Gregory House stood in front of his fireplace and fingered the packet of Floo Powder Hermione Weasley had sent to him. His house had temporarily been connected to the Floo Network and this packet would get him to Mexico and his first transfer.

 

This was his literal first step back into the world of magic. He threw the packet into the small fire he had built and watched green flames leap up in the hearth. He clamored down into his small fireplace and pulled his luggage in with him. He spoke clearly: “Tijuana Station.”

 

He watched as the world around him blurred. He saw glimpses of rooms as he flew through the network down to Mexico: a jolly bright room with yellow wallpaper and green furniture; a dingy basement filled with cobwebs and wooden crates; a sparkling white kitchen where two small blonde children were amusing themselves with toy cars; an opulent room lavishly done in burgundy and gold, dark soft velvet covered the bed where a middle aged couple were passionately making love.

 

House laughed to himself as more rooms blurred by. They really should put curtains over these things.

 

Suddenly he found himself looking into what looked like a busy bus station, but instead of busses, people were stepping out of and piling into fireplaces. He stepped out and pulled his luggage along with him.

 

His eyes searched around and finally fell on a small blue kiosk with a sign that read: Tickets.

 

He slowly made his way to the kiosk and told the small blonde witch his name. She handed him another packet of powder and directed him to a bank of fireplaces rimmed in green. He thanked her and made his way through the crowds of bustling travelers.

 

Annoying it may have been, but it sure beat a Trans-Atlantic fight with a screaming toddler kicking the seat behind him.

 

From Mexico, he found his way to Brazil where he saw an obnoxious woman in a large yellow hat berating the small dark haired man running the ticket booth in Russian. From what House could catch, she was expecting to show up in Canada.

 

From there he went to what looked like an abandoned oil barge surrounded by miles of ocean where the fish and chips were excellent and the entertainment was a goblin cabaret act.

 

House leisurely ate his fish and chips while he waited for his transfer. When he saw a fireplace glow pink he made his way to it and transferred to Ghana. When he arrived his nostrils curled at the intense smell of pepper soup simmering in a large cauldron nearby. He quickly transferred to France and then to London, finding himself startled by the presence of a brown haired young man holding a card bearing his name.

 

“Doctor Gregory House?” The young man looked unsure, but House couldn’t imagine anyone else matching his description coming through an international fireplace when he was expected.

 

“You’ve got me.” House reluctantly held his hand out and shook the young mans.

 

“I’m Ebenezer Woods. The Board of Advanced Healing and Experimental Therapies sent me to retrieve you.” The man looked immeasurably proud at being handed this task.

 

House sized him up. He couldn’t be more than 20 or so, his hair needed a trim and his eyes had the glazed look of the over-caffeinated. Probably still going through his internship.

 

“Well, Mr. Ebenezer Woods, what does the Board have in store for me?”

 

Woods ushered House to what looked like a service elevator and they rose to a condemned building on a dirty abandoned street where a shiny black Bentley waited for them.

 

“Nice wheels,” House commented as he and Woods put his luggage in the boot. A dark haired man of medium build sat in the drivers’ seat. He had started the engine as they had walked out of the building without even looking at them.

 

During the ride to the Leaky Cauldron he confirmed Woods was still completing his internship and that the Longbottom case was the most fascinating thing House had ever heard of.

 

“It’s an even brighter green than when we took the pictures to send you. He’s unconscious, but still writhing in pain. The toe almost seems to be withering.” Woods made a face, crumpling up his long thin nose in disgust.

 

“Interesting.” House said quickly after Woods brought him up to date with Neville’s condition. “So am I going to get a wand?”

 

Might as well get it all out in the open right now, House figured.

 

“I have no idea.” Woods blurted out. The kid displayed his every though on his face. House knew he was telling the truth. “You’ll have to ask Healer Weasley.”

