(1940-11-04) A Backroom Healing
Details for A Backroom Healing
Summary: Two Healers meet over a wounded thug.
Date: 1940-11-04
Location: Knockturn Alley

Knockturn Alley is never a great place to be at the best of times. At night, it's even worse. Which is why, on this late afternoon as the shadows are growing darker, the man is hobbling as fast as can, bent over double, holding his arm across his middle. He stumbles and goes down, gets up, hobbles, and stumbles again. He leans against a shop wall, face ashen as he musters the strength to continue.

For whatever reason, the tall figure of Benjamin Crouch is moving along Knockturn Alley himself this evening. His eyes are looking at the buildings, but never for too long. Given the dangerous nature of the area he's in, his eyes always return back to the front and then glance over his shoulders. His cautious trek through Knockturn is interrupted by the man that is hobbling and stumbling along. His eyes widen a bit in surprise and he quickly steps across the alley and says, "Hey there, are you alright?" He holds his hands out to the side to show the man that he isn't attacking him.

The man struggles to try and reach for his wand when Ben stats to approach, but when he holds his hands out, he ceases, and instead nods to a door further down the Alley. "Gotta get there, hope it's still there," he mutters. "Merlin's luck I need, fer him ta still be there." He pushes away with his hand, but stumbles, leaning towards Ben as he tries to regain his balance.

Ben instinctively steps forward to catch the man. He puts one arm over his shoulder and half carries the man as he helps him toward the indicated door. "What is this place we're going? Who are you hoping is still there? I may be able to heal you myself," he says in a hurried voice. "What is it that ails you?"

"If he ain't there, I'll give ya a chance," the man mutters, eyes fixed on the door. "Mighta moved on since his sister died, and he don't live up the stair no more." They reach the door, and the man struggles again, this time successfully pulling out his wand. He waves it at the door with a password, and the door swings open. He breathes a sigh of relief. "That's… one good sign." His wand still in hand, he braces himself by the side of his fist to step inside, and conjures up lumos. He heads over towards a shelf and pulls down a sack of herbs, too weak to do anything more than just tug at it until it falls.

Ben watches as the man gestures to the door with his want and murmurs the password, carefully filing the word away in his mind. He watches as the fellow pulls at the sack of herbs until it falls, his brow furrowing. "There's nobody here… what are you looking for?" He turns to the door and cautiously pushes it closed, incase he is accidentally assisting in a burglary. He pulls out his wand and conjures his own light. Stepping over toward the sack of herbs he says, "Are you sure we're in the right place?"

"Jus' stay near tha door," the man warns, an anxious tone of desperate hope in the words. A couple minutes later there's a crack as tall man in the robes of a St. Mungo's MasterHealer appears in the corner near a mixing bench for potions. The man turns, wand up, as he looks over the two.

"Dessler," he sighs in recognition at the man Ben is assisting. He gives a shake of his head and waits. The red hair and slightest of rolls on the 'r' at the end mark the lanky healer as Irish in descent.
"Turn around an' close yer eyes," Dessler tells Ben, suiting actions to words.

Ben furrows his brow a bit as the man in St. Mungo's robes enters. The set of his jaw is a bit defiant as the injured man tells him to turn and close his eyes. Rather than listen to Dessler, he instead speaks to the Healer, "I know you. Or I've seen you before. You are from St. Mungo's." Realizing that he is stating information anyone would be privy to given the fellows robes he says, "Plants and Potions. Some five years ago. I interned under you. Keenan, right?"

Dessler's eyes snap open and he looks at Ben. "Boy, I ain't got time fer ya to be makin' introductions, now," he tells him urgently. "Turn around an' close yer eyes an' clear up tha chit chat later!"

