Better Wizards Than You
“Stop laughing, Nurse, if you can’t cope with this you’ll never finish your
“Sorry, Professor Carnaghan.” The young woman tucked a strand of glossy dark
hair back into her cap and adjusted her name badge as if she was afraid it
would be taken from her. “It’s just that
I’ve never seen an injury like this before, not that I’ve seen a lot, I know. But I’ve never even read about this, and none
of my tutors mentioned it in class.”
“To be honest,
Nurse, I’ve not come across anything of this nature in my forty years at St.
Mungo’s, but we must remain open-minded.”
“I’ve seen a
few splinching cases,” the nurse mused, “and some children who have
accidentally Vanished their parents’ limbs, stuff like that, but never
a….” She snorted back more giggles and
control yourself,” the elderly Mediwizard scolded, but even he had to permit
himself a smile. The boy in the Magical
Mishaps ward was suffering considerable discomfort, not to mention acute
embarrassment, but his accident was
ludicrous. It was probably something to
do with the ridiculous Muggle clothing that the boy was dressed in. Young witches and wizards had only recently
taken to wearing Muggle clothing as a gesture of rebellion or fashion. Up until about ten years ago, young people
wore robes, same as their parents, and only submitted to uncomfortable trousers
when masquerading as Muggles. Except for
those children with mixed heritage who had been raised as Muggles and then,
Carnaghan thought testily, there were no issues of wands for underage Wizards
to mess around with anyway.
Nurse, we need to talk to the mother at some point.” Carnaghan ushered the young woman ahead of
him and entered the ward.
was only the one patient so no one else would stare at the poor boy. They had certainly caused a stir when they
came in, the gangling youth draped half over his
mother’s shoulder, one leg dragging uselessly.
The boy had been scarlet, muttering at his mother to, “Leave it, just leave it!” Now
he was lying face down, his head propped on crossed
arms, with a truly mutinous look on his face.
His mother was sitting in the chair by the head of the bed. She was a striking woman with dark, piercing
eyes and the same stubborn set to the shoulders as her son. They had evidently just broken off a blazing
row. As Carnaghan and the nurse entered,
the woman leapt to her feet and grabbed the Mediwizard’s arm.
“He is going
to be all right, isn’t he? I mean, he’s
such a handsome boy, and so gifted on a broomstick. I wouldn’t want him to lose all of that
through one moment of foolishness.” Her
anxious tone changed as she cast a scathing look at the boy on the bed. “Although that would
certainly teach him to insist on wearing those stupid clothes!”
boy muttered into his arms, and Carnaghan could see the flush across the back
of his neck. He decided that it was time
to separate the pair.
“Madam, if you
would come with me, we can discuss your son’s case. Perhaps you would care for some iced pumpkin
juice?” As the woman began to protest,
he headed her off with, “Don’t worry, my assistant can keep an eye on your
son.” He took her by the arm and steered
her from the room.
pleasure at being described as Professor Carnaghan’s assistant, the young nurse
made her way to the vacated chair and sat down.
you’re going to scold me, too,” said the boy.
“Well you can forget it. I’ve heard
it all from my mother, and the nurse on reception, and that doctor, and some
strange man in the corridor who had a flowerpot
attached to his head, for Merlin’s sake, so…”
“I’m not going
to tell you off,” the nurse said, interrupting the tirade. She gave the youth a long look. Despite his sulky tone, he wasn’t that much
younger than she was, maybe fifteen, with that gawky look associated with
filling out a tall frame. His hair was
long-ish, standing out from his head in a dandelion clock frizz, and when he
turned to look at her, she could see that he had the same dark, piercing eyes
as his mother. He wasn’t handsome as his
mother had said though; his nose looked as if it had been broken in the past
and his mouth was twisted in a scowl.
“Are you going
to laugh at me then?”
“No!” It was true, she had
done her laughing outside. “My name’s
Poppy, what’s yours?”
call me Al,” he said and a crooked grin formed on his face. “You’d better get used to seeing me in here,
Doctor Poppy. I’m going to be a
world-famous Auror so I’m sure I’ll get hexed loads of times and need nursing
back to health.”
that good an Auror, you should be able to avoid hexes,” said Poppy
acerbically. “And it’s not Doctor Poppy,
I’m just a nurse in training at the moment.”
“In training for what?
