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PostPosted: Monday 23 March 2009 6:06:28pm 
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Now back to the right chapter. Thanks to Obladi and hprocks for the reviews! :grin:

Chapter 39: The Last Night

Mum knocked on my door a while later. I didn't know how much later. I just sat there and didn't say anything. I didn't care one way or the other if she came in. A few moments later the door creaked open and Mum walked inside. She sat down on my bed and wrapped me in a hug.

"I know it's hard," she whispered, "But you can get through it."

I nodded and bit my lip. It didn't stop the tears, though. They started out slow and soon evolved into huge sobs. Mum hugged me tighter and I rested my head on her shoulder like I was little again. I hadn't done that in years. But it was a relief. I cried until I had no more tears left and Mum just hugged me. She didn't say anything, just waited for me.

"I-I just d-don't want to l-leave," I sobbed, "E-everything has h-happened here."

"I know, Amy, I know," Mum soothed, "But we'll make new memories in England. And you'll always remember the good times here."

"I-I know," I cried, "B-but I l-like living here."

"We're all going to miss it, Amy," Mum said.

"B-but you and D-dad hate it here."

"No," Mum said quietly, "Your father and I don't hate living in this house. Believe me, we'd stay if we could. We hate having to deal with the Ministry here. We hate the restrictions they've put on us. But we do not hate living here. I want you to know that."

I nodded. I hated the restrictions too. Mum and I sat on my bed for a while longer before she went downstairs to help Ellie with dinner. I waited a few minutes and then joined her. I felt a bit better, but still incredibly depressed.

Dad and Matt were already sitting at the table when I entered the kitchen. Dad was wearing a completely unreadable expression on his face. I sat down next to Matt and waited for Mum and Ellie to serve dinner.

They had cooked my favorite meal, spaghetti and meatballs. Mum served me a large helping, but I wasn't really hungry. I stared down at the pasta and waited for everyone else to be served.

Dad cleared his throat once Mum and Ellie sat down. We all looked up at him. He had been quiet the entire day.

"Well, here we are," he began, "Last supper in Australia. I don't really know what to say. I've spent the day thinking about everything we've done here. I've spent practically my whole life in this house. I grew up here. Jack grew up here. Amy grew up here. And Matt mostly grew up here. It's strange that we'll be leaving. But it's just a house. As long as we have each other, we'll be fine."

"Well said, Walt," Mum smiled.

I nodded. "Yeah, Dad, well said."

Dad seemed a bit more cheerful during the rest of the meal, but I didn't say much. I managed to eat half the spaghetti and then quietly helped Mum clean up. I wasn't sure what possessed me to do that, as I never help clean up, but for some reason I wanted to.

Mum and Dad spent the evening hours packing. They were saving most of the packing for the Magical Movers to do, but there were some things they wanted to pack themselves. I spent all evening wandering around the house getting one last look at all the rooms. I even went into the rooms I normally stayed out of. Matt followed me around and I walked slowly so he could keep up. His ankle was better, but not perfect. But we didn't talk. We just wandered, making last memories of the place.

I wandered into my room after Mum and Dad made Matt go to bed. I climbed into bed as well, but I wasn't tired. I stared at my ceiling and watched the sparkling fake stars. Stars. I jumped out of bed and walked out to the balcony. It was my last night to look at the Southern Hemisphere sky. After this, I'd be gazing at the Northern Hemisphere's sky.

I leaned against the balcony and looked up at the twinkling bits of light that created the constellations that I loved so much. The quarter moon provided some light, but not enough to impede the stars. I stood there for a while, thinking of all the times I had spent sleepless nights on the same balcony. The day I found out Mum was pregnant with Matt, the night before my first day of Muggle school, the night Matt was born and the healers hadn't been sure he'd make it, the night before my first day at the Australian School of Sorcery, the nights following the night Matt got bit, and of course the plethora of nights from the past six months.

It was a clear quiet night with hardly a hint of wind. It was cool, but not cold. The perfect night to sleep outside, I thought. I realized that I hadn't snuck out of the house and slept in the yard in months. Why was that? I used to do it all the time. This was my last chance. I knew I wouldn't get any sleep inside, so why not?

I went back inside and pulled the blankets and a pillow off my bed. I tossed them off the balcony and watched them land softly on the ground. Then I carefully climbed off the balcony and onto the lattice that was along the side of the house. It was tricky, but I had done it before. The lattice reached from my bedroom all the way to the ground. I slowly climbed down it and then jumped the last couple meters, landing softly on my feet. It was dangerous and Mum and Dad would completely freak out if they knew I did it, but there was no way I could sneak out through a door without them knowing.

I stealthily walked across the lawn and over to my usual spot. It was behind a huge tree that overlooked the pool. I spread out one of the blankets, laid down on it, and looked up at the sky.

I still remembered the first time I spent the night outside. I had been ten years old and the idea came to me as I was star gazing on the balcony. There had been a full moon and I remember thinking how beautiful it was. Looking back, I realized that spending a full moon outside was the stupidest thing I could have done. Sure, that was before Matt was bitten, but still. I'm not sure why I did it, since Dad had always taught me how to keep myself safe from dangerous magical creatures, including werewolves. But whatever, I had been thinking, I spent the night outside.

I successfully climbed down the lattice without so much as a scratch. The thrill of sneaking out of the house was great. I hardly slept since I wanted to stargaze the whole night, but I must have fallen asleep towards morning because I awoke to Mum shouting. She had gone outside to do something and found me asleep. I received one of her loudest, longest lectures ever. Dad added to it when Mum's shouting drew him outside. He was more angry about the fact that I had done it during a full moon more than anything else. I never snuck out on another full moon after that. I had been extremely lucky, especially since we live near the bush.

That had been four years ago. Four years of sneaking outside and Mum hadn't caught me since that first time. I had been lucky.

I gazed up at the sky and opened my eyes wide when I saw a shooting star. I hadn't ever seen a shooting star on one of my little camp outs before. I had to make a wish. I thought for a moment about what to wish for. My first thought was that I could wish that I'd have no trouble with adjusting to England and Hogwarts, but then another wish came to mind. One not for me, but for my brother. And I knew exactly what I'd wish for. I squeezed my eyes shut and made the most unselfish wish I'd ever made in my life.

******

"You have got to be kidding me, Amy!"

My eyes snapped open and I shrieked and jumped back when I saw Mum peering down at me. My head hit the tree behind me and I winced.

"Ouch!" I rubbed the back of my head and groaned.

"Amy Marie, what in the name of Merlin are you doing out here?" Mum demanded, "Did you spend the night out here?"

I nodded but stopped abruptly when it made my head hurt even worse. "Er, yeah."

Mum sighed, "You haven't done this since you were ten! Unless...Amy, have you been doing this regularly?"

I groaned inwardly. Four years of Mum never finding out that I occasionally sleep outside. But the last night I do it, she finds me. Figures.

There was no use denying it. "Yeah," I replied, "But never on the full moon."

"Well, I suppose that's a relief," Mum said, "But still! You know how I feel about camping."

"I know, I know," I said, "I won't do it again."

"Good, now come inside. We're going to Richard and Cinda's for brekkie."

I stood up and winced as my head started throbbing even more. I grabbed my blankets and pillow and followed Mum inside.

Dad and Matt were both in the kitchen waiting for us. Dad raised his eyebrows at us when we came in, but he didn't say anything. Mum wordlessly opened up the potions cabinet and poured me a disgusting looking pain potion. She handed it to me and I downed it in a few seconds.

We left the house and walked into the bush to Apparate. I didn't climb over the wall since Mum was already angry that I slept outside. Dad wrapped me in a hug and we disappeared with a crack.

Richard and Cinda were preparing food in the kitchen when we reappeared in their house. Cinda immediately hugged Mum and it looked like she'd been crying. Richard set the plates of food down and we all sat down. There was silence for a few moments and then Richard raised his glass and cleared his throat.

"I would just like to say a few words," he said quietly, "First, never in a million years would I have guessed that my only daughter would move out of the country. To England of all places. Of course, when she was born, I never would have guessed that she would be a witch. Hell, I didn't even know magic existed. But when that teacher came to the door when Julie was eleven and explained everything, somehow I knew that life would be just a little more insane than normal.

"And well, the lot of you moving to England is kind of insane. But I mean that in the best way possible. Because I'm not thinking about the actual move. I'm thinking about the meaning behind it. When I look at this move, I see devotion. The devotion you have for your children, Julie. And Walter's devotion as well. It would be easy for anyone to say they would do anything for their children, including moving across the world, but it's a completely different story when it actually happens. Nobody can predict what they would do in such a situation. And I can honestly say that I am proud of what you're doing Julie. I am very proud to have raised such a wonderful daughter, who turned into such a devoted mother."

Richard was always good at making speeches and this was no different. I looked over at Mum and she had tears in her eyes.

"Thanks, Dad," she whispered.

"I agree with you, Richard," Cinda said and turned to Mum, "I know I haven't really shown it in the past few months, but I really am proud that you're such a devoted mother."

Mum burst out crying. "Thank you, Mum!"

Once Mum had stopped crying, we all dug into the food that Richard and Cinda had prepared. Well, prepared was the wrong term. Cinda confessed that she had bought it from a caterer. But it was good, so I didn't care.

Awkward silence descended upon the table after we finished eating. My parents kept looking at Richard and Cinda and vice versa. Nobody seemed to want to initiate the goodbyes. I knew they were going to be tearful, at least on Mum and Cinda's part.

Dad glanced at his watch and cleared his throat. "Well, I know this is going to be hard, but we've really got to go. The movers will be at the house soon."

Richard stood up and we all followed. Richard first went to Dad. "Well, good luck with everything, Walter. I hope to see you soon and perhaps we'll visit at some point."

Dad nodded and shook Richard's hand. "Thanks, Richard. We will visit soon and we'd love to have you up sometime."

Dad then turned to Cinda and she kissed him on both cheeks. Dad gave her a hug and they said goodbye.

Then came the tough part. Cinda and Mum's goodbye. They embraced each other and I couldn't understand a word either of them were saying. It seemed like they were mostly crying.

"Bye, Amy," Richard gave me a hug, "I'm proud of you as well. You're really a great big sister."

"Thanks, Richard," I smiled, "I'll miss you."

"I'll miss you, too."

Richard let me go and then Cinda squeezed me in a tight hug and kissed both my cheeks.

"Oh, Amy," she sobbed, "I'm going to miss you so much. I love you."

"I love you, too, Cinda," I replied, "I'll miss you."

Cinda let me go and then moved on to Matt. She hugged him and did the kissing thing as well. She was still crying by the time all the goodbyes had been said. She and Mum kept crying as we Apparated out of their house for the last time until we would visit.

Saying goodbye to my grandparents hadn't shaken me up like saying goodbye to Kenzie had. I guess it was because I knew I'd be seeing them during the next full moon anyway. Cinda was acting like we were leaving forever, though. But we weren't. We would visit and they would eventually visit us.

We arrived at the house moments before the Magical Movers did. Mum and Dad rushed around doing final bits of packing while Matt and I sat in the kitchen and watched them.

There was a loud knock on the door a few minutes later. Dad glanced at Mum and then went to answer the door. Mum ushered Matt outside, where they were going to wait until the movers had left. Mum didn't think seeing a crew of strange men in the house would help with his therapy at this point, and Norlam had agreed. I followed Dad.

He opened the door to three burly looking men and a rather short woman. They stepped inside before saying anything.

"Right difficult to get to this place," the tallest man muttered, "No Floo connection, anti-Apparition wards. It's like going to a Muggle place."

"We have our reasons," Dad replied.

"Oh, right," the man peered around the corridor, "You're the one who got fired from the Ministry because your son's a werewolf. Where is he?"

"Let's just concentrate on the job," the woman said loudly.

"Yes, please," Dad said, "This way."

Dad showed the crew around and they soon got started on packing everything up. Luckily the tallest man didn't mention anything else about Matt.

Once the men were well on their way with the packing, the woman sat down with the rest of us in the kitchen.

"We've arranged a portkey for you to travel to your new house," she explained, "We'll use moving spells to move your stuff. The Muggles moved out yesterday, so you should be all set."

Dad nodded. "Sounds good."

"We'll unpack everything for you and reverse the shrinking spells we're going to put on it," the woman went on.

"Ok," Dad said and then lowered his voice, "I get the feeling your crew is sort of well, interested, in our particular move given recent developments that were greatly advertised in the media. But I would rather you not mention anything about this to any newspapers or magazines or anything else you can think of. I know you're not required to do this, but I would really appreciate it."

"I'll see what I can do," the woman replied.

Well, that was as good as we could hope for, I supposed. Chances were, though, that there would be an interview with the entire moving crew plastered on the first page of the paper the next day. Of course, we'd be in England so it wouldn't really matter, but I could see why Dad didn't want it published.

It didn't take long for the movers to be done packing everything up. When they were done, I left the kitchen and went into the bare living room. It was the strangest thing I had ever seen. Our living room was completely empty. It was weirder than looking at my room the day before. I heard Dad follow me and felt his arm on my shoulder when he entered the room.

"Everything's been moved," the woman told us and handed Dad an old wooden plate, "That's the portkey. Just tap it with your wand when you're ready to go. I'll see you in England." She nodded to me and then left the room.

Dad left the room and came back a few minutes later with Mum and Matt.

"Well, shall we take one more walk around?" Dad suggested.

"That sounds like a good idea," Mum agreed.

We started with the kitchen and slowly made our way around the first floor. None of us spoke. There was a feeling of tension in the air that could only be described as a weird dank sadness. The house seemed like an empty shell. Sure, some of the rooms were still filled with furniture, but it was furniture that we wanted to sell. Furniture that was ours, but we didn't really use.

It was a weird feeling, walking around our empty house. It didn't quite feel like home anymore. I never would have thought that the house wouldn't feel like home, but it didn't. Seeing the empty rooms and the empty walls just depressed me.

When we made our way to the second floor, I stopped at my room and walked inside. It was completely and utterly empty. Not a broken quill remained. I stood there for a long time, not really comprehending what I was thinking about.

I felt a hand on my shoulder and turned around. Mum had a bag in her hand and Matt's crutches in the other. Dad was holding Matt and his hand was gripped around the portkey. Ellie was standing next to Dad.

"It's time to go, Amy," Mum said quietly.

I nodded and she put her arm around me. Dad held out the portkey and Mum, Ellie, and I each put a hand on it. I looked up at their faces as Mum pulled out her wand. Dad looked determined, Mum looked forlorn, Ellie looked sad, and Matt looked tired. I took a deep breath as Mum tapped the portkey with her wand.

I kept my eyes open as I felt the jerk behind my navel and we began to travel. I watched my room swirl in front of me and Australia disappear from my life in a matter of seconds.

******

The first thing I noticed when I landed (ungracefully) in England was that it was dark. Very dark. Pitch black night dark. The stars were out and the quarter moon was lingering over the horizon. The only other light I saw was light coming from the house. It was also warmer in England than in Australia, which didn't surprise me. The darkness shouldn't have surprised me either, but it still did.

