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PostPosted: Thursday 4 December 2008 3:34:37am 
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duckie,
you are really good. i think you should keep writing the moonlight shadow.
hprocks


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PostPosted: Sunday 7 December 2008 4:48:59pm 
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Thanks Obladi and hprocks! :grin: I will definitely keep writing this. As of now, I'm on the 41st chapter.

Chapter 23: Fired and Fined

The next week passed quickly and my parents got more stressed out as the day of Dad's hearing loomed closer. The two of them spent an increasingly large amount of time in Dad's study, leaving Matt and I to do as we pleased. I spent most of my time brewing potions or wandering around in the forest. Mum seemed to have forgotten about my 'home schooling', which was fine by me.

Apparently at some point during the week, Cinda told Mum that she wanted us to go over to her house for dinner on Friday night. I had to turn away from Mum when she told us this, because I knew the real reason was for the party. I was torn about whether to tell my parents about the party or not. Eventually I decided not to, since if I told them, Cinda would get mad at me. But if I didn't say anything and pretended to not have known about the party, nobody would get mad at me.

Olivia owled me back a few days after I explained about what had happened. She said she wasn't mad at me and I was relieved. Olivia's letter was the only nice letter any of us had received the past few days. Mum had been right about the amount of owls that she thought we'd get. The few days following the article in the paper, we must have gotten at least 100 letters. And all of them were incredibly rude or downright mean. I didn't personally receive any, as most of them were for Dad or Matt. But my parents didn't let Matt read any of them. They wouldn't even let me read any, but I did read a few that I intercepted before Mum or Dad could spot the owl.

The day before Dad's hearing was probably the tensest day I had experienced since the few days following the night Matt got attacked. Neither of my parents spoke at brekkie and they went to Dad's study immediately following.

I dumped my empty bowl and cup in the sink and decided to go read in the living room. I was on my way there when I saw an owl flying towards the house. Not another one, I groaned. I sighed and opened the window for the owl.

The letter it had in its beak was very large. I took it and the owl left immediately. It was addressed to my entire family. I tore open the envelope and out fell a magazine. That was it. There was no note or anything to tell me who it was from. Just the magazine.

I turned it over and gasped when I saw the cover. It was the latest edition of Aussie Magik and there on the cover was a huge picture of my family and I. The picture had to have been at least two years old. My brother and I looked much younger, but my parents looked about the same. Well, they did look calmer and less worried if you looked close enough.

Aussie Magik is a magazine that reports on the current happenings of all the celebrity witches and wizards of Australia. My family appeared in it occasionally years ago, before Matt got bitten, but they hadn't printed an article on us in ages. The last one was shortly after Matt got bitten and it basically talked about how we had stopped appearing at public events and such. The reasoning they gave was that my parents decided to raise Matt and I away from any sort of fame.

Across the picture, right under the title of the magazine was the title of the article. Scandal at the Ministry: What Really Happened to the Eckerton Family. I groaned out loud as I read it. This certainly wouldn't be good.

"What's that?" Matt asked.

I jumped, having forgotten he was still in the room. I turned to face him and hid the magazine behind my back. "Er, nothing," I replied, not wanting him to read it. "I'm going up to my room. Don't follow me."

I ran from the room, leaving Matt standing confused next to the table. Despite my misgivings about the article, I still wanted to read it. I just didn't want my brother to read it. I was sure it wouldn't paint him in a good light.

Once I had the door shut behind me, I laid down on my bed and opened the magazine. I quickly flipped past the advertisements for Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, the latest broomstick, and a fancy robe shop somewhere in Sydney. Past the articles about witches who had divorced their husbands and remarried just weeks later. Past the article about the witch who just gave birth to quadruplets. That one would have probably been the front page article if it weren't for this whole mess with the Ministry, I thought.

Right after the article about the quadruplets was the article about my family. There was a two-page photo that was different than the one on the front cover. It happened to be our family portrait from three years ago. I was dressed in lavender robes and my hair was actually down and curled. I still remembered the fuss Mum made over my hair that day. I was eleven then and had wanted to wear my hair in its usual ponytail, but Mum wasn't going to allow it. Matt stood next to me in navy blue robes. Dad's robes matched his and Mum's robes matched mine. I still had those robes in my closet.

I flipped the page and took a deep breath as I began to read the article.

The Eckerton Family had it all. Fame, money, and
the mansion on the hill. They were at every
event in the Wizarding World, and a few in the
Muggle world as well. What happened two years
ago when they just seemed to fall off the face of
the earth? We were told that Walter and Julietta
Eckerton wanted to raise their children away from
the fame and fortune, but we recently found out
that that's not exactly what happened.

Walter Eckerton was born to Conan and Nancy Eckerton,
the then owners of the Eckerton manor and everything
that went with it. Walter was their first son and has
a brother four years his junior, Jacob, who lives in
New York State. When Walter was attending The Australian
School of Sorcery, he fell in love with a shy Muggle-
born, Julietta Bailey. Julietta was born to Richard
and Lacinda Bailey, who happen to have their own
fortune in the Muggle world. One could say that it was
a story for fairy tales.

The fairy tale was set to continue when Walter proposed
to Julietta and the two of them were married. The two
decided to start a family a few years later, and that was
where trouble began. The Eckertons had problems getting
pregnant. They tried for years to conceive, but had no
luck.

When Walter was 35 and Julietta was 34, Julietta finally
became pregnant. The couple was thrilled and life was good.
Amy Marie Eckerton was born on October 27, 1998. Walter
and Julietta enjoyed a few years of joy before their
lives took a turn for the worse. Conan and Nancy
Eckerton were killed in a fiery car accident three and
a half years after Amy was born. Walter and Julietta
were both devastated and wizarding Australia was shocked.

The will was read and Walter had inherited the mansion,
along with a good part of the fortune. Jacob inherited
the rest. Walter moved into the mansion with his family
shortly there after.

The Eckertons had wanted multiple children and had been
trying to have a second child ever since Amy was two,
but it once again proved difficult. Both parents were
beginning to think they would never have another child,
due to their increasing age. However, luck was once
again on their side, and three years after the devastating
loss of Conan and Nancy, Julietta was pregnant once again.

They were not without worry, though. Julietta was 40 when
she became pregnant and the pregnancy was full of
complications. Julietta gave birth to a son, Matthew Conan,
on February 6, 2005, two months before the baby was actually
due. The baby was premature and had to stay at the hospital
for a month and a half, but after that month and a half, he
was fine. It seemed like things were once again looking
up for this family.

Life continued for the Eckerton family, and although
they did not have anymore children, they were happy. Amy
began attending The Australian School of Sorcery in 2010.

Then, in early 2011, the Eckerton family suddenly stopped
wanting to be in the public's eye. They stopped attending
events and seemed to retreat from life. We were told that
Walter and Julietta wanted to begin to raise their children
differently than they both had been raised. Away from fame.
Away from reporters and fancy dinners and such.

The wizarding world believed this. They believed it for
two years. During those years, Walter was promoted to
Head of the Department for the Regulation and Control of
Magical Creatures, from his former position of Head of the
Werewolf Control Unit.

And that is where this fairy tale story of Walter and
Julietta Eckerton takes a drastic turn for the worse. In
late December of 2010, the Eckerton family decided to go
camping like Muggles. During one of the nights while they
were camping, a werewolf came upon the camp.

The werewolf attacked Matthew, who was only five at the time.
Walter was able to save his son and help capture the werewolf,
who currently resides in prison. But life for the Eckertons
had changed forever. The Head of the Werewolf Control Unit's
son was now a werewolf.

Life as the Eckerton family knew it was over, and the wizarding
public was fed the lie about Walter and Julietta wanting to
raise their children away from the media. In reality, they
retreated in order to keep the fact that Matthew was a
werewolf a secret.

This worked well for just over two years. The Eckerton family
was no longer in the spotlight and slowly but surely the rest
of us thought less and less about them. Despite the lack of
publicity, the Eckertons were by no means became less
influential in the world. Walter Eckerton furthered his
career even more when he became the Head of the Department for
the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures in July of
2011, a mere six months after his son became a werewolf.

That's right, Walter Eckerton became Head of the entire
department even though his own son is a werewolf. That bit
of information was kept secret as Eckerton was promoted.
Eckerton was promoted to the position by the former Minister,
Zachary Afton, when the former Head and current Minister,
Vincent Gabishi, quit to devote more attention to his
campaign. Afton, more commonly known as 'The Minister who
twiddled his thumbs all day', was widely known as an advocate
for half-breeds, including werewolves. Eckerton shares those
views, so naturally, Afton appointed him to the position.

Gabishi, currently known as 'The Minister who passed more
legislation in one week than Afton passed during his entire
term', has drastically different views than both Eckerton and
Afton. He advocates stricter laws and harsher penalties for
those who break the laws. Gabishi's views are shared by a
majority of those who work in the Werewolf Control Unit,
including the Head of said department, Ralph Lubar.

It is this that brings us to the most recent scandal. The
most recent law that was passed, Werewolf Control Law 56,
was passed and signed by the Minister shortly before the
most recent full moon. Eckerton rejected this law weeks ago,
but the decision was overruled by his department. The
Minister signed it while Eckerton was mysteriously away
on holiday. The Eckertons returned from holiday the day
of the full moon, to find that their son's safe room had
to be inspected by a Werewolf Control Unit official.

The strict law requires all safe rooms to have certain
spells and charms put on them, as well as have them be free
standing buildings, not rooms in buildings that house people.
Eckerton failed his inspection, as his son's safe room is
inside of his house.

According to the law, Eckerton was required to bring his son,
who for reasons unknown at this time is not on Wolfsbane, to
a Ministry created safe house that houses many werewolves
during the full moon. Eckerton refused and never showed up
with his son.

The Eckertons kept their secret safe for over two years. The
only people to know about their son were those who worked in
the Werewolf Control Unit. It is illegal to reveal the names
of underage werewolves. Despite this, somebody leaked the
information the day after the full moon, and it was front page
news the following day.

What will happen to the Eckertons now? How could one of
Wizarding Australia's most prominent families be facing a
Ministry hearing and possible punishment? Eckerton is not
only facing a punishment for breaking the law, but it is also
highly possible that he will lose his job. Then what? It is
rumored that the Eckertons are considering leaving the country.
An unnamed source has told us that Amy didn't return to school
this past January. One witch who preferred not to have her
name mentioned in this article swore she heard that the Eckertons
are going to integrate themselves into Muggle society.

Whatever the Eckertons decide to do, we will be following up on
this story. If anyone has inside information, please owl it
immediately.


I tossed the magazine onto my bed as soon as I'd finished reading the article. I glared at it, almost wishing I could set it on fire with my mind. What did they think they were doing, publishing that article? The thing practically told my family's life story, complete with a bit about my parents getting married.

It was the kind of sob story gossipy old witches lived for. The happy wealthy family facing tragedy and then a scandal. At least it hadn't mentioned too many horrible things about werewolves. But now the entire of wizarding Australia was going to know when and where Matt got attacked. My parents tried so hard to hush that up and now everyone would know.

My parents were going to want to see this article, I thought. I picked it up and left my room. I really had no idea where my parents were, but they had to make an appearance at some point. I mean, they had to eat eventually.

Mum and Dad did emerge from Dad's study around lunch time, although neither of them looked like they wanted to read an article in Aussie Magik that was about themselves. Nevertheless, I slapped it down on the counter in front of Mum as she prepared sandwiches.

Mum took one glance at the front cover, gasped, and dropped the fork she had in her hand on the floor. Dad immediately went over to her and looked over her shoulder at the magazine. He picked it up and flipped to the page that the article was on. I stood silently behind them as they read.

"Where did you get this?" Mum asked once she was done reading. I couldn't see her face, but she talked with no emotion whatsoever, so I imagine her face looked like stone.

"An owl brought it. No note or anything with it. Just addressed to the whole family," I said quietly.

Mum nodded and Dad tossed the magazine into the bin. "Did your brother see this?" he asked.

"No."

"Good," Dad replied.

"Could've been worse," Mum whispered.

Dad nodded and went to sit at the table. Mum and I followed suit once she had finished making the sandwiches. Matt and Ellie joined us a minute later and we ate in silence.

