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 Post subject: Beyond the Shadow
PostPosted: Sunday 31 January 2010 5:47:44pm 
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Here is the sequel to In Moonlight's Shadow! I recommend you read that first if you haven't already, although it's not necessary. I'll be posting updates on this every other Sunday for the time being.

Chapter 1: Turning Thirty

The greyish potion simmered in its steel cauldron, a few bubbles rising to the surface and then popping. It was nearly boiling, but not quite. I watched it, hardly blinking. As soon as it began boiling, and not a second later, I would have to add the Wolfsbane. One eighth of a a teaspoon of it. A pinch more would ruin the entire potion. Of course, the whole potion could be useless already.

I was brewing in the basement of St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries. There was a whole slew of brewing rooms in the basement. It was the best place for them since the fumes would be far away from the patients and so the brewers would be far away from the hustle and bustle of the hospital.

It was currently seven at night and since it was a Friday, most places of work were closed and their employees enjoying time off. However, I work at a hospital and hospitals never close. If I were to venture upstairs to the main part of the hospital, I would find it busy as usual.

Brewers kept more normal hours than Healers, but I am both. I had spent most of the day working in the Creature Induced Injury ward, but managed to sneak away at five in order to brew. As much as I enjoyed Healing, brewing was my passion.

I was currently brewing a variation of the Wolfsbane Potion. Wolfsbane potion had been invented decades ago and was used by werewolves to render themselves harmless during full moons. They still transformed, but lacked the aggressive qualities normally found in werewolves. However, this potion was completely useless to a small portion of werewolves.

For years, Healers and brewers have been trying to create a new version of Wolfsbane that would work for those werewolves. I had been working for the past six or seven years on the project, but had had no success so far.

The potion began to bubble more until it was at a full boil. I grabbed the small amount of Wolfsbane and tossed it into the cauldron while stirring counter-clockwise. Now I had to stir it for a half an hour.

Stirring had never struck me as boring. Plenty of brewers had complained about the amount of sitting around time and monotonous stirring, but it really never bothered me. I saw it as a time to think. After spending a day in the chaotic Creature Induced Injury ward, I needed a few hours to just sit and do mindless work like stirring.

“Amy!” someone whispered.

I jumped, nearly spilling Wolfsbane Potion all over myself. I cursed under my breath and turned around to see who had been stupid enough to interrupt my brewing. It was my best friend, Victoire, and I sighed. She knew not to interrupt me.

“Victoire,” I groaned. “I told you I'd be brewing until eight today.”

“That's what you think,” Victoire rolled her eyes and sat down on the stool next to mine.

Victoire Lupin had been my best friend since our fourth year at Hogwarts. Well, she had been a Weasley then. When she was 23, she married Teddy Lupin, another one of our friends from school. Victoire was a Healer as well, but she worked on the Spell Damage floor.

“It is what I think,” I replied as I continued stirring. “I need to have this ready for overnight simmering before I leave, so it can be tested tomorrow.”

“You do realize what day it is,” Victoire said flatly, shaking her head so that her mane of blonde hair shook.

“It's Friday, and I always stay late to brew on Fridays,” I replied.

Victoire groaned. “That's not what I meant. I meant it's October 27th! It's your birthday for Merlin's sake! Can't you put aside brewing for one measly day? I mean, you only turn 30 once.”

“Thank God,” I muttered. “And no, I can't put aside brewing. You know that.”

“I don't think you're going to miss having any brilliant breakthroughs if you don't work all night tonight,” Victoire said.

“Thanks for having faith in me,” I muttered.

“As soon as you're done with that batch, we're leaving. Everyone's at the Leaky Cauldron, waiting for you. Teddy and I have organized a birthday and halloween party. You will be there. We got a cake and everything.”

“Thanks,” I said. “Another reminder that I'm old now.”

“30 is not old.”

“Says the one who is still 29,” I said. “I'm 30 and I haven't even done anything important.”

“Hardly any witches or wizards invent world changing new potions before they're 30,” Victoire sighed. “Now finish that potion so we can get in our costumes and go.”

“Costumes?” I raised my eyebrows.

“Well, it is a halloween party, too,” Victoire replied.

“I'll go as a Healer,” I said.

“You are a Healer, you can't go as one,” Victoire said. “Now, you're going as this.”

Victoire reached into her bag and pulled out a French maid costume. I groaned inwardly. The thing looked like it would show more skin than a bathing suit.

“That is quite possibly the most cliched sexy costume on earth,” I told her.

“But it's really from France, so that cancels out the clicheness,” Victoire grinned. “I wore it years ago, but can't fit in it since having Sophie, so you get to wear it.”

“And what are you wearing?” I asked.

“This,” Victoire pulled a black robe and hat out of her bag.

“Is that a Muggle witch costume?” I asked.

“Yep,” Victoire nodded.

“So I have to wear a tiny piece of cloth while you get to be completely covered up?”

“I'm married, you're not,” Victoire replied. “Plus, Teddy's dressed as Merlin, so it matches.”

Victoire waited while I finished brewing the Wolfsbane. I purposely took a long time to clean up, but then Victoire pitched in and before I knew it I was changing into the French maid costume.

For the first time ever I was grateful that I was short. Victoire was nearly a head taller than me, so I was sure the skirt had been of the correct skimpy length on her. On me, however, it nearly came down to my knees.

Victoire had gone all out for her witch's costume. She painted her face green and affixed a fake wart to her nose. She looked disgustingly realistic for a Muggle witch. I stifled my laughter and the two of us disapparated.

We reappeared in front of the Diagon Alley side of the Leaky Cauldron. I could already hear the noise coming from inside. Victoire really must have invited everyone. I followed her into the pub and our arrival was met with loud choruses of 'happy birthday' sung in a variety of tunes.

The pub was packed. I only recognized about half of the people there. I saw a few people from work including a bunch of nurses, my boss Healer Morris Sterling, Healer Jeff Norlam, and Healer Rose Weasley. Standing around Rose were all her friends from school including my brother, Matt, and much to my surprise, his roommate Albus Potter. Al was out of the country a lot for work.

Even my parents were there. The two of them were sitting at a table, looking to be the two calmest people there. Neither of them were dressed up. Mum had a cup of tea and Dad had a bottle of something. But sitting next to Dad was the biggest surprise of all.

“Uncle Jack?” I shouted as I ran towards them.

“Amy!” he stood up and gave me a hug. “That's quite the costume.”

“Victoire's idea,” I blushed.

My Uncle Jack lives in Horseheads, New York, and I only see him once a year at the most. I had no idea he was coming for my birthday. He was wearing a black and white striped prisoner outfit.

“Happy Birthday, Amy,” he said.

“Thanks,” I grinned.

I went around the pub, accepting all the birthday wishes from everyone until I wound up at the bar. Victoire and Teddy were sitting there, each with a drink. I ordered my own drink and sat down next to them.

There was a box at the end of the bar marked 'Lycanthropy Awareness Fund'. I looked at it and then turned to Victoire.

“We told everyone to bring donations in lieu of gifts,” Victoire answered my questioning look.

“Thanks,” I smiled. “So who's Sophie with tonight?”

Sophie, Victoire and Teddy's five-year-old daughter, was the most adorable kid I had ever met in my life. She's like a niece to me and even calls me Aunt.

“My parents,” Victoire answered. “They're thrilled to see her.”

“And how is little Sophie doing?” Hannah Longbottom asked as she set my drink down in front of me.

“Oh, she's great,” Victoire smiled. “I'll bring her by soon.”

“Good. I haven't seen her in ages,” Hannah said.

Ages probably meant a few weeks, I thought. Hannah Longbottom loved Sophie. Everyone loved Sophie.

“Amy, happy birthday.”

I turned and saw Matt, wearing a mummy costume, sitting down on my other side. His blonde hair looked in need of a cut, but other than that he looked great. Just a few months ago I had heard a few of the younger nurses whispering about how good looking he was and I had had to run into a closet to laugh. But now that I looked at him, I could almost see what they meant. In a sisterly, non-disgusting way of course. It was just odd because he will always be a scrawny little kid in my mind. Granted, he was still skinny and on the short side, but that wasn't going to change.

“Thanks, Matt,” I gave him a hug. “I haven't seen you in a few days.”

“I've been with Albus,” Matt pointed to Albus, who was laughing at something their friend John had said. “He's been home the past three days.”

“When's he leaving again?” I asked.

“Who knows?” Matt shrugged.

Albus Potter was the son of the one and only Harry Potter and did some sort of Auror-like secretive work. It involved traveling to different countries and tracking down rogue wizards. That was all I knew. I had asked Matt a few times, but he changed the subject every time. I guessed it must be secret for a reason.

Matt and Albus had been sharing a flat ever since a few months after they left Hogwarts. Even though Albus was away for his job for a good portion of every month, he always paid half the rent. Neither of them, especially Matt, would have been able to afford their own flat.

“So,” Matt grinned, “Late for your own party?”

“I wasn't that late, was I?” I asked. “How long had you lot been here?”

“Few hours,” Matt replied.

“Well, I was at work...brewing,” I shrugged.

“Big surprise there,” Matt grinned.

“Matt!” Albus shouted over the crowd. “Better get over here! Kaden's mixing firewhiskey with some Muggle drink called a screwdriver!”

“I've gotta go,” Matt said as he got up and left.

“Amy,” Rose Weasley ran up to me, “Happy birthday.”

“Thanks,” I smiled.

“But I've been meaning to get ahold of you. I recruited three more werewolves for the study,” Rose told me.

Rose Weasley was, if it was possible, even more devoted to work than I was. She was a recently certified magical psychiatrist who worked at St. Mungo's. A few weeks ago, she had gotten involved with a long-term study on lycanthropy that I was involved in.

“Really?” I asked. “We've never gotten that many at once before.”

“They've been coming to Mungo's for therapy for years,” Rose explained. “I told them about the study and they're quite interested. Two wizards and one witch.”

“Rose Elizabeth Weasley,” Victoire tapped her on the shoulder. “Are you talking about work?”

“Yes,” Rose said.

“We're trying to give Amy a break from work,” Victoire told her. “That means you can't talk about it here.”

“Victoire, it's kind of important,” I said.

“Fine,” Victoire groaned, “Talk about work.”

“Anyway,” Rose continued, “I've scheduled them each to come in for interviews on Monday, if you can make it.”

“I'll be there,” I assured her.

“Good. Now I'd better go stop Kaden before we really do have to work tonight,” Rose said.

I sat with Victoire and Teddy and watched the party. I've never been big on parties, but this one wasn't bad. It was my kind of party. Well, besides the costume part. Only about half of the people were actually dressed up, though.

“Amy, long time, no see,” Landon Comer, one of my friends from school, sat down on the stool next to mine. He was dressed as Harry Potter, which was pretty funny. I'm sure Albus was quite thrilled with it.

“Hey, Landon,” I replied. Landon worked in the Department of International Magical Cooperation. He was married and had two children as well.

“Happy birthday,” he said. “Seems like just yesterday you were that quiet new girl at Hogwarts.”

“You're making me feel old,” I groaned.

“I'm allowed to. I'm older than you,” Landon laughed.

The party continued well into the night. I had a few more drinks and felt more relaxed than I had in a long time. Someone turned on some music and cleared the tables and dancing begun. One of the male nurses dragged me onto the floor to dance but I lost track of him when my parents and Uncle Jack found me to say goodbye.

Soon, it was only me, Victoire, Teddy, Matt, and Albus left. Matt and Albus looked exhausted, which made me wonder how late they had stayed out the night before. Whenever Albus was in town, he and Matt rarely slept.

“Thanks for the party, Victoire,” I gave her a hug.

“No problem,” Victoire replied. “And tomorrow you can get back to work.”

“I've got the weekend off,” I told her.

“Even better,” Victoire grinned. “Well, we'd better get going.”

“Bye,” I said. “Bye, Teddy!”

“See you soon, Amy,” Teddy replied. “Happy birthday.”

I left with Matt and Albus once Victoire and Teddy disapparated. We lived in the same flat building, which was quite close to the Leaky Cauldron.

“Don't stay up too late,” I told Matt once we reached his flat.

“We won't,” Matt rolled his eyes.

“You look exhausted,” I told him.

“'Night, Amy,” Matt said. “Happy birthday.”

“'Night Matt, Albus,” I replied and walked up the two flights of stairs to my own flat.

My flat was quiet like it always is. I had been living in it ever since Victoire got married. The two of us had had a flat together when we were training at St. Mungo's, but it wasn't the nicest of places. By the time Victoire got married, I had been able to afford a better place.

It was on the third floor of a Muggle flat building. The building itself was only ten years old. My flat consisted of two bedrooms, a kitchen, and a relatively large living room. Plus a bathroom and a few closets. It was enough room for me and I liked it.

I tossed my purse onto the kitchen table and went into my bedroom. I changed out of the awful French maid outfit, tossing the thing haphazardly into the closet knowing I would never wear it again. I got into bed and realizing how tired I was, fell into a deep sleep.

******

Someone was knocking on the door and I didn't feel like answering it. I opened my eyes and quickly shut them again when the sunlight hit them. I forced them open again and looked at the clock. It was noon.

I shot out of bed and ran out of the room. I hadn't slept that late in a very long time. Saturdays usually meant doing research, spending time with Matt, and then dinner with my parents. They rarely included sleeping until noon.

I wrenched the door open and was immediately hit by Sophie, who wrapped my legs in a tight hug. I bent down and picked her up and opened the door wider so Victoire and Teddy could get inside.

Sophie Nymphadora Lupin had turned five a month ago and was the most adorable child I'd seen. Everyone knew she would be since she had Victoire and Teddy for parents. Her hair was stick straight and dirty blonde. It was the perfect combination of Victoire's blonde hair and Teddy's naturally brown hair. Today Teddy's hair was green, though. It actually matched Sophie's green eyes quite well.

“Happy Birthday, Aunt Amy!” Sophie shouted.

“Thanks, Sophie,” I smiled as I set her down.

“Where's Uncle Matt?” Sophie asked as she ran around the flat.

“He's at his flat,” I told her. “He's probably still asleep. Remember he likes to sleep late on Saturdays because he has to work during the week.”

“Oh, yeah,” Sophie said. “I made you a birthday card.”

“Did you?” I smiled at her.

“Uh-huh,” Sophie nodded and pulled a construction paper card out of her pocket.

I sat down on couch and Sophie curled up next to me. The card was blue with a yellow sun on the front and 'happy birthday' scribbled above it. I opened it and there was a cake on the inside.

“Thank you, Sophie,” I smiled and gave her a hug. “This is the best card I've gotten.”

Sophie grinned. “I made it at Grandma and Grandpa's house. Grandma helped me with the letters.”

“You did a great job,” I told her.

“Soph, we've got to get to Diagon Alley,” Victoire said and then turned to me. “We just stopped by so she could give you her card.”

“I'll see you soon, ok?” I gave Sophie another hug.

I said goodbye to Victoire and Teddy and shut the door after them. I had four hours until dinner with my parents. Plenty of time to get some work done. I ate a quick lunch and then took a shower and got dressed. Then it was research time.

I tried to do some research every Saturday. The second bedroom in my flat was filled with shelves and shelves of books on potions and lycanthropy. I'd already read a good portion of them, but I liked to look them over again to find clues.

Most recently I had been experimenting with how different types of cauldrons affected the Wolfsbane Potion. It was normally brewed in a silver cauldron, but I had been brewing it in a steel cauldron to see how that would affect it.

There was not a whole lot written about the Wolfsbane Potion. The wizard who had originally invented it had a chapter about it in his book, but that was about it. Then there were a few articles about it in obscure potions magazines, but they weren't that informative. I had to read other books and piece together little bits of information and try to make sense of it.

It wasn't very rewarding work. In fact, it was downright depressing most of the time. I would spend weeks on a new potion and then it wouldn't work and I'd have to research again and start over. That was the nature of potion brewing, though. Not a lot of wizards and witches chose to get into that profession for that reason and even fewer wanted to create another Wolfsbane Potion. There were four of us working on it and I was one of two brewers. My boss, Healer Sterling, was the other one. He had been working on it long before I even became a Healer. The other two are magical psychiatrists, Healer Norlam and Rose Weasley.

Nevertheless, I devoted most of my time towards the task. There was no doubt in my mind that I was the most devoted of us four. I had no intentions of stopping until I succeeded. It was something I had been wanting to do ever since I was fifteen.

The reason was my brother. When he was only five years old, he was attacked by a werewolf and had been suffering from lycanthropy ever since. Wolfsbane Potion had no affect on him. My parents had spent so much time trying to give him a normal life, including moving all of us from Australia to England so he could go to school.

Matt had also participated in a ten year study of the Wolfsbane Potion run by Healer Sterling, in which he tried three new kinds of Wolfsbane. None of them helped. He'd tried most of the potions I created as well, and none of them helped. Some even made it worse.

“Amy, are you working again?” someone said from behind me.

I jumped and saw Matt standing in the doorway of the second bedroom. “Matt. I didn't even hear you come in. And yes, I am working.”

“We've got to get to Mum and Dad's,” he said as he sat down on the bed.

“You still look exhausted,” I told him, “How late did you stay up?”

“Late,” he answered. “John and Kaden came over.”

“You really shouldn't do that to yourself so close to the full moon,” I sighed. “You're going to regret it on Thursday.”

“You sound like Mum,” Matt muttered. “Besides, Albus has to leave again on Monday.”

“Where's he off to this time?” I asked.

“Can't tell you,” Matt gave his standard answer to that question. “But I'll be over on Wednesday, probably.”

“That's fine,” I told him. “I've got the day off.”

Matt always got really sick the day before full moons, and that hadn't changed as he got older. Mum and Dad weren't comfortable with him being on his own the day before and day after the full moon and I agreed with them. Matt hadn't objected, either. So, when he and Albus got their flat together, Matt agreed never to be on his own around full moons. Whenever Albus is away for work, Matt comes over to my flat. I usually get the day before, the day of, and the day after full moons off.

For the actual transformation, Matt goes to our parents' house. There was really no point in making a new safe room or safe house when the one in my parents' house works fine. Plus, we live in a Muggle flat building and it would not be a good idea for him to transform in his flat, safe room or not.

“Day after, too?” Matt asked.

“Yup,” I told him. “Like always.”

“Any new potions this month?” he asked.

“No,” I sighed. “I'm working on one, but it's got to be put through the preliminary tests before anyone can take it.”

“It's ok, you'll get there eventually,” Matt said quietly, “Now we'd better get to Mum and Dad's before they start worrying.”

I smiled and followed my brother out of the room. Even if we were a minute late to family dinners, Mum started worrying. If there was an olympic event in worrying, Mum would get the gold medal.


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 Post subject: Re: Beyond the Shadow
PostPosted: Sunday 31 January 2010 7:14:53pm 
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I loooooooooooooooove it!


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 Post subject: Re: Beyond the Shadow
PostPosted: Sunday 14 February 2010 7:12:00pm 
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Thanks Linda! :grin:

Chapter 2: The Study

My house had not changed since we bought it. It was a wooden log home nestled in between two Muggle farms with bush behind it. It looked exactly as it had when I moved out after Hogwarts. Even my room was the same. Mum and Dad weren't the kind of parents who turned their kids' rooms into spas and fitness rooms after they moved out. No, they were the type of parents who left the rooms exactly the same in hopes that their children would move back eventually.

Mum tried to convince me to move back for six months after I got a flat with Victoire when we began Healer training. She visited us nearly every day, bringing baked goods, advice, and offers to clean with her. Eventually, she came to terms with the fact that I was grown up and wasn't going to move back home. That was when the Saturday evening family dinner started.

She was worse with Matt. At first, she flat out refused to let him move out. He wound up staying home for about a year after graduating Hogwarts, partly because of Mum and partly because he just couldn't find a job. Not many people want to employ werewolves. Then he got a job in Werewolf Support Services and a few months later he told Mum he was moving out to live with Albus.

Dad had to convince Mum that Matt would be ok. I think it helped that I lived in the same flat building as Albus. Mum still went over there at least three times a week, though. I didn't think she was ever going to stop doing that with him.

“Amy! Matt!” Mum greeted us at the door with tight hugs. It was like she hadn't seen us in years, rather than just twenty-four hours.

“Hi, Mum,” I smiled as I stepped into the house.

“Dinner is just about ready, so you can come right into the kitchen,” Mum instructed.

Matt and I followed her into the kitchen, where Dad, Uncle Jack, and our house elf, Ellie, were already at the table. I sat down next to Uncle Jack and Mum put the last dish on the table.

“How are things at St. Mungo's?” Uncle Jack asked as he served himself some spaghetti.

“Good,” I replied. “Busy as usual. I've got a new potion that's nearly finished. It'll be ready to be sent off for testing tomorrow, but I won't get the results back for awhile.”

“I'll be crossing my fingers,” Uncle Jack said and turned to Matt and Dad. “What's new in the old Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures?”

“Not much,” Dad said as he served himself some salad, “Had some issues about people wanting to keep Grindylows as pets in their ponds. Bad idea if there are Muggles around. Had to Obliviate a few Muggles last week. I really don't see the appeal in Grindylows as pets, though.”

“People are stupid,” Matt agreed, “Honestly, they should just get pygmy puffs and be done with it.”

“That they are,” Uncle Jack shook his head, “There is nothing appealing about a Grindylow. What about you, Julie? How is training?”

Almost two years ago, Mum decided to go back to school to train to be a nurse. I don't know why she didn't do it sooner. She already knows nearly everything a nurse does, after taking care of Matt for so many years. But soon she'll have certification and she'll be able to work at St. Mungo's or something.

“Oh, it's wonderful,” Mum smiled, “I'll be certified in a few months. I'm mostly doing clinicals at St. Mungo's at the moment, which is really nice. It's such a rewarding career.”

“Glad to hear it,” Uncle Jack said, “I could always see you as a nurse.”

“How about you, Jack?” Dad asked, “How are things in New York?”

“Pretty good,” Jack said, “I'm actually considering retiring from the book store. Perhaps traveling a bit, looking for obscure magical objects.”

“Like when we were young,” Dad mused.

“Exactly,” Uncle Jack winked, “Any chance you're considering retirement?”

“Nope,” Dad grinned, “Ministry can't get rid of me just because I'm getting old.”

“You just work too much,” Uncle Jack replied.

Dad has always been a little bit of a workaholic, but ever since Matt graduated from Hogwarts, he's really thrown himself into his work. I suppose it's because there really isn't anything else for him to do. I think he needs a hobby.

We finished dinner and then moved onto dessert. Mum had made a chocolate cake and everyone sang happy birthday. Then I had to eat my cake without talking, which was a tradition that we had been doing on birthdays for as long as I could remember. Matt tried to get me to talk while I ate, but it didn't work.

After dinner, my family gave me presents and cards. Mum and Dad got me a personalized stethoscope, which was nice because I had recently lost mine. Matt got me a really nice bracelet with my birthstone on it. Uncle Jack got me a few books about the history of potion brewing.

“Cinda gave me this to give to you, too,” Mum handed me an envelope.

Cinda, my maternal grandmother, was nearing 95 years old and lived in a Muggle nursing home a few kilometers away from my parents' house. My grandfather, Richard, had died five years ago and Cinda did not adjust well. She lived in Australia for a few more months and then Mum insisted that she move to England. She got sick shortly after that and had to go to the nursing home.

I opened the envelope and found a card, along with a very generous check and instructions to 'get yourself something nice'. Cinda had never held back for birthday or Christmas gifts, even after she went into the nursing home.

“I'll visit her soon,” I said as I put the card and check back in the envelope.

“Good,” Mum said quietly, “She's not doing too well.”

I swallowed hard. “What's wrong?”

“She's just getting old,” Mum sighed.

I nodded. “Yeah, I'll visit soon.”

“I'll go with you,” Matt said.

“She'll be thrilled to see you two,” Mum smiled.

Matt and I stayed at the house for a few more hours, playing Exploding Snap and talking. It was nice to have Uncle Jack there. He was the king of Exploding Snap and by the time Matt and I left, we both had faces covered in soot. Mum and Dad's faces matched.

We left when Mum and Dad decided they had to go to bed. Mum made us tell her every detail about the full moon plans, down to the exact minute Matt would go home to transform. We both assured her that everything would be fine and we would contact her if we needed anything.

“Always a worrier,” Matt muttered as we walked out to the yard to disapparate, “Our mum.”

“Always will be,” I said.