"C'mon," Dad pointed his lit wand towards the house, "Be careful."

Mum, Ellie, and I both lit our wands and followed him to the house. He was still carrying Matt so he wouldn't trip over anything. The rest of us managed not to trip and followed Dad through the front door. The lady (I still didn't know her name) from the moving company was standing in the living room, but I didn't see the blokes anywhere.

The lady turned around as she heard us come in. Matt looked at her apprehensively and then turned away.

"We're all set," the lady said, "All the charms have been reversed and all your furniture and belongings are back to normal."

Dad nodded. "Thank you."

"Would you like us to bill you or would you prefer to pay right now?" the lady asked. She certainly was straight forward.

"Now would be better," Dad replied and set Matt down on his feet. Mum handed him his crutches and he hid behind Dad. Dad reached into his pocket and pulled out a sack of coins.

"Thank you, sir," the lady said as Dad dropped a handful of gold into her hand.

"There's a little extra in there," Dad muttered quietly and placed a few more Galleons into her hand, "If you decline to mention any of this move to the Ministry or the media."

"Right," the lady grinned, "This never happened."

Dad nodded. "Thanks."

"Oh no, thank you!" she shook his hand, "Good luck with everything."

"Thanks," Dad replied, "Goodbye."

"Bye," the lady said as she stepped out the door.

"Well," Dad sighed after the door shut, "Here we are. Welcome home."

I walked slowly into the living room and began to look around. I still liked the house, but it didn't feel homey. There were boxes piled everywhere and furniture haphazardly around the place. It was just so different from our other house. More open, yet somehow more confining. From where I was standing, I could see the majority of the downstairs. I saw the dining room, kitchen, the living room I was standing in, the hallway leading to the rest of the downstairs, and the stairs leading to the upstairs.

I wasn't really sure what to do. There was plenty of unpacking to be done, but Mum and Dad were just standing there. It was like reality had just been crushed down onto us and no one knew what to do. This small rustic house was now our home. We were no longer living in the Eckerton Manor. Comparatively, we were now living in the Eckerton Cottage.

"All right," Dad clapped his hands together and stepped over a pile of boxes towards a couch and a few chairs, "We have loads to do, so let's plan it out."

"Good idea," Mum agreed. She stepped over the boxes and sat down on the couch.

Dad lifted Matt over the boxes and he sat down next to Mum. Dad, Ellie, and I took the kitchen chairs that were facing the same direction the couch was and sat down on them backwards.

"Now, the obvious thing to do is unpacking," Dad began, "That is going to take a while, so the sooner we get started the better.

"It happens to be just after three o'clock in the morning here, but I doubt any of us are tired enough to go to bed, since it's one o'clock in the afternoon in Australia. Plus, our beds aren't set up," Dad turned around and gestured to a bed that was sitting in the kitchen, "Or even in the bedrooms.

"So I think it would be in our best interest just to get started with the unpacking. Then we'll just stay up until the early evening and get acclimated to England time that way."

"That sounds like a good idea," Mum replied, "I don't think I can stand it if we leave this stuff in boxes. I need this place organized."

Dad nodded. "I thought so. Anyway, there are also some things we need to do once day breaks. We need to visit the Ministry," he glanced at Matt, "To, register Matt with the Werewolf Registry. That needs to be done as soon as possible."

Mum nodded. "We'll do it as soon as the Ministry opens."

"That's what I was thinking. Then, I think we need to do a little shopping. I need to get started finishing the basement as I'd like to have it done before I start work in a week. And Amy," he turned to me, "You can decorate your room anyway you'd like. I'll take you with me when I go shopping."

I grinned. That was one thing I had been looking forward to about moving. The only thing. I would get to decorate my room however I wanted! No more ugly colors or furniture.

"Thanks, Dad," I said.

"No problem," he smiled, "Julie, did you want to paint the walls or anything? Or are you happy with them?"

The walls weren't really painted. They were wooden. Shiny wood, but wood nonetheless. They reminded me of a log cabin, which I kind of liked.

Mum shook her head. "No, I rather like the wood."

"Me too," Dad grinned, "Plus, if we leave them, we can continue our plans of unpacking right away. Amy, I think it would be best to leave all your stuff packed for now. I'll move the furniture up to your room, but we'll leave everything packed."

"Speaking of rooms," I began, "Which room am I getting?"

Mum and Dad hadn't mentioned which rooms Matt and I would get. It wouldn't surprise me if they hadn't thought about it at all.

"Er," Dad glanced at Mum, "That probably would have been a good thing to have decided earlier."

I smirked. Of course they hadn't thought about it. "Can I choose?" I asked.

"Sorry, no," Dad shrugged, "I don't want you two fighting."

Mum stood up. "Now's a good a time as any to decide."

We followed Mum through the sea of boxes and up the wooden staircase. Mum and Dad stopped once we reached the top. I squeezed between them and faced the two smaller bedrooms. The master bedroom was located on the left side of the house, the two smaller bedrooms were next to it facing the south, and the big 'playroom' type room was on the right side, reaching from the north side of the house to the south. There was a bathroom in between the smaller bedrooms.

I opened the door to the first room, which was closest to my parents' room. It was a standard square room with a window facing south and a closet. The carpet was a nice blue color. The other room looked exactly the same, except the carpet was a neutral brown and it was slightly larger. The playroom was twice as big and had red carpeting. That was the room I wanted, but I knew my parents would say no.

Mum and Dad whispered to each other as I was checking out the rooms. Matt and Ellie both followed me, but neither of them said anything.

"I think we'll give you the room with the brown carpet," Mum said after a few minutes.

At least I got the bigger of the two, I thought. "That's fine," I said. To be honest, I didn't care which one I got. They were both practically the same.

"Yes, I get the blue carpet!" Matt grinned.

"We thought you'd like that," Mum smiled.

Dad turned to me. "If you don't like the brown, I can change it."

I had a feeling I knew why Matt got the room with the blue carpet and it had nothing to do with the carpet. That room was right next to Mum and Dad's room. They'd be close for whenever he had a nightmare. I was sure my parents liked the idea of him being so close. In our house in Australia, his room was a bit farther from my parents'. Our house in Australia. I was still calling it our house, but it wasn't. As of July 1st, it belonged to Clarence Eckerton. But I had a feeling I'd always consider it ours.


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PostPosted: Monday 23 March 2009 8:25:19pm 
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Great chapter. They're finally in England! Stupid Lubar. He better not stupid fly over to be a jerkface.


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PostPosted: Monday 23 March 2009 8:37:43pm 
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Evil guy who insulted Matt. Idiot. Great chapter again, Duckie! Despite the odd order I read them in, lol.


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PostPosted: Monday 23 March 2009 11:48:45pm 
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great chapter :grin:


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PostPosted: Monday 30 March 2009 7:16:34pm 
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Thanks Obladi and hprocks! :grin:

Chapter 40: The Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures

We spent hours unpacking and setting up the house. I was completely knackered by the time the sun rose. I had helped Mum and Ellie with the kitchen and dining room and we got them set up. There were a few paintings that needed to be hung, but that was it. Dishes, silverware, and cooking implements were put away in drawers. I knew it would take a while to figure out where we put everything. The kitchen was equipped with state of the art Muggle appliances. There was even a microwave and a dishwasher, neither of which we had in Australia.

The entire house was equipped for Muggles, actually, which made sense since it was a Muggle house. Electric lighting was in all the rooms and there were electric sockets everywhere. In our house in Australia, we had a few plugs (mostly in the kitchen), but now they were everywhere. I had no idea what my parents were going to do with them.

Mum and Dad had a few arguments about where to put things. They both had different ideas about how to arrange the furniture in the living room and in the den. And about which furniture to put in both of the rooms. Eventually, Mum got to organize the living room and Dad got to take care of the den. Mum put the fancier furniture in the den while Dad put the more comfortable homey stuff in the den.

The study of course became Dad's study and was filled with all the books he had acquired over the years. Despite the fact that his study was being set up for the first time in this house, it still looked in disarray after he finished. Mum sighed and shook her head when she saw it.

Apparently one thing Mum and Dad had been thinking about was what to do with the big room upstairs. They had no plans as to turning into a playroom as the real estate agent had labeled it, since there weren't any really little kids in the house. Instead, they decided to turn it into a library and study area. They put all of the bookcases that used to be scattered throughout the Australian house in it and added a few tables and couches and desks. All in all, it looked like a very nice room when they finished.

We all collapsed at the kitchen table when we finally finished the library. Mum dug around in the bag she brought and tossed a few sandwiches and bottles of juice onto the table. I wordlessly grabbed a sandwich and some juice and started eating. I was so tired I felt like I'd fall asleep as soon as I'd finished eating. I had no idea how I'd stay awake until the evening. It was only around nine in the morning. Twelve more hours until I could sleep.

"I suppose," Dad yawned, "That it wouldn't hurt to take a quick nap before we visit the Ministry."

"It probably would have been a good idea to set up the bedrooms first," Mum replied.

I smirked. We hadn't set up any of the bedrooms yet. Mine wouldn't be set up until I painted it, but the rest of them could have been set up.

"Lack of a bed didn't stop him from sleeping," I pointed to Matt, who had fallen asleep on the table.

"I call the living room couch," Mum said as she stood up.

Dad took the couch in the den and I went up to the library and curled up in a huge armchair. Mum and Dad left Matt at the table, since they didn't want to disturb him.

When I woke up it took me a little while to remember where I was. I gazed around the library, forgetting that we had moved. I yawned and groaned. I was still tired. I knew I couldn't sleep any longer, though. I had to get used to England time.

I rubbed my eyes and stumbled out of the room. I walked slowly down the stairs and into the living room. Mum and Dad were both sitting on the couch talking. They stopped when they heard me come in.

"Morning," Dad said.

"Morning," I mumbled, "What time is it?"

"Just after noon," Dad replied, "Now that you're up, we'll go to the Ministry."

"Oh, is Matt up?" I asked as I sat down on a chair.

"No," Mum answered, "But he'd sleep all day, so we're just going to have to wake him up."

I nodded as Dad went into the kitchen. He returned a moment later with Matt, still asleep, in his arms.

"He'll wake up on the way," Dad replied and handed Mum the crutches.

"We should stop by St. Mungo's as well," Mum said.

"We're Apparating to an alley near the visitor's entrance to the Ministry," Dad said to Mum, "Put your hand on my arm and I'll guide you there."

"Are you sure?" Mum asked skeptically, "You know it's hard to Apparate with someone while guiding another person who is also side along Apparating another person!"

"It'll be fine, Julie," Dad assured her, "Just hold onto my arm."

Mum sighed and motioned for me to go into her arms. I did so and we all disappeared with an exceptionally loud crack.

We reappeared in a dank alley that reminded me of the pub we flooed from in New York City. It was dark and there was a stinky dumpster next to us.

"Dad?" Matt yawned and looked around, "Er, where are we?"

"We have to go to the British Ministry," Dad told him.

"The Ministry?" Matt squeaked.

"Yes, but the Ministry here isn't like the one in Australia," Dad assured him, "You'll be fine."

We followed Dad out of the alley and down the street. I had no idea where we were going, but the area looked a lot like where St. Mungo's was.

"We're using the visitor's entrance," Dad said, "Since the three of you are technically visitors."

Mum nodded. We kept walking until Dad stopped in front of what looked like a standard Muggle phone booth. I had a feeling it wasn't that, though. Dad wordlessly opened the door and gestured for us to follow. Mum and I squeezed our way inside and I thought about how odd it would look to any passing Muggles to see all four of us inside one tiny phone booth.

"This is the entrance?" Mum asked.

"Yeah," Dad muttered.

I have been to the Australian Ministry numerous times. Most of them were before Matt was bitten, but even after we'd occasionally visit Dad at work. Not often, though, since the entire Werewolf Control Unit would stare at us as we went by. It made all of us extremely uncomfortable.

Dad picked up the receiver and punched in a few numbers. I couldn't see what they were, but they must have worked since we soon heard a cool voice in the booth. Dad put the receiver up to his ear and talked into it, despite the fact that the lady's voice was in the entire booth. I supposed he was trying to make it look believable to the Muggles.

"Welcome to the Ministry of Magic," the voice said, "Please state your names and business at the Ministry."

"Walter, Julie, Amy, and Matt Eckerton," Dad said, "We just moved here and need to complete a few registration things."

"Thank you," the voice replied, "Please take the badges and proceed to the welcome desk when you descend into the Ministry."

Four silver badges fell out of the coin return and Dad took them. He pinned one to his shirt, handed one to Mum, and handed one to me. It said 'Amy Eckerton- Various Registrations'. Dad glanced at Mum and then shoved Matt's badge in his pocket. Hopefully no one would ask as to why he wasn't actually wearing his badge. That would surely raise questions.

I was about to ask Dad how we were going to 'descend into the Ministry' when I felt the phone booth lurch. I jumped and stared out the window as I saw the ground rising. Well, it looked like the ground was rising. Actually, we were literally 'descending' into the Ministry. The British Ministry was underground! That was the strangest thing ever.

The phone booth settled into a large atrium. Dad opened the door and it disappeared once we left it. I looked around the huge place and saw fireplaces lining the sides. Every once in a while, a witch or wizard would floo into one of them or floo out. There were a few people walking through the foyer, but none of them so much as looked at us. They all looked rather busy.

Dad led us through the room towards a desk that was sitting at one end. We walked past a huge gold statue of a wizard, witch, house elf, centaur, and goblin. I stared at it, but Dad hurried me along.

"Excuse me," Dad greeted the old man who was sleeping at the desk.

"Huh, what?" the man sat up quickly and looked at Dad, "Oh, er, visitors?"

"The three of them are," Dad gestured to Mum, Matt, and I, "I work here."

That was strange to think about. Dad would be working in this odd Ministry from now on.

The man leaned over the table and peered at us each in turn. He eyed Matt's crutches suspiciously and I got the feeling he was just itching to ask about them. After all, crutches weren't exactly common in the wizarding world.

"You work here?" the man asked Dad, "Never seen you here before."

"I start in a week," Dad said, "Could we get on with it? We're kind of in a hurry."

"Right, right," the man shook his head and looked at Mum, "I need your wand," then he looked at Matt and I, "And yours, if you've got one."

Mum and I handed the man our wands. He examined them, used some sort of machine to find out the information about them, verified the information, and then handed us our wands back.

Dad nodded to the man and we walked through a set of gold gates towards the lifts.

"Oi!" the man called as we stopped in front of the lifts.

Dad turned around, "Do you need something else?"

"Just wondering," the man said, "Er, you're not from around here, are you? Can't quite place the accent, though."

Dad sighed, "We just moved here from Australia."

The man stared curiously at us. "Interesting. What made you move here of all places?"

"Listen," Dad replied, "We're in a bit of a hurry. I'd rather not discuss our reasons."

