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PostPosted: Sunday 5 July 2009 6:19:28pm 
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Chapter 52: Happy Birthday

Mum and Dad weren't meeting me until lunch time, so I could have slept in. But I didn't. The dormitory was quiet when I woke up; everyone else was sleeping. I was the only one in the dormitory who ever woke up early on the weekends. Plus, it was my birthday. I never slept late on my birthday.

I got up and looked out the window. It was raining. Again. It rained more during two months in England than it did during a whole year in Australia. The weather was actually sort of like the weather in New York.

Hardly anyone was in the common room when I went downstairs. There were a few first years throwing paper at each other, but they stopped when I walked in. That was kind of funny since I am far from a prefect.

I decided to go to the library and get my books since I hadn't wanted to leave the common room the previous night. There had been too much of a chance of getting blamed for Teddy's prank.

The library was completely empty, save for Madam Pince. I grabbed my books and endured a lecture on keeping track of my 'precious learning materials' before going down for brekkie in the Great Hall.

Everyone else was up when I went back to my dormitory. Samantha, Seren, and Alyssa weren't there and I assumed they were down at the Quidditch pitch. Victoire and Monica were in the middle of an argument and I tried to sneek inside unnoticed.

"You realize we've got an Herbology exam tomorrow," Victoire said.

"I'll study after dinner," Monica groaned, "I don't see why you can't do that."

"I want to get a decent mark on this test," Victoire snapped, "Sneeking into Hogsmeade this afternoon is not going to help that."

"Fine," Monica stood up, "I'll see if Jess and Kate want to go."

"Have fun, then," Victoire said shortly.

"I will," Monica stomped out of the room.

Victoire sighed and sat down on her bed. I quickly shoved my books into my trunk and located my Astronomy homework. I headed back down to the common room to try and get it done before meeting my parents.

I had no idea when Monica was planning on sneaking into Hogsmeade, but I really hoped it would be after my lunch with my parents was over. The last thing I needed was to run into her there. Hogsmeade was a pretty small place so chances are we'd meet up. Despite the fact that Monica had no idea Matt was a werewolf, I did not want her anywhere near him.

Teddy and Landon came down shortly before I had to leave, looking exhausted and happy at the same time. Half the common room applauded them. It seemed that the prank was still fresh in everyone's mind.

"Hey, Aussie," Teddy collapsed onto the chair next to mine, "What are you up to today? More studying?"

I closed my Astronomy book and looked at him. His hair was bright red today and half of it was sticking up. It looked like he just rolled out of bed, but there were bags under his eyes. Landon looked the same, except for the lack of red hair. I wondered what time the two of them went to bed.

"Not the whole day," I replied, "I'm going to Hogsmeade."

Teddy's eyes lit up. "You're sneaking in? Excellent. I had you pegged for the sort who follows rules."

"No," I laughed, "I'm allowed to go. I'm meeting my parents and my little brother there. It's my birthday, so we're going to have lunch."

"It's your birthday?" Teddy said.

"Yeah," I nodded.

"Why didn't you tell us?" Landon asked, "We would've thrown you a party."

I cringed. I thought I had gotten away from parties when I left Australia. "I'm really not into parties."

"That's too bad," Landon sighed, "Teddy throws a great party. I even neglect to yell at him when he sneaks into Hogsmeade."

"Well, happy birthday anyway," Teddy said.

"Thanks," I said, "I'd better go."

"See you later," Teddy said as I got up.

My parents met me in the Entrance Hall. I smiled as soon as I saw them and ran all the way down the grand staircase. Mum wrapped her arms around me and squeezed me so hard I thought I would explode. I didn't mind, though. I had missed them so much. It was so nice to be able to see them.

Mum and Dad looked so relaxed. Dad's face was still wrinkled, but his eyes lacked the purple bags that had been there for so long. Mum was smiling. Matt looked about the same. You'd never guess that he just went through an awful full moon, though. He was completely recovered.

"Happy Birthday, Amy," Mum said. Dad and Matt repeated it.

"Thanks," I grinned, "Let's go."

My parents wanted to hear everything that had happened in school so far, even though I'd already told them most of it in letters. I started with the swamp that Teddy and Landon set off the previous day. Dad and Matt laughed hysterically and Mum smirked and tried to stifle her laughter.

I decided to just tell them the good stuff. I didn't want to ruin the day by letting them know how miserable I was. All three of them looked perfectly happy and more relaxed than they'd been in months.

"I figured we'd just go to the Three Broomsticks," Dad said as we entered the village.

"Ok," I agreed.

We walked the rest of the way to the Three Broomsticks and I continued to talk about everything that had happened in school. The only problem was that I was running out of good things to say. There was only so much you could say about brewing potions and how delicious the Treacle Tart was.

The place was relatively crowded, although not even close to how it had been during the Hogsmeade trip. We found a secluded table near the back and sat down at it. Madam Rosmerta came over and we all ordered various sandwiches.

"So, what's new at home?" I asked, hoping I wouldn't have to talk anymore about school.

"Not much," Mum replied, "It's probably more exciting at school. But I like the lack of excitement."

"It's boring without you," Matt sighed, "All Mum and Ellie do is decorate the house."

"That is boring," I said, "Haven't you already decorated it?"

"I'm just trying new things," Mum replied.

"How's work?" I asked Dad.

"Brilliant," Dad grinned and proceeded to tell me everything about his job. It was actually kind of interesting to hear all the things he did to help werewolves. Just the other day he managed to help two werewolves get jobs in Diagon Alley.

The food arrived and we were all quiet as we began to eat. Then we talked about stuff that had nothing to do with Dad's job, my school, or the Ministry. It was nice. It reminded me a lot of the carefree times we had before Matt was bitten. Well, except for the fact that we were older and in Scotland.

Matt's lycanthropy was obviously something that would never go away, but it almost seemed to be less of a worry in Britain. At least when it wasn't near the full moon. The worry was always there during that time of the month. But now, we could almost forget about it during the rest of the month. Almost.

Madam Rosmerta brought a chocolate cake to our table after we finished eating. It had fifteen candles on it and it was slathered in chocolate frosting. Just the way I liked it.

My parents and Matt sang happy birthday to me in three different off-key tunes and then I blew out the candles. I didn't wish for anything in particular; just that my family would continue to be this happy.

Dad cut the cake and handed me my piece with a grin on his face. I smiled back and took a huge bite while I waited to see how they would get me to talk.

"Guess what?" Matt turned to me as he licked frosting off his fork, "Mum let me go into your potions room the other day. I brewed something, but it melted one of your cauldrons."

I snorted into my cake. The day Mum let him into my potions room would be the day Cinda went shopping in sweat pants and an over-sized t-shirt.

Matt continued trying to get me to talk, but had no luck. I finished my cake and he groaned. He has never been able to get me to talk.

"Can I give Amy her present now?" Matt asked excitedly.

"Sure," Mum smiled and reached under the table. She handed Matt a rectangular shaped package that looked exactly like a book.

Matt gave me the present and started laughing before I even finished unwrapping it. I tore the paper off and saw that it was a book. Not just any book, though. I burst out into hysterics as I saw that it was a Muggle encyclopedia. The 'A' volume.

"He's wanted to get you that since his own birthday," Dad laughed.

It was extremely funny and clever. He probably knew he had no chance of making me talk while eating my cake, so he got me exactly what I tried to convince him my parents got him for his birthday.

"Thanks, Matt," I smiled and gave him a hug.

"And this one's from Richard and Cinda," Mum gave me a small envelope.

I slit it open and read the card. It was a standard Hallmark card with a pink birthday cake on the front. I opened it and out fell a gift card. An iTunes gift card.

"This is, er, useful," I said as I held it up.

Mum rolled her eyes. "I didn't know she got you that."

"It's ok," I shrugged, "I'll just give it to Kenzie."

"This one's from us," Mum said as she handed me a small box.

I pulled the ribbon off and unwrapped it. I lifted off the lid and gasped. It was a gold bracelet with a small charm on it. I carefully picked it up and saw that it was a tiny kangaroo carved out of some sort of wood.

"It's beautiful," I whispered as I turned the charm over in my fingers.

"It's carved out of wood from that tree you slept under our last night in Australia," Mum told me, "You'll always have a bit of Australia with you now."

"Thanks, Mum and Dad," I smiled at them. They actually realized how much I missed Australia. I never thought they noticed that. They must have planned this back when we were still there in order to get the wood. It was one of the most thoughtful things they had ever gotten me.

"You're welcome, Amy," Mum reached over and put the bracelet on my wrist. It fit perfectly.

I slid out of the booth and gave each of my parents a hug. Every once and a while they got me something that was really fitting. This was one of those things. Never in a million years would I have expected it.

We each had another piece of cake and then wandered around Hogsmeade for a bit. I showed them Honeydukes, which Matt immediately fell in love with. He didn't want to leave. Mum and Dad bought us each a huge box of every flavor chocolate frogs.

Then we went to Weasley's Wizard Wheezes, where Mum flat out refused to buy me a Skiving Snackbox. It was fun looking around, though. Mostly I just enjoyed spending time with my family. I probably wouldn't see them again until the Christmas holidays.

The sun was getting lower and lower in the sky and I knew I was going to have to go back to school. Mum and Dad had started to slowly make their way towards the path.

"Healer Sterling is doing Matt's observation next full moon," Mum said quietly as we walked back to Hogwarts.

I had nearly forgotten about that. The day had been so much fun and I hadn't even thought about Matt's transformation. The day had seemed so normal. I guess everything has to go back to reality.

"At St. Mungo's?" I asked.

Mum nodded. "Yes. We'll spend the night there."

"Just, let me know how it goes," I said.

We walked silently for a few more minutes. I didn't want to go back to school and each step I took was taking me closer.

A group of people were walking towards us, heading to Hogsmeade. I groaned inwardly and hoped that I didn't know them. I immediately thought of Monica.

"Well, if it isn't Amy Eckerton," someone shouted. Sure enough, it was Monica.

"Monica," I muttered.

"Make sure you're not in the dormitory when I get back," Monica said, "We're having a party."

I ignored her and kept walking. It wasn't like I would actually want to be in the dormitory when Monica was there, especially if she was having a party.

"Who was that?" Dad asked.

"Monica Kramer," I whispered, "The one who hates werewolves."

"Seems like a pleasant girl," Dad said sarcastically.

Nobody else passed us on our way back to the castle. It got darker as we went and I figured I'd get back just as dinner began.

"I hope you had a good birthday, Amy," Mum said once we entered the castle. She gave me a tight hug.

"I did," I smiled, wishing it had lasted longer.

"We'll see you for Christmas," Dad said as he hugged me.

"Yeah," I said.

"And we'll owl you sooner than that," Mum assured me.

I nodded and then we said goodbye. Matt asked me to send him more chocolate frogs next time there was a Hogsmeaade visit, which made me laugh. I had no idea when the next visit would be, but I told him I'd send him some.

After they left, I headed into the Great Hall and ate dinner alone. Teddy and Landon found me on my way back to Gryffindor and insisted that they get a cake to eat in the common room. They disappeared for a while and then met me in the common room with a chocolate cake. I had no idea how they got it, but it was really nice of them. Victoire ate it with us, which surprised me. I would have thought that she'd be in the dormitory with Monica for whatever party they were having. The relationship between the two of them still mystified me.

******

The next few days passed quickly. I had caught up in History of Magic, but was still falling asleep regularly in class. My evenings were spent reading McGonagall's book, which fascinated me. The Voldemort era was the most interesting piece of history I had ever learned about. Both Teddy and Victoire had a lot of connections to the people involved with the war.

Teddy's dad, Remus Lupin, in particular made me keep my eyes glued to the pages. He had been the werewolf who attended Hogwarts, the one Dumbledore and Snape's portraits had talked about in Kendrick's study. After he left Hogwarts, he had become a part of The Order of the Phoenix, an organization that Dumbledore organized to fight Voldemort.

Lupin had taught Defense Against the Dark Arts at Hogwarts for a year, but left because everyone found out he was a werewolf. I thought that was rather unfair. But it was at the end of that year that Voldemort's most loyal servant, Peter Pettigrew, returned to Voldemort.

Lupin died during the final battle at Hogwarts, when Teddy was only a few months old. His wife, Teddy's mother, had died as well. It was a sad ending, but I was impressed as to what a successful life he had led. I was going to have to recommend the book to my parents. It might give them some hope for Matt. Sure, Teddy's dad had been on Wolfsbane, but not his entire life. And it was only a matter of time until someone created a potion that would work for Matt.

Halloween, as I found out, was a huge production at Hogwarts. There was a very large feast and the Great Hall was decked out in all sorts of spooky decorations. There were even live bats flying around and the ghosts put on a flying performance.

It was actually pretty fun. The food was even better than usual. Nobody dressed up in costumes, but Teddy turned his hair orange for the occasion. Landon immediately yelled at him for it because orange was the color of The Chudley Cannons, which apparently was a Quidditch team that Landon despised.

The first Hogwarts Quidditch match arrived in early November. It was Gryffindor versus Slytherin, which was apparently a highly anticipated match at Hogwarts. There was an increased amount of animosity between the two houses during the week that preceded the match and a few hexes as well.

I have never really been that interested in Quidditch. The matches at school in Australia had been fun because Olivia and I would always watch them together and offer our own commentary that was much more entertaining than the real commentary.

Watching Quidditch at Hogwarts was going to be different. There wasn't anyone to watch it with. I figured I'd still go since I got the feeling that if I skipped it, I would be on the receiving end of the sort of glares the Gryffindors had been giving the Slytherins all week.

I wore three jumpers underneath my cloak on the day of the match. It was a cold, windy day and I wondered how the players were able to fly in such weather. It felt like it was cold enough to snow.

The entire school went to the match. Most of the Gryffindors were decked out in as much red and gold as they could manage. Some had their faces painted and others had dyed their hair. The Slytherins were the same, except with green and silver. A fair few of the Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs were wearing Gryffindor badges and waving Gryffindor flags. I saw very few Slytherin supporters amongst those two houses.

I wound up standing near a bunch of first and second years. A few of the second years were holding up a huge banner that said 'Go Georgia Weasley!' on it. I soon found out that she was Gryffindor's new Keeper.

