House walked into Healer Weasley’s office at noon.
She had lunch selections spread out on her desk and a light blue folder in her hand. “You’ve been up all night. Eat something.”
House looked at her through blurry vision. He was his usual unshaven and rumpled self, maybe moving a bit slower than usual. He tried to glare but his heart just wasn’t in it.
It was a genuinely interesting case. She was right. He had been up all night going over Neville’s case. More than once he had made use of the Floo network in his room at the Leaky Cauldron and popped his head through to the all hours research department at St. Mungo’s so he could bark out an order for a book outlining obscure curses and cures.
The research department was already hoping he would turn down the offer that hadn’t been officially made yet.
House looked at the spread on Weasley’s desk. There was tea and cola. He noticed she had a Muggle water cooler in the corner of her office. He wondered how she got service in here. There was a plate of sandwiches and upon closer inspection he found she had an odd assortment with selections like corned beef, fried egg, grilled cheese, tuna, and turkey.
“This is your normal lunch?” House blinked at the plate before taking a fried egg sandwich. He sprinkled some ketchup he found on a small tray of condiments on it.
“Beans?” Weasley took the top off a small clay pot. House peered into the pot and nodded. Hermione ladled out a serving of beans into a small bowl. “Not in a million years has this been normal lunch. The kids decided they would be nice today and be helpful. Last time they managed to serve the whole department.”
House looked at the woman standing before him. She looked young, but sometimes you couldn’t tell with witches.
“You manage to run a department and still have a family?” House felt a bit of remorse. If he’d managed to stay here he’d probably still have a normal life, too. And a healthy, working leg.
“I have a daughter.” Weasley selected a corned beef sandwich for herself. “But she has cousins and we switch off child watching days. My husband is watching them today and they decided on a culinary project. Better than a toy testing day. The last time I came home half the living room was gone.”
House choked on his sandwich. “You’re joking.”
“I wish I was.” Weasley sighed. “But Ron’s a toy inventor and sometimes when you’re dealing with magic…”
“Must’ve been a helluva toy.”
“That one went directly to the scrap heap.” Weasley said firmly.
House finished his sandwich and reached for a second one. He dipped it into his beans and began eating it. When he started feeling vaguely human he nodded at the folder Healer Weasley had been holding.
“Anything new with the patient today?”
“The toe is slightly smaller and he broke out into boils overnight.” Weasley shook her head. “We started counter hexes for the boils and it looks like they’re fading. At least we’re doing something right.”
“I’ve decided to take your offer.” House said, sliding his empty bowl onto her desk.
“We haven’t officially made you an offer yet.” Weasley pointed out.
“So make one.” House made a face that may have been a smile if his face hadn’t been so tense.
“Well, your lodgings have been paid for. Your transportation is working out, I take it?”
“Yes, but how do I get him to come if you haven’t sent him?”
“We’ll give you a summoning pin. You give it a tap with your…” She trailed off. “Huh.”
“I see a glitch in this.” House said, the same self satisfied look on his face.
“I can enchant one this afternoon so all you have to do is give it a rub.” Weasley smiled at him sweetly. He knew she couldn’t give him a wand, but it wouldn’t stop him from bringing it up.
“Oh come on,” House pestered. “It would be easier for everyone if you got me a wand. Just a little one?” He squinted at her, holding his finger and thumb about an inch apart in front of his face.
“We’re also willing to offer you these terms for your assistance.” She passed him the blue folder as she ignored his request.
House opened it and scanned the page full of sums and details of tasks assigned to him. He’d have done it for far less, but it was the thought that counted.
The open St. Mungo’s account for supplies intrigued him.
You didn’t need a wand to fly a broom, after all.
“It all seems to be in order.” House said as he flipped the folder shut. “I officially accept your offer.”
“If you would like any changes in your arrangements, say with your lodgings-“
“I like the Leaky Cauldron. It has access to Muggle London and the Wizarding World, Tom’s cooking is decent, and housekeeping is willing to do your laundry for a reasonable fee.”
“Splendid.” Weasley waved her wand and the remnants of lunch disappeared. “Woods will be by in a moment to show you to your office. Is there anything you have any questions about in the meantime?”
“Well, I have a few about the patient and the method of madness that’s been applied thus far.” House said.
Weasley stiffened. “From his file you can see we didn’t know what we were working with. Still have no idea what we’re working with. We tried everything we could think of.”
“Including the treatment for people suffering from long term effects of the Cruciatus Curse without proof it was present.” House said sarcastically as he got to his feet.
“He was howling in pain! We had no idea it was from a bone bending hex!”
“You could have tested his joint strain in 10 seconds!”
“We didn’t have the kind of time to research 18th century hexes! We had to guess and Cruciatus was the most probable!”
“You just wanted him to stop screaming so you could feel like something you were doing was working! You acted blindly without thinking! Your ineptitude could have blinded him! You should have just given him a Draught of Living Death and shoved him in the Silent Ward for a few hours!”
“It’s unethical to put someone in a coma just because you’re flustered!”
“No, it’s better for their eyes to melt out of their sockets.” House sneered. “Better to be awake in case you need to sign a release form.”
“If you’re just going to act like a complete wanker about things that are clear in hindsight you can take your theories and just chuff it back to the states. We did what we thought was right and until you come up with something else you’re not doing any better than us.” Weasley snapped back at him.
House noticed she was gripping her wand so tightly her knuckles were white. He felt the hairs on the back of his head stand up. Must be a draft.
The door to Weasleys office flew open and hit the wall with a bang.
Weasley and House jumped and stared at Woods, who was out of breath from running.
“It’s Longbottom!” Woods panted. “The toe that was green!”
“What’s happened?” Weasley said, looking alarmed.
“Gone?” House echoed.
“Disappeared!” Woods looked like he couldn’t quite believe it himself. “Poof! Vanished!”
Hermione looked at House briefly before turning and running out of her office.
“Well, Woods.” House said to the young man. “Show me to the patient. It seems he’s in need of a doctor.”