The whole rest of the day was spent in silence as well. I worked on potions by myself for the whole afternoon and then I joined my family for another tense, quiet meal. Matt was really the only one who ate much. The rest of us were far too nervous about Dad's hearing the next morning. I pushed my food around on my plate for a while before excusing myself and going up to my room to stargaze and read the rest of the night.

******

Dad left for his hearing early the next morning. I was eating brekkie as he left and Matt wasn't even awake yet. His expression was emotionless and his face set in stone. He barely said a word, except a short goodbye to Mum and I. We wished him luck and then he flooed to the Ministry.

I had no idea what time he would return and didn't bother to ask Mum. She was tense and snappy the entire morning. She yelled at me for the smallest things, like leaving my book on the couch or not putting my dirty dishes in the sink. I didn't say a word back, because I knew she was just worried about Dad. I was, too. Mum was even short with Matt and snapped at him for spilling his milk. She rarely ever yells at him and certainly not for spilling milk. He started crying at this and Mum quickly apologized.

After that I just retreated to my room for the rest of the morning. It's always best to just stay out of Mum's way when she's stressed. I only returned to the main floor when I got hungry a few hours later.

Mum, Matt, and Ellie were already eating soup in the kitchen when I got there. I sat down wordlessly and started eating mine. The tension was so thick in the room that even Matt wasn't saying anything.

I was just finishing up my soup when I heard the familiar sound of someone flooing into the house. Mum and I looked up at each other and quickly got up from the table, with Matt and Ellie following.

Mum made it into the living room first and I followed only a second later. I saw Dad standing perfectly still with a large box in his arms. His face was hard and his eyes cold. I had rarely ever seen Dad with such an expression on his face. I would not want to be on the other end of his wand at that moment.

I stopped when I was just inside the doorway, but Mum went over to Dad and put her arms around him. He shook his head and sat the box down on the floor. Then he sat down on the couch and Mum sat next to him. I remained standing where I was, with Matt and Ellie just behind me.

"What happened?" Mum asked softly.

"Fired," Dad muttered, not looking at Mum.

"It's all right," Mum replied, "We figured it was coming."

"I know," Dad said.

"But what about the hearing?"

Dad glanced over to Matt and I and then continued staring at the floor. He must have decided that it was all right for the two of us to hear about it, since he didn't tell us to leave the room.

"Entire Wizengamot," Dad began, "Minister, too. They talked for about a half hour about the law and the charges. Then the Minister called in the witnesses, including Ralph Lubar. The git. Nobody mentioned that it was him who announced to the entire Ministry that Matt's a werewolf. In fact, that was never mentioned at all.

"Then, I gave my defense. After that, they deliberated for quite a while, although I'm not sure what they talked about. It was pretty obvious that they were all against me. The Minister read the verdict with a smirk and then informed me that I was fired. Told me to go and clean out my office. Went to do that and had to squeeze through a sea of reporters. Told them nothing. Cleaned out my office and left. Went to go have a drink and then came back here."

"We'll get through this, you know," Mum said quietly, "What happened today sounds awful and I've lost all respect for our Ministry, but we will get through this. We still have our family."

"I know, Jule," Dad sighed and hugged Mum, "I know."

"What was the verdict?" Mum asked after a few minutes.

"Guilty, of course," Dad said.

"I meant the punishment," Mum replied.

"Oh, right. Fine. They won't jail me. That would make them look bad. Jailing a prominent Ministry employee. Hefty fine, though. 1,000 Galleons."

Mum let go of Dad and stared at him. "1,000? That's ridiculous. What do they think they're going to spend that on?"

"Probably Gabishi's next campaign," Dad said bitterly.

"That's awful," Mum said, "They should donate it to a charity or something."

"They really should," Dad agreed, "I'd vote for the Lycanthropy Awareness Fund."

"That would be excellent," Mum said.

"But it would never happen."

"Of course not."

"Well, at least we're getting out of here," Dad said, "I never thought I'd be this eager to get out of this country."

"Me either," Mum agreed.

"To be honest," Dad began, "I'm kind of surprised we kept this a secret this long. I mean, considering my job and everything. I knew there was a possibility of this when I accepted the promotion."

"Don't blame yourself for what's happened," Mum said, "Never would have happened if that law wasn't passed."

"I know," Dad sighed.

"And we'd be moving even if you weren't fired. We decided to move months ago when Matt wasn't accepted to the school."

"I guess that's true."

"Right. So let's just move on. We'll concentrate on finding a new school and go from there. I'd like to visit at least one more place if that's all right."

"That's fine. I kind of would like to do the same."

"Good," Mum said, "There's some soup in the kitchen if you'd like some."

I took that as my cue to leave and went back up to my room. The hearing sounded absolutely awful. I couldn't believe that Dad was actually fired. It just seemed so strange. I never would have guessed that he would ever be fired from any job he ever had. I just hoped he'd be able to find a job wherever we moved.

Mum and Dad seemed much less tense when I went down for dinner. I guess they had come to terms with what had happened and were trying to put it behind them. I wanted to do the same, but it was hard. The two of them wanted to leave Australia, so it was easy to just look forward to moving. I still didn't want to move.

"Amy," Mum smiled at me as I sat down next to Matt. "We just got another letter. We'll be visiting Scotland shortly."

"That's great," I smiled back, although I wasn't too happy about visiting Scotland. If we had to move anywhere, I wanted it to be New York, not Scotland.

"Yes, we got a letter from the Headmaster of Hogwarts," Dad explained.

I spat out the milk I had been drinking. "H-Hogwarts?"

"Yes, that's the name," Dad smirked.

"Bit of an odd name," I coughed. That had to be the funniest name I had ever heard of for a school. Who would name a school Hogwarts?

"Well, no matter what it's called, the Headmaster would like us to visit," Mum said.

"When?" I asked.

"We're going to Cinda and Richard's for dinner tomorrow, so not immediately," Mum began.

Cinda's party. I had completely forgotten about that. I guess she wouldn't be making me purchase another fancy dress. Of course, since it was a surprise party, I probably wouldn't be getting dressed up for it anyway.

"So we were thinking middle of next week," Mum continued, "If we can get plane tickets on such short notice. If we wait much more than that, we'll have to do it after the next full moon. I don't want to run into the same problem we had when we went to New York."

I nodded. Great, more plane trips. Hopefully this would be the last trip, though. It seemed like my parents wanted to move soon, so I doubted we would visit anymore schools after this. Unless of course Britain had more than one wizarding school.

"Are we just visiting this Hogwarts place?" I giggled as I said the name.

"Yes, just that one," Mum told me, "Britain only has one wizarding school. The closest school to Hogwarts is in France and none of us speak French, so we didn't even bother to owl them."

"Ok, so a short trip?"

"Right. Only four days or so," Dad said.

"Where are we staying?" I asked, since we had no relatives in Scotland.

"I suppose I'll have to book a room someplace near the school," Dad said, "Hadn't really given that much thought yet. I know there are a couple places in the nearby village. Jack and I have traveled there before."

I took that to mean they had searched for the Hallows near there. That was pretty much the reason for all of Dad and Uncle Jack's traveling when they were younger.

The remainder of dinner was more lively than meals had been in over a week at my house. My parents told Matt and I what they knew about Scotland and Dad shared stories from when he traveled there years ago. I was actually beginning to look forward to visiting Scotland, but I still didn't want to move there.


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PostPosted: Sunday 7 December 2008 8:48:31pm 
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You know, I never thought about it, but I guess Hogwarts is a strange name. Grat writing again, Duckie.


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PostPosted: Monday 8 December 2008 2:33:08am 
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hi,
that was a really good chapter
i cant wait for another chapter let me know when you come out with it
if you can
hprocks :typing:


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PostPosted: Sunday 14 December 2008 10:25:46pm 
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Hehe, Hogwarts is an odd name, though. :lol: Thanks Obladi and hprocks!

Chapter 24: Keeping Up Appearances

I tried to avoid my parents the next day because I was afraid I'd let slip that Cinda was planning a surprise party instead of a dinner with just them. I spent the whole day brewing potions and reading, which wasn't out of the ordinary for me, so my parents didn't suspect a thing.

I was excited about seeing Kenzie at the party. I hadn't seen her at all the past full moon, since I wound up coming home relatively early. This party would hopefully be more fun than the New Year's one, since Kenzie would be there. I was a bit nervous about it because I knew my parents wouldn't react well, but there wasn't anything I could do about it.

We Apparated directly into Richard and Cinda's living room around six o'clock. The house was surprisingly quiet; I couldn't hear any signs of a party. Of course, since Cinda decided to 'surprise' us, she probably purposefully emptied out the living room for us to Apparate into.

Mum and Dad were planning on telling Richard and Cinda about Dad getting fired that night at dinner. I wasn't really sure how that was going to go. Plus, my parents would tell them about going to Scotland, which Dad had managed to schedule for the following Tuesday. I had a feeling that this would be the last school we'd visit. Mum and Dad seemed especially eager to get out of Australia now that Dad was out of work. They'd probably make a decision after visiting Scotland.

"Julie, darling!" Cinda burst into the room in a cocktail dress and threw her arms around Mum.

"Hi, Mum," Mum half-smiled at her.

"How are you doing?" Cinda asked.

"Could be better," Mum sighed.

"Well, I know just the thing to cheer you all up," Cinda grinned and I cringed. Luckily nobody saw me. "Just follow me upstairs!" Cinda told us.

Mum turned to look at Dad and they both shrugged. Matt followed Cinda eagerly, and my parents followed him. I reluctantly followed them, not really wanting to go.

The house remained eerily quiet as we ascended the stairs to the ballroom. Cinda seemed to get more and more excited as we went, which I took as a bad sign. Cinda stopped as soon as we reached the doors to the ballroom.

"Mum, what is it?" Mum asked questioningly.

"Just something I planned to lift your spirits," Cinda flashed a smile and opened the doors.

"Surprise!" The ballroom was packed and every person shouted as we entered. I froze and stared at everyone with my mouth open. I shouldn't really have been that surprised, since Cinda doesn't know the meaning of 'a small get together'.

I turned to the rest of my family. Mum was staring at everyone, her mouth gaping. Dad had a pained look on his face and was shaking his head. Matt was looking around eagerly, his eyes resting on the table of desserts.

"Mother. What. Did. You. Do." Mum snapped out of her shock and turned to glare at Cinda.

"I threw you a going away party!" Cinda shouted excitedly.

"Ever occur to you that that's exactly what we didn't want?" Mum snapped, "We came here today with more bad news and I expected us to be able to tell you and Dad alone. Find Dad and meet Walter and I downstairs. Now."

Cinda looked taken aback, but she immediately strode over to Richard, who was eating already and motioned him over. Mum and Dad had already turned and left the room. I would have loved to follow them downstairs and listened to Mum yell at Cinda, but at that moment, someone came up from behind me and put their hands over my face.

"Ahh!" I shrieked.

"Guess who?"

"Kenzie," I relaxed as I heard her voice. She dropped her hands and I turned to look at her.

"Hey, what's new?" Kenzie grinned at me, "This is some party. Your mum doesn't look too happy, though."

"She's not," I muttered, "She hates these parties. Plus, something bad happened yesterday, so she's kind of worried about that, too."

"Really? What?" Kenzie immediately looked concerned.

I looked around to check if anyone was paying attention to me and luckily they weren't. "Dad got fired," I whispered.

"What?!"

"Yeah, he did."

"From his top-secret Ministry job?" Kenzie asked.

I nodded, "Don't spread it around."

"I won't, but you're moving anyway, so why does it matter?"

"It'll make it harder for him to get a job wherever we move," I explained. "But I really don't want to talk about it."

"Ok. Let's go get something to eat."

I followed Kenzie to the nearest food table and people stopped to talk to me along the way. I went through the usual smile and nod routine with all of Cinda's friends who I barely knew. Kenzie and I found a deserted table near the back of the room and we sat down to eat.

"So, know where you're moving yet?" Kenzie asked as she stared eating a mini-quiche.

"Nope," I replied, "But we're visiting one in Scotland this week."