The teams flew out onto the pitch a few minutes later and the commentator announced their names. I recognized Teddy, Samantha, and Georgia. The Gryffindor team received significantly more applause.

The fourteen players flew into the air and the match began. It was quite heated, with both teams earning fowls within the first fifteen minutes. It was easy to get caught up in the cheering even though I didn't know many of the players. Hogwarts students seemed to be much more into Quidditch than those in Australia.

After a half hour of play, the teams were tied at 160 points each. The Quaffle exchanged hands faster than the commentator could announce. I could barely see it. All I knew was that both teams were incredibly good.

The match continued as the weather grew steadily worse. The wind picked up and the air became even colder. I had a feeling it would rain or snow soon and hoped the match would finish soon. It was fun to watch, but no match of Quidditch would be exciting enough to make me want to stand in the rain while watching it.

All of a sudden Teddy, who had been hovering above the rest of the players, darted to the opposite end of the pitch. The Slytherin Seeker followed him, but he was meters behind. Teddy dove to the ground and pulled up a minute later holding his hand above his head. Most of the crowd burst out in applause and cheering, which drowned out the Slytherins' booing.

"Teddy Lupin has caught the Snitch!" the commentator shouted, "Gryffindor wins with 410 points!"

A good part of the crowd stormed the pitch, including the second years who had been supporting Georgia, but I turned to go back to the castle instead. The match had been enjoyable to watch, but I didn't have anyone to go congratulate on the pitch.

I was one of the first people back to the common room. A few first years had gotten there before me, but they were it. I chose one of the comfy armchairs I never got and warmed up in front of the fire.

The team returned a few minutes later and with them came most of Gryffindor. Someone had obtained a few cases of butterbeer and it was soon flowing freely.

"Butterbeer?" Landon appeared next to me, holding out a bottle.

"Thanks," I said as I took it.

"So, how did you like your first Hogwarts Quidditch match?" he asked as he sat down in the chair next to mine.

"It was, er, interesting," I laughed, "You're very enthusiastic about Quidditch here."

"Well, you saw the most highly anticipated match of the year," Landon pointed out, "The Gryffindor and Slytherin rivalry is most noticeable during Quidditch."

"Not all the matches are like that?"

"Er," Landon grinned, "Most of them are exciting like that, but there are less fowls."

"So I shouldn't count on Quidditch matches for catching up on sleep?"

"Definitely not," Landon laughed.

"Teddy is a good Seeker," I commented.

"Best Gryffindor has had since Harry Potter," Landon said, "He's only lost two matches. His first one, when the Slytherin beaters slammed into him at the same time and sent him to the hospital wing unconscious. The other time was last year when he had the flu. He snuck out of the hospital wing to play, despite his high fever. Madam Pomfrey was not pleased. We lost, but he played."

"Wow," I raised my eyebrows, "That's impressive."

"Yep," Landon grinned, "He's quite devoted to Quidditch."

Landon went to go congratulate Teddy and I finished my butterbeer. After I was done I went to the library and studied for the Charms test I had on Monday. It had actually been a fun day. The Quidditch had been interesting and the library had been empty so I was able to study uninterrupted. The best part was that Monica was no where in sight. Even when I returned to the dormitory that night, she wasn't there. Victoire was, though. I had no idea where Monica was and I really didn't care.


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PostPosted: Saturday 11 July 2009 4:59:11am 
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Sorry it took me so long, but those were great! Can't wait for the next ones!


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PostPosted: Monday 13 July 2009 1:59:52am 
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Chapter 53: The Chudley Cannons

I failed the charms test. Miserably. Even though I spent most of the weekend studying, the test was like a foreign language. I knew I failed it even before we got the marks back the next class. The large, red 'P' written over my pathetic answers was only a reminder.

Charms has never been my best subject, but I always managed to squeeze by in Australia. Olivia and I would study for hours before the exam and then get passing marks.

Charms at Hogwarts was a different story. Professor Washburn was relentless and the way he stared at you during class made you too nervous to do anything properly. He breathed down your neck during exams as well. It was enough to make anyone too nervous to do well.

This failed exam was only one of many I had failed so far that year. I was about ready to just give up. No amount of studying seemed to help.

Studying paid off for most of my other classes, though. I spent most of my time studying since I really had nothing else to do. On any given night I was either in my dormitory studying or in the common room studying, depending on where Monica was.

The night of the full moon came around sooner than I would have liked. My parents sent me a letter the day of, telling me that they were going to St. Mungo's. Just reading that letter made my heart speed up. I got the letter at dinner, so the moon was going to rise in a little over an hour.

Doing homework was pointless after I got that letter. There would be no way I could concentrate while I was worrying about Matt. Instead, I wandered around the castle until I wound up at the Astronomy Tower.

The tower was completely deserted. Quiet, empty, with only the telescopes for company. Just the way I like it.

I sighed and sat down on the ground. The moon was nearly risen. I could see the faint light of it slowly rising above the horizon.

No matter how hard I tried, I could never imagine what it would be like to turn into a werewolf. Matt had never described it to us, so I had to use my imagination along with what I read. All I knew was that it was extremely painful.

I stayed on the Astronomy Tower until the moon rose. I stared at it for a while before realizing that it was extremely cold and I was shivering.

The castle was warm, but I didn't know where to go. The Astronomy Tower had been the perfect place, but it was too cold out to spend the night.

A few minutes later I found myself in front of the hospital wing. I suppose that was where I had been heading the whole time, but just hadn't realized it.

Luckily the place was empty. Madam Pomfrey was bottling potions at a table, which reminded me a lot of when Matt had been at St. Mungo's a few months ago. She looked up when I came in the room.

"Amy," she said as she set down a flask, "Are you all right? You look kind of pale."

"Well, it's the full moon," I whispered.

Madam Pomfrey walked out from behind the table and looked at me sympathetically. "You're shivering."

"I was watching the moon rise," I began, "On the Astronomy Tower."

"The Astronomy Tower?" Madam Pomfrey exclaimed, "For Merlin's sake, it's below freezing out there!"

She ushered me over to the nearest bed and made me lie down in it. I could not believe my luck. All I had to do was spend a half hour outside in freezing temperatures and I could avoid sleeping in my dormitory on the worst night of the month.

Madam Pomfrey gave me a potion that immediately warmed me. Then she sat down on the bed and smoothed her robes.

"Amy," she began, "Is this going to be a usual full moon occurrence?"

I bit my bottom lip and looked down at the sheets. There was a loose thread on the blanket and I began to mess with it. It wasn't that I was consciously going to the hospital wing for every full moon. It just sort of happened.

"I don't know," I muttered, "It's just that tonight- Um, have you heard about Healer Sterling's Wolfsbane study?"

"I have," she nodded.

"My brother's in that study," I told her, "He's transforming at St. Mungo's tonight. The full moons are always worse when he transforms in new places."

"Ah," Madam Pomfrey replied, "You're worried about him."

"Yeah," I said, "I am, but it's worse tonight."

"I am sure he will be fine," she patted my leg and stood up.

I nodded and laid down on the pillow. Madam Pomfrey went back to her potions and I watched as she worked. But I wasn't tired in the slightest.

"What potions are you bottling?" I asked.

"Dreamless sleep, fever reducer, and pain potion," she answered, "The most commonly used potions."

Those were the three my parents always had on hand. "I'm going to brew those someday."

"Are you interested in potions?"

I sat up. "Yeah. I brew potions at home all the time. I make up my own stuff. It's fun."

"That is wonderful," she said, "A lot of students seem to have an extreme dislike for the subject."

"I've always liked potions," I mused as I got up and walked over to Madam Pomfrey, "They're just so interesting. The affects they have on people and stuff."

"That is a very intriguing topic," Madam Pomfrey agreed, "Would you like to help me bottle some of these?"

"Really?" I grinned, "Definitely.

"Of course," Madam Pomfrey smiled and handed me a jug of bluish potion, "That's the-"

"Pain potion," I said.

"You certainly know your potions," Madam Pomfrey remarked.

"I bottled potions with the nurses at St. Mungo's while Matt was there a few months ago."

"You've got experience, then," she said, "What other subjects do you enjoy?"

"Astronomy," I said immediately, "That's pretty much it. Transfiguration is fun, too, but not as fun as Astronomy and Potions."

"Astronomy and Potions," the nurse mused, "Interesting combination."

I stopped pouring and looked up at her. She had a knowing smile on her face. That was the same exact thing Healer Norlam had said, but I still had no clue what he meant by it. Now Madam Pomfrey was saying the same thing.

The conversation slowly stopped and we bottled in silence. A first year came in after accidentally stabbing himself with a quill, but other than that the ward remained empty. It was relaxing and reminded me a lot of helping the nurses at St. Mungo's.

Eventually we ran out of potions to bottle and Madam Pomfrey decided to call it a night. She let me stay overnight, despite the fact that I was clearly not ill. Somehow I managed to fall asleep and I didn't wake up until morning.

******

"He fell off his broom!" someone shouted, "I think his arm's broken!"

I snapped my eyes open and saw two boys standing in the doorway. One was holding his left arm and was clearly in pain. Madam Pomfrey was ushering him to the bed across from mine.

"What were you doing playing Quidditch at seven in the morning?" she demanded.

"We were bored," the uninjured boy shrugged.

"Next time you're bored, study something," the nurse muttered.

There was no point in going back to sleep, so I got out of bed and said goodbye to Madam Pomfrey before leaving. I ran up to my dormitory and collected my books, then headed down to the Great Hall for brekkie.

I waited for Jasper or Pollux to show up with a letter from my parents all day. All throughout my classes I looked at the windows and willed one of the owls to materialize. Even during potions I was distracted, which Quinton Willinson was all too quick to point out. He was thrilled that he was able to tell me that I was stirring my potion in the wrong direction. I had a feeling he would lord that over me for the remainder of the year.

If someone asked me what Binns talked about during History of Magic, the most specific topic I'd be able to tell them was history. Everything he said just went in one ear and out the other. It was worse than usual. My eyes focused on the window to my right rather than his ghostly form.

Herbology was just as bad since the greenhouses are obviously all windows. Luckily, Laney Hall was oblivious to my distractedness and kept chattering on and on about something I didn't even remember.

By the time I was done with classes, I was about ready to break into one of the teachers' studies to floo to St. Mungo's. I was sure Matt was still there. Why else would my parents not send me a letter?

I was putting my books away in my dormitory and contemplating how I could sneak into someone's study when Jasper finally showed up. He flew into the room and I snatched the letter from his leg a little more aggressively than I should have. Jasper hooted his dislike and flew off again before I could give him an owl treat.

Dear Amy,

Sorry for the late letter. Hope
you weren't too worried. We've
been occupied with the tests
Sterling has been doing on Matt.

We'll explain more about the tests
when you come home for Christmas.
It's a bit much to put into a letter.

Matt is doing all right. The
transformation was a bit rough, as was
expected. But after a few days' rest,
he'll be fine.

We left the hospital around noon and
are back home now.

Let us know how your classes are going
and everything else about life at
Hogwarts.

Love,
Mum, Dad, Matt, and Ellie

I breathed a sigh of relief as I put the letter in my pocket. They were just preoccupied with the tests, that was all. Matt wasn't much worse than usual.

He only had one more transformation until the study began. I wasn't sure exactly what was going to happen with that. Hopefully my parents would tell me once I went home.

I collapsed onto my bed. Another full moon was gone. We survived one more. I was finally beginning to understand what my parents went through each month. I may never completely understand what Matt goes through, but I was beginning to understand my parents' worry. How could they stand it each month?

How much longer would we have to go through it? Would Matt have to go through it? Sterling's study would have to help. People were working on new forms of Wolfsbane and on cures, weren't they? Someone would find something eventually. Then maybe I wouldn't be waiting anxiously for a letter from my parents each month.

******

November turned into December with the same monotony that the past few months had brought. I studied, argued with Willinson, avoided Monica, and failed another Charms exam.

The only real difference between November and December was the amount of snow that covered the grounds. The grounds began to resemble those of the Adirondack Academy of Magic during the time we visited. Only now it was never ending. I wasn't just visiting the snowy place, I lived there.

It was just so strange to have snow in December. In Australia, December is one of the warmest months and it never ever snows. Christmas is spent going swimming and holding outdoor celebrations. Those days were long over for me. Christmas would now be spent inside with a crackling fire.

I do like snow. It's fun to play in and very beautiful. But I really didn't see the point in holding classes outside during a raging blizzard. Why couldn't Hagrid just get a classroom so we wouldn't have to freeze our arses off? I was so cold during Care of Magical Creatures that I couldn't focus at all on what we were learning. And judging by the other students' reactions, holding Care of Magical Creatures during snow storms was a normal occurrence.

Much to my relief, the snow seemed to let up for the December Hogsmeade visit. Not that I was as excited about it as the rest of the students, since I had no one to go with, but I did want to get my Christmas shopping done.

I left the castle before the rest of my roommates were even awake. Well, I had heard Victoire moving around in her bed, so she was probably awake, but the rest of them were sound asleep.

The walk to Hogsmeade was relaxing. The snow crunching beneath my feet was the only noise. A very small amount of snow was falling; enough to be noticeable, but not so much that the walk would be unbearable.

I had finally learned how to bundle up properly for the cold weather, so I was comfortable. Although I had a feeling that after I had walked around Hogsmeade for a half hour or so, I'd be ready for a Butterbeer at the Three Broomsticks. Or the Hog's Head.

My first stop was Honeyduke's, which was mostly filled with third years and a few students my age. I guessed that most of the older students were still sleeping.

I bought an assortment of chocolates and other sweets for Matt and a few for myself as well before leaving the shop. Chocolate was always the best way to go when buying presents for Matt. Or me for that matter. I figured I'd get him something at the Quidditch shop as well. He's always liked Quidditch.

My parents were a different story, especially Mum. Every year I went through the same ritual. Looking through every store, trying to find the perfect gift. Nothing ever seemed right, although I knew my parents would like whatever I got them.