The old man shrugged. "All right...."

One of the lifts clanged and opened and we hurried inside. I wondered how often that would happen. I really didn't want random people asking why we moved here.

Dad punched the number 'four' and we waited as the lift started to move. A few minutes later, the doors opened and we followed Dad out into the corridor. As we left, a man wearing navy blue robes hurried past us muttering something about 'bloody weather charms'. His hair had a dusting of snow on it. I hid my laughter as he disappeared into the lift.

The corridor was quiet. I glanced down the corridor and saw three sets of double doors that were all open. I followed Dad and we passed two of the doors, which were labeled 'Spirit Division' and 'Being Division'. Next was a single door that had a sign affixed to it that stated 'Head of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures'. So that was where Dad would have been working if he had gotten the equivalent job. Dad led us through the third set of double doors that was labeled 'Beast Division'.

Inside of this room were six desks all situated in front of six doors that appeared to lead to other rooms. There was a witch or wizard sitting at each desk working away at one thing or the other. All in all, it seemed to be a very quiet office.

Dad led us straight to the back of the room, where two doors were leading to other rooms. One was labeled 'Werewolf Registry' and the other said 'Werewolf Support Services', where Dad would be working. I didn't see any door labeled 'Werewolf Control Unit'. They must organize things differently in Britain. I did see a door labeled 'Werewolf Capture Unit' adjacent to the Control Unit, but that was it.

"Well, this is where I'll be working," Dad said as we walked towards the Werewolf Support Services room.

"Seems like a nice place," Mum replied.

The witch who was working at the desk in front of that particular room looked up at us. "Oh, hello!" she smiled, "Mr. Eckerton, I didn't know you'd be in today."

"I'm not starting work until next week, Miss Lane," Dad replied, "I'm here on family business today." He gestured to Mum, Matt and I. "This is my wife, Julie, and my kids, Amy and Matt."

Miss Lane got up from her chair and walked to the front of her desk. She shook Mum's hand. "Nice to meet you."

"You, too," Mum said.

"Well," Dad said, "I'll show you my office."

We followed him through the door and into the Werewolf Support Services room. It was completely different from his office in Australia. In Australia, he had his own office that was the size of the entire Werewolf Support Services room. Here, there were three desks crammed into the room along with multiple filing cabinets.

Two of the desks were already occupied. One of them was cluttered beyond any possibility of organization and the other was as neat as could be. The third desk was bare.

Both of the other occupants looked up when we stepped into the room. The messy desk was occupied by a middle aged woman who was wearing a set of scarlet robes. Her greying hair was piled into a messy bun and she was wearing a tiny pair of rectangular eyeglasses. The neat desk was occupied by a tall skinny man wearing a set of plain black robes. His dark hair was perfectly combed.

"Walter," the man stuck his hand out, "We're looking forward to having you start next week. I even made Yolanda clear her clutter off of your desk."

Yolanda threw the man a furtive look. "He's not starting until next week! I had plenty of time to do that."

"Thanks," Dad smiled, "I'm looking forward to starting."

"We're glad to have you," the man continued, "That job's been available for almost a year. The two of us have been swamped ever since the last bloke quit. Nobody seems to want this job."

"Believe me," Dad said, "I plan on staying."

"Good," Yolanda grinned, "Is this your family?"

"That's them," Dad gestured to Mum, "My wife Julie, and my kids Amy and Matt."

"Yolanda Jenson," Yolanda shook Mum's hand.

"Carter Dimorio," the man did the same.

"Nice to meet you," Mum replied.

Mum and Dad talked with Jenson and Dimorio for a few more minutes. I stood near the wall and tried to peer at the parchment that was littering Jenson's desk, but I couldn't make out her writing. Matt stood behind Dad looking scared. Neither Jenson or Dimorio seemed to be staring at him like the man at the desk had. Both of them seemed very nice.

"Well," Dad said, "We'd best be off. I'll see both of you in a week."

"Take care, Walter," Dimorio replied.

"Bye!" Jenson said.

We stepped out of the office just as a large beefy man came barging into the main room. Matt stared at him and grabbed Dad's arm. The rest of us stopped as Mum put her arm around Matt.

"I'll need that Doxy Report by Wednesday, Miller!" the man barked into a room labeled 'Pest Advisory Board'.

"Yes, sir!" a voice shouted from inside the room.

The beefy man turned away from the room and grinned broadly as he saw us. He walked swiftly towards us and Matt hid completely behind Dad.

"Walter!" the man exclaimed, "Wasn't expecting you until next week!"

"Mr. McVicar!" Dad shook his hand, "I'm actually here on personal business, but it's great to see you."

"And you, too," Mr. McVicar replied, "And please, call me Rob."

"All right, Rob, then," Dad said, "I'd like you to meet my wife, Julie."

Mum shook his hand. "Nice to meet you."

"Rob is the head of the department," Dad explained.

"Although I sure am looking forward to hearing Walter's ideas about running the department," McVicar said, "He's certainly got a bit of experience himself."

"Not as much as you," Dad pointed out.

"Ah, but we're always looking for new ideas," he smiled and turned to me, "Is this your daughter?"

"Yes, that's Amy," Dad said.

McVicar practically crushed my hand as he shook it, but he seemed like a nice bloke. Definitely energetic.

"Is your son here?" McVicar asked, peering around the room.

Matt slowly peeked his head from around Dad.

"Ah, there you are, son!" McVicar exclaimed. Matt quickly retreated again.

"Shy one, eh?" McVicar said to Dad.

"Er, yes," Dad whispered, "We've had certain, er, issues in Australia. I'd rather not get into it."

McVicar nodded. "Well, I'll let you get on with your business. See you in a week!"

McVicar barked something else into the Pest Advisory Board room and then left. Dad sighed and turned around. Matt was still staring at the main door and was ghostly white. Dad picked him up and Mum took the crutches.

"He's a bit energetic," Mum muttered, "But he seems nice."

"He's plenty nice," Dad replied, "Doesn't have a mean bone in his body, as far as I can tell. He's just, well, boisterous."

"That's a good way to sum it up," Mum said.

I would gladly take his loud and boisterous personality if it meant he was the complete opposite of Lubar. It would be a nice change of pace for Dad to work with people who didn't hate werewolves. Judging from the way McVicar treated Matt, he did not hate werewolves.

"Well, let's go get this over with," Dad muttered as he turned towards the Werewolf Registry room.

Mum nodded. "Never thought we'd be doing this again."

Dad knocked on the door even thought it was open. Someone from inside shouted for us to come in and I followed Mum and Dad into the cramped room.

This room was quite a bit smaller than the room Dad was going to work in. There were two desks sitting alongside two of the walls and a man was sitting behind each one. There was another door on the back wall, but it was closed.

One of the men looked up as we walked in. He put down his quill and got up from the desk. He was a bit on the chubby side, but nowhere near as large as McVicar. There was a pair of round spectacles perched atop his bald shiny head.

"Can I help you?" he looked curiously at us.

"Yes, my name is Walter Eckerton," Dad shifted Matt in order to shake the man's hand.

"Darian Kadmiel," the man replied, "Aren't you the bloke McVicar just hired for Werewolf Support Services?"

"Yes," Dad said, "I'm starting in a week."

"Ah," Kadmiel smiled, "Then what brings you in today?"

"I have business with your department," Dad muttered quietly, "Could we speak in private?"

Kadmiel glanced around nervously. "Er, of course, right this way."

Kadmiel gestured for us to follow him towards the door in the back of the room. We followed him inside. The room was tiny, furnished only with a small desk and two chairs. Kadmiel took the chair behind the desk while Dad motioned Mum into the other. Dad set Matt in Mum's lap and turned to Kadmiel.

"What can I do for you?" Kadmiel asked.

"Well, my son is a werewolf, so I need to register him with your department," Dad stated.

Kadmiel visibly relaxed. I stared at him curiously. I had never seen anyone relax when they found out that Matt was a werewolf.

"Oh!" Kadmiel sighed, "When you said you had business with my department, I thought you had some sort of issue with us. Good to know it's just routine stuff."

"Sorry," Dad said, "I didn't want to state explicitly what it was out there. I'd rather let as few people know about this as possible."

"Right, right, understandable," Kadmiel said as he pulled a piece of parchment and a quill out of the desk drawer. "I just have some paperwork to fill out. First, do you have his birth certificate?"

"Right here," Dad pulled a few pieces of parchment out of his robe and handed it to Kadmiel. "And visas."

"Visas?" Kadmiel asked as he looked at the birth certificate, "Oh, you're from Australia?"

"Just moved here today," Dad answered.

I was thinking the same thing Kadmiel was. Visas? I hadn't even thought about visas. Dad must have acquired them when he was interviewing for his job.

Kadmiel nodded and copied some information from the birth certificate onto the paperwork. "All right. Looks good. Date and approximate place he was bitten?"

"December 30, 2010. Outside of Brisbane, Australia."

Kadmiel jotted down the information and looked up. "Is he on Wolfsbane?"

"No," Dad sighed, "It doesn't work for him. No one has been able to figure out why yet, but he's signed up to participate in a study of the potion starting in January."

"Morris Sterling's study?"

"That's the one."

"I'm assuming you haven't set up a place for him to transform yet?" Kadmiel asked.

"Not yet," Dad replied, "But I have plans to do so shortly. I will renovate the basement of our new house and set up a safe room down there with the appropriate spells and charms."

"Sounds good," Kadmiel scribbled something else and put down his quill, "I'm also assuming he's already got a registration number from Australia?"

Dad nodded. "Yes."

"We should be able to use the same one here. I'll just have to see it," Kadmiel stood up.

Dad glanced nervously at Mum. Matt saw Kadmiel stand up and buried his head in Mum's shoulder.

"Actually," Dad stepped in front of Kadmiel, "Could I perform the viewing charm and just tell you what the number is? He had a very traumatic transformation in May that I'd rather not get into. But the gist of it is, is that he's afraid of strangers."

Kadmiel looked curiously at Matt. I could see a bit of concern and sympathy in his face that I had rarely seen in Dad's old colleagues' faces.

"Well, it's not normally done that way, but I don't see anything wrong with it. You know the spell? What was it you said you did in Australia?"

"I didn't," Dad muttered, "I was the head of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures."

Kadmiel gaped at Dad. "Was? And you decided to come work for Werewolf Support Services here? That's a bit of a step down."

"I was fired," Dad said, "And I don't think of it as a step down. I'm rather looking forward to working here."

"Oh, er, right," Kadmiel stuttered, "You know, I vaguely remember reading about you getting fired. Just didn't put two and two together."

"Well, I'm hoping most people won't. And I'd appreciate it if you didn't spread it around."

"No problem. Anything said in this room is always confidential."

"Good to hear," Dad replied, "I'll get you that number."

Dad turned to Matt and pulled out his wand. "Matt," he nudged him.

Matt turned to Dad. "What?"

"I need to get the number from your arm," Dad pulled up the sleeve of Matt's shirt.

Matt nodded and held out his arm. Dad muttered an incantation and a tiny row of numbers and letters appeared on Matt's wrist.

"64XF2J3847," Dad rattled off.

Kadmiel picked up his quill and wrote the number on the paperwork. "Got it."

Dad waved his wand and the numbers and letters disappeared. "Is that everything?"

"That's it," Kadmiel picked up the parchment and put the quill back in the drawer, "I'll see you in a week."

"See you then," Dad shook his hand.

Kadmiel opened the door and gestured for us to leave before him. I followed my parents and Matt out of the tiny room and through the Werewolf Registry into the main room.

A few of the secretaries glanced up at us as we left, but nobody said anything.

"That went well," Dad said as we walked towards the lifts.

"Yes," Mum agreed, "I like it here already."

"We've got to go register our place of residency now," Dad said as we got into one of the lifts, "Level five, I believe."

I punched the number five and the lift rattled shut. The doors opened again on a similar looking corridor. There was a sign that said 'Department of International Magical Cooperation.' We followed Dad down it and he stopped in front of a door labeled 'International Relocation'. Dad knocked on the door.

"Come in," a voice said.

We entered the small room and there was a young woman with long brown hair sitting behind a desk. "May I help you?" she asked.

"Yes. We just moved here from Australia," Dad pulled the visas out of his robes, "I've already got the visas, but I just need to officially change our place of residence."

The woman pulled out a piece of parchment. She took the visas and copied down some information. "All right. I just need to know your current address."

Dad rattled off our new address. I made a mental note of it. It would be a good thing to know.

The woman waved her wand over the visas and then handed them to Dad. "You'll need to go register with the Department of Magical Transportation in order to have your house registered as a wizard's dwelling. They'll get you hooked up to the Floo Network."

Dad pocketed the visas. "Actually, we'd rather not be connected to the network."

The woman raised her eyebrow. "Can I ask why?"

"I'd rather not say," Dad replied, "But I will stop by the department and let them know myself."

The woman nodded and stared at us as we left. Well, not everyone was going to not pay attention to Matt's crutches. It had been nice while it lasted.

"Mum, I'm tired," Matt sighed as we started down the corridor.

"I think this next floor is our last stop, honey," Mum replied.

"Yeah," Dad agreed, "Then we'll get out of here."

I was definitely ready to get out of there. It was rather boring to follow Dad around while he did all these errands. I wanted to go shop for the stuff to decorate my room.

We went back into the lift and Dad hit the button for level six. I leaned against the wall as the lift moved. Matt wasn't the only one who was tired. That nap I had taken earlier had long since worn off and I wanted to go to bed. Not before I got supplies to decorate my room, though.

The next floor again looked exactly like the others. I was surprised Dad seemed to know where he was going. He led us to a room that was labeled 'Floo Network'. It was a large room filled with cubicles and various witches and wizards walking around.

Dad went up to the first cubicle we got to. The woman inside was smacking her gum loudly and doodling on a piece of parchment.

"Excuse me," Dad said.

The woman looked up. "Yeah?"

"I need to talk to whomever is in charge of connecting houses to the Floo Network," Dad answered.

"Oh, you'll want Chuck," she pointed to another cubicle, "Chuck!"

A man popped his head out of the cubicle. "What is it, Nadine?"

"This bloke needs to talk to you!" Nadine shouted back.

Chuck beckoned for us to go to his cubicle. There wasn't nearly enough room for all of us in there, so Matt and I waited outside while Mum and Dad went in. We could see and hear everything, though.

"We just moved to England and bought a house that was previously owned by Muggles," Dad began, "But we do not want to be connected to the Floo Network."

Chuck looked at Dad oddly. "Er, all right. We won't connect you, then."

"The witch in the International Relocation office said we had to talk to you about getting our house registered as a wizard dwelling," Dad went on.

Chuck groaned. "She's always doing that. You actually have to go to Magical Law Enforcement to do that. There's a bloke there who deals with this sort of thing. Second floor. I'll have to talk to International Magical Cooperation again. I don't know why that witch always sends people here for registering their houses...."