"Scotland? Cool," Kenzie said, "Maybe I could visit you there."

I shrugged. Depended on how 'wizardy' our new house looked. "Maybe."

"Amy!" I looked up to see Vivien standing behind me, along with Jared, Breanne, Alicia, Cassie, and Damien.

"Hey, Vivien," I gave her a forced smile.

"So, you're moving?" Vivien said as she sat down next to me. The rest of the crowd sat down as well.

"Yeah," I replied, and turned to Kenzie. "This is Vivien, Jared, Breanne, Alicia, Cassie, and Damien," I gestured to each of them.

"Hey," Kenzie waved.

"And this is Kenzie, she lives down the road," I told them.

"So why are you moving?" Vivien asked, "Hasn't your family lived here for, like, ever?"

"Uh, yeah," I muttered, "But my parents had a disagreement with the headmaster of my school, so they want me to switch schools."

"And you have to leave the country for that?" Breanne raised an eyebrow. Cinda must have told everyone that we were moving out of the country. "That's kind of stupid. My friend, Yolanda, got expelled from our school for bringing beer to the class picnic last year, and she just switched to a school only a half hour away or so."

"Er-" I began.

"I know! You can switch to our school!" Breanne announced.

I inwardly cringed. I don't think I'd go to their school even if I was a Squib. "Um, actually, I've got to switch to another school that's like the one I go to now."

"Ah, that weird school," Cassie said.

"Er, right. Anyway, there's only about one in each country."

"That's weird," Breanne replied, "So where are you going to move?"

"Not sure," I shrugged, "My parents are still looking. Either New York or Scotland."

"I love New York!" Breanne exclaimed, "Best city in the world. I can't believe you might live there. So unfair."

"Actually, New York State," I suppressed a laugh at the thought of us living in a city as busy as New York City.

"Oh," Breanne deflated, "Well that's boring. When are you leaving?"

"No idea," I told her, wishing I could just go somewhere with Kenzie and ignore the rest of the people at the table.

"Kenzie," a whiny voice said from behind us.

I turned around to see Kenzie's little sister, Morgan, standing with one hand on her hip and the other gripping Kenzie's other little sister, Maddie, by the arm. Maddie is only four and was holding a cupcake in her other hand. Her chubby face was covered in chocolate. I imagined her hair was as well, although it was hard to tell since her hair is dark brown.

"What?" Kenzie asked.

"Mum says you've got to watch Maddie," Morgan said, letting go of her sister. Morgan is twelve, although sometimes I think she acts sixteen. She wears make-up whenever she can get away with it and straightens her light brown hair pretty much everyday. Kenzie told me she asked for blonde highlights and her mother laughed.

"And why can't you do it?" Kenzie asked.

"Because I don't want to," Morgan smirked, "And Mum says you've got to do it. You're the oldest."

"Fine," Kenzie groaned. Morgan grinned and took off. I watched her and noticed that she was hanging out with Breanne's little sister. Figures. I imagine the two of them would get along very well. Breanne's little sister is very much like Breanne.

Breanne raised her eyebrow as Kenzie pulled Maddie onto her lap. "I guess we'll go get drinks now," Breanne gave her friends significant glances. I was guessing she didn't want to be around messy toddlers.

"See you in a little while," Vivien smiled as she got up with the rest of her friends.

"Let's go," I stood up as soon as they disappeared into the crowd.

"So those are the girls you hung out with at your grandma's New Year's Party?" Kenzie asked as she stood up with Maddie.

"Sure are," I groaned.

"They seem like a fun bunch," Kenzie laughed. "Morgan would fit right in."

"I'll have to thank Maddie for scaring them away," I said.

"She's good at that," Kenzie replied.

"Amy! Mrs. Dawe came over to us with a smile on her face. I grinned when I saw her. Kenzie's mum is tall and a bit on the chubby side, with curly brown hair that's about chin-length.

Mrs. Dawe was carrying Kenzie's little brother, Michael. Michael, at age two, is the youngest of the Dawe family. Kenzie's third little sister, Mari (short for Marianna), was following her mother. Mari is eight and a bit on the shy side. She looks like a younger version of Kenzie.

"Hi, Mrs. Dawe," I said as she reached us.

"How are you, dear?"

"All right," I said, "I mean, I don't want to move, but I don't have a choice."

"It's hard, I know," Mrs. Dawe replied, "But you'll be fine. And you're welcome to visit anytime you like."

"Thanks," I smiled.

"And how is your brother?" she asked.

"He's good," I told her, not really knowing what else to say.

"Glad to hear it. He certainly looks well tonight," Mrs. Dawe pointed to Matt, who was running around with a few other little kids. "Well, I think I'll go find your mother."

"Ok," I replied.

"Thanks for watching Maddie for me, Kenzie," Mrs. Dawe added.

"No problem," Kenzie sighed as her mother patted her on the arm.

"Let's go to my room," I suggested after Kenzie's mum left.

"Sure," Kenzie agreed.

I relaxed immediately when I had shut the door to my room behind us. I didn't really want to spend anymore time with Breanne and her friends that evening. I was sure they'd be getting drunk soon anyway.

"Think they'll find us in here?" Kenzie asked.

"Maybe. Depends if they want to find us," I told her, "Anyway, Maddie's still here, so chances are they'll just stay in the ballroom."

"So your parents didn't look too happy when they saw everyone here," Kenzie commented.

"They hate parties like this," I explained, "Well, they didn't used to mind them, but after Matt got sick they've become more private."

"That makes sense," Kenzie said.

"Cinda actually told Mum that she wanted us over for dinner tonight and we got here and there was the party."

"Did you know about it?"

"Yeah, Cinda wanted me to help plan it, but I told her no."

"Excellent," Kenzie grinned.

Kenzie and I spent the rest of the party in my room. We talked and played with Maddie. I found a few kid's games in my closet and Maddie loved them. Kenzie and I pretended not to know how to play, which cracked Maddie up. Then she proceeded to explain how to play. Kenzie and I let her win every game.

We were just finishing our fifth game of Candyland when someone knocked on the door.

"What?" I shouted.

"Everyone's leaving now, Amy," Cinda shouted back, "You've got to come say goodbye."

I groaned, "Want to come?"

"Sure, why not," Kenzie stood up, "Come on, Maddie."

The ballroom was indeed emptying when we got there. Plenty of the guests stopped to talk to me and I did the smile and nod thing again. I told them I'd keep in touch and update them about my life. Of course, in reality, I'd never see them again or talk to them. I wasn't too depressed about that, either.

"Amy!" Breanne shouted as she and her crowd exited the room, "You've got to email me! Here's my email!" She thrust a piece of paper into my hands. "It's got all of ours on it. Tell us how things at your new weird school go! And tell us where you move to, too."

"Er, sure," I gave her a forced smile, knowing I'd never 'email' her. I hadn't used email in my life.

Vivien gave me a huge hug and then looked at me. "Amy, stay in touch. I'll miss you."

"Miss you, too," I replied, almost truthfully. If I was going to miss any of them, it would be Vivien.

"Come on, you lot," Damien announced, "We've got to split. Party at Kevin's is going on."

"Right," Breanne replied, "So see you around, Amy. Or not, since you're moving and all."

"Yeah, bye," I said.

"Never going to talk to them again, right?" Kenzie whispered.

"Never," I laughed. "I might send Vivien a letter telling her where we are, but that's it."

Soon, the only ones left in the ballroom were my family and Kenzie's. Mr. and Mrs. Dawe were trying to round up all the kids, most of whom didn't want to leave. Kenzie and I were standing near Mum, who was glaring daggers at Cinda.

"Well, we'd better be going," Mrs. Dawe said once she and her husband had all of Kenzie's siblings following them.

"Thanks for coming," Mum said, "Really, I mean it. I could have done without everyone else."

"Well, of course we came. We're going to miss all of you. I actually want to have you all over for dinner before you leave. Just us. Let us know when you're going to leave and we'll set it up."

"That sounds great," Mum smiled, "I'll let you know soon."

I grinned at Kenzie. "That sounds ten times more fun than this party."

"Glad you think so, Amy," Mrs. Dawe said, "And we'll see you in a few weeks. Are you staying with your grandparents on a weekend this month?"

I thought to myself for a few seconds and remembered that the full moon would be on a Thursday that month. I sighed. I probably wouldn't get to see Kenzie much during this trip. "Yeah, on a Thursday, so I'll probably be going home on Saturday morning. There's always next month, though."

"Of course, dear," Mrs. Dawe smiled and then turned to Mum, "Take care, all of you. I hope Matt continues to get better."

"Thanks," Mum replied, "We'll see you soon."

"Bye, Kenzie," I gave my friend a hug, "See you in a few weeks."

"You, too," Kenzie smiled, and left the room with her family.

As soon as Kenzie's family left the room, Mum whirled around and stormed over to Cinda.

"Why did you do it, Mother!?" Mum demanded.

"Do what?" Cinda asked.

"The party!" Mum shouted, "You know perfectly well we do not like these things anymore! And for a good reason, too! Do you know how awkward it was for Walt and I today? I don't think you do. People I really haven't kept contact with were asking why we were moving. I couldn't tell them why! Walt and I had to make up elaborate stories as to what was going on so, number one, we could conceal that we're magical. And number two, to conceal that Matt is a werewolf! Do you have any idea how hard that is?"

"Julietta, calm down. Do you honestly think I wouldn't give my own daughter a going away party?"

"Yes! If, for once in your life, you thought about someone else besides yourself, you wouldn't have!"

"I was thinking of you!" Cinda yelled, "That's why I threw the party!"

"No it's not! You threw the party to 'keep up appearances'. That's what you've always been concerned about. Ever since I was a kid, it's always been 'what will everyone think'. You can't ever do anything without thinking about what other people will think."

"When you live the way we do, appearances have to be kept up!" Cinda replied.

"I don't live the way you do, Mum! Walter and I don't do that anymore! That's why we don't attend these things anymore. We like privacy and not having other people butting into our lives. That's why we're moving, Mother! Our whole world down here knows about Matt now, and it's turned everything upside down. We can't live in peace anymore. We just wanted to start over without leaving with a bang. But you couldn't let us do that, Mother, you couldn't."

"I want what's best for you, Julie. You're just running away from your problems."

"Running away? Running away?" Mum shrieked, "Oh, Mother, you have no idea! No idea whatsoever!"

"Yes, you're running away. That's what I call it when someone just decides to move to an entirely different country and start a new life!"

"I call it trying to make a better life for my children!" Mum exclaimed.

Mum was practically shaking. I had never seen her this mad before. She seemed more angry than she had been when my necklace had burned Matt. I stood frozen, staring at the two of them argue. Dad and Richard had stopped their cleaning up and were watching intently, but not interfering. Matt had crept over to where I was standing and was hiding behind me, with his head sticking out to watch.

"Better life?" Cinda raised her eyebrow.

"Yes, better life! Do you comprehend that if we stayed here, Matt wouldn't be able to go to school? It's even worse now. You realize that now, a simple thing like going shopping would cause him to be ostracized? Now, he couldn't walk into a store without people whispering and leaving the store. They do that when I enter a store, Mum. Imagine what they'd do to him," Mum lowered her voice and I could see tears starting to stream down her face.

"And your solution is to run to a different country?" Cinda asked, "Why not make it better here? Change their opinions. And if you can't, just make the best. Send Matt to a Muggle school. Teach him magic at home. You don't need to leave your home, Julie."

"Mother, I no longer call this country my home," Mum said, "Anyplace that treats my son like this is not home to me. And we can't change it. One family can't change the country. Walter's been fired and fined. He has no influence in the Ministry anymore. He was one of the few remaining people sympathetic to werewolves. All the laws that he'd prevented from passing will pass now. You must understand that, Mum. Things will get worse if we stay here."

"And things are better elsewhere?"

"Yes, at least in New York. And we're hoping in Scotland, too. We'll all have better lives there."

"For how long?" Cinda asked, "How long until the Ministries there are like the one here? Will you move again? When does it stop, Julie?"

"I don't know, Mum," Mum said, "But for now, we're leaving. I'm sorry if you're not happy about it, but that's life. And why are you telling me this now, anyway? Months ago, when we first told you we were moving, you were fine with it!"