Dad's present was the first one I found. It was a name block for his desk. His old one said 'Head of the Department for the Control and Regulation of Magical Creatures' on it, so it was useless for his new job. I didn't think Mum had boughten him a new one yet, so I got one at Scrivenshaft's.

Mum was more difficult, but I decided on a scarf. She only had one and it wasn't the most fashionable of things. She wasn't big on fashion, but I thought a red and gold scarf was nicer than the boring grey one she had. Plus, it was Gryffindor colored.

I decided to have a Butterbeer before going to the Quidditch shop, but the Three Broomsticks was yet again so crowded that there was barely room to move. Two minutes after I entered, I left and went to the Hog's Head.

"You again," the barkeep grunted as I walked in the door.

"Yeah," I said as I sat down at the bar and set my bags down on the floor.

"Something wrong with Rosmerta's place?"

"Too crowded," I muttered.

"Tends to happen during Hogsmeade visits," he said as he handed me a Butterbeer.

"Thanks," I replied.

I sipped my Butterbeer in silence as I watched the barkeep putter around with a goat following him. The whole 'goat in the bar' thing still puzzled me, but the last thing I wanted to do was ask him about it.

Two cloaked men eyed me suspiciously as they sat down a few stools away and I took that as my cue to leave. I paid for my drink and the barkeep muttered goodbye as I left.

The Quidditch shop was a little ways down the road. I had never been to it before. There were a few brooms in the window and a large sign above it said 'The Quaffle Shop'. I certainly hoped the place sold more than brooms and Quaffles.

It was filled with students talking about Quidditch and I hardly understood any of it. I began to browse around, not really knowing what I was looking for. They certainly didn't have any Australian team products.

"Amy?" someone said to the left of me.

I turned to see Samantha Meyers looking at me curiously. "Oh, hi Samantha."

"I had no idea you liked Quidditch," she said, "Didn't you say you weren't a Quidditch person?"

"Erm, I'm actually here to get my little brother a Christmas present," I told her.

"What sort of present are you looking for?" she asked.

"I don't know," I sighed.

"Does he play Quidditch?"

I had to stifle my laughter at that. Matt was lucky if he could walk without tripping over his own feet, let alone fly a broom. Not to mention the fact that my parents were so strict with 'dangerous' things anyway.

"No, he just likes to watch matches."

"What team does he support?"

"Australia," I said, "But there obviously isn't any of that stuff here."

"Right," Samantha grinned, "So he needs a new team to support. Puddlemere United is a good team. So are the Ballycastle Bats. I personally support the Holyhead Harpies."

"How about this team?" I gestured to a very bright orange jersey that said 'The Chudley Cannons' in big black letters.

Samantha burst out laughing. "The Cannons? They're a joke. Haven't won a match in years. Their motto is 'let's just cross our fingers and hope for the best'. That pretty much sums them up."

"So it's a team full of uncoordinated Quidditch players?" I asked.

"Yeah," Samantha giggled, "That's pretty much it."

"That's perfect," I grinned. A team consisting of Quidditch players who were like Matt.

Samantha stared at me like I had three heads. "All right. If you say so." She raised her eyebrows at me and then wandered away towards the Holyhead Harpies merchandise.

I grabbed the jersey in the smallest size they had, which I think was still too big for Matt and bought it. I really had no idea if he would actually like it, but it was worth a try. He did need a British team to support. And if what Samantha said was true, the Cannons needed all the support they could get.

The snow had picked up and my face was blasted with tiny crystals of ice after I left the Quaffle Shop, so I decided to just head back to Hogwarts. I had done everything I needed to do in Hogsmeade anyway.

Despite the storm, a lot of students were outside on the grounds. Most were having snowball fights, but a few were building snow wizards.

The dormitory was empty when I got there so I quickly stowed my gifts in my trunk and grabbed my books. Studying never seemed to end.

******

"Amy!" Slughorn shouted as I went to leave the Potions classroom the following week. I turned around and went back to his desk. Willinson was standing in front of it as well.

"I'm holding a Christmas party," Slughorn said excitedly, "This Friday. I know you've been too busy to attend the most recent Slug Club meeting, but I do hope you can make it to the party."

"You should come," Willinson drawled, "Perhaps I can show you how to properly stir a potion."

I rolled my eyes. He wasn't ever going to let that go. "I'll think about it."

"Harry Potter himself will be there!" Slughorn continued.

I nodded and left as quickly as I could. The party sounded interesting, but I had been trying to avoid the Slug Club since Willinson attended.

The more I thought about the party, the more I sort of wanted to go. I kind of wanted to meet Harry Potter and I had nothing else to do that night.

I wound up going, since Monica was holding a party of her own in our dormitory. She and Victoire had quite the fight about it. Monica wanted Victoire to attend her party, but Victoire wanted to go to the Slug Club party since her entire family was going. Monica had not been invited.

I arrived later than the party started not because Cinda had taught me to be fashionably late, but because I wanted to slip in unnoticed. The more time I could spend avoiding Willinson, the better.

The dungeon the party was held in was packed. I hardly recognized anyone and there weren't only students there. A fair amount of adults were there along with little kids. A good portion of them had red hair, which I took to mean they were related to Victoire.

I squeezed my way through the crowd and eventually made it to the food table. I avoided the pheasant and went with the chicken and potatoes. Then I maneuvered to the back wall and watched everyone else as I ate.

Teddy was entertaining a bunch of red-haired kids by changing his hair and face. I almost snorted pumpkin juice out my nose when he turned his nose into a duck beak.

Slughorn was talking with Professor Kendrick and a very old strict looking witch. She looked very familiar and then I realized that she looked just like the picture of the witch who wrote The Rise and Fall of Lord Voldemort. She was Minerva McGonagall.

"You came," a voice said to the right of me.

It was Willinson. I groaned inwardly. "I did."

"The Christmas parties are always good," Willinson said, "Better than the regular meetings. All sorts of famous people come. My father is here."

"Really," I said flatly. I couldn't care less if Willinson's father was famous enough to attend the Slug Club Christmas party or not.

"Yes, he works for the Ministry," Willinson went on.

"Good for him," I muttered.

"What are you getting for Christmas?" Willinson asked, "My father is getting me a larger gold cauldron. The one I have now is far too small."

"My parents prefer to surprise me on Christmas," I said.

Willinson continued talking about what he was getting for Christmas, but I paid no attention. I had just spotted Harry Potter. But what surprised me even more was the witch he was talking with. She was the same witch who we had seen at the Auror office. The one with the three little kids.

The kids were there as well. The two boys were throwing pieces of biscuit at each other and the little girl was trying to catch the biscuits.

Harry picked up the little girl and gave him one of his own biscuits. He put his free arm around the witch. She must be his wife. The boys ran off and joined the group of kids surrounding Teddy.

"What did you get on the last Potions exam?" Willinson asked.

"An O."

"Me, too," he said.

I managed to shake Willinson by telling him I had to use the toilet, but instead disappeared into the crowd. I didn't really know what to do. The only people I actually knew were Teddy, Landon, and Victoire, but I didn't know them well enough to hang out with. They were busy anyway. Victoire was talking with a Ravenclaw from our year and Landon was with Teddy and the little kids.

Nor did I have the nerve to go meet Harry Potter. What was I going to say? 'I just read all about your life and it turns out I saw your wife and kids at the Auror office and your daughter had no idea what my brother's crutches were?' That would be kind of awkward.

Eventually I just decided to leave. There wasn't anything else to do. I had eaten my fill and didn't want to risk running into Willinson again.

Monica was still holding her party in our dormitory, so I read in the common room while watching the younger students goof around. I was looking forward to the end of term, when I could go home and feel free to go wherever I pleased in my house.


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PostPosted: Monday 13 July 2009 2:11:52am 
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Great chapter, can't wait for the next!


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PostPosted: Thursday 16 July 2009 12:42:17am 
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great chapter


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PostPosted: Sunday 19 July 2009 4:07:10pm 
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Thanks Obladi and hprocks! :grin:

Chapter 54: Shopping With Mum

The remaining week of term passed by at such a slow rate it felt like it was a month instead of a week. Everyone was anxious for a break and that only became more apparent as the week passed. Even the teachers seemed excited for the holidays. This caused most of them to ease up on homework and give more leeway when it came to detention. Not Professor Washburn, though. He assigned twice as much homework and judging by how Teddy and a few of the Weasley cousins returned to the dormitory just before curfew every night, he had not eased up on detentions either.

I was very relieved when term finally ended and I was able to pack my stuff and leave Hogwarts for a few short weeks. My roommates were in high spirits as we packed that Saturday morning. Monica happened to be staying at school over the holidays, but everyone else was going home.

Monica and I had come to an unspoken agreement to not talk and not be in the same room as each other if that was possible. This meant that when she was in the dormitory, I was not. Unfortunately, this did not go the other way. When Monica entered the dormitory, I left.

I managed to find an empty compartment on the train. It was slightly less crowded than it had been going to school since not everyone went home for the holidays. I only hoped that nobody would join me.

The ride was very uneventful. I slept for half of it and was then woken up by the sounds of two first years dueling outside my compartment. Landon quickly broke it up and I read for the rest of the trip.

My eyes scanned the words, but I didn't really comprehend what I was reading. My mind was on Christmas and what it would be like this year. Christmas had been the same in my family for the past few years. A quiet celebration with Richard and Cinda.

What would it be like this year? I stared at the swirling snow outside my window and shivered. Christmas was warm and sunny, not cold and snowy. Christmas was spent barbecuing and playing outside.

I've heard Muggle Christmas carols about 'white Christmases'. Muggles in the North (and probably witches and wizards, too) loved white Christmases. They wanted snow to fall on that particular day. They got excited when they woke up on the 25th to a blanket of white snow covering their yards.

That wasn't Christmas to me. It never had been and I was sure it never would be. I could not imagine opening Christmas gifts while watching a snow storm. It just wasn't normal.

The train slowed to a stop and I shoved my book in my bag. I joined the throngs of students in the corridor and slowly made my way out of the train.

Dad was standing on the platform and I started running as soon as I saw him. I ran right into him and hugged him tightly. I didn't care if it made me look like a homesick first year.

"Amy," Dad hugged me back, "Are you all right?"

"Let's just go home," I said.

Dad nodded and with a crack we disappeared from the platform. Mere seconds later we were in the bush behind our house.

We traipsed silently through the snow towards our house. I didn't know what to say. I hadn't told my parents much in my letters lately. Just superficial stuff like who exploded what in Potions and which professor had given out the most detentions. I didn't know how to tell them that I hated Hogwarts. They seemed so happy in England.

Matt ran into me as soon as I opened the door. I dropped my bag and picked him up. He was looking well considering the full moon had been a few days ago.

"Matt," I said as I carried him into the kitchen, "How are you?"

"Good," he replied, "I'm glad you're home. It's dead boring without you."

Mum and Dad really needed to let him have some friends or go to Muggle school or something. Like that would ever happen, though.

"Amy!" Mum set down the pan she was washing and strode over to me. I set Matt down on a stool and hugged Mum.

"How was the remainder of term?" she asked.

"Er, it was ok," I said quickly, "Nothing exciting. Just glad to be home."

"I'm glad to have you home," Mum replied, "Dinner will be ready in a few minutes. Go take your stuff upstairs and wash up."

Matt followed me up to my room and sat on my bed as I put all my stuff away. Well, I dumped out my bag and threw the dirty laundry in the hamper, leaving everything else on the floor. That was my definition of 'putting stuff away'.

Mum and Ellie had cooked my favorite dinner again. It was like when I had gone home from the Australian School of Sorcery for the last time. It was hard to believe that that was already a whole year ago. Somehow, it felt like it had been ages since then, but that it had gone by fast at the same time.

Everyone wanted to hear about school, so I told them about Slughorn's party and how Harry Potter had been there. Then I told them that the family we had seen at the Auror headquarters was Harry Potter's family. Mum and Dad just sighed at this and Matt asked if I had gotten to meet him. He was kind of disappointed that I didn't.

"We need to talk to you two about Christmas," Dad said quietly after I ran out of somewhat upbeat things to talk about.

Here it comes, I thought. How things would be different here. "Ok," I muttered.

"Your grandparents have invited us to their house for Christmas," Dad began.

I spat out the milk that I had been drinking and started coughing. We were going to Richard and Cinda's for Christmas? We hadn't ever done that! That meant we'd be spending Christmas in Australia! Maybe this Christmas wouldn't be as weird as I had originally thought.

Mum handed me a napkin and slapped me on the back. "We're going to Australia for Christmas?" I asked once I stopped coughing.

"We haven't decided yet," Mum told me, "There are a few options to consider."

"What's to consider? Christmas would be weird up here. It'll be cold and snowy. If we go to Richard and Cinda's, it can be almost like we still live in Australia."

"The thing is, Amy," Dad began, "It might be a good idea for us to start our own traditions up here. If we spend this Christmas with your grandparents, they're going to expect us to spend every Christmas with them."

"Is that necessarily a bad thing, Walter?" Mum raised her eyebrow at him.

"Er, well, I just meant that we should start new traditions here," Dad told her, "I never said we shouldn't go."

"We haven't seen them in a long time," Mum pointed out.

"Why don't we invite them here?" Dad suggested.

"You know they hate the cold," Mum said, "And Amy wants to go visit Australia."

If I had been drinking my milk at that point, I would have spat it out again. I gawked at Mum. Was she really considering what I wanted? I wasn't sure since she hadn't done that in well, ever.

"All right, let's get the kids' opinion on this," Dad said and turned to us, "What do you two want to do?"

I was beginning to think someone had Imperiused my parents while I was at school. Not only was Mum considering doing something that I wanted to do, Dad was asking my opinion on something.

"I want to go to Australia," I said once I recovered from the shock, "We've spent every Christmas there since forever. Why stop now?"

Dad nodded. "Matt?"

"I don't want to go," Matt said as he stared down at his plate and twirled his spaghetti around, "I don't ever want to go back there."

I groaned inwardly. That was it. Christmas would be spent in England. Matt's opinions always trumped mine, no matter what. Nothing I could do would change it.

My parents glanced at each other and nobody said anything for a few moments. The only sound that could be heard was Matt's fork clinking against his plate. He wasn't eating, though. His head was resting in his other hand and he was staring at the table.

