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 Post subject: Re: Beyond the Shadow
PostPosted: Sunday 8 August 2010 11:51:20pm 
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Chapter 13: The Riddleless Ravenclaw

I was honestly worried that I would not get out of work in time to go out with Dillan, and what was more shocking was that I was actually upset about it. Usually when work got in the way of social engagements I didn't care and was often even relieved. For whatever reason this was different and I wanted nothing more than to leave the hospital and go to whatever restaurant Dillan had reservations at.

No sooner had Matt vacated the Dai Lewellyn ward had a couple idiots turned up who decided to get into it with a hippogriff, resulting in bites that would scar. Served them right, I thought, aggravating a poor hippogriff. As much as I loved how much I helped people in my job, I hated the fact that part of it was cleaning up the messes of idiots. That cut into my brewing time so I had to stay late to work on a batch of Skele-Gro, which resulted in my staying at St. Mungo's until 7:30 on Friday night.

Fifteen minutes later I was back in my flat taking a very fast shower and hoping I had something in my closet that was nice enough to wear to a fancy restaurant with Dillan. Once I stepped back into my bedroom, I found Victoire sitting on my bed alongside a very elegant navy blue dress with long sleeves that looked like it would go down to my knees.

“You are a godsend,” I said as I grabbed the dress and walked back into the bathroom. “Where did you get it?”

“My closet,” she shouted through the door. “Another one of those things I actually thought I might be able to fit into again after having Sophie but now have no hope whatsoever since having twins will surely be twice as bad for my body.”

“Well, my wardrobe has certainly benefited from your pregnancies,” I replied. “Thanks.”

“Hey, that dress did its magic on Teddy and now it's time for it to do the same with Dillan.”

“Victoire!” I shouted as I stuck my head out into the hall. She was grinning mischievously. “This is only our second date. It's not like I'm going to marry the guy.”

“You never know. I never thought I'd marry the kid who I played Exploding Snap with while our grandmothers baked banana bread in the other room,” Victoire pointed out.

“I still don't even want to think about marriage at this point. I just want to have a good evening,” I said.

“You will,” Victoire said as she stood up. She flicked her wand a few times to dry and straighten my hair. “Now stop worrying and just loosen up.”

“I'm not worried; why do you think I'm worried?”

“We've been friends for fifteen years. I know when you're worried,” Victoire said. “Oh, I meant to ask you earlier, I'm on call this weekend, so could you watch Sophie if I get called in? Ted's on another mission.”

“Of course. How long does he think this one's going to last?”

“He doesn't think it'll go past Sunday,” Victoire replied. “Let me know if anything exciting happens tonight and I really want to hear all about this bloke. Come over to dinner at my place tomorrow if I'm not called in.”

“Definitely,” I said.

“See you tomorrow, then,” Victoire said as she left the flat.

I paced in my living room for a few minutes before there was a knock on the door at exactly eight-thirty. Dillan was punctual, that was for sure. The last bloke I had dated was always at least ten minutes late for anything, which was one of the many reasons I broke it off with him.

I opened the door and saw Dillan standing in the corridor with a bouquet of wildflowers. They were various shades of blue and green.

“You look great in that dress,” he said as he handed me the flowers. “Hope you like wildflowers. I was going to go with roses, but I thought these were more your style.”

I stepped aside to let him in and went to put the flowers in a vase, leaving him in the entryway, which gave me time to return my breathing back to normal. How did he know I hated roses? I never mentioned a thing about how Cinda decorated my bedroom in her house with a rose theme, resulting in my hatred of the flower.

“I love the flowers,” I said once I returned. “And I hate roses. Did you take Divination?”

“For a year. Thought it would be an easy class. I was wrong, so I switched to Ancient Runes,” he replied. “Well, I've got reservations at a French restaurant a few blocks away. It's a Muggle one, so I thought we'd walk.”

“You sure like Muggle restaurants, don't you?” I commented as we left the flat.

