Chapter 59

Sundays were Remus's day off and he made it a point to enjoy the time as much as possible. He got up early, provided it was not the day after a full moon, went downstairs made himself a cup of tea and read the paper. Meredith would join him some mornings when she was off duty. He'd been more than a little thrilled when Meredith had decided to live at home while she was in healer training. He knew it wouldn't last forever. Eventually she'd want to find her own place. He couldn't expect her to stay with him forever. She'd want her own life, her own home, possibly with a young man…no he wouldn't think of that now. The day would come soon enough when she would no longer be his, but that day was not today. Remus glanced up at the tapping on the window. He smiled when he recognized Hedwig. He quickly got up to let the owl in. The snowy white owl dropped the letter it carried on the table and helped herself to the remains of Remus's toast. Remus quickly snatched the letter up and tore it open.

Dear Professor Lupin," Remus smiled. He had feeling that he would always be professor Lupin to Harry regardless of his new status in life.

"I hope you and Meredith are well. I don't know if you've heard from Padfoot lately. He wrote me last week. He and Buckbeak are safe and well hidden. He won't tell me where, he says it's too dangerous if our letters fall into the wrong hands.

It's hard being back at the Dursley's. Especially after last year. Ron says his Dad's going to try to get tickets to the World Cup and I've been invited to go along with them. I can't wait.

The real reason I'm writing is that I'm in a bit of trouble. Nothing to do with Voldemort or Wormtail or anything in our world. You see, my cousin Dudley came home for the summer holidays with a rather bad report. I don't mean his grades, though they are certainly nothing to boast about. No the trouble comes from Dudley's school nurse. Dudley it seems has finally become as wide as he is tall and Aunt Petunia's protest that Dudley is a growing boy who needs lots of nourishment has gone on deaf ears. Dudley, as you can imagine is not happy with the new regime and Aunt Petunia has decided that in order to make Dudley feel better the entire house will be on the same diet. I hate to sound desperate but I'm STARVING! If you have any extra food you could send me I would be so grateful. Anything will do. Please Moony, I'm begging. Don't condemn me to a summer of carrot sticks.

Your hungry friend

Harry Potter

Remus pursed his lips. He'd suspected for a long time that Harry did not get enough to eat from his aunt and uncle. He glanced up as the door flew open and Meredith tumbled inside, laden down with a large box that he recognized as coming from the market down the street. She sat it on the counted and began unloading two loaves of bread, a jar of strawberry jam, and bag of apples, oranges, pears and bananas and a large wedge of cheese.

"Either they're working you so hard you've stopped taking meal breaks or..." Meredith shot him a look and pulled a letter from her pocket that looked similar to the one in his own hand.

"Less food than his cousin!" she snapped. "If they feed him any less they'll be nothing left of him."

"Surely you're not going to send him all of that at once," he asked. Meredith nodded.

"One of the healers in my unit taught me a spell that will keep it from going bad. Harry should have enough to last him at least till the World Cup."

"Have you heard something from Percy?" Remus asked as he helped her wrap up the food and place it in a basket that would be easier for Bianca to carry.

"Percy," Meredith sniffed. "Mrs. Weasley brought the twins in this afternoon."

"Anything serious?"

"A few burns, nothing major. Apparently Fred and George have been inventing all summer. Anyway, they talked about the Cup the whole time Parminda and I were bandaging them up. Mrs. Weasley sends her love by the way."

"How sweet," Remus said blushing a little.

"Here we are," Meredith said, tucking a cloth around the food. "We should send a note."

"You do it love," Remus said. Meredith smiled and hunted around in a drawer for parchment and a quill. Her dad placed a cup of tea beside her as she wrote.

Dear Harry,

You're cries for help have not gone unheard. Though there is certainly nothing wrong with eating carrot sticks-Dad just rolled his eyes, I am choosing to pretend I did not see it-I do not want you to waste away to nothing.

Padfoot has dropped by for dinner a few times. There's a large woods behind our house where Buckbeak spends his time. Healer training has been keeping me pretty busy. I have not been home all that much myself. I am learning quite a lot. Fred and George were in today for some burns. I felt it best not to ask too many questions with their mother standing right there but I think you should expect to hear a lot of banging sounds coming from their rooms when you go to stay at the Burrow. Dad has found a job. He doesn't like it nearly much as teaching but it gives him something to do. He sends his regards, by the way.

