She sounded panic-stricken at the sudden change in his condition, but he couldn't concentrate on anything but the unexpected, debilitating pain that swept through his body in waves and seemed to emanate from the middle of his lower back.
"Tell me where it hurts!" she demanded.
His breath coming in ragged gasps, Harry could only squeeze her hand, but that seemed to be enough for the moment as Ginny scrambled frantically for the call button and pressed it several times in quick succession.
As the pain continued to course through his body, he tried to focus on something other than how it was making him feel, just as Silvia had instructed earlier that day, and he was able to stop writhing quite so much. Being still seemed to help, and he began analyzing the source and what he had been doing just before the pain started. It had hit him without a trace of preamble, no warning at all, and the onset had vaguely felt like the beginnings of a torture spell. It was much worse than anything Harry had ever experienced, much worse than the Cruciatus Curse could ever be, he thought numbly. Maybe that was a clue of sorts...
The pain subsided somewhat as his wife anxiously cast her Patronus and sent the horse racing down the hall towards the nurses' station.
The man lurking in the bushes outside Harry Potter's room grinned in satisfaction as his victim thrashed about from the internal torture inflicted upon him. He waited until Potter lay gasping for breath and then cast his spell again. This time Potter bellowed like a stuck pig... which, of course, he was. The man knew certain things about what was going inside Potter's body, things that made his skin crawl should this new kind of torture ever be used on him, and he almost gave himself away laughing aloud at Potter's discomfort. Serves him right for poking his nose where it doesn't belong...
The man watched several facility staff enter Potter's room at a run. They pushed Potter's wife aside and began working on their patient. The man knew he should go, but he was having too much fun aiding his mentor in the slow torture and eventual death of one of their long-time enemies to not inflict one last agonizing surge of pain on his victim. He cast his spell again, changing it subtly to prolong the suffering until the incantation was lifted. Potter passed out and the staff began the process of reviving him. It was time to leave...
Immensely pleased with the success of the last few minutes, the man left his hiding place, crossed the flower garden to the wood surrounding the property and Disapparated.
"Get me Healer O'Donnell and Healer-in-Training Sheridan. NOW!," Healer Stilwell snapped to the startled Welcome Witch in charge of routing fire calls this time of night.
"Yes, sir!" she squeaked and scurried away, leaving Healer Stilwell's head suspended in the fireplace.
She came back several minutes later followed by two green-robed men. They looked equally scared and puzzled as to why they had been called out of Accident and Emergency when they were so desperately needed there tonight.
"Are you the Healers who worked on Auror Potter last week?" Stilwell nearly shouted, causing the two to quail at his obvious anger and the way it seemed everyone in the hospital was now focusing their attention on them.
Healer O'Donnell found his voice first. "We are, Healer Stilwell. What can we do for you?"
"Find your records for the night of October twenty-first and meet me at my office in five minutes!" Stilwell ordered. Without waiting for the two to respond, he withdrew his head, cancelling the call. Then, he dashed back to his office at The Groves, retrieved Harry Potter's file and left the building after notifying the front desk where he'd be if anything happened to his patient while he was absent.
He stepped out of his private Floo at St Mungo's and strode to the door, ignoring the vibrations coming from his mobile phone. He'd call the nurses' station at The Groves later to find out what they wanted. Right now, he had more important matters to attend to.
Yanking the door open, he was satisfied to see that the two A and E Healers were waiting for him. "Thank you for being so prompt," he said in a slightly more civilized voice. "Come in. We have much to talk about."
The two filed in and perched nervously on the edge of the couch. "Why couldn't you wait to talk to us until later?" Trainee Sheridan whined. "It's the middle of the night and all the loonies come in at this time. Besides, the Potter case took place a week ago."
"I know," Healer Stilwell said slowly. "Pass over your records, please." He opened the files they handed him and paged through them for a long moment before deciding how to answer the first question. When he looked up the two Healers before him were obviously sweating. "If I wait, my patient will be dead!"
O'Donnell and Sheridan visibly paled and Healer Stilwell had the satisfaction of knowing they suspected they were being called upon to answer for something serious.
"Why do you say that, sir?" Healer O'Donnell asked.
Stilwell picked up the Admittance Form from his copy of Harry Potter's records and passed it across his desk. Healer O'Donnell took it and began looking it over, with Trainee Sheridan peering over his shoulder.
"Who is this Admittance Form filled out for?" Stilwell asked with exaggerated patience.
"Harry Potter," Sheridan answered, raising his eyes to look at Healer Stilwell.
"Now look at the Occupation Box. What is Harry Potter's occupation?" Stilwell questioned.
"He's an Auror, sir. Everybody here at the hospital knows that," Sheridan continued without looking at the form. "He's admitted on a regular basis because he's always duelling dark wizards."
