Who: Humphrey Hayes and Andrew Singh
Where: Jewel of India, just outside
When: 14 May 2001, evening
Fuck Higgs. Humphrey had sort of known it was a mistake to rile the older Slytherin as soon as the words had left his mouth, but since when had he ever taken a step back from catastrophe in the nick of time? Not when he’d had both alcohol and other drugs, at any rate.
Fuck Higgs again for actually instigating a fight, and then having the cheek to apologise and say next time he’d sue. Honestly Humphrey had been expecting the latter, and even that was only if Higgs was vindictive enough to sue someone who’s got no money.
Which he clearly was, Humphrey cursed, if the fight had been anything to go by. He’d been aching long and hard since then. He’d been given the Monday off — no pay, of course — because he couldn’t bear the thought of being upright. He’d come to accept he’d have to crawl into work on Tuesday at all costs because even a meagre wage was better than nothing and he certainly couldn’t grift in his condition, when stumbled on a miraculous cure.
It turned out all he needed was to mix Derrick’s finest in with whatever else he had lying handy and the pain would go away. Truly stupendous. If he could only remember exactly what he’d mixed he could make a fortune off the formula.
Humphrey had been disappointed not to see Audrey around when he entered the Jewel. No free papadums, then. Still, his first proper meal in ages was something to look forward to. Humphrey looked cheerful enough at the counter and on exit, oblivious to the trail of blood he’d left on the floor.
AJ had rung up Humphrey quickly, with his mind, as usual, half on his studies. He often got chatty with the customers, but since Humphrey was not a friend, a regular, or a pretty girl, and didn’t particularly seem inclined to chat himself, he just rang him up and sent him on his way. If he’d been less distracted, he might have noticed that this customer seemed a little pale and out of it. As it was, he only noticed something was amiss when he glanced up and saw the trail of blood following him out the door.
“Hey!” he hurried outside and caught Humphrey by the shoulder. “D’you know you’re bleeding?” He gestured toward the blood drops inside, but his attention was now fully on Humphrey. He kept his hand on his shoulder, holding him at arm’s length as he looked him over for an obvious wound.
“What? No, I’m not,” protested Humphrey, alarmed at being suddenly stopped. He pushed Andrew’s hand away. “I’m fine.”
“Sorry mate, but you most certainly are,” AJ contradicted him firmly. He still couldn’t see a visible wound, but there was no mistaking the trail that lead right to Humphrey’s leg, and just as AJ pointed it out to him another drop splattered on the ground.
AJ weighed his options quickly. After the earful he got for “disturbing the customers” after his altercation with Orpington last month, the last thing he wanted to do was drag someone bleeding — and, from the looks of it, somewhat drugged up — into the restaurant. But neither could he just let the bloke stagger off down the street, especially if he seriously couldn’t feel it. From the looks of that blood, dark and seeping slowly, the wound wasn’t fresh, but it mustn’t have been taken care of properly.
“Come on, I’m a Healer,” he said, jerking his head toward the small, tidy alley that ran along the restaurant. “Trainee, anyway. I can take a look.”
“This is kidnapping,” grumbled Humphrey, but he went along with Andrew. Maybe if he let this bloke look at it the matter would be dropped, and he wouldn’t be carted into St Mungo’s against his will.
“I have the right to refuse medical treatment.”
“Sure, but you just bled all over my restaurant, so do it as a personal favour, yeah?” This guy was definitely a bit of a weird bloke, but even weirdos deserved better than to be bleeding all over town. “Pop your leg up here for me?” He dropped to a squat to get a closer look. “I’m Singh, by the way, and don’t worry, I’m very nearly a fully qualified Healer…”
“Least of my troubles,” muttered Humphrey, who had already tried to heal himself with no qualifications whatsoever.
“What are you doing working in a restaurant, then?”
“Unlimited samosas,” AJ replied lightly, though his face turned serious as he contemplated the wound. “How long have you had this?” It looked raw in some places, and congealed in others — AJ was guessing it was a hex designed to keep itself from healing up, but there was no way of knowing how long it had been open. Fortunately, it wasn’t too deep. He didn’t wait for a response before he continued, “It needs a good cleaning, and then probably a charmed poultice to keep it closed up right. They should be able to get you in and out of St Mungo’s in no time.” Something told him, though, that if this guy hadn’t been to hospital yet, he probably wasn’t planning on it…
“No, thanks,” said Humphrey cheerfully. “It doesn’t hurt so I think I’ll leave it like this. It’s a real conversation starter.”
What was wrong with this guy? AJ stood back up and crossed his arms as he regarded him. “It won’t stay like that for long, you know. It’ll probably open further, just as you move about, and you’ll probably get an infection, if you haven’t already. And that won’t be pretty — I could show you some pictures from my textbooks that would make your hair curl.” AJ paused, assuming that this straightforward approach wasn’t likely to make an impact, and tried a slightly different tactic.
“And I’ll tell you what, when you go in, ask the Welcome Witch to put you with Healer Quinn. She’s incredibly good-looking and I hear she’s liberal with the pain potions.”
Humphrey’s mouth twitched. Good-looking, eh? That interested him, though not for the usual reasons. Good-looking possibly meant vain, and the vain were usually the easiest swindled.
No point going in without being in pain. He needed his own concoction to wear off first. “But I’m not in pain,” stated Humphrey. “Look, I’ll go, OK? Promise. Just not now. No point now because I honestly tell you it doesn’t hurt.” He poked the ickiest looking part of his wound. “Don’t feel a thing.”
“Yeah, that’s not reassuring, really,” AJ muttered, mostly to himself. His initial relief that Humphrey had agreed to go had been almost instantly overshadowed by his guilt that he was sending this guy Quinn’s way. He’d definitely have to give her a head’s up… And he could find out from her whether he even showed up.
This whole situation still didn’t sit quite right with AJ, and there was a part of him that wanted to offer just to fix it up on the spot. But he didn’t have the proper supplies at hand, he was tired of arguing with this guy, and by now his father would probably be shouting for him to come back to man the counter — and shit, he hadn’t thought to scourgify the blood off the floor before he’d followed Humphrey out the door. Not exactly what you wanted customers to see the moment they walked in the place.
“Right, well, eat your curry before it gets cold and try to get to Mungo’s soon, yeah?” AJ was already edging away, antsy to get back inside.