******

I breezed into St. Mungo's bright and early on Monday, ready to work. Mondays were always hectic at work. They consisted of me playing catch-up on what went on in the hospital during the weekend, unless I had been on call of course.

“Farina's in a foul mood,” Lynne, one of the nurses fell into step next to me as I walked through the waiting room towards the lifts.

Lynne Warner was a middle-aged woman with greying red hair and glasses that were always perched on the tip of her nose. She was slightly overweight and around my height. She was also one of the nicest nurses in the entire hospital. I was very happy that she worked on my floor.

“What happened this time?” I groaned.

Eleanor Farina was in essence the matriarch of St. Mungo's. She was the hospital's director and the boss of all the bosses. Nothing happened in the hospital without her knowing about it and any major decision had to be run by her first.

She was strict, had absolutely no sense of humor, and was not someone you would want to cross. The funny thing was that she was a very small person. Not only was she short, but she was quite skinny as well. She also dyed all the grey out of her hair and wore large amounts of make-up so she barely looked older than me.

“Someone left one of the brewing rooms unlocked on Saturday night,” Lynne told me, “She's trying to find out who it was. It wasn't you, was it?”

“Merlin, no,” I assured her, “I was at my parents' house that night.”

It was a well known fact that all brewing rooms had to be kept locked when not in use. They were just too dangerous to leave unlocked. Only brewers and Farina herself could unlock them. I almost felt bad for the poor sap who had left the room unlocked. Almost. It had been pretty stupid of them not to lock it. What if a patient had wandered down there?

We entered a lift and rode it up to our floor. It was still quiet, as it was not even nine o'clock, but I knew it would be bustling before long.

“Eckerton!” someone said from behind me.

I knew the voice even before I turned around. That high pitched but forceful voice could only be that of Farina.

“You got an alibi for Saturday night?” she barked.

“I was at my parents'. My mum will vouch for me. As will my dad and brother, if you care to owl them at the Ministry. Plus my uncle if you care to owl him in New York,” I told her.

“I'll do that,” she replied and then handed me a chart, “And you're on clinic duty this afternoon. One until five.”

I groaned inwardly. I didn't really like doing clinic hours because they took away time from brewing and research. “All right. I'll be there.”

Farina left and I walked the remainder of the way towards my study. Lynne said goodbye to me at the nurse's station, where she joined Dina, a very quiet young nurse who had only been working at St. Mungo's for a few months.

“Morning, Morris,” I said to Healer Sterling as I walked past his study.

“Morning, Amy,” he replied, “You've got a few letters. They're on Natalie's desk.”

Natalie Caberney was our secretary and both of our studies branched off from hers. I grabbed the stack of letters from her desk and went into my own study to read them.

My study was extremely messy. There were numerous filing cabinets everywhere and books scattered throughout the small room. Miscellaneous charts were scattered everywhere, but I knew where to find them all. It was organized chaos.

I sat down in the comfy chair behind my desk and opened the first letter. It was from Rose, giving me the times of the three appointments with the new people for our study. Two were this morning, but one was right when I was supposed to be in the clinic. Perfect. That meant I'd have to track down Farina before one o'clock.

The second letter was from someone interested in participating in the study. I set it aside for when I would have more time to write a response. The third letter was from 'Magical Creatures Monthly' wanting to interview me about the study. I threw that one in the fireplace. I refused to do interviews for magazines that saw werewolves as 'creatures' and not people. Magical Creatures Monthly was definitely one of those magazines.

Once the clock struck nine, I set off to do my rounds. Rounds never took me long since all of the patients were in the same ward. Mondays were always interesting because they included new patients that I knew little or nothing about.

I grabbed the charts out of the basket on Natalie's desk and looked through them as I walked to the ward. There were four of them. The first two were patients who had been there on Friday. One wizard who had gotten a very nasty burn from a dragon and a witch who had been bitten by an ashwinder. Normally, those bites weren't bad, but this particular witch was allergic to their venom.

The third chart was for a wizard who had been bitten by a manticore. That made me shudder. Manticore attacks were pretty rare because most witches and wizards rarely came in contact with them, but the occasional one did crop up and they were bad.

The fourth chart was for one of my own patients. Some Healers at St. Mungo's did not have any patients they saw on a regular basis and dealt with emergencies only. Others practiced family healing and only saw their own patients, be it for check-ups or emergencies. Still others dealt with emergencies and had a small amount of their own patients as well. I was one of those Healers. I had a few patients whom I saw on a regular basis for check-ups and then for emergencies. They all had lycanthropy. Healer Sterling was the same way. Between the two of us we saw nearly all of the people with lycanthropy in England.

This particular patient really tugged at my heartstrings. Since my job was so heartbreaking, I often had to try and distance myself from patients, but that never worked with this patient. He was only six years old and had been attacked by a werewolf at the age of three.

Although Wolfsbane did work for him, it did not have the effect it was supposed to have. It rendered him very calm and harmless during full moons, but it made him violently ill as soon as he started taking it. Since Wolfsbane has to be taken for the week preceding the full moon, he would often be sick for a week.

His parents had been struggling with the decision whether to keep him on Wolfsbane for years. It was so difficult to decide whether it was really worth it for him.

I opened the door to the ward and went to the wizard with the dragon burn first. He was sitting up in bed reading the Prophet. I examined his burn and pronounced him in good health. I gave him a potion and a salve and discharged him. He was quite happy to be out of the ward.

The witch with the ashwinder bite had been able to leave, too. I warned her not to go near the snakes again and sent her on her way.

Next was the wizard with the manticore bites. He was covered in bandages. He was also asleep and did not wake up as I changed the bandages. That was probably for the best since there was really no way to change them in a painless way. I made a mental note to check up on him later once he was awake.

Then it was time for my youngest patient. His name was Jamie Allen. His mother, Candace, was sitting in a chair next to the bed, holding his hand. She was fast asleep. George, his father, was on the other side of the bed. In George's lap was their four-year-old son, Kyle.

They reminded me a lot of my family when Matt and I were younger. I suppose that was why Jamie broke my heart so much.

“George,” I greeted him as I conjured a chair and sat down in it.

“Amy,” he gave me a weak smile, “Thank Merlin you're here.”

“Been here since Saturday?” I asked as I looked over the chart.

“Yes,” George sighed, “High fever, nausea, the usual.”

I nodded and pulled out my wand. I got up and gently shook Jamie. He opened his eyes and smiled at me.

“Healer Eckerton,” he whispered.

“Hi, Jamie,” I smiled, “How are you feeling?”

“Tired,” he said.

“You can go back to sleep soon,” I assured him, “I just need to get your vitals.”

He nodded and I waved my wand over him. A few seconds later, his vitals appeared on his chart. He was asleep before I even stowed my wand.

“He's better today,” I told George and Candace, who had woken up, “But only because of the potions. I'll go get his morning doses.”

Jamie could not keep taking Wolfsbane, I thought as I went to get the potions. Getting that ill every month was taking a toll on his body. The past few months he had been tired all the time, not only around the full moon.

“I'd like to talk to you in my study,” I told George and Candace after I'd given Jamie his potions.

They looked at each other and then nodded. Candace sent Kyle to stay with Lynne while we talked and I led them into my study.

Giving people bad news was my least favorite part of my job. I didn't have to do it nearly as often as Victoire did, but it did occasionally happen.

George and Candace seemed to know that I was giving them bad news. They sat down in the chairs in front of my desk and waited for me to begin. Both of them looked like they hadn't gotten a good night's sleep in days.

“Jamie's been taking Wolfsbane for three years,” I began, “And because of that he hasn't really suffered on full moons. However, the Wolfsbane has been making him incredibly ill. I know you mentioned that he's been acting off even when he's not taking Wolfsbane.”

“Yes,” George sighed, “He's tired all the time now.”

“It's because of the Wolfsbane,” I said quietly, “Even though it's out of his system during the rest of the month, it wreaks havoc when it is there and it's been leaving lasting damage.”

“What does that mean?” Candace asked.

“It means that if he keeps taking Wolfsbane, he's going to be left with permanent damage to his immune system and he'll get sick all the time,” I said, “I'm really sorry.”

“We're going to have to take him off it,” Candace said.

“Yes, you are,” I told them, “Not this month because he's already been taking it for a few days and if he goes through this transformation without Wolfsbane I don't think he'll survive in his weak state.”

George put an arm around Candace, whose eyes were tearing up. “Next month, then,” George said.

“Next month,” I agreed, “It's going to be hard, but I think it'll be better in the long run. He won't be as sick before full moons.”

“But he'll be injured afterwards,” Candace choked.

“He will. It'll probably take him two or three days to recover, but after that he'll be fine,” I assured them.

“We don't exactly have a choice,” George sighed.

“I'm working to fix that potion. You know that,” I said quietly, “It will happen. Jamie will get through this. Have you thought much about him going to Hogwarts?”

“No,” George shook his head, “We try to get through one full moon at a time.”

“Think about it,” I smiled, “Even if I haven't created a better potion by then, he can still go.”

“I really doubt Professor Kendrick would let a werewolf attend Hogwarts,” George muttered, “That's too dangerous.”

I smiled. “Send him an owl. You might be pleasantly surprised.”

“I guess it can't hurt,” George sighed.

“No, definitely not,” I agreed, “Just ask him.”

“All right,” George agreed, “We will.”

******

After a morning of paperwork, owl answering, and the first two lycanthropy appointments it was time to go find Farina and get down on my hands and and knees and beg to be late to clinic duty that afternoon.

Tracking Farina down was always an interesting task. She was rarely in her study. I checked there first anyway and it was as predicted, empty. It didn't seem fair that she had the biggest study and was rarely in it.

I finally found her in the basement. Apparently she had found the culprit who left the brewing room unlocked. She was yelling at Elliot Rodney, the newest brewer who had just been hired the previous week. He was in his mid-twenties, a few years older than Matt, and very tall and good looking. However, while being yelled at by Farina, he looked like he was about to cry. I swear she could bring the Minister of Magic to tears.

“Healer Farina,” I cleared my throat.

She stopped yelling and turned around. She sighed and shook her head when she saw me. “Get back to work, Rodney.”

Rodney didn't have to be told twice. He bolted away and shut himself in his brewing room. I felt bad for him. I cried the first time Farina yelled at me, too.

“What is it, Eckerton?” she asked.

“I would like to request that my clinic hours be put off until two o'clock,” I said.

“And what makes you think that I would grant that request?” she raised her eyebrow.

“I have a previous commitment,” I explained, “I have an appointment with a wizard who wishes to join my lycanthropy study.”

“The one you're doing with Weasley?” she asked.

“Yes, that one. The appointment is at one o'clock and I wish to be present, along with Healer Weasley, because she does not have the specialization in lycanthropy like I do. She will not be able to answer all of the wizard's questions,” I continued.

“Fair point,” Farina agreed, “You have until one-thirty to show up in the clinic or face the consequences.”

“Thank you,” I replied and left for the lifts.

One thing that I learned shortly after being hired at St. Mungo's was that Farina never gave you exactly what you wanted. If you wanted to push back your clinic hours by an hour, she would give you a half hour. If you wanted two days off, she'd give you one day off. The best thing to do was to ask for more time than you actually needed. Of course, it was pointless unless you had a good reason.

I was just grateful she gave me time off around the full moon. It wasn't real time off since I did pop into the hospital for a few hours the day after the full moon, but it was still considered time off. It was the least I could do since that was one of the busiest days in the ward.

I ate a very hurried lunch on my way to the very top floor of the hospital. That floor was added after the defeat of Lord Voldemort, mostly to add a psychiatry ward. Psychology and psychiatry still were not very well known in the wizarding world, but they became more so after the war.

When Farina became head of the whole hospital a few years later, she took half that floor and created the clinic. It was added solely for efficiency. She had noticed that a lot of the ailments and injuries that people went to the hospital with were quite minor and could be healed quickly. The clinic is now used for those ailments and the more major ailments are taken care of on the other floors. Plus, that's where people get their check-ups. It really was a good idea.

Rose was already set up in one of the rooms, complete with a clip-board and a stack of information on the psychology part of the study. She was always early and incredibly organized. We made an interesting pair for doing a study together.

“I've got clinic at 1:30,” I said as I walked in, “I hope this bloke is on time.”

The people we had met with earlier had both been late. Only the witch agreed to be in the study, though. The wizard didn't think the amount of money we would pay him was enough.

A few minutes later a middle-aged man with greying brown hair walked in. His face was lined with wrinkles, but his eyes were bright.

“Dan Bartholomew?” I asked.

He nodded. “You two the Healers?”

“Yes,” I said and gestured to the open chair, “Please have a seat.”

“So,” he began, “Healer Weasley said you're doing a study on lycanthropy?”

“Yes,” I replied, “We are hoping to discover the reason why werewolves do not remember what happens while they are wolves. Our first theory is that the transformation itself is so traumatic that the brain represses the memory in order to protect the psyche. However, it could also be that the wolf's memories are just not transferred when a werewolf transforms back into a human.”

“Why does it matter to figure that out?” Dan asked.

“I have a theory that it might help us to figure out why the Wolfsbane Potion does not work for all werewolves,” I explained.

“Oh,” he said, “That might be useful.”

“We're hoping it will be,” I said, “Now, does Wolfsbane work for you?”

“Yep,” Dan nodded, “But I'll still do the study. Just as long as I don't have to stop taking Wolfsbane.”

“No, you can still take it,” I answered, “What you will have to do is come in after every full moon and take a few potions that will allow us to examine your brain and to try and get you to remember what happened during full moons.”

“Will that hurt?” he asked skeptically.

“No,” I replied, “And you will be compensated for your time.”

The man nodded. “Now, do I still keep seeing you every week, Healer Weasley?”

“Yes, this will not affect your appointments with me,” Rose told him, “There are also no known emotional side effects from participating in this study.”

“I think I'll need to think about it,” Dan said.

“Understandable,” I said as I handed him a stack of papers, “This explains everything in more detail. If you decide to participate, owl us the forms on the bottom, signed and dated, and we'll contact you about your first appointment.”

“Do I have to decide before the next full moon?” Dan asked.

“No,” I shook my head, “We've already made appointments for this upcoming full moon and wouldn't be able to squeeze you in anyway. Think about it for a couple weeks and then get back to us.”

“I'll let you know,” Dan said as he stood up.

“Thanks,” I smiled.

“Two in one day isn't bad,” Rose said once he left.

“Nope,” I agreed, “Not bad at all.”


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 Post subject: Re: Beyond the Shadow
PostPosted: Sunday 28 February 2010 11:53:06pm 
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Chapter 3: Sophie Nymphadora Lupin

Farina gave me a glare that would make a dragon shrink back in fear when I ran into the clinic at exactly 1:30. I think she had been hoping that I would've been a minute late so she could've yelled at me. Luck had been on my side that time.

I went to the nurse's station and they handed me the chart for the wizard in Exam Room One.

“What seems to be the problem?” I asked once I was inside the room.

The wizard sitting on the exam table didn't look particularly sick, nor did he have any obvious injuries. In fact, he looked perfectly fine.

“Er,” he muttered, “I've got this, well, growth on my, er, arse.”

“Roll over,” I told him.

He did so and I noticed his wand sticking out of the back pocket of his jeans.

“Here's your problem,” I said as I yanked his wand out of his pocket, “There are a million reasons not to keep your wand in your back pocket, growths on your arse being just one of them.

“Oh,” the man sat up and his face was bright red, “Well, I'll just stop doing that.”

“Good idea,” I said and handed him his wand.

I got rid of the growth with a wave of my own wand and the man left, still bright red.

We've actually gotten quite a few people in the clinic with the same complaint. I was beginning to think that someone needed to tell all the first years at Hogwarts not to put their wands in their back pockets. It seemed kind of obvious to me, but I guess not everyone thought of it.

The afternoon droned on and I healed various ailments and injuries. A few colds, one case of the flu, and a few minor spell damages. I also assured one very worried mother that just because her four-year-old daughter had not yet displayed any signs of magic, it did not mean she was a Squib.

I left the clinic at exactly five o'clock and went straight down to my brewing room. It was so nice to escape to the peace and quiet of the room after being in the chaotic hospital all day.

My potion was ready to send off for testing. Whenever new potions were created at St. Mungo's, they were sent to a different department of the hospital for testing. They had to be mixed with other potions and run through various lab tests to find out if they were dangerous or would interact with other potions.

Potions testers also worked in the basement, in separate rooms. It often took a very long time to get results back from the testing and it was always a very nerve-wracking time. A few of the potions I had created had come back labeled as dangerous and it was such a let-down when that happened.

I let the Wolfsbane simmer for a half hour before bottling it and filling out the form for testing. Then I walked down the long corridor towards the testing room.

The testing room looked like something out of a Muggle horror movie. It was filled with all sorts of stainless steel contraptions and cauldrons bubbling with various potions. The testers wore white hazardous waste robes and masks.

There was a window with a small two door box which potions were transferred with. I rang the bell next to the door and one of the testers came over.

“Amy,” he greeted me, “Another version of Wolfsbane?”

“Yep,” I said as I put it in the box, along with the form, “Hopefully this one's better than the last one.”

My last potion had failed the tests. I had had to completely start over.

“It should be ready in a few weeks,” he told me, “We'll owl you the results.”

“Thanks,” I said as I left.

******

Victoire was waiting outside my flat when I got home a little while later. She was glancing at her watch when I first saw her and then she breathed a sigh of relief when she saw me.

“There you are,” she said, “I thought you were done at the clinic at five. Did Farina make you stay longer?”

“No, but I had to go send my potion to testing,” I said as I unlocked the door, “You know you could've gone to Matt's and gotten the spare key. You didn't have to wait outside.”

“I did,” Victoire replied as we walked inside, “He wasn't home. Neither was Albus.”

“Albus had to leave again today,” I said, “Oh, right, Matt had to work late tonight.”

“Well, it doesn't matter. You're here now. I just have to be home by eight because Teddy's got night duty at eight-thirty,” Victoire said as she sat down on the couch.

Teddy was an Auror and his hours were worse than Victoire's. The two of them were lucky if they were able to pass each other in the doorway. Sophie spent a lot of time either at my place or with her grandparents. She didn't mind, though. Teddy and Victoire were lucky she was such an easy going kid.

“So, why were you loitering around my door waiting for me to come home?” I asked as I put a pot of water on the stove and dug out a box of pasta.

“Are you working the day after the full moon?” Victoire asked.

“No,” I turned around and looked at Victoire, “Farina gave me the day of and the day after off. Why, is she making you work that day?”

“Yes,” Victoire sighed and put her head down on the table, “I got the day of off, but she won't give me the day after off. And Teddy's got to work that day, too.”

“Don't worry,” I told her, “I'll watch Sophie. Just drop her off here before you go to work.”

“Thanks,” Victoire said, “I just hate being away from her the day after.”

Sophie may have been a very easy going child, but there was one thing that set her apart from other kids her age. Sophie Nymphadora Lupin was a werewolf. Wolfsbane worked fine for her, but she was still incredibly exhausted the day of and the day after full moons.

Victoire and Teddy had found out about it while Victoire was still pregnant. Starting in the second trimester, Sophie became incredibly restless during full moons. Victoire, being a Healer, and Teddy, being the son of a werewolf, noticed this and Victoire had a test done to find out if the baby had lycanthropy. It came back positive.

The remainder of the pregnancy had been incredibly stressful. Lycanthropic babies are incredibly rare and nobody really knew what was going to happen. Victoire had had to take Wolfsbane and spend every full moon in St. Mungo's, in case the baby transformed. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief when Victoire gave birth to a seemingly perfectly healthy baby.

Sophie did not transform until she was almost three. Nobody knew why and we still don't know. Victoire and Teddy had started her on Wolfsbane as soon as she was born, but nothing ever happened until she was almost three.

Teddy and Victoire tried hard to make sure at least one of them didn't have to work the day of and the day after full moons, but every once in a while they both had to work. If that happened on a full moon, I stayed with Sophie at their house. If it was the day after, Sophie would come stay with me. There had yet to be a full moon where Teddy, Victoire, and I all had to work. We had a back-up plan that if that ever happened, one of my parents would stay with her.

Sophie was actually the most well-adjusted werewolf I had ever met. She didn't seem to care one bit that she was a werewolf and went through transformations in stride.

Victoire left a little while later and then Matt showed up for dinner, as he often did when Albus was gone. He didn't really like to cook and even though my own cooking was mediocre, he said it was better than his.

******

The next day at work was just one of those days where nothing went right. First, the bloke who had been attacked by a manticore took a turn for the worse. He wasn't responding to conventional treatment. Healer Sterling took over his case because he had more experience with that sort of thing.

Jamie had a high fever the entire day that potions just didn't seem to fix. It finally decreased at the end of the day, but he had barely woken up at all. George and Candace were tense the entire day and were taking it out on Kyle, who really didn't know what was going on. Eventually I had Kyle play in my study while I did paperwork just to give everyone a break. I knew all too well what it was like to be in Kyle's shoes.

What I really needed after that day was to go to the Leaky Cauldron with Victoire and Teddy and get my mind off of work, but instead I went to visit Cinda with Matt. Visiting a nursing home does absolutely nothing to lift one's spirits.

Cinda's nursing home is like a palace. It's a state of the art facility where all the residents get their own rooms that are decorated to look like living quarters in a castle. A king's castle, not Hogwarts. It costs a fortune to live there, but Cinda's got loads of money.

Matt and I arrived shortly after dinner was over and the receptionist told us that Cinda was in her room.

Cinda's room was decorated with pink and a lot of flowery patterns. There were a lot of pictures of Mum as a kid and a few of Matt and I as kids. Plus there are a few of Cinda and Richard.

“Cinda?” I asked loudly and knocked on the door as we walked inside her room.

“Oh, Amy! Matt!” she shouted, “I was wondering when you'd come see me.”

Cinda has lost none of her wit as she's gotten older. She's still as sharp as she was when she was young. It's her body that's going. She's just gotten old. She can't walk very well and uses a wheelchair. Her hearing's gone as well.

“Hi, Cinda,” I said as I gave her a hug, “How are you feeling?”

“As well as can be expected,” she replied, “Now, Amy, where on earth did you get that sweater? It's positively dreadful.”

“It's what I wear under my work clothes,” I said as I sat down on the couch, “No one can see it.”

I didn't think the sweater was that bad. It was brown and white striped. At least it didn't have any reindeer on it. Then it would be an awful sweater.

“Oh, happy birthday, Amy!” Cinda said.

“Thanks,” I smiled.

“I have to tell you this, Amy. You know the lady who lives across the hall? Well, her daughter just got arrested. Can you believe that? She robbed a grocery store...” Cinda said.

I spent the rest of the evening listening to Cinda gossip about the various ladies who lived in the nursing home. Some things never changed. Each time I visited Cinda was the same. The gossip was different, but it was always there.

Cinda never seemed to tire, either. Most older people went to bed at seven or eight at night. Not Cinda. She always kept talking until one of the nurses came in and told us visiting hours were over.

I never really minded. Some of the gossip was boring, but it obviously kept Cinda happy and there wasn't much else to do in a nursing home. She had been so depressed after Richard died; it was nice to see her happy again.

“Cinda,” one of the nurses said as she knocked on the door, “I'm afraid visiting hours are over.”

Cinda sighed, “Well, don't wait so long before you next visit.”

“I won't,” I got up and gave her another hug. Then I nudged Matt awake. He never really had the tolerance for Cinda's gossip.

“Hmm?” Matt asked.

“Time to go, Sleeping Beauty,” I grinned.

“Shut it,” he muttered and then turned to Cinda, “We'll be back soon.”

“Good,” Cinda told him, “And no falling asleep next time.”

“Merlin, that place is too pink,” I said to Matt as we walked towards a back alley to disapparate.

“It's like your room at her house,” Matt laughed.

“Seriously, one room should not have that much pink,” I said, “If I ever have kids, none of them are going to have pink rooms.”

We took a break in the conversation to disapparate and reappeared a few blocks away from our building.

“What if one of them likes pink?” Matt asked.

“Then they can paint their room pink when they're older,” I told him, “Do you want to come over and have dessert or something?”

“Nah,” Matt shook his head, “I think I'm just going to go to bed.”

I left him at his flat and then climbed up the stairs to mine, where I drowned my work sorrows in a pint of chocolate ice cream. Chocolate didn't solve everything, but it never hurt things either.

******

“You've got an owl,” Natalie handed me a letter as I ran out of my study the next day.

I thanked her and pocketed it. I was late for clinic duty. Farina was going to murder me. I didn't even have a good reason. I had been reading a potions book in my study and lost track of the time.

