The Sugar Quill
Author: peachpicker  Story: EMR  Chapter: Default
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Author's Notes: Harry Potter meets two children during an ordinary emergency rescue run, with more consequences than he would have ever expected. This story is set a few years after Voldemort's final demise.

'EMR' obviously is the acronym for Emergency Magical Rescue.

What?... Did you think that it might stand for something else?

At a quick first glance, the room appeared to be a large office with many desks in small groups of two or three, with the groups separated by low cubicle walls, file cabinets, and book cases. Upon a second look one might observe that almost all of the desks had signs of very recent use: papers, books, writing materials, coffee mugs, and pictures of family members, favourite entertainers or sports teams. Although it was normal working hours for most people in modern magical Britain, less than half of the desks were occupied, suggesting that the room might be staffed twenty four hours a day or the workers in this office might do much of their work elsewhere. The current occupants' main activities seemed to be filling out forms, drinking coffee or tea, or reading books or journals. The most obvious peculiarity of the room was the large number of fireplaces along the walls of the room. There was one next to each small group of desks. Most unusual of all, the fireplaces were never used for heating. This was the EMR Dispatch Center at Saint Mungo's Hospital For Magical Maladies and Injuries and the fireplaces were only used to travel by the Floo Network.

Harry Potter had been on several EMR teams during his training to become a healer who specialized in responding to medical emergencies. He was currently a member of a three-person EMR team. A second team member, Corrie Dumas, a tall serious woman with curly short black hair, appeared to be about fifteen years older than Harry. She had been a Healer a number of years ago, although she was now at the same stage of EMR training as Harry. The third team member, Jim Selby, an older man with grizzled gray-brown hair and a deceptively laid-back manner, was the team's only highly experienced EMR healer. He was Harry's and Corrie's official mentor and trainer.

Recently Corrie and Harry had been taking turns leading the team. They were aware that Jim still had final authority over them both, although he had very rarely exercised that authority in the field for several months. This week, it was Harry's turn to be the team leader.

The EMR team became instantly alert when an alarm sounded and magical flames flared to life in their fireplace. They could hear a child crying but the flames showed no face. After the team members were unable to hear any distinct words, Harry spoke loudly into the fireplace. "Hello? Does anyone need help there?" There was some talk in the background, and the crying voice quieted somewhat. "Would you stand in front of your fireplace, please, so that we can talk?"

Then a young girl's face appeared in the magical flames. "Are you at the hospital? Can you help my aunt? She fell down and won't talk to us." The girl was perhaps seven years old. A small boy who obviously had been crying appeared beside the girl and put his hand in hers. Harry estimated him to be about five years old. They appeared to be sister and brother.

"Yes, we are healers at Saint Mungo's Hospital." Harry gestured to the other two EMR team members behind him. "We can come to your house and help you. I'm going to reverse the Floo Network direction so that we can come through your fireplace without knowing your Floo address. Would you move to one side of the fireplace, please?" Harry gestured toward the left, and the children nervously shuffled over.

Harry looked questioningly behind him. "EMR23A, Harry," replied Jim, who was now very alert. Corrie briskly slapped a small, flat, rectangular object into Harry's outstretched hand.

Harry glanced at the object, said "EMR23A, check," and then tossed it into the fireplace. It landed next to the two children. "Leave it there, please, and step back from the fireplace." The children nervously retreated further from the flames. "Very good. Now we will come through to help your aunt."

All three team members took a pinch of Floo Powder from a large bowl beside the team's fireplace. Harry tossed the powder into the flames, which flared up, then said "EMR23A," and stepped into the flames. After the typically rough passage through the network of fireplaces, Harry stumbled into a small sitting room where the children waited. He stepped quickly away from the fireplace, and the curly haired woman came through, followed by the older man. They all did quick cleaning spells on each other to get rid of ash and dust.

Harry said, pointing to each team member in turn, "My name is Harry Potter, this is Jim Selby, and this is Corrie Dumas. What are your names?"

"Megan Brown."

"Ian Brown."

"Where is your aunt?"

The girl took them into a small bedroom just off of the sitting room. A thin, frail woman was on the floor and appeared to be unconscious. A small trickle of blood came from a cut on the side of her head. "Did you see what happened to her?" Harry asked the girl. She shook her head no. Harry turned to the boy. "Did you see what happened to her?"