“Muggles have a way with food that most wizards don't. Magic tends to ruin food, I've noticed.”

“You've never eaten my friend Victoire's grandmother's cooking then,” I said.

“Nope, can't say that I have. What about your grandmothers? Are they the cooking type?”

“Let's put it this way, when my mum's mother, Cinda, lived in her house in Australia, her oven and stove were just for show. My dad's mum, she cooked a bit, but I don't really remember much. She died when I was young.”

“We're in the same boat, then. My grandmothers, bless their hearts, wouldn't have known what to do with a spatula if it came with an instruction manual. Guess that's why I've eaten at practically every restaurant in London.”

It wasn't a very long walk to the restaurant and the weather was surprisingly nice anyway. Cold, but not windy, which was pretty much considered beautiful for January. It was a very small and quiet restaurant with dim lighting and cozy booths. Nobody in it seemed to be under the age of twenty and all of the waiters and waitresses were wearing suits.

The maitre d' led us to a booth in the back and lit the candle on the table before producing two menus and telling us that our server would be with us shortly. I opened my menu only to discover that the entire thing was in French and the extent of my knowledge of the French language is 'bonjour', 'fromage', and 'ou es la toilet?'. Sure, knowing French was common for a lot of people in England but since I spent my first fourteen years in Australia I never bothered learning it. I should have Victoire give me a brief lesson in it sometime.

“I haven't the slightest idea what any of this means,” I whispered across the table.

“It's ok,” he assured me. “I'll order for you.”

I suppressed the urge to rattle off a list of foods I didn't like and decided to just let him order for me. French food was French food, right? It was all going to be gourmet and amazing. I could always just eat around the mushrooms, trying not to be very obvious with picking them out.

The waiter arrived and Dillan must have ordered something in French because a few minutes later the waiter delivered a bottle of red wine, a baguette, and a platter of cheese to the table. I assumed it was brie, and tentatively put some onto a piece of baguette while Dillan poured two glasses of wine. The French cheese was actually really good.

“So,” I began as I spread a bit more cheese on another piece of bread, “what house were in you in at Hogwarts?”

“Ravenclaw,” Dillan answered after setting down his glass. “Spent most of my time wishing I was in Hufflepuff because I'm terrible with riddles. Usually had to wait until someone else wanted to get into the common room before I could. Bloody embarrassing as a seventh year, waiting for the eleven-year-olds to let me in.”

I didn't even try to suppress my laugh. “Poor Dillan, forced to wait every time he wanted to get into the common room.”

“You'd think the Sorting Hat, having the brains of Godric Gryffindor, would have been able to tell that I couldn't solve a riddle to save my life, let alone gain me entrance into the common room,” Dillan muttered.

“Maybe it likes a joke?” I suggested.

“Pretty awful joke if you ask me, making someone be the butt of everyone's jokes for seven years. The only Ravenclaw too stupid to get into his own common room. The Slytherins called me 'Dumb Dillan' for two years before they realized it had gotten old. Then they dubbed me the 'Riddleless Ravenclaw'.”

“Really? You were known throughout the school for this?” I asked. I'd never heard of anyone not being able to get into their common room. Either Dillan was a lot older or younger than me, or I was clueless while at Hogwarts. “What year did you graduate?”

“2013. What about you?”

“2017, but I didn't move to England until 2013, so I started Hogwarts the year after you graduated. That would explain why I hadn't heard of the Riddleless Ravenclaw.”

“If you call me that I'll order you the escargot,” Dillan said as he ripped off a chunk of bread.

“That's one bit of French that I do know and I won't let you order me snails.”

“Too bad. They're tasty.”

The waiter returned and Dillan ordered something in French. I did hear the word 'escargot', but I really hoped he was ordering them for himself. But really, who could possibly enjoy eating snails? Even Victoire didn't like them and she was half-French.

“You really like escargot?” I asked after the waiter left.

“Sure,” Dillan replied. “It's an acquired taste, but it's pretty good.”

