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At nine o’clock in the morning Arthur was just finishing his breakfast. He was dabbing a spot of spilled porridge from his trousers with a wet handkerchief and trying to plan his schedule for the day. His first appointment would be arriving at quarter of ten, and if the Fates were kind then that appointment would be finished by ten and he could be left in peace to ponder all of the information that he had been privy to the night before.

His office had become quite cluttered in recent weeks, and the stacks of medical journals that he received so frequently by post were becoming taller than the desk they were next to. As disordered as it was, it was clean and Arthur never had a difficult time finding what he was looking for. All of his cabinets were well marked, each glass bottle had a written label displaying its contents and he made strict care not to leave any of their caps off. He had visited the offices of several of London’s doctors and had been surprised to learn of their careless habits. This was the reason why Arthur did not have an assistant. When he first began his studies he worked alongside a certain Dr. Hart who, contrary to the ideas one might glean from his name, possessed no such thing. As Dr. Hart’s assistant and apprentice, Arthur found himself ushered into an entirely new world of selfishness and arrogance, all on Hart’s part and not his own. Not only did Hart treat Arthur with a certain amount of contempt, but he also visited his disagreeable nature on his patients. Hart had been a loathsome fellow, as fat as the day was long and twice as fond of his gin. Though Arthur knew he would never become as vile as his first employer and that he could never treat his own assistant in such a manner, he chose to work alone.

His project that morning was not a strenuous one, and the fact that it fascinated him made it all the easier to work on. A letter had arrived expressly from Egypt that morning, a long and drawn out account from his friend William Petrie on the subject of his new archaeological findings. Petrie had been very excited about the discovery of one particular piece that he said might pique Arthur’s interest in future. There was the brief mention of a medical discovery, though Arthur could not quite put his finger on its meaning. Petrie always had a way of being cryptic in his letters, but Arthur always enjoyed reading them.

He was folding the letter and sliding it back into its envelope when he noticed that there were only fifteen minutes remaining before ten o’clock and that his first appointment of the day was a very punctual fellow indeed. He watched the man’s shadow take off its hat and approach his office door.

“Come in,” Arthur called to the man and tried to clear some space on his desk. “Good morning Mr. Travers, I trust I see you well?”

“That’s a funny turn of phrase to be using in your profession, Dr. Pilchard,” said the man named Travers, taking a seat in front of Arthur. “You do not see me well, as I have been plagued by a cough for several days now.”

“I see,” said Arthur, getting up and coming around to the other side of the desk. “Will you please take a seat over here?” Arthur led his patient to an examining table against one wall of his office. The man uneasily took a seat. “Fear not, Mr. Travers, I’m only examining your chest. I do not believe there should be any cause for alarm today.”

The man simply nodded as he unbuttoned his dress shirt for Arthur to be able to press the stethoscope to his chest.

“All seems to be in order, Mr. Travers,” he said, biting his bottom lip as he listened to the man’s steady breathing. “Most likely you are suffering from some form of seasonal malcontent. In other words, an allergy of some description. It will pass.”

The man buttoned his shirt back up as Arthur turned from him and returned the stethoscope to its place on the medicine cabinet.

“Well I am glad to hear it,” said the man, getting to his feet. “The last thing any man would need at the moment is a health concern, especially with all the bother that seems to be happening in the city at the moment.”

“Bother?” asked Arthur, going to his desk and writing out the results of the visit in his diary.

“More burglaries, but it would appear that nothing is being stolen. It seems to me that some young hooligans are just enjoying the fun of the break-in.”

Arthur considered this idea for a moment before he heard the door to his practise open a second time. He turned and saw that the man was still there, and that another person must be in their midst.

“Excuse me,” said Arthur, opening the door of his office to find a boy waiting in the room outside. The boy was wearing what could best be described as a two piece Russian blouse suit, and Arthur recognised him at once.

“Thank you, Dr. Pilchard,” said the man from behind him as he made his way to retrieve his hat. “And good day to you.”

“Good day, Mr. Travers,” Arthur nodded to the man as the door swung shut behind him. “May I help you, Albus?”

The boy named Albus walked over to Arthur and extended his hand. “My father sent me,” he said as Arthur took the hand extended to him and shook it in a very informal manner. Arthur had never grown used to Albus’ way of being so adult at such a young age.

“What does he want?” Arthur motioned for Albus to follow him into his office.

“He wants you to teach me.” Albus was surveying the glass bottles in Arthur’s medicine cabinet and running his finger over the dusty shelf.

“To teach you?” Arthur was admittedly more than stunned. “I run a practise here Albus, and I’m sorry to say that I do not have time to train children or to be their guardian.” He felt that his words were overly stern for the boy who was only following his father’s orders, but he felt they needed saying all the same. Still, if Ruthven had sent his son to learn something from him there must have been a purpose for it.

“He thinks it would be suitable for me to learn a bit about medicine,” said Albus. “Besides, he has gone to Paris and Mother has gone to stay in the country with my Aunt Mildram. I’m to stay with you until we go to Paris.”

“He’s gone to Paris?” Arthur’s voice was now fully raised.

“Yes, and we are to join him in three months.”

“Surely you jest,” said Arthur, practically falling down into his chair. “And just what is he doing in Paris?”

“He said you would know,” Albus shrugged.

There was one aspect of Arthur’s personality that detested confusion, and it was that exact aspect that was attempting to claw its way into complete possession of Arthur’s demeanour. He could not help but feel a sense of honour as well, as it was evident that Ruthven had confidence enough in Arthur to send his eldest son to work alongside him for three months. The question of Paris still remained, however. What was in Paris that demanded Ruthven’s immediate and lengthy attention, and eventually Arthur’s own attention! He recalled the story that he had been told the night before, and the name of Julien Daumièrges. He feared that he was on the brink of something that was going to affect him much more than he expected, and it was something much larger than a simple stolen wand.

“Have you a strong stomach?” he asked Albus who was already leafing through one of the journals on Arthur’s desk. “Can you handle the sight of blood?”

“I haven’t seen much in the way of blood, but I have seen my brother pull the legs off of insects,” he said, shaking his head in disapproval at his younger brother's actions.

“Well, that is quite different, but it’s something.” Arthur picked up his diary to check the schedule for the remains of the day. He squinted to read his writing. It would not be long before he would need the aid of a pair of glasses. “You shall start tomorrow, then. You are aware that all talk of wizards and magic is strictly forbidden here during the day, are you not?”

“Of course,” Albus smiled.

“Then it’s settled. From tomorrow onwards and for the next three months you will be my assistant.”

The words did not flow easily for Arthur. He was gaining the one thing he had never desired, the thing he desired even less than any form of serious injury: an assistant.

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