Three minutes late. I skidded into the clinic three minutes late. In Farina's book, that was nearly as bad as skipping a shift all together.

“Eckerton!” Farina shouted as I grabbed a chart off the nurse's station desk.

“I'm sorry!” I shouted back.

“Consider this your warning,” she told me.

She must have been feeling generous that day. Farina didn't give warnings. They just weren't her thing.

I didn't have time to open the letter until after the clinic was closed. I made sure to stay an extra three minutes and then went back to my study.

Sterling was on call that night and was in his study doing charts. He looked up when I walked past.

“Are you going to be in on Friday?” he asked.

“For a little while,” I answered, “I have to, for Jamie. But I'm also watching Sophie that day. I might have to bring her with me, depending on whether Matt's well enough to keep an eye on her.”

The letter was quite wrinkled after having been shoved so hastily into my pocket. I hoped it wasn't anything too important. I sat down in my chair and ripped it open.

Amy,

Matt never came into work
today. Could you check up
on him when you get out?

Love,
Dad


I sighed and started to get my things together. Matt usually only missed work the day of the full moon and then two days after.

“See you Friday,” I said to Morris on my way out of the room.

“Bye, Amy,” he replied.

There was not much food in my flat, so I stopped by the Magical Market on my way back. I have the tendency to wait until the last minute to grocery shop and the day I was forced to do it was never convenient.

I finished in record time and put it haphazardly away before going down to Matt's flat. He had given me a spare key when he moved in, so I just went right inside.

Matt and Albus's flat was the same lay-out as mine, but it looked drastically different. The place was filled with mismatched furniture and absolutely nothing was put away. My flat was organized chaos, theirs was just chaos. It wasn't nearly as bad as John and Kaden's, which I had only seen on one occasion, but it was still a mess.

It was so quiet that it almost seemed like no one was home. I headed straight to Matt's bedroom. The door was shut and I opened it as quietly as I could.

Matt was sound asleep in bed, buried under numerous blankets. His face was flushed and a wave of my wand told me he had a fever. I gently nudged him and he rolled over and opened one eye.

“Ugh,” he groaned.

“How do you feel?” I asked.

“Like s**t,” he muttered, “What time is it?”

“Just after seven,” I told him, “Did you know you slept through work?”

“Oh Merlin,” he said, “I haven't done that in months.”

“It's ok. Dad understands,” I told him.

“No one else would,” Matt said.

“No one else needs to,” I replied, “Now you're staying with me until tomorrow night.”

“I don't want to move,” he mumbled.

“I told you not to stay up late with your friends this past weekend,” I said as I pulled the covers off the bed, “Maybe next time you'll listen. Now come on, you've got a fever and you need potions.”

“Ok, I'm getting up,” he said.

It took us a while to get back to my flat because Matt kept stumbling. He looked a little drunk, which earned us two weird stares from various tenants. It had been so much easier when we were kids and Mum and Dad could carry him.

In some ways I never get away from work. I mean, obviously I leave the hospital and go home, but there's still work to do there. Between Matt and Sophie, there's always something that needs to be done when I'm not at St. Mungo's.

This was especially evident around the full moon. Me practically dragging Matt to my flat was a normal occurrence, especially if Albus wasn't home.

I helped Matt into the spare bedroom and then went to get him his usual potions. I could probably dole them out in my sleep I've done it so many times.

Once I'd gotten him settled, I cooked myself dinner and settled down to read for the evening.

However, I couldn't concentrate. Usually I could read for hours, but that night was different. There was something I had been thinking about doing for a long time and I couldn't put off deciding about it any longer.

When I first started my Healer training, I decided to keep my work and family life separate. What that meant was that I never have told any of my patients about Matt. It was his secret to share and I never thought it would be fair to me to tell people about it, even if they were other werewolves.

It hadn't been easy. I couldn't count the number of times I'd been yelled at by newly bitten werewolves who insisted that I had no idea what it was like. I'd assured so many of them that they could live normal lives and half of them sneered at me, telling me I was just saying that to be nice. They'd had no idea how much experience I'd had.

Mum was the same way. A few years ago she founded the Lycanthropic Children's Foundation. Never once has she told anyone her real reasons for starting it. It's a strange organization as it's built on secrets. None of the active members have said they have a child with lycanthropy, but quite a few of them do. I know due to the fact that I'm many of the children's Healer. Mum's the President, I'm the Vice-President, and Victoire is the Treasurer.

There was one family whom I wanted to tell about Matt. I wanted them to know that I knew what they were going through, wanted them to know why I was working so hard on the Wolfsbane Potion. Jamie's family.

If only they could really know that Jamie could live a normal life. If only they could know that another werewolf had attended Hogwarts. His parents could benefit so much from talking to my parents.

The idea had really gotten me thinking. What if we got rid of the secrets in the Lycanthropic Children's Foundation? What if we branched out to offer support for parents and children alike? As of right now we focused on raising money and distributing it to those children who suffered from lycanthropy to help with medical bills and to buy Wolfsbane.

Support groups would do wonders. Parents could talk to other parents and children could play with one another. Matt hadn't really had any friends until he got to Hogwarts. If he'd known other children with lycanthropy when he was little, maybe he wouldn't have been such a shy kid.

My mind was racing. Was this a good idea? Nobody who was a part of the Foundation would be angered to find out who was a werewolf, right? Otherwise they wouldn't be in the Foundation. I'd have to bring it up at the next meeting.

I stayed up half the night working on the proposal for the next meeting. Mum would want most of the details hammered out before I brought it up. It was nearly one in the morning when I finally decided to call it a night.


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 Post subject: Re: Beyond the Shadow
PostPosted: Monday 15 March 2010 2:30:48am 
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Chapter 4: The Full Moon

My days off for full moons shouldn't really count as days off. I still go into St. Mungo's at least once each day I'm 'off' and then I do plenty of research at home. I'm pretty sure the only reason Farina lets me have the days off is because she knows I won't really be off.

This particular full moon was no different. I woke up at my usual early hour (I've never been able to sleep in, even as a child) and read Potion Master's Monthly while eating brekkie.

Matt was still sound asleep when I finished. I inched quietly into the second bedroom and saw him curled up beneath four blankets, his chest moving slowly up and down.

“Matt,” I whispered, poking him. He rolled over and opened one eye. “I've got to go to St. Mungo's for a bit,” I told him, “I'll be back later.”

He nodded and went back to sleep. I doubted whether he'd even remember me telling him I was leaving. I quietly left the flat to find a place to Disapparate.

Stopping into St. Mungo's the day of the full moon is always tricky. I don't want to be seen by too many people because without a doubt someone will ask me to do something for them and I could be there all day. Farina in particular is one to avoid when I'm trying to just pop in for a second.

Luckily Farina was nowhere in sight when I arrived. I made it up to the Dai Lewellyn ward without being flagged down by anyone. Maybe this would be a quick trip after all.

Jamie was the only patient I needed to see. There wasn't anything I could do for him at this point, but I wanted to at least check his vitals.

Only George was sitting by Jamie's bed. It didn't look like he'd gotten any sleep in days.

“Morning,” I said as I sat down on the edge of Jamie's bed. He was sound asleep.

“Hello, Amy,” George sighed. “He's been asleep since yesterday afternoon.”

“That's for the best,” I said as I took his vitals. “The more sleep he gets before tonight, the better.”

“I know,” George said. “I just hate seeing him so sick like this.”

“He won't be quite this sick once we stop the Wolfsbane,” I told him.

“But the actual full moons,” George shook his head. “They're going to be awful.”

“I'm not going to lie to you. They will be awful,” I told him. “But the rest of the month he's going to be a regular kid. He won't be sick like this all the time.”

“I suppose that will be best, in the long run,” George said.

“Yes, it will,” I said. “Well, his vitals are normal for the day of the full moon. Would you like to go home now or wait until later?”

“Now would be best,” George said as he stood up. “Candace took Kyle home last night. He was so wound up.”

After Jamie was discharged, I went to my study and answered a few owls. I hated letting them build up until after the full moon. It took so long to answer that many. Then I decided to go back home. With Jamie discharged, there was no point in staying.

Taking a slight detour to avoid Farina, who was striding up the corridor towards the lifts, I made it to the Apparition room and left.

My flat door was already unlocked when I got there, which was strange. Matt was never up for leaving the flat on the day of the full moon. It could only mean one thing.

Mum. I opened the door to find her doling out potions in my kitchen. She looked up when I came in.

“Amy, there you are,” she said. “Have you been at work?”

“Yes,” I nodded as I set my bag down, “I had to check on one of my patients. Do you have the day off?”

“Just a few hours,” Mum replied. “I've got an evening clinical tonight. I just thought I'd stop by to see how Matt was.”

“He's fine,” I assured her. “He was asleep when I left.”

“He's got a headache,” Mum told me as she put away the potion bottle and walked towards the bedroom with a goblet.

I rolled my eyes as I followed her. Mum knew I was perfectly capable of giving Matt potions, but that never stopped her from Apparating miles in order to do it herself.

Deciding that it was pointless to try and help Mum, I settled down to work on the proposal. It was nearly finished, but I still hadn't told Mum about it. She'd find out at the meeting.

Mum left for her clinical shortly before I Apparated with Matt to the house. He was never in any fit state to Apparate the day of the full moon. Dad wasn't home when we got there, so I put up the protective charms on the safe room door.

I always stay over at my parents' house during the full moon. We don't talk and we never get any sleep, but it's a support thing. Dad isn't always home from work by the time the moon rises, but he always joins Mum and I in the living room when he gets there.

Dad got home long before Mum, though. She didn't get home until nearly midnight. I knew she didn't like evening shifts, but she didn't get to pick.

We sat our silent vigil, watching the clock, hoping it would go faster, waiting for the minute that the moon would finally set.

******

The next morning was stressful to say the least. I had to go to St. Mungo's to see Jamie, who would surely be back there as soon as the moon set, and get Matt back to my flat before seven, when Victoire would stop by with Sophie.

I was at St. Mungo's before Jamie even got there. As much as I hated leaving Matt before the moon fully set, it was the only way to take care of Jamie before Sophie got dropped off. The ward was quiet, something that only happened in the wee hours of the morning. Morris wasn't even there yet.

Footsteps in the corridor alerted me to Jamie's arrival. I jumped up from my desk and met them in front of the door to the ward. George was carrying Jamie, who was asleep. Candace and Kyle weren't there.

“He hasn't woken up yet,” George said as he lay Jamie on his usual bed.

“I'm not surprised,” I sighed as I waved my wand over him. “No fever, that's a good sign.”

“Thank Merlin,” George said.

“Just his usual potions,” I said as I stowed my wand. “I'll have one of the nurses bring them, and Healer Sterling should be in later. He'll owl me when Jamie wakes up and I'll be back then.”

George nodded and I rushed out of the ward to find a nurse. Lynne was at the nurse's station and I was relieved to see her. She already knew what Jamie would need; I wouldn't have to take the time to explain.

“Jamie needs the usual,” I told her. “I've got to go.”

“No problem,” Lynne said as she got up. “How's Matt?”

“No idea,” I said. “Had to leave before the moon set. I'm watching Sophie today and Victoire has to be in by seven-thirty, so I'm in a bit of a hurry this morning.”

“I wish I had your stamina,” Lynne replied. “Will you be back later?”

“Of course,” I nodded. “I'll have to check on Jamie once he wakes up.”

I checked my watch as I rushed down to the Apparition room. Six-thirty. Groaning, I turned and Disapparated.

The house was quiet when I opened the door and walked inside. Figuring that Dad had already given Matt his potions, I ran upstairs to his bedroom. Matt was sound asleep under the Chudley Cannons bedspread he'd had since he was nine and Dad was reading the Prophet, dressed in his work robes.

“Hey, Dad,” I said. “Sorry I had to leave.”

“Not a problem,” he said as he closed the Prophet. “He's got a broken arm and a concussion. I've healed them and given him potions.”

I nodded. “Mum asleep?”

“Yes,” Dad replied. “Do you need me to help you get him to your flat?”

“Yeah,” I said. “We'd better go now. Victoire and Sophie will be there soon.”

No one can Apparate or Disapparate in our house. Nor are we connected to the Floo Network. It's kind of a hassle when we have to get back to my flat after full moons, but it's for the best.

Dad and I managed to wake Matt up and help him outside in order to Disapparate. We went straight to my flat, something we didn't normally risk. I hoped the muffling charm on my flat managed to hide the crack.

I helped Matt into the spare bedroom and he fell asleep as soon as he got into bed. Dad left for the Ministry and I sat down for two seconds before the doorbell rang.

Victoire was standing on the other side holding Sophie, who looked exhausted. Well, both of them looked exhausted. Victoire herself looked paler than usual.

“Victoire, are you ok?” I asked as I stepped aside.

“I'll be fine,” she replied as she set Sophie down on the couch. “I've just got a bug or something.”

“You're sick?” I said. “Maybe you ought to take a sick day.”

“No,” Victoire shook her head, “You know what Farina says.”

“If you can walk and talk, you can work,” we said in unison and then started laughing.

“Good point,” I replied. “How's Sophie?”

“Just tired,” Victoire answered. “Like usual. I'm sure by the end of today she'll be back to asking Teddy for dung bombs.”

“Dung bombs?” I raised my eyebrows.

“Teddy showed her one the other day,” Victoire groaned. “I think she inherited his mischief gene.”

“Well, she gets it from both sides of the family,” I pointed out.

“True,” Victoire agreed. “I'd better go.”

Victoire said goodbye to Sophie and then left. Sophie sat on the couch, looking a little forlorn, and I sat down next to her. She curled up next to me and rested her head on my side.

“My head hurts,” she said, “and I want Mummy to come back.”

“She has to work,” I told her. “I promise she'll be back later. I think it's time for you to go to sleep. Do you want to sleep out here or in my room?”

“Out here,” Sophie said. “Where's Uncle Matt?”

“He's asleep,” I told her. “Do you want me to read you a story?”

“Yeah!” Sophie said. “Babbity Rabbity and her Cackling Stump!”

I laughed and dug out my old copy of the Tales of Beedle the Bard. Even Victoire didn't know why Sophie liked that tale the best, although I suppose it was better than the Warlock's Hairy Heart.

Sophie curled up underneath a huge Gryffindor blanket and I began to read. I used a different voice for each character and Sophie giggled every time I switched. She was asleep before the charlatan declared that the tree be cut down. I smiled and set the book down on the table.

The difference between Sophie and Matt at that age still amazed me. Looking at Sophie, you would never guess in a million years that she was a werewolf. The only time you'd ever know was the day of and the day after the full moon. Then she was tired and cranky, but she rarely got ill the way Matt did. In fact, Sophie never got ill. She rarely got colds or anything else that little kids so often contracted.

When Matt was that age, he not only got sick around the full moons, but he caught every little cold and flu that was going around. I would catch them at Muggle school and bring them home and undoubtedly Matt would get sick.

Victoire was even considering sending Sophie to Muggle school the following year. She could've gone this year, but Victoire still wasn't sure. I was all for it. So long as the school didn't mind that Sophie would be out two days a month, I didn't see the harm. In fact, it would do her a world of good. Sophie would do so much better at Hogwarts if she was already used to being around kids her own age. Friends did a world of good.

Both Matt and Sophie slept right through lunch. I did a bit of research and then started worrying about Jamie. Morris still hadn't owled me, which meant Jamie had yet to wake up.

The doorbell rang and I knocked over a bottle of ink. Cursing and siphoning the ink off of my book, I got up to see who could possibly be at the door at two in the afternoon. At least it hadn't woken Sophie up. One way that she and Matt were similar was their ability to sleep through anything.

I opened the door and saw two of Matt's friends standing there. John Brickston was at least a foot taller than me and his dark hair didn't look like it had been combed in days. Dressed in a Puddlemere United t-shirt and a pair of jeans covered in dirt, he looked like he'd just stepped off the Quidditch pitch. In fact, he probably had. John was one of Puddlemere United's strategists.

Kaden Dursley was slightly shorter than John and a little on the chubby side. His light brown hair nearly covered his eyes, but was slightly neater than John's. He was wearing a set of dark red robes, the color Brewers at St. Mungo's wore. Kaden was one of the Assistant Brewers, which basically meant he had to do whatever the Senior Brewers asked him to do, be it actual brewing or washing cauldrons. It wasn't a pleasant job and I was quite grateful that I never had to do it. Being both a Healer and a Brewer enabled me to skip it.

“John, Kaden,” I said as they pushed past me into the flat.

“Matt here?” John asked.

“Of course,” I said. “But he's asleep!”

“You sound like Madam Pomfrey,” Kaden said as they walked towards the second bedroom.

“How'd you get out of work so early?” I asked suspiciously.

“Had a short shift today,” Kaden shrugged.

I followed them into the second bedroom. John and Kaden were the most boisterous of Matt's friends. They could be rather annoying, but they'd stuck by him since their first years of Hogwarts.

“Oi, Matt!” John shouted as he sat down on the foot of the bed.

“Couldn't you have at least changed out of your Quidditch stuff before coming here?” I groaned.

“Nope,” John said and then turned back to Matt. “Wake up!”

“What can you possibly have to tell him that can't wait until later?” I asked.

“Ugh, John?” Matt said as he rubbed his eyes. “Have you any idea what last night was?”

“Of course I do,” John said. “But this couldn't wait. Guess whose just been drafted to play for Puddlemere?”

“No bloody idea,” Matt replied wearily.

“Vince Spencer,” John grinned.

Matt sat up in bed, staring shocked at John. I didn't have the slightest clue as to why this surprised him. I don't follow Quidditch and have no idea who Vince Spencer is.

“But why?” Matt lamented. “He was the Cannons' best player!”

That would explain Matt's reaction, I thought. Matt was a very avid supporter of the Cannons, something John found incredibly hilarious.

“Maybe he wanted to be on a winning team?” John shrugged, “Honestly, he's just too good of a player to play for the Cannons.”

“There goes our winning streak,” Matt muttered.

“Since when is winning two games considered a streak?” John laughed.

I decided to leave the room after that. They were sure to start a long and rather boring argument about Quidditch, which would probably only end when Matt decided he wanted to go back to sleep.

Sophie was awake when I got back to the living room, looking more like herself. She grinned when she saw me and jumped off the couch.

“I'm hungry,” she announced.

“Glad to hear it,” I smiled. “Let's find you something to eat.”

Sophie followed me into the kitchen, where I made her a grilled cheese sandwich. She ate it while giving me a very long description of what her pygmy puff did the previous day. Apparently it had gotten into Teddy's study and knocked over all of his Quidditch trophies.

“Daddy didn't care,” Sophie said as she finished both her story and the sandwich. “He thought it was funny. Then he said that a niffler would be even funnier to watch get into his study and told me he'd get me one when I'm older. But Mummy said no.”

“I think pygmy puffs make better pets than nifflers,” I told her. “Why don't you go see Uncle Matt? He's awake now.”

Sophie grinned and ran out of the room. It was amazing how fast she was able to bounce back.

John and Kaden left a little while later, whispering to each other and all I heard was that they needed to make a trip to Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes. It still amazed me that they were able to share a flat and not burn the place down every other night.

There was a tap on the window and I breathed a huge sigh of relief when I saw Morris's tawny owl standing on the sill. I hurried and opened the window, taking the piece of parchment from the owl's leg.

Jamie was awake and doing all right. Morris said there was no reason for me to come in, but I wanted to. I had to.

Sophie was sitting on Matt's bed when I walked into the bedroom. She was trying to read Beedle the Bard, but was having to ask Matt what some of the words were. He still looked exhausted.

“Will you two be ok if I run into St. Mungo's for a bit?” I asked.

“Uh-huh,” Sophie nodded. “I'm reading Uncle Matt Babbity Rabbity.”

I smiled. “I can take her with me if you want to get some sleep,” I told Matt.

“No, it's fine,” he said.

I nodded and left for St. Mungo's. Matt never minded watching Sophie, even if he was exhausted. Sophie had always gravitated towards him, even when she was a baby. I think it's because he knows what she goes through. I have no idea if they ever talk about being werewolves.

******

Victoire was talking with one of the receptionists in the main waiting room when I arrived at St. Mungo's. I was happy to see that she was looking better.

“Victoire,” I said as I neared the reception area.

“Amy!” Victoire replied. “How is Sophie?”

“She's great,” I smiled. “I left her reading Babbity Rabbity to Matt.”

Victoire laughed. “She's going to have that one memorized soon.”

“And are you feeling better?” I asked as we walked towards the lifts.

“Much,” she replied. “Whatever I had, it's gone now. Had a double cheeseburger with extra pickles for lunch.”

“That's good,” I said. “Think you'll get out at a decent time?”

“I think I'll be able to sneak away around six,” Victoire answered. “Are you on call this weekend?”

“Thank Merlin, no,” I said. “I've got a really radical proposal for the Foundation that I've got to finish getting ready before Monday's meeting.”

Victoire raised her eyebrows. “Really?”

“You'll find out about it on Monday,” I told her as the lift clattered to the Creature-Induced Injury floor. “See you tonight.”

The corridor was packed with people, which was very unusual. I stood frozen in front of the lift before shaking my head and plowing through the crowd. Judging by the amount of cameras flashing and people holding notebooks, they were mostly press.

“Are you a Healer?” one of them asked me.

“No comment,” I replied, regretting my decision to wear Healer robes that day. I didn't even know what the press were there for, but I didn't want any of them bothering me.

Squeezing in between two photographers I made it into my study, only to find Morris conversing quietly with my dad.

“What's going on?” I asked curiously.

Both of them looked up, wearing nearly identical somber looks. Fearing the worst about Jamie and ignoring the fact that writers from the Daily Prophet would not be interested in his case, I waited for their answer.

“Werewolf attack last night,” Dad replied, “on a Muggle, in plain view of a crowd of Muggles. It was just outside a bar in a very rural area and most of the witnesses were drunk. So was the victim.”

“And the Muggle is here?” I asked.

Morris nodded. “He's going to make a full recovery, aside from the lycanthropy.”

I sighed and shook my head. There had been two other instances like this since I had become a Healer. The press always had a field day with it, which didn't help the poor victim. Muggles who were bitten by werewolves not only had to come to terms with the fact that they were now werewolves themselves, but also with the simple fact that werewolves existed and the magical world in general. It was a lot to take in and they often didn't truly believe us until the next full moon.

“I've put him up in one of the private rooms,” Morris continued. “He's asleep right now, but the last time he was awake he tried to escape, thinking he was going mad.”

“Can't you make all the reporters go away?” I asked.

“We're trying,” Dad answered. “It's all we can do to keep them out of the poor man's room. How is Matt doing?”

“Like usual,” I told him. “John and Kaden woke him up a while ago with news about some Chudley Cannons player transferring to Puddlemere.”

Dad laughed. “Are they still there?”

“Merlin, no. I'd never let the two of them stay in my flat while I'm not there. They left to destroy their own flat,” I said. “Well, I'd better fight through the reporters to go check on Jamie.”

Three reporters rushed towards me as I left the study. Flashbulbs went off and I had to forcefully push my way through them. Wasn't there other news going on that day? Why were all the reporters in Britain at St. Mungo's?

“All right, clear out! The lot of you!”

I looked up and saw the reporters parting. Farina was striding up the corridor and I had to smirk at the shocked looks on half the reporters' faces. Farina was a force to be reckoned with. She looked positively mutinous.

“It'll be on your heads if one of the Healers can't get through this corridor and someone dies in their absence!” Farina shouted. “I don't know why you think you've got the right to be loitering in a hospital corridor anyway! Get out!”

“Who are you?” a brave reporter demanded.

“The director of this bloody hospital!” Farina exclaimed as she started pushing reporters towards the lifts. “I'll have the lot of you arrested if you don't leave this minute!”

The reporters moved out of the corridor faster than they would have if someone let off a load of garroting gas. It was kind of funny. One of them even looked slightly afraid as he nearly tripped over his own robes in his haste to get to the lifts.

“Bloody reporters,” Farina muttered as she walked towards me. “Has Sterling filled you in, Eckerton?”

“Yes,” I nodded, “but I'm just here to see Jamie today.”

“Right,” Farina said. “I'll see you here Monday morning, then.”

“Of course,” I said as I turned to enter the ward.

Jamie and the man who had been attacked by the chimaera were the only people in the ward. The man was looking better, which I was quite happy to see. Jamie was asleep, which I had been expecting. Candace was sitting next to him, reading the Prophet. She set it down when I entered.