"Look at the form," Stilwell directed, "and tell me what you see."
Sheridan looked down this time, although he kept casting nervous glances at his mentor. He ran a finger over the parchment where it stopped under the ticked off "Auror" box.
"This is the original," he said, sounding almost incredulous.
"Yes," Healer Stilwell barked, pouncing on this inflection as a Kneazle kitten would a string. "It is. It took the administrative secretary downstairs two hours to find it! Why wasn't it placed in Mr Potter's file the way it should? Was there something WRONG with it?"
O'Donnell glared at Sheridan who sputtered, "I—I—I guess it just became mixed up in another file I was working on. There wasn't anything wrong with it."
"LIAR!" shouted Healer Stilwell. "You deliberately hid that parchment from me and filed a COPY in Harry Potter's file. Did you think I wouldn't notice it? Well, you're wrong. I did notice. Now... look at the original parchment again and tell me what you see."
"Someone ticked off the 'Auror' box, sir, just like I said."
"All right," Stilwell said evenly. "Do you remember what happens when someone ticks off the 'Auror' occupation box?"
O'Donnell answered, "A series of routine spells to be performed for this specific occupation shows up on the form."
"That's right. Read that section of the form carefully, please," Stilwell instructed. His mobile vibrated again. Angrily, he turned it off as the two began murmuring and conferring with each other. It was almost comical to Healer Stilwell when they both muttered, "Oh, Merlin!" and looked up at him with stricken faces.
Healer Stilwell stared at them expectantly. "Well?"
Healer O'Donnell answered, "The FBDS box has not been ticked off, sir."
"And it looks like someone has erased a tick," added Trainee Sheridan.
"You're right. Now tell me why, since Auror Potter was in such serious condition, neither of you took the time to perform that spell. Or if you did do the spell, why the tick was erased. You know that as soon as the form detects the magic it automatically records the fact that the spell has been performed."
"It was a hectic night, sir," Healer O'Donnell explained, sounding defensive. "There had been a pub fight in Yorkshire and most of the victims had been sent here instead of the local clinic. All the beds in the A and E were filled with patients whose wands had not been confiscated and all the healing staff were dodging spells right and left as the wankers tried to keep hexing each other. Auror Potter and several others arrived in the midst of the chaos and even though his condition warranted our utmost attention, we were constantly being interrupted. It was a wonder we completed the other spells at all."
"Do you mean to tell me that no one sealed the door to Mr Potter's examination room?" Healer Stilwell demanded.
"Yes, sir. The door was left unlocked in case we were needed in another room," O'Donnell stated.
"How many times during the examination were you interrupted?"
"At least ten," answered Trainee Sheridan.
"At any time during the examination was Mr Potter, a critically wounded patient, left completely alone?" Healer Stilwell could feel his blood beginning to boil.
"Maybe... once... or twice," squeaked Sheridan.
Healer Stilwell shot to his feet as he roar ed, "Did it ever occur to you that someone could have hexed, jinxed or enchanted Mr Potter while you were out of sight?Did either of you think that by leaving the door open that someone could have slipped into the room during your absence and harmed him in another way? Did either of you think to perform the FBD Spell because Harry Potter is an AUROR?" When the two Healers in front of him meekly shook their heads, Healer Stilwell continued in a much quieter, but no less furious voice, "Why was the FBDS box added to the form?"
Healer O'Donnell answered, "A year ago, suspects had begun enchanting foreign objects to invade Aurors' bodies during duels, similar to the way shrapnel does but with the power to close the entrance wound immediately. We nearly lost several Aurors to infection and untreated internal injuries because of this."
"That's correct, and has the performance of this spell become a routine part of an Auror's examination that has saved several Aurors' lives?"
"It has, sir."
"THEN WHY DIDN'T YOU NOTICE THE SPELL HAD NOT BEEN CARRIED OUT WHEN THE FORM CLEARLY INDICATED THAT IT HAD NOT BEEN DONE?"
Healer-in-Training Sheridan answered, "Because I was exhausted when I was writing up my charts and decided only to sign them."
"YOU IMBICILE!" Healer Stilwell bellowed, pointing at Sheridan. "YOUR NEGLIGENCE HAS COST HARRY POTTER HIS HEALTH!"
Sheridan's eyes nearly bulged out of his head while O'Donnell buried his face in his hands.
"If I perform the spell and find foreign bodies that you two neglected to detect, you are in serious jeopardy of losing your licenses at the least and being sued for malpractice before the Wizengamot at best," Healer Stilwell hissed. "As of right now, you, Healer O'Donnell, are relieved of your duties for not supervising your trainee properly and will be required to appear before the St Mungo