11 June: Things Fall Apart Who: Arlo Mulciber & Severus Snape What: Severus Snape learns that Arlo is practicing non-traditional and perhaps even rather dark and dangerous magic on his patients. Where: St. Mungo’s When: 11 June, afternoon Warnings: Dark Magic.
Arlo came storming into the break room only barely minding his temper. It was almost as though the trainees he was tasked with were intentionally trying his patience. Or worse actually stupid. When he was in a mood like this, most of the staff knew to give him a wide berth. To not approach unless it was absolutely critical. There were already rumours enough about how tense he had been these past couple of days.
He sat there uninterrupted for twelve glorious and too short moments. “If you’ll pardon me, Healer Mulciber.” At least the voice sounded remorseful and hesitant enough. “Mister Snape is here for the Hansen consult.”
Arlo sighed scrubbing his face. There was certainly no rest for the wicked. “Yes. Thank you.”
Severus didn’t often provide this kind of consultation. The hospital had its own way of handling the routine things, but occasionally there were irregular patients that required a little additional help. He was trying to build a reputation for being that kind of help, so it was promising he’d been contacted.
It was… less promising that the witch who had told him to wait while someone found Healer Mulciber looked like she’d rather do anything else.
She left him in a room that looked like it was meant to occupy anxious family members and hurried off. Severus waited, electing not to sit.
The short walk to the small conference room was barely enough time to collect himself, but he could at least make an attempt at civility. “Mister Snape, I have been eagerly awaiting your arrival.” He paused to offer a small smile and a nod in gratitude, but this was really a business transaction. And for him, merely a precursory action before he did what he wanted all along. “Would you prefer to review the case here or at the bedside?” Hansen wouldn’t care one way or the other, he was unconscious.
“Healer Mulciber,” Severus greeted, just as bland. He considered the question for a beat, weighing expediency versus what was likely a nod toward a bedside manner that Severus didn’t care about in the least and gestured. “Bedside. I’d like to see the physical symptoms that were described to me.” More information couldn’t hurt, at least in this case.
“Right. Just this way then.” Arlo wasted no time. He summoned the chart as he walked past the mediwitch station with no more than a cursory hello. People seemed to be giving him a wider berth than normal.
Arlo lead them into the room. “Connor Hansen, age 47, admitted three days ago after an ancient artifact ‘accidentally’ fell into his cauldron. He remains stable but with poor prognosis unless we can better figure out the cause here.”
Anyone who walked into the room would immediately feel there was something wrong about the stasis wards. If only for the fact that they exuded any sort of energy or emotion at all. By many accounts Hansen should have died two days ago. However, Arlo’s ingenius breakthrough involved some very old, and rather dark magic that many of his peers didn’t look so kindly upon.
It hadn’t escaped Severus that everyone they passed seemed to be working very hard to make no eye contact while moving away from Mulciber as quickly as possibly. That… seemed problematic. Perhaps the man was a tyrant of a supervisor. Or perhaps he was missing something.
“These,” he murmured, studying the arrangement of patient and bed with a little furrow in his brow, “Feel… off.” Not that he could put a finger on it, but the feeling was like ants marching down his spine. He straightened and looked back to Mulciber. “May I see the chart? And can you tell me what’s been done so far?”
He could glean that from the chart, probably, but he also had a healer standing right here, so. For the sake of efficiency, he’d rather ask.
Arlo handed the chart over without hesitance. “We have had to use some less than traditional ways to keep Mister Hansen alive.” One of the other healers had all but said it would have been kinder to let the man die. However, Arlo’s pride and arrogance got the better of him. He was driven to push the community knowledge and practices around healing with whatever tools he had available. “I am hoping you might be able to solve the potions angle here.”
The longer Severus looked at the chart, the higher his eyebrows climbed. He was trying very hard not to comment, but honestly. This couldn’t be common practice. “I can definitely see that you’ve moved beyond conventional methods,” he finally said, tone carefully neutral. He wasn’t judging.