“He fell asleep about five minutes ago,” Candace told me.

I nodded. I took out my wand and got his vitals. As far as I could tell, he was fine with the exception of being completely exhausted. The main thing I was worried about was a fever, but his temperature was normal. I decided to just discharge him then since I wouldn't be back at the hospital until Monday.


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 Post subject: Re: Beyond the Shadow
PostPosted: Sunday 28 March 2010 8:24:40pm 
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Chapter 5: A Surprise

Matt and Sophie were both asleep when I returned to my flat. It was kind of cute. Sophie was curled up on the foot of his bed, the copy of Beedle the Bard next to her head. I reached down to pick it up and she opened her eyes and yawned.

“When's Mummy coming back?” she asked.

“In an hour or so,” I replied, “Do you want to help me make dinner? I bet she'll be back just when it's ready.”

“Yeah!” Sophie said excitedly.

She ran ahead of me into the kitchen and was already wearing an apron that was way too large for her by the time I got there.

Sophie absolutely loves to cook. I'm sure that in a few years she'll be a better cook than I am. Mum always told me that cooking was like potions, but I never got the hang of it. Maybe Sophie will be good at both.

We decided to make chicken parmesan, one of Sophie's favorites. Her favorite thing to do was grate the cheese and half of it wound up in her mouth. She grinned sheepishly as I took the remaining cheese and I had to hide my laughter.

There was a knock on the door while the chicken was in the oven and Sophie made a beeline towards it. I followed her and found Victoire letting herself in.

“I snuck away,” she grinned as she picked up Sophie, “How's my little angel?”

“We're making chicken parmesan for dinner!” Sophie said excitedly, “Only I think Uncle Matt's going to sleep through it.”

“Why don't you go wake him up and see if he's hungry?” I suggested.

Victoire put Sophie down and she disappeared into the bedroom. I went into the kitchen to discover that I had nearly burnt the chicken.

“How was she?” Victoire asked as she began to set the table.

“Fine,” I said, “I found her asleep on Matt's bed when I got back. Then we made dinner.”

“Good,” Victoire smiled, “Teddy and I are thinking of enrolling her in a preschool program.”

“This year?” I asked, “Isn't she a bit old for that?”

“We've been researching and we found one that takes kids up to age six,” Victoire said, “It's private, in London. They only go three days a week, too. Mum keeps telling me that she's bored during the day.”

I nodded as I scooped spaghetti onto all the plates. Victoire's grandmother watches Sophie most days, but she also watches a few other kids. Victoire's cousins kids, to be specific. Sophie's better off at my flat after full moons, where it's quiet.

“That would probably be good for her,” I said.

“I think so too,” Victoire replied, “It'll get her ready for next year, if we send her to Kindergarten. I think she's just bored at Grandma's. She's the oldest one there. Andrew's only two and he's closest to her age.”

Andrew was Victoire's cousin Fred's son. The rest of the kids that Victoire's grandma watched were babies.

“She needs to play with kids her own age,” I agreed, “And if it's only three days a week, some months she won't even have to miss any days.”

“Exactly,” Victoire said, “No one's going to notice. Kids get sick a lot. No one will pay attention that she misses a few days every few months.”

“Can you enroll this late in the school year?” I asked.

“I think we'll have to wait until after Christmas,” Victoire said, “So don't mention anything to her.”

“What's for dinner?”

I turned around and saw Matt slowly following Sophie into the room. He still looked utterly exhausted, with large purple bags under his eyes and a yellowish bruise on his forehead. His arm was still wrapped up in bandages and he was limping slightly.

“Chicken parmesan,” I replied, “Are you hungry enough to eat?”

“I'll probably just have spaghetti,” Matt said as he collapsed into the nearest chair.

“How are you?” Victoire asked him.

“Awful,” he muttered, “My head is killing me.”

“Here,” I set a goblet of pain potion in front of him, “I'm sure you're due for a dose.”

“Thanks,” Matt said and downed the potion.

Sophie dominated the dinner conversation. Matt was far too tired to pay attention, much less participate in the conversation. Victoire always listened to everything her daughter said, careful not to interrupt. I paid vague attention, but my mind kept wandering towards the poor Muggle who had been attacked by a werewolf. I was hungry for more information about it. Who did it? Why were they out in the open?

“Have you got any pickles?” Victoire asked as we were cleaning up the kitchen.

“Pickles?” I stared at her, “Er, possibly in the fridge, but why?”

“I just feel like a pickle,” Victoire shrugged as she looked in the fridge. “Excellent,” she grinned as she pulled out a jar.

“You're strange, you know,” I laughed.

“I know,” Victoire shrugged, “I blame it on the odd hours Ted and I keep.”

“What time is he done at work?” I asked.

“Nine,” Victoire answered as she took a bite out of one of the pickles, “But he's got the weekend off. We're visiting my parents.”

“That'll be nice,” I said as I loaded the dishwasher.

“Yep,” Victoire said as she polished off the pickle, “And then back to the grind on Monday.”

******

Monday was very chaotic. Not only did I have to catch myself up on what had gone on in the ward over the weekend, but I also had to track down the two trainee Healers who were in charge of data collection for the study Rose and I were running.

Trainee Healers basically have to do fully qualified Healers' bidding, much like assistant brewers. This often included data collection for Healers who were running studies. Luckily for me, the two trainees involved with my study had actually wanted the job.

Finding them was often a whole day process since they were never in the same place for more than ten minutes. I finally managed to find one after I finished up my clinic hours at eleven o'clock.

Lianne Dorsay had been studying to become a Healer for just over a year and was very interested in the research aspect of it. Her short stature, round face, and curly brown hair gave her the look of someone still in Hogwarts, but she was far more mature than she looked.

“Lianne!” I shouted as I ran to catch up with her.

She turned around and smiled when she saw me. “Amy! I've been looking for you.”

“Where are you headed?” I asked.

“Spell damage,” she replied, “They're short handed today.”

“I'll walk with you,” I said as we continued down the corridor, “How did data collection go?”

“Fine,” Lianne said, “Eight people showed up and none of them had any issues with the charms and potions.”

“Good,” I said, “All the data look usable?”

“Yep,” Lianne said, “It's all entered into the book.”

“Thanks,” I said as we got into one of the lifts.

“No problem,” Lianne replied.

The study Rose and I were conducting was slow going. We could only collect data once a month and we usually only got five or so participants each time. I had yet to get enough data to reach any conclusions, so we kept going at it.

I didn't have any time to look at the data that day. Morris was busy with the Muggle who had begun to come to terms with the fact that he was now a werewolf and did not have much time to deal with the rest of our patients. I spent my day with the rest, healing various burns, bites, and stings, and administering potions to the people who had had to spend the night.

Five o'clock arrived and I was finally able to escape to the basement to brew. It wasn't that I hated working with patients; it just got draining after a while. Spending my evening hours in solitude with only simmering solutions for company was a nice break.

Even while my newest version of Wolfsbane is being tested, I still have to brew regular Wolfsbane. It's a month long process for each batch and there are not many Brewers who can manage it. Three at St. Mungo's can, including Morris and I. There's an old witch who can brew it as well, but she's getting on in years and is looking to retire.

“Merlin, Amy, what is that smell?”

I jumped and turned to the door. Victoire was standing there, with her hand over her mouth, looking a tad green. I glanced at the clock. I'd been brewing for nearly two hours.

“Wolfsbane,” I said as I stood up stirred one of the cauldrons, “Same as always.”

“Really?” Victoire said, “Did you do anything funny to it?”

“No,” I shook my head curiously, “This is the normal kind. Are you sure you're ok?”

“Fine, really,” Victoire shrugged, “The smell of Wolfsbane never makes me feel ill. Except-”

She cut herself off and we looked at each other. A look of horror appeared on her face and she slowly sat down on the nearest chair, looking greener than before.

“Let's get out of here,” I said, grabbing her arm and pulling her out of the room. I quickly locked it and we headed to the nearest loo. Luckily no one was in it.

Victoire leaned against one of the sinks and slowly shook her head. “Why didn't I realize it before. Vomiting in the morning, wanting pickles of all things after dinner....”

“How long has it been going on?” I asked.

“Few days,” Victoire sighed, “And I'm late. I thought it was stress. Ted's been working longer shifts, Sophie's growing up and I'm trying to decide whether to send her to school. I just, it never crossed my mind. Ted and I weren't going to do this again! We swore!”

I stood perfectly still and didn't say a word. Victoire looked worried and slightly scared. I couldn't blame her. After Sophie was born, Victoire and Ted decided not to have anymore children. It was too risky. There was very little known about children who were born as werewolves and every case seemed to be different. Whose to say if Victoire and Ted had a second child the pregnancy would go as well as it did for Sophie?

“You don't know for sure,” I said quietly, knowing without a doubt that she was pregnant. Nothing made Victoire feel ill, ever. It was one of the traits that made her an excellent Healer.

When Victoire was pregnant with Sophie, the smell of Wolfsbane made her positively ill. If she was near it too long, it made her dizzy, gave her a headache, and made her vomit. The same thing happened to Matt whenever he was around it. At first she thought it was just one of those weird pregnancy things, but once she found out Sophie was a werewolf, she knew otherwise.

“Ted's going to be so angry,” Victoire groaned, “We agreed, no more kids!”

“It's half his fault!” I rolled my eyes at the thought of Ted ever getting angry. I could count the number of times he'd been angry on one hand. He and Victoire never fought.

“I guess,” Victoire giggled, “But still, Amy this is so bad. What if the kid's like Sophie? Or, what if, you know, if the kid's like Matt.”

“Then you'll deal with it,” I told her, “You guys are great with Sophie. She's such an awesome kid, Victoire. Honestly, there's kids who don't have lycanthropy who are more difficult than she is. And if the kid's like Matt? Well, then even more incentive for me to get this potion right.”

“I know, I know,” Victoire sighed, “We can do it, it's just is it even fair for the kid?”

“Plenty of kids deal with things that aren't fair, many worse than lycanthropy,” I said quietly, “Look, first you've got to take a pregnancy test. Tomorrow, right when you get to work.”

Victoire nodded. “All right. I'm not saying a word to Teddy until I know for sure.”

“Makes sense,” I agreed, “Is he going to the meeting?”

“Yeah,” Victoire said and glanced at her watch. “Merlin, we'd better leave now. Your mum'll murder us if we're late.”

******

The Lycanthropic Children's Foundation is a very small organization that meets every Monday at my parents' house. There are only six members, which is all we really need for what we do. Basically, we obtain donations and then people with lycanthropic children seek us out, usually through St. Mungo's. Most of our donations come in the form of spare change tossed into the containers we have set out at various shops, and large anonymous donations. The money is then given out anonymously, through me. I have access to the children's information through work anyway, so applications are sent to me and then I present them, omitting names.

Besides Victoire, Mum, Teddy, and I there were two other members. Joe Gordon was our Treasurer and Betsy Wrigley worked with Teddy to seek donations.

Everyone else was there when we arrived, even Teddy and he was usually late. Mum had set out a tray of biscuits and a pot of tea.

“Amy, Victoire, you're nearly late,” she said as we entered the living room.

“Sorry,” I replied, “Work.”

“Well, you're here now,” Mum said, “Anyway, I was about to tell everyone that we received another 100 Galleon donation the other day.”

“Brilliant!” I grinned. Donations that large were rare.

Once everyone had announced their excitement over the donation, we spent the remainder of the meeting deciding who to give it to. It was always so difficult to decide who to give donations to. Every single one of the kids deserved something, but we just did not have the funds to give everyone something.

After a bit of debating, we decided to split it between three different kids. Victoire wrote the checks and I got the envelopes ready for owling the next day.

“Does anyone else have anything to discuss?” Mum asked.

“I do,” I stood up and took a deep breath. Here it goes. The proposal.

Mum looked at me curiously, but didn't say anything.

“All right,” I said, “We've spent the past few years drumming up donations and giving them to children, which is extraordinary. The money is so helpful for the kids and their families. It pays for hospital bills and Wolfsbane.

“However, I feel that we can do more, so much more. Working at St. Mungo's I've seen that these kids need more than money. They need support and so do their families. The parents feel so alone and so do the kids.

“Money helps them, it really does, but no amount of Galleons can ease the loneliness and feeling that it's you against the world. Which is why I feel that we need to expand what we do. I think we could organize support groups. One for the kids, the parents, and even siblings. I really think it would help a lot.”

I stopped and looked out at everyone. Mum and Betsy looked shocked, grins were slowly appearing on Victoire and Teddy's faces, and Joe looked skeptical.

“But if we do that, people are going to find out who the kids are,” Joe pointed out.

“Only the other people in the support groups and us, and I don't think anyone who would be attending the support groups would use that information against the kids,” I said.

“Good point,” Joe agreed.

“I think it's a great idea,” Teddy said. Victoire nodded.

“Why don't we think on it for a week and if we all still agree next week, we'll start making plans,” Mum decided.

Everyone thought that was a good idea. Mum adjourned the meeting and Betsy and Joe left shortly after that. Teddy and Victoire stuck around for a little while to eat a few more biscuits, and then left as well.

“It's going to be ok,” I whispered to Victoire as they left. She nodded and then left. She was going to have a hell of a time keeping her suspicions from Teddy; she looked so worried.

“Is everything ok with Victoire?” Mum asked as we cleaned up, “She looked preoccupied tonight.”

“It's work,” I said quietly, “Don't worry, she'll be fine.”

“The lot of you need to take a holiday,” Mum said, “You, Victoire, Teddy, your father. All of you, workaholics.”

“Healing is a time consuming profession,” I shrugged, “I knew that when I started.”

“Still, you could surely take a week and go to France or something,” Mum told me.

“What would I do in France?” I sighed, “I'd worry about my patients and lose a week of brewing. I can't afford to do that. You know that.”

Mum turned and looked at me. Her eyes looked strangely sad. “Amy, just keep in mind that it's good to take some time for yourself. If you don't, you'll regret it when you're older.”

******

“I feel like we're sixteen and trying to secretly take a pregnancy test at Hogwarts or something,” Victoire whispered to me the next morning.

Victoire had appeared in the doorway to my study five minutes earlier, clutching a paper bag in her hand and looking paler than I'd ever seen her. I immediately got up, told Morris to cover my patients until I returned, and rushed out the door.

“Well, we're not sixteen. You're twenty-nine and married. There's nothing wrong with you being pregnant,” I told her.

“Then why are we sneaking around, trying to find an empty loo?” Victoire asked.

“Do you really want to do this with strangers around?” I pointed out.

“Very true,” Victoire agreed.

We slowed down as we neared the next ladies' loo and I began to push the door open.

“Lupin! Eckerton!”

I groaned inwardly and lowered my hand. Farina. How was she always able to pop up at the worst moment?

“What are you two doing on the Magical Bugs floor?” Farina barked, “Lupin, you're due in the clinic in ten minutes!”

“Er,” I began, trying to think up a good excuse.

“I have to do something,” Victoire muttered, gesturing to the bag, “But I'll be in the clinic as soon as I can.”

Farina's eyes narrowed on the bag and then her stern face softened. I had to rub my eyes to make sure I was seeing clearly. Farina's gaze never softened. But I was seeing clearly. Farina's expression was almost sympathetic.

“Take all the time you need, Lupin,” Farina said, “Eckerton, Spell Damage is running low on Skele-Gro, I'll need you to brew more this afternoon.”

“Right,” I nodded as she walked away. I quickly opened the door to the loo, hoping no one else was inside.

“What was that about?” I asked as I peeked under all the stalls, “Ok, this one's empty.”

“No idea,” Victoire shrugged as she entered one of the stalls, “I've never seen her like that before.”

“Does she know about Sophie?” I asked.

“No,” Victoire answered, “I mean, she knows I had a difficult pregnancy but she doesn't know Sophie's got lycanthropy.”

“Do you think she's actually worried?” I asked.

“Possibly, but I find it hard to believe,” Victoire said, “I've never seen Farina show any emotion besides anger and indifference.”

“Me either,” I said as the door opened.

I turned and saw a witch with a bright green hat entering the bathroom.

“Sorry, this one's closed,” I told her, “Toilet's been regurgitating.”

“Then you should lock it!” the witch said as she left in a hurry.

She had a point, I thought as I pulled out my wand and locked the door. Victoire came out of the stall, holding a small cup and looking quite worried. She wordlessly set the cup down on one of the sinks and we stood next to each other, staring at it.

If Victoire was pregnant, the solution would emit blue hearts in ten minutes. If she wasn't pregnant, the solution would turn green and emit nothing.

“Remember when I found out I was pregnant with Sophie?” Victoire said quietly.

I nodded. I remembered that day like it was yesterday. I was the one who had first suggested to her that she may be pregnant. Victoire denied it, thinking she was just overtired and getting ill. Fresh out of Healer training, we were given the worst hours, occasionally having to pull twelve hour shifts.

We were both coming off a twelve hour shift and I insisted she come over to my flat and take the test before going home. She agreed and did. The test was positive and we were both thrilled. Ted had been on a mission and the day long wait for him to return seemed to take forever. When Victoire was finally able to tell him, he was so tired that after he woke up, he thought it had been a dream.

This was so different. Victoire had been nervous before, but that was nothing compared to now. Then, we had been hoping the test was positive. Now, we were hoping for a negative.

“I wanted a huge family, Amy,” Victoire said in a shaky voice, “I wanted at least four kids. But now...” her voice trailed off.

“I know,” I said, “But things don't always work out the way you want.”

“Amy, if this is positive-” Victoire cut herself off.

The cup was bubbling. Any second now we would know the result. I held my breath and didn't blink. Then it happened. A tiny blue heart rose above the surface and popped immediately. It was followed by more and soon the potion was bubbling and emitting heart after blue heart.

I turned and looked at Victoire. She was staring at the potion, her face as white as Nearly Headless Nick. Then, all of a sudden, she burst into tears and I put my arm around her.

“Wh-what am I g-going to do?” she sobbed, “I can't be p-pregnant again, I just c-can't. I got lucky last time, Amy. I won't get lucky again, that just d-doesn't happen!”

“Maybe it will,” I soothed, “You're going to get through this.”

“What's T-Teddy going to say?” Victoire wailed, “We swore we wouldn't d-do it again!”

“Like I said last night, this is half his fault,” I told her.

“I know, but it's not T-Teddy who's pregnant!” Victoire cried, “I'm p-pregnant!”

“Listen, we're going to go to the Ministry and tell him right now,” I said, “Take deep breaths. In and out. Teddy is not going to be mad.”

“I can't!” Victoire said as she glanced at her watch, “Merlin, I'm ten minutes late for the clinic! Farina's going to murder me!”

“No,” I shook my head, “We're going to tell Farina you've got to go home early. You saw her face when we went in here, she might actually let you.”

“N-no she won't,” Victoire sobbed, “I have to get to the clinic.”

“No,” I said a bit louder, “You're going see Teddy and then you're going to go home.”

It took another five minutes to convince Victoire to go home and then another five to calm her down. She still looked like she'd been crying for fifteen minutes, but better than before.


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 Post subject: Re: Beyond the Shadow
PostPosted: Sunday 11 April 2010 6:14:38pm 
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Chapter 6: Pickles and Ice Cream

Farina was never anywhere close by when you needed her. It took us fifteen minutes to find her, during which no less than ten nurses asked if Victoire was all right. At least if Farina didn't want to let her leave, we'd have half the nurse staff on our side. We finally located Farina in the clinic, barking orders at what looked like a crowd of new, and very terrified looking, residents.

“Lupin!” Farina shouted once she saw us, “You're over a half hour late!”

Farina pushed through the crowd of residents and over towards us. She looked murderous, but then her face softened when she noticed Victoire.

“Lupin, are you all right?” Farina asked in an uncharacteristically soft voice.

“No,” I answered for her, “I am requesting that you let me take Victoire home. She's in no state to be treating patients.”

Farina nodded. “Very well. I'll expect you back here brewing Skele-Gro in two hours, Eckerton. Lupin, take all the time you need.”

Farina didn't wait for a response before returning to her group of residents, who looked disappointed that she'd returned.

“Weird,” I muttered as we hurried out of the clinic before she could change her mind.

Despite the fact that Victoire and I were obviously visitors to the Ministry, we did not have to use the visitor's entrance. We'd both been there so many times that we knew each and every security guard and never had to bother with anything besides obtaining name tags.

Hoping that Teddy was in his study, we hurried up to the Auror Headquarters. Victoire was still in a sort of daze and hadn't said anything since we left the loo. We received a few curious looks as we hurried down the corridor, but nobody stopped us.

The Auror Headquarters was busy as usual and I directed Victoire straight to Ted's cubicle, which he was thankfully in.

He looked up when he saw us and immediately frowned and stood up, walking towards Victoire and embracing her.

“Victoire, what's wrong?” he asked and then looked curiously at me.

Victoire started crying again and Teddy said nothing else, but lead us towards Harry Potter's study in the back of the room. He knocked on the door and I heard Harry tell us to come in.

“Could I use your study?” Teddy asked immediately.

Harry looked up and, taking one look at Victoire, nodded and left the room. I loitered in the doorway, but Teddy gestured for me to come in as well. I shut the door behind me and sat down on one of the chairs.

Teddy said nothing for a while, just letting Victoire cry into his chest while he rubbed her back. He didn't ask what was wrong and I did not explain. This was something Victoire had to explain herself. After a few minutes, Victoire's sobs began to subside and she pulled away from Teddy, turning her back to him and staring up at a portrait of Mad-Eye Moody. He looked at her and then ambled out of the frame.

“Victoire, what's going on?” Teddy asked quietly, staying where he was.

“I'm-” her voice cracked, “I'm pregnant.”

The room was silent for a full minute and then Teddy walked towards Victoire, wrapping her in a hug from behind. He didn't say anything, just hugged her. I glanced at my watch.

“I've got to get back,” I said as I stood up. “I'll stop by tonight, ok?”

“Ok,” Teddy nodded.

I hurried out of the Auror Headquarters and back to the lobby of the Ministry. I stepped into a fireplace and was spinning back to St. Mungo's in seconds. Farina was talking to one of the nurses when I reentered the hospital and turned around as I passed her.

“Have you started that Skele-Gro yet, Eckerton?” she demanded.

“I'm on my way to the brewing rooms right now,” I told her.

She nodded curtly and I headed straight to the nearest set of stairs. Brewing Skele-Gro took hours and I was sure to be down there for the remainder of the day, which was just what I needed after the morning I had had.

******

Ten hours and five batches of Skele-Gro later, I was standing on Teddy and Victoire's front porch armed with the biggest jar of pickles the store had and a five gallon tub of Neapolitan ice cream, Victoire's biggest cravings when she was pregnant with Sophie. Shifting the bag to my other hand, I rang the bell and waited. Five seconds later I heard the pitter-patter of tiny feet and then saw Sophie's face peering through the curtains.

The door flung open and Sophie shouted, “Aunt Amy! I didn't know you were coming over!”

I set down the bag and picked her up, shutting the door with my foot, and carried her back into the house. She was clad in her pajamas, her hair wet from a bath, and a stuffed wolf tucked under her arm. I recognized it as the one Matt had gotten her when she was born. It had seen better days, but it was her favorite stuffed toy.

“Amy,” Victoire said as she walked out of the kitchen. She looked exhausted, but was smiling. “It's time for bed, Soph. Say good night to Aunt Amy.”

“Night,” Sophie said as she wrapped her arms around my neck.

“Night, sweetie,” I said as I set her down.

Victoire followed Sophie up the stairs and returned a few minutes later. We entered the living room, where Teddy was reading a Quidditch magazine, and I handed Victoire the bag of ice cream and pickles.

“Amy, you're a lifesaver,” she grinned as she pulled the top off the ice cream. Then she took a pickle and dipped it into the container, making sure to get all three flavors of ice cream on it.

“Vic, that's disgusting,” Teddy grimmaced.

“It's half your fault,” Victoire pointed out.

“So, you're looking happier,” I said.

“I've decided not to worry about what might happen,” Victoire said in between bites. “They can't test for lycanthropy until the second trimester. I've got an appointment for tomorrow morning, though.”

“That's good,” I replied.

“We're not telling anyone right away,” Victoire continued. “Not until the second trimester. You're the only one who knows. And we're not going to tell Sophie until then either.”

“Makes sense,” I agreed.

“But you won't be able to eat anything weird around other people,” Teddy smirked. “Or they're going to know.”

“Shut it, Ted,” Victoire snapped.