"Fine with it?" Cinda looked shocked, "I would never be 'fine' with my daughter moving across the world! I merely thought that with time, you'd change your mind. You made a rash decision in anger, Julie."

"With time I'd change my mind?" Mum shouted, "Oh, you're completely wrong about that. Walter and I have become more and more happy with our decision as time passes. Things have gotten worse since we first made the decision, Mother. If we hadn't made it then, we'd have made it now. This is no place for us to live. I wish you'd understand that.

"You've never understood, though, have you? Sure, you've taken Amy on the full moons, and we really appreciate that, but you don't really understand. You have no idea what we've gone through, what we will go through. You have no idea how werewolves are seen in our world, no idea at all. I've tried to explain it to you and you just don't get it.

"You try and cover up your uneasiness with the whole thing, but I see through it, Mother. If there's one thing I've learned over the past two and a half years, it's when people are being sincere about what they say. You've told me it doesn't bother you, but it does. I know it does. I still remember your reaction when we first told you that Matt got bit. You cringed and raised your eyebrows. I've seen that look on your face before, Mother. It's what you do when you hear or read about people who are less well off than you, who get into trouble. People who need help, but no one will give it to them."

I stared in shock at Cinda. I kind of knew she didn't feel comfortable with Matt being a werewolf, but Mum had never told me what her reaction was when she found out. I couldn't believe my own grandmother, Matt's own grandmother, would react like that. I glanced slightly at Matt. I was pretty sure Mum hadn't told him Cinda's reaction either. He looked scared and was now completely hiding behind me.

"What did you expect me to do, Julie?" Cinda exclaimed. "Be happy about it?"

"Of course not! I expected you to be a bit nervous at first, but to get used to it eventually! I understand that you're a Muggle and didn't even know about anything remotely magical until I was eleven, but I did not expect you to practically ignore your own grandson for something he can't control! If you'd just open your mind and try to let what I tell you sink in, you might understand the kind of situation we're in!"

"Fine," Cinda said shortly, "But I do not appreciate your attitude towards the party."

"I don't care. You knew we didn't want that party," Mum seethed, "And if you can't accept that, or the fact that we are moving, then maybe we ought to just leave."

Mum turned around, leaving Cinda with her mouth open but no words coming out. Mum motioned for us to follow her and we did wordlessly. We followed her down to the living room without talking at all. I could feel how tense she was as we Apparated back home. This wasn't good. She was so angry at Cinda. I had never seen her row with anyone like that before, especially not her own mother.


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PostPosted: Monday 15 December 2008 2:35:30am 
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Wow. Intense. But I did appreciate the remark about the boringness that is New York State. :grin:


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PostPosted: Sunday 21 December 2008 11:43:53pm 
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Thanks, Obladi! Hehe, well, not everything about NY is boring. We do get a good bit of snow, which is always fun. ;)

Chapter 25: Hogwarts

A few days later I found myself yet again on an airplane. Airport security went smoother this time than when we went to New York, but the actual plane ride was worse. The plane was smaller and more cramped. We also weren't able to get seats near the window. We were in the middle of the plane this time. I was unlucky enough to be sitting next to a very large, sweaty man. Matt was on my other side and Mum was next to him. Dad was on Mum's other side, but he had an aisle seat.

The man fell asleep partway through the flight and I couldn't blame him. I probably would have fallen asleep if I wasn't so uncomfortable. The flight was scheduled to leave at seven in the morning, although it left at seven forty-five. We had gotten to the airport at four-thirty in the morning.

That itself had been an adventure. We had to Apparate to the nearest Apparition center, which was a few blocks away, and then walk to the airport. Mum wasn't speaking to Cinda, so we weren't able to have her or Richard drive us. I was kind of surprised they hadn't made up yet and was wondering if I'd still have to go to Cinda's house during the full moon.

There hadn't been any turbulence during the flight so far, which I was grateful for. Although it was only half over, so there was still plenty of time for bumpy flying. The lunch they served us was gross, so I didn't eat much of it. Too bad they didn't have any spiedies in Scotland because I was going to be starving by the time we got there.

Matt had fallen asleep pretty much as soon as we got on the plane, but he had woken up for lunch. Now he was asleep again. My parents were whispering to themselves, but I couldn't hear them over the huge bloke's snoring. His head was getting dangerously close to my shoulder and I was fully prepared to poke his mountainous stomach if he started sleeping on me. Matt was already laying his head on my arm, but I didn't so much mind that. I sighed and resumed reading the novel I had started at the beginning of the flight. At the rate I was going, I'd finish it by the time we landed in London.

I must have managed to fall asleep because I was soon awoken by the sound of the pilot on the loudspeaker.

"Attention, passengers," he droned in monotone, "We'll be experiencing a bit of turbulence as we pass through this thunderstorm."

Great, I rolled my eyes. Turbulence and a storm. The fat man gave a large snort and his head lolled onto my shoulder. I shrieked and jumped up, which caused Matt to wake up.

"Sorry," fat bloke muttered as I sat back down. He pointed to my pathetic excuse for a taco that was still on my tray. "You gonna eat that?"

I stared at him. "Um, no."

"Can I have it?"

"Sure..." I watched as he ate it in two bites. Wow, what kind of person eats strangers' food on an airplane? I wanted more than ever to get away from him.

The storm started shortly thereafter, but as I hadn't eaten much, I didn't get sick. We passed through it quickly and the remainder of the flight was just as boring and uncomfortable as the first part. I was very happy to leave my fat fellow passenger in my wake as I lead my family out of the plane as quickly as I could.

We made it through airport security in record timing, mostly because we were some of the first ones off the plane.

"So what now?" I asked as Dad consulted a piece of parchment.

"We've got to find the nearest Floo center," Dad explained, "Should be a couple blocks down the road."

Dad led us out of the airport and into London. It was kind of chilly, but not snowy like it had been in New York. The sun had set hours ago and it was completely dark. It didn't take long to find the Floo center and we all followed Dad inside.

Dad nodded to the witch who was manning the station and led us over to the nearest fireplace. "We're going to The Three Broomsticks."

I Flooed after Dad, making sure to speak the location clearly. I exited the Floo and stepped into a warm pub crowded with tables. A few of them were occupied by witches and wizards talking animatedly about who knows what and there were also a few people eating alone. The bar was being manned by an older witch, who was talking to one of her customers sitting at the bar.

Once Mum and Matt came through the Floo, we followed Dad over to the bar.

"Excuse me," Dad said.

"Can I help you?" the witch asked.

"Yes, I reserved a room," Dad explained.

"Name?"

"Walter Eckerton."

"Ah, here we go," the witch turned around for a moment and then produced two keys with numbers dangling from each. "You're in room five. Right up the stairs, take a right and it'll be on your left. My name's Rosmerta, if you need anything."

Dad took the keys and then gave one to Mum, "Thanks."

I followed Mum and Dad up the stairs and we quickly found room five. It was dark and cramped. Once Dad turned on the light, I saw that there were two beds, a dresser, a desk, and a bathroom that led off of the main room. I tossed my bag onto the bed near the window and threw myself down on it.

"Can we go get something to eat?" I asked.

"In a moment," Mum yawned.

"I'm hungry, too," Matt whined.

"We'll go eat in five minutes," Dad said, "Hold your hippogriffs."

I sighed and sat up. I hadn't eaten a proper meal in practically a day. Of course, with the time change it was kind of like I hadn't eaten a proper meal in ten hours or so. I was also dead tired, but I knew I couldn't sleep without eating anything.

Finally, Mum and Dad were ready to eat and we went back down into the pub. Madam Rosmerta brought us drinks and food and asked us what we were up to in Hogsmeade. Dad explained that we were thinking of moving to England and wanted to see Hogwarts. Rosmerta had only good things to say about the school and she had gone there years ago.

The fatigue really hit me after I finished my food and all I wanted to do was collapse into bed. Matt had already fallen asleep on Dad's lap and both my parents looked worn out. Dad paid Rosmerta and then we went back up to our room.

Dad laid Matt down on the bed he and I were sharing and I climbed in next to him as soon as I put my pajamas on.

******

The Headmaster of Hogwarts met us in The Three Broomsticks at ten o'clock sharp the next morning, which caused Dad to immediately take a liking to him. Unlike the Headmaster at Salem, this bloke arrived on time.

He was a tall man, with short, neat black hair atop his long face. He greeted us with a warm smile and introduced himself as Fabius Kendrick. His robes were navy blue and he looked to be a little older than Dad.

Dad introduced himself and the rest of us and we soon found ourselves following Professor Kendrick through Hogsmeade. Kendrick kept up a running commentary of what all the buildings were and bits of trivia and history about the village. It reminded me of what the headmaster in New York had done.

When we emerged onto the Hogwarts grounds, I let out a gasp. The school was an actual castle! It was a huge, kind of spooky looking, stone castle. It wasn't like any school I had ever seen in my life. There was only the castle, too. No other buildings. Everything must have been put into that castle. Dormitories, classrooms, the library, everything. I thought that was a bit strange, but kind of cool at the same time. Not that I really wanted to attend Hogwarts, but it might be fun to wander around.

Kendrick pushed open a set of wooded doors and walked inside. Once we were all inside, he turned around and smiled at us.

"Welcome to Hogwarts. The school was founded centuries ago by Rowena Ravenclaw, Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, and Salazar Slytherin. These four wizards and witches were the cleverest of their days and wished to pass along their knowledge to others. They decided to form this school, where they each took in children they thought should learn magic. This formed the four Hogwarts Houses. I will explain more about the houses later.

"We are standing in the Entrance Hall, which is quite empty right now since classes are going on. To your right is the Great Hall, where meals are served. Go have a peek if you'd like."

I followed my parents over to the Great Hall and followed them inside. There were four long tables with benches on either side of each. There was also a table perpendicular to the others, which I guessed was where the teachers sat. I glanced up at the ceiling and let out another gasp. There wasn't an actual ceiling. It looked just like the sky outside. What happened when it rained? Why wasn't there a roof above this room?

"Ah, you've noticed the ceiling," Kendrick said, "It's merely enchanted to look like the sky."

I nodded. That was amazing. I bet at night it had stars on it. I'd love to see that.

Next, Kendrick led us up a huge staircase and then down a long corridor. The corridors in this place were adorned with portraits of all different witches and wizards. They whispered amongst themselves as we passed.

The tour of the castle took a couple hours. Kendrick didn't even take us everywhere in the place. It was positively huge. Kendrick did show us the most commonly used classrooms, the library, the Hospital Wing (where we met the nurse, Madam Pomfrey, who immediately began fussing over Matt), and one of the common rooms. Then he took us back outside to show us the greenhouses, the Quidditch Pitch, and the Care of Magical Creatures' professor's hut. Apparently most of his lessons take place outside.

After we had finished the exhausting tour, Kendrick led us back to the castle and up to his study. It was concealed by a gargoyle, which revealed a revolving staircase once Kendrick muttered a password. The staircase took us up to the study, which was quite different from the other Headmasters's studies I'd seen.

It was a circular room filled with various tables that held silver instruments that I had never seen before. There were bookcases filled with all sorts of books. But the most interesting thing of all was the fact that the entire back wall was covered in various portraits. Portraits of past headmasters and headmistresses, Kendrick told us. The one directly behind Kendrick's desk was Albus Dumbledore.

Kendrick conjured chairs for us and he sat down behind his desk. I took a seat in the puffy blue armchair and my parents took the green and red ones, while Matt took the yellow one.

"How did you like the school?" Kendrick asked.

"I liked it," Dad replied and Mum nodded.

"It was nice," I said.

"I like the staircases," Matt commented, referring to the staircases that moved on their own.

Kendrick laughed, "Most people do. Although I wasn't fond of them in my first year.

"Now, first I'd like to explain about the four Houses. Do you have Houses at your school in Australia?"

"Yes," I told him.

"Well, ours are probably similar. We sort students on their first night here into one of the four houses. These houses were created by the founders and are called Ravenclaw, Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, and Slytherin. Each House has a common room, I took you to the Ravenclaw one, and the dormitories are done by House as well.