"Auntie was standing there," the boy pointed next to a chest. "Then her eyes shut an' she fell down an' she hit her head there." He pointed to the chest.

"What is your aunt's name?" Harry asked the children.

"Aunt Amelia," the boy replied.

The girl said, "Amelia Heatherfield, Mr. Potter."

"Thank you," Harry replied. He wrote the name on a small note pad, tore off the sheet of paper and passed it to Corrie, who was examining the unconscious woman.

"Harry, we need to transport her," Corrie reported after concluding her brief examination of the children's aunt.

"It's nothing simple," Jim added. "We need to discuss it in the ward." His eyes silently indicated that the children should not hear anything more.

Harry nodded agreement. "I'll see about the children's welfare."

"Portkey Room Three, Harry," Corrie said, holding up a two foot piece of rope. She held one end against the woman's wrist and Jim picked up the other end. With a touch of Corrie's wand to the rope, the three disappeared.

Harry turned back to the children. "Did your aunt teach you how to contact Saint Mungo's? That was well done."

"Yes, sir, she did. Ian and I stay at Day Care when Aunt Amelia goes to Saint Mungo's for treatment." The earnest but unsmiling Megan then asked, "Is Aunt Amelia going to be all right?"

"We are still deciding how to best help her. Can you tell me which healers your aunt sees at Saint Mungo's?"

"Are you a healer?" Megan asked Harry.

"Yes, I am."

"Then you should have this." Megan opened a shallow drawer in a table by the bed. She removed a piece of paper, glanced at it, and handed it to Harry. "You need to read this. Auntie told us to give it to any healer that might have to help her or Ian or me."

Harry scanned the paper and saw his wife's name was listed among several other names of healers. Harry placed the paper in his robe, and then looked at each child in turn. "Ian. Megan. Is there anyone who can stay with you? Relatives or neighbours?"

Megan said, "No, we don't know anyone here. We just moved here a few weeks ago. Aunt Amelia had to sell..." A wave of sadness swept through the girl's eyes and then was quickly hidden. "No, sir. No one."

"I'll take you to Saint Mungo's Day Care straight away, then." Harry looked at Megan. "Do you know how to get there by Floo?"

"Yes, sir," Megan replied. "I've done it for myself many times. It's best you carry Ian. He doesn't say it right yet."

Ian glared at his sister. "Do so!" Then a streak of honesty caught up with him. "Well, most of the time."

Harry picked up Ian and discovered that the compact little boy was much heavier than he looked. "Ian, we want to get there quickly, and not go on a detour, so this time I'll carry you. Go ahead, Megan. We'll be right behind you."

Megan took a pinch of Floo Powder from the open container on the hearth, tossed the powder into the fireplace, then carefully enunciated "Saint Mungo's Day Care" and stepped into the magical flames. Harry, carrying Ian, flung a pinch of powder in the fire and quickly followed.

Harry was pleased to see that Megan knew just where to go. At the Day Care reception desk, Harry quickly spoke to the attendant. "Janice, Ian and Megan Brown have to stay here while their aunt is being treated in EMR." The woman nodded and began writing on a form. "Their aunt, Amelia Heatherfield, was brought in to Portkey Emergency Room Three. We also set up their home Floo address as EMR23A. I have to take some information to EMR about their aunt's healers. One of our team, probably me, will be back later. Okay?" The woman nodded and quickly removed the fireplace residue from the children with a cleaning spell. Then she took the children's hands and led them into the Day Care center.

As Harry stepped to the fireplace and took a pinch of Floo powder, he heard Ian asking Janice what a detour was, and what would happen if he went on one.

* * *

Ginny Potter had just spent an unusually long Friday at the Children's Clinic associated with Saint Mungo's and she was glad to be home. She did not expect her husband to be home yet, since Harry was working a split shift this week which overlapped the afternoon and the evening hours. It was often one of the busiest times of the day for the EMR teams since people tended to get careless toward the end of workdays and also were more prone to accidents once they went home.

Ginny was about to put her feet up and relax with a freshly brewed cup of tea when she heard her name being called. She turned from her view out the window, and saw Harry's head among the magical flames in the fireplace. "Ginny, can you talk a minute about a couple of your patients?"