 

“And who is Healer Weasley? Besides being the person that wrote me a ‘please come home’ letter.” House asked. He gazed out the window and watched idly as the streets zoomed by. 

 

“She’s the head of Experimental Therapies at St. Mungo’s.” Woods explained. “Brilliant researcher, and a war hero herself.”

 

“So I’m being called back because this is a friend of hers.” House was disgusted. “Must be nice to be so powerful.”

 

“When the rest of the world cowered, Healer Weasley was there with Harry Potter helping to defeat the Dark Lord. She took out a hor—“he seemed to stumble over the word. “She took out a piece of the Dark Lord herself.”

 

House blinked.

 

“You mean the people that really did something?” House squinted at Woods incredulously. “Not that stupid group that thought they deserved something because they worked at the Ministry and survived the occupation?”

 

Although House had left the Wizarding World, he still had a friend and classmate that also become a Muggle doctor in India and he couldn’t help but keep up with snippets of things, although he had made it quite clear to his friend that he didn’t want anything to do with the Wizarding World ever again. A war was hard to miss, though.

 

“Oh no! Healer Weasley was with Harry Potter at the fall along with Professor Longbottom! They really saw it!” Woods looked around as if he thought someone would overhear them. “I hear she petitioned to perform a Muggle autopsy on the Dark Lord herself before she had even started her internship!”

 

From his tone House gathered that Woods placed that act at the same rank of ‘dancing through the Great Hall on Halloween wearing only a gorilla mask and farting at the Slytherins’ on his list of cheeky things to do.

 

“Really?” House chewed on this for a moment. Sounded like his kind of supervisor, if he had to choose one at all.

 

“Leaky’s just up the road here!” Woods exclaimed as they turned a corner. He seemed far too excided to be driving around to be anything but pureblooded. House chuckled to himself. He had forgotten how amusing that was at times.

 

“Can you still get to Diagon Alley through the back?” House asked.

 

“Of course!” Tom said brightly

 

House wondered what would happen if he strolled over to Ollivander’s, explained he was working for St. Mungo’s again, and let the wand choose him.

 

Would the old man even let him in the door or would his picture be on a wall someplace under the heading: Banned Customers?

 

He’d have to look for legal loopholes with that one.

 

Their car pulled up to the shabby entrance to the Leaky Cauldron and Woods once again helped House with his bags. House watched as Woods tapped his wand on the drivers arm and the driver nodded politely and drove off.

 

“That wasn’t a person, was it?” House asked, watching the car vanish around a turn.

 

“No, it was an auto-pilot.” Woods chuckled. “Another invention from Weasley’s Wonders. Don’t know how they come up with such clever things.”

 

They wrestled their baggage through the door and Woods rushed off to find the owner of the Leaky Cauldron.

 

House looked around him. Three witches fussing over their knitting sat in a cozy corner, their spoons rotating in their teacups without the help of human hands. A young family with a small black haired baby sat in a booth quietly enjoying their meal. A scruffy, short wizard was trying to show a disinterested party whatever he had on the inside of his cloak.

 

“Mundungus Fletcher?” House said, completely astounded.

 

The small wizard jumped and spun around, tucking his cloak tightly around him. It jingled softly.

 

Mundungus squinted at House for a moment before his eyes went wide.

 

“Great thunder, House! How are you?” Mundungus bustled over to clasp House’s hand. “Haven’t seen you in years! What have you been up to?”

 

“I’m a Doctor in the United States.” Mundungus winced at the brassy American accent. “St. Mungo’s asked me to come out to look at a case.”

 

“Come crawling back, did they?” Mundungus looked appraisingly at House. “Told you they would.”

 

“That you did.” House smiled briefly. “Come on Dung; let me buy you a pint.”

 

Mundungus, never being one to turn down a free drink from a non-enemy happily agreed and they were settling down in a booth with their pints when Woods returned.

 

“Never give you a moment, do they?” Mundungus remarked as Woods hurried over.