"Students are sorted using The Sorting Hat," Kendrick gestured to a very old, frayed hat that was sitting on a shelf. "Godric Gryffindor put a spell on it that enabled it to sort students properly."

I nodded. "Ok."

"If your parents choose to move here, you'll be sorted either with the first years or sometime before term starts, whichever you prefer."

"All right," I said, already deciding that I'd rather be sorted before term. If I walked into the Great Hall with a bunch of first years, everyone would stare at me.

"Now, I'd like to explain the precautions we have set up for your son," Kendrick turned to my parents.

"You've already got them set up?" Dad asked.

"Oh yes," Kendrick smiled, "You see, your son wouldn't be the first werewolf to attend here."

"Really?" Mum said, "You regularly admit werewolves?"

"No, we've only had one. You are only the second family to ask if a werewolf could attend, within recent history that is. A few decades ago, while Albus Dumbledore was Headmaster, we admitted a werewolf to the school."

"And how did it work out?" Dad questioned.

"Very well," Kendrick replied and then turned to Dumbledore's portrait, "Would you agree, Albus?"

"Oh, yes," Dumbledore smiled.

"I beg to differ," the portrait next to Dumbledore muttered. He was a stern looking man with lank black hair and a hooked nose.

"Severus," Dumbledore began, "Your experience is not relevant to this."

"What experience?" Dad asked, looking questioningly at Dumbledore. "I'd like to know if it's got anything to do with my son attending here."

"It really doesn't," Dumbledore sighed, "But I'll tell you. You see, Severus was in the same year as the werewolf who previously attended. The two of them merely had a mutual dislike for each other, mainly because the werewolf's friends liked to hex Severus and Severus hexed back. Nothing relevant."

"Ah, I see," Dad visibly relaxed, "Anyway, back to the precautions you were talking about?"

"Right," Kendrick said, "Dumbledore set up precautions to ensure that no one would find out that a werewolf was going to the school. There is a decrepit looking building in Hogsmeade that was used for transformations. It had the most advanced charms and spells on it. It is accessed through a passageway that leads from the grounds. The passageway is concealed by a Whomping Willow. Every full moon, your son will go to the Hospital Wing where Madam Pomfrey will lead him down to the Whomping Willow. She will come collect him the next morning and perform any necessary healing charms."

Mum and Dad looked at each other and exchanged another one of those wordless conversations.

"Wow, you've got it well thought out," Dad said, "I think that would work. Does Madam Pomfrey know what she's getting into, though? Matt's not on Wolfsbane, so there will be quite a bit of healing that will need to be done after every full moon."

"Wolfsbane was not invented the last time a werewolf was here," Kendrick replied, "So Madam Pomfrey has plenty of experience."

"Good, good," Dad replied.

"Do you have any questions?" Kendrick asked.

"How do the other professors feel about this?" Mum asked.

"They're on board," Kendrick answered, "I've discussed it with all of them. Not all of them were enthusiastic, but they are all willing."

Dad nodded, "That should be ok."

"Now, I do have an idea to discuss with you," Kendrick began, "Back when Dumbledore let the other werewolf attend, he was hoping to use him as an example, that all werewolves could safely attend school here. It didn't work out due to the war with Voldemort. I trust you know a bit about that?"

"Yeah, I've read about it," Dad replied.

"Good. Anyway, people were just too fearful of everything at the time and Dumbledore felt it best to wait until after Voldemort was gone to suggest the idea. Unfortunately, Dumbledore was killed before Voldemort was defeated.

"I was hoping that if this works out well with your son, we could try it again."

Dad thought for a moment, "And what would that involve?"

"If things go well, then we would announce at some point after graduation that your son is a werewolf and successfully attended Hogwarts. We would then advertise the school as a place where all werewolves could get an education."

It sounded to me just like what Dad and Oliander had discussed in New York. But that had been before Lubar had told all of Australia that Matt was a werewolf. My parents probably had different feelings about the idea now.

Dad glanced at Mum with a nervous look on his face. "I think we'd have to think it over for a while," Dad replied.

"Of course," Kendrick said, "And if you don't agree, your son still has a place here. Any other questions?"

"Actually," Dad began, "Could we take a look in the library again? I'd like to have a look at the past issues of the newspaper."

Kendrick looked questioningly at Dad for a moment and then stood up. "Sure, no problem. I'll show you the way."

"Why do you want to look at their newspapers?" I asked Dad quietly as we followed Kendrick through the corridor.

"See if I can find out their Ministry's opinion on werewolves," Dad muttered, "And check for job openings."

I nodded. That made sense. It would be pointless to move here if they had laws like the Ministry was passing in Australia.

The library was practically empty when we got there, which was good since I didn't want anyone to stare at us. The few kids that were there glanced up when we entered, but they quickly returned to their work.

The librarian was behind her desk and she glared at us as we walked past. I turned away and didn't look at her. She seemed like a very strict witch. Dad walked up to her and asked where the newspapers were. After a full minute of staring at Dad, she finally pointed him in the right direction.

Mum and Dad immediately settled down to rifle through the archived newspapers while Matt and I sat down and waited for them to be finished.

"I want to go to this school," Matt announced.

"That's nice," I replied.

"Because Dumbledore used to teach here. And he's the most brilliant wizard ever."

"Yeah, I suppose he is."

"Do you want to go here?"

"Not really," I muttered, "If we have to move, I'd rather go to New York because Uncle Jack lives there."

"Yeah, but this place is a castle!" Matt said.

"Quiet!" the librarian shouted, "This is a library!"

"Sorry," Matt and I muttered.

"Julie," Dad whispered, "Look at this."

I turned to where Mum and Dad were sitting. Dad had his nose in a newspaper and Mum leaned over to read what he was reading. I looked at them curiously and then got up to read over Dad's shoulder.

PARTICIPANTS NEEDED FOR WOLFSBANE STUDY

Healer Morris Sterling, of the Dai Lewellyn
Ward in St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical
Maladies and Injuries, is currently looking
for participants for his Wolfsbane Study.

Sterling wishes to investigate why the
Wolfsbane Potion, used by werewolves to
render them harmless during full moons, does
not work for all werewolves. Sterling is in
need of werewolves who the potion does and
does not work for to participate in a
lengthy study of the potion.

Interested parties should inquire at St.
Mungo's, located in London.


Dad set down the newspaper and looked at Mum. The two of them stared at each other for a few minutes, no doubt thinking about the article.

"We need to talk about this," Dad said quietly, "Let's go back to The Three Broomsticks."

"Good idea," Mum agreed and stood up, "C'mon, Matt, we're going."

Dad drew his wand and quickly performed a charm to copy the article onto a new piece of parchment and then put the newspapers away.

Mum and Dad rushed back to Hogsmeade faster than I'd ever seen them walk before. Neither of them said a word as we went, but they kept looking at each other. They immediately headed back to our room and shut the door behind us.

"Amy," Mum began, "Take your brother down to the pub and get a butterbeer or something. We'll come get you once we're done talking about this." Mum handed me a couple Galleons. "Don't mention that article to him," she whispered.

I had been hoping to listen in on what Mum and Dad said about the article, but I guess that wasn't going to happen. I motioned for Matt to follow me and the two of us went back down into the nearly empty pub.

There were only two people there besides Rosmerta. An old wizard was sitting at the bar, talking with Rosmerta. Then there was a young witch eating alone at one of the tables.

I got two butterbeers from the bar and then sat down with Matt at one of the deserted tables.

"What was that article about?" Matt asked as soon as I sat down and handed him his butterbeer.

"I dunno," I shrugged.

"You read it," Matt reminded me.

"Er, well, they don't want me to tell you about it."

Matt sighed, "They never tell me anything."

"They don't tell me anything either. That's why they made us come down here."

"They tell you more than they tell me."

I shrugged. That was probably true. "Well, I'm older."

"Come on, Amy, just tell me what it was about. Please?" Matt pouted. He gave me the most pathetic look ever. It was the one that always worked on Mum and Dad.

"Nope, sorry," I said. Mum and Dad would kill me if I told him. "Trust me, if the article matters at all, then you'll find out."

"And what if it doesn't?"

"Then it doesn't matter if you know or not," I said, "But trust me, you'll probably find out." I couldn't think of any reason why my parents wouldn't have Matt participate in that study. If he did, someone might actually create some Wolfsbane that would work for him.

"Then why can't you just tell me?"

"Because Mum and Dad want to talk about it first," I explained, "Why else?"

"Is it about me?"

"Sort of."

"Is it about the Ministry here hating people like me?" Matt asked quietly after a few moments silence.

I guess Matt knew more about what was going on at the Australian Ministry than Mum thought.

"No, nothing like that," I assured him.

Matt nodded, "Good. Because I really want to move here."

"Just because of the castle?"

"Pretty much," Matt grinned, "It would be so cool to go to school in a castle."

"How did you kids like Hogwarts?" Rosmerta asked once the old man she was talking to left.

"It's brilliant!" Matt exclaimed, "I've never seen a school that's in a castle before."

"That's what I liked about it as well," Rosmerta smiled. "What about you, Amy? Like it?"

I shrugged, "It's all right. I just like my school better."

"Ah, I understand," Rosmerta nodded, "Where are you parents?"

"Upstairs," I replied, "They wanted to talk about something alone."

"I always hated it when my parents did that," Rosmerta commented.

"They're talking about some newspaper article," Matt announced, "Amy read the article, but she won't tell me what it's about."

Rosmerta laughed, "My older sister did the same thing. Whenever she knew what our parents were talking about in secret, she'd never tell me."

"Well, I'd tell you if Mum and Dad hadn't told me not to," I sighed.

"Well, I'd better get back to work," Rosmerta said after an old witch entered the pub, "Talk to you two later."

"Bye," I said.

Mum and Dad came down a few minutes later and they were both smiling, which was different. They motioned for us to follow them upstairs.

"I think they're going to tell you what the article's about," I whispered to Matt as we climbed the stairs.

Dad told us to sit down on the bed after he shut the door. He and Mum sat on their bed across from us.

"Matt," Dad began, "Remember how you used to take that potion and it was supposed to make the full moons easier?"

Matt nodded, "But it didn't."

"I know, and we don't know why. But the hospital here is going to run a study that will try and figure out why. They may even find a new potion that will work for you. We're going to go to the hospital tomorrow and see if you can participate."

"Is that what the article was about?" Matt asked.

"Yes," Dad smiled. "Is this ok with you?"

"Yeah," Matt grinned, "I want a potion that will work."

"Then it's settled," Dad said, "Tomorrow we'll go to the hospital and ask about it."


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PostPosted: Tuesday 23 December 2008 9:26:28pm 
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Very nice chapter. Yay Hogwarts!


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PostPosted: Thursday 25 December 2008 8:49:28pm 
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yeah that is a good chapter
i cant wait for the other chapters
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PostPosted: Monday 29 December 2008 5:05:46pm 
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Thanks Obladi and hprocks!

Chapter 26: The Study

My parents had planned on going to look at houses the next day, but they wanted to go to St. Mungo's first. Dad had decided that if we moved to England, it would be easier to just buy a house rather than build one. There wasn't anyone we knew in England to supervise the building of a house, so it would be easier to buy one. I hoped there were better houses in England than in New York.

As soon as we finished brekkie, we Flooed to St. Mungo's. I stepped out of the fireplace into a waiting room. There were quite a few people sitting in the plastic chairs and even more queued up before a desk at the front. I followed Mum and Dad and we joined queue.

The bloke in front of us looked to be in his twenties and he appeared to have a broomstick stuck in between his legs. He looked rather uncomfortable, but I thought he should consider himself lucky he was able to land the broomstick. In front of him was a witch with a flower growing from her head. There were a number of people ahead of them, but I couldn't quite tell what was wrong with them.

I turned around and took a glance at the waiting area. One wizard had pink pustules all over his body. A small child was hissing and sticking out his tongue, which was forked. There were also a number of people who appeared normal, looking through the various magazines laid out on the tables.

The queue moved slowly and I wished I had brought a book. After a few more minutes, we could finally see who was sitting behind the desk. There was a very bored looking witch sitting there, directing people where to go. Next to the desk was a large sign, also instructing people where to go.

