Warnings: Blatantly ignored/fudged timelines, loads of reading between the lines.
Author's Notes: Written for the hpcon_envy community at LiveJournal for severely_lupine, from whose list of ships and fandoms to cross I chose to cross Sirius/Ginny (not currently romantic relationship) with House M.D.
Disclaimer: © 2008 Mundungus42. All rights reserved. This work may not be archived, reproduced, or distributed in any format without prior written permission from the author. This is an amateur non-profit work, and is not intended to infringe on copyrights held by JKR or any other lawful holder. Permission may be obtained by e-mailing the author at mundungus42 at yahoo dot com
It was one of those days when House was glad to work in a hospital, if only just to give him a break from all the goddamned happy people. Nothing like a bracing tonic of pain and despair when the world and Wilson seemed determined to lift his spirits. The only spirits he was interested in lifting came in a bottle and were best served on the rocks. Or with an umbrella.
He'd done his rounds in the clinic- a broken toe, strep throat, an actual earwig in the ear, pregnancy, jaundice, a junkie seeking pain meds, and even a nice case of the clap- and he was about to wheedle a free Danish out of the new girl in the cafeteria when Wilson glided up behind him and took his arm.
"Yes," he said, attempting to walk out of Wilson's grip and succeeding only in hobbling in a circle around him. "I'm working on an important study on the mood enhancing effects of high fructose corn syrup when combined with partially hydrogenated oils."
"House," said Wilson, in his best long-suffering voice, "you can have a donut later. I have a little girl in a coma and there's no physical reason for it."
House gave Wilson the look he usually reserved for particularly dimwitted interns. "Uh, d'you think it could be, maybe, the cancer?"
"She doesn't have cancer," said Wilson, all but dragging House down the hall.
House succeeded in tugging his arm free. "Then why is she your patient?"
"Her guardian took an instant dislike to Cuddy."
"Smart man," commented House as Wilson opened the door to the patient's room. He was met with a low growl. "Or dog," he added.
He bent down to look at the enormous black beast that was sitting in a chair next to the patient's bed. It continued to growl.
"Boy, the standards for therapy animals have really gone down," commented House.
The dog gave a growling whuff and went silent, to House's relief, and lay down at the foot of the bed. House ignored it and took a look at the patient. She was young, no more than thirteen, with a pert nose full of freckles and a head of bright orange hair to go with it. Her skin looked normal, if pale, her lips were dry, and her heartbeat was strong and regular.
"What was wrong with her before she went into a coma?"
"She's a Jane Doe. Showed up at the hospital this morning with the dog, no ID, and doesn't seem to know who she is or where she is. She hasn't said a word, either. She's answered all questions with a nod or shake of the head. An hour later she was in a coma. We've been trying to locate her parents, but no luck."
"What were you able to find out from her?"
"In addition to memory loss, she suffers from severe fatigue, has trouble sleeping, and suffered at least one psychotic episode."
"Was the psychotic episode right before she went into the coma?"
"Yes, how did you know?"
"Obviously, the girl has significant head trauma. Until we do something about it, her symptoms are only going to get more severe."
"That's what Cuddy thought before the dog chased her off. But the CT shows nothing. No tumors, no bleeding, no clots, no swelling, nothing abnormal at all."
"So Cuddy passed her off to you because she thought the fatigue indicated leukemia."
"But her CBC and lymph nodes are normal."
"You see the problem."
"Your patient has ankylosing spondylitis," announced House after a moment.
"Don't be absurd," said Wilson. "She's far too young, and there's no swelling in the joints."
House glanced at the patient's chart. "Crohn's disease."
"Her colonoscopy was normal."
"I did a muscle biopsy. Normal."
"Jane Doe has no medical history. She could have been exposed to pesticides. It's Goodpasture's syndrome," said House triumphantly. "Did you do the GMB antibody screen?"
"Yes, I did," said Wilson, whose cheeks were starting to get pink. "It's not Goodpasture's. Are you just listing autoimmune disorders in alphabetical order?"
House looked up at Wilson defensively. "I skipped diabetes."
Wilson frowned. "That's unlike you to give me the benefit of the doubt."
House held aloft the clipboard. "It is. However, the chart says her glucose is normal. Now, on to Grave's disease."
Wilson was about to protest when he stopped short. "I'll check her thyroxene levels," he said and started for the door. "And House?"
House was shining a light under the patient's eyelids. "Mmmh?"
House waved him off with a careless gesture. "Be glad I'm not making you test for maple syrup urine disease," he shouted over his shoulder.
To his surprise, the monstrous dog in the chair gave a loud sneeze that sounded almost like laughter. He paused in his examination to glance at the dog, who gave him a look of disinterest, then lumbered around the privacy curtain to the far side of the room.
"Stay out of the pain meds," House ordered it.
House continued looking at the girl's head for any sign of injury and heard a throat clear behind him.
House turned to find an extraordinarily scruffy-looking man standing behind him.
"The free clinic's down on the first floor," House said, turning back to his patient.
"Is she going to be all right?" the man asked.