Okay, he was judging a little. But he was willing to hear out the reasons why Mulciber had chosen this particular treatment regimen. “There are some notes here that indicate some of your colleagues believe no treatment is likely to be successful. You clearly disagree.”
Arlo glanced over at Severus. “The man is alive. Is he not?” For a very technical definition of alive. Yes. But the fact stood. As did the rather gentle warning under those words.
Severus considered that, hearing the warning tone, and made a noise that was neither agreement or disagreement. “His body appears to be,” he replied, very flat. “Whether there’s any quality to the life at this point…” He trailed off, making a gesture that was sort of the equivalent of a shrug.
If Mulciber’s goal was to keep the man alive, he was succeeding. If he wanted the man to live, that was a different thing entirely, and Severus had doubts about whether it was possible.
“I did not invite you here to provide criticism.” Arlo snapped back. This was a far rougher, perhaps unsteady, version of the charming politician and ambassador he once was. Enough was enough. He no longer felt the need to be nice. “Now. Again. Can you help him or not?”
Slightly taken aback, Severus betrayed surprise only in the way his eyes widened. He pursed his lips a beat later and ducked over the chart again. “I’ll need some of the warding removed,” he muttered. “There’s too much to work around. It’s going to muddy any assessment I can do right now.”
Arlo sighed. “You might want to take a step back. This business isn’t for the light of heart.” As Arlo began the ritual to create an opening in the wards, it was clear this was not your average magic. This was centuries old questionable and forbidden magics. It required a skill and familiarity with the dark arts, such skill that Arlo had most certainly gained through his service to the Dark Lord. In his hands it was less dangerous, but there was good reason why his colleagues disagreed with his methods.
Severus, who wasn’t exactly a shrinking violet when it came to questionable magics, blanched a little in the face of what Mulciber was actually doing. In daylight. In a hospital. It was a wonder that his colleagues weren’t reporting him en masse to whatever higher authority ought to be monitoring this sort of thing.
Honestly, Severus wanted to report him, and that was saying something.
Not quite masking his unease, Severus rubbed his jaw and cast a look back toward the door, as if making sure no one was watching right now. “That’s… a little more unconventional than I’d expected from looking at the chart,” he muttered.
Arlo nearly snarled at him, but at the last moment remembered where he was. There was a reputation to maintain. So, he said nothing. Anything he would have said at that point would have been in repetition and Snape was not one of his trainees. He merely took a step back and motioned to Snape to perform his assessment.
Setting his jaw, Severus stepped closer to the bed with his wand in hand and began murmuring quietly to himself. He wasn’t formally trained, but he knew more than enough to do this.
He also knew not to do whatever in the hell Mulciber was doing. That was still preying on his thoughts as he stepped back again with a frown and a flick of his wand. Who could he speak to about that? His choices were… limited, to say the least.
“I think a variant on Wiggenweld may be our best option,” he suggested, carefully. “I can return with it tomorrow.”
“I will defer to your expertise here,” Arlo said calmly, “but I don’t think I need to impress upon you that urgency is critical.” He sized up Severus, as if weighing what to do next. “Is there anything else you require from me?”
Severus nodded, one quick jerk of his chin. “I understand. I’d rather not rush, but I can be back early if you’d be available then.” It wasn’t as if he were here for visiting hours, so he needn’t be constrained by that schedule. Mulciber, though, would have to be here. Severus couldn’t imagine anyone else would be taking down those wards.
“I am a senior healer. I am on call whether I am on call or not.” Such was the life, and he was actively invested in this case. Arlo was also curious to see what Severus Snape might produce. “If you’re set here, I’ll need to take care of my patient. I assume you can find your way out?”
Another nod and Severus pulled back, shoulders a trifle too stiff. “I can. I’ll be back by six,” he answered, before striding out and past what he thought might be a pair of interns, watching the room with wide, wary eyes. They scattered before Mulciber could follow him out. Severus thought they probably had the right idea.