"We should stay here," Dad said quietly.

"I think we should talk about this in private," Mum said and got up from the table.

Dad nodded and the two of them walked quietly out of the room. The tension could be cut with a wand. I waited a few minutes before dashing out of the room myself and running up to my bedroom to find my Extendable Ears. They were buried in the bottom of my desk drawer, right where I had put them after we moved.

Mum and Dad had locked themselves in Dad's study, but didn't put any silencing charms on the door. I wondered how long it would take for them to figure out I was listening in on their conversations.

"Do you have anymore of those?" Matt whispered as I shoved the Extendable into my ear.

"I don't know, go look in the bottom drawer of my desk," I said quickly.

Matt left and I poked the other end of the Extendable towards the crack below the door.

"Why do you want to go to Australia so badly?" Dad asked.

"They're my parents, Walter!" Mum said, "I've spent practically every Christmas with them!"

Now I was positive that someone had Imperiused my parents. Mum still wanted to go to Australia even though Matt didn't. I would have been less surprised if trolls figured out how to overtake wizards. I wondered who I would talk to at the Ministry to figure out who had Imperiused my parents. Someone in the Auror department? Maybe I should ask Victoire to talk to Harry Potter about it.

"Matt's scared to go back there," Dad said, "Can't you see that?"

"Of course I see that!" Mum snapped, "I see it every time someone mentions the word 'Australia'! Do you know how hard that is, Walter? To have your son be afraid to go visit his grandparents? Your family's left Australia; you don't have to deal with this. I do!"

"They can just visit us," Dad said, "And I know it's hard. There's nothing easy about this entire situation."

"They refuse to visit when it's cold!" Mum said.

"You know what, this isn't even about your parents," Dad replied, "It's about Matt-"

There's a surprise, I thought. Everything was about him.

"He's too scared to go," Dad continued.

"I know, I know," Mum said, "Do you know what I've been doing when you're at work?"

"What?" Dad asked, clearly bewildered at the change in topics.

"I've been reading all the psychology books Norlam lent us," Mum said quietly, "And do you know what?"

"What?" Dad asked.

"We've been babying him," Mum sighed, "All his life. We've tried to protect him from everything. Every problem he's had, we fix it. Never once have we let him figure things out for himself. Not once, Walt, not once!"

I was stunned. Completely and utterly stunned. What had I missed while I was at Hogwarts? Mum was reading psychology books and finally realizing that she had been treating Matt like a baby and giving in to his ever whim. The world was definitely coming to an end. It was time to just grab my wand and brace for whatever was destroying the earth.

"We've been doing this wrong. We have to stop. We can't baby him anymore," Mum choked. It sounded like she was starting to cry.

"We haven't done it wrong," Dad said quietly, "Those books aren't a one size fits all. He's different and always has been. We can't treat him like any other kid. We can't raise him like we raised Amy."

"Jack does," Mum said.

"Jack's his uncle," Dad replied, "Jack's the one he's supposed to go to when he wants to complain about how strict we are or do something fun that we won't let him do. Jack's not the one who raises him. That's us."

"I guess you're right," Mum said, "But when I think about how we raised Amy at that age and compare them... Well, it's just so different! Why did we change so much?"

"Circumstances, Julie," Dad sighed, "And it's not just the lycanthropy thing. It's not just that he was premature or gets sick a lot. He's so different from Amy. Sometimes it astounds me how different they are. Amy's so, so, stubborn and defiant."

This was getting interesting. The Sickles I paid for these Extendable Ears were really paying off.

"But she's got this uncrushable spirit and passion for the things she loves. I haven't the slightest idea what she's going to do with her life, but whatever it is, she's going to succeed at it. She's going to be in the history books one day. I guarantee it."

I couldn't help but grin at that. Stubborn and defiant weren't exactly words I wanted to be used to describe me, but Dad had certainly made up for it. Did he really think that? He must have. I sort of wished I'd known he thought that about me earlier.

"That, well, describes Amy perfectly," Mum giggled, "I never really thought about her stubbornness that way before, but I suppose it could be a good thing someday."

"It will," Dad said, "And Matt is so quiet and thoughtful. He's the one who knows what you need without you saying a word. He's so shy, but sweet. The one thing he has in common with Amy is that uncrushable spirit. Look at what he's been through. But he's still happy. He may be scared, but he's happy."

"I can't help but wonder if we contributed to his shyness," Mum said, "We kept him so isolated. Is it our fault?"

"It's the nature versus nurture question," Dad mused, "Constantly debated, but never answered. And it never will be. Is shyness inherited or is it developed throughout life?"

"I just can't help but wonder if he would be so scared if we had just let him experience life the way we let Amy."

Experience life? I never really thought about them babying Matt as not letting him experience life.

"I don't think so," Dad said, "If Amy had gone through what he went through, she'd be scared too."

"I guess," Mum sighed, "Anyway, I was also reading how to get over fears. You'll never get over fears if you don't face them. It's like what Norlam did with his fear of strangers. He just has to face it. If he doesn't go to Australia, he's not going to get over the fear."

Both of them were silent for so long that I thought the Extendable Ear wasn't working anymore.

"Julie," Dad began, "I, I think you may be right. We should go to Australia."

"Thank you," Mum said quietly, "I know it's hard. Believe me, making him go there is going to break my heart. But we have to do it."

"I suppose we'll have to go tell him," Dad said.

"Yes, we will," Mum replied and I heard footsteps coming closer.

I stood up and nearly ran into Matt. I had forgotten he had been in my room searching for Extendable Ears.

"I can't find them," he sighed.

"Doesn't matter," I said as I hastily shoved my own Extendable into my pocket, "They're done talking."

"What did they say?"

"You'll find out soon enough."

Matt looked at me curiously and opened his mouth to most likely ask what I was talking about, but the door to the study opened. Mum and Dad both had hardened expressions and Dad motioned for us to go inside.

Dad's study didn't look much different in England than it had in Australia. It was still a complete mess. The only difference was that there were less books in it, since most of our books now resided in the library.

I sat down on a overly stuffed worn leather armchair and Matt sat down on the ottoman in front of it. Mum leaned against Dad's desk and Dad just stood in front of us.

"We've decided what we're doing for Christmas," Dad said slowly, "We're going to Richard and Cinda's as soon as I can get plane tickets."

I smiled even though I already knew that we were going to Australia. It was nice to hear it officially.

"I don't want to go," Matt sniffed, "Don't make me go there." He got up and ran to Mum, throwing his arms around her.

Don't cave, Mum, don't cave, I thought. He was wearing that pathetic face he always wore when he wanted my parents to give in to him.

"I c-can't g-go," Matt cried.

"I know you don't want to," Mum said, "But we have to. We can't never go back. Richard and Cinda live there."

"D-dad?" Matt looked at Dad.

Dad just shook his head. Matt let go of Mum and ran crying out of the room. Mum and Dad looked at each other. It looked like Mum was about to cry herself.

I just sat on the chair, not sure of what to do. Never had I seen Matt storm out of a room like that. He never got mad at my parents and my parents hardly ever got mad at him. I had run out of rooms plenty of times. Probably so many times that my parents expected it, but Matt hadn't ever done it.

Both of my parents seemed at a loss of what to do. It was kind of funny, in a weird way. After fifteen plus years of parenting, neither of them knew what to do. Heck, I could have told them what to do. Just leave him alone.

"Should we-" Mum began.

"Go find him?" Dad finished.

I rolled my eyes. They were just going to have to figure this out on their own. I doubted they wanted my advice.

I got up from the chair and muttered that I was going to bed. Who knew how this was going to turn out, but I was too tired to find out. I'd know in the morning anyway. It had been a very strange and somewhat exhausting day.

******

Mum and Dad were up half the night talking to Matt. I could hear them from my room. They didn't even try to conceal their whispering. I was beginning to think that living in such a small house had its advantages. However, I couldn't hear exactly what they were saying and I was too tired to bother using the Extendables.

I was up early the next morning and went down to brekkie to find my parents whispering at the table over steaming mugs of coffee. They both immediately stopped talking when I entered and looked up at me. The two of them had identical looks of exhaustion on their faces.

"We're still going to Australia, right?" I asked.

"Yes," Dad nodded, "I bought the tickets a little while ago. We're leaving tomorrow at eight-thirty in the morning."

I breathed a sigh of relief. To be honest, I was surprised they hadn't caved yet. With the looks Matt was sending them the day before, I would have expected them to say we weren't ever going to Australia again.

"Where's Matt?" I asked, "Still sleeping?"

Mum nodded. "He didn't fall asleep until late."

"Richard and Cinda aren't planning any parties, are they?" I asked as I poured myself a bowl of cereal.

"No," Mum replied, "I told them we wouldn't come if they were throwing any parties. Cinda reluctantly agreed not to. But I think they're going to invite the Dawe's for New Year's."

"Brilliant," I grinned and sat down. No parties and I would get to spend time with Kenzie!

"Would you like to go with me to London today?" Mum asked, "I've got to get gifts for Richard, Cinda, and the Dawe's."

"Sure," I said, surprised that she had asked. Usually Mum did all her shopping alone or with Ellie, "Are Dad and Matt going?"

My parents exchanged glances. "No," Dad shook his head, "Healer Norlam is actually coming over this afternoon, to talk to Matt about going to Australia."

"We talked to him earlier," Mum said, "He thinks Matt needs to get used to not being around me all the time, so just Dad will be there during the session."

Ah, an ulterior motive. That was why Mum was taking only me to London. Part of me thought this was just slightly unfair, that I only got to do things alone with her when they benefited Matt. But alone time with Mum happened so rarely that I pushed the thought aside.

I finished my cereal and then went back up to my room to get dressed. Mum wasn't leaving for London until later, so I wrapped my own gifts until she was ready.

Matt woke up shortly before we left and gave both of us very long hugs as we were leaving. Dad had to pry him off of Mum.

We Apparated to the Leaky Cauldron, but went out into Muggle London instead of Diagon Alley. It was chilly, but not unbearably cold and there were a few snowflakes falling.

Mum knew exactly what to get Cinda. There was this really expensive store in downtown London that didn't exist in Australia. Mum wanted to buy Cinda a purse from there.

As soon as I walked in the door I knew it was the kind of place Cinda would like. The walls, floor, ceiling, and furniture were all white. Displays of purses, scarves, and other accessories were everywhere. A saleslady descended upon us and asked if we needed assistance. Mum said no and went straight to one of the purse displays.

"People buy these?" I exclaimed as I looked at the price tag on a brown leather bag. I didn't know much about the British Muggle money system, but 200 pounds seemed like a lot for a purse.

"Yes," Mum laughed, "Surprisingly they do."

"If someone ever bought me one, I'd sell it and buy a solid gold cauldron," I whispered.

"Your father once told me that he would buy a Quidditch team if he had all the money Cinda has spent on clothing and accessories," Mum said.

"He could buy a couple teams," I replied.

"What do you think of this one?" Mum held up a mint green purse with a brown leather strap and silver accents.

"It would match her green pants suit," I said, "But it's got silver on it."

"It's not real silver," Mum explained.

"Seriously? They're charging that much for it and it's not even real silver?" I gaped.

"Yes," Mum laughed and put the purse back, "Maybe I'll go with something more neutral."

I nodded, although Cinda seemed quite the opposite of neutral. I looked through the purses with Mum, but had no idea what I was looking for.

Eventually Mum found a black leather one with silver accents and a matching wallet. The wallet cost nearly as much as the purse. She bought them from the very cheery saleslady and we left the shop.

Mum knew exactly what she wanted to get Richard, too. It was a specific type of golf club. Well, Mum didn't quite remember the model number, so she had to describe it to the salesman at the sporting goods shop. He knew exactly what she was talking about and was very excited about selling it to her. I assumed this was because the price tag on it was nearly as much as Cinda's purse.

We ate lunch at the Leaky Cauldron. Mum kept trying to ask me about school, but I changed the subject each time. Eventually she gave up and lunch was really enjoyable.

"What do you think we should get for Kenzie and her family?" I asked as we finished lunch.

"I don't know. Any ideas?" Mum replied.

"Chocolate?" I suggested.

Mum laughed. "That's what you'd want."

"No, really, there's some chocolate at Honeyduke's that you'd never know was magical. Except that it tastes magical, but they'll just think it's the best chocolate in the world. We'll just tell them it's chocolate you can only get in England."

"That's," Mum paused and smiled, "Actually a very good idea."

"Thanks," I smiled, "But Honeyduke's is only in Hogsmeade. We'll have to go there."

"That's all right. We've got time."

Mum paid for lunch and then we Apparated to Hogsmeade. The little village looked like it came from a Muggle Christmas card. It was much snowier than London and quieter.

Honeyduke's, on the other hand, was as crowded as it was during a Hogsmeade visit. The same clientèle, too. I recognized at least twenty Hogwarts students, although none of them acknowledged me.

It didn't take long to find a large supply of 'Muggle safe' Honeyduke's chocolate. Nobody else seemed to be buying it. Mum bought so much that most people would think it would last a month, but it would probably only last a few days. If it even made it to Australia, that is. If Matt saw it, he'd probably eat it himself. I pointed this out to Mum and she grabbed a large box of Chocolate Frogs for us.


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PostPosted: Sunday 19 July 2009 4:45:11pm 
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Looooooooooooooooooooove the chapter, Duckie!


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PostPosted: Sunday 19 July 2009 11:51:02pm 
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super hgood chapter


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PostPosted: Monday 20 July 2009 4:12:51am 
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That was a great chapter, I loved the end for some reason. Perhaps it was the green and silver. Huzzah, Slytherin! But anyway. Can't wait for the next!


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PostPosted: Friday 24 July 2009 5:21:20pm 
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Thanks Fawkes, hprocks, and Obladi! :grin: Here's an early update since I'm going on vacation tomorrow.

Chapter 55: Christmas in Australia

Healer Norlam was still at the house when we returned. Mum told me to go up to my room and stay there until she said I could leave. This didn't surprise me in the slightest.