"You know this girl?" asked House, turning to scrutinize the man more closely. He was clearly a vagrant, with rumpled, dirty clothes and a face that hadn't been shaved in at least a week. His accent was from a decent part of London. Interesting.
"Yes. She hasn't been well for a month now, and her parents were at their wits' end."
"And here parents are where, exactly?"
"A small village in England."
"And you are?"
The man gave a sad smile. "I'm nobody," he said. "Just a concerned friend."
House thought fast. It was clear that this man had abducted the girl. The various tattoos screamed 'jail time,' and the numerous scars suggested that he hadn't had an easy time of it. Still, the man's voice was calm and he didn't seem to be concerned that Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital had some very large, very strong security staff.
"Why bring her here?"
"So you can make her well," said the man.
"I had a friend with a chronic condition- treatable, but not curable. He was obsessed with the idea of coming here to see if your methods could help him."
"What was his name?"
"He hasn't made it here," said the man sadly.
"Another nobody," commented House.
"There are more of us than you know," said the man, gazing at the girl in the bed. "She's a nobody, too."
"Right," said House thoughtfully. "Are her parents nobodies, as well? I mean, because I can't really do anything for her without their consent."
"Just make her well, Dr. House," he said. "I'll be watching. And when she's well, I'll take her home."
He started for the door, and House lurched to his feet. "Wait," he said. "I hate to interrupt your dramatic exit, but do you think you could forego the mysterious act and give me something concrete to go on? Like what happened to her?"
The man looked at him thoughtfully with dark brown eyes. "I guess someone like you would say she was possessed by a demon."
House snorted. "I would say she had a psychotic episode influenced by repressive and fanatical beliefs held by her family."
"Some demons are real, Dr. House."
"Yeah, I've dated a few," he said. "Does her demon have a name?"
The man looked horrified for a moment before his expression grew grim. "Tom. His name is Tom."
Christ, the girl had been molested. House made a note to get a rape kit up to the room, stat. "Tom?" he said lightly. "Not Beelzebub or Moloch?"
"He has another name," said the man in a sepulchral voice. "But it was Tom she trusted and Tom who nearly killed her."
There was a sound of footsteps in the hallway, and the man started. "I have to go," he said brokenly and ran to the far side of the room and ducked behind the dividing curtain.
"Wait!" called House, cursing his bad leg and hobbling over. It was too late. He heard the door on the other side of the room open and close. He rounded the curtain and found the black dog curled up next to the empty bed, ostensibly asleep.
House huffed his annoyance. "A lot of good you are," he grumbled, nudging the dog with his foot.
The dog sat up and stretched his front paws out in front of him, yawning.
"Right. Since you're obviously no good at keeping lunatics out, at least do me a favor and keep Cuddy at bay. Okay?" he asked scratching the dog's ears.
The dog looked at him with brown-eyed solemnity.
Wilson came in and found House sitting in the chair next to Jane Doe, contemplating his cane, with the enormous black dog curled up at his feet.
"Thyroxene levels are normal. It's not Graves."
"What about variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob's?"
"Really, House," said Wilson, with a patronizing smile. "A Jane Doe shows up in New Jersey and you deduce that she's spent enough time in the UK to be exposed to mad cow disease."
"Our patient," said House, heaving himself to his feet, "is from a small village in England. She's also a kidnap victim, possibly a victim of sexual abuse."
"My God," said Wilson, "but how-"
"The lab is running the rape kit. If there's even the slightest whiff of DNA evidence, we'll nail the bastard who did it. If it makes you feel any better, there's no sign of trauma around her genitals."
"Christ," said Wilson, sinking down into the chair House had abandoned.
"Of course, emotional trauma combined with a lack of physical symptoms points to a psychosomatic disorder."
Wilson looked up at him with that damnable smug smirk. "A psychosomatic coma?"
"Why not? We have psychosomatic and hysterical everything else. I'm gonna get a Danish. Call me when the MRI comes back negative for vCJD. "
"Do you really think it's even possible?" asked Wilson, frowning. "I can't imagine the kind of emotional trauma that would make the brain shut down to heal itself."
"Irrelevant," said House. "The important thing is that we give her brain a choice. Stay asleep, or wake up."
Wilson crossed his arms. "How do you suggest we do that?"
"Start her on five milligrams of bisoprolol."
Wilson looked at him uncomprehendingly for a moment. "Her blood pressure is fine, so-" he stopped himself. "Of course. You make the sleeping brain an even more inhospitable place than the waking brain."
"Exactamundo," said House. "We give the girl nightmares to end all nightmares, and she'll wake right up."
"You realize that if she has diabetes, the bisoprolol could cause her to go into shock."
"Come on, Wilson. Have a little faith in your own test results."
Several hours later, House was nearly ready to admit defeat, but only because Wilson had gone home for the evening and Cuddy was still giving the dog a very wide berth. The bisoprolol should act when the patient slept, but comas were notoriously different from sleep. It was possible that if the coma was psychosomatic, the patient would, at some point, fall into a sleep state. In theory, of course.