I've placed a spell on the food that will keep in from spoiling. One of my fellow healers taught it to me. He comes from a country where the winters are very long and food has to last a long time. It's hard to imagine him going hungry though. When it comes to being as wide as he is tall I think he could give your cousin a run for his money. Anyway, the food should last you for a while, but don't hesitate to write if you need more.

Hang in there and keep your chin up

Your friend Meredith

She read over the letter once before folding it and tucking it into the basket. She whistled to Bianca who obediently flew in and landed on top of the basket.

"Can you take this to Harry for me girl?" The owl spread her wings and took the basket in her talons. Meredith opened the window wide so the owl and the basket could fit through and watched her fly off.

"Good morning," Meredith called to Enuk and Parminda rushing into the locker room and throwing open her cubby. She was running late. The train had been delayed and she'd gotten a later start than usual. She'd been up late baking a cake for Harry's birthday. For the most part she had been buying the food she sent to Harry at the market but for his birthday she had wanted to bake it herself. She didn't think it had come out too badly.

"You're late," Parminda said.

"Train was late," she said yanking off her sweater oblivious to Enuk's gawking. She had long gotten over the awkwardness of a co-ed locker room. She kicked off her boot and yanked down her jeans.

"You're late Lupin," Healer Rosenbaum barked coming into the locker room.

"Sorry Healer Rosenbaum," Meredith said throwing on her robes and magicing her hair into a bun.

"Don't let it happen again," Healer Rosenbaum said. "All right, today we're leaving Artifact Accidents and we'll be working in Creature Induced Injuries for the next six weeks. Better know you're bites and your burns. Let's go." Meredith took up her wand and followed her teacher to the 1st floor. Much like Hogwarts the halls of St. Mungoes were adorned with portraits that moved in and out of each other. Famous healers looked down at them with skepticism. They went into a room where a small girl sat on a bed holding her arm close to her little body. It was obviously very painful. The little girl, who couldn't be more than five or six years old, had tears running down her face. A woman, the child's mother, stood beside the bed trying to comfort the little girl.

"Hester Fitzgibbons," Healer Rosenbaum said. "Seven years old came in with a bite on her arm. Lupin, tell me what you think?" Meredith stepped toward the little girl. She was a little thing with pigtails.

"Hi Hester," Meredith said smiling at the little girl. "Can I see your arm?"

"It hurts," Hester said sniffling.

"I know it does sweetie," she said. "That's why I need to see so we make it stop hurting. Can you show me?" Hester sniffled and held her arm out. The bite mark was red and splotchy and had little white pustules beginning to appear.

"I'd have to say this is a pooka bite," Meredith said. "The white pustules comes from the venom pooka's carry in their fangs."

"Is it very serious?" The little girl's mother asked.

"It can be treated with a simple potion but we have to do it quickly or the infection could spread," Parminda piped up.

"Quite correct," Healer Rosenbaum said. "Lupin, run to the potion cupboard and bring back a vial of acacia syrup and two vials of yago berry juice."

"Yes ma'am," Meredith said. She gave Hester a pat on the shoulder and headed for the potion cupboard. She found the acacia syrup easy enough on the third shelf. She sighed as she scanned the highest shelf for the yago berry juice. The potion room was the one place in the hospital where summoning charms did not work. It was part of the learning process or so she'd been told. Apparently, it was not enough to know the potion needed but a healer also had to be able to identify it. Which was fine, but why she had to climb up a sixteen foot ladder to get it was truly beyond her. She spotted the deep red potion on the top shelf, opposite of the wall where the ladder stood. Oh, lord how was she going to do this? Well, she couldn't just stand here. That pooka bite needed treated. She gripped the ladder with both hands. The thing weighed a ton. Why couldn't they have at least gotten one with wheels? She gritted her teeth and lifted. The blasted thing would not budge.

"Need some help?" Meredith felt her face get hot. It was Healer Nieman.

"Um," she said. "I uh need to get the yago berry juice."

"Allow me," he said lifting the ladder and moving it effortlessly to the other wall. Meredith felt a slight flutter in her belly. Once he had placed the ladder securely she hurried over.

"I'll hold it," he said to her getting a good grip on the ladder.

"Oh, that's really not necessary," she said. He was a department Head and he probably had a lot to do.

"Oh yes it is," he said. "We've lost too many HIT's to this rickety old thing." Meredith nodded and climbed up the ladder. She had to admit it was a lot less nerve wracking having someone holding the ladder steady. She grabbed the jar and climbed down quickly. She set it on the table and pulled three vials from the drawer. She poured the contents in quickly but very carefully. She was very aware that Healer Nieman was still in the room.