It was strange, just hours ago Victoire had been so completely upset and now she seemed almost happy. Pregnancy did strange things with your hormones and I couldn't even begin to imagine what that was like. Sure, I was a healer, but I'd never been pregnant myself and there was nothing compared with going through it yourself.

I spent much of the evening at Victoire and Teddy's, in which time Victoire polished off half the pickles and ice cream. I had a feeling Teddy would be out buying more of both sometime soon. Teddy had already fallen asleep on the couch when I left, assuring Victoire that I'd meet her for her healer appointment the next day.

Victoire's appointment was the reason I found myself scanning the corridor for Farina five minutes before I was due in the clinic the next morning. The maternity ward was running behind so Victoire was still in with the healer when I was supposed to be heading up to the clinic. Maybe I'd get lucky and Farina wouldn't notice that I was late. I laughed, that would be the day.

Victoire and Teddy emerged from the examination room a few minutes later and I immediately ran up to them. “Well?”

“Pregnant, of course,” Victoire said. “They just told me the same thing they told me with Sophie, and they want me to start taking Wolfsbane during full moons right away.”

I nodded. That made sense. Wolfsbane didn't have any harmful effects on people without lycanthropy, so it certainly couldn't hurt even if the baby wasn't a werewolf. “How far along are you?”

“Seven weeks,” Victoire replied.

“Wow, you won't have to wait long to tell people,” I said.

“Nope,” Victoire said.

“Listen, I was supposed to be in the clinic five minutes ago, so I better go,” I sighed.

Victoire's eyes widened. “Go! Before she murders you!”

******

November went by extremely quickly, in a whirlwind of working, researching, and potion brewing. The Lycanthropic Children's Society came to an agreement that we could start holding support group sessions, but we wouldn't start planning until after the holidays. Victoire's cravings increased and it seemed the only time she wasn't eating pickles was when she was having morning sickness. When the first full moon of December arrived, she managed to choke down a dose of Wolfsbane, but it was clear that Teddy was going to have to be in charge of Sophie's doses until Victoire had the baby.

Victoire and Teddy decided to wait until Christmas to tell their family, so they could tell them all at once. It would be far easier than trying to track down all the members of the Weasley clan before that. They planned to tell Sophie on Christmas Eve, before they went to the Burrow.

Matt and Sophie both survived December's first full moon, Sophie better than Matt, but he recovered and was back at work a few days later. Jamie did surprisingly well without being on Wolfsbane, thrilling his parents and shocking Morris and I. I wasn't complaining, of course, but it just added to the strange mystery that was lycanthropy. Jamie took a few days to recover, but then seemed healthier than he had in months, and busied himself with helping Kyle to write his Christmas list.

I could hardly believe that the Christmas season was already upon us. Christmas has always been a big deal in my family, for as long as I could remember. When I was really little, Christmas meant constant chaos and activity, going from one party to the next, in both the Muggle and wizarding worlds. My parents would sit me down before each one and make sure I understood whether it would be appropriate to discuss magic and wands and such at that day's party. On Christmas, we'd visit both sets of grandparents until my dad's parents died. Then Richard and Cinda took to visiting us instead.

All of that changed when Matt got bitten. Christmas became solely a family affair as my parents began to withdraw from the public eye. Our attendance at parties was a rare occasion after that. But Christmas became even more of a big deal, but for different reasons. Going out and chopping down a tree became more special, something we nearly always did as a family. I still remember our last Christmas in our old house in Australia when my parents finally agreed to chopping down a twelve-foot-tree, but at the time I had no idea it would be our last there.

Things changed again once we moved to England. What started with a one Christmas decision to go spend the holiday in Australia morphed into a yearly tradition of flying down there every Christmas. I never minded it, but Matt always wished we could just stay in England.

However, since Richard died, we have been spending Christmas in England. It's different, but it's still Christmas. Honestly, the thing I had to get used to the most was the snow. Victoire laughed hysterically when I told her that. Snow's just not a part of Christmas in Australia.

Even as Matt and I grew up and moved out, we still spent Christmas at home. We still went home to chop down a tree and this year was no different. One Sunday in early December Matt and I Apparated home and found Dad clad in a few jumpers and a cloak, and Mum busy baking a batch of biscuits.

It was a frigidly cold day and windy at that, so we didn't take long in the bush to find the perfect tree. Mum would have settled for the first tree we saw, but I had always insisted on finding the perfect one and that wasn't something I was about to change.

We found the tree, chopped it down, and brought it back to the house to decorate it. Afterwards, we sat around admiring it and eating Mum's biscuits.

“Is Albus going to be home for Christmas this year?” I asked Matt.

“I think so,” Matt replied. “He sort of has to be, after last year.”

I smirked. Christmas is an even bigger deal in the Weasley-Potter clan, encompassing an entire week instead of just a day and anyone who misses it for whatever reason gets the silent treatment from Molly Weasley, after she sends a Howler. Last year, Albus had the unfortunate luck to be working over Christmas, and couldn't show up at his grandparents' house until New Year's.

“Do any of you have to work Christmas?” I asked.

Everyone shook their heads and I grinned. This would be two years in a row that none of us had to work, which was rare. There wasn't even a full moon near the holiday this year. However, this December happened to contain a blue moon, which would rise on New Year's Eve.

Matt and I stayed for the usual Sunday night dinner and then returned to our respective flats. The next day was Monday, which meant a hectic day at St. Mungo's, and the start of a very crazy week for me since I was scheduled to be on call the following weekend. Add that to the fact that it was time to start brewing the next batch of Wolfsbane (the original version) and I was in for a sleepless week.


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 Post subject: Re: Beyond the Shadow
PostPosted: Monday 26 April 2010 8:10:46pm 
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Chapter 7: Kenzie's News

Five owls, ten o'clock clinic duty, a bloke who had an unfortunate incident with some sort of snake, and all the batches of Wolfsbane to brew were what greeted me when I got to work the next day. Apparently the other brewer capable of brewing Wolfsbane was ill and couldn't brew, which left it all to me. The five owls sat untouched on my desk as I quickly admitted the snake bite bloke and got him fixed up. I kept him for observation and then ran down to the basement to start the Wolfsbane before getting up to the clinic by ten.

Clinic was as crazy as usual, even more so since Farina's group of residents were working there as well. The phrase 'too many cooks in the kitchen spoils the soup' applies to healers as well. Too many healers in the clinic is as bad as not enough. They were all clambering to help and there just wasn't enough work. I was happy when I got to leave and work on the Wolfsbane.

I brought my four letters with me and opened them once I had finished adding necessary ingredients. The first two were junk, advertisements for various apothecaries that wanted me to endorse them, so I ripped them up and threw them away. The third was from the potion testers, telling me my new Wolfsbane passed the tests and I could start brewing it for consumption.

I grinned and immediately set up another cauldron. Just in time for the next full moon! I always tried not to get overly excited about potions that passed because that didn't mean they'd work. It just meant they weren't harmful. Chances were, this potion would have no effect on Matt whatsoever.

The last letter remained untouched for the next half hour while I carefully began to concoct my newest Wolfsbane. Once it was ready to simmer for a while, I sat down for the first time in hours and opened the last letter. It was postmarked like a Muggle letter which meant it was either from Cinda or my friend, Kenzie. The Australian stamps told me it was the latter.

Kenzie Dawe and I have been friends since we were born because she grew up down the road from Richard and Cinda. When I was little she was pretty much my only friend and she was the only person I remained in contact with from Australia. However, she was a Muggle so we mostly communicated through the Muggle post. Occasionally I'd call her on Mum's mobile phone (she had it to talk to Cinda), but not much since it cost so much. We hadn't actually seen each other in ages, not since Cinda moved to England.

Dear Amy, the letter began.

You are never going to believe this.
It's such a small world, it scares me
sometimes. Cameron proposed today.

Well, he proposed after he told me
'we need to talk'. This of course got
me all worried that he was going to
break up with me, but thank God that
wasn't it.

Cameron said he needed to tell me
something, something that could really
affect our relationship. He started by
telling me about his school, about how
it had shunned electronics and anything
modern, about how his family was the same
way. I immediately interrupted him and
told him that you went to the same type
of school and that there was only one
per country.

He asked what your name was, since I had
never told him your last name before. I
told him and he thought for a while and
then he said, 'I remember her. We went to
the same school.'

I know everything now, Amy. I know you're
a witch. I know magic is real and I know
that your school was a school for magic.
Cameron's a wizard. But that's not all.

I know why you moved to England all those
years ago. I know about your dad's job
and about Matt. Cameron told me everything.

I'm not going to lie, it freaked me out a
little. The magic thing. It was like too
much to take in, that one of my best friends
and my boyfriend can do magic. But I'm ok
with it. Actually, I think it's really
brilliant.

Anyway, once he knew I was ok with it,
Cameron proposed. We haven't set a date
yet. I'll let you know as soon as we do.
Hope you're doing all right, talk to you
soon!

Love,
Kenzie


I sat staring at the letter for a few minutes to let everything sink in. It was just too much all at once. Kenzie was engaged, her fiance was a wizard, her fiance knew who I was, and now Kenzie knew all about magic and that Matt was a werewolf. The last part honestly did not bother me much. Out of all the people I knew in Australia, the Dawes were the ones who would have accepted Matt for who he was. But unfortunately, the Statute of Secrecy prevented us from letting them know the truth. Now at least Kenzie did, and there was a part of me that was happy about it.

Everything else, though, I wasn't too sure. Cameron Clint, I knew the name from Kenzie's telling me about him, but it didn't ring a bell. He'd probably been a few years above me. Of course he'd remember me, at least my last name. No one living in Wizarding Australia over the age of 12 wouldn't know my last name. I wish I did remember who he was.

My most burning question was, what did Cameron Clint think about werewolves? Did he share the opinion that werewolves were evil, like most of wizarding Australia? And if he did, how could Kenzie marry him? Merlin, I had to find that out. If Kenzie was going to marry this bloke, she had to at least know his opinion of Matt, someone who had practically been her cousin when we were growing up.

Oh, Merlin, the wedding! Son of a pixie, that was going to be hard. Cameron Clint would surely have a whole slew of witch and wizard relatives and friends, all whom would remember my dad and the fiasco at the Ministry when he was fired. Maybe I could use Polyjuice and avoid the awkward stares. Kenzie was sure to invite my whole family, too, which meant my parents and Matt were going to be subjected to whatever was going to happen as well. Then there was the fact that this was Kenzie's wedding, her big day, and I didn't want it to get ruined by people bringing up old news and prejudices.

I had to talk to Kenzie. I did some quick conversions in my head and realized it was one in the morning in Sydney. I'd have to wait until at least eight o'clock that night to call her.

The remainder of the day went by notoriously slow. I continued brewing both batches of Wolfsbane and checked on the bloke with the snake bite. He was doing fine but I was keeping him overnight just in case. I tried not to think about Kenzie and Cameron, but it was no use. I had to call her.

I went straight to my parents' house from work since I'd had to stay late to work on the potions anyway. It was nearly eight when I appeared behind the house and walked around to the front.

“Hello?” I called out as I let myself in.

“Amy?” Mum replied from the living room. “I didn't think you were coming over today. Is everything all right?”

“Fine,” I said as I walked into the living room. “I've got news, though.”

“What is it?” Dad asked, looking up from his copy of the Evening Prophet.

“Kenzie's engaged,” I said.

“Oh, that's wonderful!” Mum smiled. “To the man she's been dating? Cameron, or something?”

“Cameron Clint,” I said as I sat down next to Mum on the couch. “And you're never going to believe what he is. He's a wizard.”

“You're kidding!” Mum exclaimed.

“Wow, small world,” Dad replied.

“It gets smaller,” I said. “Kenzie put two and two together about me, going to a weird school that didn't use electronics, and told Cameron about me. Apparently he remembers us, and told Kenzie about us, so she knows the real reason why we moved, and she knows Matt's a werewolf.”

“I'd be surprised if he didn't,” Dad muttered.

Mum let out a small gasp. “I never thought this would happen, but I suppose there are worse people who could know. There are worse people who do know.”

“That's what I thought. Well, I just stopped by to let you know,” I said. “Mum, would you mind if I used your mobile to call Kenzie? I want to find out more about Cameron.”

“Go ahead,” Mum told me. “You know where it is.”

I went straight to the kitchen where Mum kept her mobile in the cupboard next to the refrigerator. Kenzie's number was programmed in, so a few seconds later, I had the phone to my ear and it was ringing.

“Hello?” she said as she picked up.

“Kenzie!” I replied. “It's Amy!”

“Oh, Amy!” she exclaimed. “I didn't even notice your mum's name on the caller ID.”

“I know you're probably at work, but I got your letter today,” I said.

“I can talk for a little bit. The kids won't get here for another twenty minutes.” Kenzie taught second grade at one of the primary schools in Sydney. “But Amy, I just still can't believe this! All those years, you were at a magic school and I had no idea!”

“I couldn't tell you because of the-”

“Statute of Secrecy, I know now!” she said excitedly. “I think it's amazing, I really do. It's like living a fairy tale or something.”

“Not really,” I muttered. “Listen, what exactly did Cameron tell you about us?”

“That your dad was fired because he broke some stupid law and that's why you had to move. Plus that your brother doesn't have some rare disease, he's a werewolf, but that's what I don't understand. Cameron says there's some sort of potion that's supposed to make werewolves harmless, but Matt never takes it?”

I sighed. Cameron apparently didn't have his facts straight. “Not exactly. We didn't move because Dad was fired. We moved because the school I used to go to, the one Cameron went to, wouldn't let Matt attend because he's a werewolf. It just so happened that Dad got fired shortly after my parents decided to move,” I explained. “And Matt doesn't take the potion because it doesn't work for him. Look, there's something you have to know about wizarding society, and that is that most people think of werewolves as animals, as monsters, seeing them only for that one night out of twenty-eight. A lot of people don't think they deserve to be treated as people, go to school, or even have wands.”

“That's awful,” Kenzie whispered.

“I know, but it's true. It's better in England than in Australia, but not perfect. So, there's something I have to know. I don't remember Cameron at all, so I have to know, what does he think about werewolves?” I asked quietly.

“I asked him,” Kenzie said after a pause. “He explained a bit about the discrimination and prejudice. The thing is, he doesn't really have an opinion. His dad is really prejudiced, but he disagrees with his dad. Cameron's, well, he's had issues with his dad. Apparently he wanted Cameron to get into the Ministry, like he had, but Cameron wanted to open a Quidditch shop, so he did. They talk, but not much. He is invited to the wedding, though.”

It was very odd to hear Kenzie use the word 'Quidditch'. “All right,” I replied. “I just, I don't want anything to happen at the wedding, when people see my dad after not seeing him for years.”

“Nothing will happen. That's my day, not theirs. Don't worry. And Amy, I was wondering if you could be one of my bridesmaids,” Kenzie replied.

“I would love to,” I said. “Do you have a date yet?”

“Sometime in September,” Kenzie answered. “I'm going to have to go, but I'll talk to you soon.”

We said our goodbyes and I closed the phone. It could have been worse, I supposed. Cameron could have hated werewolves. But his dad, well, the thought of his dad and mine in the same room made me kind of nervous.

“What's the verdict?” Dad asked as I went back into the living room.

“Cameron doesn't really have an opinion on werewolves, but his dad is prejudiced,” I sighed. “And while the two of them had some sort of falling out, his dad is invited to the wedding.”

“Clint...Clint,” Dad mused, “wait, I think I remember him. Alexander Clint, head of the Department for Magical Transportation. He's the reason we always have to fly when we visit Australia.”

I groaned. “This is going to be an interesting wedding.”

******

Whenever I mentioned to my coworkers or acquaintances that one of my friends was getting married (and believe me, it's happened quite a bit), they always just said 'well, that's wonderful' while giving me a somewhat sympathetic look. It drove me nuts. I knew what they were thinking, 'oh, another one of Amy's friends is getting married and she's not, that's got to be awful.' The truth was, it wasn't awful. Why should I get married when I still hadn't found the perfect guy? It's not like I was going to get married just for the sake of getting married.

Not everyone finds their soulmate before they turn thirty. Sure, I'd dated a few guys, but so far none of them had been able to deal with my work hours. They didn't like having to stay home on a Friday night because I was on call or be by themselves on a weekend because I had to brew Wolfsbane Potion. Plenty of people managed to live happily with a spouse when they were a Healer, but so far I couldn't. Victoire and Teddy did it and I had a feeling Ted's odd work hours helped them deal with it. But I wasn't only a healer; I was a brewer, too, and that meant I had nearly twice as much work. My hours were worse than Victoire's and guys didn't like that.

In fact, my last three relationships, the only ones I'd had since I graduated Hogwarts, ended because the bloke didn't want to spend the rest of their life with someone who was at work more than at home. One of those had stemmed from a blind date Victoire set me up on, and since then she had given up on finding dates for me. I was grateful.

Kenzie had had the same luck with guys as I had, until she met Cameron. So, I was nothing but happy that she was getting married, not including those slight reservations I had about Cameron's family. It had been practically unbearable for Kenzie when her little sister, Morgan, got married a few years ago because all of her older relatives kept subtly asking when she was going to tie the knot.

Victoire was thrilled when I told her Kenzie was getting married. In fact she was what I would call overly excited and then began crying out of happiness. I attributed it to the pregnancy hormones, which were still raging. So far, Victoire's pregnancy was running the same course as it had with Sophie. Morning sickness, cravings, raging hormones.

The baby bump started to appear in the middle of December, which caused Victoire to worry about whether any of her relatives would figure out she was pregnant before she told them. This prompted Teddy to tell her not to worry, that they would just think she'd had a few too many Christmas cookies, earning him a slap from Victoire and a promise to run out to the store for more Neapolitan ice cream. Thankfully the pickle craving had started to wane.

“Can you get that?” Victoire asked as the doorbell rang. Teddy had just left for ice cream and Victoire and I were discussing the various dramas of St. Mungo's while Sophie made Christmas tree ornaments out of construction paper. “It's probably Gabriella. She said she was getting here today.”

Gabriella was Victoire's younger sister by a little over two years. All they shared in common were family and the Veela blonde hair, though. While the two had followed the same Prefect and perfect student track at Hogwarts, Gabriella had gotten fed up with it and didn't wish to pursue a steady job. Ever since she graduated from Hogwarts, Gabriella had been living in France trying to make her way as an artist. She had fulfilled the cliché of 'starving artist' and moved from flat to flat every few months. Currently, she was living with another artist, this one a wizard, but Victoire doubted they'd be together much longer. Gabriella grew restless easily and never stayed with the same bloke for more than a couple months.

I opened the door and there was Gabriella, dressed in multi-colored robes and carrying a tattered duffel bag. Her hair was long, wavy, and going every whichway and her signature wide grin was plastered on her face.

“Amy!” she said as she threw her arms around me. “Haven't seen you in ages! Are you watching Sophie? Or is my sister here?”

“She's here,” I replied as we walked back into the house.

“Victoire!” Gabriella shouted once we got back into the living room. Victoire stood up and the two sisters embraced, only for Gabriella to push Victoire away and stare at her open mouthed.

“Oh my God!” Gabriella shrieked as she stared directly at her stomach.

Oh, Merlin, I thought. She knew. Gabriella had this incredible ability to sense things that were amiss, especially when it came to looks. When you thought your pimple wasn't visible, it was the first thing Gabriella noticed, and she was always the first to notice new haircuts, even if you'd only got a couple inches cut off. Apparently it was the same with pregnancies.

“Soph,” I said as Sophie got up to give her aunt a hug. “Could you run upstairs for a few minutes?”

“Why?” she asked as Gabriella returned her hug.

“Your mummy just has to talk to Aunt Gabriella about something,” I replied.

Sophie nodded and ran upstairs. I waited until the sound of her footsteps were gone and then looked back at Victoire and Gabriella.

“When did it happen?” Gabriella asked.

“September, I suppose,” Victoire answered. “I'm three months along.”

“Three months?” Gabriella gasped. “When were you going to tell me?”

“Christmas Eve,” Victoire said. “I haven't told anyone yet. Amy's the only one who knows.”

“Oh. But Victoire, I thought you weren't going to have anymore kids?” Gabriella asked. “Does this one have lycanthropy, too?”

“I don't know,” Victoire said quietly. “They can't do the test until the second trimester, so I'm getting tested next week.”

“But won't you know without the test?” Gabriella wondered. “Didn't Sophie get restless during full moons?”

“I've been on Wolfsbane as a precaution, so I don't know. If the baby does have lycanthropy, the Wolfsbane is working,” Victoire explained.

“That's good, then,” Gabriella replied as she gave Victoire a hug. “Whichever way it is, you're going to be fine.”

“Maybe,” Victoire sighed. “How long are you here for?”

“I don't know,” Gabriella said. “At least until New Year's, but after that, who knows? Whenever I feel like going back. I broke it off with Francoise before I left.”

Victoire and I exchanged glances. No surprises there.

“I thought I might spend some time with Georgia before going back,” Gabriella explained.

Georgia was one of their cousins and the same age as Gabriella. She played Keeper for England and was no more ready to settle down than Gabriella was.

“Gab, could you not mention anything about the pregnancy to anyone?” Victoire asked. “I still want to tell the family on Christmas Eve.”

“Don't worry,” Gabriella smiled. “My lips are sealed.”

That was true. Gabriella could keep a secret better than anyone I knew, except perhaps myself and my own family.

“Are you hungry?” Victoire asked. “Can I get you something?”

“Sure, so long as you're not going to dip any pickles in ice cream in front of me,” Gabriella smirked.

“That phase is over,” Victoire laughed. “Now it's just ice cream.”

“Then it looks like I got here just in time,” Gabriella grinned.


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 Post subject: Re: Beyond the Shadow
PostPosted: Sunday 9 May 2010 6:54:25pm 
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Chapter 8: A Quiet Christmas Eve

While Farina seemed like the ruthless dictator of St. Mungo's for most of the year, during the Christmas season she became practically a different person. She was cheerful, happy, and forgiving. She supervised the decoration of the hospital, which always became decked out in a variety of holiday decorations, and scared the hell out of any employees who hadn't worked there during a Christmas season yet. The residents and junior brewers in particular got freaked out by her.

Victoire's appointment was on Tuesday and since the mission Teddy had been on for the past two days wasn't over, like he had thought it would be, I went with her for moral support. I met her in the maternity ward, which had been decorated with a Santa's Workshop theme. Victoire was sitting in the small waiting area, looking nervous and staring at a Christmas tree that was set up in the corner.

“I'm not sure I want to know,” Victoire said as soon as I sat down.

“You have to find out,” I replied.

“I know,” she sighed. “It's just that up until now I was able to think that the baby doesn't have it, but now I'm going to know for sure.”

“And it might be negative,” I pointed out.

Victoire didn't say anything else and two minutes later a nurse called her name. We were lead to an exam room and then were left to wait for the healer. Luckily we only had to wait ten minutes.

The healer, someone neither of us really knew, explained the procedure even though we both already knew what it was. Victoire grew steadily paler as the healer drew her wand and pressed it to Victoire's stomach. The test involved extracting some of the amniotic fluid and then putting it in a vial of pure Wolfsbane. The fluid was then examined under a microscope and if the DNA was destroyed by the Wolfsbane, it meant the baby was positive for lycanthropy.

The extraction process wasn't nearly as painful as the Muggle version, but it was still uncomfortable so Victoire squeezed my hand as it happened. We were silent as the healer transferred the fluid to the vial and then left the room to do the test. Neither of us said a word while we waited.

Victoire jumped when the healer returned. She shut the door and then smiled at us.

“Negative,” she said. “The baby does not have lycanthropy.”

“Y-you're sure?” Victoire gasped. “But my first did.”

“Genetics are a funny thing,” the healer mused. “Would you like to know the s*x?”

“No, I think I'll wait until Teddy's able to be here for that,” Victoire replied.

The healer left and I looked at Victoire. She was glowing, absolutely glowing. She had that glow that pregnant women are always described as having, but never had with Sophie. I suppose she was just too worried and ill to have it with Sophie.

“I cannot wait until Christmas Eve!” Victoire grinned.

Victoire didn't have to wait long for Christmas Eve. It was only six days away and the days went by fast. I worked each and every one of those days and did last minute Christmas shopping in the evenings. I was so exhausted by the time Christmas Eve arrived that I was looking forward to just sitting in my parents' house and having someone else cook for me.

It seemed that the rest of my family felt the same way because when I arrived at the house the rest of my family was sprawled out on various couches, snoozing or reading the paper.