What did surprise me was the amount of time I had to stay up there. An hour passed and Mum still hadn't told me I could come out. I was beginning to think they just forgot. How long could it possibly take for Mum to talk with Norlam?

I was contemplating using the Extendable Ear and finding out what they were talking about, when Mum knocked on my door. I told her to come in and she walked inside, looking much more worn out than she had earlier.

"Dad and I have decided to see Healer Norlam on a regular basis," Mum said as she sat down on my bed.

I sat down next to her. "What do you mean? Like what Matt did over the summer?"

"Sort of," Mum said, "We have some issues to work through and we think Norlam can help."

"Wait, you're not having marriage issues, are you?" I asked anxiously. I had seen sitcoms on the television at Kenzie's house and married couples who were thinking of divorce went to see psychologists.

"No, nothing like that," she assured me, "Don't worry. Dad and I are perfectly happy together. Mainly, we want to work on our parenting techniques."

"Oh," I breathed a sigh of relief. This was about what they talked about the previous night. But they weren't to know that I knew about that.

"We just wanted you to know," Mum said as she stood up, "And if you could pack for the trip soon, I'd appreciate it."

I nodded as she left. Mum and Dad in therapy. I wasn't sure what I thought about that. What sort of parenting techniques were they going to learn? Were they just going to change the way they parented Matt, or would it affect me too?

The remainder of the day was very quiet. We ate dinner in silence and it was hard to tell whether Matt was still mad at Mum and Dad. Although, I'm not sure mad was the right term. Matt just sort of sat in a stunned silence throughout the meal. He methodically at his food, but never said a word or moved much. In fact, it reminded me of what he was like after Lubar kidnapped him.

I didn't get much sleep that night. I tossed and turned the whole night, no longer that excited about going to Australia. It was almost like Matt's fear was haunting me. I couldn't muster an ounce of excitement after seeing how scared he still was.

The next morning was just a duplicate of the previous night. Silence, fatigue, and going through the motions. I wondered how long it would go on. I had been expecting the Christmas holiday to be exciting and a nice break from school, but so far it hadn't been that.

We got to the airport with plenty of time to spare before our flight left. Going through security had become so much of a habit that it no longer fazed me. It just took a very long time. Mum and Dad whispered to each other the whole time and Matt clung to Mum like she was going to side-along Apparate with him at any moment.

It was almost a relief to get on the plane. Matt refused to sit anywhere besides next to Mum, so I sat with Dad behind them. He let me have the aisle seat.

"Are Richard and Cinda picking us up?" Dad leaned forward and asked Mum.

"Yes," Mum said.

That was the only amount of discussion between them throughout the entire flight. It didn't seem like they were mad at each other, more like they were worried. I couldn't really blame them. Matt had yet to say anything the entire day.

I slept most of the flight. Luckily it was a very smooth trip without much turbulence. We arrived in Australia only a half hour later than scheduled.

It was very strange to be back in Australia. I got this weird feeling in my stomach as soon as we left the plane that had nothing to do with the flight. Nearly six months had passed since I was last in Australia. I swallowed hard as we went through security. Maybe this wasn't such a good idea. I wasn't going to want to leave.

"Julie!" Cinda, dressed in a sky blue pants suit, ran as fast as her spiky heels could carry her towards us, "You're here!"

"We're here," Mum smiled wearily. Cinda threw her arms around her in a very un-Cinda like manner. This looked kind of awkward since Mum was carrying Matt.

"Walter," Richard stuck out his hand.

"Richard," Dad shook it.

"Good flight?"

"It was all right," Dad replied.

"Amy!" Cinda let go of Mum and flung her arms around me, "How is your new school? How are the kids there?"

"School's all right," I shrugged.

The one good thing about Cinda's personality was that short, ambiguous answers satisfied her. She asked nothing else about school and began to fill Mum in on all the gossip as we walked to the car. It was like nothing had changed since we moved. If I tried really hard, I could pretend we hadn't even moved in the first place and were just returning from a long holiday.

"I just couldn't believe it!" Cinda exclaimed as we drove back to their house, "Pregnant! At her age!"

"How are Breanne and Carmine taking it?" Mum asked.

Cinda had just explained that Breanne's mum was pregnant. I was surprised, but didn't really care. Breanne's mum wasn't that nice of a person.

"They don't care," Cinda replied, "Apparently when she told them about it, Breanne just asked if the new baby would get her own nanny or if Carmine's nanny would take care of the baby."

Classic Breanne, I thought. I just hoped I wouldn't have to see her while I was in Australia.

The gossip continued until we reached the house. It may have went on longer than that, but I escaped to my pink bedroom.

It looked exactly the same as it had before I left. I doubted Richard and Cinda had even gone in it. I was sure they would leave it that way forever, since they had so many other rooms. Matt's room probably looked the same, too, although I had my doubts as to whether he would use it while we were there.

Cinda informed me that Kenzie was spending Christmas at her grandparents' house and wouldn't be back until after. I didn't dare bring up the possibility of visiting Olivia. Maybe over the summer, if my parents had worked through their parenting issues by then.

The Christmas holiday at Richard and Cinda's wasn't much different than it had been at home. The only difference was that Cinda filled in the silence with gossip and the occasional question about England.

Matt hardly ever left Mum's side. It seemed that being in Australia wasn't doing anything to ebb his fears. I would have thought that after two days of being there would give him a bit of reassurance that nothing was going to happen, but it didn't.

Christmas Eve came and I realized that we hadn't even gotten a Christmas tree. Everyone seemed to have forgotten about it.

"Where are we getting the tree from?" I asked at lunch.

"Er, I'm not sure," Dad glanced at Richard.

"There's a tree farm a few miles away," Richard told him, "We always used to get trees there when Julie was little."

"A tree farm?" I sighed. That wasn't nearly as fun as going into the bush and cutting one down yourself.

"They have cut your own trees," Richard said, "It's like a bush, only the trees are all in rows and were planted by people."

"All right," I said resignedly. It was better than nothing.

"We'll go as soon as we're done eating. It'll be fun," Richard said.

"I don't want to go," Matt mumbled. He had been picking at his food and not really eating. It was strange since he could usually eat a hippogriff when it wasn't around the full moon.

"You'll be safe," Mum assured him, "It's a Muggle place. Nobody will know you."

"No, I don't feel good," he said.

Mum immediately put her hand on his forehead. "You don't feel warm."

"He's probably just overly tired," Dad said quietly, "I don't think he's slept more than ten hours since we got here."

"You're right," Mum sighed.

"Can't you just give him that potion that makes you fall asleep?" Cinda asked.

"Couldn't bring it on the plane," Mum explained, "Couldn't transfigure it into something normal either. Transfiguration of potions changes their effectiveness."

"We're going to have to go buy some," Dad said.

"No place is open on Christmas Eve," Mum pointed out, "You guys just go get the tree. I'll stay here with him."

A little while later, Richard, Dad, and I were riding in Richard's huge SUV to go get the tree. Cinda had decided to stay home in order to spend 'quality time with her daughter and grandson', but everyone knew she just didn't want to go to the tree farm. She had never liked getting Christmas trees.

The tree farm was really crowded. Richard had to circle the parking lot twice just to find a spot. Then we walked up a small dirt road until we reached the farthest spot of the farm, which was relatively empty.

"A year ago we were doing this in the bush behind your old house," Richard said as we began looking at trees, "Things sure do change."

"That they do," Dad mused, "But change is good."

"Is Matt ok?" Richard asked, "He hasn't seemed well over the past few days. Has something happened?"

"He's afraid to be here," Dad sighed, "Because of what happened before we moved. The psychologist we've been seeing thought it would be a good idea for him to confront the fear, but so far all its done is made him sleep deprived."

"I'm surprised Julie allowed that."

"She's the one who originally suggested it," Dad told him, "But the psychologist agreed and here we are."

"That's possibly the most surprising thing I've heard since you told me you were moving. Julie has babied that boy ever since he was born."

"We both have," Dad said a bit louder, "It's part of the problem and it's taken us nearly nine years to realize it. We're not doing it anymore. We've stopped giving in to everything. We've spoiled him."

"I've been telling you that since he was three," Richard chuckled, "I tell you, the best thing for a boy is to fall down and get a few bumps and bruises. Then he picks himself up and gets on with life."

"Believe me, he's had more bumps and bruises than the average kid. And half the time he can't just pick himself up and get on with life. I guess that's the issue. Julie and I have to learn when he really needs us and when he doesn't."

"You'll figure it out. And you know how I know that?" Richard put his arm around me and smiled, "Because you did something right with this one."

I couldn't help but grin. Richard was usually very quiet. He rarely said more than a sentence or two within a fifteen minute time frame. People said he had to be like that in order to be married to Cinda, the queen of talking. Richard never commented on how my parents raised me. He said plenty about how they raised Matt, but never me. I guess that was a good thing.

Mum always said I took after Cinda, but I liked Richard more. Cinda's constant jabbering was irritating and she always tried to get what she wanted. Whenever I complained to Mum about her, she just smiled and laughed and said I didn't like Cinda because I was so much like her.

"You'd think we would have gotten better with the second one, not worse," Dad muttered.

"Don't think too much about it now. It's Christmas," Richard said, "And we've got a tree to find."

We wound up finding a tree that was about half the size of one we had last year. Richard refused to get a twelve-foot tree since he was sure Cinda would have a hippogriff if he did so. Well, he used the term, 'have a cow'. It was funny to watch Dad help him tie it to the roof of the car, though. Dad had obviously never done such a thing before and he muttered something about how much easier it would be to just use a sticking charm.

Getting the tree off the car once we drove back to Richard and Cinda's house was much easier. Dad just used magic since no one else was around. He levitated it through the double doors in the back of the house and stood it up in the corner of the living room.

Cinda and Mum were talking on the couch in the living room. Well, Cinda was talking and Mum was nodding and muttering 'mm-hmm' every so often. I doubted she was really listening. One of her hands was holding an open book and the other was rubbing Matt's back, who was lying next to her.

"Have fun?" Mum set down her book.

Dad nodded. "When should we decorate?"

Decorate. I suddenly realized that we left all our decorations at home. "Er, we don't have any decorations."

Richard laughed. "Yes we do. Haven't used them in years, but we've got them. Your mum made some of them."

"Oh, right," I said. Of course they had decorations.

"Let's do it after dinner," Cinda said as she stood up, "There's a lovely lasagna in the oven."

"Had it delivered while we were gone?" Richard smirked.

"Yes," Cinda grinned.

******

"What is this supposed to be?" I asked as I pulled a misshapen piece of wood with a string attached out of the box of ornaments.

"It's a dog," Mum laughed, "I made it when I was five."

I turned the dog around in my hand and squinted. "Erm, I sort of see it."

It was actually really fun to use Richard and Cinda's ornaments. There was a story behind every single one. The crystal husband and wife one that they had gotten at their wedding, the little set of golf clubs Richard had had since he was a teenager, the witch's hat and broom Mum had gotten after she found out she was a witch, and of course all the homemade ornaments.

Even Matt seemed to perk up as we looked through the ornaments. He loved Mum's homemade ornaments. It even seemed like he wasn't sleep deprived.

Mum, Dad, Richard, and Cinda sat on the couch and let us decorate the tree. They told stories about the ornaments, but the decorating was up to us. Matt decorated the bottom half and I decorated the top. I had to use a ladder for the very top and Mum forbade Matt from getting on it.

Eventually we got the tree completely decorated. My parents and grandparents loved it and Richard took a bunch of pictures. Even though the tree had no theme whatsoever, I liked it. It was different, but nothing about this holiday was normal, so it fit well.

I fell asleep quickly that night since I had gotten used to Australian time. I had also gotten used to my pink bedroom again. In fact, I slept late and didn't wake up until nearly ten o'clock. It marked the second year in a row that Matt hadn't woken me up on Christmas.

The sun was shining into my window, but I didn't pay much attention to it. It was almost ten and nobody else seemed to be up. I ran out of my room and down the corridor to my parents'.

They were sitting up in bed whispering to each other, but stopped as soon as I walked in.

"Happy Christmas," Mum smiled.

"Happy Christmas," I said as I sat down on the bed, "Is anyone else up?"

"I don't think so," Dad replied, "We're going to wait for presents until Matt's up. He's been sound asleep since three in the morning."

I looked down and saw that Matt was sound asleep in the middle of the bed. I sighed. It would be a while until he got up. He'd probably sleep until dinner time. At least he finally fell asleep, though.

It was strange not to open presents right away. I went downstairs and saw that Ellie must have Apparated to the house at some point because she was making brekkie in Richard and Cinda's kitchen.

Richard and Cinda woke up a little while later and we all ate brekkie while Matt slept. No one really knew what to do after that since Christmas morning was usually spent opening and admiring gifts.

I sat in the living room staring at the presents while Richard read the paper and Mum and Cinda talked. There was one huge present that was addressed to me and I really wanted to open it.

After a few more hours of boredom, Matt finally walked sleepily into the room. He looked like he could use another day's worth of sleep, but I was glad he got up.

"Can we open presents now?" I asked as he climbed onto Mum's lap.

"Yes," Mum grinned, "You can go first."

I leaped off the chair and grabbed the big present I had been gazing at. It was from Mum and Dad and weighed a ton. Did they get me a box of bricks or something?

I ripped the paper off and tore open the plain brown box that was underneath. There was a bunch of crumpled up newspaper in the box and I threw it all over the room as I dug around in the box.

When all the newspaper was finally on the floor and not in the box, I pulled out a silver cauldron that was slightly bigger than the one I already had.

"You've already got one of those," Matt announced.

"This one's self-stirring," I grinned as I noticed the self-stirring symbol etched onto the side. I set it down and ran over to Mum and Dad, giving them each a huge hug. "Thank you so much!"

Self-stirring cauldrons open up a wealth of brewing opportunities. Some potions require constant stirring, which makes it difficult to prepare ingredients as you brew. Some ingredients had to be prepared right before you added them. So you either needed another person or a self-stirring cauldron.

I was surprised they got me another silver cauldron. They had been reluctant enough to get me the first one. It was a good sign; they were trusting me more.