Great, I thought, another place. We'd have gone to every department in the entire bloody Ministry by the time we were done! This was getting ridiculous.

Mum and Dad left the cubicle and we followed them out of the room. Dad let out a loud sigh as we proceeded to the lifts once again.

"This better be the last place," he muttered as he pushed the number two.


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PostPosted: Thursday 2 April 2009 1:58:08am 
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great chapter :grin: :typing:


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PostPosted: Saturday 4 April 2009 3:45:01pm 
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This was quite a good chapter. I liked it's descriptiveness. I'm looking forward to the next one!


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PostPosted: Tuesday 7 April 2009 11:22:57pm 
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Thanks hprocks and Obladi! :grin:

Bit of a late update, but eh, life's been hectic.

Chapter 41: The Only Bank in England

The doors opened on yet another identical corridor, except this one was more lively. Various witches and wizards were running in and out of a large room labeled 'Auror Headquarters'. That room was bustling with commotion. Matt edged closer to Mum as we walked inside.

Dad walked up to the first desk he came across, which I assumed belonged to some sort of secretary. This witch appeared to be a bit more sophisticated than the secretary in the Floo Network place. She had her hair in a bun and seemed to be concentrating on her work.

"Excuse me," Dad said for what must have been the millionth time today.

"Can I help you?" she asked without looking up from her work.

"I need to register my house as a wizard's dwelling. We just bought it and the previous owners were Muggles."

"All right," she replied and pulled a piece of parchment out of her desk, "Just fill this out." She handed it to Dad.

Dad took it and a quill from a mug on her desk. He sat down in a nearby chair and quickly filled out the information.

"There you go," Dad handed it back to her.

The woman took it, looked it over, and waved her wand over it. "You're all set," she said.

"Thanks," Dad replied. At least it hadn't taken very long.

"Mummy, what are those?" a shrill voice shouted from the doorway.

I turned around and saw a frazzled looking red-haired woman with three kids. Two of them were boys, one with red hair to match the woman, who I assumed was their mother, and the other with jet black hair. They were taller than Matt, although the red-haired boy was taller than the other. The girl, the one who the shrill voice belonged to, looked about Matt's height and had the same red hair her mother and brother had. She had one hand planted in her mother's and the other one was pointing at Matt.

The woman blushed. "Those are crutches, Lily, and it's not nice to point." She took the little girl's hand and gently pushed it down.

"What are they for?" the little girl asked, still staring at us.

"I'll explain later," the woman said quickly, "Let's go find Daddy."

The woman ushered her kids into the room and muttered an apology to Mum and Dad as she passed. Mum smiled to show it was no big deal, but the woman had already taken off to follow the two boys, who were chasing each other around the room.

"Could you imagine having three kids around that age?" Mum muttered as we left the room, "She's got her hands full."

"Looks like it," Dad agreed, "Makes me feel kind of happy we had ours six and a half years apart."

"Well, there's a plus side to everything," Mum replied, "Are we done here yet?"

"Yes," Dad grinned, "We're finally done. But now we've got to go to St. Mungo's."

I groaned inwardly. I'd forgotten about that. After having spent two entire weeks at St. Mungo's, the last thing I wanted to do was visit again, but I had no choice. We went back into the lift and returned to the Atrium. We handed in our badges, me being the only one still wearing mine, and then Apparated directly to St. Mungo's.

By this point, the Welcome Witch at the hospital knew all of us by name and merely waved as we walked towards the lifts. We entered one of them along with a wizard who emitted a loud quack every few seconds.

The fourth floor was relatively empty. A nurse hurried past us and said a quick 'hello'. I vaguely recognized her but couldn't remember her name. I followed my parents to Sterling's office and we walked inside.

Natalie Caberny looked up from her desk as we entered. "Oh, hello," she smiled, "Haven't seen you around in a while. Is everything ok?"

"We need to see Healer Sterling," Dad answered, "But everything is ok for the most part. We just moved here earlier today."

"Glad to hear it," Natalie grinned, "Sterling is seeing a patient right now, but I think I can squeeze you in once he's done."

"Thanks," Dad replied.

"Feel free to wait right here," Natalie gestured to a few chairs that were alongside the wall.

Dad nodded and we sat down. I read the titles of the books that were sitting on a nearby bookcase as we waited. Nearly all of them were various books about healing, potions, werewolves, and other magical creatures. I didn't think anyone could possibly have as many books about werewolves as Dad, but Sterling did.

I looked towards the door a little while later as I heard footsteps. Sterling came bustling through and stopped in front of Natalie's desk.

"Hey, Natalie," he greeted her, "Who's next?"

"Well, you don't have another scheduled appointment for a half hour, but the Eckertons showed up a little while ago."

Sterling turned towards us. "Oh, didn't even see you there!"

Dad stood up and shook Sterling's hand. "Afternoon, Morris. Any chance you could take a look at Matt's ankle?"

"Of course," Sterling replied, "Is it still bothering him? Why don't we head down to the exam room and I'll see what I can do."

I followed everyone into the corridor and to the exam room. Dad set Matt down on the exam table and I leaned against the wall, hoping it wouldn't take too long.

"How did the last full moon go?" Sterling asked as he began to look at Matt's ankle.

"Worse than usual," Dad sighed, "Probably due to the incident with Lubar."

Sterling nodded. "How was his ankle before the full moon? Was it healing?"

"It was mostly healed," Dad answered, "He re-injured it during the most recent full moon."

Sterling pulled out his wand and muttered a spell as he pointed it at Matt's ankle. "What about the therapy with Healer Norlam? How is that going?"

"Slowly," Dad sighed, "But Norlam thinks he's making progress."

"The emotional pain always takes longer to heal than the physical pain," Sterling said quietly, "Even in the wizarding world."

"That's for sure," Dad replied, "But I think things will get better now. We moved here earlier today."

"Congratulations," Sterling grinned, "I'm happy to hear that. Now, I think a few spells and another round of potions will heal his ankle. I'd have him keep using the crutches for another two days or so, and then it should be fine to walk on it." He pointed his wand at Matt's ankle again and muttered a few more spells. "I'll just get the potions."

Sterling left the room and returned a short while later with a large bottle of purplish potion. He handed it to Dad and sat back down.

"I'd like to see him after the next full moon even if everything appears to be fine. I just want to make sure everything is fine," Sterling said, "Just show up anytime the day after and I'll make room in my schedule."

Dad nodded. "Sounds good."

"I'm also going to have to do the transformation observation at some point," Sterling began, "It has to be done before the study begins in January."

"And what does that involve?" Mum asked.

"We have a safe room located in the basement. There are charms on it to enable people to watch what is happening inside. He'll need to spend a full moon there. He'll have to come a few hours before moonrise in order for me to perform a few pre-transformation tests and then stay a few hours after sunrise the next morning for a few more tests."

Mum and Dad glanced at each other. This time, I had a feeling I knew what they were thinking. The last time Matt transformed some place other than our basement, it was disastrous. This was obviously going to be different, but Matt would probably still be afraid of it.

"When do you want it done?" Dad asked, "We'd like to get him used to transforming at our new house before he transforms here. Plus, I'd rather it be done after Amy starts school."

I rolled my eyes. Of course. So they could keep me out of the loop again. I wasn't going to take it this time, though. I'd just owl them until they told me what went on.

"That's fine," Sterling replied, "I'd like it done in November at the latest."

"All right," Dad agreed, "October or November, then. I'll let you know which will work better when it gets closer."

Sterling stood up. "That'll work. Well, good luck with all the moving in stuff."

"Thanks," Dad said as he stood up, "It's been an insane day. We've been all over London."

"Be sure to get some rest," Sterling said, "You all look exhausted."

"We will, but we're not quite done yet," Dad replied.

I followed my parents out of the exam room and into the corridor. I had no idea what other places Dad had to go to, but I hoped whatever it was, it wouldn't take long. I was ready to fall asleep on my feet and was kind of jealous that Matt got to sleep in Dad's arms.

"Where are we going now?" I asked as we entered a lift.

"Gringotts, the bank here," Dad replied, "Can't buy anything until our accounts are switched."

I groaned. "How long will that take?"

"No idea," Dad sighed.

"Maybe I should take Amy and Matt home and you can switch the accounts," Mum suggested.

Dad shook his head. "I've already owled with the bank. If you want access to the new account, you have to be there to sign some papers. It's very secure, this bank, so they're quite strict."

"All right," Mum sighed, "And after that, I think we ought to get something to eat and call it a night."

"Good idea," Dad agreed and turned to me, "Amy, I think we'll have to wait until tomorrow to get the stuff to design your room."

I nodded. At that point, I didn't even care. I was so tired that I didn't mind at all having to wait. Normally I would have been incredibly angry that Dad told me we could decorate my room that day and then changed his mind. However, all I wanted was to sleep for two days or so. Portkey lag was even worse than jet lag.

We meandered our way through the crowded waiting room and to the little Apparition room I was quite familiar with. I closed my eyes as Mum hugged me and all four of us disappeared.

I had no idea where the Gringotts bank was, but I was surprised when we reappeared in the Leaky Cauldron. I was beginning to think that my parents were so tired that they couldn't Apparate properly when Dad gestured for us to follow him through a back door.

The door led us to a small courtyard with a brick wall. Dad pulled out his wall and tapped on one of the bricks. They immediately moved aside to reveal a bustling shopping district.

The quaint street reminded me a bit of the wizard shopping areas in Australia, yet it was vastly different at the same time. The stores on this street were all small and old and almost looked to be taken from a different time. The shopping areas in Australia were much larger and the stores matched that.

I hadn't really been shopping recently. Well, shopping at a wizard store, that is. When I was little, I went shopping with Mum all the time. Sometimes we'd shop in Muggle stores and other times we'd go to wizard ones. No matter which, someone usually recognized us, which got rather annoying after a while.

After Matt was bitten, people gradually stopped recognizing us until we disappeared completely into the throngs of everyone else. I didn't really go shopping with Mum much at that point, since I was in school most of the year. She'd take Matt, though, as long as he was feeling ok.

Mum almost completely stopped shopping in wizard stores after Lubar announced that Matt was a werewolf. She went out once after that and an angry mob formed while she was in the apothecary. She returned home furious and never went shopping without some sort of appearance charm after that.

Shopping in England was completely different. Nobody recognized us as I followed my parents down the street. No one so much as gave us a second glance. Everyone was just going about their shopping or talking to friends. I looked from side to side and at all the stores. There was a robe shop, a wand shop, a few pet stores, a couple restaurants, and a joke shop that looked almost exactly like the one Matt and I had gone to in Hogsmeade. It even had the same name. Must be owned by the same ear-less man, I thought as we passed it.

Dad led us all the way down the street and up the steps of a very large white building. We walked through the door and into the foyer. There was a long desk along either side of the room and numerous goblins behind them.

The bank in Australia was run by goblins as well. To be honest, goblins scare me a little. They're just so mysterious and you never really know what they're going to do. Plus, wizards have kind of given them the short end of the wand (or not, since they can't have wands) for ages. If they wanted to, they could surely take over with the magic they're capable of.

Dad went up to the first available goblin. The goblin glanced up at him and then went back to counting the pile of sickles on his desk. A few minutes later, he finished and looked up at Dad.

"What may I assist you with?" he asked.

Dad reached into his robes and pulled out a piece of parchment and handed it to the goblin. "We just moved here from Australia and wish to transfer our account."

The goblin took the parchment and nodded. He read it carefully and then set it down. "I presume you two are Walter and Julietta Eckerton?"

"Yes," Dad replied.

The goblin folded his hands and stared at us. I looked away as his eyes bore into mine. I really hated it when goblins did that, and people for that matter.

"I will need to see some identification," the goblin said.

Mum and Dad both reached into their robes and handed the goblin their identification cards. The goblin took them and studied them carefully, glancing up at us every once in a while.

"Very well," he said after a few minutes, "Everything seems to be in order. If you'll just follow me."

The goblin jumped off his stool and walked around to the other side of the desk. We followed him through a door and I stared curiously at what appeared to be railroad tracks in front of us. The bank in Australia did not have any railroad tracks in it.

The goblin held out his arm and a cart sped up the track and stopped in front of us.

"Get in," the goblin commanded.

"Excuse me?" Mum raised her eyebrow.

"Get in," the goblin repeated.

"Er," Dad said to Mum, "I think this is how we get to the vaults."

"That," Mum said, "Is bizarre."

I agreed with Mum. The bank in Australia had an odd array of lifts to take people to their vaults, not carts on railroad tracks. I eyed the cart suspiciously, but Mum and Dad got in. I reluctantly climbed in behind them and squeezed myself in. The cart was not meant to hold four people and a goblin.

No sooner had I put my second leg into the cart, it took off down the track. I let out a scream as we descended a steep hill at a speed I would not thought possible of such a rickety cart. I squeezed my eyes shut and tried not to think about how much it reminded me of turbulence on an airplane.

"What the hell is this?" Dad shouted.

"Can you slow this thing down?" Mum asked.

"One speed," the goblin cackled.

I made the mistake of opening my eyes just as we were beginning to shoot down another hill. I accidentally looked down and saw that we were meters above the nearest ground. My stomach churned and I was suddenly very happy I hadn't eaten in hours. My heart pounded and I tried to focus on the back of Mum's head. Riding in a Gringotts cart was quickly becoming one of the things I despised doing. It was right up there with flying on airplanes and on broomsticks.

Matt let out a loud shriek. "Mum!"

"It'll be over soon," Mum said in a voice that contradicted her words.

"I don't like this!" Matt wailed.

"None of us do, honey," Mum replied.

I closed my eyes until the cart came to a sudden halt. I slowly opened them and saw that the goblin was already standing outside the cart. I stumbled out of the cart and tried to get my bearings. Everything seemed to be spinning. I watched my parents climb out and they didn't seem to be doing much better. Mum practically tripped and Dad had to steady himself on the wall.

"This is your vault," the goblin announced. He pulled two keys out of his pocket and handed one Dad. "You'll need one of the keys every time you wish to make a transaction."

The goblin stuck the other key in the lock and opened the small room. We all walked inside and I saw that it was empty. The goblin motioned for us to stay in the doorway. I watched as he muttered something in what I assumed to be gobbledegook and move his arms around.

A few seconds later, piles of gold, silver, and bronze appeared. I gaped at it and turned to look at my parents. They seemed to have recovered from the cart ride and Mum walked farther into the vault. She took a handful of gold and shoved it in her pocket.

"So," Dad began, "We have to ride on of those ruddy carts every time we wish to get our gold?"

"Yes," the goblin replied.

"Are there any other banks in England?" Dad asked.

"No, Gringotts is the only one," the goblin smirked.

"I suppose there had to be something we didn't like about England," Mum muttered.

"If the only thing I dislike about this country is the Gringotts carts, I think I'll survive," Dad said.