"Next," the witch said.

The lady with the plant on her head walked up and before she could utter a word, the witch behind the desk pointed to the sign and announced, "Fourth Floor."

I glanced at the sign and saw that the fourth floor was for spell damage.

"I can't get off this broom!" the bloke in front of us exclaimed once the plant witch left, "I don't know why! I was just flying and now I'm stuck and I can't get off it!"

"Fourth floor," the witch pointed her wand at the sign and it emitted green sparks. "Next!" she shouted as broom boy waddled off to the lift.

"Hello," Dad greeted the witch and produced the parchment with the article on it, "We're looking for Healer Morris Sterling."

The witch raised her eyebrows at us as she scanned the article. "The Dai Lewellyn Ward is on the first floor. You'll find Healer Sterling there."

"Thank you," Dad said and we followed him over to the lift.

We emerged from the lift onto a long corridor. It was very quiet and looked like the hospital in Australia. A few wizards and witches in lime green robes passed us as we started down the corridor, but they didn't look up from their clipboards. I presumed that they were the Healers. Mum and Dad peeked at every door, reading the signs affixed to them.

Eventually, Dad stopped in front of a door that said 'Dai Lewellyn Ward'. Next to it was another door that said 'Healer Morris Sterling: Head Healer of the Dai Lewellyn Ward'.

The door was open, so we followed Dad inside. A witch sitting at a desk was tying a letter to an owl. There were a few chairs in the room, along with a lot of filing cabinets. There was a sign on her messy desk that said 'Natalie Caberny'.

"Excuse me," Dad said.

"Yes?" Natalie Caberny replied, "Can I help you?"

"We'd like to see Healer Sterling, please," Dad said and showed her the article, "About the study."

"All right," Natalie said as she opened a large book, "Well, let's see, Healer Sterling is busy seeing patients until eleven, but he is available for a half hour then, if that will work."

"That would be fine," Dad told her.

"Name?" Natalie asked as she wrote something in the book.

"Walter Eckerton," Dad told her.

"And you're inquiring about the Wolfsbane Study?" Natalie asked.

"Yes," Dad said.

"Ok, you're all set. See you at eleven."

"Thank you," Dad said and we left the room.

I glanced at my watch once we were back in the corridor. It was a little after ten. An hour to kill until the appointment. I definitely wished I'd brought a book.

We wound up spending the hour in the tea room that was on the top floor. Mum and Dad had some coffee while Matt and I had biscuits. They were all right, but nothing extraordinary. I flipped through a few mediocre magazines, but was basically bored the entire hour. I wished Mum and Dad would have let me stay at The Three Broomsticks.

The first floor was a bit busier when we went back down. A few Healers were running around shouting things to each other and carrying various potions into a few rooms.

Natalie Caberny was sitting at her desk when we entered. She was hurriedly writing something onto a piece of parchment. Dad waited until she had folded the parchment and charmed it to fly out of the room before he spoke.

"We're back for the eleven o'clock appointment," Dad said.

"Right," Natalie replied, "I'll just see if he's ready for you."

Natalie got up and knocked on a door that led off of her study. "Walter Eckerton's here to see you. Should I send him in?"

"Yes, send him in," a man replied.

Natalie opened the door and motioned us in. Dad thanked her and she shut the door behind us.

A balding man was sitting behind a large oak desk. His spectacles were perched on the tip of his nose and he wore the same lime green robes all the other Healers I'd seen wore. He stood up and shook Dad's hand. He was quite tall and a bit on the chubby side.

"Morris Sterling," the man said.

"Walter Eckerton," Dad replied, "My wife, Julie, and our kids, Amy and Matt."

"Nice to meet you," Sterling gestured to the chairs in front of his desk, "Please have a seat."

Mum and Dad sat down in the chairs in front of Sterling's desk and Matt and I sat in the ones that were alongside the wall. I looked at a nearby book shelf and noticed there were a lot of books about potions.

"Now, you're here to inquire about the Wolfsbane Study?" Sterling asked.

"Yes. I saw the article in the paper."

"Ah. Excellent," Sterling replied, "And you're interested in participating?"

"Well, not me, my son," Dad gestured to Matt. "Will you allow underage participants?"

"Hmm," Sterling leaned back and rubbed his chin, "I don't have any yet, but with the right release forms I don't see why not."

"I'll sign them," Dad said, "But do you have a detailed outline of this study?"

"Yes," Sterling replied and opened his desk drawer. He pulled out a thick binder and handed it to Dad. "All the details are in there."

"Thanks," Dad said.

"Does Wolfsbane work for your son?" Sterling asked.

"No, that's why we'd like him in the study," Dad explained.

"I figured, but I had to ask."

"Of course."

"I understand that you'll want to read that thoroughly before you finalize your decision, but I do have a preliminary questionnaire for you to fill out just to be sure your son is eligible," Sterling handed Dad a clipboard.

Dad took the clipboard and pulled a quill out of his robes. He and Mum spent the next few minutes filling out whatever questions Sterling wanted to know. Dad handed him back the clipboard once they were done.

Sterling leaned back in his chair and looked over the questionnaire. "Well, everything seems to be in order. I see no reason why your son can't participate. The only problem is that I see you live in Australia. I will need to perform routine examinations, which might be difficult if you're not in the country."

"We are actually planning on moving," Dad told him, "That was our reason for visiting. We were touring Hogwarts. We're either going to move here or New York. And if I like the sounds of this study, we'll be moving here. Things have gotten a bit, er, difficult in Australia lately."

Sterling nodded, "You know, your name sounds a bit familiar, but I can't quite place it...." Sterling looked at Dad for a moment, "You're the Head of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures in Australia, aren't you?"

Dad sighed, "Not anymore. Just got fired."

"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that," Sterling said quietly.

"It was bound to happen eventually. There aren't many who share my views about werewolves down there. Most of the Ministry are quite unsympathetic. Part of the reason why we're moving. Have you heard about the new laws that are being passed?"

"Only bits and pieces, but what I have heard disgusts me."

"I quite agree," Dad replied, "And there was only so much I could do when nobody shared my opinion."

"Well, we could use someone like you here in England. You'll find that more people are sympathetic here. Pop into the Ministry sometime. I think there might be a few openings in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures here."

"Thank you," Dad said.

"You're welcome," Sterling replied, "I hate to cut this short, but I've got an eleven thirty appointment. Send me an owl if you decide to have your son in the study. There will be some preliminary tests that will need to be done, so perhaps we could schedule them to be done before you return to Australia. When were you planning on flying back?"

"Saturday, but I can always change the tickets."

"Excellent," Sterling said as he stood up, "I'll look forward to your owl."

"I'll send it shortly," Dad stood up, "And thank you for meeting with us."

"Not a problem," Sterling shook Dad's hand.

"Thank you," Mum smiled, "For starting this study. You have no idea how difficult it's been."

"I can only imagine," Sterling replied, "I see so many sad things here. I'd like to have some happy endings for once."

"I certainly hope this study brings one," Mum said.

"Me, too," Sterling agreed.

"We'll be in contact soon," Dad said and we all left the room.

Mum and Dad wanted to go right back to The Three Broomsticks after we left St. Mungo's so they could read about the study. Of course, they wanted to discuss it in private, so Matt and I were banished to the pub once again.

"I'm bored," Matt sighed after we'd finished our butterbeers.

"Me, too," I agreed. Why hadn't I thought to grab a book? "Hey, want to go explore the village?"

"But Mum and Dad said to stay here," Matt said.

"I know," I grinned mischievously, "But if we're back before they finish discussing that study, then they'll never know. C'mon, there were a few shops I wanted to investigate."

"Amy, what if we get caught?" Matt asked nervously.

"We won't get caught. Plus, if we do, Mum and Dad will blame me. You won't get in trouble at all," I assured him.

"Fine," Matt sighed and got up, "But only for a little while."

"Excellent," I grinned and jumped up. "It'll be fun. Trust me."

The air was crisp outside and the ground muddy. The last bits of snow were melting. It seemed almost completely deserted, which didn't bother me in the least. I led Matt down the street, looking in every shop as we went.

"Where are we going?" Matt asked.

"I dunno," I shrugged, "We'll find out when we get there. Hey, didn't Kendrick say the shack you're going to transform in is somewhere around here?"

"Yeah."

"Let's go find it," I took off running.

"Amy, wait!" Matt shouted, "I don't really want to see it!"

"Aw, come on, it'll be cool," I shouted back. "Hurry up!"

I slowed down and waited for my brother to catch up. He looked a bit nervous, but reluctantly followed me. We wandered all the way down the road, looking for anything that resembled the shack Kendrick mentioned.

"How will we know what house it is anyway?" Matt asked quietly.

"I think we'll just know," I told him. How many decrepit buildings could there be in this village anyway?

As we walked farther and farther away from The Three Broomsticks, the houses and buildings got farther and farther apart. There were mountains up ahead as well.

"Hey, I'll bet that's it!" I pointed to an old house that was a few meters off the main road. There was a broken down fence around it. "Let's get closer."

"I don't want to," Matt whined.

"Oh don't be such a baby," I said as I ran up to the house.

It was certainly run down looking. The windows were all boarded up and it didn't look like anyone had lived in it for decades.

"Spooky," I grinned and turned around. Matt was still down by the road. "Oh, get up here!"

Matt reluctantly walked up to the house and looked at it for a few moments. "It's big."

"Not really," I laughed, "It's a shack."

"I meant that it's big compared to the room in the basement."

"Oh."

"It looks haunted," Matt whispered.

"That be because it is haunted, kiddies."

I shrieked and jumped as I turned around. Matt screamed even louder than I did and hid behind me, grabbing my arm. There was a hunched old witch standing a few feet in front of us, wearing a patched old robe. She had a hood over her face, but her lank white hair was sticking out.

"Wh-who are y-you?" I stammered.

"Not important," she cackled, "You kiddies been enjoying the Shrieking Shack?"

"The what?" I asked.

"The Shrieking Shack," the witch repeated, "Yous not heard of The Shrieking Shack? Kiddies not from around here?"

"N-no," I told her.

"Aye, well, Shrieking Shack is haunted," the witch laughed, "I heard the shrieking meself, years ago. Once in a while, loud screeching heard from the place. Ghosts, some said. Dumbledore himself say the shack be inhabited by band of ghosts!

"Must've moved. Not a sound been heard from the place in years. Best stay away. Some say it's still haunted."

"A-all right," I whispered. "I th-think we'll be going now."

"You go, kiddies! And watch out for them ghosts! Might come back, you know."

I nodded and ran back to the road, not looking back at the witch. Matt followed me, not letting go of my arm. My heart was still hammering when we got down to the road. I glanced back at the shack, but the old witch was gone.

"S-see why we sh-shouldn't have go-gone?" Matt stammered.

"It was worth it."

"Let's j-just go b-back."

"No, I saw a shop I wanted to go to," I said, leading Matt back to the village.

We walked down the road until we got to the most colorful display window in the entire village. There was a large display of fireworks in the window, along with various other objects. The sign above the shop said 'Weasley's Wizard Wheezes'.

"C'mon," I said and pushed open the door.

We stepped into what must have been the best joke shop I had ever seen in my life. There was so much stuff crammed into the small shop that I didn't even know what to look at first.

There was a red-haired man behind the counter wearing magenta colored robes talking to a boy with turquoise blue hair. The pair of them looked like they could belong to a Muggle circus. I had to suppress a gasp when the man turned and I noticed that one of his ears was missing.

"Anything else besides the Deluxe Whizbang Box?" the man asked the boy.

"Nope, that's it for now," the boy replied.

Both of them looked over at Matt and I as we reached the display near the counter. The man grinned when he saw us and the boy looked at us quizzically.

"Skip out of school?" the man asked, "Ah, how I enjoy seeing those who continue that noble tradition."

"Er, no, actually I don't go to school here," I muttered.

"That's why I don't recognize you," the boy said. "I'm Ted Lupin."

"Amy Eckerton," I said. "And that's my brother Matt," I pointed to Matt, who was perusing a display of sweets.

"Nice to meet you," Ted replied.

"You, too."

"And I am George Weasley, at your service," the man grinned. "I own the shop."