Green eyes flicker from Dessler to Ben, giving him a quick once over, then they go back to the patient. "Just so. And Dessler here is needing help, so if ye wouldn't mind following his directions fer the moment so I can help him, we'd both appreciate, I'm sure." He lowers his hands, free hand going into his pocket as he watis for Ben. If Dessler could hit him he would, but he settles on a dagger glare from pained eyes before he turns back towards the door and closes his eyes again.

Ben frowns at the instruction but seems to consent at the look of pain on Dessler's face. He turns around and closes his eyes, his hand remaining on his wand. After all, he IS in some secret room on Knockturn Alley.

There's a slight rustling behind him, and silence, but then there's light shining from behind them, Ben can see it through his eyelids. "Come in, Dessler," Keenan tells the man, with something of a weary tone. It may be that Dessler is a repeat patient. When Ben opens his eyes and turns around, he sees the real secret of this little storeroom on Knockturn Alley. In the wall where there had been only shelves before is now what appears to be an open door into St. Mungo's, but is actually just a small room kitted out like the treatment rooms of the hospital. "On the bed. What happened?" the Healer asks, following with a flick of his wand, the spell taking care of getting the injured man onto the cot.

Opening his eyes as the bright light and instruction to enter comes from behind him, Ben turns around and blinks at the familiar hospital like room. His eyes do a quick circuit of the place and then he begins to step slowly across the distance toward the room himself. He doesn't speak, only listening as Keenan deals with the injured man.

"Intestine twistin' curse," Dessler groans. "Snuck up on me, I - " Keenan holds a hand up and he stops. "About half an hour ago, didn't dare apparate, took a floo ta place down tha alley. Was worried ya might not be around anymore, what with Niamh, an'…" he trails off. "She were a sweet thing, Keenan. We was all sorry ta hear about her. Awful day."

After redirecting the man to talk only of his condition and now how or who, Keenan began working. At the talk of his sister, his jaw tightens slightly, the green eyes crinkling a little tighter at the corners. "Aye. Was a horrible day for many," he agrees quietly before he begins to scan the intestinal area with his wand. "Ye remember yer potions from yer internship, lad?" he asks over his shoulder without turning around.

Ben listens closely as the talk of this Niamh person is brought up and notes the effect it has on Keenan. As he is addressed he steps forward quickly and says, "It was only a summer internship, but I am a fair hand at potions and herbology. I remember a good deal. What can I do to help?" His tone shows that he does have a fair amount of concern for this fellow, despite him being a complete stranger.

"Everything is clearly labeled," Keenan tells him. "Ginger juice and Gastritis potion. Three parts to one. It will taste a bit strong, but that can't be helped. Hold still Dessler," he tells the patient, and then there's a swirl, swish and incantation. Dessler's discomfort is rather plainly heard, but then he lays back on the bed, gasping for air.

Ah, my thanks, healer," he gasps, the back of his forearm rubbing a sleeve over his brow. "Ya sure about lettin' him mix tha potion?" the dark eyes in the patient's face following Ben to the cabine that Keenan opened when they first entered.

Ben moves quickly to the cabinet and begins looking through the vials contained within. "Oh shut up," he says gruffly over his shoulder to Dessler. "If I was not fit to help you, I would have let you die in that alley out there," Picking out the components needed, he moves for a small mixing bowl and pulls the cork from each vial, pouring them carefully together as instructed. He takes a glass mixing rod and stirs in a controlled motion until it is blended, and then pours it over to a metal cup. Taking up the cup in his hands he moves over to the bed where Dessler is and holds it out for inspection and consumption.

Reaching down to give a crank to the bed, Keenan props the head up so that Dessler is sitting. He glances at Ben, one eyebrow raising. "They didn't teach yer bedside manner at Mungo's," he comments lightly, taking the cup to glance in, and sniff. With a nod, he hands it over to Dessler. "Drink up. Should soothe ye enough to get back on yer feet and home before ye're missed." He inhales and steps back, hands pushing aside his robes to slide into the pockets of his trousers underneath.