Matt went next and he picked the present from me. His eyes got huge when he saw the box of chocolate frogs and Mum laughed. Then he held up the Chudley Cannons jersey and Cinda's eyes got huge with disgust. I giggled. She probably wouldn't have let me bring that into the house if she had known about it. She claims orange looks good on nobody.

"What is that?" she asked.

"A Quidditch jersey!" Matt said excitedly, "Chudley Cannons? Who are they?"

"A team in the British league," I explained, "The store in Hogsmeade didn't have any Australian jerseys, so I picked another team. Apparently they're not very good, but they need support."

"I like it," Matt said as he pulled it on. It went reached halfway down his thighs and was wide enough to fit three of him into it, but he had a big grin on his face.

The present opening continued for the rest of the afternoon. Mum and Dad both loved what I got them. I think Dad wished I had gotten him a Gryffindor scarf as well, though. Hell, Matt seemed to want one, too. I could get him one for his birthday.

Cinda got me a bag, which I thought was kind of funny since Mum got her one, too. This one was tiny and pink with silver dangly things attached to the zipper. It was something I would never use. I had no use for girly bags. Pockets worked just as well for holding stuff and I carried my school bag around Hogwarts. Not even one book would fit in this pink bag.

Cinda liked her bag much more than I liked mine. She said she had about ten different outfits to go with it and I was sure all of them were pants suits. Richard was thrilled with his golf club and said he'd have to go golfing soon.

Mum and Ellie prepared dinner afterwards. Cinda sat in the kitchen with them, but didn't help with the cooking. It was just as well since the only thing she could do was heat stuff up in the microwave.

Dad and Richard talked quietly in the den and I wanted to listen in on what they were saying, but Matt kept me occupied playing with his new Quidditch game with him in the living room. It was a model game that you could tell the players where to fly to, sort of like Wizard's Chess.

Matt seemed completely different than he had been the previous day. I mentioned this to Mum and she told me that a good night's sleep could do wonders. Maybe the sleep helped him realize that nothing would happen to him in Australia anymore.

Dinner was delicious and fun. Mum and Dad seemed so much happier now that Matt wasn't as scared. I think we were all relieved about that. Nobody said a word about anything related to Lubar or the Australian Ministry or wizarding Australia in general.

Ellie Apparated back to England after we finished dessert. She had to take my cauldron back to our house, since there would be no explaining that to airport security. Come to think of it, she had probably brought it that morning. Mum also wanted it in my potions room as soon as possible. She may be trusting me more, but she was still worried about Matt being around it.

I was really glad we had gone to Australia for Christmas. It had been a really good day. I don't think it would have been all that enjoyable if Matt hadn't gotten any sleep, but he did so it turned out well. Having Christmas in England would have just been too strange. I hoped we'd go to Australia for every Christmas.


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PostPosted: Sunday 26 July 2009 2:06:45pm 
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great chapter duckie :typing: :grin:


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PostPosted: Sunday 2 August 2009 7:28:35pm 
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Thanks hprocks!

Chapter 56: A Meeting With Professor Kendrick

The next few days went by quickly. Matt continued to sleep at night so Mum never had to go buy Dreamless Sleep.

Richard took Dad golfing, which apparently turned out interesting. Dad has only been golfing a handful of times, so he's not very good at it. The Muggles who were behind them got kind of angry that Dad was taking so long, so Richard let a whole bunch of Muggles ahead of them. It took all afternoon, but they had fun.

Kenzie and two of her sisters came over to swim while Dad and Richard were gone. Mari and Maddie played with Matt while I told Kenzie all about school. Well, I made it sound like a Muggle school. I mostly talked about the other kids in my year.

Kenzie's dad barbecued at their house for New Year's Eve. Even Richard and Cinda went, which is kind of funny. It's not that they don't get along, they're just really different. Kenzie's parents have always been more of friends with my parents than my grandparents.

"Did Morgan get a mobile phone?" I asked as Kenzie and I sat in a tree in her backyard. Morgan was walking around the yard jabbering away into a tiny phone. One thing I learned from Vivienne, Breanne, and their lot was that mobile phones are very important to girls like them.

"Oh, no," Kenzie laughed, "Mum would never get her one. That's Mum's. I don't even have one. Mum'll probably take it away soon, since Morgan's been on it since this morning."

"No offense," I said, "But Morgan is just like Breanne and those other girls I don't like."

"None taken," Kenzie replied, "I know she is and I have no idea where she got it from. I seriously think she'd love to go live with your grandparents." She gestured to Cinda, who was talking on her own mobile phone.

"I'm sure Cinda would love it, too," I said, "Someone to buy expensive clothes for."

"Morgan would love to have someone buy them for her."

"Your other sisters aren't like that," I said as I watched Mari and Maddie play football with Matt.

The term 'playing football' was used loosely, though. Mostly Mari was kicking the ball around the yard and if by some small chance she lost hold of it, Matt would dribble it for a few seconds before Mari took it away again. Maddie mostly chased the other two.

"I can't ever see Mari being anything like that," Kenzie said, "She's so sporty. She's better than half the boys her age in football. It's kind of funny. She plays on a co-ed team and she's the star player."

"Well, she's got no competition in Matt," I laughed, "He's lucky he doesn't trip over the ball."

"Mari!" Kenzie's mum shouted, "Let Matt have a turn with it!"

"We're playing a game, Mum, it's not my problem he's loosing!" Mari shouted.

"It's too soon to tell with Maddie," Kenzie went on, "She mainly copies the rest of us. When Mari play soccer, Maddie wants to play. When Morgan straightens her hair and puts on make-up, Maddie wants to. When I draw or design stuff on the computer, Maddie wants to."

"And Michael?" I asked.

Kenzie laughed, "Michael likes to annoy the cat."

Both Cinda and Morgan got off the phone when dinner was served. Well, Kenzie's mum took her phone back, much to Morgan's disgust. Morgan spent all of dinner sulking and we pretty much ignored her.

Mari wanted to organize a big football match after dinner. Everyone participated except Cinda (because she wasn't wearing the right shoes), Morgan (because she was still sulking), and Michael (for obvious reasons).

The teams were Richard, Mrs. Dawe, Mari, me, and Kenzie versus Dad, Mr. Dawe, Mum, Matt, and Maddie. Cinda agreed to be the referee, but she didn't pay much attention.

The match was really fun. I hadn't ever played such a huge game of football before. In fact, the extent of my football playing had been kicking the ball around with Matt and Dad in our backyard. So I wasn't very good. Mari was easily the best player, but Mr. Dawe, Mum, Dad, and Kenzie were good as well, so the teams were evenly matched.

I even managed to score a few goals against Mum, who was the goalie. Mostly I just passed the ball to Mari since she got the ball past Mum every time.

Mari was going to be the star of her school's football team when she got older. She was faster than me and even the adults. I hadn't ever seen a nine-year-old run that fast.

However, Mrs. Dawe was not impressed when Mari plowed Maddie over on her way to the goal. It seemed to happen more and more often as it got darker, which didn't surprise me. It was hard to see. The porch lights didn't reach the entire yard.

The match was declared over when Mari managed to run into Matt on her way down the yard. She knocked him flat onto his back, which must have been hard to do since he's only a head shorter than her. He didn't get right back up afterwards like Maddie did either. I think he was mostly just shocked that he was knocked over by her.

Mum picked him up and took him over to the picnic table while Mrs. Dawe gave Mari a stern lecture about looking where she was going. Our team won due to Mari's scoring abilities.

We went inside after that. Dad, Richard, and Mr. Dawe sat in the living room drinking beer and talking about golf, the weather, and who knows what else. Mum and Mrs. Dawe (once she put Michael to bed) talked with each other in the family room. Matt laid down on the couch next to Mum and I doubted he'd stay up until midnight. Cinda gave Morgan a manicure while they talked about clothes and fashion. Mari and Maddie played video games. Kenzie and I just talked.

It was so peaceful to spend New Year's Eve at Kenzie's house. So much better than New Year's Eve the previous year. New Year's at Kenzie's house was like what I always imagined holidays would be like if I had a big family with a lot of cousins. Fun, relaxing, and a little chaotic. Kenzie's family was really the closest thing we had to an extended family besides Uncle Jack, Richard, and Cinda. It was almost nice that we couldn't share the fact that we were wizards with them. We could just leave that part of our lives behind and forget about everything for the evening.

The remaining hours until midnight went by fast. Matt and Maddie fell asleep on the couch and even Mari had run out of energy and was reading a book in between them. Morgan had received a full makeover from Cinda and was glowing (not from the make-up, either).

Dad, Richard, and Mr. Dawe came into the room shortly before midnight. Mrs. Dawe passed around noisemakers and woke up Matt and Maddie. I got a noisemaker and jumped up and down with Kenzie while we counted down the seconds until midnight.

"Happy New Year!" I shouted along with anyone else. Kenzie and I hugged each other and then hugged everyone else. This was the way to spend New Year's. Surrounded by your friends, not your grandmother's rich acquaintances.

We said goodbye a little while later. All of the little kids were cranky, especially Maddie. She was having a screaming fit as we left. I had no idea when I'd see Kenzie again, but I wasn't sad as we said goodbye. It had been such a happy night.

I didn't realize how tired I was until we got back to Richard and Cinda's house. I fell asleep as soon as I got into bed.

******

Mum and Dad woke me up an hour before we had to leave for the airport. Dad had to go back to work in a few days and my holiday from school was nearly over. The flight was uneventful, which I was grateful for.

It was strange to be back in England. It had been easy enough to forget about Hogwarts and homework and England while we were in Australia, but as soon as I walked into our house, it all came back.

There was an unfamiliar barn owl sitting on the kitchen table. I had no idea how it managed to get into the house since we shut all the windows. Some sort of magic, no doubt.

"What's this?" Mum asked as she took the letter from the owl. She opened it and began to read silently, her lips turning down in a frown.

"What is it?" Dad asked.

"It's from Kendrick," Mum said quietly, "He's requested a meeting. About Amy."

I gaped at her. What had I done? I was quiet, I ignored most of the other students, I never made trouble.

"Amy?" Dad turned to look at me, "Well, I suppose we could go up there tomorrow. I think we'd all like to sleep today."

Mum nodded and took a quill and a pot of ink out of the nearest drawer. She scrawled something on the back of the parchment and sent it off with the barn owl.

Much to my surprise, Mum and Dad didn't say a word about the letter. Dad merely told me to go do my homework and I was all too willing to cooperate.

What did Kendrick want anyway? Judging by Mum's face, it wasn't anything good. The only thing I could think of was that it had to do with my grades. I knew I wasn't doing very well in about half my subjects.

I tried to do my homework, but I couldn't concentrate. It was kind of ironic. Kendrick wanted to meet with my parents because of my grades (at least I thought) and that fact was keeping me from doing my homework which would help me increase my grades.

Mum and Dad didn't bring up the letter the entire night. They were quiet during dinner and I had a feeling they talked about it by themselves, but they weren't bringing it up around me.

I tossed and turned the entire night and got up long before anyone else. I had no idea what time we were going to Hogwarts. Mum never told me. I didn't want to go. There were still two days of holiday left and I had no motivation to go back early. It was only a short meeting, but still.

Mum and Dad came downstairs shortly after I finished eating. They sat down on the opposite side of the table from me and Dad folded his hands on the table.

"Amy," he began, "Do you know what Professor Kendrick wants to talk about?"

"Didn't the letter tell you?" I asked.

"No," Dad shook his head.

I stared down at the milk remaining in my bowl. "It's probably my marks."

"Your marks?" Mum asked curiously, "You've never had a problem with classes before. I know you've always struggled with Defense and Transfiguration, but nothing else."

"I think I might be failing everything except Potions, Astronomy, Care of Magical Creatures, and Herbology," I muttered as I moved my spoon around in my bowl.

"Amy, that means you're failing half your classes," Dad said quietly.

"I know, ok?" I said as I got up, "I just don't want to talk about it!"

"Amy-"

"No, I don't want to talk about it!" I said as I ran out of the room.

"We're going to see Professor Kendrick at one!" Mum shouted after me.

I ran up to my room and slammed the door behind me. Mum shouted something else, probably telling me not to be so loud, but I ignored her. They just didn't get it. They didn't understand how hard it was to switch schools in the middle of your education. They didn't get that classes were different, that I'm behind in half my classes and ahead in the other half.

Nor did they understand how hard it was to spend three and a half months in a school without any friends. Or to have a roommate who hates your guts and would hate your brother even more than you if she knew what he was. Or to have a Slytherin competing with you in every potion you brew.

I managed to finish most of my homework by the time Mum came upstairs and told me to come downstairs and have lunch before going to Hogwarts.

Neither of my parents mentioned anything else about my grades during lunch, which I was grateful for. In fact, they were silent during lunch. So was Matt, but I think that was a combination of the time change and the fact that the full moon was two days away.

One o'clock came and we Apparated to Hogsmeade. Luckily it wasn't snowing, but it was bitterly cold since we were walking into the wind. I was shivering before we even reached the grounds.

Professor Kendrick met us in the Entrance Hall. The castle was so quiet and empty it was almost spooky. It reminded me of when we visited over the summer, but since I had gotten used to it being chaotic and busy, it was strange to see it empty.

Kendrick led us up to his study, which thankfully had a roaring fire in the fireplace. The corridors were nearly as cold as outside. Four armchairs sat in front of his wooden desk and we all sat down. I waited nervously for Kendrick to start talking. I noticed both Professors Dumbledore and Snape were in their portraits.

"How was your holiday?" Kendrick asked.

"It was nice," Mum answered, "We visited my parents in Australia. How was yours?"

"Relaxing," Kendrick said, "However, the term is about to start, so it's back to work. I'm sure you're both wondering why I asked you to meet with me."

"Yes, your letter was not clear," Dad replied.

"I thought it would be better if I just told you in person," Kendrick said and then turned to me, "Amy, how are you liking Hogwarts?"

I shrugged. "It's ok."

"Your marks this term were drastically lower than your marks in Australia," Kendrick told me, "Are the classes too hard?"

"I don't know," I muttered, "It's just that they're so different. Like History of Magic. It's all completely new and Professor Binns doesn't pause to let people take notes."