“Nap time in the Eckerton house?” I asked as I stepped into the living room.

Mum jerked awake and looked at me, and then the clock. “Merlin, I'm due to pick up Cinda. I'll be back soon.”

Mum hurried out the door as Dad set down his paper. I put the presents I'd bought under the tree and then took Mum's vacated seat.

“So, what's the plan?” I asked Dad.

“Relaxing,” he answered. “We've all got two days off work, so I figured we'd just relax.”

“Sounds good to me,” I agreed. “Although I do have to stop by the hospital tomorrow to work on the Wolfsbane. It won't take long.”

“How is your newest potion coming along?” Dad asked.

“Well,” I grinned, “it passed the preliminary tests, so I'm free to prescribe it to patients.”

“Well done, Amy!” Dad got up off his chair and gave me a hug. “Will it be done for this full moon?”

“It sure will,” I smiled. “But Dad, just because it passed the tests doesn't mean it's going to work.”

“Amy, you need to stop doubting yourself,” Dad told me. “If anyone can do this, it's you.”

“That may be but I really wish it wouldn't take me my whole life to do it,” I muttered.

“Amy, nobody has invented a medicinal potion before they turned thirty. Hardly anyone's done it before they've turned fifty,” Dad sighed.

“Who's turning fifty?” Matt asked sleepily from the couch.

“Nobody,” Dad laughed. “Amy is lamenting her lack of potion creating.”

Matt groaned. “Amy, you need to stop doing that. You're a potions genius. Kaden practically worships you.”

That was pretty much true, although I would never admit it out loud. Kaden Dursley is determined to become one of the top brewers at St. Mungo's and really does have the potential. He's just kind of over exuberant.

“The new potion is ready,” I told Matt. “You want to take it this month?”

“Definitely,” he said.

“All right, I'll bring some home as soon as it's ready,” I replied. “You'll have to take it for a few days beforehand.”

Both Dad and Matt fell asleep again a little while later. I smirked to myself as I picked up Dad's discarded newspaper and leafed through it while I watched them sleep. The two of them looked remarkably similar when they slept; both with their mouths agape and completely sprawled out on their furniture of choice. It was kind of funny.

Mum returned with Cinda a short while later, Cinda hobbling inside with her walker, Mum guiding her. Mum helped her into the nearest chair in the living room and then disappeared into the kitchen.

“Look at this, all of you lot sound asleep and me wide awake at the age of eighty-seven,” Cinda said loudly.

Dad jerked awake and Mum started laughing. “Oh, hi Cinda. How are you?”

“Better than you, by the look of it,” she replied. “You all work too hard.”

Cinda was looking good, a lot better than she had been. That meant she would be in top form for gossiping and trying to find out every detail of Matt and my lives, especially if she had heard about Kenzie.

“Amy,” Cinda began. “Have you heard from Kenzie lately?”

Well, she wasn't wasting any time. “Yeah, she's getting married.”

“Isn't it wonderful?” Cinda sighed. “I was beginning to wonder if she ever would, seeing as she's thirty.”

The thing about Cinda was that she was so good at the subtle implications. She obviously knew that I was thirty and not married.

“Plenty of people get married past thirty, Mum,” Mum said as she returned with a tray of crackers and cheese and a tray of drinks. “Times have changed.”

“That may be, but surely you want grandchildren?” Cinda said as she took her drink.

Then there were the times when Cinda liked to be blatantly obvious. I tried not to take much offense to her comments, as inquiring about my life was one of the few pleasures she had left in life. But there was still something odd about your grandmother asking when the last time you went on a date was.

“We will love our grandchildren whenever they are born, be it next year or next decade,” Mum said. “The important thing is that Amy and Matt wait until they are ready. Remember, I didn't have Amy until I was in my thirties. Now, did you hear that Kenzie's fiance is a wizard?”

“No!” Cinda exclaimed. “Really?”

“Yes,” Mum smiled. “He used to go to school with Amy before we moved.”

“Oh my God, do you remember him?” Cinda asked me.

“No,” I answered, settling back with my drink.

Thank Merlin for Mum. She always knew the best way to veer Cinda off into another gossip direction. Now all I had to do was nod and answer the occasional question and Cinda would keep the conversation going. As soon as the cheese platter was empty, I excused myself to the kitchen to refill it.

Matt wandered in as I was chopping cheese the Muggle way, in order to prolong my time in the kitchen. He grabbed a box of crackers and poured them onto the tray.

“I was going to do that,” I told him. “Now I won't have an excuse to stay in here longer.”

“She's not that bad tonight,” Matt shrugged.

“That's because she's not asking you why you're not married,” I said. “Why is that anyway? Why does she always ask me more?”

“You're older,” Matt pointed out. “Not to mention the fact that I turn furry once a month. You know that kind of freaks her out.”

“Well, it shouldn't,” I muttered.

“Still, I'm only twenty-three,” Matt said.

“Plus you were asleep when she got here,” I replied. “Wish I could get away with sleeping through family functions.”

“No, you really don't,” Matt said.

“Ok, I'll give you that one,” I replied as I picked up the cheese platter. “But you're awake now, so you're stuck without an excuse.”

******

Mum and Ellie cooked a very good Christmas Eve dinner consisting of lasagna, salad, bread, and treacle tart for dessert. Everyone proclaimed how they wouldn't be able to eat the Christmas ham the next day given how stuffed they were. Cinda dominated the conversation with gossip from her nursing home and pondering about what sort of wedding Kenzie would have.

“You ought to keep an eye out for eligible men at Kenzie's wedding, Amy,” Cinda told me over dessert. “So many people meet the one they'll marry at a wedding.”

I nodded and caught Matt's eye. He was trying to stifle his laughter and turning red in the process, although most likely not as red as I was.

“You, too, Matt,” Cinda added. “Doesn't Kenzie have a sister around your age?”

“Mari?” I asked. “She's been going out with the same bloke for four years.”

“Oh,” Cinda replied. “Well, I'm sure she'll have friends there.”

Eventually we returned to the living room, where the conversation continued throughout the evening. Luckily it turned to Christmases past, where we all reminisced about times in Australia and when Richard was still alive. Mum and Cinda got quite teary eyed and Dad decided to bring up Christmases when he was little, which lightened the mood. Dad and Uncle Jack always had creative ways of waking up their parents on Christmas mornings, including blasting horns in their ears and putting ice cubes under their covers.

Dad set up a bed in the living room for Cinda and the rest of us went upstairs. Mum and Dad went to bed, but Matt and I went into the library. I sat down in a huge comfy armchair I had always liked when I was younger. Matt lay down on the couch and procured a few chocolate frogs. He tossed one to me and then unwrapped his own.

“Remember that last Christmas in Australia?” he asked. “That tree was huge.”

I smiled. That had been the only year my parents gave in to me and let us get a twelve foot Christmas tree. “Of course. That seems like so long ago.”

“You were kind of crazy,” Matt laughed. “Insisting that we keep looking for the perfect tree.”

“And Mum freaked out that you'd been outside so long,” I added.

“Sometimes I wish we could just go do that again,” Matt said quietly. “Christmas was so much more magical then. Now presents consist of a new set of robes or a tie.”

“Way to be materialistic,” I laughed.

“That's not what I meant,” Matt groaned. “It's just different, you know?”

“Yeah, I do,” I said.

“Well, I'm going to bed,” Matt said as he got up. “'Night.”

“Night,” I said.

I turned to the window and gazed out it. For once the sky was cloudless and all the stars were visible, reminding me of all the time I spent stargazing as a kid. The moon was there as well, three-quarters of the way full, shedding light upon the cow field in the distance.

My thoughts turned to Victoire and Teddy. They had probably already given the news of Victoire's pregnancy to all their relatives, who were probably ecstatic. I could only imagine the amount of excitement that was in the Burrow at that moment. It was filled with dozens of people of all ages, generations of Weasleys all spending Christmas together. I'm sure there was never a dull moment.

Christmas at my house had never been like that and I never really minded, until now. I couldn't even explain it, but for some reason what Cinda had said was getting to me. She was right, in a way. I was thirty and wasn't even close to getting married or having kids. Everyone else my age was. Teddy and Victoire were about to have their second kid, Landon and his wife already have two kids, and Kenzie was engaged. Me? I'd dumped every bloke I had been with and created dozens of useless potions.

Suddenly I had a very clear picture of Sophie running down the stairs towards the Christmas tree at the Burrow, followed by her little cousins, eager to open presents. When would I get to experience that? When would I get to see my own kids excited on Christmas morning? Why did all the blokes I went out with have to be idiots?

More importantly, why was I thinking about this? Love and marriage had always been on the back of my mind since there were other more important things to think about. My career, for example. I didn't have time for dating when I was spending more time at St. Mungo's than my own flat. Maybe after I figured out what was wrong with the Wolfsbane Potion and completed my study, then I would have time for dating.

But how long would that take? What if it took until I turned sixty? I'd have no chance of having kids if I waited that long. No; I tried to push the thought from my mind. It wouldn't take me that long and even if it did, what did it matter? Giving my brother a better life was worth it.

I must have fallen asleep in that armchair because I woke up with a crick in my neck and Matt shaking my arm. I squinted in the sunlight and tried to swat him away.

“Isn't this a switch,” he said. “Everyone else is up.”

“That's because the rest of you spent yesterday afternoon asleep,” I pointed out.

“Mum's got brekkie ready, but I want to open presents first,” Matt said. “So get up.”

“Oh, you want to open your new set of robes?” I grinned.

“Funny,” Matt replied as he left the room.

A few minutes later we were all sitting around the tree with presents in our hands. Well, Matt and I were sitting around the tree. Mum, Dad, and Cinda were all sitting on furniture. Matt opened the first present, and surely enough it was a brand new set of robes from Mum and Dad. Cinda got him a nice green tie to go with it that looked ominously like a Slytherin tie. I was almost positive the tie would disappear into the depths of Matt's wardrobe, never to be seen again.

My present from Cinda was hardly better. I opened the box to find a very fancy blue dress adorned with sequins and below it was a pair of sparkly high heels.

“I figured you wouldn't want a pink one,” Cinda said as I held it up to myself, still very confused.

So she had made some progress since I was fourteen, but what on earth was I going to wear that thing to? “Cinda, what exactly is this for?”

“New Year's Eve!” she said excitedly. “You can wear it to whatever party you're going to.”

“Cinda,” I said quietly, “there's a full moon on New Year's Eve this year.”

“So?” Cinda asked. “You can still go out. You're not the one who's a werewolf.”

Cue the awkward silence. Neither of my grandparents had ever been exactly comfortable with the fact that Matt is a werewolf, although they always tried to hide it. Mum and Cinda had a huge fight about it shortly before we moved to England and they wound up agreeing to disagree. Cinda just did not understand anything about lycanthropy and she never would.

“I'll think about it,” I said as I set the dress back in its box.

The rest of my presents were more promising than the dress. Mum and Dad got me a set of potions ingredient encyclopedias, which would be useful since I had to share the few sets that St. Mungo's had with the rest of the brewers. Once Matt and I had finished opening our presents, Mum and Dad opened theirs.

“It's a new kind of quill,” Mum told Dad as he opened his present from her. “It somehow remembers everything you write with it and with one quick spell, it'll re-write everything. In case you ever lose your notes or something. I figured you could use it for your book.”

“That'll be useful,” Dad said.

Dad had started writing a book on lycanthropy a few years ago and the rest of us had doubts as to whether he'd ever finish it, but he was determined to. If it ever did get published, I was sure it would be the most useful book on lycanthropy out there.

The rest of the day was relaxing for the most part. I had to stop by St. Mungo's after brekkie in order to work on the potions, but I was only gone for a couple hours. The hospital was as deserted as a hospital could ever get and even Farina had taken the day off. I didn't see any of the other Brewers, only a couple of Healers and nurses. However, the waiting room was plenty busy, filled with people destined for the spell damage ward after family arguments.

Christmas dinner was just as delicious as Christmas Eve's dinner had been. Mum and Ellie really outdo themselves on holidays, more now than they did when Matt and I were kids. I suppose they like to take advantage of the fact that we're actually home on holidays. Mum took Cinda back to the nursing home later that evening, but Matt and I decided to just spend another night since we were both tired and rather full.


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 Post subject: Re: Beyond the Shadow
PostPosted: Wednesday 26 May 2010 5:59:29pm 
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Chapter 9: Failed Potion

At work the next day it was like Christmas had never happened. All the decorations were gone and Farina was back to her usual self. I always liked to keep the decorations up until at least New Year's, but Farina preferred to get everything back to normal. However, the other employees of the hospital spent the next few days discussing their holidays and everything that happened during them. The most exciting news was that one of the nurses on the Magical Bugs floor got engaged to a bloke she had only known for six months.

I managed to find Victoire around lunch time and cornered her in the nearest bathroom for all the details about the reveal of her pregnancy.

“Mum cried,” Victoire said. “She really did. Not bad crying or anything. She was just happy, really happy, especially about the fact that the baby doesn't have lycanthropy. She started going on and on about how she thought she would never have another grandchild besides Sophie. I mean, she loves Sophie but she always wanted a lot of grandchildren. Gabriella and Ben just groaned and Gabriella proclaimed that she would eventually get married and have kids. Mum didn't say anything to that.”

“I just don't see your sister as the marrying type,” I said. “That's great that your mum is excited, though.”

“I don't see her ever getting married either,” Victoire agreed. “She won't be able to just go wherever she likes whenever she pleases if she gets married and has kids.”

“What about everyone else?” I asked. “Are they all excited?”

“Of course, they're Weasleys!” Victoire laughed. “That's what we do, have kids. My grandma cried, too. She's so excited about having another great-grandchild.”

“I think kids that are born into the Weasley clan are possibly the luckiest kids in Britain, possibly the whole world,” I said.

“Possibly,” Victoire replied. “So how was your Christmas?”

“Let's see, my grandmother pretty much asked me why I wasn't married and giving my mother grandchildren and Matt slept through the whole conversation, leaving me to be the only one interrogated. Then she gave me a sparkly dress for New Year's, assuming that I would go out to a party.”

Victoire groaned. “I will never understand your grandmother.”

“Me either,” I sighed. “There is no way I'm going out to a party on New Year's Eve.”

“Of course you're not,” Victoire agreed. “Although Gabriella invited me to one. Only Gabriella could get invited to a party when she hasn't even been in the country recently, and then go and invite other people.”

I laughed. “Maybe I should give her my dress.”

“I'm sure she'd take it,” Victoire replied. “Well, I suppose I'd better get back. I'm due in the clinic in ten minutes.”

“Have fun,” I said. “I should get back, too. Merlin, this week is already insane.”

Insane proved to be too tame of a word to describe that week. It seemed like I hardly went home at all and when I was there, all I did was try to catch up on sleep. The week preceding the full moon was always crazy for me since I had extra potions to brew (Wolfsbane requires extra attention right before it's taken), but this week was even busier. Every time a new potion passes the preliminary tests, I have to owl all of my and Morris's patients who would qualify to take it. Neither of us have very many patients whom regular Wolfsbane doesn't work for, but there's a handful. Then I have to set up times to meet with them to distribute it and give instructions. Each new potion usually had about four or five people testing it.

However, this month Matt was the only one who got back to me. I figured with the holidays people just hadn't given it much thought and I didn't get the owls out soon enough. I usually like to send them out two weeks before the full moon, but I just hadn't had the chance that month.

Eventually I wanted to get Jamie onto the test potion list, but he wasn't strong enough to risk it yet. This would be his second full moon off of regular Wolfsbane and while he was getting stronger, he still wasn't ready. His parents were already eager to try new potions, as seeing their son so injured is not something they wished to see again.

By the time the weekend arrived I felt like I needed to sleep for two days straight and couldn't imagine going out for New Year's Eve even if it wasn't a full moon. I slept late on Saturday and then went over to Teddy and Victoire's for an early New Year's celebration. It was a small gathering, just the two of them, Gabriella, and Ben. Matt didn't feel up to going.

I slept late on Sunday as well and awoke to the sound of banging on my door and immediately wished I hadn't had as much firewhiskey the previous night as I had had. I hadn't gotten really drunk, but I had had enough to give me a monster headache.

The pounding got louder and quicker as I made my way to the door. It better not be anyone selling anything, I thought. I wasn't in the mood to buy biscuits from cute little girls in vests.

Instead of girl guides, Albus Potter stood at the door when I opened it, looking nearly as exhausted as I felt. His black hair was more messy than usual and there were purple bags under his eyes. Judging by the Puddlemere United shirt and Gryffindor sweatpants he was wearing, he had either just woken up or not yet gone to bed. I didn't know him that well, just as well as anyone would know their brother's best friend, but what I did know was that he kept extremely odd hours when he wasn't working.

“Matt's sick,” Albus said immediately. “Worse than usual.”

That woke me up. It was as good as jumping into the Black Lake in the middle of January. With sleep the last thing on my mind I threw on a pair of shoes and followed Albus back to their flat.

“He's got a really high fever,” Albus explained once we were back in the flat. “And he hasn't been able to keep anything down.”

I nodded and immediately headed for his bedroom. It was the neatest part of the entire flat, but was still messy enough for Mum to clean every time she visited. Matt was buried underneath a myriad of blankets, with only the top of his head sticking out. I pulled them back and saw that his hair was plastered to his face with sweat and he was incredibly pale.

“When did this start?” I asked.

“Sometime last night,” Albus shrugged. “I figured I should come get you since he hadn't emerged from his room since four in the morning.”

I glanced at the clock. It was noon. I gently shook Matt and he groaned. A little while later I had managed to rouse him. “Matt, can you sit up?”

He muttered something and lifted his head up, only to fall back down on the pillow. “Too dizzy.”

“I'll get you potions,” I replied and quickly left the room.

As soon as I was in the kitchen I leaned up against the wall and took a deep breath. All right, I told myself, just because he was sicker than usual did not mean I was to blame. It wasn't necessarily the potion that made him ill. There were plenty of other explanations for it. Perhaps he had caught the flu or was overly tired.

The one bad thing about Matt testing my potions was that they didn't always just not work. Sometimes they didn't agree with him at all, making him sick in the process. It didn't happen often, but when it did, I felt awful.

I grabbed the potions as well as a glass of water and a box of crackers. I had to try to get him to eat something. If he was weak when he transformed it would make the recovery so much worse.

John was standing at the front door with Albus when I walked past. They were talking about John's most recent disastrous date.

“It's because all you talk about is Quidditch, mate,” Albus sighed. “Girls don't only like to talk about Quidditch.”

“And I'm supposed to take advice from you?” John replied incredulously. “You haven't had a girlfriend for more than two weeks since we graduated.”

“Well, girls don't like it when their boyfriends go off to other countries for work for weeks on end without contacting them,” Albus explained.

“We're pathetic,” John groaned.

I rolled my eyes and continued to Matt's bedroom. John was never one to be without a date on Friday nights, but he never managed to find a girl who was tolerant of the level of his Quidditch obsession, which bordered on insanity.

Matt did not improve throughout the day. In fact he only seemed to get sicker. None of the potions seemed to be helping and the only way he was somewhat comfortable was to be asleep, so eventually I stopped trying to shove potions down his throat and just let him sleep. Albus and John stuck around the entire day, lamenting their pathetic love lives and complaining about the fact that Kaden was the only one of their group with a girlfriend.

I had to side-along Apparate Matt directly out of the flat when the time came to get to our parents' house. Dad took him right to the basement to sleep until the moon rose. Then we went to sit our usual once a month vigil in the kitchen, the only difference being the few bottles of champagne Ellie had purchased to toast in the new year.

“Blue moons are always worse for him,” Dad commented shortly before the moon rose.

“It's the potion,” I muttered. “I messed something up, I just know it.”

“You do not, Amy,” Dad said adamantly. “He's probably got a bug.”

I opened my mouth to contradict him, but the first scream began and we all grew silent. Then another scream, and another, and I realized that they were louder and more pain ridden than normal. After years of listening to my brother scream on full moons, I knew the exact pitch to expect. This one was worse. The screams were horrible, awful, even for him.

Mum and Dad realized it as well. We all looked at each other and I could see in their faces that they now believed me. It was the potion. No illness would make the transformation more painful. No, that was all the potion. I met Mum's gaze and she looked away, trying to hide her disappointment and fear.

******

Ellie poured the champagne at 11:55, even though none of us were in the mood for it. None of us had said a word since the moon rose and the only sound that filled the room was howling, howling that sounded far worse than usual. However, Ellie, always the one to try and keep some normalcy during full moons, insisted that we have the champagne.

We each took a glass and began our half-hearted countdown to the new year. “Happy New Year.” We each mumbled when the moment finally arrived. We clinked glasses and sipped the champagne.

Goodbye 2028, I thought as I gazed at the bubbles in my glass. Goodbye to another year where all I accomplished was creating a potion that made the full moons worse for my brother. I looked at the glass and tipped the champagne into my mouth, swallowing it all in one mouthful. A nice double shot of Firewhiskey would be far more appropriate.

******

The year 2029 began with a trip to St. Mungo's. I did as much as I could at home, but eventually we had to take him in and owl Morris. We found Matt in the basement with far more broken bones than usual, extreme blood loss, and burning up. I hadn't seen him that bad in years. This was officially my worst potion yet.

Morris kept me out of the ward while he was working on Matt and while I completely understood, I still couldn't stand to stand there in the corridor not doing anything. My parents were sitting in my study, but I couldn't sit still. I paced and thought back over each and every aspect of that potion I had made.

I thought about the ingredients, the interactions of the ingredients, the amount of simmering and stirring time, the properties of the cauldrons and spoons and scales I had used, and everything else that went into potion brewing. Nothing was standing out as being detrimental. Every ingredient in that potion was something he had had before, so it was definitely not an allergic reaction.

“Amy.”

I looked up from my pacing and saw Victoire walking towards me, looking exhausted, but otherwise glowing with that pregnancy glow. She immediately hugged me and I bit my lip, trying not to cry

“Your parents sent an owl over,” she told me. “How is he?”

“Awful,” I choked. “And it's all my fault.”

“It's not,” Victoire said firmly. “You didn't know that would happen, and he knew the risks in taking that potion.”

“It is,” I insisted, trying unsuccessfully not to cry. “I created that potion and he trusted me not to give him one that would make the full moon worse!”

“Look,” she sighed. “I know you're stubborn, but just try to accept that it's not your fault.”

“It is,” I groaned as I leaned against the wall. “I'm not going to accept anything. I'm going to figure out why it happened and I'm certainly not going to let it happen again. I'll test the damn potion myself before letting this happen again.”

“Amy, you know that won't work,” Victoire said quietly.

“I know.”

“I've got to get back home to Sophie. Teddy's on duty soon. You're free to come over if you want to.” Victoire gave me another hug.

“Thanks,” I said as I hugged her back. “But I've got to stay here.”

“All right,” Victoire gave me a half smile. “Tell Matt I hope he feels better.”

I continued pacing and thinking for the next ten minutes, but didn't come up with anything. What could possibly have gone wrong?

The door to the ward opened and Morris stepped out. He gestured that I could go and see Matt and then followed me in.

“I'm just waiting for the blood test results,” Morris said as I sped over to Matt's bed. “Hopefully they'll give us some answers as to why the potion had this effect on him.”

I nodded, afraid that if I said something I would start crying again. Then I saw Matt and froze in my tracks. All of a sudden the image of Matt, at eight years old, lying in that same hospital bed after being forced to transform with other werewolves was in the front of my mind.

He looked practically the same now as he did then. Small, bandaged, covered by sterile white blankets, and either asleep or unconscious. If it weren't for the fact that we were both fifteen years older, it could have been the same thing all over again.

My potion, something I created, something I told him to take, had done the same thing to him as Ralph Lubar had all those years ago. The thought made me feel slightly sick. I had to get out of there. I couldn't look at Matt anymore. I couldn't look at what I had done to him.

I practically ran into my parents as I left the ward, but they didn't say anything to me. Instead I kept walking, not really sure where I was going. A few nurses and Healers said hello to me as I walked towards the lift, but I didn't stop. It wasn't until the lift doors were closed did I realize that I was sharing it with Farina.

“Morning, Eckerton,” she said, causing me to jump. “Are you all right?”

I looked at her and she was wearing that same rare look of concern she gave Victoire the day she found out she was pregnant.

“Fine,” I muttered, wiping my eyes.

“Hmm,” she replied. “You don't look fine. Your brother's upstairs, isn't he?”

