In the past I’ve spoken about what it would be like to be a Curse Breaker or an Auror; the exciting jobs suitable for daredevil types the world over. What about the more mundane and essential jobs … like a Healer?
A Healer’s Shift
8pm and you’re just heading through the staff entrance of St. Mungos Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries. You’ve just left another row with your parents … ” You could do our world so much good … Why do you waste your time on this magic buisness?… Why can’t you just be normal?”. They don’t understand, you do good every shift, you help anyone who walks through those doors – they’re still people, just not muggles. You need to move out but you hardly have the time; managing 36 hour shifts is hardly easy.
Still, you put a smile on your face and dive into the pit that is the Emergency Room. You’re quickly handed a chart and pushed in the direction of a small girl sat on a bed and instead of blond pigtails, antlers had sprouted from her head. She was struggling to hold her head up at all they were that magnificent. You automatically start asking her anxious parents the routine questions: How long? What triggered it? Has she ever had this happen before? A quick flick of the wrist and the impatient child is antlerless again.
And on it goes; after several avoidable accidents, a bad reaction to Pepper Up potion, a questionable poisoning and a serious case of Dragon Pox you’re desperate for a sit down. You slouch off to the staff cafeteria on level 5 and collapse into the uncomfortable chairs with some pumpkin soup and a mystery sandwich. It was amazing how many qualified witches and wizards couldn’t undo a simple transfiguration or even perform a basic finite incantatum. You enjoy a few minutes of peace and quiet before the slate strapped to your wrist vibrates:
DEATH EATER RAID, ALL AVAILABLE TO RESPOND
Another one? You choke down the rest of your sandwich and apparate to the scene, guided by your slate.
Bedlam. That’s the only word you can think of as you arrive with a CRACK at the scene. Fires are blazing, people are screaming and the smell of death is in the air. Above the ruined village – you recognise it as the wizarding village Mould-On-The Wold – a serpent is writhing in the mouth of a sickening green skull. For a moment you can’t move, you can’t think, you just take in the disaster surrounding you until the loud crash of a collapsing house jars you into action. You ignore those with only scrapes and bruises and go to work with potions, tinctures and charms on those who are seriously injured. You feel the enormous weight of guilt as you quickly pass by those too far gone to save; in the hospital you would have done everything possible to stabilise these people but the first rule of emergency field medicine is to save as many as possible, you can’t afford to spend time on a lost cause.
You work your way into a knot of people and the stench of burning flesh threatens to over come you, dropping to your knees in front of a young girl it takes you a few moments to recognise her as the antler girl from earlier. Instead of antlers she has a huge burn over her face extending down her neck, her mouth is contorted in pain but you can see the glimmer of determination in her eyes. She reaches for you and you start work immediately, letting her hold your arm all the while. After sanitising the would you cover it in burn salve and hand her to an Evac-Witch with a ward referral. Confident you’ve done your best for the girl – you think her name was Emily- you move on to the next patient.
And so it goes on, patient after patient, heartbreak after devastating heartbreak. Eventually all the patients have been removed to St Mungos and you can finally apparate back to the hospital and catch a few hours of sleep. Despite what you’ve been through, you sleep like a log, deep and dreamless. You’re shaken awake by Healer Smethwyck at about 5 the next morning, he says a patient has been asking for you and directs you to Paediatrics; you see her sitting up in a bed at the end of the ward, covered in bandages but reading a colourful book. This is why you do the job: to see the recovery, see people’s strength and their hope. You have yourself assigned to the ward, paediatrics is your speciality after all. You love spending time on the children’s ward, they all brighten your day – at home, your bedroom wall is plastered with drawings and cards made by the children you’ve helped. The ward is always bright and cheerful, the smell of herbs is everywhere – infinitely preferable to the antiseptic smell of the muggle hospital you had to stay in as a child – there’s always the sound of laughter on the ward. Everyday it amazes you how strong these little wizards and witches are. The rest of your shift runs fairly smoothly, a few alerts but they were soon stabilised. It’s near the end of your shift when the Monitoring Charm goes off above Emily’s bed. You and the two other Healers on the ward are by the bed in seconds to see Emily seizing silently. Diagnostics reveal dark magic radiating from her burns, infecting her nervous system and brain. You do all you can to stabilise the young girl, the minutes tick by but nothing changes.
And then she’s lying still, eyes staring blankly, a crumpled book still clutched in her small hands.