Ben smirks and glances sideways to Keenan as he says, "No, I suppose I learned my bedside manners in America. They are a… bit of a different lot over there." Grinning he watches Dessler and crosses his arms over his chest. After a moment he steps back and goes back to the cabinet and gently closes the doors and goes about cleaning up the items he used.

Dark eyes narrow as Dessler takes the cup. He takes a breath, pinches his nose, then tilts his head back gulping down the dose. The cup clatters to the floor after, as he coughs and wheezes. "I sware ye make it taste worse 'n needs be," he sputters when he can speak again, a claim that only has the Irish healer raising an eyebrow.

"Neh, I just don't keep an array of the fancy flavors we keep at Mungo's," Keenan finally tells him, leaning over to pick up the cup and take it over for cleaning. "Ye'll want to stick to broth and light soup for a day or two. No heavy meat or dairy. If ye get a stomach ache from eating something too rich or heavy, don't come back here. Ye can go around front, they'll help ye." He looks to Ben. "Aye, they're different in tha States," he agrees mildly, the timbre hinting at the unfinished thought. Cup washed, he turns and leans his back against the cabinet, looking to Dessler.

Ben nods his agreement and then turns back around to Dessler after he has finished cleaning the vials and bowl. He looks from the patient to Healer as if unsure what the move is now. He clears his throat after a moment and says, "If you wouldn't mind Keenan, I would like to stick around and ask you a question or two."

"Soup an' bread. Got it," Desller mutters after a moment or two. He runs his hands gingerly down his stomach, and then tests his newly healed insides by standing next to the bed. He rests a hand on the surface, then takes a breath. "Yeah, thanks, Keenan," he says. "Glad ye're still around." He looks between the two standing there when Ben asks to stay and grouches. "Fine, fine… know when it's time fer me ta move along. Take care." He moves slowly, but much more steadily than when Ben found him, out to the storeroom, and his footsteps are heard going to the door and out.

Once he's gone, Keenan moves to take the linens from the hospital cot. "Something on yer mind, young Mr. Crouch?" he asks as he wads them up and puts them in a laundry bag. One finger scratches under his eye, and considers, before tossing it over to land near the entrance of the room.

Ben watches as Keenan goes about his business and says, "Well I am a bit curious what you are doing here. Last place I expected to find a Master Healer was holed up in some backroom infirmary in Knockturn Alley." His tone isn't accusatory, rather it carries undertones of being quite pleased.

Keenan hrumphs. "I haven't quit my day job, if that's what ye're wondering," he tells Ben, and then turns to lean his back against the doorway, hands in pockets again as he looks the younger man over again. He tilts his chin up a little, then looks to him on the level. "Some people have reasons that they don't want to go to Mungo's, and end up going to a hack who makes a botched job of it, then they have to go to Mungo's anyway… or live with it, if they can." He lifts a shoulder. "Here there are no questions asked like there are at Mungo's."

Ben nods his head slowly and says, "Sounds like the game I used to run in the States. It was kind of a don't ask, don't tell policy." He looks around the small make shift clinic for a moment before bringing his eyes back to Keenan's, "I don't suppose you are looking for help, are you? I wouldn't mind the knowledge I could get learning from you, since I didn't actually go through with my residency at St. Mungo's."

"It's not too late to take up a residency at St. Mungo's," Keenan offers. "Unless ye have a certain reason to not do so?" He tilts his head to the side, eyebrows raising in inquiry.

Ben frowns slightly before he realizes the instinctive reaction and manages to mask his features once more in a calm indifference. "I had a residency set up after my internship for when I finished my seventh year at Hogwarts, but the closer it got the more trapped I felt. Father constantly pushing me to go sign my life away at Mungo's. I couldn't stand the thought of being cooped up there. So I went to the states and made my way with what I had learned during my internship." He looks around the room once more and says, "But I want to be able to better help people. My skill is lacking still."

