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Written for the Lucky dip challenge on HPFC

Character: Poppy Pomfrey Prompt: time

Poppy had served as school nurse for so long now that she could barely remember any other home. With just five years of experience at St Mungo's following her training, she had been sent to Hogwarts as a young assistant for Master Graves. She had arrived with some trepidation, for her memories of the old man were of his surly temper when dealing with crying children, and his foul-tasting remedies, though none argued that he knew his healing skills.

She had not been surprised then, to be greeted with an abrupt command of "You, fetch the bottle of skele-gro from the top cupboard, and don't be all day about it."

Stowing her bags out of the way under an empty bed, she had done as he bid, and held down the squirming first year who had decided to sneak out a school broom before breakfast while Master Graves tipped the viscous liquid down his throat.

He had stumped away without a word of thanks, calling over his shoulder, "Your room is through the storeroom. Shove your bags in for now, and don't get too comfortable. The longest any of you useless lot have lasted is three weeks before I was sick of your ineptness."

Biting her lip, Poppy had followed his instructions, determined that she would not be the quickest to quit. No, she had thought, she was not going to be Old Graves's story to the next unfortunate, Miss Didn't-even-last-an-hour. She had thought back to her meeting with Herbrand Derwent, the chairman of the hospital board, and Headmaster Dippett, where she had asked why they had waited until three quarters of the way through the school year to offer her the position. The pair had shared a resigned look, and Professor Dippett had mumbled something about unsuitability of previous assistants.

The months that had followed under Master Graves' eye were exhausting but educational. Poppy found herself mastering all sorts of problems including broken bones and other Quidditch related injuries, potion spills and spell backfires. She quickly learned to identify common jinxes, hexes, and the additional side effects from combinations.

After nearly two years, Master Graves had called her into his private office and closed the door. Used now to his mannerisms and abruptness, she saw a new side to him as he lowered his emaciated frame gingerly into a chair. "Well Poppy, it seems you've got the hang of this." Poppy had frowned, surprised at the rare compliment. With a wry smile, he informed her, "I've had enough. Professor Dippett is turning over to Dumbledore, and I'm doing the same to you. I'm sure you'll enjoy yourself with the squalling children. "

And sure enough, he had handed his resignation to the new headmaster the next day, not an hour after the last of the students left.

Since then she had dealt with fevers, werewolves, three separate outbreaks of dragon pox, and two wizarding wars, not to mention dementors, dragons, and new Weasley products. There were less only half a dozen occasions where she had been personally unsuccessful in treating her patients (though one of these was the second war, where the sheer number of casualties still broke her heart).

And now, serving under her fifth Headmaster, Poppy was ready to say goodbye. Professor Jones had stoically accepted her resignation, and her assurances that her apprentice of the last four years was more than capable. She had helped young Teddy move his belongings into her vacated office, and he in turn carried her case to the front gate, where she would take the Knight Bus home. He had told her that she was welcome to drop by at any stage if she felt bored or lonely, or if she wanted to check up on his technique. In reply Poppy had reached up and patted his cheek, so like his mother's, and told him that he would be just fine.

As she waited, wand arm outstretched, Poppy had a last glance at the magnificent castle before leaving. It was time.