Kendrick smiled. "I had Professor Binns in school. I highly suggest just reading the textbook and studying with that rather than trying to take notes in his class."

"Oh," I said. It would have been nice if someone told me that earlier.

"What I would like to know is how you're adjusting to Hogwarts. Sometimes grades fall when you're homesick or not adjusting well," Kendrick said quietly.

I bit my lip. Not adjusting well. That was putting it lightly. I hoped Kendrick wouldn't keep pushing this or I was going to start crying in his study.

"She hasn't mentioned anything like that," Mum said.

Because I didn't want to mention it, I thought. I could feel the tears forming. I squeezed my eyes shut.

"Amy?" Mum asked, "Are you having a hard time adjusting?"

"I don't know," I sniffed, "It's just that everyone already has friends. I just miss Australia."

"Oh, I had no idea," Mum put her arm around me, "Why didn't you say something when you came home?"

"You guys are so happy here," I sobbed, "Dad likes his job and Matt will be able to go to school and we don't have to worry about Lubar and his bloody laws."

"Amy, we want to know if you're unhappy. Maybe we can help," Mum said.

"What are you going to do, make people be friends with me?" I asked. If people didn't want to be friends with me, I was out of luck. There wasn't anything anyone could do.

"Perhaps you just need someone to talk to while you're at school," Kendrick suggested, "It's not good to keep all that bottled up."

"I don't know," I muttered, "I talk to Madam Pomfrey."

"That's good," Kendrick smiled, "Although she can be quite busy at times."

Mum and Dad shared one of those parental looks and I knew they had already thought of something

"We've actually decided that Amy should meet with a psychologist once a week," Dad said.

Me? See a psychologist like Matt did? I hadn't been through any trauma. Why couldn't I just keep talking to Madam Pomfrey?

"Excellent idea," Kendrick replied, "Do you have someone in mind?"

Dad nodded. "Healer Norlam. Matt saw him for a few months and now Julie and I are meeting with him once a week as well."

"Let me know which day will work for him," Kendrick said, "And we'll set it up."

Weren't they going to ask my opinion of this? I didn't appear to get a say in what was going to happen. I didn't see how talking to Norlam was going to help my grades anyway.

"I'll send you an owl to let you know when the first session will be," Kendrick told me, "It will be in the hospital wing."

"Ok," I nodded.

"Well," Kendrick folded his hands together, "I think we'll try this for a month and then reassess."

"That's fine," Dad said.

"Then I'll see you on Monday, Amy," Kendrick smiled, "Enjoy your last day of holiday."

I was dreading going back to school too much to enjoy the last bit of holiday. Plus I had so much homework to do.

******


The remainder of the holiday was rather boring. Dad had to work on Sunday since he was taking Monday and Tuesday off for the full moon. Mum spent the day cleaning with Ellie and doing some shopping in Diagon Alley. Matt slept much of the day and read when he wasn't sleeping. I read as well.

I really did not want to go back to school. Partly because I liked being at home so much more and partly because Matt was starting Sterling's study. He wasn't getting any potion for the first two years, but he still had to get observed and Sterling wanted him to transform at St. Mungo's again. He would transform at home for all the following months, though. My parents promised to owl me of course, but it wasn't the same.

Monday came too fast and I was soon on my way back to Hogwarts. Just Dad had dropped me off since Matt had been sleeping when we left. He didn't even wake up when I said goodbye. I hadn't expected him to, but I wished he had.

It was snowing when the Hogwarts Express pulled into Hogsmeade station and the ride up to the school was freezing. I shared a carriage with three older Ravenclaws who ignored me.

The moon had risen by the time dinner started. I was too focused on that to eat much. All I wanted to do was go up to my dormitory, curl up in my bed, and try to fall asleep.

When I was finally able to do that, all my roommates stayed up late talking about their holidays. I heard all about Samantha's getting to meet the Holyhead Harpies, Alyssa's trip to France, Seren's boring holiday at home, Monica's New Year's party in which she kissed two blokes at midnight, and Victoire's hectic Christmas at her grandparents' house. Victoire asked me how my holiday was and I told her I went to Australia and that it was fun.

I fell asleep long after they went to bed, which meant I must not have fallen asleep until really late.

I spent the next day in a sort of distracted trance. No letter arrived from my parents at brekkie or lunch. I knew I should have paid better attention in my classes, but I kept looking at the windows, waiting for Jasper to show up.

He finally appeared in the common room window after classes were over. I practically leaped over two first years in order to get the letter before someone else did. The common room was packed. It was no place to read a letter about my brother.

Much to my dismay, Monica was in the dormitory with a few of her fifth year friends so I couldn't read the letter there. I shoved it in my robes and ran out of Gryffindor Tower and towards the Hospital Wing.

I groaned inwardly when I reached the ward. It was as nearly as packed as the common room. I squeezed my way inside and realized there was no way I'd get any privacy there.

"Come to join the party, Amy?" Willinson appeared at my side.

I jumped aside and glared at him. "No. Why's it so crowded here?"

"Someone put Everlasting Itch Cream into the pipes in the Slytherin common room," Willinson muttered, "Now whoever uses the sinks or showers gets doused in itch cream."

Looking around, I noticed that everyone in the ward was a Slytherin and most of them were rather twitchy and scratching themselves. If I hadn't been so worried about what the letter said, I would have thought it was rather funny.

I muttered a quick goodbye to Willinson and ran out of the ward. Where was I going to read the letter? Was there no place in the entire castle where I could be alone? The Astronomy tower would be too cold since it was snowing.

I walked back up to the seventh floor and began pacing. Pacing always helped me come up with ideas. Anything outside was out of the question for the same reasons the Astronomy Tower was. I'd get in trouble if I used an empty classroom. The Great Hall would be crowded.

I stopped pacing and glanced around the the corridor. It was completely empty. Maybe if I just went in an empty classroom for a few minutes nobody would know.

I turned around and grabbed the handle of the nearest door. I looked once more down the corridor and opened it.

The room was very small. It didn't look like a classroom at all. There weren't any desks or a blackboard. All it contained was a comfortable looking couch, a table, and a fireplace with a crackling fire. It looked like the perfect place to read a letter.

Hogwarts just kept getting stranger and stranger, I thought as I sat down on the couch. I ripped the letter open and read it.

Dear Amy,

I hope you first day back went well.
The full moon wasn't any worse than
usual. We stayed at St. Mungo's
until early afternoon and then
went back home. Matt is ok, but
he'll need to rest for a few days
like usual.

Keep us updated on everything. We
want to know how you are doing at
school. You should be having your
first appointment with Healer Norlam
soon. Let us know how that goes.

Love,
Mum and Dad


I breathed a sigh of relief and put the letter back in my robes. Was this what every full moon was going to be like now? Would I get this worried about all of them? I was rarely this worried while we still lived in Australia. It was probably because of that month he had to transform in the Ministry center.

I was going to have to remember that room for the next time I had a letter about Matt. As I left the room, I noticed there was a portrait of Barnabas the Barmy teaching trolls to dance ballet. That was certainly memorable. I wouldn't forget where the room was.

There was no doubt in my mind that Teddy had been behind the prank in the Slytherin common room. This was confirmed when I returned to the Gryffindor common room and saw a very large group of Gryffindors surrounding Teddy, who was bragging about the prank. It amazed me that he could get away with all these pranks but Professor Kendrick owled my parents for a meeting.


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PostPosted: Wednesday 5 August 2009 8:06:58pm 
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good chapter duckie


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PostPosted: Monday 10 August 2009 4:52:51am 
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Thanks hprocks! :grin:

Chapter 57: The Room of Requirement

My appointment with Healer Norlam was two days later. Professor Kendrick sent me an owl at brekkie. It was scheduled for seven in the evening.

The impending appointment distracted me the whole day which was kind of ironic since the whole point of me seeing Healer Norlam was to improve my grades. That wasn't going to happen if I couldn't pay attention.

At 6:45 I left the crowded common room and went to the Hospital Wing. It was mysteriously quiet and empty. Madam Pomfrey was scrawling on a piece of parchment at her desk when I entered.

"Hello, Amy," she set down her quill, "How are you? Did you have a good holiday?"

I nodded. "We went to Australia so it was fun."

"I'm glad," Madam Pomfrey smiled, "And how is your brother?"

"He's all right. He started Sterling's study the other day, but he's not taking any potions for the first two years."

"Well hopefully your parents will get some answers," she replied, "Healer Norlam is in the conference room," she gestured to a door next to the door to her study, "You can go on in."

I nodded again and walked over to the door. I had no idea what to expect. The only thing I knew about wizarding psychology was what Healer Norlam did with Matt. And I wasn't afraid of everybody so I doubted he would do anything like that for me.

There were a couple chairs in the conference room, one of which Healer Norlam was sitting in. He gestured to the one next to him and I sat down.

"Hello, Amy," he greeted me, "Have a good first few days back?"

"They were all right," I shrugged.

"Good," Norlam nodded, "Now I thought you could just use these sessions to talk about what's going on. You can tell me anything and I won't tell anyone."

"Even my parents?" I asked skeptically.

"Even your parents, unless you tell me something that endangers yourself or anyone else," Norlam clarified, "How about you tell me about some of the stuff you don't like about Hogwarts and perhaps we can do something about it."

I doubted there was much he'd be able to do since he wasn't a teacher, but if he really wanted to know, I'd tell him.

"Professor Washburn," I replied, "He's a real git."

Norlam smiled and shook his head a little bit. "My kids don't like him either. Unfortunately, I can't get him sacked."

I laughed. "Nobody really likes him. Not even the Slytherins and he favors them."

"Some people just are not cut out for teaching. It makes me wonder why he chose this profession," Norlam mused, "Anyway, what else do you not like about Hogwarts?"

"One of my roommates, Monica Kramer," I said, "She's a git, too."

"What don't you like about her?"

"She hates werewolves," I sighed, "She thinks they're all evil and what's really stupid is that she thinks it's their fault they became werewolves. Which is obviously not true."

"Of course it's not," Norlam agreed, "However, you seem to have stumbled across an issue involving social psychology. It's called the belief in a just world. People like to think that everyone gets what they deserve, mainly to reassure themselves that they won't get anything they don't deserve. It's part of why people are so reluctant to help others in need. They think those people deserve it. Most people like to believe the world is a just place, but some of us know it's not."

He could say that again. If the world was a just place, Matt never would have been bitten in the first place. But for someone to think that he did something to deserve that? That was ridiculous.

"A good portion of the people who don't like werewolves like to think they deserve the fate," Norlam said quietly, "That may be playing a role in Monica's thinking. That and I am sure she learned from her parents."

"I don't care why she hates werewolves," I muttered.

"I'm not trying to make excuses for her. I'm just showing you the psychology behind it."

"I just hate having to share a dormitory with someone who would hate my brother so much if she knew what he was," I said.

"That's just it. She doesn't know and she won't ever know," Norlam pointed out, "I think you'd do best to just ignore her."

"That's what I've been doing," I groaned, "That's all I do is ignore people. Her and Quinton Willinson, this Slytherin bloke who thinks he's best at potions."

"Is there anyone you get along with?"

"Yeah. Victoire Weasley is nice, but she's friends with Monica Kramer. It makes no sense because she's really good friends with Ted Lupin, whose dad was a werewolf. Ted is nice, too. So is his friend Landon Comer," I told him.

"Well that's a good sign. Try to spend time with them. If they're studying in the library, ask if you can study at the same table," Norlam said, "Now, our time is just about up, so I will see you next week."

I nodded as I got up. "Bye."

"Bye, Amy," Norlam smiled, "Remember, just ignore Monica. It's her loss that she's so prejudiced."

******

Monica proved to be much easier to ignore than she had been the previous term. Apparently she had spent a lot of time with her fifth year friends over the holiday and spent most of her free time at school with them and not in the dormitory. I noticed that Victoire spent more time with Teddy than her.

The teachers began to give us even more homework and give speeches on how important the end of the year exams were. I spent hours a day on homework, which was fine by me because I had to get my grades up anyway. Most of everyone else in my classes complained about it, though.

Ravenclaw played Hufflepuff in Quidditch at the end of January and I became convinced that the students and staff of Hogwarts were certifiably insane. The match was played in the middle of a raging snowstorm. I couldn't even see the players and have no idea how the Hufflepuff Seeker managed to catch the Snitch. I was frozen within ten minutes and sat in the stands shivering my arse off while the people around me shouted their lungs out. I thought Kendrick should have just postponed the match. When I asked Teddy why he didn't, Teddy shot me the most ludicrous look in the world and then laughed. He told me that Dumbledore canceled the end of the year exams more than Quidditch when he had been headmaster and Kendrick was of the same philosophy.

February brought another snowstorm that made it nearly impossible to go to Herbology and Care of Magical Creatures. Not that either professor actually canceled class. It was also bitingly cold. Colder than normal for February, according to Landon.

The next full moon came in the beginning of February and with it another night of insomnia. I bottled potions with Madam Pomfrey until she made me go back to my dormitory.

Mum and Dad sent me an owl the next morning, but I didn't have time to open it until lunch time. I was determined to find that room on the seventh floor again, so as soon as I shoveled down a quick lunch, I ran up there.

It didn't take long to find the portrait of Barnabas the Barmy, but there wasn't a door across from it. I groaned. Had I noticed the wrong portrait? Or was I simply going mad?

I paced back and forth, looking for the door. Maybe I had missed it. It couldn't be gone. Rooms didn't just disappear and reappear at random.

Or did they? I stopped again and there the door was. Right where I had been expecting it. I blinked and rubbed my eyes. It was still there.

I cautiously opened the door and peered inside. It looked exactly like it had the previous time. It was very strange.

I sat down on the little couch and ripped the letter open. It said the same thing it had the previous month. Matt wasn't any worse than he usually was after full moons.

Matt's birthday was in two days. Dad wrote that they weren't doing anything too exciting, just a dinner of his choice and a trip to Diagon Alley if it wasn't too cold. They didn't like him getting too cold before and after full moons.

There wasn't a Hogsmeade visit around his birthday, so I didn't have anything to get him. I figured I'd just send him some chocolate frogs whenever the next Hogsmeade visit was. The next one was on Valentine's Day, I thought.