“Is there any food you don't like?”

“Nope.” Dillan grinned.

We both reached for our wine glasses at the same time, resulting in a few moments of silence, but it wasn't awkward like so many silences during other dates I'd been on.

I set down my glass. “So how did a Ravenclaw such as yourself start working as a counterfeit coin checker at Gringotts?”

“That would be the result of my inability to make a decision about what I wanted to do with my life so I got a menial job to do while I decided and well, sixteen years later, I still haven't decided. Well, I've sort of decided.”

Completely the opposite of me, I thought, as I had my entire career planned out at the age of fifteen. “What did you decide on?”

“You're going to think I'm crazy,” Dillan began. “But I would love to open my own restaurant.

“Like a pub?”

“No, like a real restaurant, like this only less fancy,” Dillan explained. “I like to cook, Muggle style, of course. That's the idea, I'll start a restaurant in the magical world, only I wouldn't use magic to cook. Some place like Diagon Alley or something.”

“That's not crazy,” I said. “You should do what you really want to do.”

“You think?” Dillan asked. “It would be a risk, of course, starting a business always is, but my parents left me enough when they died and I haven't spent it. They weren't rich by any means, but it's enough start-up for a restaurant.”

“Then do it,” I told him. “You obviously want to.”

“It's weird, though, I always thought I'd work for the Ministry like my dad did and his dad before him, doing some sort of middle of the road job and then retiring with enough to get by.”

“My dad works for the Ministry and so does my brother. I couldn't do it, though. I wouldn't be able to keep my mouth shut when I needed to. Politics are just too...political,” I replied. “What department did your dad work in?”

“He was an obliviator, so he worked wherever he was needed. Definitely an interesting department and he always had stories when he came home, but I just can't see myself being a Ministry worker. What about your dad and your brother?”

“My dad's Head of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures and my brother works in Werewolf Support Services,” I said.

“Wow, your dad's pretty high up there. Is your brother going to follow in his footsteps?”

“I don't know. I mean, my dad's never been one to sit back and watch things happen, which is how he got that position. He started in Werewolf Support Services here, but he had been Head of the entire magical creatures department in Australia, too. My whole family's like that, though, wanting to change the world kind of thing, always have been. Matt's different, though.” I paused, trying to figure out the best way to say it. There was no way Matt would ever be head of the department, being a werewolf. “I don't think he's outspoken enough.”

“What about you?” Dillan asked. “Are you going to change the world?”

At that moment the waiter arrived with our food. Even though I had already decided I wasn't going to tell Dillan about my work with the Wolfsbane, at least not yet, I was grateful. Maybe he would forget his question. I knew there was a big difference between telling him about the Wolfsbane and telling him about Matt, but the two were so interconnected for me that telling him about the first would almost be like telling him about the latter.

The waiter set some sort of chicken dish in front of me and luckily it did not contain any mushrooms. It actually looked quite good. Dillan had his escargot along with some sort of steak dish. Like with the pizza, Dillan waited for me to try my meal before he tried his own. I took a bite and yet again, Dillan had introduced me to an amazing dish.

“Delicious,” I said after I had swallowed.

“Glad you like it, but I'm not waiting for you to try the food, you know.” He smiled and I realized he was waiting for me to answer the question about changing the world.

“I guess you could say I'm not trying to change the world like my dad is, but I'm just trying to make it easier for a few people.”

“See, that to me is changing the world more than what they do at the Ministry, no offense to your dad or anything.”

“None taken,” I replied as I began to dig into my chicken.

I never really thought of what I was doing as changing the world anyway. Changing the world to me seemed like something that would involve bringing about world peace or solving poverty or ending world hunger, or even like what Harry Potter did, but not fixing a potion that someone else created.

