It wasn’t until Catherine finally sat down and someone thrust a mug of steaming hot tea into her hands that she realized she was trembling with fatigue and fear and worry.
A delayed reaction, the analytical part of her mind soothed. It wasn’t everyday that one survived an attack by Death Eaters and the notorious Fenrir Greyback. It wasn’t everyday that the patients at St. Mungo’s were picked off like sitting ducks.
The tea sloshed over the rim of the mug, scalding her hand. She had to stop thinking or she would fall apart completely. For the past eight hours she had frantically worked to save lives and now there was nothing left to do but finish this interview with the Auror and somehow try to figure out what she was going to do next now that St. Mungo’s was closed.
She looked over at the man who had thrust her into the broom cupboard when Greyback had stalked the corridors looking for prey. While she didn’t know his name, she knew what it felt like to be pressed up against the hard length of him as he breathed softly into her hair. Listening to the heavy pacing of the werewolf and then the horrifying sound of tearing flesh had made her want to scream in panic. The stranger had sensed her fear, finding her hand in the dark and squeezing it. She had calmed down after that. For once in her life she was with someone during a crisis and that had made all the difference.
When they finally stumbled out of the cupboard and skidded on the bloody floor of the corridor to tend to the victims, Catherine wasn’t terribly surprised to find that he was a Healer as well. It had all been so surreal and awful that a heaven-sent protector who was also a Healer didn’t seem odd at all.
“Right,” Auror said, looking at something on his clipboard. He had deep circles under his eyes and there were several hex burns on his robes. “I think you’re the last two Healers left to interview.” His quill scratched on the parchment. “I need names.” He looked expectantly at Catherine.
The stranger’s eyes opened wide as he stared at her, but he answered the Auror’s question. “Um. William Wood.”
“Wood?” The Auror’s dull eyes suddenly sparkled into life. “Are you the Wood who played for the Kestrals?”
“That was a while ago,” he answered, smiling. “I’m a Healer now – specializing in Quidditch injuries. I travel the circuit.”
That’s why she had never seen him at St. Mungo’s.
“Are you related to the Puddlemere United Keeper?”
William Wood gave a pleased smile. “My nephew, Oliver. He’s quite the player.”
The two men then launched into a lively discussion about a ten hour match between Puddlemere United and the Holyrod Harpies. Catherine sipped her tea; glad the men were no longer focusing on her. She needed to work out that name, she thought tiredly. It was so familiar. Wood. Had he been a patient? Had his nephew?
Then it came to her in a rush. William Wood was Will, the grandson of Clara Middleton - one of her first patients – and still her favorite. Catherine had kept in contact with Clara long after she had been discharged from St. Mungo’s. Just last week she had visited Clara in her large townhouse and had cleaned out her potions cupboard, scolding the old lady for keeping expired elixirs that could do more harm than good. As always, Clara had talked about her family and Will had been the topic.
Catherine stared at him over the rim of her mug. In spite of the rumpled, blood-spattered robes and the lock of dark hair that fell over his forehead, William Wood was undeniably handsome – Quidditch-star, broad-shouldered handsome - just as Clara had declared. Normally that would have been enough to prejudice Catherine against him, but now she couldn’t be so petty. She knew too much about him – both from what Clara had told her and from what she had seen with her own eyes today.
His wife, Mary, left him after his injury. Merry dance she led.
He had told one of the werewolf’s victims not to look too far into the future – to heal first. His voice had been gentle.
St. Mungo’s didn’t want to train him – said he was too old – but he persisted.
The bleeding wouldn’t stop – even with a Clotting Spell and two doses of potion, so he raised the child’s arm and swaddled the wound in sheets, never stopping the pressure.
Loves children – he does.
He had told the children transferring to St. Pierre’s that the werewolf couldn’t find them there since everyone knows werewolves can’t swim the English Channel.
Mary wouldn’t have children – said it would ruin her figure.