The green eyes are keen and focused on Ben, but he says nothing about the change in facial expression. "For all it's… cooping up of apprentices and journeymen, St. Mungo's is quite thorough. Far more thorough than just learning a few things from another wizard, no matter how skilled he is. What would ye do when someone comes to ye with something ye've never seen?" The hands leave his pockets to cross loosely in front of his chest.

Ben frowns at the posed question and says, "I suppose… well… I'm not sure really what the method would be for that. I suppose I would hope that I had learned enough or read enough to be able to solve it." He frowns deeply, clearly not pleased with himself for this obvious oversight. "I mean, you have been making it work, and even the master healers at Mungo's can't be ready for /everything./"

"No," Keenan agrees easily. "But we /do/ have a greater pool of knowledge to draw from when it comes to working with … inventive dark curses," he adds a little more significantly. "Reading is useful, but not the best substitute for experience. What have ye read, by the way?"

Ben nods his head slowly and seems pretty put out, "What all is involved in the residency at Mungo's? And what is the likelihood that I would even be able to get back in, since I didn't show up the first time around?"

"A lot of work," Keenan replies. "Jr. Apprentice, Sr. Apprentice, Journeyman, all told, seven years to become a Healer. Generally your back room hacks are the ones who couldn't buckle down and take the seven years." His fingers tap along his elbow. "Other than the idea of a possibly easier, less fettered way of becoming a healer, why would ye want to throw in yer lot to a questionable situation?"

Ben thinks on this for a few moments before he says, "I suppose because when I left London and went to America, I fell in with a crowd that didn't exactly abide by the law. I have lived amongst criminals for the last five years. I don't believe there is anyone that doesn't deserve help if they need it, unless they are a murderer." He shrugs his shoulders and says, "And because I like my freedom."

The Healer watches Ben as he speaks, and nods once. "How do you know if someone is a murderer if you don't ask?" He uncrosses his arms, dropping hs hands back into his pockets, and his gaze goes to his feet where one rests heel to toe on top of the other. "I am here because, as my father would say, I don't play God as to who gets to live and who dies. Some think it's too altruistic, or too simple, but as far as I am concerned, I've dedicated my life to saving lives. I don't decide who's life is worthy of saving and who's isn't." Keenan's half grin is grim, without his usual dimples to soften it. "Many don't think that the people I treat here should be saved, which is why I don't tell anyone, especially at Mungo's, what I do."

Ben listens as Keenan speaks and nods his head. "That makes sense. And I hadn't really thought about how I would know if they were a murderer if I don't ask. I guess I more meant it in the sense of those wanted fugitives you see the Ministry looking for." He sighs and leans back against the wall of the room and says, "I don't really have a plan to follow. I haven't since I left Hogwarts."

Looking up, straight to Ben's eyes, Keenan stares into him for a long moment with an assessing, healer gaze. "If ye're going to treat all who come here, and ye don't use yer American bedside manner, ye can learn here, until such time as ye decide to go to Mungo's or not. But ye'll not work alone. Is that understood? Those are the rules if ye wish to learn here."

Ben considers this for a while and then says, "I can agree to that. In the event that I decide to go back to Mungo's, if I do well here, would you think you could help me get back in?

Leaning down to pick up the laundry sack, Keenan nods. "Ye do well and decide that Mungo's is where ye want to be, I'll surely do what I can to help ye," he replies. He nods towards the storeroom for Ben to join him, and when they step out, the shelves move back together to hide the room as if it had never been there. He reaches into a jar on one of those shelves, and pulls out the few knuts and sickle that Dessler left there. The sack of herbs that the patient had pulled down was already put back where it goes. Keenan walks over and nudges it aside to show Ben the barely noticeable knot in the wood. "Ye push it, it rings me. I'll have to work out a charm token for it to ring ye, too. Just don't apparate in by the table or the door. Ye might apparate on top of me or someone else if ye do." He opens the door to let Ben out, then closes it behind the lad, and apparates home from inside after it's all locked.

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