Whether Dillan was analyzing my answer or merely enjoying his steak, I didn't know, but we were silent for the next few minutes, each of us lost in our food and thoughts. I'd never met anyone like Dillan before, and it both excited and scared me. The last thing I wanted was for him to be like the few blokes I had dated before, but it's honestly what I expected. I expected him to be a nine-to-five Ministry drone who wanted to spend every minute of every weekend together completely forgetting the fact that my job wouldn't allow for that. But Dillan didn't give off that vibe, simply because he wanted to open a restaurant and that would require a lot of his time.

We finished our dinners over the next half hour, pausing for sips of wine and tales of our times at Hogwarts. We both ranted about Professor Washburn and the Slytherins who had tormented us. But we also talked about the good times, the times we snuck out of our dormitories with our friends and impromptu trips to the kitchens.

By the time dessert arrived (crème brule, something surprisingly tasty for not having any chocolate in it), we were laughing and had earned glares by other patrons. I suppose loud raucous laughter was frowned upon in fancy restaurants. Dillan paid the bill and we were soon back out in the cold winter night.

The sidewalks were less crowded now, and the only people out and about were hurrying towards buildings, most likely due to the fact that the wind had picked up. I wrapped my jacket tighter around myself as Dillan took my hand and squeezed it.

“I had fun tonight.” I said as I smiled up at him.

“Me too,” Dillan agreed. “I was wondering if maybe I could cook dinner for you sometime, now that I've told you about my restaurant idea.”

“I'd like that.”

“Next weekend then? Friday or Saturday, whichever works better for you,” Dillan suggested.

Next weekend. Next weekend I was on call. I was a little taken aback at how upset I was about this. Normally when blokes asked for second or third dates I hoped they'd pick a day when I was on call, just so I'd have a decent excuse to say no, but not this time. This time I wished I wasn't.

“I'm actually on call next weekend,” I said quietly. “I wish I could, though.”

“Not a problem. How about the weekend after?”

“That would be great.” I smiled.

A few minutes later we reached my flat building. We paused at the door and Dillan took both of my hands. I gazed into his eyes and smiled as I noticed they were the perfect chocolate color. He smiled back and tilted his head as he leaned closer to me. His lips met mine and I closed my eyes. The kiss was brief, like all first kisses are, but to me it was the perfect length. We were both smiling when we pulled apart and I could feel the heat in my cheeks, despite the frigid air.

“Good night, Amy,” he said quietly, still smiling at me.

“Good night, Dillan,” I echoed, still in a daze from the kiss.

He walked away slowly, looking back every so often to gaze at me. I stood at the door until he disappeared into a nearby alley and I imagined the sound of him Apparating. Only then did I walk inside, still feeling his lips on mine.


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 Post subject: Re: Beyond the Shadow
PostPosted: Sunday 8 August 2010 11:52:12pm 
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Joined: Thursday 28 December 2006 6:45:34pm
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Chapter 14: The Support Groups

Victoire was in tears when I arrived at her house the following evening, making me wonder whether she had forgotten that she had invited me over for dinner. However, once I saw the kitchen, I realized she had merely dropped an entire pitcher of juice on the floor. Or rather, Sophie had.

“I told her to just let me pour it,” Victoire said while sniffling. “She's five for Merlin's sake! And it was a full pitcher!”

“Victoire, it's ok,” I assured her as I waved my wand to clean up the mess. “Not a big deal.”

“But it is!” Victoire sobbed. “I yelled at her and she ran upstairs and she hates me and I'm obviously an unfit parent if my own daughter hates me so why should I be having two more kids? Two, Amy, two! I am insane!”

“You're not insane. People can't control whether they're going to have twins or not. And Sophie does not hate you. Get ahold of yourself and I'll go find Sophie.”

Merlin, I thought as I left the room, if that's what pregnancy did to your emotions, I didn't want to do it. I honestly did not remember Victoire getting so emotional when she was pregnant with Sophie. Well, except for the whole lycanthropy thing.

I found Sophie sitting in her room playing with a few My Little Hippogriffs. She looked up when I walked in and her face was streaked with tears. I sat down next to her and began to brush the purple hair that was knotted in a ball atop the head of one of the hippogriffs.

