The old elf scribbled tirelessly at his desk when his attention was diverted by bloodcurdling screams coming from the morgue. He placed his quill into the inkwell, hopped down from his chair and left his office to investigate. He came upon a giant witch—a patient given her state of dress—who was standing over the corpse in locker seven, screaming at the top of her lungs.
He approached with trepidation, as humans have a tendency toward mental instability. The nearer he approached, the more wary he became in regards to the sight of her statuesque frame with its grotesque, hourglass proportions. He grimaced at her hideously taut alabaster skin and shiny red hair.
When he deemed it safe, he ventured to look into her eyes; it appeared as if she were in a trance. When he snapped his fingers, she blinked and stopped screaming.
The human continued to stare at the corpse in locker number seven. To the elf's annoyance, she started to poke the corpse rather brusquely with her finger, as if she were sure to evoke a response from the cadaver.
He cleared his throat.
She snapped her head in the elf's direction, looking rather shocked. "Who are you?"
The elf's features betrayed no emotion on his part. "Considering that this is my mortuary, I believe the onus on you to identify yourself."
"D-did you say mortuary?"
She turned to face him, and the elf now had a clear view of her hospital bracelet. "That is correct, Miss Ginerva Weasley." He had excellent eyesight. "I am Healer Bunbley, magical medical examiner for all of Wizarding Britain."
"Healer?" Ginny's eyes narrowed as she looked down on his three-foot frame. "But you're a house-elf."
"I see that that head injury has done nothing to diminish your powers of perception. However, appearances to the contrary, I am a forest-elf."
In her current state Ginny was remiss to acknowledge the distinction, being more concerned with getting a proper lay of the room. "How did I get here exactly?"
"How should I know, girl? I was notarising death certificates when I was interrupted by screams loud enough to wake the dead…." He chuckled. "My, that was a poor choice of words on my part, wasn't it?"
After surveying the room, Ginny's attention returned to the cadaver in locker seven. "This is Lord Voldemort's body."
Bunbley sighed at her penchant for the obvious. He waved his hand, and a step ladder levitated before him. He climbed it so as to get a better view of the body in order to make sure this ugly witch had not damaged it. "Tom Marvalo Riddle, Jr—also known as Lord Voldemort. Cause of death: magical cessation of life functions consistent with a self-inflicted Killing Curse."
"W-what is he doing here?"
"For study, of course," Bunbley said, nonplussed.
"Tom Riddle's remains provide a unique opportunity to study firsthand the long-term effects of Dark Magic on the human body." He presented the corpse's arm, and Ginny retreated a few paces. "Notice how well preserved the body is: as fresh as the day it was wheeled in here." Satisfied, he hopped down from the step ladder and pushed the locker closed.
"You should burn it," Ginny said under her breath. Trembling, she hugged her chest.
Bunbley took notice, and he retrieved a blanket from the closet. "You shouldn't be wandering around in such a state. You could catch your death." He snorted as he draped the blanket over her. "Forgive me; that was another poorly chosen turn of phrase."
"Thank you, Mister Bunbley." Ginny sat down when the elf offered her a seat.
"You're very welcome… Ginerva Weasley?" He began to ponder the name as it sparked a memory. "Where have I heard that name, anyway?"
Ginny frowned and sighed. "Probably on account of me being Harry Potter's… girlfriend."
"No! That's not where I've come across that name." He snapped his fingers, and a folder from a nearby file cabinet magically flitted to his waiting hand. He started reading and smiled in remembrance. "You, Ginerva Weasley, were involved in the destruction of the first Horcrux! Amazing!"
"Y-you know about Voldemort's Horcruxes?"
"It was hard to miss given how fractured his soul was." He released the file, and it obediently flew back into the cabinet. Ginny's quizzical expression urged him to continue. "Besides, in my line of work, you take novelty whenever you can get it."
She nodded. "I can imagine."
"When I first deduced Voldemort's unique Horcrux implementation, I was eager to interview you."
"What would you want with me?"
"As far as Riddle's Horcruxes go, the first is sure to be the most powerful of the lot since it was created from a theretofore unblemished soul," he said. "It must have been exceptionally difficult to destroy."
Bunbley stared into her eyes, searching. “Even so, I was always curious if echoes of its dark influence remained."
"Professor Dumledore himself examined me," Ginny recalled, blushing. "He assured me that Tom Riddle was gone from me."
"If Dumbledore said so, then it must be true," Bunbley replied with his usual lack of expression. "Er, sorry, why were you standing next to Lord Voldemort's corpse again?" He sneered.
Ginny shifted in her seat uncomfortably. She could not dismiss the elf's logic. "What's wrong with me? Am I going mental?"
"I'm sure you're fine as Wizarding standards go." He pulled up a chair and hopped on. He was loath to admit that he was starting to enjoy this witch's company. "In my eighty-four years of service, it has been my experience that you humans have this annoying outlook that the body, mind and spirit are separate in that one can be treated without regard for the other two." He then gestured toward locker seven. "Case in point: Lord Voldemort—a prime example that you can't ravage a soul without leaving indelible traces of such trauma in the mind and body."
"So, what should I do, Healer Bunbley?"
"Pardon?" For the first time, the elf's features betrayed his emotions. "You want medical advice from the likes of me?"
"Why wouldn't I? You're a healer, aren't you?"
"Right." Bunbley sat up straight, his eyes beaming. "Well, given your history with Tom Riddle, I am of the opinion that it's no coincidence that you found your way down here."
She touched her head wound. "But the surgeon did say I might hallucinate."
He snorted. "Yes. As I am sure that he also gave no thought as to monitor the nature of your hallucinations," he replied with a disapproving frown. "I've spoken with you for less than five minutes, and already I sense a duality about you that yearns to be reconciled." He gently took her hand. "You need closure, my dear, in order to bring your body, mind and soul back into alignment."
"A duality?" she whispered in apprehension. "How do we fix it?"
"Your heart has already prescribed a course of treatment. All you have to do is listen, and follow it."
She bit her lip. "Will you help me?"
"Of course, child." Bunbley hopped off his chair and beckoned her to follow. He led her to an examination table just past the lockers and commanded, "Up you go." He smiled at her reluctance. "Don't worry. It's more comfortable than it looks. I haven't lost a patient yet."
Ginny was not amused. "You know, your bedside manner needs work."
"Sorry, my usual staple of patients don't tend to complain." He waited until she was comfortable enough to ease herself onto the dull metal slab. He stood at the head of the examination table and began to massage her temples, saying, "Now, I want you to relax, child. Breathe and focus on the sound of my voice.…"
Bunbley continued to speak to Ginny reassuringly, suggesting her into an altered state of mind.
Her eyelids closed.