"Of course, Harry. Is there a problem?"

"Do you remember Ian and Megan Brown?"

"Oh, yes. Are they sick or hurt?"

"No, but their aunt is seriously ill and has to stay at Saint Mungo's."

"Where are the children, Harry?"

"Saint Mungo's Day Care."

"Oh, dear. I'll be right there." Ginny took a pinch of Floo Powder and once Harry's head disappeared from the fireplace she departed for Saint Mungo's Day Care.

* * *

After the hospital staff had settled Amelia Heatherfield into a room at Saint Mungo's, the EMR team returned to their dispatch room and began to fill out the usual post-rescue-run paperwork. Harry stayed only briefly after filling out a bare minimum on the forms, saying that he had yet to deal with the children's welfare. "You can do the rest of your paperwork on Monday, Harry," Jim assured him.

When Harry entered the Day Care facility, he found his wife talking quietly to Megan and Ian. Both children looked as if they had just left off crying.

Ginny urged the children to stay where they were, and pulled Harry away to talk to him privately. "Harry! Do you know if the children's aunt can have visitors yet?"

He shook his head uncertainly. "One of her healers arrived about forty minutes ago, Ginny. It may be a while before we can know anything more."

Ginny looked at Harry in concern. "Amelia Heatherfield has a terminal illness that we have been aware of for a long time. I think the children suspect it, at the very least. I'm not certain how much she has told them." Determination swept away some of her anxiety. "Harry," she pleaded, "Would you stay with the children while I go see to Amelia's condition? I know her healers and likely can get in to see her." Belatedly she asked, "Is your shift done? Can you stay?"

"Go on, love," he urged. "I'll stay with Ian and Megan." Relief flooded Ginny's face and she dashed out.

The children were anxiously waiting for him. Megan immediately asked, "May we see Aunt Amelia? Please? Healer Ginny said we had to wait." Harry was a little surprised to hear the children use Ginny's first name, although he was aware that she encouraged such familiarity to minimize her young patients' worries.

"Megan. Ian. One of your aunt's healers is seeing to her now. Healer Ginny is going there, since she knows your aunt's healers. She'll tell us more when she can. Until then, we must wait."

Harry became uncomfortably aware that he had no idea what to do with the children. "Um... what do you two do when you are here in Day Care?"

"I climb on the big things over there," Ian pointed. "An' there's all those toys over there. They're fun. I 'specially like the hippogriffs an' the big blocks." At this time of the evening, there were no other children in the Day Care Center, and Ian did not seem to want to leave Harry's side, even though he sensed a restlessness in the small boy. Megan simply sat and watched him with big, solemn eyes. Harry could see her worry in their depths.

Harry glanced uncomfortably around the room, still unsure what to do. He had had so few toys or playmates as a child that it was largely foreign territory to him. Then he focused on a large shelf of books and inspiration struck. He remembered a time, several years ago, when he had seen Ginny doing volunteer work in this very Day Care Center. "Would you like me to read you a story? Megan, would you please pick out a story that both you and Ian might like?"

Megan walked over to the book shelf, and only needed a glance to select a well worn book from the rough-and-tumble collection. She handed the thick book to Harry. "The third story, please? It has such a happy ending."

This child has a desperate need of happy endings, Harry thought. Or at least happy times. Both children do, I reckon.

"And don't forget the voices," urged Ian, who crawled up to sit beside Harry on the couch. "It's ever so much better with voices."

"Voices?" Harry replied, bewildered.

Megan earnestly informed Harry, "Ian means, when you come to words that someone says in the story, that you should use a proper voice. If it's a wolf, sound like a wolf. If it's a grandmother, sound like a grandmother. You know." The slender little girl patted his arm reassuringly as she took the other seat beside him.

Harry was still uncertain of what to do, and then a memory crossed his mind of Ginny animatedly reading to a large crowd of children. He slowly smiled and thought, I can do this. Then he began to read, with a child to each side, and the three quickly sunk into the imaginary world of the story.

* * *

When Ginny returned, three stories later, she quietly watched Harry reading to the children for a moment. Now I'm more certain we can make it work, she thought. I just hope that Harry agrees to it. Then Megan spotted Ginny and came running, the story forgotten and her anxiety remembered.