He had told Mrs. Jones that her hex scars would fade – but not the love of her family.
Catherine started out of her reverie. The Auror was tapping his quill against his clipboard. “Did you have anything to add to Healer Wood’s statement?”
Will was smirking at her as if he knew she hadn’t paid the slightest bit of attention to what he had said. “I um.” She frowned at Will in appeal, but he just raised his eyebrows at her. “Sorry, I didn’t hear everything,” she confessed, feeling a blush steal over her cheeks.
The Auror sighed and silently handed her his clipboard. Catherine took one glance at the hastily jotted notes and smiled. “Your handwriting is as bad as mine.”
Will chuckled and even the Auror gave a short laugh. “I didn’t think it was possible for anyone’s handwriting to be worse than a Healer’s,” Will said.
Feeling better, Catherine went back to the statement.
“Tonks!” the Auror called.
Catherine’s shoulders stiffened but she didn’t dare look up. She didn’t want to see the merry face of Remus’s girlfriend; she didn’t want to hear the confident way she spoke, nor watch her exuberant body language.
“How many confirmed bites?” Smith asked.
“Can these two know?” Tonk’s voice was sharp.
Catherine let her hair fall around her face as she bent further over the clipboard.
“They’re Healers,” Smith answered.
“Three. The other twelve died from their wounds.”
“Tough luck,” Smith said crisply. “How many did the Death Eaters take out?”
“Two dead. Ninety wounded.” There was pain in Tonk’s voice.
“I would have thought the werewolf would have outscored the DEs.”
“Shut up, Smith.” Tonks said in a low hiss. “Just shut up before you need these Healers.”
Catherine heard Tonks clomp away in her Muggle boots. She handed the clipboard to Smith. “It’s exactly as it happened,” she said faintly. She was trembling again, but this time not for herself. Tonks was going through what she had once endured with Remus. Now, instead of jealousy, all she felt was an overwhelming sadness.
“Come on,” Will said, putting a warm hand on her shoulder.
She followed him out of the Auror’s office and onto a lift. It was eerily silent in the busy Ministry corridors as witches and wizards bustled about, shock and sadness etched in every face.
Will walked past the fireplaces and on to the Apparition points.
“Sorry,” he said. “I forgot that you don’t like to Apparate.”
“How did you know that?” she gasped.
“The same way you know my ex-wife’s name is Mary.” He said this in a casual tone, but his eyes held hers in question.
In a flash Catherine realized that he knew all about her marriage to Remus. She had told Clara more about that part of her life than she had ever confided in anyone else.
And if he knew about Remus, then he would know about her feelings of failure whenever she saw Tonks.
His ex-wife married his teammate, Thomas Lynch.
Her eyes filled with tears and she didn’t quite know why.
“All give and no get – that’s what’s wrong with that girl.” His imitation of his grandmother was spot on.
Catherine sniffed and then laughed softly. “He’s lived like a vagabond long enough – he needs to settle down.”
“They don’t make butterbeer like they used to,” he added with a smile.
She giggled. “Or Fizzing Whizbees.”
Then they both said together, “It’s because they don’t use Billywig Stings anymore.”
When her laughter died, she couldn’t look away from him.
“Let’s go see Gran,” Will said. “It would be good for you to stay at her place for the night.”
“Oh, I –“
“She’ll feel better after seeing both us alive and well. I’m sure she’s been listening to the Wireless all day.”
Catherine nodded, imagining what horrible anxiety Clara had endured.
He gave her a quick, affectionate smile before he took her hand. “I was going to say, let us take care of you for once, but I didn’t think that would work quite yet.”
Her eyes widened. He did know her well. Then she smiled back, since she also knew a thing or two about him. “I think I might just let you.”
St. Margarets' original A/N: I could go on and describe the hidden clinic Catherine and Will open now that St. Mungo’s is a security risk. As they tend the war wounded, they grow closer – so close that many, many smuffy scenes are necessary. LOL.