The return cart trip was just as horrible as the previous one. The only difference was, I knew what to expect. I made a mental note never to eat before going to the bank. I was quite happy when we departed from the large white building and returned to the quaint street it was located on.

"Any preference as to where we eat?" Dad asked.

"Some place close by," Mum replied.

I couldn't care less where we ate. My stomach was still churning from the cart ride.

"Let's just go to the Leaky Cauldron," Dad suggested.

A little while later we were seated at a booth in the crowded pub. Mum and Dad were looking at menus and Matt was leaning up against the wall. I would be willing to bet a few Galleons that he'd be asleep before the food arrived. I was looking at a menu as well, but not really reading it. I figured I'd just get a sandwich.

"Evening," a blonde haired witch I recognized as the lady who owned the pub appeared by our table, "Can I get you something to drink?"

"Just water," Dad replied.

She returned a few minutes later with four glasses and set them down on the table. "You look familiar," she said, "But I can't place it. I've seen you here a few times, but you don't come often."

Dad nodded. "We've stayed here a few times. But we actually just moved to England earlier today."

"Oh!" the witch smiled, "Welcome, then. Where did you move from?"

"Australia," Dad replied.

"Wow, that's quite a move," she said, "My name is Hannah Longbottom, just ask if you need anything."

"Walter Eckerton," Dad said, "And thank you."

"Julie Eckerton," Mum smiled, "And our kids, Amy and Matt."

"Ah, yes, now I remember you," Hannah said, "Are you ready to order?"

We all ordered sandwiches and Hannah returned to the bar. Mum and Dad talked quietly with each other, but I was too tired to bother trying to hear what they were saying. As I predicted, Matt fell asleep five minutes after we ordered and after another five minutes, I was ready to join him. The only thing keeping me awake was my grumbling stomach, which had recovered from the cart ride.

I closed my eyes and leaned back against the booth while listening to the conversations of the diners around us.

"Incredible sale on beetle eyes! I bought about five months worth...."

"Spent the day at St. Mungo's. My husband thought it would be a good idea to mix a sleeping potion with a sleeping charm...."

"I'm already eager for the kids to return to Hogwarts. They're driving me up the wall...."

I opened my eyes when I heard plates being set down on the table.

"Exhausting day, huh?" Hannah asked. I nodded.

"Thanks," Dad said as she set down his food.

"Hope you enjoy," she smiled and left.

Mum woke Matt up and we all dug into our food. Nobody talked much as we ate, which was fine with me.

Mum paid once we finished eating and we said goodbye to Hannah. The pub was rather crowded to Disapparate from, so we returned to the street to do so. Dad hugged me and we Apparated home.

Home. Could I really call the place home yet? I opened my eyes and we were back in the living room. My living room. It didn't really feel like home yet, but it was our house. I figured it would get better with time, but it was still odd to call the place home.

I collapsed onto the couch and closed my eyes. I vaguely remembered that my bed wasn't even set up yet, but even if it was, I didn't want to move.

"We'll set up the beds now, Amy," Dad said, "It won't take long."

"Mmm-hmm," I muttered and cracked my eyes open. Mum set Matt down on the other couch and followed Dad upstairs. I closed my eyes again and drifted off to sleep.

"Amy." Someone was jostling my arm. I groaned and tried to push them away. "Amy," they whispered a bit louder.

I opened my eyes and saw Dad standing over me. "Wh-what is it?" I yawned.

"I've got your bed set up," he told me.

"Oh, ok," I mumbled and sat up.

Mum picked Matt up and carried him upstairs. Dad and I followed. I said good night to them and wandered into my room. My bed was sitting in the middle of the room. The rest of my stuff was still packed and the furniture was still under shrinking charms. The place looked rather empty and drab. It didn't seem like my room at all.

I sighed and sat down on the bed. Suddenly, I wasn't tired anymore. I got up and rummaged around in my overnight bag, which housed a few pairs of clothes and pajamas. I changed into pajamas and climbed into bed. I stared at the canopy and then turned to look out the window. I could see a few stars, but none of them were the familiar ones I had seen so many times in Australia.

I felt the sting of tears in the corners of my eyes and squeezed them shut. I felt so alone, so isolated in my empty room. Most of the people I knew, and all of my friends, were on the other side of the world.

I opened my eyes again and stared out the window as tears silently trickled down my face. Eventually, I fell into a restless sleep.


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PostPosted: Wednesday 8 April 2009 1:50:16am 
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really great chapter :grin: :typing:


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PostPosted: Sunday 12 April 2009 5:58:26pm 
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Thanks hprocks! :grin:

Chapter 42: Microwaved Eggs and Home Renovations

My dreams were plagued with images of everything that had happened in the past few months. Everything merged together to create one very strange nightmare.

I was brewing potions with Kenzie in my potions room in our house in Australia. All of her little sisters were in the room. I was trying to teach Kenzie to brew Wolfsbane potion while she tried to make sure her sisters didn't break anything.

The door opened and Lubar burst in with Clarence. Lubar announced that Wolfsbane could no longer be brewed in Australia and I would have to attend a hearing at the Ministry for breaking the law. Clarence grabbed me and all three of us Apparated to the Ministry.

My parents and Matt were sitting with the Wizengamot when we appeared in the middle of the court room. Mum and Dad looked disappointed and Matt looked scared. The Minister began to run through the charges as I vaguely paid attention.

The Wizengamot charged me with breaking the law and they announced that I'd have to leave the country. My parents stared at me in shock as I approached them. Neither of them said a word, but Matt glared at me and said, 'Now we're going to have to move and it's all your fault. All my friends are here and I'm going to have to start over in a new place all because of you.'

I sat up in a panic and realized that it was just a dream. I wiped the sweat off my forehead and let my breathing return to normal. Just a dream. And probably the strangest one I'd ever had, at that. No one would ever outlaw Wolfsbane Potion, nor would I ever brew potions with Kenzie and her sisters. But neither of those parts of the dream really bothered me. The part that bothered me was the last part. The part when Matt told me it was my fault that we were moving. I had no idea what that meant, but after listening to Healer Norlam talk about psychology twice a week for the past month and a half, I had a feeling it meant something.

I sighed and laid back down. I didn't know how long I'd been asleep, but it was still pitch black outside. I closed my eyes, but snapped them open a minute later at the sound of a loud shriek.

I sat up quickly and regretted it as the room swam in front of me. I closed my eyes and when I opened them, the room was back to normal. I sat completely still and listened. The initial shriek had been replaced with quieter screaming mixed with muffled sobs. I sighed and got out of bed.

Despite my light sleeping, Matt's screaming didn't always wake me up. I suppose I had just gotten used to it, since he usually has nightmares around the full moon. But it was probably also due to the fact that our rooms were kind of far apart. In our new house, they were only separated by a bathroom and the walls seemed thinner. Just another thing about the new house I'd have to get used to, I thought as I walked the short distance to Matt's room.

I quietly opened the door and was surprised at my parents' absence from the room. Usually they were with him in a flash when he had a nightmare. I guess they were just so exhausted from moving that they slept right through it.

I continued past Matt's room and entered my parents'. They were sleeping peacefully amongst the many boxes and furniture that were strewn haphazardly around the room. I cautiously stepped over the boxes only to trip over a chair and land face first on a few boxes.

"Ow!" I groaned and sat up. I winced as I lifted my arm off the boxes. That was going to leave a bruise.

The bed creaked and Dad sat up. I heard him grasp for his wand and a few seconds later it illuminated the room.

"Who's there?" he demanded.

"It's just me," I replied as I stood up.

"Oh, Amy," Dad relaxed, "I thought you were an intruder or something. What's wrong?"

"I think Matt's had another nightmare," I explained, "He's been crying for the past few minutes."

"Oh, Merlin," Dad groaned and got out of bed, "I think I forgot to give him his potion before he went to bed."

I nodded and followed Dad out of the room. Matt had been taking dreamless sleep every night for over a month. I wondered when he'd not have to take it anymore. Norlam hadn't mentioned anything about stopping it, but they had yet to get to the point where Matt was actually comfortable around Norlam to actually begin the therapy.

Dad went into Matt's room and I continued down the corridor and back into my own. I climbed into bed and listened as Matt's sobs slowly dissipated. After it was quiet, I fell back asleep.

******

I awoke to the sound of furniture being moved around and distant voices. I slowly lifted my eyelids and looked around the room. Where the hell was I? It certainly didn't look like my room. Oh, right, I was in England. In our new house. I groaned and slowly got out of bed. I still felt knackered even though I was sure I'd slept much more than I normally did.

I changed and went out into the corridor to see what all the noise was. I followed it to Matt's room. My parents were setting up all his furniture and unpacking everything. I walked in and sat down on the bed.

"Morning, Amy," Dad muttered as he pushed Matt's dresser up against a wall.

"Morning," I replied, "What time is it?"

"Just after noon," Mum said, "You slept awfully late."

"Yeah, well, jet lag," I muttered, "Or, portkey lag or whatever."

"Oh, I know," Mum smiled, "Matt and Ellie are still asleep."

It did not surprise me in the slightest that Matt was still asleep, but Ellie? She always seemed to be awake. "Really? Ellie's asleep?"

"Yeah," Mum nodded, "She's been so helpful. Went out grocery shopping with me earlier but when we got back, I insisted that she take a nap."

"I'll take you shopping for your room decorations later, Amy," Dad said.

"Thanks," I grinned.

"Want to take a break, Jule?" Dad asked, "It's about lunch time."

"Sounds good to me," Mum replied, "I'll go check on Matt and see if he's hungry."

I followed Dad out of the room and down the stairs. He must have taken Matt back to his and Mum's room after his nightmare. I guess that worked out nicely since my parents were able to organize Matt's room without worrying about waking him up.

I sat down at the island while Dad rummaged through the refrigerator. He pulled out a few eggs and a loaf of bread. "Want eggs and toast?" he asked.

"Sure," I shrugged.

Dad set the food down on the counter and then turned to me. "You've been to Kenzie's house a lot," he pointed to the Muggle microwave, "What's this thing?"

"Microwave," I told him, "It cooks food faster than an oven. Kind of like magic."

"Huh," Dad pushed a button on the microwave and it opened. He stuck a few eggs inside it and shut it. "Any idea how long these would have to cook for?"

"Nope," I replied. I hadn't actually used the microwave that was at Kenzie's house or the one at Richard and Cinda's. Richard and Cinda didn't really cook. They ordered take-out. No wonder Dad didn't know what a microwave was.

Dad pushed a few more buttons and eventually the microwave lit up and started buzzing. I got up off the stool and watched the eggs spin around on the plate inside. All of a sudden, they exploded. One after another, they cracked and splattered all over the inside of the microwave.

"What the?!" I shouted and jumped back.

"Bloody hell!" Dad shouted and started pushing all of the buttons until the microwave stopped buzzing and turned dark.

Dad cautiously opened it up and a putrid smell hit us. I covered my nose and peered at the mess of yoke, white, and shell that was oozing from the contraption.

"That is disgusting," I said.

"I thought you said this cooked food," Dad replied.

"It does!" I said, "At least the one at Kenzie's house does."

"This one doesn't," Dad muttered and pulled out his wand.

"What is going on in here?"

I turned around and saw Mum walk into the room, carrying Matt, who was wrinkling his nose in disgust.

"What is that awful smell?" she asked.

"Er," I began, "Dad had fun with the microwave."

"What did you put in there?" Mum asked as she walked towards us.

"Eggs," Dad answered, "But they didn't cook right."

Mum groaned, "Walter, you can't cook hard boiled eggs in a microwave."

"Well, that's weird," Dad muttered and cleaned the mess up with a wave of his wand.

"From now on, ask me before you put anything in there," Mum sighed, "And that goes for you, too, Amy."

I nodded. What was the point in having a microwave if you couldn't cook everything in it?

"Now, let's make some eggs the normal way," Mum said as she set Matt down at the island. She pulled out a pot, filled it with water, and set it on the stove.

Dad nodded sheepishly and pulled out a few plates. I sat down next to Matt and tried to stifle my laughter. Dad was never going to live this one down.

"Ready to go shopping for you room?" Dad asked after we finished lunch.

"Yeah," I grinned.

"We'll be back in a few hours," Dad said to Mum as he stood up, "I'll get the things I need to finish the basement while I'm out. I'd like to have that done by the time I start work next week."

Mum nodded. "Pick up another dozen eggs while you're out. We haven't got any left now."

"Ok," Dad replied.

I said goodbye to Mum, Matt, and Ellie and then Dad and I left to Apparate to the Leaky Cauldron.

The pub was relatively empty when Dad and I appeared in it. We didn't linger and soon found ourselves in Diagon Alley, which looked exactly as it had the last time I was there. I was quite relieved when Dad said he had enough money and we wouldn't need to visit Gringotts.

"There should be a hardware store around here somewhere," Dad said as we walked down the street, "I know I saw one the other day....

"Ah, here we go," Dad said a few minutes later.

I followed him into a rather large building. It seemed to be stuffed to capacity with various home improvement aids from Color Changing Paint (change your walls depending on your mood!) to Self-Cleaning Toilets (never clean another toilet again!). I had no idea how I'd find what I wanted amongst the plethora of products.

"What exactly do you want to do with your room?" Dad asked.

"I was thinking I'd paint the ceiling a really dark blue and the walls a lighter blue," I replied.

"Interesting," Dad said.

"And then I want those stars that you charm to change along with the real stars outside and only come out at night. Only I want them to be like the Southern sky, not the sky in England," I had come up with that idea a little while ago. It would be a way to make me feel like I was in Australia.

"All right. I can do that," Dad nodded, "Anything else?"

"I want to change the light fixture. I want a sphere globe type thing. So it looks like the moon."

"The moon," Dad repeated, "You want your light to look like the moon."

"Er, yeah," I replied. Hey, he had said that I could do whatever I wanted to my room and I wanted my ceiling to look like the night sky.

Dad sighed, "Ok, we can do that."

I grinned. "Now, how are we going to find everything?"

We looked around the store for an hour and managed to find the paint and the stars. Dad also bought a bunch of stuff he would need to renovate the basement and turn it into a bunch of smaller rooms. Eventually, we had to ask the bloke who was working the cash register where the light fixtures were. I picked one out and Dad paid for everything. He shrunk it to fit into a small bag and we headed back out into Diagon Alley.

"Can we go home and set it all up now?" I asked. I was really excited about it. My room in England might even turn out better than my one in Australia. It would certainly be better than my room at Richard and Cinda's house.

"I have to go to that furniture store down the road," Dad pointed to another large building a few meters away.

"Don't we have enough furniture?" I sighed.

"I need to buy a few mattresses for your brother's safe room," Dad whispered.

Oh, right. I had almost forgotten that he was going to need another safe room. I sighed and followed Dad to the furniture store. Dad wasted no time in finding the mattress section and told the the wizard working in that section that he'd like five of the softest most luxurious ones (one for each wall and the floor, to be enlarged to fit). The wizard looked at him kind of strangely but seemed happy at making such an expensive sale. Dad shrunk the mattresses and we left the wizard, who was braggin to his fellow salespeople about the amount of mattresses he had just sold.