“Mummy's hates me,” she said quietly.

“No she's doesn't,” I assured her. “She's mad that you didn't listen, but she doesn't hate you.”

“I just wanted to pour the juice myself,” Sophie said. “'Cause soon I'm going to have two little brothers and I'm going to be a big sister. Big sisters can pour juice.”

“Not all the time. Do you know how old your mum was when Aunt Gabriella was born?”

“No.”

“She was only two. Two-year-olds can't do much of anything when they have little brothers or sisters. They're still babies themselves. You'll be able to do a lot more when your brothers are born. You'll be able to make them laugh when they're old enough and your mum and dad will let you hold them.”

“I guess.” She fiddled with one of the hippogriff's beaks. “How old were you when Uncle Matt was born?”

“Seven,” I replied. “So not that much older than you. What do you say we go back downstairs?”

“What if Mummy's still mad?”

“I think she's better now. You know how your little brothers are growing in Mummy's tummy?”

“Yeah.”

“Sometimes that makes her get mad more easily, because it's a lot of work to have babies growing in your tummy.”

“Oh. Okay.”

“Come on.” I offered her my hand as I stood up, and we walked downstairs together.

Victoire had recovered by the time we got back to the kitchen and had a pot of water boiling on the stove, a box of macaroni and cheese on the counter. Whenever Sophie was around, we ate kid food. Sophie hovered around me for a few seconds before Victoire held out her arms and Sophie ran into them.

Victoire and I played with Sophie after dinner and didn't get to talk about my date with Dillan until after she went to bed. However, no sooner had Victoire shut Sophie's door did she grin at me and demand details. I waited until we were back downstairs to give them.

“Before I say anything, do you remember anyone called the 'Riddleless Ravenclaw' from Hogwarts?” I asked. Victoire would have been at Hogwarts while Dillan was there, for a few years anyway.

“The riddleless Ravenclaw?” she repeated. She didn't say anything else for a few moments, clearly trying to remember. “Oh, wait! I think I do remember Teddy telling me about him once. Some Ravenclaw a few years above us who couldn't solve a riddle and couldn't get into his common room?”

“Yeah, him.”

“Why? What's he got to do with your date?”

“He was my date,” I replied. “Dillan is the riddleless Ravenclaw.”

“Seriously?” Victoire laughed. “I never really met him but still, that's kind of funny. What's he like?”

I smiled. “He's adorable and nice and sweet and get this, he wants to start a restaurant in Diagon Alley or some place. A restaurant where he cooks like a Muggle.”

“I thought you said he was a counterfeit coin checker at Gringotts.”

“He was. That's the job he was fired from and he actually hated it. He wants to start a restaurant and he wants to cook me dinner,” I said. “But I'm on call next weekend so I probably won't see him for a while.”

Victoire just grinned.

“What?” I asked.

“Your face. You look so sad about that and I've never really seen you sad about missing a date to work. It's like a major 'aww' moment!” Victoire exclaimed.

“I know. I realized that last night. Never before have I been with someone who makes me want to miss work. I mean, it's not like we're together yet, but....”

“You think that's where it's headed?”

“Unless he suddenly announces that he wants to resurrect Lord Voldemort then yes, I do.”

“Well, I can guarantee he's not going to do that,” Victoire said seriously.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because if he can't solve a riddle he certainly wouldn't be able to figure out how to bring someone back from the dead.”

I laughed. “Fair point.”

Victoire shifted and pulled her Galleon alert out of her pocket. Frowning as she read it, she stood up. She didn't have to tell me what it said. “Off to Mungo's?” I asked.

“Yep.” She sighed. “I suppose I'll have to go wake Sophie so she can spend the night at your place.”

“No.” I shook my head. “I'll stay here. I can sleep on the couch. That way you don't have to get her up.”

“You sure?”

“Positive.”