"It's brilliant," I told him, "Best joke shop I've seen."

"You don't sound like you're from around here," Ted mentioned.

"We're actually from Australia," I explained.

"Wow," Ted looked at me in awe, "What are you doing here?"

"My family's moving," I sighed, "So we're visiting Hogwarts. My parents haven't decided if we're moving here or New York."

"Move here," Ted said. "And if you do, hope for Gryffindor, it's the best House."

I grinned. Ted was nice. "I'll keep that in mind."

"It really is the best house," George Weasley added.

"Blimey," Ted glanced at his watch, "I'd better get back if I want to make it back for Transfiguration, not that I really want to...."

"Go back, Ted," George laughed, "Your grandmother will have my head if you miss class because you're here."

"Bye, Uncle George," Ted picked up his package and turned to leave, "See you around, Amy."

"Bye," I said as he left the shop.

"Anything I can help you with?" George Weasley asked.

"I'm just looking around," I replied.

"Give a shout if you have any questions."

I nodded and started wandering around the shop. The first thing I noticed was that there was a whole variety of sweets that made you sick. Matt was looking at them with disgust.

"Why would you want to make yourself sick?" he asked.

I picked up one of the boxes and read the back. "So you can miss class," I grinned, "That's brilliant. You eat one half of it to make you sick, get excused from class, and then eat the other half to get better after you leave. Of course, you'll be able to do that perfectly fine on your own."

"Very funny," Matt said flatly.

"Oh, I'm just joking," I said as I moved to another display.

"Hey, Amy, look at these!" Matt shouted.

I turned back to where he was looking. "What?"

Matt held up a box that had a picture of a long flesh-colored thing on it. "Read this."

I took the box and read the label. It said 'Extendable Ears'. A grin appeared on my face as I read that they were for eavesdropping on other people's conversations.

"You know, we could use these to listen to what Mum and Dad are talking about right now," I said excitedly. These things were probably my favorite item in the shop. If only they sold them in Australia! I'd never have wondered what Mum and Dad talked about when they holed themselves up in Dad's study.

"That's what I was thinking," Matt replied.

"Let's get them," I grinned, "C'mon."

We ran up to the desk, where George Weasley was smiling at us. I placed the box on the counter.

"Extendable Ears," he said, "Excellent choice. Nine Sickles and five Knuts."

I pulled out a few Sickles and Knuts that were leftover from the Butterbeer. Luckily I had enough.

"Enjoy," George Weasley said as I picked up the box.

"Thanks," I grinned and we left the shop.

"Aren't you happy we went exploring now?" I asked once we left.

"Yeah, yeah," Matt muttered.

We ran all the way back to The Three Broomsticks. Madam Rosmerta smiled and shook her head as we breezed past the bar. I took that to mean that Mum and Dad hadn't come out and noticed we were missing.

I ripped open the package as we ascended the stairs. I unwrapped the fleshy tubes and handed one to Matt. We sat down outside our door and shoved an end of the Extendables into our ears and the other end near the crack in the bottom of the door.

"It does seem safe," I heard Dad saying. I turned to Matt and we grinned at each other. They worked!

"Nothing's perfectly safe," Mum replied.

"Yes, but I think it may be worth the risk," Dad said.

"I suppose you're right," Mum sighed, "I just worry. Look at all those possible complications."

"They have to put those in so nobody can sue them," Dad explained, "There will always be risk. There was risk with the other treatments we tried."

"I know."

"This is different, Julie. It's not just one treatment. We may actually find out why the Wolfsbane doesn't work if we go through with this. It could drastically change his life for the better."

"So you want to do it?" Mum asked.

"Yes," Dad replied, "I really think it's be a good idea."

"Well, then I suppose we'd better send Healer Sterling an owl."

"I'll go see if Madam Rosmerta has one we can borrow." I heard Dad get up from the bed.

I pulled the Extendable Ear out of my ear and grabbed Matt's arm. We hurried back down to the bar and sat down in the first table we got to. I stuffed all the Extendables into my pocket and tried to act natural.

Dad appeared a few seconds later. "Hi, kids."

"Hey, Dad," I replied.

"Hi," Matt said.

Dad smiled at us and went over to the bar. He talked with Madam Rosmerta and she left for a few moments and then came back with an owl. Dad took the owl and went back up the stairs.

After he left, the conversation I had just heard started to sink in. Mum and Dad were going to enroll Matt in that study. That meant that it was official. We were moving to England. We wouldn't move to New York and live near Uncle Jack. We would move here, to a place where I knew no one and had never been to before this visit. A place I was totally unfamiliar with. Any lingering hope of staying in Australia was gone. Once Matt was in that study, there would be no going back. We'd sell our house in Australia and look for one in England. Australia would no longer be my home and I would not get to call New York my home. My home would be England, a place that was totally and completely foreign. I swallowed hard and bit my lip to keep the tears from falling.


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PostPosted: Wednesday 31 December 2008 8:34:06pm 
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No! Crying bad! Hogwarts good...

Marvelous chapter, Duckie. I shall be waiting for more!


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PostPosted: Thursday 1 January 2009 4:14:11pm 
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yeah it was completle awsome
i cant wait for the next chapter
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PostPosted: Tuesday 6 January 2009 2:01:16am 
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Thanks Obladi and hprocks! :grin:

Chapter 27: Fish and Chips

Dad returned a short while later and told Matt and I to come back to to the room. I stood up and rubbed my eyes, trying to wipe away any evidence that I had been crying. Dad shut the door after we got into the room and motioned for us to sit down on the bed. I tried to feign ignorance, since Dad had no idea Matt and I had listened in on his conversation with Mum.

"Matt," Dad began, "Remember yesterday when we went to the hospital and got some more information about that study?"

Matt nodded, "Yeah."

"Well, your mother and I have decided to enroll you in it. So I'd like to tell you both about what's going to happen," Dad said.

We were going to move to England. That's what was going to happen, I thought.

"So, the general point of this study is to find out why the Wolfsbane potion doesn't work for all werewolves," Dad explained, "But it's also going to be used to test variations of the Wolfsbane as they come available. Hopefully, one of these will work, but there's no guarantee.

"The study will last at least four years. For the first two years, you're not given any potion. The next two years you're given regular Wolfsbane. Then, hopefully, there will be a new variety of it and you'll try that for two years. It will keep going as long as there are new varieties of the potion, or until one is found that will work. Does that sound all right?"

"I guess," Matt shrugged, "But what if one of them makes it worse?"

Dad sighed, "There is a possibility of that, but if that happens, you won't take that particular potion again."

"Ok."

"When does this study begin?" I asked. I wanted to know how much longer I had in Australia. If this study started next month, I had no doubt we would move next week.

"Not until January," Dad told me. "But we'll be moving here in time for you to start school in September."

"So it's official?" I asked, "We're moving here, to England?"

"Yes," Dad confirmed.

"But I don't want to move here," I groaned, "Why can't we just move to New York? At least Uncle Jack is there. Plus, their school has such a good Astronomy department."

"Amy, we want your brother in this study," Mum said, "Therefore, we're moving here. I'm sorry you're not happy, but there's nothing you can do to change it."

"Why can't we move to New York and have him be in the study?"

"It would be too difficult," Dad replied, "Seeing as how we're looking for some place to move to anyway, we might as well move to the country that the study is taking place in."

"It's still not fair," I turned away from them, "When are we going back home? I need to send an owl to Olivia."

"Not for another couple days," Dad said, "We're most likely going back to St. Mungo's tomorrow so Healer Sterling can perform the necessary tests for Matt to be in the study. And so your mother and I can sign the paperwork. Then the next day we'll have to start looking at houses."

Houses, wonderful. Probably another aspect of this move my parents wouldn't consider my opinion on. I only hoped that we'd have better luck looking at houses in England than in New York.

******

I didn't sleep much that night. I tossed and turned thinking about the fact that within a few months, I'd be living in England. It was so final now, so official. My parents had decided where we were moving. Things had been so up in the air for the past few months, but now my parents had decided everything. The only thing left to do was find a house.

Healer Sterling had sent an owl late the previous night telling my dad to bring Matt in at nine o'clock the next morning. Both Mum and Dad wanted to go and they refused to let me stay at the Three Broomsticks by myself. At least this time I thought to bring a book.

The waiting room was much emptier than it had been the day before. There were a few witches and wizards lazily flipping through the magazines and an old wizard who was sleeping. A smiling nurse woke him up a minute after we walked in the door and informed him that he had a granddaughter. He immediately got up and followed the nurse to the lifts.

Dad didn't bother to talk to the witch behind the desk this time. Instead he led us directly to the lifts. We followed the old wizard and the nurse into one of them.

"I've got a granddaughter!" the wizard announced as the doors shut.

"Congratulations," Mum smiled at him, "Do you know her name yet?"

"No idea," the wizard laughed, "Last I knew, my son and his wife still hadn't decided on names."

Mum and Dad nodded to the wizard as we got off on the first floor. The place was even more deserted than the waiting room had been. The only person wandering around was a nurse who headed into one of the rooms a few seconds after we got off the lift.

We walked down the corridor and found Healer Sterling's study. Natalie, the secretary, wasn't there when we walked in. The door leading to the healer's study was open and Dad stuck his head in.

"Healer Sterling?" Dad asked, "You told us to come at nine? Your secretary's not here, so I just thought I'd tell you we were here."

"Oh, yes!" I heard the healer respond, "Natalie doesn't come in until ten. Just come on in.

"Thanks," Dad said.

I followed my parents and Matt into the healer's office. It hadn't changed in appearance since the day before. I settled myself into the same chair and cracked open my book. Previous experience with Matt's healer appointments had taught me to always bring a book. They were always incredibly long. Although we usually had to wait a long time before he actually got seen by the healer.

"First, I'll have you sign the necessary paperwork," Healer Sterling said as he handed Dad a clipboard, "It basically states that you give permission for your son to be in the study and that you won't sue us if anything goes wrong."

Dad nodded and he and Mum read over the packet of parchment. After a few minutes, I heard the sound of a quill scratching and I glanced up to see Dad signing in various places.

"All set," Dad said and handed back the clipboard.

"Excellent," Sterling leafed through the packet and then set it down on his desk. "Now we'll go to one of the exam rooms and get started. Follow me."

Sterling stood up and grabbed another clipboard off his desk. One thing I've noticed about healers is that they always have at least one clipboard with them. For all the healers I've seen in my life, I don't think I've ever seen one without a clipboard.

I closed my book and got up out of my chair to follow everyone out of the room. I wish we could've just stayed in one place so I could get absorbed into my book properly.

Sterling led us down the corridor a little ways, past a nurse's station and the main Dai Lewellyn Ward. We stopped in front of a door that was right next to the ward. A sign adorned to it stated that it was 'Dai Lewellyn Ward: Exam Room 1'. Sterling waved his wand and the word 'Vacant' appeared in bright green letters on the door. With another wave, the word changed to 'Occupied' and Sterling opened the door.

The room was tiny, just like every other exam room I've been in, and did not have enough chairs for everyone. There was a bed, a swivel chair, and a plastic chair. I always envied the fact that the healers got to sit on the swivel chairs. Those things were so much fun. Mum used to yell at me when I was little and spin on them.

We squeezed into the minuscule room and I got pushed up against one of the walls. Dad lifted Matt onto the table and then stood next to me. Mum took the plastic chair while Sterling sat down on the swivel chair. He looked up at Dad and I and then conjured two more plastic chairs.

"Thanks," Dad said as he sat down on one of them.

I took the other one and opened my book as soon as I sat down. I started reading about cauldron thickness and its affects on various potions, but half-listened to what was going on in the room as well.

"I'm going to have to start with the family and personal history first," Sterling began, "Because he's not currently one of my patients."

"That's fine," Dad said. He was probably used to this, I thought, since every healer we'd been to began the examinations like this.

"All right," Sterling continued, "Paternal grandparents?"

"Conan and Nancy Eckerton," Dad replied, "Both deceased, died in a car accident years ago. No chronic illnesses for either of them."

Sterling nodded and scratched the information down on his clipboard. "Maternal grandparents?"

