Monday September 4th, 1961
St Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries
A week in London had been too exciting an opportunity to pass up. Of course, Odhrán had decided to travel. St Mungo's were putting on an educational seminar on the subject of reconstruction of mind and memory and he could hardly miss it. The syllabus aligned perfectly with his research interests and the caliber of guest speakers invited was impressive. Ildebrando Morici was travelling from Ravenna, but much more compellingly Healer Orion Molesworth-Houghton would be present as well.
Odhrán had nothing but respect for the man. Who else on the British Isles could claim to have solved as many memory related cases as Molesworth-Houghton? The case studies published had kept Odhrán up at night. So brilliant. How had he managed to work out a completely new formulation for a brain elixir to stimulate memory recovery? It was unheard of. Rumour had it that Molesworth-Houghton had even managed to treat some patients affected by obliviation. How fascinating was that?
Unfortunately, not everybody had been as excited about his trip to London as Odhrán had been. The hospital administration in Paris, in fact, hadn't been thrilled at all, given that he had only been appointed as Chef du Département de Pathologies des Sortilèges last month. Why did he need to travel so soon? He'd made it a point to mention that under his leadership the department would focus on excellence in research and of course continuous professional development. Paris was a world-renowned medical institution and he was determined to do his part to ensure continued excellence on the forefront of medical exploration with cutting-edge treatments.
He'd talked a bunch of non-sense and he knew it. Still, the chairman of the board had been enamoured with his pathos and had even agreed for the Chef du Service d'empoisonnement par potions et plantes, Pascaline Hébras, to accompany him on his trip. This last bit, well, he could have done without. However, Pascaline was nice enough and a competent healer and colleague. How unpleasant could it be to spend a week abroad with her? It probably helped that she was quite an attractive and charming woman as well.
They'd checked into the Leaky Cauldron the night prior. It was at this point that Odhrán realised that he may have won a battle, but he hadn't won the war. Just what was the hospital thinking asking him to board in such a dodgy establishment? Really? They couldn't have afforded a nicely situated guest house in a quiet part of London? It didn't matter. They would make it work. He wondered though if maybe this was an excuse for him to return to Árainn Mhór for a couple of days. He could apparate the distance from there, couldn't he?
The seminar itself was everything Odhrán had hoped for. He was racing from one lecture to the next, trying to make sense of the labyrinthine layout at St Mungo's. Somehow, he'd managed to lose Pascaline in the hubbub. He'd learned that aside from hosting a seminar today, St Mungos was also welcoming its latest intake of healing students. Fresh faced youths were falling about the place everywhere and usually ended up standing in the way. Having passed two groups of healing students, Odhrán had to admit that he'd somehow gotten lost.
He had to stop somebody in a corridor and ask for directions. "Excuse me, can you point me towards the Mungo Bonham lecture theatre?"
The elderly nurse he'd stopped, gave him a critical once over. Odhrán straightened his posture and squared his shoulders. His employer had insisted that he be wearing his white healer's uniform to represent. His fingers brushed over some of the flat, fabric covered buttons on the left side of his chest. He shouldn't complain, his work attire was quite stylish, but comfortable was something else. The elderly nurse looked at him for longer than was polite.
"New intern induction is on fifth floor next to the visitor's tearoom."
Odhrán scowled. The woman had completely ignored his question. It was true that his English didn't come as readily anymore as it had when he'd been a child, but surely he could still be understood. It was a native language for him, even if he had some vocabulary gaps after working in the French-speaking world for nine years. All that was missing was for this lady to compliment him that he spoke good English for a foreigner. He was Irish for Merlin's sake. Or maybe that was the problem?
He could never tell. Prejudice against the Irish was rampant in England. Though this trip had been peaceful so far, he still remembered a run in he'd had with a couple of Ministry hit wizards a couple of years prior. Paddy go home. Wands had been pulled.
Odhrán swept the memory aside and focused on the lady in front of him. "I'm not an intern, Mrs..."
he squinted to see the name embroidered on her lime green work wear. "... Mrs Farley. I'm a guest at the seminar for reconstruction of mind and memory. My name's Orin Daly. I'm a department head at Hôpital Magistra Hersend, Paris."
To his dismay, nurse Farley doubled over laughing. "Good one!" she wheezed and patted him on the shoulder. Odhrán looked affronted. How could, ugh, really! She didn't believe him, did she? He shouldn't shaved this morning, should he? Without the beard people always assumed he was 17 or 18 years old. "I'm not joking,"
he stated coldly. Nurse Farley meanwhile motioned one of her colleagues walking past them in the corridor to join. "Listen to this, Louisa, this pipsqueak here is pretending to be a department head in Paris. Even got the French accent down." She turned towards Odhrán. "Go on, say it again!"
It took everything he had not to explode. Why did people always think they could disrespect him just because he was young? Fine. If they weren't going to help him, he would find the damn lecture theatre on his own. How hard could it be? He brushed past them and their stupid laughter faded into the distance.
Then, he spotted her. Long blonde hair and light blue robes. Her voice was ringing crystal clear in his ears. "Madely?! What are you doing here in London?"