"Let me guess," he said. "Pooka bite?"

"Yes," she said. Once she had filled two vials with the yago berry juice she used a levitation spell to replace it on the high shelf. They were allowed to use magic to put the jars back and yet not to get them down. It didn't make any kind of sense to her.

"Seven hundred healing potions that use a combination of acacia syrup and yago berry juice," she muttered capping the vials.

"You would think they would be closer together on the shelves." Her face got hot at the look he gave her. She was a first year healer in training and he was the Healer in Charge of Trauma. Who was she to question how things were organized?

"Alphabetical," he said. "It's ridiculous. Not to mention you could waste valuable time a patient doesn't have. Flanagan came up with it. Old buzzard is so stuck in his ways, won't change anything for any reason." Meredith was shocked to hear a Healer in Charge speak of Chief Healer in such a manner. She capped the last vial and placed the acacia syrup on the shelf. She nodded to Healer Nieman and hurried to treat Hester's bite.

It had been the most brutal birthday Meredith had ever spent. She'd had been in at 5am for morning rounds then spent four hours on Potion restock with Parminda and Enuk. Parminda was brilliant with potions but Enuk…well Enuk was another story. Apparently, at Unge Skal, the magic school in Norway where Enuk was educated, the potions master was not nearly at strict with who he allowed to take advanced potions as Snape had been. After cleaning up the second explosion Meredith and Parminda had delegated Enuk to heavy lifting. No sooner had they finished the last batch of blood replenishing potion than a frazzled looking witch had come in with 15 children all with a strange rash like no one had ever seen. Parminda had recognized it as poison ivy being muggle born and being afflicted with it herself as a child. Meredith had spent the rest of the afternoon rubbing calamine lotion on the children's blotchy skin. She finally had moment to herself and she was spending it on the fifth floor tea room with a cup of tea, a biscuit and her mail which she had found in her locker that morning. She grinned when she saw Oliver's familiar scrawl on one of the letters. She hadn't heard from him since leaving Hogwarts.

Dear Meredith,

Happy Birthday! I'm sure you thought I'd forget, but I planned ahead this year and marked it in that day planner Percy gave me that one year.

I'm sure you've been as busy as I have been. Training is more brutal that double potions if you can believe that. We'll be taking the next few days off though for the World Cup. The team is anxious to see Ireland destroy Bulgaria. One of my teammates' cousin is a beater for Ireland and she was able to get us prime seats right behind the goal post.

I hope you are enjoying your day and not working too hard but knowing you that's probably not the case.

I miss you and wish you were here

Oliver

She smiled. Some things would never change. She took the next letter. The handwriting was not so familiar.

Dear Meredith

Happy Birthday my darling girl! I can't believe you are eighteen years old today. It seems like only yesterday Madam Pomfrey was placing you in my arms. You were born in the hospital wing of Hogwarts. I don't know if anyone ever told you that.

My search for Wormtail continues. I have some theories where the little rat might be hiding. I'm sorry I can't be with you to celebrate but I'm sure you'll love your present. It will be waiting for you when you get home from work. I know you're working so hard right now but please try to have a little fun today. Your mother would be so proud of you, as am I.

Love always,

Padfoot

Meredith smiled a little. Sirius insisted on using his friends' nickname for him in case their letters went astray. Other than Oliver and Harry, Meredith had not told anyone the true nature of her relationship with Sirius. He had insisted on this. It was for her safety he said. She reached up and fingered the locket around her neck. It had gone missing two days ago from her jewelry box. Dad had given it back this morning before she'd left for work. He'd swiped it and put two pictures in it. One was of her mother and one of Sirius before he'd gone to Azkaban. He'd been so supportive during all of this. She was still trying to figure out where Sirius fit into her life. Two men, both her father in different ways. She shook her head and took the third letter. It was from Harry.

Dear Meredith

Happy Birthday. Sirius told me when it was. I'll get you a present as soon as I get away from the Dursley's. I only have money in the wizard world you see. Ron and his family are going to pick me up tomorrow at five o'clock. I'm so excited to see the World Cup.

Thanks so much for the food and the birthday cake. Whatever spell you put on it really works cause it as fresh today as it was a month ago. The bread was really delicious. It was tempting to eat the whole loaf. I'm trying spread it out though. The Dursley's would get really suspicious if I were to gain five pounds.