I whipped my head around and stared at her. I knew as the director of St. Mungo's she obviously knew a lot about the hospital and its patients, but how would she know that off the top of her head?

“As the director of this hospital, I have access to all the information in the building,” she told me. “When you arrived, fresh out of Hogwarts, I was surprised by your determination to succeed and how sure you were of what you wanted to do with your life. No seventeen or eighteen year old has ever had their career planned out like you did. Naturally, I had to investigate. Your brother's medical records were all the answers I needed. I just checked the new admissions forms and I saw his name on there. Take tomorrow off.”

The doors opened and Farina left without another word. I stood stunned as a maintenance worker muttering about bubotuber pus ambled in, completely shocked at Farina's generosity. An extra day off? I wasn't surprised at all that she had looked into my past when I started at St. Mungo's, not that she had ever told me about it before.

I got off the lift at the lobby and went off into Muggle London. Perhaps walking through the streets amongst strangers would help me clear my head.


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 Post subject: Re: Beyond the Shadow
PostPosted: Saturday 5 June 2010 2:03:50am 
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Second Year

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Poor Matt and Poor Amy. I love both of them! Great writting. I cannot wait for the next part


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 Post subject: Re: Beyond the Shadow
PostPosted: Tuesday 29 June 2010 12:22:14am 
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Aw, thanks! So glad you're enjoying it. I'm sorry that I haven't posted in so long and I really have no excuse. I just...forgot to post here... I've updated at HPFF, so I'm going to post two new chapters here. :)

Chapter 10: Drown Your Sorrows

I swirled the firewhiskey around in my glass, watching the ice cubes spin and then settle amongst the alcohol. I downed the glass and then signaled for another one. The barkeep, who had nothing else to do anyway, poured me another drink.

After wandering the streets of London for what must have been hours, I wound up at a lesser-known pub in Diagon Alley. It was called the Hairy Goat, which seemed like an odd name, especially since the bar was not owned by Aberforth Dumbledore. It wasn't very popular due to its general uncleanliness, but I never ran into anyone I knew there, so it was well suited for my current activities.

So far the activities included drinking enough firewhiskey to stop thinking about Matt and the potion, which I had not yet succeeded in doing. I've never been one for drinking and I really hate getting drunk because I always feel truly awful the next day, but somehow today it seemed like I might as well try.

The bar was pretty deserted. The only other customer was a bloke a few seats down from me at the bar, who was drinking enough firewhiskey to compete with me. His dark hair was messy, reminding me a lot of Al Potter, and looked to be about my age. He drank his current shot, slammed the glass down on the bar, and turned to me.

“Shitty new year?” he asked.

Why was he talking to me now? We had been sitting in silence for the past hour. “You could say that.”

“Me, too,” he sighed. “I bet you a drink that mine was worse.”

I raised my eyebrows. “Why would I want to do that?”

“Oh, afraid you'd lose?” he smirked.

What the hell was he playing at? Why couldn't we each just drink in silence? Maybe he was on his way to being drunk. That was probably it. “Fine,” I replied. “So, why was your new year's awful?”

“I got fired,” he said, sipping his new drink.

I snorted. Fired? Fired? If only that was my problem. It would be an easy fix. Although, I supposed it was still a possibility.

“What?” he asked. “How is my lack of employment funny?”

“Not that,” I said. “The fact that you think getting fired makes your new year's awful.”

“Oh, so you had something worse happen to you?” he said. “I bet you were dumped, right? Although I can't see anyone dumping you. You're too pretty.”

Drunk, I thought, this bloke was definitely drunk. “Getting fired would be worse than getting dumped,” I told him. “And no, I was not dumped.”

“Then tell your boyfriend he's a lucky bloke.”

“Don't have a boyfriend,” I informed him. Why was I telling him that? Why was I still talking to him, anyway? He was obviously drunk.

“Interesting,” he mused. “Well, why was your new year's horrible, then?”

s**t, I thought. Why didn't I think this through? I couldn't exactly tell him that a new version of the Wolfsbane potion I created had caused my werewolf brother to have the worst transformation he'd had in years. No, but I could tweak it. I was the queen of coming up with excuses for Matt's lycanthropy.

“I'm a Healer and a Brewer at St. Mungo's,” I began.

“Impressive.”

“I created a potion and it didn't do what it was supposed to,” I continued.

“Shame,” he replied. “Guess you'll have to start over. But you still have your job. Sorry, not worse than mine.”

“I'm not finished yet,” I snapped. “The potion had a really bad effect on those who took it. Turns out, it makes a person really sick, the opposite of what it's supposed to do.”

“Oh. That's slightly worse.”

“Again, not finished. My brother is the one who took the potion and now he's unconscious in St. Mungo's.”

The bloke looked taken aback. He quickly took another sip of his drink, clearly in an effort to think of something to say. I couldn't help but feel smug at this. I had obviously won this bet.

“I believe you owe me a drink,” I told him.

“Yeah, you're right,” he muttered and signaled to the barkeep to pour me another firewhiskey.

We drank in silence for a few minutes. A couple people wearing Ministry robes entered the bar and sat down at a table in the back. The barkeep left to go take their orders.

I felt something hot in my pocket and pulled out my Galleon Alert. Everyone who worked at St. Mungo's had one so we could be reached at all times in an instant. It looked just like a Galleon, but instead it bore the name of whichever employee needed to talk to you, changing each time. This time, Morris had summoned me. Sighing, I turned to the bloke who had for some inexplicable reason become my drinking partner.

“I've got to get back to St. Mungo's,” I told him as I stood up.

“All right,” he replied. “Hope your new year gets better.”

“Yours too,” I said and began to leave the bar.

“Wait, what's your name?” he shouted after me.

“Amy Eckerton,” I called over my shoulder as I opened the door and left the bar.

******

“The Wolfsbane is still in his system.”

“What do you mean it's still in his system?” I stared at Morris from across his desk. After leaving the pub, I went directly to Morris's study. I found him studying Matt's test results.

Wolfsbane Potion goes through the system in about twelve hours, which was why werewolves had to take it twice a day starting two or three days before the full moon, depending on their age and size. It was always long out of a person's system two days after the full moon.

Morris handed me the results and I scanned them. He was completely right, of course. The levels of Wolfsbane were still high in Matt's blood, nearly as high as they would be if he was still taking the potion. It didn't make any sense.

“None of the other ingredients are coming up on that tox screen,” Morris elaborated. “According to the results, the only ingredient in that potion still in his system is the actual Wolfsbane. I ran the test three times and they all said the same thing.”

I nodded as I leafed through the three different tests. Same exact results. “This doesn't make sense.”

“You're right,” Morris agreed. “It doesn't. Do you still have the Wolfsbane you used in the potion? We need to test it.”

“You think it was contaminated?” I asked. I supposed it was possible, but the potion had passed the preliminary tests. Any contamination would have come up in the results from that and the potion wouldn't have passed.

“I think it's highly unlikely, but we've got to cover all the bases,” Morris explained. “Now, what did you do differently in this particular potion as compared to all the others?”

“I brewed it in a steel cauldron and tweaked the amounts of a few of the ingredients, including Wolfsbane,” I explained.

“You know, Amy,” Morris said quietly. “As awful as this is, if that Wolfsbane was not contaminated, this may hold some answers as to why none of these potions have worked.”

“I know, I know,” I muttered. “I just wish we could get answers without this happening.”

“So do I, Amy,” Morris sighed. “So do I. He woke up about a half hour ago, if you want to go see him.”

I nodded and left the study. Matt was the only patient in the ward, which I was really grateful for. Other patients really didn't need to see one of their healers break down and cry. As soon as I saw Matt, with my parents sitting on either side of his bed, my eyes started to tear up again. It was the Lubar incident all over again.

“Amy,” Mum said as I reached the bed. “Where have you been?”

“Nowhere,” I replied, hoping she wouldn't press it.

“Amy,” Matt whispered. “I don't think I'll be taking that potion again.”

I half-smiled at him. His head was wrapped in a bandage and he looked like he hadn't slept in weeks. “Matt... I'm sorry, I didn't know that would happen, but that's no excuse.”

“Amy, shut it,” Matt replied. “I know the risk when I take the potions. It's not your fault. But what the hell was in that?”

“Same stuff,” I sighed. “Same stuff, different proportions. The wrong ones, obviously.”

“Healer Sterling said I've still got Wolfsbane in my system,” he said. “Have you got any idea why?”

“No,” I sighed. “We're also not sure when it's going to leave your system and you're not going to feel better until it does. We'll do everything we can to figure out how to get it out as soon as possible.”

“It's ok, Amy,” he said. “I'm going to be fine.”

There was just something about Matt telling me he was going to be fine while laying in a hospital bed with a fever and a bandaged head that made me want to bawl my eyes out.

“I'm- I'm going to go home and get some sleep,” I said. “You should get some rest, too, Matt.”

“I will,” he assured me.

I leaned over the bed, gave him a hug, and left while trying to hide the fact that I was crying. I needed coffee. All the firewhiskey was starting to give me a headache.

The tea room was crowded since it was nearing supper time. I grabbed the largest cup of coffee they offered and settled down at the table farthest in the back. It was a good thing Farina gave me the next day off because I was going to have a killer hangover. What had I been thinking?

Someone sat down across from me and I looked up, ready to tell them to find their own table, only to see that it was Dad. He had his own cup of coffee and the lines in his face were more pronounced than ever before.

“You've got to stop beating yourself up,” Dad said quietly.

“Didn't you notice?” I asked. “He looks exactly like he did after that full moon when he was eight, when he had to transform with the other werewolves.”

“I did.” Dad took a sip of his coffee and looked at me.

“Then how can you tell me not to beat myself up?” I exclaimed. “I did that to him! I did the same thing Lubar did!”

“Now that is ridiculous,” Dad told me. “The two are nowhere near alike. Circumstances, Amy, circumstances. Think back to that full moon. Matt's physical wounds were healed within weeks. It was the emotional ones that made it so awful. The emotional wounds were what made the recovery so long. Now look at this most recent full moon. Matt took a potion that you created out of a determination to make his life better and it didn't work. Sure, there are physical wounds, but they'll heal. The difference is that there are no emotional wounds.”

I slowly sipped my coffee and thought about it. Dad was right. He was always right. Why hadn't I thought about that? I never thought about emotions as much as I should. Rose was the psychiatrist, not me.

“I guess you're right,” I sighed.

“I know you feel bad,” Dad continued. “I'd find it weird if you didn't. You feel bad because you love him and that's what matters. He'll get better and you'll start working on a new potion. Life will go on.”

“Yeah, I know,” I muttered.

Dad drained his coffee and stood up. “Go home and get some rest. Mum and I are doing the same. We'll be back tomorrow.” I nodded and watched as he left the tea room.

******

“Amy! Amy, get up!”

I rolled over in an attempt to get away from whoever was poking me. What were they doing? Didn't they realize it was the middle of the night? Wait, how did they even get into my flat?

I snapped my eyes open and realized that it was not the middle of the night, but most likely the middle of the day. Sunlight hit my eyes and the headache I had began to feel more like someone was throwing a brick at my head. I glanced over in the direction of the voice telling me to get up and saw that it was Victoire, dressed in her Healer robes, looking disapprovingly at me.

“So many questions,” she threw her hands up in the air. “Where do I begin?”

Ignoring her, I got out of bed and stumbled into the kitchen. I needed a headache potion and I needed it fast. Locating the bottle, I downed a dose and followed it with a glass of water. It started to take effect and I looked at Victoire.

“Why aren't you at work?” she demanded.

“Farina gave me the day off,” I muttered.

“Well, that just opens more questions than it answers,” Victoire replied.

“We shared a lift yesterday and she gave me the day off because of what happened to Matt,” I explained.

“And you're using this day off to sleep off a hangover?” Victoire shouted. “You realize it's three o'clock, don't you?”

“Er-”

“Of course you don't,” Victoire groaned. “What happened yesterday?”

“I drank way too much firewhiskey,” I answered.

“Obviously. But why? Amy, you've never been the type to drink away your problems because you're smart enough to know it doesn't work.”

“I don't know.” I collapsed into the nearest kitchen chair. That was the truth. Why had I done it. “I guess I just couldn't take it anymore.”

“Can't take what?” Victoire asked as she put an arm around me.

“Everything,” I sighed. “I'm thirty. I've done nothing with my life. The potion is obviously going nowhere. I put my own brother in St. Mungo's. I'm nowhere close to being married and I have no kids. Cinda's right; I should be getting married soon.”

“Since when do you listen to your grandmother?” Victoire looked shocked. “Isn't this the same lady who dressed you up in frilly pink dresses as a child and bought you ePods or whatever they're called for Christmas?”

“iPods,” I sighed. “And yes, that's Cinda.”

“She obviously has no idea what you really like, then,” Victoire told me. “So why should she know what's best for you as far as marriage goes? Amy, no one should get married until they're in love and ready.”

“I know,” I said. “I guess I just thought everything would be different when we were thirty.”

“Don't I know it,” Victoire agreed.

“What do you mean? You're married with a kid and another on the way, plus you've got a rewarding job.”

“And so does Teddy. We hardly ever see each other, Amy. When I'm home he's away on missions and when he's home I'm on call. In all our efforts to make sure Sophie doesn't have to stay with my parents for longer than a work day, Teddy and I rarely see each other for more than a couple hours at a time.”

“But you're happy, right?” I asked.

“Of course I am. Are you? Besides this potion set-back, that is.”

“Honestly, I think I am,” I said. “Well, as long as Cinda isn't implying that I need to get married.”

“Then that's all that matters,” Victoire replied. “And you will find the right guy someday. Speaking of which, do you remember a certain bloke from the pub yesterday?”

I could feel my cheeks redden and judging by Victoire's smirk, it was very obvious that I was blushing. How did she know about him?

“I'll take that as a yes,” Victoire grinned. “You might be interested to know that he spent about an hour wandering around St. Mungo's trying to find you this morning.”

“What?”

“He likes you. And he's rather attractive. I told him you'd meet him outside the hospital tomorrow at noon.”

“You did what?” I exclaimed.

“Hey, you said you'd like to get married,” she teased.

“Shut it.”

“So what exactly did the two of you do in this pub?”

“He bet me a drink he'd had a shittier new year than me. I won. He bought me a drink. I got called back to St. Mungo's, and that was that.”

“Well, you're meeting him tomorrow and that's that.”

“Fine,” I sighed. I supposed it didn't really matter anyway since I had already made a fool of myself in front of him. What's the worst that could happen? “I'll meet him.”

“Good,” Victoire replied. “I've got to get back to work before Farina notices that I'm gone. Can I trust you to not go back to bed?”

I nodded. The potion was kicking in and I was feeling far more normal than I had ten minutes ago. I had to get to St. Mungo's anyway to see Matt and talk to Morris. Why had I drank so much Firewhiskey? What a stupid idea that had been. Victoire was right, drinking never solved anything and I knew that. All that had happened was that I wasted practically a whole day sleeping off a hangover and possibly attracted a very odd bloke.

“Yes,” I sighed. “I'm going to go visit Matt.”

“Good,” Victoire said as she gave me one more hug. “And what are you not going to do?”

“Drink Firewhiskey. Ever again.”

Victoire nodded and then stepped over to the fire. She tossed in a handful of Floo powder and was gone in three seconds. Merlin, I sighed. No more Firewhiskey.

******

Kaden was just leaving the ward when I entered an hour later. He was dressed in brewers' robes, so I assumed he was merely on break or lunch and using the time to visit Matt.

“He slept through my whole break,” Kaden told me as he hurried off towards the lifts. He was probably late.

I was surprised Kaden hadn't just woken Matt up upon seeing that he was asleep. That was what Matt's friends usually did, especially Kaden and John. Perhaps he had actually had some sense not to since Matt was in the hospital. I peered into the ward and saw that Matt was indeed asleep, and not looking close to waking up at anytime soon. Instead of going in, I turned towards Morris's study.

Natalie was putting away files when I walked in. She turned around and offered me a sympathetic smile when she heard me enter.

“How is Matt?” she asked.

“Not sure yet. Is Morris in?”

“He's with a patient until four-thirty,” Natalie replied. “You've got a few owls and your research assistants dropped off this month's data.” She handed me a small stack of envelopes and a large binder.

I took them and let myself into my study. The binder of results went straight into the filing cabinet because I was just too exhausted to look at data right then, but I set the letters down on my desk and began to open them. The first two were junk, asking me for interviews for various publications that I didn't like.

The third letter, however, caused my stomach to flip when I read whom it was from. Jamie's parents. Jamie. I could not believe it. I had actually forgotten about Jamie in the disaster that was my potion. Why hadn't I realized that he hadn't been in? Jamie wound up in St. Mungo's after each and every full moon, until this past one, and I hadn't even given it a second thought. For whatever reason he had slipped my mind and that rattled me. I had never forgotten about one of my own patients, no matter how awful one of Matt's full moons had been.

But it was a good thing that he didn't have to go to the hospital, right? I took a deep breath and read the letter.

Amy,

Jamie had a surprisingly good full
moon! He's not ill and he only broke
one of his arms. Candace was able
to heal it in a minute. He seems
to be healing fine at home, so we
aren't going to bring him in unless
he takes a turn for the worse.

We'll keep you updated.
~George Allen


It was amazing how even when things seemed to be at their worst, some good news managed to worm its way into life. Jamie was doing better than he usually was. I smiled as I set the letter down on my desk. A full moon that did not land Jamie in St. Mungo's was a miracle. At least someone's new year was starting off well and Amy couldn't think of anyone more deserving of a good year than Jamie and his family.


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 Post subject: Re: Beyond the Shadow
PostPosted: Tuesday 29 June 2010 12:23:43am 
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Chapter 11: Dillan Blayney

It was a very odd feeling to sit in my study and have absolutely nothing to do and it was a feeling that I never had very often. I felt like there was something I should be doing, but after replying to George's letter, there really wasn't anything left, since Farina had given me the day off I had no clinic hours, the only patient in the Dai Lewellyn Ward was Matt, and I hadn't started over on the Wolfsbane yet. The only thing I could have possibly done was look over the data I had just received, but my headache was slowly breaking through the potion I had taken and I knew there would be no way to concentrate on it.

Instead, I just waited. I sat in my chair and did absolutely nothing and it was actually quite refreshing. I couldn't remember the last time I had absolutely nothing to do. Morris was obviously running late, since 4:30 came and went without him showing up. When I finally heard footsteps I got up and met him in Natalie's study.

“Morris,” I said as he set a chart down on Natalie's desk and then picked up another. “How is Matt doing?”

Morris paused and set the chart back down again. “Cancel my five o'clock,” he said to Natalie, who immediately got up and left, presumably to find Morris's five o'clock.

My heart started beating fast as Morris gestured for me to follow him into his study. If Matt had been doing all right, Morris wouldn't have canceled an appointment. What had happened that was so awful he needed an entire appointment time to tell me about?

Morris's study looks exactly like mine except it was filled with far more books and several pictures of his wife, children, and grandchildren adorned the walls and sat upon his desk. I sat in in the leather armchair in front of his desk while he took the seat behind it. He flipped through a stack of parchment and set a sheet in front of me. I glanced at it.

“Matt's results from yesterday?” I asked, curious as to why he was showing them to me again.

“No,” Morris said quietly. “Those are new. Results from a blood test taken only three hours ago.” He pointed to the date in the upper right hand corner. January second, 2:07pm.

Morris set another piece of parchment alongside it. Matt's results from the day before. The numbers were exactly the same. The exact same amount of Wolfsbane was running through Matt's system that afternoon as had been the previous day. Why wasn't it getting processed? Why was it staying in his system? Why was a medicine that was supposed to be filtered through a person's system in less than twelve hours staying there for nearly forty-eight?

“Again, I ran the same test three times. I had three different technicians run it and used three separate test potions. Then I had the test potions sent for testing and ran three tests each on each of them. The potions are fine. The results are as they are,” Morris said quietly.

I swallowed hard. In all my years of studying lycanthropy, all my years of treating people with it, and all my years of brewing various types of Wolfsbane I had never seen a case where Wolfsbane did not filter out of a person's system in twelve hours, give or take a few. And if had never happened before, what were we supposed to do?

“Have you ever known this to happen before?” I asked, hoping that since Morris had been working as a Healer far longer than she had, he would know something.

“No,” he replied. “But I think if we treat the Wolfsbane as any other toxin, because it is a toxin to someone with lycanthropy, we should be able to flush it out.

That made sense. It was a good thing Morris was able to remain calm enough to think clearly. I suppose that was why I'm not Matt's Healer. Morris was able to separate the rational thinking from his emotions when it came to Matt, whereas I certainly wasn't.

“What about the after effects?” I asked.

“That is what I am more worried about,” he replied. “We won't know what they are until the Wolfsbane is gone and he's awake and conscious. At the very least he's going to be incredibly exhausted. Other than that, I really don't know. The best thing we can do is flush out the Wolfsbane as quickly as possible.”

“Well let's start right now, then.” I stood up, wondering why we were wasting time talking.

“I already have. I've had the potion running intravenously for the past hour.”

Of course he had, Morris was always on top of things. “Have my parents been by?”

“This morning, and on their lunch breaks,” Morris answered. “I expect they'll be back once they're done with work.”

“I'm going to go sit with him.”

“I'll go with you,” Morris said. “I've got to check the IV.”

Morris and I walked in silence to the ward. Matt was curled up on his side on the bed, covered in three of those flannel hospital blankets that weren't really very warm, a tall pole with a bag of potion danging from it next to the bed. A tube ran from the bag into the back of Matt's hand, which was resting upon the blankets. It was a Muggle IV contraption since magic couldn't replicate the steady drip that an IV had. In order for his system to be properly flushed, he had to have constant potion dripping into his body.

As we drew nearer I saw that his face was still flushed with fever, yet he was sleeping soundly. Morris drew his wand and waved it over Matt. “His fever's gone down.”

“That's a good sign,” I said as I sat down in a chair next to the bed.

“Definitely,” Morris agreed as he fiddled with the bag of potion. “I'm going to leave this in for twenty-four hours and then we'll test again.”

I nodded. Morris finished doing whatever he was doing with the potion and left. Then it was quiet. Matt was sleeping very soundly and not snoring at all and the lack of other patients of course attributed to the silence. I was alone with my thoughts and at the moment which was kind of a scary thing.

Deep down, I knew Dad was right that I couldn't liken this potion disaster to what had happened when Matt was eight, but on the surface it was hard not to. Plus, regardless of whether the two were similar or not something I had created had still harmed my brother and there was no getting around that. People could assure me time and time again that Matt had consented to take the Wolfsbane but that didn't matter. He didn't have a degree in healing or brewing so he counted on me to tell him what was safe and what wasn't when it came to those fields. I hadn't done that.

The door to the ward opened and Mum and Dad walked in, both looking in dire need of a nap. They took seats on the other side of Matt's bed.

“The Wolfsbane is still in his system,” I told them, and proceeded to explain everything Morris had already told me.

“Nothing to do but wait, then,” Dad said quietly.

“Sometimes I wonder if it'll even be worth it, in the end,” I said.

“What?” Mum asked.

“This,” I gestured to Matt. “Giving him potions that nearly kill him just for the small chance that I might come up with one that will work. What if in the end I don't come up with one? Then he will have gone through all of this for nothing.”

“You will come up with one,” Dad assured me. “Stop thinking you won't. And it's not for nothing because even though this one didn't work, it will provide answers once you sit down and compare it with the others.”

“But is it worth it to use my own brother as a guinea pig?”

“That's a question that has no answer,” Dad said. “If he comes out of this not wanting to test anymore potions then fine. But if he still wants to try them, that's his decision.”

I nodded, mostly to appease my father and not because I necessarily agreed, because I was not sure that I did. My father, as intelligent as he was, did not have the training in healing and medicine that I had. Give him a complicated question about a magical creature and he'd give you the answer with hardly a thought and no doubt it would be correct, but there were aspects to the morals of healing that he did not understand. Even I did not completely understand them because they were beyond the scope of the few morals classes I took in training.

Patients don't get to decide what treatment they get even if a healer explains the risks and they claim they understand the risks. A healer still has the final say. If Jamie's parents had wanted to start him on my experimental Wolfsbane as soon as he'd stopped taking normal Wolfsbane, even claiming to understand the risks, I would have said no. Similarly, it was not solely Matt's decision whether or not to continue taking experimental potions; it was up to Morris and I as well.