Healer Madely Beaugendre turned around and gave him one of her dazzling smiles. Odhrán swept her into his arms and kissed her cheeks. Left, right, left, right. The habit had become engrained in Paris. Everyone kissed cheeks and at long last his Irish reservedness had crumbled under peer pressure.
"Transferred last summer from Montreux. You know I wasn't gonna get that promotion as long as Moosgaller ran the department, so I came here instead. Got my own ward and everything.""I was going to bring you to Paris,"
Odhrán pouted, but then, of course, he congratulated his former colleague and lover.
Madely stroked a hand through his hair, tucking a strand of long, black hair back behind his ear. "Oh, Odhrán. You know we'd never work well together. Seeing you though, this is the best surprise," she squealed happily. "I've missed you." His mind pressed into her thoughts. He'd missed her too. "And look at you! So fancy. Is that your new uniform?" Madely mustered him approvingly, and Odhrán squirmed uncomfortably. Did she always have to do this thing where she embarrassed him in front of everybody? His displeasure seeped through their mental link. "There, there." Madely tried to assuage his discomfort.
They caught up for a few minutes. Apparently, Madely was hosting the new intern induction today, in charge of welcoming the new healing class of 1961. "You should come!" she insisted. "We're on the ..."
Odhrán interrupted her. "Fifth floor, next to the visitor's tea room. So I've been told."
He filled her in on his experience with nurse Farley and Madely laughed heartily. "Oh, I'm sorry Odhrán," she sympathised. "Try to take it as a compliment. There'll be a time when you'll appreciate looking younger than you are. I should know. I'm old." He rolled his eyes. "Being six years older than me, hardly makes you ancient,"
Odhrán objected. "And while I'd love to come and see you do your thing, I really need to find this lecture. How about I pick you up by the visitor's tearoom once I'm done and we have dinner tonight so I can make it up to you. I've come all this way for Orion Molesworth-Houghton, can't miss his talk now, can I?"
She nodded her understanding. "I finish at four," she told him. More kisses. He was about to dash off again when she grabbed him by the sleeve and pointed him in the direction he needed to go. Oh thank Paracelsus and the Holy Hildegard, she knew her way around this forsaken place. Lecture theatre this way.
Odhrán was a little later for Orion Molesworth-Houghton's talk. He ended up sitting next to an attractive gentleman in his late forties. When it was time to ask questions, he made a few clever observations. Demetrius Dankworth was clearly an experienced hand. Odhrán knew he should have been impressed, but something about the wizard next to him just set him on edge. He seemed so detached. People always said that healers should be just like that so they could make objective decisions, but Dankworth's approach to medicine felt soulless. Like it was just a job and nothing more.
They fell into awkward conversation after the talk had wrapped up.
"You really want to see Induction day?" Dankworth asked incredulously. "Well, come on, I'll take you upstairs."
Truthfully, Odhrán had hoped to go on his own, but didn't know how to decline the offer politely. While he'd struggled finding this lecture hall, he had no concerns that he'd manage to locate the visitor's tea room. It was signposted damn near everywhere making it easy to locate. Oh well, he was in it now.
"I should introduce you to my head of department while we're there," Dankworth said in a feeble attempt to keep the conversation alive. "Aurelius specialises in spell damage as well, same as you, Healer Daly."
Odhrán nearly stopped in his tracks. Aurelius. Now there was a name he would never forget. Was it the same Aurelius he remembered? It had to be. It wasn't a common name. Odhrán couldn't help a feeling of trepidation. His sister hated that man and he most definitely hadn't helped her when she had fallen ill. He was nothing but a talentless and pompous hack. Healer Aurelius Audish had promised his family that he would cure Aoibheann and had given them all hope when in the end he had delivered nothing.
Resentment almost overpowered him, but Odhrán kept his expression neutral. One of the things he'd been trying to do for a number of years now was to have his sister's records released to him. However, St Mungo's was stalling in delivering the files. Maybe, here was an in for him to finally get the matter progressed. If he met Audish he could ask his questions directly. What could be better than hearing it straight from the horse's mouth.
He was still battling his thoughts and emotions when Dankworth and him slipped into the auditorium where the next staff induction was taking place. Madely was standing on stage, giving her usual speech. The years you will spend here as a healer in training will be the best and worst of your life. You will be pushed to the breaking point.
The words were familiar to Odhrán. He'd heard them on his first day in Montreux, though it had been Senior Healer Mosgaller talking rather than Madely. Cute, that she was bringing this old tradition forward with her. A smile spread across his features.
"She's quite something, isn't she," Dankworth commented.
Odhrán gave a tentative nod. "She's great with student healers. I was very lucky to have her as a teacher in Montreux."
Dankworth snorted. "I reckon she can teach more than medicine."
The vulgar humour was grating. Thankfully, as Madeły's little speech ended the room broke into applause. Maybe, he could make an escape now?
Life had no such mercy. Before he knew it he was standing with Dankworth and Audish, drinking from a flute of sparkling mead.
"About a third of them will drop out," Audish said about the new recruits as if it were a statistic to be proud of. "Why?"
Odhrán asked, realising too late that he would regret the question.