"Don't forget Mum's eggs," I reminded Dad as we walked towards the Leaky Cauldron.

"Right," Dad nodded and turned towards the Magical Market.

We picked up a dozen eggs and then Apparated back home. When we got there, Mum and Ellie were re-organizing the kitchen and Matt was lounging on the couch, reading a book.

"Can we go set up my room now?" I asked the moment Dad set down the bags on the kitchen table.

"Did you get the eggs?" Mum asked.

"Yes and yes," Dad replied as he pulled the eggs out of one of the bags, "What are you doing to the kitchen?"

"I don't like where I've put everything," Mum sighed.

Dad nodded. "Ok, Amy, let's go set everything up."

I grabbed one of the bags and sprinted out of the kitchen with Dad following me. He caught up when I was on the stairs and we made a beeline for my room.

"You know she's going to re-organize that kitchen at least five times," Dad said as he threw a few sheets over all the furniture.

"Yeah," I laughed, "And we're not going to know where anything is."

"She did that when we moved to the house in Australia, too," Dad replied, "Now, the painting should go rather quickly since I can do it with magic."

"And will you teach me the spell?" I asked.

"Sorry, you're not supposed to do magic outside of school," Dad said as he opened the paint cans.

"Maybe they don't have that rule here," I pointed out.

"I'm sure they do," Dad smirked.

"But they might not."

"Until we know otherwise, you're not doing magic outside of school."

"Fine," I groaned, "I'll just have to do it the Muggle way."

I found a paintbrush in one of the bags and began to slowly paint one of the walls while Dad used some sort of charm to get the dark blue paint onto the ceiling.

It was actually kind of fun to paint Muggle style. Even Dad joined me after he'd finished the ceiling. It was nice spending time with just him. I couldn't remember the last time we'd done that. He even seemed genuinely happy as we turned my walls blue.

It took us a few hours, but eventually we finished the painting. I set my brush down and collapsed onto the floor. Dad sat down next to me.

"That was really fun, Amy," Dad said and gave me a hug, "I probably haven't been spending enough time with just you."

"It's ok," I said, "I know you've been busy with work and the move. And you're always busy with Matt. But I get it."

"It's no excuse, though," Dad said quietly, "I shouldn't put work before you. And I know it seems like we spend a lot of time with Matt, but we can't compare him with you. He's six and a half years younger than you. You need different things."

"Yeah, and the lycanthropy thing doesn't help," I pointed out.

"Yes, that's true, but it's just something we're dealing with and most likely will always have to deal with," Dad replied, "But I really am sorry that I haven't been spending a lot of time with you. I know your mother is, too. We'll try and make up for it before you go to Hogwarts."

I nodded, but didn't really know what to say. I had enjoyed spending time with Dad painting my room. It would be nice if my parents actually spent more time with me before I left for school, but I wasn't getting my hopes up. Dad was going to start work again and Mum always seemed to pay more attention to Matt than me.

Dad dried the paint by magic and put the stars on the ceiling afterwards. I had to help him a bit so he would get the constellations right, but he did all the charm work. Once that was done, he stuck the new light fixture on and we moved all the furniture to its permanent positions.

"It looks nice, Amy."

I turned around from where I was organizing my dresser and saw Mum and Matt standing in the doorway.

"Thanks," I smiled.

"Makes me feel like I'm in a planetarium," Mum said.

"That's what I was going for," I grinned.

It really did look like a planetarium. The new light fixture looked exactly like a full moon (I was sure my parents didn't really like that, but neither of them said anything about it) and the stars looked quite realistic. My bed (complete with star sheets) was against the wall with the window. On the opposite wall was my closet and my dresser. My desk was alongside one of the side walls and there was already random stuff strewn around the floor.

"I think the house is nearly complete now," Dad said as he gave my desk a final shove against the wall.

"Except the basement," Mum reminded him.

"Right," Dad nodded, "I know, but that's going to be quite the endeavor. I'll get started on that tomorrow. I only hope I can finish before I start work."

Dad set up my telescope so it pointed out of my window. It wasn't as good as having it on a balcony like it was in Australia, but it was as good as it would get. I spent a while looking out of it that night, as the fake Southern Sky twinkled upon my ceiling.

I slept better that night, but my sleep was still restless. I just didn't feel at home yet. I had thought having my room designed to my liking would improve my sleep, but it had only slightly improved. There didn't seem to be anything I could do to make my room seem anymore like home. I was just going to have to get used to it.

******

Dad got started with the basement renovations bright and early the next morning. Muggles would probably think that construction with magic would be easy and done in only a few short hours. They'd be in for a rude awakening if they listened to Dad finishing the basement. By the sounds of it, he was using Muggle power tools and fighting a losing battle against them.

Matt and I sat in the den while Dad was working and listened to his muffled swearing and loud crashes. It sounded like he was breaking the basement rather than finishing it. Every once in a while he'd come up the stairs muttering to himself. He'd say something to Mum and then we'd hear the door slam. He'd return a while later with some new supply or tool and disappear once again.

Mum asked how the project was going at dinner that night. Dad gave her a withered look and said 'don't ask'. None of us brought it up during the meal.

In fact, we all thought it was best not to bring up the topic of the renovations unless Dad did. The next day progressed much as the first one had, with more swearing and trips to the hardware store in Diagon Alley. They would know Dad by name soon.

"Are you sure you don't want to hire anyone to do the renovations?" Mum said slowly at dinner that night.

Dad sighed, "No, I'd really rather do them myself. There are charms and spells that I'm putting into the safe room as I build it. It's going to be even stronger than the one in the old house."

"That is a good point," Mum agreed, "Do I dare ask how everything is coming along?"

"Better than it was yesterday," Dad said, "I've got the basement separated into three rooms. The safe room, Amy's potion room, and a big storage area. Now I just have to finish each individual room. I'm working on the safe room right now."

Mum nodded. "Ok, good. But you know, we're going to make fun of you for this for years," she smirked.

"Just like the eggs," I laughed, "Dad's specialties. Microwave cooking and home renovation."

Dad groaned, "You two will never let me live this down. At least I have Matt on my side. Right?"

Matt nodded. "Yup. But Dad, can I ask you something?"

"Sure," Dad turned to him, "What is it?"

"Can you microwave me an egg?" Matt grinned.

******

Dad did take a break from the renovations the next day when Norlam arrived for Matt's therapy session. It was the first one in the new house. Mum and Dad thought that Matt may have been even more afraid than normal due to the new house, but the complete opposite happened.

Matt surprised everyone by talking animatedly to Norlam about Dad's microwave incident. Dad groaned when he brought it up but he was grinning nonetheless. He was probably just happy that Matt was beginning to make progress. We were all happy about that.

Norlam talked to Dad after the session was over and I lurked in the doorway. Norlam thought that Matt's openness was due to the fact that we weren't in Australia any longer and therefore far away from Lubar. I agreed with him, since now there was no way Lubar could ever force Matt to transform in one of those Ministry centers again. Norlam thought that in itself was enough to make Matt feel safer than he had in months. I felt kind of guilty about complaining so much about moving during those few months. I hadn't really known he felt that scared just to be in Australia. I couldn't imagine not feeling safe in my own house.


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PostPosted: Monday 13 April 2009 2:53:11am 
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great chapter duckie :grin:


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PostPosted: Tuesday 21 April 2009 6:17:14pm 
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Thanks, hprocks!

Chapter 43: First Class

Dad did manage to finish the safe room by the time the weekend was over. However, he didn't finish my potions room. I was kind of disappointed since I hadn't brewed anything in over a week. But I wasn't really expecting him to finish it before he started work anyway. I knew his primary focus was on the safe room.

Everyone got up early on Monday, Dad's first day of work. Mum and Ellie cooked brekkie and we all sat down together like we do for dinner.

"Well, I'd better go," Dad said once we had finished.

"Good luck, Walt," Mum kissed him as he stood up.

"Thanks," Dad replied, "Bye Amy, Matt."

"Bye, Dad," I smiled, "Hope you like this job better.

"Bye, Dad," Matt gave him a hug.

"Thanks Amy," Dad said, "I hope this job is better, too."

"Good luck, Master," Ellie said.

"Thanks," Dad grabbed his briefcase off a chair, "See you later."

It was strange to not have Dad home during the day anymore. I had gotten so used to him being home all the time. The house seemed quiet and empty with one less person there. I also didn't know what to do with myself. My room was completely set up, Mum didn't have any chores for me to do (which was good), I obviously had no homework, I had sent a letter to Olivia a few days ago and she hadn't gotten back to me, and my potions room was not set up.

Eventually, I decided to go explore the bush that was behind the house. I had liked doing that in Australia, so I figured it might be fun in England, too. It was, I suppose, but it was odd. There were different plants and animals and it just seemed so different.

I stayed in the bush for the entire morning. After lunch, I played a few rounds of Gobstones with Matt. He had wanted to go explore the bush with me, but Mum hadn't let him. His ankle was better, but she didn't want him walking very far on it. Then I found another book to read and read it while Matt played his DS.

"Do you like it here?" Matt asked suddenly.

"I dunno," I shrugged. It was kind of too soon to tell. "I like my room."

"I like the stars on your ceiling. But your light looks like the moon," Matt said.

"That's the point," I sighed, "So it'll look like the sky."

"I like it here," Matt continued, "I don't ever want to go back to Australia."

"Well, we're going to go back to see Richard and Cinda sometime," I told him.

"I don't want to," Matt said quietly.

"Let's just not talk about it now," I said.

"Good. When do you start school?"

"September." I heard the front door open and sat up. "I think Dad's home."

"Yay!" Matt shouted and ran out of the den.

I followed him and found Dad setting his briefcase down on the kitchen table. Mum and Ellie were in the process of cooking dinner. Matt and I sat down at the island.

"So how did it go?" Mum asked.

"Great," Dad smiled, "It's so different than what I did in Australia. I feel like I'm actually going to help people here."

"That's wonderful," Mum replied, "What did you do today?"

"Met everyone in the department and then jumped right into the actual work. Right now we're compiling a list of companies and businesses that are willing to hire werewolves. Then we'll help set up interviews with those companies."

"Now that sounds like something you'd enjoy doing," Mum said.

"It is, so far. And the best part is, nobody objects to the fact that I'm pro-werewolf rights. In fact, they expect it. Plus, the two people I work with don't care one bit that Matt is a werewolf. The head of the entire department doesn't care either."

"That is great, Walt," Mum grinned, "I can tell already that this is the start of something better."

"It is, Julie. It really is," Dad said as he put one arm around me and the other around Matt.

******

It was kind of odd to see Dad so happy after returning from a day's work. It had been nearly a year since I'd seen him happy when he came home from work. Even before that fateful day when I found out we were moving, he seemed stressed with his job. Now, he came home with a smile on his face and ready to actually talk about work. He never used to do that. He was also working more normal hours. He'd be home in time for dinner and didn't work weekends.

As the days passed, we seemed to be settling into life in England. Dad would leave for work and Mum would clean or re-organize the house or go shopping. Occasionally Matt or I or both of us would go with her, especially if she was going some place new. The wizard grocery store quickly got boring and Matt and I preferred to let her grocery shop alone or with Ellie. If the shopping trip included a trip to Gringotts, Matt and I would always decline to go. Neither of us wanted to ride in those carts again. But if Mum offered to take us to the Weasleys' joke shop in Diagon Alley, we would always go.

However, we still couldn't put life in Australia behind us. The second estate sale loomed ever nearer and with it came mixed feelings. I was by no means used to England and still missed Australia immensely, and because of this I was sort of excited about going and seeing our old house again. At the same time, I didn't want to. The house wasn't ours anymore; it was Clarence's. It was going to be very weird to go there and not stay.

The sale was scheduled to take place on Saturday the 20th, two days before the full moon. Dad and I were going to fly down to Australia for the sale and then I would stay at Richard and Cinda's while Dad flew back to England. Then, he was going to fly back and get me. I thought it was a lot of unnecessary flying, but my parents insisted that I not be home during the full moon.

"Amy!" Mum shouted up the stairs on Wednesday, the day before Dad and I were scheduled to fly to Australia, "Can you come down here?"

I left my room and headed down the stairs. Mum and Dad (who had just returned home from work) were sitting in the living room. I flopped down onto a chair and looked at them.

"There's been a change of plans," Dad began, "About this weekend."

"You mean I get to come back here with you, instead of staying with Richard and Cinda?" I asked hopefully.

"No," Dad said, "That's not going to change. Instead of me flying down to get you after the full moon, Richard and Cinda are going to fly with you back here."

I stared at him. "What?"

"Your grandparents have decided to visit us," Dad explained.

"They want to see the house," Mum elaborated, "And they want to spend some time with all of us."

Richard and Cinda? Coming here? For some reason, the thought of my grandparents visiting us in England never crossed my mind. "Wait, so I have to spend twenty hours on a plane with Richard and Cinda?"

Dad laughed. "Yes, but the good news is that they're flying first class and so will you."

First class? I had never even seen the first class section of a plane, let alone flown on it.

"You'll like it better, Amy," Mum assured me, "My parents have always flown first class. In fact, the first time I flew coach was after I was married."

Dad grinned. "Yep. You married a cheapskate."

"So when am I flying back here, then?" I asked before my parents started reminiscing about their younger years.

"Your flight is scheduled to leave at 7am on Tuesday morning," Mum told me, "If all goes as scheduled, which it never does, you'll get here at 5pm our time on Tuesday. I would have preferred you not get here until Wednesday, but those were the only tickets my parents could get."

I nodded and once it became clear that my parents had nothing else to say on the subject, I returned to my room. Flying first class with Richard and Cinda. Now that was certainly going to be an experience.

******

The next day I was en route to Australia, sitting in between my dad and some lady who continually yakked away on the in-plane telephone. The flight had been delayed a couple hours and I was already bored by having to sit around in the airport terminal.

The flight seemed to drag on forever. Neither Dad or I talked much. I spent most of the time thinking about how this was going to be my last time seeing my house, and I think Dad was thinking the same thing. The flight seemed rather quiet without Mum and Matt there. I didn't have any private conversation between my parents to listen in on or Matt's irritating commentary about the flight.

After what seemed like forever, we finally landed in Australia. We went through airport security for what seemed like the ten thousandth time that year. I was tired and achy from the trip and had no idea what time it was.

We walked to a dark alley and Dad Apparated us to the house. I felt my stomach lurch when we appeared in the middle of the kitchen and it had nothing to do with the Apparition.

"Well," Dad said quietly, "It's past midnight, so we'd better get to sleep. The sale is starting at nine in the morning."

I nodded without saying anything.

"Oh, and here's a sleeping bag," Dad pulled out his wand and conjured two squashy blue sleeping bags.

I put the sleeping bag under my arm and started to leave the room. "Er, Dad? Where's Clarence?"