There was something else I wanted to ask you about. I don't know if you can help but as you're a healer I thought you might know something about this. Last night I woke up with my scar hurting. The only time it's done that before was when Voldemort was near me. I don't think he can be near me now but I'm quite concerned about it. I don't want to ask Sirius because I'm afraid he might come out of hiding and I can't let him be chucked back in Azkaban. Is it normal for magical wounds to hurt after thirteen years.

I hope to hear from you soon. You can reach me at the Burrow.

Your friend

Harry Potter

Meredith set the letter down. Harry's scar. This couldn't be natural. She folded her hands and pressed her fingers to her lips. She didn't know much about dark curses. It had not been a widely taught subject at Hogwarts. She glanced at her watch. It was time to get back to work. She swung by the locker room and tucked her letters in her cubby. She was heading to find Healer Rosenbaum when an alarm sounded.

"Attention! Attention! All healers and healers in training are to report to the emergency trauma room at once! Repeat. All staff to the emergency trauma room at once!" Meredith was nearly mowed down in the crowd of healers rushing to the ETR. She found Parminda and went to her.

"What's going on?" she asked her.

"I'm not sure, but it must be pretty bad."

"Listen up!" Healer Nieman stood in front of the group. "We have a level 4 Emergency involving both wizard and muggle injuries. A bunch of morons attempting to smuggle dragons across the border let their merchandise get loose in a muggle rail station. Injuries are in the thousands and the worst are being transported here now."

"Muggles, here?"

"The Accidental Magic Reversal Squad is already working the scene. The Obliviators will be here shortly. We've been ordered to cooperate with them but our patients are our first priority. HIT's see your Third years for instructions. Let's move people!" Healer Rosenbaum ran up to them.

"You two go to the potions cupboard. We're gonna need all the blood replenishing potion we have and any potion that you can think of that can heal burns or dragon bites. Move!" They did not need to be told twice. Parminda filled a sack with vials of blood replenishing potion while Meredith darted around the room grabbing any potion she thought might help. With their arms loaded down with bottles and vials they hurried back to the ERT. By now the room was full of patients. It looked like a war zone. Some had head to toe burns while other's had had limbs ripped off.

"Oh god," Parminda said swaying a little.

"Breathe!" Meredith ordered her.

"I need help over here!" Healer Nieman shouted at them. Meredith looked at patient he was treating. It was a man, a muggle she would guess from the way the man was screaming. He was also bleeding badly in several places.

"Who are you people! What the hell was that thing!" Hieler Nieman cast a spell that seemed to freeze the man.

"Lupin!" he shouted at her. "I need your hands over here." Without a moment's hesitation Meredith passed the potions in her arms to Parminda and went to the stretcher where the bleeding muggle lay. It was worse than she had originally thought. The worst of the bleeding seemed to come from the man's upper arm and his thigh.

"What' happened to him?"

"He was slashed by a Hungarian Horntail," Nieman cursed. "Two major arteries cut. I've frozen his blood but that's not going to last long. Give me your hand." He wrapped his hand around her positioning it over the wound in the man's leg. Her eyes widened a little as he moved her fingers so that they were in the wound.

"You feel that?" He asked her. She moved her fingers a bit but she could feel the cord that was the man's artery.

"There's a tear," she said.

"Good," Nieman said. He moved her fingers so they were around the tear.

"I need you to pinch it tight." She closed her fingers together.

"Excellent," Nieman said. "I'm need you to keep the femoral artery closed while I fix the brachial." She nodded. He took his wand as placed it over the wound in the man's shoulder.

"The freezing is about to wear off. When it does you'll feel blood leaking. Pinch hard and whatever you do, do not relax your hand." She nodded.

"I can do this," she said more to herself than to him. She felt the spell lift. It was though the cord she was pinching close swelled till it was though it would burst. She pinched tight as ordered keeping her hand as still as possible. She looked up at Healer Nieman. Like her his fingers were inside the wound keeping the man from bleeding to death. The tip of his wand was also in the wound and she could see the blood was lessening. She glanced up at Nieman's face. His eyes were closed and she could tell he was entirely focused on the spell he was silently chanting. Hours passed, she didn't know how many and she did not budge an inch. Her back was sore and her legs were cramping but she barely noticed. Finally Healer Nieman lifted his wand to reveal the wound had closed over without even a scar. He moved to her side and slowly moved her hand away while replacing it with his own.

