The Reception Area
The young man of about twenty-five burst suddenly out of the floo system, making quite a ruckus in the reception area, and causing a tide of outraged grumbling from the other waiting patients as he fought his way to the front of the line.
“We need a healer!” he screamed in the desk witch’s face. “Urgently!”
Theresa McWhirr had worked at the main magical hospital in London for fifteen years, and at the front desk for the last five. She was quite used to dealing with difficult patients and panicking family members, they all seemed to think that their case was the most dire, and were only too eager to challenge her authority. She was about to send the blond man to the back of the line with scorched ears and a tail between his legs, when her bespectacled eyes dropped to the tiny boy he was clutching to his chest so desperately. The child was maybe four and he was as pale as death, his chest didn’t move. If it wasn’t for the active ventilation spell over his face, she would have taken him for dead already.
“What damage?” she questioned, lifting her wand to her empty coffee cup.
“Blood Weed poison,” he answered, and she could see that his hands holding the unconscious child were shaking.
“Portus!” she tapped the cup with the tip of her wand, and thrust it in his hand as soon as the flash of magic passed. The young man pressed the portkey against his son’s side, and she whispered the activation phrase for them. “Poisons, intensive care ward!”
Theresa watched the father and son disappear and sighed sadly, she had never seen the poisoning from the potent anticoagulant reported in so late. If the father couldn’t serve as a donor, the little one wouldn’t leave the hospital alive.
The Third Floor Poisoning Department
Healer Deacon Loyd collapsed on an empty cot in the blessedly quiet emergency room, he had been on duty for thirty-six hours straight and he was utterly exhausted. The recent outbreak of dragon-pox in Sussex was forcing them all to work triple shifts while their colleagues from the Contagion Department worked in the field, fighting to prevent the spread of the disease.
Today, especially, had been brutal, as it seemed that half of the wizarding population of Britain decided to mis-brew, mis-prepare or otherwise stumble upon some harmful substance, causing moderate to severe poisoning. The worst case by far had been Mariann Fleebeauty, whose unfortunate suitor had slipped a dose of fatally mis-brewed Amortentia to, but even she had been dispatched to the Detoxification ward with good prognosis.
He closed his eyes just for a short moment, and was jostled awake by a piercing alarm. The man nearly fell off the cot in alarm, and looked about for his newest emergency patient arriving by portkey. A young man appeared in the middle of the room, his expression frantic, he barely had time to catch his balance, when he darted toward the nearest cot, placing a small child on top of it.
Deacon’s training kicked in immediately, and he rushed forward, his wand extending in a diagnostic pattern even before his legs traversed the short distance. He summoned the neutralizing agent first, and saw the man sag with relief that they were not out of stock with the rarely used and pricey ingredient. The healer had to cancel the respiration spell that was keeping the child ventilated to stuff the black leaves of darthvaderiana plant into his mouth and cast a spell to force him to swallow the bitter remedy.
It only took a few seconds, but it was enough for the diagnostic readouts to worsen considerably. The healer re-cast the breathing spell, following it quickly with another to strengthen the heart which was fluttering like a hummingbird’s wings, trying to pomp the available blood through the circulation system. The boy needed blood, a lot of blood, and the blood-replenisher wouldn’t serve with his magic and body overtaxed as they were.
Deacon transferred his solemn gaze to the man standing next to the cot, and even before he opened his mouth to explain what was necessary, the other man was pulling up his sleeve and holding out his elbow. The healer breathed a sigh of relief, most wizards found this procedure, muggle in origin, particularly disturbing, and would vehemently insist that magic be used instead. He cut away the boy’s shirt, exposing his white chest. conjuring up a sparkling tube, and with a jab of his wand anchoring it to the child’s superior vena cava on one side and the man’s vein at the inside of his elbow.
Immediately, the man’s dark red blood filled the sparkling tube, pushing into the boy’s body. Deacon summoned a chair from the waiting area, and pushed it to the man, just in time to see him collapsing into it in sudden exhaustion. The healer began a diagnostic sheet for the donor as well, before handing him the first dose of the blood-replenishing potion.
“How long before you can try closing the wounds, healer?” the young man asked quietly after several minutes of silence.
Healer Loyd looked up from his study of his patient’s worsening health report, and lifted one of the child’s bleeding hands. The skin around the tiny cuts was dark red with inflammation, he performed a spell that broke up the child’s flowing blood into its components and shook his head sadly.