"I owled him a few weeks ago and told him to make himself scarce during the sale. He knows I own all the contents of the house, so he actually listened."

"Ok," I said, "Good night, Dad."

"'Night, Amy," Dad gave me a hug, "I love you."

"Love you, too."

I trudged tiredly up the stairs and to my empty room. I tossed the sleeping bag on the floor and sat down on it. I stared into space and tried not to think about the fact that it was my last night there. I felt empty, just like my room. I realized that it had been a mistake to come back, that I should have just stayed in England. But I hadn't even had that choice. I wished I could just sleep outside, but I knew Dad wouldn't want me to and I didn't feel like making him angry. I knew this was just as hard, if not harder, for him than it was for me.

Dad woke me up after what seemed like only a few minutes of sleep. He shouted that the sale was starting in fifteen minutes. I hurriedly changed my clothes and located something to eat for brekkie.

People started trickling into the house at nine o'clock on the dot. Dad and the person running the sale immediately began showing them around. I just wandered around like I had during the last sale.

In fact, this sale was progressing much like the first one had. A few people had shown up for the sole purpose of trying to find out 'the scoop' about my family, just like last time. And just like last time, they were thrown out.

After seeing quite a bit of our stuff sold, I got sick of it and decided to just go wander around the bush until it was over. I spent a few hours out there and went back to the house when I figured the sale would be over.

When I returned, I found Dad and the salesman talking quietly at the kitchen table. Dad looked up when he saw me come in, but then went back to talking. I left the kitchen and wandered around the entire house. It was practically empty. There were a few things that hadn't been sold, but most everything was gone.

I loitered in the corridor outside the kitchen until the salesman left. I walked slowly into the kitchen after. Dad was standing there and I walked straight towards him. He embraced me in a hug as tears started to roll down my cheeks. I hadn't even realized that I was going to cry; it just sort of happened. We stayed that way for a while, before Dad pulled away.

"We're going to have to go," he said quietly, "I have a six o'clock flight."

I nodded. "Ok."

"I'll just go collect the furniture that didn't sell."

Dad returned a few minutes later with shrunken furniture that had not been sold. "So, this is it," he said quietly.

"Yeah," I whispered, "We're never coming back."

"No, Amy, we're not," Dad replied, "This part of our lives is over. But we need to look forward, not back."

That was easier said than done. "Let's just go," I said.

Dad wrapped me in a hug and we Disapparated from our house for the last time.

******

Dad didn't linger at Richard and Cinda's. With the estate sale behind him, I knew that his mind was now focusing on the full moon and the fact that it would be Matt's first transformation in England. His transformations were always worse when anything was different, and this one was definitely going to be different.

Richard and Cinda seemed rather excited about traveling to England and they had endless questions about the country for me. I hardly knew any of the answers, but I tried my best to answer them.

The weekend dragged on forever and I was counting down the time until I'd get to go back to England. I couldn't really call it home yet, but it was where my family was and it was better than staying at Richard and Cinda's. I stayed up practically all night on Monday, worrying about my brother. I realized halfway through the night that with the time change, the full moon hadn't even happened yet in England. This didn't cause my worry to wane, though. It merely prolonged it into Tuesday morning. I had always worried about Matt during full moons, but since he nearly died a few months ago, my worrying seemed to increase tenfold.

Richard and Cinda hadn't slept much either on Monday night, but this was due to the fact that we were going to the airport at four in the morning on Tuesday. They either completely ignored my obvious worrying or didn't notice it.

We piled into the car and drove to the airport. Richard dropped Cinda and I off with the luggage and then went to park in the long-term parking lot. He met us inside and then we went through security and then to wait at the terminal. The flight was only delayed thirty minutes, which was surprising.

After an hour or so of sitting in the waiting area and watching boring programs on the television, they announced that our flight was boarding. I collected my carry-on bag and followed Richard and Cinda to the queue of people waiting to get on the plane.

Once we gave our tickets to the lady at the counter, I followed Richard and Cinda through the little passageway to the plane. Instead of heading to the coach section like I usually did, I followed them into what couldn't possibly have been an actual airplane.

I stopped short when we entered the first class section. My jaw dropped as I saw the huge, comfortable looking seats. They practically looked like armchairs instead of airplane seats. There were two seats in each row next to each window and three seats in each row in the middle. Richard quickly found our seats, which were in the middle.

I claimed one of the outside ones and stowed my carry-on bag in the compartment above my head. I looked at the seat and saw that there was a fluffy pillow, a pair of slippers, a sleep mask, and a couple bottles of water sitting on it. I picked them up and threw myself into the seat, only to realize how comfortable it was. I might actually not be stiff and achy after this flight.

Not only were the seats more comfortable, but the atmosphere was more peaceful. There wasn't a single little kid in first class. As a matter of fact, I appeared to be the youngest one there. Most of the people appeared to be businessmen and women, judging by the amount of laptops I had seen so far.

Flight attendants were already walking up and down the aisles, bringing people drinks. Richard and Cinda each ordered a cocktail and they ordered me a soda.

The flight certainly started out more peaceful than the past flights I'd taken. Take-off was still terrifying, but after that, I read one of the books I'd brought and talked with my grandparents. Neither of them had seemed bothered in the slightest by the bumpy take-off. I still had no idea where I got my fear of heights from. Nobody else in my family had it.

The food was only slightly better in first class. I still found it rather unappetizing, but picked at it because I was hungry.

As the flight wore on and we came upon some turbulence that happened to fall shortly after they served the meal, I discovered that first-class barf bags are no better than coach ones. However, I was offered multiple Muggle antacids by the flight attendants, which I declined.

I managed to fall asleep after that and only woke up when they served the next, only slightly less disgusting, meal. It was easier to sleep in first class than coach. I was able to recline my seat back and pretend it was an actual bed. I fell asleep again after I finished the second meal.

I didn't wake up again until the pilot announced that we'd be landing. I pulled my seat up, buckled my seat belt, and braced for the landing.

I wasn't nearly as achy after this flight, but I was groggy. It was odd that I was still tired after sleeping for so much of the flight, but I was.

The plane had landed an hour or so later than scheduled, so by the time we made it through security, it was already getting dark in London. I didn't have a clue as to what day it was there, let alone what time it was.

We found Dad leafing through one of the Muggle magazines in the waiting area. Mum and Matt weren't anywhere to be seen, so I assumed they had stayed home.

"Dad!" I shouted as we drew nearer to him.

Dad looked up and set down his magazine. He stood up and embraced me. "Amy! I missed you. How was your flight?"

"Long. But comfortable. I like those first class seats," I grinned.

Dad laughed, "Now you've spoiled her, Richard."

Richard shrugged, "It's good to be spoiled every once in a while. How are you, Walter?"

"Exhausted," Dad sighed, "Haven't slept in over a day. How about you?"

"Good," Richard replied, "Sorry you're so tired."

Dad shrugged, "I'm used to it. How about you, Cinda?"

"I'm fine, Walter. Although I am eager to see this new house of yours."

"Dad, what time is it?" I asked, "Er, and what day is it?"

"Tuesday, and it's around 7:30 pm," Dad answered.

I nodded. So, really, the full moon had only been last night. I supposed it had risen while I was on the plane, although I must have slept through it.

"Er, how's Matt?" I asked quietly.

"I'll tell you once we're home," Dad said, "Right now, I just want to get home as soon as possible."

That wasn't really a good sign. But I did want to get back to the house soon as well.

We left the airport and walked to the nearest Apparition point. Since Dad was the only one who could actually Apparate, and he couldn't side-along Apparate three people, we had to go in shifts. Dad took me first, along with all the luggage, and we Disapparated with a loud crack.

We appeared in the middle of the backyard and hurried towards the house. Once I was inside, Dad turned around to go get my grandparents.

"Amy?" I heard Mum shout from the kitchen.

I left my suitcase and carry-on bag next to the door and ran into the kitchen. "Hi, Mum!"

"Amy," Mum smiled and gave me a hug, "How was your flight?"

"Long," I replied, "But I like first class."

"Well, I'm glad you're back," Mum said as she turned back to her cooking.

"Me, too," I said as I climbed onto one of the stools. It was odd that I was so happy to be back in England. I hadn't enjoyed that trip to Australia at all. It just hadn't seemed real somehow. The house had been empty and didn't seem like ours anymore.

"Are you hungry?" Mum asked, "We're going to eat as soon as Dad, Richard, and Cinda get here."

"Yeah, I didn't eat much on the plane."

"I figured."

"How's Matt?" I asked.

Mum stopped slicing bread and turned back to me. "He's ok," she sighed, "It was just a bad one because it was in a new place. Dad tried to make the room exactly like the old one, but the wolf knew it was different.

"I gave him potions for the pain and dreamless sleep and he's been sleeping most of the day. I think he'll be better tomorrow. We took him to Healer Sterling this afternoon for a check-up and he said Matt didn't really re-injure anything, so that's good. He just needs to sleep it off."

I nodded. It could have been much, much worse. I wasn't sure what I had been expecting, but it had been worse than what had actually happened. What I was surprised about was how quickly Mum had told me about the transformation. I was half expecting to have to pry it out of her like I usually did. Not to mention the fact that I was home and it was the day after a full moon. That never happened. I would have thought that Mum would make me stay in Australia longer. Richard and Cinda could have gotten tickets for much later in the week, but Mum actually wanted me home before then. Was she actually softening about me being home during the full moon? I was hesitant to believe it, but that did seem like where it was going.


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PostPosted: Saturday 25 April 2009 1:37:17pm 
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great chapter, i think i would like first class since i haven't been on a plane ever in my life and i will be going to disney soon and i am terrified by the thoughtof the plane crashing while i'm on it.


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PostPosted: Sunday 26 April 2009 5:03:01pm 
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Thanks hprocks! I haven't flown first class. I flew when I was 5, but haven't flown since.

Chapter 44: The Sorting

I heard the door open a minute or so later and Mum and I left the kitchen to see which one of my grandparents was arriving. I reached the door to find Cinda setting her bag down on a table and gazing around at the house.

"Mum," Mum greeted Cinda.

"Julie, darling," Cinda smiled and embraced her, "So, this is your new house."

"Yes," Mum nodded, "What do you think?"

Cinda paused. "Small," she said after a while, "And kind of quaint."

"I'll take that as a complement," Mum said wryly.

"It's just so different," Cinda went on, "Your old house was so much grander and fancy..." she trailed off.

"Yes, but honestly, we didn't need all that space, Mum," Mum explained, "We lived there because Walter inherited it and it was his childhood home. Otherwise, we would have stayed at our first house. Remember that one?"

Cinda nodded. "Yes, that one was even smaller than this."

"But we like it," Mum sighed.

"I know, I know," Cinda replied, "It'll just take some getting used to."

We wandered back to the kitchen and Mum continued cooking while Cinda set the table. Richard and Dad arrived a few minutes later and Richard told my parents how much he liked the house. We took them on the grand tour (which didn't take long) and showed them the entire place with the exception of the basement, which was still in partial disrepair.

When we finished showing my grandparents the house, Ellie announced that dinner was ready.

"I'll go see if Matt's up to eating dinner with us," Mum said as we entered the kitchen.

"Let me, Jule," Dad said, "I haven't seen him in a few hours."

I sat down at the table next to Mum, with Matt's empty seat on the other side. Ellie started serving the food, but no one started eating until Dad returned.

"He's sound asleep," Dad said as he sat down at the head of the table.

Mum nodded, "I figured he would be. He's been asleep ever since we got home from St. Mungo's."

"When will he be all recovered?" Richard asked quietly.

"Probably late tomorrow or early Thursday, he'll be feeling back to normal," Dad told him.

The rest of dinner was spent discussing England and what my parents liked and disliked about it. Richard and Cinda had dozens of questions about the house, Dad's job, and England in general.

After dinner, Dad enlarged a bed that had not sold at the estate sale (which actually happened to be the bed my grandparents usually slept in when they stayed at my house)and set it up in the library for them. Everyone went to bed a few hours later, but I stayed up and looked out my telescope.

I woke up late the next morning. Very late. But I figured I needed to in order to adjust to the different time zone. I stumbled down the stairs and to the living room only to find that I was one of the first ones up. Only Mum and Dad got up before I did and were talking quietly to themselves.

Richard and Cinda woke up shortly after I had brekkie (or would lunch have been a more appropriate word?). It wound up being a very quiet day. Matt was in no shape to go anywhere. He spent the day lounging on the couch reading and playing his DS. Cinda gave Mum interior decorating advice about the house and the two of them wound up rearranging the kitchen yet again. Richard, after hearing about Dad's microwave incident, decided to teach Dad the finer points of cooking meals in a microwave. I thought this was rather funny since Richard was certainly not a cook. But, Richard and Dad seemed to enjoy it. They even went out and bought these Muggle things called 'microwave dinners', which are meals you stick in the microwave for a few minutes and then eat. We wound up having them for dinner.

I spent the day wandering from room to room, just looking at what my family members were doing. I realized how very odd it was to have my grandparents in England with us. What was even stranger was that at that moment, no one in my family was in Australia. Well, except for Clarence and his family, but I didn't really consider them family anymore. I played a few rounds of Exploding Snap and Gobstones with Matt, but then he got bored with it and we both read for a while.

Dad had to go back to work the next day, but Mum decided that we could go show Richard and Cinda Diagon Alley. That was fun, especially when we went to Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes. Both Richard and Cinda were flabbergasted by the amount of magical pranking items they had. Dad met us for dinner at the Leaky Cauldron, which was nice.

Richard and Cinda left a few days later. Their visit had been surprisingly fun. They said they'd visit again soon, but didn't give an exact date.

******

The weeks went by quickly after that. The time before I would go to Hogwarts was quickly decreasing and once August arrived, I realized how close it was. I started thinking about it all the time and it was making me nervous. Sure, I was getting used to our new house and living in England, but school would be a different story. I was going to know absolutely no one, except for the headmaster.

Dad finished my potions room and I was very happy with it. It looked a lot like the one I had in Australia, except it had no windows. Dad put some sort of magical ventilation system in, though.

"Amy!" Mum shouted down the stairs one Thursday afternoon.

"What?" I shouted back as I increased the fire under my cauldron.

"You've got a letter!" Mum answered.

I turned off the flame and ran up the stairs. Maybe it was from Olivia. I had owled her the previous week, but she still hadn't gotten back to me.

Mum handed me the letter once I entered the living room. I turned it over and saw that it was from Hogwarts. I slit it open, pulled the letter out, and read it silently.

[i]Dear Miss Eckerton,

Please note that the new term will begin
on September first. The Hogwarts Express
will leave from King's Cross Station,
Platform 9 3/4 at eleven o'clock in the
morning.

Also, since you are a new student this term,
you need to arrange to meet with the
headmaster prior to the start of term.
Please owl him with a time that will work,
the sooner the better.

Sincerely,
Professor Padma Patil
Deputy Headmistress[/i]

"What's that about?" Mum asked.