 

“Slave drivers.” House remarked as he sipped at his pint. “God, I forgot how good goblin breweries were.”

 

“Join us for a drink?” House asked Woods as he got into hearing range.

 

“Might as well.” Woods surprised House with his answer. “Your things are being settled in and I was told to make sure you’re comfortable. A few pints are always comforting to me.”

 

House snorted.

 

Either this Weasley witch was incompetent or deviously clever when choosing the person to retrieve him. He sipped his pint again. Either way he’d reconnected with Mundungus. If there was ever a person that could find something obscure or forbidden it was Dung.

 

Mind you, he almost never touched the stuff, but he always knew where it was so he would know where to avoid.

 

Woods drew up a pint and House’s stomach churned as he listened to Mundungus and Woods discuss the Quidditch match being broadcast over the small Wizarding Wireless radio in the corner of the pub. It had been so long since he was away and the world had just gone on. It just didn’t seem right.

 

After their second round House clapped his hands together. “We may as well get all this over with. I’ll catch up with you later, Dung.”

 

“Remember what I said about telling people you were bitten by a dragon! The birds will love it!” He tipped his hat jovially as a passing young witch who gave him a startled look and hurried away.

 

“I’ll keep it in mind.” House nodded seriously at Dung and he swiveled off his stool and followed Woods out to the street. Their car swiveled around the corner to pick them up.

 

“Can you import to those to the US yet?” House asked seriously.

 

“Ministry issue only, I’m afraid,” Woods apologized.

 

“Figures.”

 

House and Woods soon found themselves in front of old store front. House felt a shiver down his spine. He popped a Vicodin.

 

They walked through the window of the old department store and found themselves in the lobby of St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries.

 

A pleasant looking blonde witch waved at them from a podium off to one side. Woods nodded at her before ushering House off to a lift.

 

House saw a small blonde girl of about four with antennae pirouetting in front of her father, who was watching her with an amused look. “You take after your mother’s side, I swear.”

 

A few chairs away from him a middle aged witch was berating her suffering husband. “Wanted to show everyone how smart you were! Now see where it’s gotten you!”

 

The man seemed to have tomato vines growing out of his ears.

 

“We’re going to Healer Weasley’s office on the Fourth Floor.” Woods said. She’s usually in there.

 

House sighed as their elevator went up to their floor. To his relief no one with any strange maladies boarded with them and her office was easy to find.

 

Woods walked in without knocking and House found himself looking at one of the youngest department heads he’d ever met.

 

“How do you do?” Hermione Weasley rose from behind her desk, pictures and notes were spread over its surface. “I’m so glad you decided to give us a look.”

 

“What can I say? The story had a good hook.” House shook her hand and sat in the black leather chair in front of her desk.

 

“This is his complete file.” Hermione gestured at her desk. “I’ll have it packed up so you can take it with you to review tonight. Tomorrow you can tell us if you’re interested and then we can hammer out your compensation.”

 

“You’re not going to make me an offer now?” House looked disbelieving.

 

“Doctor House, your reputation precedes you. I don’t expect you to be swayed by the goodness of your heart or the money we offer you. What I do guarantee is that this case has boggled the rest of us and we have come to you because we thought you would find it worth your time.”

 

“So you come to the outcast now that you need something?”

 

“We come to the best. Your wand may have been snapped, but we study your research and theories in advanced healing classes.”

 

House looked at her, stunned. “You’re kidding.”

 

Hermione shook her head.

 

He threw his head back and laughed bitterly. “Typical! I don’t know why I’m surprised.”

 

“The Ministry has changed a lot in the last few years. We could possibly have your case reopened.”

 

House examined the woman. She was deviously clever.

 

“But of course that can be something we discuss tomorrow.” Hermione smiled at him silkily.

 

House chuckled. “What time is good for you?”

 

“About noon. We can have lunch and discuss your requirements. I’ll send the car around 11:40.”

 

“Done.”