wizards were, some of the mechanics were quite similar, making them more alike than they could ever know. I only knew this because my aunt Hermione was a muggle-born and advocated for muggles, house-elves, and anyone else who couldn't use their voice to defend themselves in the Ministry of Magic; she was constantly going on about her latest project at family gatherings. I had been able to gather over today's lunch that she was again working on opening up more rights for house-elves since she said you had to agree to little changes before bringing up the subject of more freedom for a group of individuals that didn’t particularly want freedom for themselves later on down the road in an attempt to avoid conflict.
“Now you're avoiding me.”
“Can you really blame me?”
“Yeah, I can, actually,” Elsie said. “You may not have been avoiding me before, but ever since you have completely changed tune. Would it really be so horrible if we started dating?”
I just stared at her, unable to process what she had said. Here I thought she had stopped the lift to give me a lecture, not ask me out. Or whatever it was she was doing. I had not anticipated our next conversation happening like this.
“Clearly you think it would judging by your silence.”
“No,” I said, “I mean, I'm just speechless. I hadn't realised you felt this way. I mean, I guess we could try this thing between us out.”
“I honestly haven't thought much about that kiss.”
“Obviously there's no point dating if you don't feel the same,” Elsie said, steaming. “Whatever, Louis, do whatever you blimey well want, but I'm not about to jump into something just to wind up with a broken heart. I don't just date anyone, y'know.”
“Yeah, I figured.”
Elsie hit the emergency button, causing the lift to jolt before making its ascend. “Then don't expect me to wait around forever for you. I'm tired of waiting. I'm ready for a real, honest to Merlin relationship.”
I was about to respond, though I couldn't tell you what words would have come out of my mouth even at the time. Maybe my mouth would have just flapped open and closed a few times, like a fish out of water. Either way, the lift grilles chose that moment to open and Elsie stomped out first and was already halfway down the hall, walking briskly away from me and any future we could have together, before I even stepped out of the lift.
So far only a few patients had been placed in private rooms, but no one else. Michael explained the situation to me the best he could in a few short minutes that made my head feel as though it were whirring around in circles like a trapped snitch. From my understanding, Werewolf Control had been after someone, who had escaped into muggle London from Diagon Alley, and that wizard had cast a spell behind his back as he ran in an attempt to forestall the officers. None of the healers had been told anything specific, just these bare facts. Makes you wonder whether the wizard they had been after was the elusive werewolf. I mean, they knew the werewolf's identity now, thanks to Michael's brilliant detective work of combing through past hospital records.
Shaking my head, I turned on my heel and started toward the room I had been instructed to see to. We had to treat muggles separately, which meant bringing them up, in their confuddled states, one at a time to single rooms on the fourth floor to reverse the charms and heal them. Sometimes it took several minutes to hours just to get a muggle to trust that you were there to help cure them. I've only healed a couple muggles so I understood the protocol we had in place, but my recollection was vague.
But when I reached the room it was to discover Elsie was already in there. Apparently they thought I needed babysitting or practice, or whatever the blimey they thought I needed. I had no patience for it and I definitely was dreading being stuck in this room with Elsie for hours as patients were ushered in and out by the Healing Technicians.
“Seriously,” Elsie said. “You've got to be kidding me.”
“I'm no more happy about this than you.”
“Oh, I'm so sorry.”
But I could tell from her tone that she was far from sorry. Her body language also told me to stay away as she turned her back to me and continued her evaluation of the patient. I took a few steps hesitatingly forward, enough to see what the problem was; the patient had spouted an extra hand that was coming out of his chest and it was wiggling its long, thin fingers. I shivered.
Elsie looked over her shoulder at me before turning back. “I know you aren't suddenly going all scrimmage on me, Weasley.”
“Oh, so we're resorting to surnames now,” I said. “Don't you think that's just a tad juvenile, Short?”
“Clearly you don't since you had no trouble using my surname.”
I could make out the slight upward tilt of her mouth in profile as I inched closer. She was jerking my wand. I don't know how I thought knowing she was teasing instead of being serious. Only minutes before she was telling me off for avoiding her, and now it was as if we were the best of chums again. Had I stepped through a continuum portal that had thrown me back in time? I thought.
“I thought you were mad at me.”
“We're adults, Louis,” Elsie said, “and we work together. We're going to have to get over ourselves and find some sort of semblance to be able to work together in a civilised manner.”
“Yes, but I thought--” I started, but she interrupted me.
“You thought I would continue giving you the cold shoulder,” Elsie said without turning away from the patient. She had released blue wisps from her wand that were circling the extra hand, caressing it. It looked like something straight from a horror novel. “You should give me more credit than you do. I got what I wanted to say off my chest, now I'm moving past it. Past you.”
I nodded, numb. I wasn't sure whether this meant we were friends again or just amicable colleagues. Somehow I thought it was the latter since friends still seemed unlikely.
“Now, if you don't mind, I could really use your help.”
Shaking to clear my head, I did as she instructed and soon we had finished with the patient, only to gain another as the Healer Technician put another weary muggle in our custody before taking the one we had healed away. We spent the rest of the afternoon like that, huddled together over patient after patient, until all the muggles had been healed. After Michael said we were both free to go since we had been brought in off-duty.
But now that I was here, I wasn't about to let an opportunity to get some hours in the lab down pass me by. Without saying anything to Elsie, I headed in the opposite directions to take a separate lift because I figured the last thing she wanted was to end up trapped in a silent lift with me.
Maybe I'd write her a letter or something. Maybe that'd help me decipher these feelings I was experiencing toward her. Or maybe I'd just toss everything that had transpired between us and start fresh. I bet she wouldn't argue with wanting a fresh start.
Author's Note: This chapter has now been edited as of 5/1/2014. Hope you enjoy this chapter! Let me know what you thought in a review! :)
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