However, so long as I kept those potions available for any of age lycanthropic witches and wizards to try, I had to let Matt use them if he wished. The only way I could stop him is if I found a medical reason for him not to, and without understanding why this particular potion had affected him so badly, I would not have a medical reason for him not to try the next one.

******

Farina greeted me the next morning without any recognition that she'd given me the previous day off. It was like it never happened. Instead she told me I was due in the clinic as soon as my lunch hour was over, and not a minute later. My morning was filled with three routine appointments and going over that month's data. Since we have such a small amount of data I cannot draw any conclusions yet, but I still like to look it over to make sure it's useable. Luckily all of this month's looked fine.

It wasn't until nearly eleven-thirty that I remembered that I had told Victoire I would meet the bloke from the pub for lunch. I cringed when I realized all I had on underneath my healer robes was a pair of old jeans and a sweater Victoire's grandmother had knitted for me, one adorned with a Gryffindor lion. I didn't even have time to floo home to change because it was either floo home or visit Matt, which I hadn't had time to do yet that morning.

Matt was awake when I entered the ward and he looked slightly bored which I took to be a good sign. He looked over immediately when I entered.

“Hey, how are you feeling?” I asked as I bent over to give him a hug.

“Better than yesterday,” he replied.

“Good, that means the wolfsbane is finally being flushed out,” I told him. “We'll know for sure when you're tested this afternoon.”

Victoire was waiting for me in my study when I rushed in to strip off my lime green robes after visiting Matt. She wasn't impressed with what I was wearing underneath but she at least had some make-up on hand and straightened my hair with her wand before I promised her to tell her all about the lunch and rushed downstairs to meet the guy.

I was five minutes late by the time I got there and he was standing amongst the distressed witches and wizards in the waiting room, looking sorely out of place. For one, he did not look distressed. Two, he kept glancing around like he was looking for someone. Three, he was dressed solely in Muggle attire, wearing jeans and a jacket over a button-up shirt. His eyes rested upon me and he smiled. I met him near the door but didn't say anything until we left the chaotic waiting room for the slightly less chaotic streets of Muggle London.

“Sorry I'm late,” I said.

“You're closer to being on time than any Healer I've ever met before,” he joked. “And you look great.”

I raised my eyebrows and gestured to my Gryffindor jumper. “I look like I'm ready for a day of lounging around at Hogwarts.”

“Well the jumper does kind of answer one of the questions I was going to ask you over lunch,” he confided. “I'm Dillan Blayney, by the way. I don't think I properly introduced myself yesterday.” He stuck out his hand.

“No, you didn't,” I replied as I shook his hand. “I believe I did.”

“You did. I thought we could go get pizza. I know a great little place around the corner.”

“What if I hadn't worn Muggle clothing?” I asked.

“I took a chance. I figured you weren't the sort of person to stroll around London in green Healer robes.”

He was right about that. Of course I didn't know anyone who wore their Healer robes outside of St. Mungo's due to their hideous nature. He seemed to be quite the jokester and I did have to admit that he was attractive. Very attractive. As much as he'd reminded me of Al Potter the previous day, now he seemed older and better looking which was a good sign since I thought of Al as a little brother.

We walked in silence until we reached a very tiny shop on the corner that I would have missed had I not been with Dillan. He held the door open for me and I walked into what was a very adorable little pizza shop. There was a large picture of some city in Rome along one of the walls and a picture of the Italian Football team from 2006, when they won the World Cup. On various ledges were bottles of oils filled with herbs and a variety of meats and salads chilled in a display near the counter. Dillan chose a small booth in the back and plucked two menus out from behind the napkin holder, handing one to me.

“Get whatever you want, so long as it's pizza,” Dillan said. “I do insist that you choose pizza because this is the best pizza, outside of Italy.”

“Obviously you've never been to Mama Rizzo's in Sydney,” I told him as I scanned the menu.

“Sydney?” he asked. “As in Australia? No, I can't say I've ever traveled that far for pizza. What was a Londoner like yourself doing in Sydney?”

“I grew up in Australia, just outside Brisbane. My grandparents used to live near Sydney,” I said, making sure to watch his face for the look of surprise that always showed up on people's faces when I tell them I used to live in Australia.

However, Dillan didn't seem surprised at all. He looked like he would've if I said I grew up in Scotland. “Yet you're wearing a Gryffindor jumper. Here I thought you were a Hogwarts alumnus.”

“You were right about that,” I said as the waitress set down two waters. Thank Merlin, I thought, perhaps the waitress would distract him from asking why I moved to England.

“Ready to order?” she asked.

Dillan gestured to me. “Um, I guess we'll take a small pizza with peppers, olives, and extra cheese.”

“Coming right up,” she said.

“So let me get this straight,” Dillan said as he stirred his water with his straw. “You grew up in Australia yet you went to Hogwarts. I think I'm missing something.”

“I moved here when I was fourteen,” I explained, although that really wasn't much of an explanation.

“Ah,” he replied, “and may I ask why?”

“You can ask,” I said, “but you won't necessarily get an answer.”

“Then I won't ask,” he replied. “Although I shall remain curious. I was born and raised in the same house as I am living in right now.”

Oh, Merlin, I thought. I've attracted a thirty-year-old guy who lives with his mother.

“Literally,” he continued. “I didn't wait until my mum got to St. Mungo's and I was actually born in the house. I love the place. So many great memories there that when my parents died I moved back instead of selling the place.”

So glad I didn't mention the 'living with his mother' thing. That would have been even more awkward than thinking it. As much as I would like to know why his parents died so young, I felt like if I were to ask that I would have to tell him why I moved which certainly wasn't going to happen.

“About yesterday...” I began.

“I'm sorry,” he said as he looked down into his glass. “I'm sure I was overstepping my boundaries a bit with that bet, but I was having an awful day and I don't normally drink that much-”

“It's ok,” I assured him. “I was actually just wondering what job you were sacked from. Must have been an amazing job if you were that upset about losing it.”

I saw an ever so slight tinge of pink creep up on his cheeks as he averted his gaze once again. “The funny thing is, it was kind of an awful job to begin with and not one I really saw myself in for the rest of my life. So really, it was a blessing in disguise. Not really sure why it sent me on a drinking binge. Anyway, I was a counterfeit coin checker at Gringotts.”

I looked at him for a few seconds before responding. “Seriously?”

“Yep.” He laughed. “Not a job that appears in a pamphlet in the common rooms in fifth year.”

“No, definitely not,” I agreed.

“But it paid the bills up until yesterday,” he said. “Unfortunately goblins do not take suggestions to their standard procedures nicely. I made a few suggestions to improve efficiency and they showed me the door, threw a sackful of Galleons out after me as my last paycheck and that was that.”

“Wow,” I replied. Even Farina took suggestions on how to improve efficiency. I guess I should be lucky I don't work for goblins.

“I suppose I'm lucky they're letting me keep my account there,” Dillan pointed out.

The pizza arrived a few minutes later, after we had thoroughly exhausted the topic of Dillan's job at Gringotts and right before I was going to ask what sort of job he wanted to get next. I didn't get to ask since Dillan seemed preoccupied with watching my reaction to the pizza. He served me a slice and then watched in anticipation as I took a bite.

“This is amazing!” I said after I'd finished swallowing. “Better than Mama Rizzo's.”

“And closer,” Dillan pointed out as he served himself a slice. “You'll save millions on airfare alone.”

I laughed before taking my next bite. He was funny, very funny. I hadn't ever really gone out with a funny guy before, mostly because the only funny blokes I knew were Teddy, Landon, and Matt's friends, none of whom I could or would date. Merlin, was I thinking of dating him already? We'd just gone out for pizza and hadn't even known each other forty-eight hours.

We didn't talk much while we were polishing off the pizza and by the time we'd finished I only had ten minutes to get back to St. Mungo's and up to the clinic. We practically ran up the sidewalk and were out of breath by the time we reached the hospital.

“I had a lot of fun,” he said as he smiled at me. “Maybe we can do it again sometime.”

“I had fun, too,” I said. “Maybe next time we can do dinner and I won't have to rush out at the end.”

“That would be good,” he replied. “What are you doing Friday night?”

“Working until seven, but I'm free after that.”

“Want to have a late dinner at eight-thirty?” he asked.

“Sure. I'd like that.” I smiled. I reached into my pocket and pulled out a piece of paper and a pen, scrawling my address on it. I handed it to him.

“I'll see you then,” he said and then turned, disappearing into the crowd.

I walked back into St. Mungo's and hurried up to my study to don my tacky green robes before getting to the clinic, all the while wondering what the hell I was getting myself into.


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 Post subject: Re: Beyond the Shadow
PostPosted: Tuesday 29 June 2010 11:02:22pm 
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Both wonderful chapters. Your writing is great.


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 Post subject: Re: Beyond the Shadow
PostPosted: Sunday 11 July 2010 11:45:38pm 
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Chapter 12: Victoire's News

I thought it would have been easy to get sucked into work again and not think about my lunch with Dillan, but even while my mind was on wizards with plants sprouting out of their ears, witches with odd orange rashes, and children with spattergroit, Dillan was there in the back of my mind. It was strange since every other time I'd gone on a date I'd easily been able to forget about the blokes at work. Although, thinking about that now, it probably wasn't a good thing.

Victoire bombarded me with questions about the lunch as I was walking back to my study after clinic duty and I told her everything, as I promised. She was thoroughly excited and promised to help me pick out an outfit for our date on Friday. However we couldn't talk for very long since she was seeing patients all afternoon. As she headed back to the Spell Damage floor I headed off to find Morris to see if he'd ran Matt's tests yet.

Morris was in his study writing up notes when I entered a little while later. He must have known immediately why I was there because as soon as I sat down he handed me a piece of parchment with Matt's name, the date, and a time stamp of an hour earlier. It was his test results and according to them he no longer had any Wolfsbane in his system.

“Thank Merlin,” I muttered. “Did you run it twice to be sure?”

“Three times,” he answered. “They all gave the same results and Matt seems much better. He's tired of course, but I'm planning on discharging him before I go home tonight.”

I nodded. I'd insist he stay with me for the night, but he'd be far less bored in my flat than in the ward. “Mind if I keep this?”

“Go right ahead,” Morris said. “I've got another copy.”

“Thanks. I'm not starting a new version of the potion until I figure out why he reacted like this. I don't want it happening again,” I said.

“Probably a good idea,” Morris agreed. “Let me know what you find out.”

“I will,” I answered as I left his study.

My next stop was the ward, where I found Matt sitting up in bed reading some sort of book on the Chudley Cannons. He has so many books on that team that it makes me wonder not only where he finds them but what sort of authors would actually want to write books about such an awful Quidditch team. And I mean awful as in their playing, not that I hate them, because I'm quite indifferent about Quidditch.

“Hey, Amy,” he greeted me. “Hear the good news?”

“Sure did,” I replied. “All the Wolfsbane is gone, but we still haven't got a clue as to why it stayed in there. Morris said he's going to discharge you sometime today, but I think you should come spend the night at my place.”

“Sounds good.”

“And you're not going back to work tomorrow. I think you need to rest another day,” I told him.

“Seriously? But I've already missed so many days.”

“Don't tell me you're starting to become a workaholic, too.” I groaned.

“No, you got all of those genes. It's just I know the only reason I got that job is because of Dad and I don't want to give the Ministry anymore reasons to dislike the fact that I'm working there.”

“They don't dislike it,” I argued.

“I'm not five anymore,” Matt said. “You can't hide stuff like that from me anymore.”

He had a point, I thought. “All right, we'll compromise. You can go in in the afternoon so long as you continue to get better tonight. I'm sure Morris would agree with me on this.”

“Ok, that'll work,” Matt agreed.

“Good,” I replied. “I'm going down to the basement to work for the rest of the afternoon, but I haven't got anymore patients to see today so when Morris discharges you we'll go home.”

“Sounds like a plan.”

After swinging by my study to gather my very large collection of notes on every single version of Wolfsbane I had ever created, along with Matt's medical file from Morris's study, I headed down to the brewing rooms. By some stroke of luck I wasn't stopped by anyone on my way. I wasn't planning on doing any actual brewing that day, but experience had taught me that holing myself up in a brewing room would result in less interruptions than doing the same in my study.

My usual room was empty so I dumped the stack of notes onto the desk and settled down for what was sure to be a long afternoon. I couldn't risk creating a potion like my most recent one again so I had to figure out what had caused Matt to have such an awful reaction. The only way to do that was to study my notes until I reached some sort of conclusion.

Now that Matt was better and I had had a day to think about what had happened I realized that Morris was right. As awful as it had been for Matt to have a reaction like that to a potion, it was helpful in the long run. Generally, with experimental potions, negative reactions were better than no reaction at all when it came to figuring out how to make the potion better. When Matt had no reaction to a potion I created I had nothing to go on; all I was able to say was that that specific potion didn't work. Now I had a clue, something to tell me what was going wrong. If only I knew what that specific clue was.

No matter what Matt's reaction was to new potions, my first step afterwards was to add a new line into my ever expanding chart of failed potions. Each potion had a line that included the ingredients, the type of cauldron it was brewed in, the amounts of ingredients, and every other seemingly insignificant step that went into brewing potions. The littlest thing could be the difference between a useful and useless potion. Along with information about the actual potion I also kept a separate chart of each person who had taken each potion. The people varied, although Matt had taken each one. For that very reason (and of course the fact that he was my brother) I was focusing the most on his reactions.

Each year I created and tested either three or four potions and since I had been working on it for six years, there were a lot of entries. Some had been as useless as original Wolfsbane and others had had awful side effects, but the most recent one was the worst yet.

After entering the new information into the charts, the first thing I looked at was the concentration of pure Wolfsbane in the potion. Wolfsbane potion was different from pure Wolfsbane, the latter being the active ingredient in the potion. It is the most tricky ingredient to add and if the proportion of it to the other ingredients isn't right, it can have disastrous effects, which is why I thought it had something to do with Matt's reaction.

Regular Wolfsbane potion uses a concentration of .01 percent pure Wolfsbane. Most brewers agree that anything less than .008 concentration is completely useless while anything above .05 percent is deadly. My potions have ranged between .007 and .49 in terms of concentration, with the most recent having .04 percent.

Matt's reaction would have made more sense if the potion had had a higher concentration, especially since the potion made with .49 percent had had no effect on him whatsoever, with the Wolfsbane filtering out of his system in the normal twelve hour window. That meant that this was far more complicated than the concentration of pure Wolfsbane. It meant that it had something to do with a reaction amongst the ingredients.

To make matters even more confusing, Morris had discovered years ago that Matt had a very high metabolism, which was part of the reason why he believed Wolfsbane potion didn't work for him. Morris discovered that Matt's body processed Wolfsbane between eight and nine hours rather than the standard twelve, but even when he was given Wolfsbane potion every eight hours instead of twelve, it still didn't help him. But it made it even more confusing that this time the Wolfsbane wouldn't filter at all.

Scouring my notes for anything that might help is a very tedious task and after working at it for two hours I still came up with nothing. I was about to start my third time reading them when there was a knock at the door.

“Come in,” I said, thinking it was probably one of the junior brewers with a question.

“I knew I'd find you here.”

I looked up and saw Victoire, looking if possible, even more pregnant than she had the previous day. “It's where I'll be for the foreseeable future until I figure this potion out.”

“Well can you pry yourself away from your notes long enough to hear my good news?” Victoire asked.

I glanced up again and really looked at Victoire. She was glowing, positively glowing, and had a huge smile on her face. She looked even more excited than she did when she was told her baby didn't have lycanthropy. “Of course.”

“Just had another Healer appointment,” she told me.

“You did?” I asked. I couldn't recall her telling me about it. “I don't remember you saying anything about it.”

“I mentioned it a while ago, but I'm sure you forgot after what happened,” she said. “Anyway, they ran another test, this one to tell us the sex-”

“Did you find out?” I interrupted.

“Yup,” Victoire said. “But that's not the best part. The best part is that I'm having twins!”

“Oh my God!” I shrieked and got up to hug her. “Congratulations!”

“Thanks. Teddy's thrilled, especially since they're both boys.”

“Poor Sophie!” I laughed.

“I know. I'm hoping she'll eventually have some cousins who are girls, but I think Weasleys tend to be prone to having boys.”

“Well you can always try for another girl after those boys are born,” I pointed out.

“I was just told that I'm going to have to give birth to not one but two boys in June. The last thing I want to do is thinking about having a fourth,” Victoire said.

“Fair point,” I agreed. “I haven't even had one and I can't even imagine it. I love Sophie of course, but she's like the perfect kid. Surely they're not all like her.”

“Trust me, they're not. I'm sure these boys will be like my Uncles Fred and George, only worse. I've got it coming to me after only having Sophie for five years.”

“Sophie will keep them in line,” I said.

“Even Sophie wouldn't be able to control them if they're like Fred and George,” Victoire said. “Merlin, Amy, even if they're like Sophie I'm still going to have three times as many kids. It's all Teddy and I can do to make sure someone's always around to watch Sophie. We can't rely on my parents and grandparents to watch three kids.”

“But Sophie will be in school soon,” I pointed out. “Are you starting her at that preschool soon?”

“Not all the time. Teddy and I both work a lot of weekends and Sophie won't have school on weekends,” Victoire said. “And yes, she's starting next week. She's so excited!”

“Good.” I smiled. Sophie needed to be around kids her own age.

“I just don't think I can do the working full time thing with two newborn babies and a five-year-old.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“I mean...” she paused and sat down in one of my extra chairs, “that I'm thinking of not coming back to St. Mungo's after my maternity leave is up.”

I said nothing for a few minutes. While after hearing what Victoire was saying about taking care of three kids and working full time I sort of expected her to say that, it was still a shock. Victoire wasn't nearly as much of a workaholic as I was, but she had always been determined to work hard at what she does and I couldn't see her not working. Ever since I met her she knew exactly what she wanted career wise and nothing had ever swayed her.

“Have you talked to Teddy about it yet?” I asked.

“Yes,” Victoire answered. “He agrees with me. I mean, he makes a decent salary as an Auror so we don't necessarily need my income. It's weird. When I was in Hogwarts I always imagined having a job and kids but I never thought about how the two would compete. My mum stayed home with me and Gabriella and Ben when we were little and it was so much fun. We weren't ever shuttled off to anyone else's house for a weekend and we never waited until ten or eleven at night for our parents to come home to say good night while a baby-sitter sat in our living room.”

“Sophie doesn't mind that,” I said quietly. “Has she ever complained once about having to spend the day with your parents or grandparents?”

“No,” Victoire said. “But that doesn't mean she doesn't miss us. It wouldn't be forever. Just until the boys were at Hogwarts.” She looked down and placed her hands on her stomach.

“It's up to you,” I said. “My mum was home with Matt and I when we were little, too, so I can see why you would want to. I'll miss you here, if you don't come back.”

“And I'll miss you too. I'll miss everything about this place. It's why I'm so torn. I'm not deciding yet since I won't even leave on maternity leave until May or so.”

“Farina won't be pleased.” I laughed.

“No, definitely not,” Victoire agreed. “So what were you working on when I so rudely interrupted you?”

“You're always welcome to interrupt me,” I said. “Anyone else will get yelled at, but you can.”

“I feel so honored.” Victoire grinned. “So what are you up to? I don't see any steaming cauldrons filled with disgusting tasting liquids that will save the world.”

“Very funny,” I replied. “And I'm not brewing anything today. I'm trying to look at years of notes in order to figure out why Matt had that awful of a reaction to the potion. I get interrupted less down here than in my study, due to my reputation of hexing people who barge in on my brewing.”

“Ah, yes, that intern who you hexed last week never did return.”

“Again, very funny. I did not hex an intern.”

“So I take it you're staying late tonight? I was going to invite you over to dinner tonight. It's just Gabriella, Sophie, and I since Teddy's working,” Victoire explained.

“Nope, not staying late, since Morris is releasing Matt today, but he's coming over to my place for the night. I've got to stay with him.”

“Another time, then. Going to bring all of this home with you?”

“Of course,” I said. “Has Gabriella made any mention of taking off again?”

“No,” Victoire replied. “But she disappears everyday so she must be actually doing something here.”

“If she wasn't, you could hire her as your nanny.”

Victoire and I looked at each other and then burst out laughing at the thought of Gabriella being a nanny. That girl would be a nanny the day John Brickston managed to have a girlfriend for more than a month.

“It's so weird,” I began, “because when we were kids Gabriella was so responsible. She was a prefect and everything.”

“Hey, I suppose some kids rebel in their teenage years and others wait until they're out of Hogwarts.” Victoire shrugged.

“And others don't ever rebel,” I pointed out, thinking of Victoire herself.

“I'm hoping Sophie will take after me.”

My Galleon alert vibrated and I pulled it out of the pocket of my robes. Morris was paging me so that meant he was probably ready to discharge Matt. “I've got to go,” I said. “I think Matt's going to be leaving.”

“All right,” Victoire said as she stood up. “I'll see you tomorrow.”

“Yep, sounds good.” I grabbed all of my paperwork and notes and followed Victoire out of the room, being sure to lock it behind me.

******

Morris was waiting in the Dai Lewellyn ward when I got there a few minutes later, and so was Mum. She was wearing nurse robes and had a stack of clipboards in her arms, so presumably she had snuck away from clinicals for a few minutes to see Matt before he went home. Judging by the irritated look on Matt's face and the bemused one on Morris's, Mum was doing more than just saying hi to her son.

“I just don't think it's a good idea for you to go back to work tomorrow,” Mum said as I shut the door to the ward. “You need another day to rest.”

“Mum.” Matt sighed. “I've been resting for the past three days.”

“You've been here! In the hospital! Twenty-four hours ago you were practically unconscious on that bed, so you can't tell me you don't need another day of rest.”

“I'm practically unconscious once a month but I still only take a couple of days off,” Matt pointed out. “If I rested as much as you wanted me to I'd never get anything done.”

Morris and I shared a look, knowing that this could go on for ages. Despite the fact that both of us had degrees in healing, neither of us had any say in whether Matt went to work tomorrow where Mum is concerned. We could both assure her that Matt was as healthy as she was but she would still insist he stay in bed and eat soup all day. Degrees were nothing compared to motherly love.

When Matt was little, Mum constantly told him to rest and she hardly let him do anything that other little kids did. As he got older he got fed up with it and started arguing with her, but even now that he's in his twenties she still has that pull over him. Hell, she still has that pull over me. If she demanded that I stay in bed and rest I'd probably listen to her, even if Farina was barking in my other ear to get to work.

“Amy said I could go in in the afternoon if I rested in the morning,” Matt said. “Isn't that a good compromise?”

Instead of agreeing with him, Mum turned around and glared at me, as if that wasn't a compromise at all. “Amy's not your mother,” Mum said.

“But she's a Healer!” Matt shouted.

“Not your Healer,” Mum countered.

“Healer Sterling agrees with her,” Matt pointed out.

Morris sighed and shook his head, looking as if he wished he hadn't gotten involved with this, even though he really hadn't. Matt dragged him into it.

“We're busy at work, Mum. We're looking at that proposal Amy did for the foundation and Dad thinks we might be able to get funding for it if you work with the Ministry and it gets declared an official Werewolf Support Services program. I really need to be there.”

I looked at Matt, raising my eyebrows and trying to silently ask him why he hadn't told me about that. Last I knew we were putting that off until after the holidays. Plus, the Ministry had never gotten involved with anything the foundation did.

Mum sighed, clearly defeated. She glanced at her watch and I realized that her defeat probably had less to do with Matt's reasoning than the fact that she needed to get back to work. “Fine. Rest in the morning and work in the afternoon. Dad will tell me if you show up early, so don't.”

Mum set down her clipboards and gave Matt a tight hug and a kiss on the cheek before turning to me. “Don't let him go if he seems to get ill again.” She picked up her clipboards and gave me a one-armed hug before leaving the ward.

“Merlin,” Matt groaned as he sat back down on the bed. “You'd think I was twelve again.”

“She's your mother,” Morris said as he flicked his wand above Matt's head. “She'll worry about you forever, no matter how old you are. Your vitals are normal, so you're good to go.”

“Thanks,” Matt said as he got up. “I'm sure I'll be seeing you again soon.”

“Hopefully not too soon,” Morris replied and then turned to me. “Amy, I'll see you tomorrow.”

I nodded and Matt and I followed Morris out of the now empty ward. I stopped at my study to pick up a few more things and then we headed off for the Floo room. With any luck, I'd have a few hours to try and figure out my notes later that evening.


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