"Can we see Aunt Amelia now? Please? Please?"

Ginny smiled and said, "Your aunt is awake now and she is quite eager to see you. Come along now." Ginny offered a hand to take Megan's. A flick of Harry's wand sent the abandoned story book back to its place on the book shelf.

As they walked down the hall, Ian grinned up at Harry. "I liked when you did the giant. It was such fun!"

Harry replied, "I met a real giant when I was at Hogwarts. His name was Grawp."

"Wow! Was he like the one in the story?"

"Oh, no. Real giants are much different. They're certainly not as smart as the one in the book." Then Harry laughed. "Although the story giant wasn't very smart, was he, living at the top of a beanstalk?"

Ian giggled at the thought.

* * *

After the children's joyous greeting, Amelia Heatherfield smiled and extended a hand to Harry. "I am told that you were one of my rescuers." She smiled at him. "Thank you."

"I didn't do much. My two colleagues brought you here and did a preliminary check while I took care of Megan and Ian." He indicated them with a wave of his hand. "They did a wonderful job of contacting St. Mungo's, by the way. They had such good presence of mind. Megan knew to give us that list of healers. It was very helpful."

When the children's conversation with their aunt drifted away from the stories that Harry had read to them, Ginny quietly pulled Harry into the hall.

"Harry, it's quite clear that Amelia won't be going home again. She's in the final stages of her illness." Ginny sighed tiredly, then continued. "Ian and Megan can't stay indefinitely in Saint Mungo's Day Care. The facility is not set up for extended over-night stays, particularly on weekends."

Ginny's eyes worriedly flickered over his face now, searching for something she was unsure of. "I don't think it would be good for the children to go straight to the Ministry's Fostering And Adoption Services. That is where they are certain to be sent if no one takes them in, even temporarily for this weekend. Harry, I'm so concerned what that could do to them. They've only been with their aunt a year, since their parents were killed by Death Eaters." Ginny avoided returning Harry's direct gaze when she next said, "We don't know of any relatives, godparents, even friends." And then Harry could see it coming as she looked him in the eye. "Might they stay with us? Until something suitable can be worked out?"

* * *

Monday found Harry at his dispatch room desk, completing his paperwork for the Amelia Heatherfield rescue. Corrie looked up from her own forms and asked Harry, "What is happening to the Brown children? I checked on their aunt this morning and found that she's dying. Obviously, she can't take care of them any longer."

"We don't know yet," Harry replied. "There seem to be no known living relatives. My wife is the children's healer, and she is looking into the matter. In the mean time, they are staying with us temporarily."

Corrie's expression showed sudden doubt. "Is that legal? I thought that the Ministry of Magic required Fostering and Adoption Services to be involved."

"Ginny wants to avoid that lot, and so does the children's aunt. They've both dealt with them before. Ginny says they are a lot of time wasters who care more for justifying their jobs than taking care of children that come their way." He shook his head in wonderment. "Ginny has clashed with them more than once, and managed to go over their heads to place children in good homes."

"She used medical reasons to override the usual red tape?" Corrie asked, then she grinned as Harry nodded in agreement. "Then it hasn't changed much since I was a General Healer ten years ago. The Ministry has too many bureaucrats putting their jobs ahead of people's well-being."

Behind them, Jim Selby had approached, fresh coffee in hand, and cleared his throat to catch their attention. "All right, you two. Time for a post-mortem." Harry and Corrie swung their chairs around to face Jim's desk and waited while he seated himself.

Jim scratched his head and scanned some notes on a small pad to refresh his memory of the previous Friday's events. "That early run we made needs no comment. Well done, both of you. It was a complicated case." He took a cautious sip of the hot coffee. "I only want to discuss the Amelia Heatherfield case. And not the politics, mind you." Corrie and Harry realized that Jim must have overheard some of their comments.

Jim turned to Harry first. "Why did you give our names first and then ask the children for theirs?"

"I know it's not protocol normally," Harry replied, "but they could have closed up at any time from fright. Giving our names before getting their names gained us a bit of their trust. It turned out that the girl had presence of mind to remember that list of their healers. We could have missed that if the kids had become wary of us."