"You know, the girls get married and become mothers," Dankworth supplied helpfully. "Most of them only sign on to marry a healer. And truthfully, that's about all they're good for. I don't know why we bother to admit them."
"Why indeed," Audish agreed. "But you gotta give them that some are quite pretty to look at." He indicated towards a redhead with ample cleavage. "Might not be able to keep our patients alive, but she sure keeps me alive and motivated to get out of bed in the morning."
Odhrán nearly choked on his drink. While rampant sexism was hardly anything new, he had not expected to be confronted with it out in the open and without at least the pretence of trying to be modern and progressive. He gulped.
"We should give them a uniform with shorter skirts" Dankworth added as if needing to insure that the conversation remained disgusting. "Excuse me,"
Odhrán tried to interject. "Healer Beaugendre is waiting for me."
"Let her wait boy," Audish advised. "Never let a woman gain the upper hand."
Was it acceptable to vomit in their drinks? He was sorely tempted to.
"Look at those two ugly little ducklings in their frumpy clothes," Audish continued, unfortunately unaware of just how deeply, deeply uncomfortable Odhrán was with all of this. This girls indicated were young and a little nervous, but otherwise there was nothing wrong with them. The one to the left was a cute brunette with a short pixie cut and wide, bespectacled eyes. Odhrán liked her freckles and the fact that she had worn a fancy pant suit to the occasion rather than a dress. She looked really cool. The girl next to her, well, wow. What on Earth was Audish talking about? She was a real beauty. Odhrán couldn't help but admire her big, inky black eyes and her brown, softly waved hair. And that little pout. Of course, she wasn't wearing a short, formfitting dress, so maybe that was why she had been dubbed frumpy.
Probably smart. If it was a choice between being ogled and groped by Audish and his associate and being considered a bit of an ugly duckling, well the latter definitely seemed preferable.
"10 galleons say those two won't make it until the end of the program," Dankworth grandstanded tastelessly. Audish didn't take the bet. "20 galleons say at least one of them will,"
Odhrán heard himself object before he could stop the words spilling from his mouth. Just what was he thinking. Audish's neck turned like an owls as he faced Odhrán and mustered him critically.
"You'll lose boy. Are you sure you can afford that much?"
He was absolutely certain. Monday May 15th, 1965
It was early in the morning when an owl practically swooped through Odhrán's open window and perched on his pillow. What the? He certainly hadn't expected to wake up with a bunch of feathers in his face. The bird had a message attached to its leg, so he groggily reached for it to find out what was so damn urgent. Cher Odhrán,
My apologies for the long silence. I know, we agreed to remain friends, but you know how I feel. Probably seen it for yourself, knowing you.
You're probably wondering what could be so bad I'd write to you despite myself. I need your help. A patient's life is on the line and I do not know whom to turn to other than you. Please, Odhrán, you must come to London to see this case. I've attached the file. Healer Dankworth wants to perform a lobotomy, but as you can see there is no clinical indication for it.
Please don't let me down. I know you're a good man, no matter how much you might insist otherwise.
Bloody Dankworth. Odhrán didn't need to read the file to know that Madely was right. He hopped in and out of the shower. His flat looked like a site of the Goblin Rebellion. Not having a house elf didn't suit him. He sighed and climbed over a pile of dirty laundry. Looking into his closet, a healer uniform was the only clean set of clothes he owned. It would have to do. As he put on the white jacket and buttoned it up he had to hold his breath and pull in his stomach. Why was his uniform suddenly so tight? A look onto his bedroom floor answered his question. The one he usually wore was lying on the floor needing a wash. This one, he'd been issued a size too small. His opinion. The tailor at Magistra Hersend had dubbed it perfect. Well, as long as he didn't sit, or eat, or breathe...
He checked himself in the mirror. Oddly enough, he looked alright. He combed and dried his long hair and tied it back with his usual light blue ribbon.
Okay, write to Madely, then call the hospital via the floo letting them know he'd be giving an unexpected consult. A Madely, a chara,
Will be there as soon as I can. Sending the owl ahead, but I might be there sooner than it.
P.S.: Don't let Dankworth scare you. Just tell him you're transferring the case to me.
Monday May 15th, 1965
St Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries
He'd taken the first available portkey into London and rushed to be abandoned Purge and Dowse Ltd. building in muggle London. Might have been quicker to apparate, but he wasn't entirely clear in his mind where St Mungo's actually was. Better to ask for directions than splice himself on the way.
Odhrán arrived just a couple of minutes to ten. St Mungo's was busy, but thankfully not as chaotic as on conference days. He stepped up the reception desk and addressed the young lady there. "Good Morning. I'm Healer Odhrán Ó Dálaigh. Here to give a consult on Madely Beaugendre and Demetrius Dankworth patient. His name is Quintus Cavendish. Could you call someone from his ward down for me please? Preferably Healer Beaugendre if she's available.
The lady got busy and Odhrán leaned against the counter taking a look around. How strange that he kept being drawn back to this despicable institution again and again. Every time he visited he resolved not to come back for a next time and yet here he was. Well, Madely had called. How could he say no to her?