“Maybe an hour until the neutralizing agent combats the toxin in the blood,” he estimated heavily. “Another hour for the damaged blood cells to drain away completely, before that happens his oxygen carriers are useless, I cannot attempt to heal him until the contamination is gone lest the corrupted cells continue to infect healthy ones.”
The young man’s shoulders slumped, and he rested his forehead on his free palm in a clear sign of defeat. Deacon patted his arm encouragingly, not too keen on witnessing him falling apart while he was needed to keep the child’s heart beating.
“How has this happened?” he asked in morbid curiosity. “We get a lot of blood weed victims, of course, but those are caused by an overdose of blood-thinning solution. Your son, obviously, fell prey to the live plant.”
“Fell prey to it?” the boy’s father scoffed, suddenly quite animated with anger. “The little idiot fancies himself a gardener, he destroyed half of my plantation, ‘deweeding’ apparently.”
Healer Deacon blanched at hearing that, he examined the bleeding cuts on the boy’s hands again, trying not to picture the aggressive anticoagulant borrowing into the child’s soft skin, spreading toxin into his blood.
“With his bare hands? Merlin,” he breathed in disbelief, it was a miracle that the boy was hanging on. “You should have brought him straight in!”
The man grimaced and flushed, looking at the unconscious boy guiltily.
“I hadn’t noticed he was injured,” he said with disgust.
“How could you not have!” Deacon exclaimed in outrage, gesturing wildly at his small patient. “By your admission, sir, you grow the blasted plant! Don’t you know to approach it with extreme caution, with dragon-hide gloves and a face mask to avoid the backlash of the weed?! You thought the child was uninjured without it, don’t make me laugh!”
The healer gave the young father a disgusted look before stalking to his desk to find some parchment to write his report on. Such gross negligence was a matter for the aurory to take an interest in…
For the next two and a half hours, Severus Snape sat rigidly in a folding chair, bleeding out to give his unexpected son a glimmer of a chance to survive his colossal stupidity. The healer had been right, of course, he was a bloody Potions Master, and he should have immediately checked the boy for injuries caused by the ferocious blood weed. Instead, he’d flown into a fury over his destroyed plantation and whipped the insolent brat, he hadn’t spared a thought to the consequences of ‘deweeding’ of this particular plant. It was blindingly obvious that the blood weed wouldn’t take uprooting without a fight. He squeezed his eyes shut, some protector he’d been to the boy thus far.
His head was pounding, and he was certain that he’d throw up if he had to consume another dose of blood replenishing potion. The healer had already had him drink six vials of the rust-coloured brew, which meant that he roughly doubled the natural volume of blood in his body, and his magical core was groaning in exhaustion at managing it. Unfortunately, that tremendous effort was being wasted as it simply flowed through and drained out of the boy’s fingers.
After a skull-splitting third hour, and four more nausea-inducing vials of blood-replenisher, Severus was quite convinced that he wouldn’t be able to levitate a feather now, much less perform a complex conjuration necessary to transfer the polyjuice potion from one of the vials in his bag straight into his son’s stomach, and without arousing the healer’s suspicions. He’d already seen the other man run a few scans over the child’s head, and he only just managed to look appropriately horrified about as yet undiagnosed neurological symptoms that occurred approximately once per hour.
Healer Loyd triple-checked his patient’s improving blood tests before he healed the child’s cuts, and with a sigh disconnected the donation tube, freeing the suffering father from his unpleasant obligation.
“You’re done for a few hours,” he murmured softly, flicking his wand to evanesco as much of the blood soaked into the clothes and sheets as he could. “Eat and drink something, I’m moving him to Rena Trellis’s ward now.”
Severus watched the healer levitate the boy onto a stretcher, his eyes narrowing into angry slits.
“If you think I’ll leave him alone, you’re delusional, healer,” he spat, his teeth bared in a fearsome snarl.
Healer Loyd rolled his eyes to the ceiling in exasperation, it was a phenomenon as common as wizard flu that parents of young patients summarily transformed into furious mother hens whenever it was suggested they be separated from their children.
“Alright, Mr. Parker,” he agreed with a sigh. “We’ll settle the boy down and start him on anti-inflammatory potions, but after that you’ll go upstairs for a bite to eat. Eliot is stable right now, but he’ll need his father to be strong.”
They were much too busy at the hospital right now to be dealing with unreasonable parents falling ill from exhaustion, thankfully that line worked every time.