Jim nodded. "That's not a part of the training, but maybe it should be. Where'd you pick it up? From your wife?" He picked up his coffee mug and took a larger sip, a small smile lingering on his lips. He had seen Ginny Potter work with injured children and had been very impressed.

"Yeah. I pay a lot of attention when she talks about handling children. It's her specialty. And it turned out she knew the two children and their aunt. She's been the children's healer for a while now."

Jim turned to Corrie. "You didn't petrify the patient before Portkeying. Why?"

"I could tell that she had no bone breaks, and had sufficient neural and muscle tone that she would unconsciously resist a rough ride. It was clear that she had some unusual condition besides fainting and a light blow to the head. I didn't want to risk her being one of the rare ones that Petrificus could hurt, so I did a non-verbal Levitation Charm, which was enough extra cushioning against the usual jolts of Portkey travel."

Jim reviewed his notes. "Hmm. I vowed that I would do something special when we reached this point. How about a celebratory lunch on Saturday? Spouses included."

"What are we celebrating, Jim?" Corrie asked.

"You don't need me as a mentor any longer. I'm recommending that you both have full status as EMR healers. And since I'm head of the EMR Training Department, it is mostly a formality to get the rest of the necessary approvals. Welcome to the Mad House." Jim grinned as Corrie hugged him and Harry delightedly shook his hand.

* * *

Amelia Heatherfield was so tired. So very, very tired. She had expected this to happen some day, but not so terribly soon. She had expected to have at least another year before this insidious Pullen's Disease overcame her. Her Muggle doctors and the Healers at St. Mungo's had all predicted that, though the two worlds knew the same disease by different names. Now I'm calling them Muggle doctors, she thought wryly, and I'm a Muggle myself. That's what comes from such a long involvement with the Magical world.

The Healers have assured me for a thousand times that I was lucky that I was a Muggle.

Lucky. Huh.

True, a magical person with this illness would have died in just a few days once symptoms like mine had become obvious. Muggles can live with it for years and years, for some reason. I do wonder what makes the magical people so vulnerable. I wonder what would have happened to my Leland if he had had it. Thank God it wasn't communicable. He had magical parents but was a Squib himself. Would there have been some magical residue that might have made him more vulnerable? Odd that the difference can go both ways. Some diseases that kill Muggles quickly, hardly harm Witches and Wizards. Some day, when we understand more about our differences... Oh, well. I'd have fancied doing some of that research at one time. Now it's just another lost what-if.

Amelia failed to find a more comfortable position on the bed. Her back was sore from being in bed too long, yet she could not have tolerated sitting up for long either. It might have helped to walk around, but that was so incredibly tiring. Leland, my love, I do think I'll be joining you sooner than we expected. I had thought you would have many more years than I. Who could have guessed that horrible accident would take you first?

She thought of Megan and Ian, who she had grown to love as if they were her own. It has been so good of Ginny and Harry to bring them by every day. And even Ginny's mother, Molly, brought the children when neither Ginny nor Harry were able. Such good visits most of them have been. Ginny is such a wonderful healer, and her husband Harry seems such a nice chap. I do hope they can forgive my little deception once they discover it. That temporary guardianship we signed isn't so temporary if Ginny cannot place the children after I ... die. I'm certain she'll do the right thing for them, find them a good home, whatever may come. Her thoughts turned again to the children's visits, and she smiled. They've been so happy to see me. I'll miss them so, when...

She sighed. I must warn the Potters about why those Death Eaters killed my sister and her husband. I still think it wasn't just because they were both Muggle-born. I don't care what the Aurors said. Tomorrow. I can tell them tomorrow. I'm so very, very tired now. She yawned then, a little surprised at how good it felt. I'll see them tomorrow. Yes. Tomorrow. She sighed, finally releasing herself to the enveloping, warm, comforting sleep.

* * *

Amelia Heatherfield's Healer visited her later, and sadly found that Amelia had commenced her final sleep. After reading the temporary guardianship assignment she found on the table beside the bed, she knew to send an owl to the Potters straight away. She realized how difficult it would be for the children to lose the last of their relatives. Perhaps the Potters could help, but it surely wouldn't be easy for any of them.

Author's Note: This story is a part of my Healer Harry series of stories, still under construction.

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