After I finished reading the letter, I wanted to try and figure out what was up with the room. Unfortunately, afternoon classes were starting and I didn't have enough time.

I went back up to the seventh floor corridor as soon as classes were over for the day. The door was gone, but I hadn't expected it to be there. I began to walk back and forth because that's what I had done earlier.

I counted the number of times I passed the empty wall and by the third pass, the door appeared. It revealed the same room I had been in earlier.

It was kind of exciting. I was finding new parts of the castle! I left the room and turned away from it. The door disappeared. I paced again and it returned. Getting the door to materialize was so much fun that I did it over and over again until I was convinced that pacing in front of the wall three times was the way to get it to appear.

"Find the Room of Requirement?" someone laughed.

I froze and turned to look down the corridor. Ted was leaning on the wall with his bag slung around his shoulder.

"Er, what?" I asked.

"The Room of Requirement," Ted said as he walked towards me, "It's this room that will give you what you want. All you have to do is think of what you want while you pace three times in front of the wall and the room will look like what you want. Although it doesn't give you food."

"Wait, so it gives you what you want?" I raised my eyebrows, "Every time I've done it the room looks the same."

"You must want the same thing each time," Ted laughed, "Watch."

Teddy thought for a second and then began to pace in front of the wall. The door appeared and Teddy gestured for me to go with him. He opened the door and I gasped.

The room was an exact replica of the Gryffindor common room, down to the very last red poofy pillow. The only difference was that it wasn't filled with Gryffindors. Teddy and I were the only ones there, obviously.

"Wh-what?" I gaped.

"See, gives you anything you want, besides food," Teddy grinned.

I grabbed his arm and pulled him out the door. I had to check this out myself. Anything I wanted? I closed my eyes and paced three times in front of the wall.

Teddy was still grinning when I opened my eyes and the door reappeared. I vaguely wondered how he figured the room out, but was more interested in whether it was really going to give me what I wanted.

I took a deep breath and opened the door. I froze in the doorway. There it was. My bedroom from Australia. Exactly as I remembered it. Dirty clothes on the floor, crumpled parchment on the desk, bed unmade. Just the same.

I walked slowly around the room, touching everything to make sure it was real. It was surreal. I felt like I was in a fog. It was the strangest thing to be back in my bedroom, but know that I was in Hogwarts.

"Er, what is it?"

I jumped and looked towards the door. Teddy was standing in the doorway, looking curiously around at the room.

"It's my bedroom from Australia," I whispered.

"Seriously?" Teddy asked, "It's huge."

"We had a big house," I said, thinking how much of an understatement that was.

"See, it does give you anything," Teddy grinned.

"I guess so," I said quietly, "Oh, do you know if anyone can get in here if someone else is in here?"

"Nope, that's what's so great about it," Teddy said, "You can be really secretive in here."

Hogwarts suddenly seemed so much better than before. I had a place I could go to get away from everyone if I needed to. I could almost go back to my house in Australia.

"Well, I'll see you later," Teddy said as he left the room.

"Bye, and thanks for showing me how the room works," I replied.

I stayed in the room until dinner and went back after. I did my homework there and realized that I got so much more accomplished there.

******

Matt's birthday came and went and I wasn't that upset that I missed it. I always missed his birthday in Australia, so it wasn't any different missing it in England. It was just weird to think that he was nine already. He seemed so much younger. I sent him a letter and told him I'd get him something the next time I went to Hogsmeade. Mum sent me a letter telling me that they just had a birthday dinner and never went to Diagon Alley because it had been so cold that day.

The next Hogsmeade visit was on Valentine's Day, as I had expected. It was a bitterly cold day, but there was hardly any wind, which was odd. I was happy about it, though, because I was considering not going if it had been windy.

Since it was Valentine's Day, a lot of people paired off and went to Hogsmeade on dates. Teddy went with some Ravenclaw, which surprised me since it was so obvious that he and Victoire should go out. Monica went with a seventh year Slytherin, which didn't surprise me. She should have been in Slytherin.

I went straight to Honeydukes and began to look around at all the candy. There was so much of it that I couldn't decide what to get. I usually got Matt chocolate frogs, but I was thinking of getting him something different.

"Amy?"

I turned away from a display of Every Flavor Sugar Quills and saw Victoire standing behind me.

"What are you up to?" she asked.

"Getting a birthday present for my brother," I replied.

"Oh how old is he turning?"

"Nine," I said as I chose the chocolate flavored Sugar Quills.

"Two of my cousins are turning nine this summer," Victoire told me.

"What are you up to?" I asked. I had no idea why she was talking to me, except maybe that Monica was too busy on her date.

"Just wandering around. I was just walking around the village but then when I was up near the Shrieking Shack, Quinton Willinson found me and asked if I wanted to go with him to Madam Puddifoot's."

"Ew," I grimaced, not sure which was worse, Willinson or Madam Puddifoot's.

"Yeah," Victoire giggled, "So I came in here. Listen, do you want to study for that Charms test together?"

"Sure, I guess," I shrugged, "What about Monica?"

"She doesn't really study much anymore," Victoire sighed, "She just hangs out with her other friends."

If that meant she wouldn't be in the dormitory, that was fine by me. "Let me just buy these and then go send them off."

"Sure, I'll meet you in the library," Victoire said and left the shop.

I bought the Sugar Quills, still amazed that I had someone to study with. I hadn't really studied with anyone in over a year. Sure, I'd studied near people, but never with anyone.

The wind was picking up as I walked back to the castle and I was grateful that I wasn't staying in Hogsmeade longer. I stopped by the Owlery and sent Matt's present off with a letter I had written earlier.

I hoped Victoire was somewhat good at Charms because I didn't have the slightest clue how to perform mood altering charms. I knew Cheering Charms because I'd done them in my third year, but the rest I was clueless about.

The library was filled mostly with younger students, but I found Victoire at one of the back tables, books and papers already cluttering it. I dumped my own books down next to hers and sat down.

"Get your present sent off?" she asked.

"Yup," I nodded, "So do you know how to do any of these charms?"

"Not really," Victoire sighed, "Charms has always been hard because Washburn's a git. He's been like this the entire time I've been here. You're lucky you had three years of Charms in Australia; it was probably better."

"Yeah, my Charms teacher was nice," I replied. So it wasn't only me having issues with Charms.

"I just really need at least an E on my O.W.L. since I want to become a Healer," Victoire explained, "Do you know what you want to be?"

"Nope," I shook my head. I hadn't given that the slightest thought.

"Well you've got time to figure it out. Teddy doesn't even know and he's older than us," she told me.

"I guess we'd better get started," I sighed as I opened my book, "We can just try the charms on each other. Want to start with the Anger Charm?"

"Sure," Victoire agreed.

We went through all the charms that were on the test until we were exhausted due to the constant changes in emotions we went through. I liked the Giddiness Charm, but Madam Pince quickly performed the countercharm on both of us since we were laughing too loudly for her liking. The Depression Charm, which was said to be a little bit like encountering a Dementor, was horrible because it made me think of when Matt was in that coma.

"Now we just have to hope we can do them tomorrow in front of Washburn," Victoire said as we walked back to Gryffindor Tower.

"I hate doing spells in front of him," I groaned, "I wish some other teacher could test us."

"The good thing is that we get Ministry examiners for the O.W.L.s," Victoire told me.

"Really? That's good," I said. I hadn't been thinking much about the O.W.L.s, but not having Washburn give the examination was relieving.

"Hey, Victoire, Amy!" someone shouted from behind us.

I turned around and saw Teddy running towards us. His date must have ended.

"What are you two up to?" he asked.

"Studying for Charms," Victoire replied, "How was your date?"

"Eh," Teddy shrugged, "She was kind of whiny and annoying so we decided to end it. Anyway, you might be interested in knowing that Ben is sneaking Fever Fudge into tonight's dinner down in the kitchens."

Victoire groaned. "Benedict Weasley! I'm so going to get him. He's already gotten in trouble too much this year. If he gets in anymore trouble Mum's going to flip."

"Aw, he's just having a little fun," Teddy grinned.

"Madam Pomfrey won't think it's funny," Victoire said, "Come on, let's go find him. I'll see you later, Amy."

"Ok, see you," I stifled my laughter. Ben must have been her little brother. I guess Victoire didn't really approve of his mischief making.

******

"What's that?" I pointed to the potion Madam Pomfrey was screwing the cap on. I had just walked into the hospital wing for my session with Norlam.

"Skele Grow," Madam Pomfrey shuddered, "A very unpleasant potion to re-grow bones. I've only had to do it a handful of times, but it's awful each time. Somehow a boy's bones in his left index finger vanished during Charms a little while ago."

"Re-grow the bones?" I gaped.

"Yes," she nodded, "It's possible to do it, but it's painful."

It definitely wasn't something I wanted to have done to me. I suppose it would be better than going through life without bones, though.

"Healer Norlam is already in the room, you can go on in," Madam Pomfrey told me.

Meeting with Healer Norlam had gotten to be a regular thing for me. It didn't even seem like therapy. It was nothing like what he did with Matt. We just talked about everything that was going on at school and home.

Norlam kept me updated on what my parents were doing with Matt. He couldn't tell me everything because of confidentiality, but he did tell me that they were beginning to treat him more like an older kid than a little kid. Apparently he had chores now and Mum didn't go running for every little thing. She didn't always drop everything and run at top speed to him when he cried, except around full moons of course. I didn't think she'd ever not baby him around full moons.

"How are you today, Amy?" Norlam asked when I sat down, like he usually did.

"Good," I replied, "Just been doing a lot of homework."

"Well, that's not something I'm going to complain about," Norlam smiled, "Homework is important."

"Victoire and I have been studying Charms together and we both got Acceptable on our last exam, which is amazing for Washburn's class," I told him.

"I'm glad to hear it," Norlam replied, "You and Victoire seem to be getting along."

"Yeah," I said, "We study and stuff."

"Do you ever do anything with her besides studying?" Norlam asked.

"No, not really,” I shrugged, “She's still friends with Monica, even though they hardly do anything anymore.”

“I see,” he replied, “Perhaps you could eat lunch or dinner with her.”

“She always sits near Monica, even if they don't actually talk,” I sighed, “And I like ignoring Monica.”

Norlam chuckled. “That's probably a good thing. However, if Victoire is ever not eating with Monica, you could sit next to her.”

“I guess,” I shrugged again. I liked studying with Victoire. It was nice to have someone to study with again. I really didn't want to ruin it by making Monica angry which would then in turn cause Victoire to no longer study with me.

“Well, you think about it,” Norlam said, “Now, I'd like to discuss a theory with you.”

“A psychology theory?” I asked.

“Yes,” he smiled.

“About me?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said again, “Which is why I want to discuss it with you, if that's all right.”

“Sure,” I shrugged.

“Your parents have told me how hard it was for you to keep your brother's lycanthropy a secret from Olivia while in Australia,” Norlam said as he folded his hands together, “Best friends confide everything in each other, but you were not able to tell Olivia your biggest secret. That was hard, wasn't it?”

I nodded. It had been one of the hardest things I'd ever done in my life. I'd come so close to telling her so many times. Just the thought of it depressed me.

“Now, here you are in Britain, facing the same situation,” Norlam went on, “You have new friends. Teddy and Victoire. Yet, you are not nearly as close to Victoire as you are to Olivia or Kenzie.”

“Well, we just met,” I pointed out.

“You've told me before that you and Kenzie have been friends since you were toddlers. That you and Olivia were best friends within the first week of school,” Norlam smiled, “You don't have as difficult a time making friends as you think you do.”

I shifted uncomfortably in my chair. It was true that I had two very good friends, but other than Olivia and Kenzie, I didn't have any other close friends in Australia. How could I possibly be considered someone who didn't have trouble making friends?

“But now, you have known Victoire for a few months, but you don't seem particularly close. I agree that Monica remains an obstacle, but I think there is something else, which is where my theory comes in,” he paused, “It is my opinion that you are trying to avoid becoming close to anyone here because you don't want to have to keep any secrets from close friends anymore. Unintentionally, of course.”

It took me a few minutes to grasp what he was saying. Norlam was quiet during those few minutes, as if he was waiting for me to process his theory. Then it hit me. Like Petrificus Totalus to the chest. That was what I was doing.

I swallowed hard. I didn't want to keep anymore secrets. I didn't want to have to lie to anyone anymore. I didn't want to make excuses for why my brother was sick all the time or why I anxiously awaited letters from home every month.

I had no problem keeping Matt's lycanthropy from acquaintances. Never had the urge come along to tell it to Willinson or Laney Hall. Monica was an exception. I didn't really want her to know about Matt, exactly, I just wanted her to understand what he went through. Teddy was an exception as well. His dad had been a werewolf, therefore he might understand what I was going through. Victoire as well. Her dad had been attacked by a werewolf. An untransformed one, but still. Actually, Hogwarts was full of exceptions. The only person in Australia whom I wanted to tell had been Olivia.

“I. I think you're right,” I whispered.

“I know it's hard, but you've got to accept that you won't be able to tell any of your friends about your brother. You can't go through life keeping everyone at a distance either,” Norlam said quietly.

“I guess I just almost thought that I could tell Victoire eventually,” I said, “She's different than Olivia. Her dad was attacked by an untransformed werewolf for Merlin's sake. She wouldn't hate Matt because of lycanthropy. Teddy's the same way. His dad was a werewolf. He wouldn't care either.”

“That is something you'll have to discuss with your parents,” Norlam told me.

“I know,” I said, “I don't want to tell them yet, just someday, maybe.”

Norlam nodded. “Well, our time is up for today. We can talk more about this next week, if you'd like.”

I nodded and got up. I left the hospital wing still a little shocked by Norlam's theory and how accurate it really was. Telling Teddy and Victoire about Matt was not an option, at least not now. But neither was shying away from anyone who wanted to be my friend.


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PostPosted: Monday 10 August 2009 10:28:04am 
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Fourth Year

Joined: Monday 3 August 2009 10:41:58am
Posts: 70
Location: New Zealand
:grin: Nice work again DucksRMagical! Loved the psychological aspect, that makes a lot of sense.


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