The huge black dog was surprisingly good company. He kept shifting positions between the floor and the second chair that House brought in for him, periodically laying his head on House's good thigh and succumbing to the occasional scratch. The girl in the bed lay unmoving except for the regular rise and fall of her chest. The warm head on his leg and the regular beep of the electrocardiogram was lulling House into drowsiness when suddenly he realized that the beeps were getting closer together.
He gave a start, which made the dog whine and lie sulkily on the floor, and he stood over the girl, watching. Her heart rate had increased, and he could see her eyeballs vibrating beneath their lids in characteristic REM motion. At last, she was dreaming!
House glanced at the EKG readout and was relieved to see her pulse quicken, but it was still well within normal range. He sat back and waited for the nightmares to take hold. He hadn't long to wait.
Her entire body gave an enormous jerk, and then her limbs began to shake, almost as if she were having a seizure. The dog sat up in alarm and looked up at him.
"It's all right, boy. The dreams have come. Wait."
Her pulse was even faster now, but it was still far from dangerous.
The girl began to make whimpering noises, and her head was twitching from side to side.
The dog pawed his leg and looked at him with pleading eyes, as if begging him to do something.
"Sit tight," House ordered. "She's exorcising the demons. Let her do it."
The girl was shaking hard, and her hands made a spastic movement as if to push something away. Her moans were becoming more intelligible.
"No," she was saying. "Nononononononono NO!"
"It's all right," House was saying in her ear. "Tom can't hurt you anymore."
"NO!" The girl's entire body spasmed, and House could have sworn she rose off the bed for a moment before crashing back down. The instruments went berserk, and alarms of all sorts began blaring.
"Shit," exclaimed House, banging the side of the EKG, which was showing the girl at flatline, even though her body was still seizing. The machines were all giving him nonsense.
"Ginny," said a voice in his ear. "Her name is Ginny. Talk to her!"
It was the fugitive again. House was about to swear loudly when the girl screamed.
"Ginny," House said in her ear. "You can beat him. Tom is-" he looked at the man, who was fixed on her contorting face, "-he's nothing," finished House. "Tom is nothing. He's gone. He can't hurt you anymore."
"Harry destroyed him," whispered the man. "Harry did it to save you."
"Harry," murmured the girl, and her tremors lessened somewhat.
"Yeah, Harry," echoed House. "Harry the hero." He looked quizzically at the vagrant, who gestured for him to continue.
"Tom," she whispered, as her eyes fluttered open.
House tightened his grip on his cane.
"Tom said he loved me," she said, staring wild-eyed at the two men who were bent over her.
"Tom isn't capable of love," spat House. "Tom was using you, just like he uses everybody. He doesn't even know what's real. He's an asshole, and if I ever meet him, I'm going to shove my cane up his ass."
Ginny's eyes opened wide, and she stared at House. "Who are you?"
"He's a healer," said the man. "He's made you better."
"And who exactly are you?" House asked him.
"I'm Harry's godfather," said the man in a voice full of pride, then turned back to the girl. "How do you feel?"
The girl's eyes were wide, but she was clearly lucid. She glanced at the IV in her arm and the array of electrodes plastered to her body, then looked up at House. "I feel all right."
"Do you remember who you are?" asked House.
"Of course," she said. "I always did."
"You faked the amnesia," said House triumphantly.
"He said that if we could get them to make me your patient, you could make me better," she said, fixing warm brown eyes on him. "Did you?"
"I just woke you up," said House. "You're the one who has to fix you." He glanced at the fugitive. "You said Tom's gone for good, right?"
He paused. "Tom is gone," he said reluctantly.
"But-" began the girl.
The fugitive shushed her. "Don't say it," he cautioned.
"Well, if some psychopath is targeting her, then surely the authorities can do something about it," said House, who was starting to get annoyed.
"They'll be informed," said the man. "Do you want to go home now?" he asked the girl.
"How long have I been away?" she asked. She was sharp.
"Two days," he said. House could tell he was lying. It had clearly been far longer than that.
"They'll be worried," she said. "Let's go."
"Oh, come on!" exclaimed House. "I can't just let you walk out of here! There are forms! And you have to tell Wilson I was right!"
The man pulled a wooden stick from his shabby robes and handed it to the girl. "I kept this for you."
"Can't you use it?" the girl asked.
He looked at her as if he'd never seen her before. "I'll try," he said at last. He waved the stick at her, and to House's shock, the IV in the girl's arm disappeared.
The vagrant laughed aloud, and House was amazed at the way the smile lit his face. He looked easily twenty years younger. House barely had time to wonder if his youthful look was due to pretty leprosy when the man seized the girl's hand, waved his stick, and they both disappeared with a loud pop.
At that moment, a team of nurses and interns burst into the room with a defibrillator. They stared at the empty bed and the dumbstruck doctor sitting by the bed.
"Where is she?" asked the head nurse at last.
"Gone to Oz," replied House in a dazed voice. "And her little dog, too."
Love, admiration, and thanks to Mr. 42 for beta-reading, and thanks to Severely_Lupine for the fabulous prompt and excuse to write in a new fandom!