"I've got this," he said. "Thank you. There are others that need help." She nodded and stepped back. She stood for a moment watching him repeat the process he had just spent…she glanced at the clock...nearly three hours on. He had to be tired but he pressed on as though nothing could shake him. She allowed herself five seconds to admire him before she turned away to see where else she was needed.

Never had a hot shower felt so good. Meredith tipped her head back letting the hot water wash the blood and grime away from her body. Six hours she'd spent helping tend to the wounded people. She glanced at the clock. 11:49. It would only be her birthday for eleven more minutes. She couldn't help but feel the tiniest bit sad.

"This is the life you chose," she thought to herself. She didn't regret it. But it was a little sad. She stepped out of the shower and dried off. She pulled a fresh set of robes from her cubby. She sank down on the bench and just rested her elbows on her knees. She was so tired.

"Lupin?" She nearly jumped out of her skin at the voice. She glanced up and saw Healer Nieman. He looked as tired as she felt. His robes were covered in blood and other things she didn't really want to think about. She should have felt self conscious that she was wearing nothing but a towel.

"Healer Nieman," she nodded to him.

"I wanted to thank you for your help today," he said. She felt her face flush.

"Oh, of course sir," she said. "How is the patient?"

"He's gonna be okay. As far as he's knows he had a little accident with his weedwacker."

"His what?" Meredith asked, confused.

"Never mind," Nieman said. "Anyway, I was quite impressed with how you handled yourself. Most first year HIT's would lose their lunch having to do what you did. But, you barely flinched."

"That man was dying," Meredith said. "I didn't have time to consider how I felt about it." Nieman smiled.

"Spoken like a true Emergency Trauma Healer. Have you considered it as a specialty?" Meredith was quite taken aback by the question.

"I've not really considered where I want to specialize. There's so much I still have to learn."

"Well, for my part I think you'd be excellent at it."

"Thank you Healer Nieman."

"We're not technically on duty at the moment. Please call me David."

"David," she said. He stood up then and went to his own cubby to change out of his soiled robes. Meredith pulled on her clean robes and went to find an empty closet to try and grab some sleep.

"Lupin," David called after her. She turned and felt a tremble in her belly as he wore only a towel around his waist.

"Happy Birthday." She smiled.

"Thank you David," she said. "And it's Meredith."

She made it home as the sun was coming up. The rest of her shift had been less exciting than the first, thank Merlin. Lord she was stiff. Her hand was sore from holding it in one position for so long. She went to unlock the door and found it already unlocked. Strange. Dad wasn't due home for another hour or so. Slightly on guard she pulled her wand from her bag. She stepped inside holding her wand out in front of her. A slight rustle alarmed her and she quickly turned with her wand raised.

"Who's there!" she shouted.

"Meredith," Sirius said coming from the kitchen with his hands raised. "It's just me."

"Sirius?" she said putting away her wand. "Good lord you scared the wits out of me. I wasn't expecting you to be here."

"Well I couldn't very well say I was coming in a letter could I?" he said innocently. "I hoped you wouldn't mind." Meredith smiled.

"Of course I don't mind," she said. "I'm very happy to see you." They sat down together in the living room. He had made a cake and he insisted she blow out the candles. The cake tasted like it was made of tar but she politely ate every bite.

"And now your present," he said. He reached into his robes and pulled out and small box. She took it with interest. Inside was a very ornate key.

"A key?" she asked.

"It's to a vault at Gringotts," he said. "I had Dumbledore set it up. It's a kind of trust fund. I have the exact numbers here." Meredith was astonished. Her eyes nearly bugged out of her head as she looked at the bank statement.

"Oh my stars," she said. "Sirius, this is…I can't accept this. It's too much."

"You can and you will," Sirius said firmly. "I have eighteen years to make up for. I don't know that there is a sum that can make up for not being in your life but it's a start."

Meredith didn't know what to say. She knew the Black's were one of the oldest wizarding families in the country and their fortune was vast. She also knew that as Sirius's biological daughter she stood to inherit it all. Dad didn't say much about it and she didn't want to bring it up.

"If your worried about Remus he know all about this and he's fine with it. He understands, more than anyone I think that I just want to make sure that if, God forbid something should happen you'll be taken care of. That's all any father wants for his daughter." Meredith swallowed hard and took the key and placed it in her pocket.

"Okay Sirius," she said. "Okay."