Aren’t you a proper nurse yet? I
thought Doctor Whatsit said you were okay to look after me.”
Carnaghan,” Poppy enunciated the name slowly, “is training me so that I can
work as an accomplished assistant to him.
It’s a great honour, although what I’d like…”
“You want to
be an Auror?”
“Not everyone wants to be an Auror! I want to go back to my old school to nurse
the students. That’s probably why
Professor Carnaghan left me in here with you, to get practise dealing with
young people. I miss Beauxbatons.”
“France? You don’t want to go there!” Al scoffed.
“Come to Hogwarts, it’s the coolest place.”
the slight to her home of seven years. “You’re at Hogwarts I’m guessing.” A nod. “What year are you?”
“Just finished fourth year.
I’m Beater on the house Quidditch team, can’t wait to go back. Except that now…” Al cocked a glance over his
shoulder, his enthusiasm stuttering to a halt.
“What if I can’t play any more?
What if I can’t ever fly again?”
Poppy laid a
hand on his arm. “I’m sure you will,”
she said gently. “And even if your skill
is a bit impaired for a while, it shouldn’t spoil your plans to become an Auror. If your marks are good enough, that is. I hear it’s hard to get into.”
“Nah, I’ll be
fine. It’s only some of the Defence Against the Dark Arts stuff I can’t get my head around. I know it’s essential but my Professor is so paranoid. He’s always ranting about being vigilant,
tried to hand us all doctored pumpkin juice once to keep us on our guards. I’m going to have to start drinking out of a
hip flask or something.” Al gave a
sudden moan of dismay. “What if he finds
about this? I’ll never hear the end of it. ‘How can you fight Dark wizards, boy, if you
can’t even control your own wand?’ Merlin!”
curiosity had been slowly growing ever since Al’s mother had dragged him into
the Magical Mishaps ward, and now she couldn’t contain it. “If you don’t mind me asking, how did you do it?” she whispered.
“It’s my trousers,”
Al said, seemingly disconnected to the conversation. “They’re cool, aren’t they? They’re called jeans,
all of the Muggle kids are wearing them.”
“Um, yes, very cool,” Poppy said, a little unsure of what he meant.
have all got a wand pocket, but Muggle shirts don’t. So I thought, fine, these jeans have loads of
pockets, I’ll just use one of those…”
Poppy, who could see where this was going.
“I just shoved
my wand in my back pocket, and then when I was coming downstairs I tripped on
the bit at the bottom…”
“The wide, baggy bit?”
“It’s called a
flare if you must know, yes the baggy bit.
Anyway, I swore, and it must’ve sounded like a spell, cos there was this
big flash and the next thing I knew I was lying at the
bottom of the stairs with…”
travelled down the young man’s back, following the line of the sheets to the
point where there was a shocking, unexpected dip. “Oh,” she said. She was saved from having to make further
comment when Professor Carnaghan returned with Al’s mother. Instantly, the patient dropped his head back
onto his arms and resumed his sullen silence.
However quick he was, he couldn’t have missed the stricken look on his
there are cosmetic spells that we can use to disguise the area,” Professor
Carnaghan was saying, “but there will be a permanent loss of flesh. He will be able to walk again - even fly a
broomstick - but I’m afraid young Alastor may always limp slightly. It’s a rather distinctive injury, Mrs Moody. I’ve seen people in here with all sorts of
things. Aurors are the worst, of course,
but I’ve never before seen anyone with a missing buttock. Not even an Auror.”
youth’s folded arms came a single muffled exclamation:
A/N – I really couldn’t
“Don’t put your wand there, boy!” roared
Moody. “What if it ignited? Better wizards than you have lost buttocks,
“Who d’you know who’s lost a buttock?” the
violet-haired woman asked Mad-Eye interestedly.
“Never you mind…”
I guess this
is set near the start of the 60s. I have
no idea how old Moody is but I’m guessing he has maybe 10 or 20 years on the
Marauders. I just loved the idea of him
getting one of his catalogue of distinctive scars and missing parts not from
fighting Dark wizards but from doing something really stupid, like tripping on
his flares. And yes, of course Poppy
is who you think she is.
credit’s due – of course these characters and places don’t belong to me. If I was selling 8 books a second, I’d live
in a bigger house. And many thanks to
NightZephyr who has beta-ed my very first proper SQ story.