"Richard and Lacinda Bailey," Dad said, "Both living. Richard has high blood pressure. No other chronic issues for either of them."

Sterling gave a small shake of his head and smiled a little. "You've got this down, haven't you? I've hardly had to ask you anything."

"We've done this dozens of times, unfortunately," Dad sighed.

"I'm hoping that this will be the last," Sterling replied, "I'll venture a guess and say that you know the next question?"

Dad nodded, "Parents, right?"

"Yes."

"Walter and Julietta Eckerton," Dad answered, "No chronic illnesses for either of us."

"Siblings?"

"Amy Eckerton," Dad said, "No chronic illnesses."

"That's it for family history," Sterling said, "Now onto personal. Full name and birthday first."

"Matthew Conan Eckerton. February 6, 2005."

"Any birth complications?"

"He was two months premature."

"Interesting," Sterling said as he wrote on the clipboard.

"Do you think that's relevant?" Mum asked.

"Anything's relevant at this point. Can you go into more detail about the birth and first few weeks?"

"He was in an incubator for a month, breathing support for a month and a half. Then he got to come home. He was fine after that, although he's always been prone to getting sick and small for his age, even before he was bitten," Mum explained.

Sterling nodded and continued writing. "Any chronic illnesses? Besides the obvious, I mean."

"No," Dad said.

"All right," Sterling replied and put his quill down, "That's it for history. I do have a questionnaire for you to fill about that asks about his lycanthropy any other remedies you've tried for it, but it's quite lengthy so I'll ask that you fill it out another time and owl it to me."

"Sure," Mum said.

"Excellent," Sterling handed Mum a stack of parchment. He picked up his wand and turned to Matt, "All right. I'm going to have to do a few tests now, but hopefully they're going to eventually make the full moons better. Can I first have you hop on that scale over there?"

Matt nodded and climbed down from the table. Sterling weighed him and measured his height, which he then recorded on the clipboard. Dad lifted Matt back up onto the examination table and Sterling turned back to him.

"Now time for the tests," Sterling said, "I'm going to listen to your heart first."

Sterling reached around to place his hand on Matt's back, but he squirmed away and looked at Mum. He looked kind of scared.

"Honey, you've got to let him do this," Mum whispered and gave him a gentle squeeze. "This might help make the full moons better."

"He's kind of shy around strangers," Dad said to Sterling, "Especially lately, in light of recent events."

"Understandable," Sterling replied and then turned back to Matt, "I promise this one isn't going to hurt a bit."

This time, Matt didn't shy away from Sterling and he was able to listen to his heart. I didn't pay much attention to the next few tests, but Matt seemed to cooperate for them as well.

"Almost done," Sterling said as he placed his wand on the counter and wrote something else on the chart, "I'm just going to have to take a blood sample."

Matt shook his head furiously. I couldn't blame him. It hurt to have blood taken. I'd only had it done once and I never wanted to go through it again. Matt had had it done a lot, but that didn't make him like it any more.

"I know it hurts," Mum got up from her chair and gave Matt a hug, "But you've got to let him do it."

"I don't want to," Matt whispered.

"It'll be over in a few seconds," Mum said as she lifted Matt up and sat down on the table. She set him down in her lap and wrapped her arms around him.

Matt nodded. "Ok."

"It'll be over before you know it," Sterling said as he lifted up Matt's sleeve and wiped an alcohol swab over one of his veins. He took his wand and pressed it to the vein.

"Ow!" Matt shrieked and started crying, "Stop!"

"All done," Sterling said and lifted his wand away. He grabbed a vial from the counter and pointed his wand at it. Blood appeared in the vial and Sterling stoppered it with a cork.

Sterling pointed his wand at Matt's arm and the cut magically healed. "Do you want a Chocolate Frog?" Sterling asked.

Matt sniffled and nodded. Sterling reached into his robes and pulled one out, handing it to Matt.

"One more thing," Sterling turned to my parents, "I am going to have to observe him right before and right after a full moon before the study actually begins. I understand that it would be difficult to do that before you move. Could you owl me after you're all settled and we'll figure out which month will work?"

"That sounds great," Dad said.

"Excellent," Sterling smiled and stood up, "Good luck with the job and house hunting. As I said yesterday, just pop into the Ministry and I'm sure you'll find something. I'll owl you if anything comes up with the study. Keep in touch."

"Thanks. We will," Dad got up and shook the healer's hand. "Bye."

"Bye," Sterling smiled.

"Thanks for everything," Mum said.

"My pleasure."

I got up and followed my parents out of the room. Dad was carrying Matt and he was opening his Chocolate Frog, looking much happier than he had two minutes ago.

"I got Dumbledore!" he broke out into a huge grin.

"Awesome," I smiled, remembering back to the days when a simple Chocolate Frog would momentarily make all your problems go away.

******

Dad decided to go to the British Ministry once we'd all returned to the Three Broomsticks. He had no idea what time he'd return, so Mum said we should wait to look for houses until the following day. Dad figured he could ask at the Ministry about a good real estate place as well.

"Mum, can we go do something?" I asked after staring at the ceiling above my bed for twenty minutes.

"Not now," Mum replied without looking up from the table, "I'd like to get this questionnaire done."

I sighed loudly. How long could that thing take? She had been working on it ever since we got back.

"Then could I go do something?"

"No," Mum said shortly, "I don't want you wandering the village by yourself."

Too late for that, I thought. It's a good thing she or Dad didn't catch us when we went to the joke shop. What I wanted to do was go to the joke shop again. That place was awesome and I hardly got to look at any of the stuff in it.

"I'm bored," I said. "Why can't you finish that later?"

"Because I want to get it back to Healer Sterling as soon as possible," Mum snapped, "Now go find something to do."

"There's nothing to do," I replied.

"Read. Do your homework," Mum said.

The last thing I wanted to do was homework. Mum had given me some 'homework' shortly before we left, but I hadn't started it. I turned my head and watched Matt play his DS on the other side of the bed. I almost wished I had one.

Eventually, I got so bored that I decided to do just the potions and astronomy stuff Mum had assigned me. The potions part was a joke, since it was all stuff I'd learned in first year. Astronomy wasn't bad, but it was mostly busy work as well.

I was about to take a peek at the Transfiguration work when I heard the door open. Dad walked inside looking happier than I'd seen him in weeks.

Mum looked up from the packet of parchment when she noticed him. "How did it go?"

"Wonderful," Dad grinned and sat down on the end of my bed.

"Well, tell me all about it!" Mum smiled.

"I spoke with their Head of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. I've spoken with him before and he shares most of my opinions. We talked about what it's like here, regulation-wise. He explained that although it's better than Australia, most of the average witches and wizards are wary of werewolves. So, we'll be keeping it a secret again."

"That's what we expected," Mum commented.

"I know. So that's not bad. They don't have any laws up here like the ones that are currently being passed in Australia, which is good. I think it will be much easier up here."

"That's a relief," Mum said, "What about your job?"

"That's the best part," Dad smiled, "I've got an interview on Monday."

Mum grinned, "What position? Something in the Werewolf Control Unit?"

"No," Dad said, "Something a bit different. There's an opening in Werewolf Support Services."

"That's great!" Mum exclaimed.

"Yes, I think it'll be a good change. I won't be dealing with passing legislation anymore. I'll just be working to make life better for people with lycanthropy."

"Honestly, I've always thought you'd be good in a position like that," Mum commented.

"I've thought that, too," Dad mused, "But in Australia, I was the only one keeping all the awful legislation from passing. I couldn't quit."

"Of course not," Mum agreed, "But now you've got the opportunity to do what you really want."

"Exactly," Dad smiled, "I think this is going to be good for all of us."

"I completely agree," Mum got up and sat down next to Dad. Dad put his arm around Mum and she leaned her head on his shoulder.

Except me, I thought. I really didn't see how I would benefit from moving to England.

"If they hire you, when would you start?" Mum asked after a few moments.

"They're going to be flexible. They said I could start whenever it's convenient."

"Let's move soon," Mum said.

"We've got to find a house first," Dad pointed out, "And sell ours. Once we get back, I'm going to owl around to find someone to run an estate sale. We'll put the house on the market once we get back. I'll owl the real estate agency."

"Sounds good to me."

"I'll owl Jack and see if he can fly down when we do the sale," Dad said.

"Uncle Jack's going to visit us?" Matt tossed his DS onto the bed and crawled over to my parents.

"Yes," Mum smiled and ruffled his hair, "Sometime after we get back."

"Yay!" Matt shouted.

"Julie," Dad said quietly.

"What is it?"

"There is one thing about this job that I've got to tell you," Dad began, "I'll be making much less money."

Mum turned and looked at him. "We'll be fine. You inherited so much from your parents. I don't think we've got to worry about money."

"You know we've spent most of that," Dad said quietly.

I've always wondered how much money my parents actually have. I know Dad inherited a lot, but for the year after Matt got bit, he and Mum spent a lot trying to find cures. I had no idea how much they actually spent. I guess it must have been a lot.

"Yes, but after we sell the house, we'll have more," Mum pointed out. "We're buying a much smaller house. Don't worry about the money. Your happiness is what matters."

"I know," Dad sighed, "I just worry, you know, if we ever have to pay for anymore long hospital stays. You know it's possible."

"I know," Mum said, "I don't like to think about that possibility, but I know it's there. I still think you should just do what makes you happy. Matt will be going to school in three years. I can get a job once he's there."

"All right," Dad replied, "I'll try not to worry about it."

"Good," Mum smiled, "Now let's go do something fun. Amy's been complaining the whole time you were gone."

My parents decided to take us on a Muggle tour of England. It was really fun. For a few hours, I nearly forgot about moving and pretended we were just on holiday. I noticed that my parents were much happier than they had been in weeks. They laughed and smiled and even joked around. Dad pushed Mum into a fountain and she actually laughed and pulled him in, too. All the Muggles were staring, but it was fun.

"How can they just stand still?" Matt asked as we were looking at Buckingham Palace, "What if they have to go to the bathroom or something?"

"They switch off every so often," Dad told him.

"But still, it'd be hard not to move."

"It's their job," I said, "If they can't stand still, they find a new job."

"Sounds like an awfully boring job."

"But an important one," Dad said.

We stood in front of Buckingham Palace and watched as they changed guards. It was interesting, but I don't think I'd want to watch it again. Once was enough. It wasn't particularly exciting.

After they'd finished changing the guards, we walked for a few more blocks until we reached a pub. Dad decided that we should eat there as long as we were there. He said everyone who visits England ought to visit a Muggle pub.

"I think we should all order fish and chips," Dad announced after we sat down.

"Sure," Mum agreed.

"Fish and chips?" I asked.

"Classic British Muggle food," Dad explained, "Fish and chips all wrapped in newspaper."

"Newspaper?" I said skeptically. Why would anyone wrap food in newspaper?

"They don't use real newspaper anymore. Turns out the ink was poisonous. But the stuff they use now is all non-toxic," Dad assured me.

"All right, I'll try it."

A little while later, we were all served fish and chips wrapped in fake newspaper. Mum and Dad each had some kind of frothy British beer, too. I started to peel the paper away from the food and stared at it.

Mum and Dad were already digging in. "It's good, Amy," Dad said.

I shrugged and tried a very tiny piece. It wasn't bad. Certainly not the best food in the world, but better than the sushi I had with Cinda.

"Not bad," I said.

"I think it's awesome!" Matt grinned.

"Well, you eat airplane food, so...."

"It's good," Matt said.

"Whatever."

I was hungry, so I did eat all of my fish and chips. It seemed to taste better as I ate it, so by the time I finished, I thought it was pretty good. Once we were all done eating, we went back out into London and walked around for a while before Apparating back to The Three Broomsticks.


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PostPosted: Tuesday 6 January 2009 4:29:05am 
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Joined: Wednesday 6 August 2008 10:29:35pm
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Location: Where no man has gone before.
Very good chapter. I hope everything turns out okay. I WONDER... :grin:


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PostPosted: Saturday 10 January 2009 5:27:45pm 
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yeah that was really good
i cant wait for the next chapter
duckie i was wonder im if you can let me know when the next chapter is out along with the alus potter series, please
hprocks


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