"Telling me when school starts," I mumbled, "September first. But I have to go see the headmaster soon, since I'm new there." I handed her the letter.

Mum's eyes moved along the page and then she set the letter down on the table. "I'll send an owl. I could take you tomorrow, after Matt's appointment with Norlam."

Matt's sessions with Norlam were going well. So well in fact, that Norlam announced the next day that he was going to start the relaxation techniques he had mentioned months ago. Norlam actually had Mum and I do them as well, which was kind of odd. He had us take deep breaths with our eyes closed while we imagined ourselves in relaxed places. I thought about walking through the bush in Australia.

It was actually really relaxing and the hour went by fast. Norlam talked briefly in private to Mum and then left.

"Ready to go?" Mum asked a few minutes later.

"Yeah," I replied.

Kendrick had said he was going to meet us at the Three Broomsticks, so Mum, Matt, and I Apparated to Hogsmeade and walked into the pub. That afternoon it happened to be filled with gossipy old witches and there were a few wizards discussing politics at the bar.

"Just give it a few years," one of them was saying, "And Percy Weasley will be Minister. I'd bet my Gringotts account on it."

"Naw," the other one was saying, "He's softened with age. He's just not Minister material anymore."

"Julie!" Professor Kendrick got up from the bar and greeted us. He had been sitting a few seats down from the politicking wizards.

"Professor Kendrick," Mum smiled and shook his hand.

"Please, call me Fabius."

"All right," Mum said.

"Well, let's go up to the castle," Kendrick replied.

I followed him out of the pub and into Hogsmeade. Hogsmeade in the summer was a lot different than Hogsmeade in the winter. People were congregating outside and talking about anything and everything. Little kids ran around chasing each other and older kids goofed off.

Eventually we made it to the school grounds and then into the castle. The castle was the opposite of Hogsmeade. It seemed completely deserted. In fact, I didn't see a single person on our way to Kendrick's study.

"Is Walter working?" Kendrick asked as we entered his study.

"Yes," Mum answered.

"How is he liking it?"

"Oh, he's enjoying it," Mum said.

"Good," Kendrick smiled and gestured for us to sit down.

I sat down in one of the two chairs in front of Kendrick's desk and Mum sat in the other. Matt sat down on her lap.

"All right," Kendrick folded his hands together, "As you know, the term starts on the first and you will arrive here by train. How did you get to school in Australia?"

"Train," I replied.

Kendrick nodded, "And I'm assuming the platform the train arrived at was hidden from Muggles?"

"Yeah," I said, "You had to run into the barrier separating two platforms."

"Ah, well, it's the same here. You will run through the barrier in between platforms nine and ten at King's Cross to get to Platform 9 3/4."

"Ok," I said.

"And now onto slightly more exciting matters. We need to figure out what classes you're taking. At Hogwarts, there is a core curriculum of classes that everyone must take until the end of fifth year, when the O.W.L. exams are taken. Then, you choose which classes to continue at the N.E.W.T. level for sixth and seventh years. At the end of seventh year, you take your N.E.W.T. exams in those classes."

I nodded. Classes and exams had been similar to that in Australia.

"Therefore, you have to take Transfiguration, Herbology, Potions, History of Magic, Charms, Astronomy, and Defense Against the Dark Arts. Besides those, you can take two or three electives. The choices for electives are Muggle Studies, Divination, Care of Magical Creatures, Arithmancy, Divination, and Ancient Runes. Which would you like to take?"

"Well, I did Care of Magical Creatures and Ancient Runes in Australia," I explained, "I guess I'll just take those."

Kendrick nodded and jotted something down on a piece of parchment. "Very good," he turned to Mum, "At Hogwarts, anyone in third year and above can visit Hogsmeade a couple of times during the year. If you'll let Amy participate, I'll need you to sign this form." He handed Mum a piece of parchment.

"Of course," Mum picked up a quill and quickly signed the parchment.

"Well," Kendrick took the permission slip, "All that remains now is to Sort you into your house, unless you want to be sorted with the first years."

My house. I had completely forgotten that I'd have to be sorted into a house at Hogwarts. "I'll do it now." No way was I going to be sorted in front of the entire school with a bunch of eleven-year-olds.

"All right," Kendrick stood up and then paused, "It's sort of been a tradition at Hogwarts for the first years not to know how the sorting is done." He turned to Matt, "Could I ask you not to mention anything about the sorting when you're on your first train ride to Hogwarts?"

Matt nodded but didn't say anything. I was now thoroughly curious about this sorting thing. Why was it so secretive? What was so special about it?

"All you'll have to do is sit there," Kendrick told me as he pulled a very old looking hat off a shelf near his desk. He held it up in front of him. "This is the Sorting Hat. It will tell you where you will go."

I stared at it. A hat? A hat was going to sort me? Even in the wizarding world, that was a little strange. "But it's a hat," I said.

"A wise hat," Kendrick smiled.

"And I will figure out where to put you," the hat's brim opened suddenly and began talking.

I gaped at it and then turned to Mum and Matt. Both of them were staring at it as well. Not only was it a hat, but it was a talking hat.

Kendrick walked over to me and put the hat on my head. Immediately, the hat's voice appeared in my head. I nearly jumped out of my seat from the shock of it.

'Hmm,' the hat began, 'you're older than most of the kids I sort.'

'Yeah, well, I moved here,' I thought.

'I see that,' the hat replied. I guess it knew everything about me.

'Hmm, you're loyal. Fiercely loyal. You'd do anything for your family,' the hat said more as a statement than a question, 'Good Hufflepuff material.'

'Loyal, that's good. I guess I'm loyal.'

'Very loyal. But that's not all. You've got courage. A rare courage that I don't see every year. The courage you need to remain loyal to your family, especially your brother, no matter what the circumstances are. Yes, indeed, very interesting combination. The loyalty of a Hufflepuff, but the courage of a Gryffindor...'

'Gryffindor! Someone told me that's the best house.'

'Everyone says that about their house. They all have their good qualities. And you happen to possess the qualities of two great houses. Hufflepuff and Gryffindor. But which one. Which one indeed?'

I didn't really care which one. I didn't know anything about either house, except that Ted Lupin and George Weasley said that Gryffindor was the best.

"Gryffindor!" the hat finally shouted.

I breathed a sigh of relief as Kendrick took the hat off my head. It as over. I hadn't even realized how nervous I was about the sorting until after it was over.

"Congratulations," Kendrick said as he put the hat away, "Many great witches and wizards have been in Gryffindor."

"That's where Dumbledore was," Matt announced suddenly.

"Yes, he was," Kendrick replied and turned around to look at Dumbledore's portrait, but it was empty. "Well, I think that's it. Oh, here's a list of supplies you'll need before term starts," Kendrick handed me a piece of parchment, "Most should be the same as what you needed in Australia, but there are a bunch of books you'll need to get as well as robes. Madam Malkin's in Diagon Alley sells Hogwarts robes."

"Thanks," I said.

Kendrick walked us back to the Three Broomsticks. He and Mum talked about Hogwarts the whole way there, but I didn't really pay attention. I just kept thinking about how in less than a month I would be a Hogwarts student. Well, I sort of already was. I had a house. Gryffindor. The house where the brave and courageous students went. The Sorting Hat had said I was courageous, but I didn't think I was. I couldn't think of anything courageous I'd ever done. Loyal, yes, I could see myself as loyal. But not courageous. What had the hat meant anyway? Courage to remain loyal to my family no matter what? Why would I need courage for that? I guess that hat knew more about myself than I did.

******

"Where do you want to go first?" Mum asked me the next day, as we walked down the steps of Gringotts. My parents had decided to take me shopping for my school stuff, and we had just finished another bumpy ride on a Gringotts cart. It had not been any better than the first one.

"The book store," I said immediately.

We set off to Flourish and Blotts and my stomach started to calm down. I had felt like I was going to chunder on that cart. Matt had actually sort of enjoyed it this time. I figured it was because he wasn't recovering from jet lag this time. Neither was I, but it still made me sick.

Flourish and Blotts was extremely crowded when we arrived. It didn't surprise me since it was a Saturday and only a few weeks before the start of term. Kids were running around and parents were shouting at them not to leave the shop. Mum immediately grabbed Matt's hand as we entered.

There were a few shop assistants scurrying around trying to locate books for people, but I decided to just find my own. I always liked looking around book shops and finding my own books. Dad helped me and it wasn't long before we had bought them all and found Mum and Matt in the children's book section. Mum was looking at a cookbook and Matt was reading a book about a bloke who had decided to fly his broom to the moon.

After we left Flourish and Blotts, we walked to Madam Malkin's, a store I had walked past numerous times but never actually entered. We walked into the cramped shop and started looking through a pile of robes.

"Hogwarts?" an old witch who was busy supervising measuring tapes on two different kids.

I looked up. "Yeah."

"Just give me a few minutes and I'll be right with you."

I nodded and continued to rifle through the pile of robes. I wasn't really interested in any of them, but there was nothing else to do.

"I'm bored," Matt announced after we'd waited two minutes.

"Why don't I take him to the joke shop?" Dad suggested, "Then you can finish up here and go to the Apothecary. We'll meet up with you after that."

"That's a good idea," Mum agreed and Dad and Matt left the shop.

Matt hated going to the Apothecary in Australia because all the smells of the various potions ingredients wafted together to make an almost unbearable scent. It made him feel sick every time he went into the shop. It didn't help that the place had Wolfsbane (the ingredient, not the actual potion) out in the open and that stuff is really dangerous for werewolves when it's undiluted. I figured the Apothecary in Diagon Alley would be no different.

A few minutes later the witch who I assumed was Madam Malkin called me forward to get measured for my robes.

"What house are you in?" she asked as her measuring tape magically measured me.

"Gryffindor," I told her. It was definitely odd saying that.

A little while later, Mum and I left the shop with three sets of Gryffindor robes. Apparently the Gryffindor mascot was a lion, as the crest depicted a lion standing on its hind legs.

The Apothecary was a few buildings down from Madam Malkin's. The Apothecary in Australia was always one of my favorite shops. I could spend hours browsing the different ingredients and cauldrons.

We stepped into the dark shop and sure enough I smelled the familiar sent of Wolfsbane. But I ignored it since Matt wasn't there and made a beeline for a display of solid gold cauldrons. Someday I would own one.

"Amy, you know you're not getting one of those," Mum said.

"I know," I replied, "But I can dream, right?"

Mum sighed, "Of course. Let's just find your ingredients."

"I've got a solid gold cauldron," a voice drawled from behind me.

I turned around and saw a tall and skinny bloke around my age walking towards me. His hair was a mousy brown and his face was plagued with a lot of acne.

"Er, ok," I said, "Is it nice?"

"'Course it's nice. It's solid gold," the boy laughed, "You don't look familiar. Do you go to Hogwarts?"

"Yes," I said.

"Huh," the boy muttered, "Like I said, I don't think I've seen you before. Is this your first year at Hogwarts?"

"Er, yeah," I said quietly.

"That's weird. You look too old to be a first year. What year are you in?"

"Fourth," I answered, "And to answer your next question, I just moved to England."

"From where?" the boy pressed, "And why?"

"Australia, and it's not really any of your business," I said as I tried to move away from him. He was quite nosy and seemed like the kind of person who bragged a lot.

"Well," he said as he followed me, "Hope for Slytherin. It's really the only good house."

"I'm already in Gryffindor, thanks," I said as I picked up a bag of dried beetles.

"Oh," he replied, "That's a shame."

"Not really," I said briskly. If this bloke was in Slytherin, I was glad I wasn't there.

"Maybe we'll share classes. I'm in fourth year, too. What's your name?"

"Amy Eckerton," I answered, figuring he'd find that out soon enough anyway, "And you?"

"Quinton Willinson."

I nodded. "I'd better go get the rest of my ingredients."

"All right. Good luck in Gryffindor," Quinton said snidely as he sauntered off towards the back of the shop.

I avoided him as I continued collecting my ingredients. I seriously hoped the people in Gryffindor weren't like him. In the ten minutes I'd talked to him, I realized that I really didn't want to talk to him again. I just didn't like the way he demanded to know why I moved to England. I hadn't quite worked out my answer to that yet and didn't want to elaborate on it with anyone.

Mum paid for my ingredients and then we left the shop, thankfully without seeing Quinton again. We meandered down Diagon Alley and found Dad and Matt loitering near the Magical Market. I noticed Mum give Dad a significant look and then the two of them smiled at me.

"Amy," Mum began, "We've got a surprise for you."

I looked at them quizzically. A surprise? For me and just me? Usually whenever they said they had a surprise, it was for both Matt and I.

"What is it?" I asked curiously.

"We've decided to get you an owl," Mum explained, "In order for you to keep in touch with Olivia better while you're in school."

"Really?" I grinned, "Thanks!"

I had wanted an owl when I first started school, but my parents said no since we had Jasper. I begged them for months and then gave up.

"Yes, really," Dad said, "There's a shop down the road, Eyelops Owl Emporium. We'll go right now."

I took off immediately for the shop. I couldn't believe I was actually getting an owl. It was the first good thing to happen since moving to England.

I arrived at Eyelops before my parents did and walked inside to find numerous owls hooting in various cages. I started with the first cage I saw, which housed a snowy owl. However, when I tried to get its attention, the owl completely ignored me. Ok, I thought, not that one.

My parents and Matt showed up when I was at the second owl cage. They began to look around and kept calling me to see different owls. I wanted to pick one, though.

I continued looking at all the owls until I came upon one that was black with white speckles. He was in a cage with a few other owls, but they all seemed to be ignoring him.

"Just got him in the other day," the shopkeeper gestured to the speckled owl, "But none of the other owls are accepting him. I think he's lonely."

Like me, I thought. True, I hadn't actually gone to Hogwarts yet so I didn't know what the other students would think of me. But they had been going to school together for years and I was the new kid.

I stuck my finger in the cage and the owl came over and nibbled at it as I petted him.

"I'll take him," I announced a few minutes later. The owl was exactly like me. An outsider in a new place.

The shopkeeper smiled and opened the cage. I found another cage and the shopkeeper put my new owl in it. Mum and Dad paid for him and I carried him out the door with a huge grin on my face. After nearly fifteen years, I finally had a pet. I never had childhood pets like most kids did. Only Jasper, and he was the family owl. I never had fish or rats or puffskeins.

"I want an owl," Matt whined as we walked towards the Leaky Cauldron.

"When you're older and are going to Hogwarts," Mum told him.

"But that's not fair," he muttered.

I smirked to myself. Finally I was getting something he wasn't. Mum and Dad were finally not giving into his whining. Most times, they gave him what he wanted as if it would somehow make up for the fact that he had to turn into a wolf once a month. Maybe they were finally realizing that it wasn't good to give him whatever he wanted.


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PostPosted: Wednesday 29 April 2009 1:00:55am 
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great chapter i like how you put willson in


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