Victoire grabbed her wand and a handful of Floo powder, stepping into the flames a moment later. I watched as the fire returned to its normal color and wondered just how much longer Victoire was going to be doing this.

******

The Lycanthropic Children's Foundation held its first meeting after the holidays the following Monday which meant I went directly to my parents' house from work. Everyone was already there (except Teddy, as his mission was taking longer than expected) and there was happy chatter about what everyone had done for the holidays. Betsy was currently in the middle of a story from her trip to France with her fiance.

After I had poured myself a cup of coffee, Mum called the meeting to order. We first delegated some of the newest donations to certain children and then we had to vote on whether to start support groups as well.

“The Ministry has agreed to allocate a certain amount of its Werewolf Support Services budget to any support groups we decide to start, so long as we do not focus solely on children. However, we have to stress that these groups will not be therapy sessions since none of us are certified to give any sort of therapy,” Mum explained. “Does anyone move to put this up to a vote?”

“I move,” I said.

“I'll second it,” Victoire replied.

“All in favor?” Mum asked. There was a chorus of 'yays'. “Any opposed?” Complete silence. It had passed unanimously and I grinned.

For the next hour we hammered out the details of the support groups because deciding to have them was only the beginning. We had to figure out what groups we would start with, where they would be held, how we would get word out, and who would run them. It really was a huge step for our foundation, going from a mostly unknown group to having public support groups.

In the end we decided to start with four groups and see where it went from there. One for children with lycanthropy, one for adults with it, one for siblings, and one for parents. I was elected to ask Farina if we could have the groups meet at St. Mungo's since it was a location that could provide private rooms. Flyers would be printed and posted in the hospital once we figured out times and exact locations.

“All we have left is figuring out who is going to run the meetings,” Mum said once we'd all agreed upon St. Mungo's as a location. “We'll obviously have to run them, but I don't think all of us should go to all of them.”

“Yeah, that might be overwhelming,” Joe agreed. “And honestly, I haven't got the time to attend that many meetings.”

“I don't think any of us do,” Victoire agreed. “But there are only four meetings and six of us, so I think we can figure it out.”

“I'd like to run the sibling one,” I said immediately.

Betsy gave me a strange look and while it only lasted a second, I wondered if I'd said that too fast. Neither Betsy or Joe know that Matt is a werewolf and we've seen no reason to enlighten them. They don't know about Sophie being one either.

“Unless anyone else wants to,” I said half-heartedly.

“No, that's fine,” Mum replied. “And I'll do the one for parents, if nobody else is volunteering.”

“Teddy and I can do the one for children,” Victoire suggested. That made sense, I thought, since they'd be bringing Sophie anyway.

Betsy turned to Joe. “That leaves us for the one for adults. Want to do it together?”

“Sure,” Joe agreed. “Although to be perfectly honest, I'm not sure how much help either of us will be, seeing as neither of us have lycanthropy.”

“True,” Betsy replied. “But I have a feeling we'll mostly be there to start things off and once everyone knows each other, the group will run itself.”

“That's the hope of it, anyway,” Mum said.

We decided to wait on deciding a time until after we found out if Farina would let us host the meetings at St. Mungo's. There was no point in wasting time on that if we couldn't hold the meetings there anyway. Joe and Betsy headed out a short while later since it was late. Victoire and I stayed to help Mum clean up.

“You know, Mum,” I said as we were washing mugs, “I was thinking that if he was willing to, Matt would be a good leader of the children's group.”

Mum set down her sponge. “You're kidding, right?”

“Why would I be kidding?” It made sense to me. Who better to give these kids hope than someone who had gone to Hogwarts and was holding down a steady job? Better yet, he wasn't old enough to be considered 'old' to the little kids and an adult to teenagers.

“Because then people are going to find out that he's got lycanthropy,” Mum said slowly, as if she was talking to a child.

“Only the people at the meeting, Joe, and Betsy, and what would be the problem with that? It's obviously ok for everyone else in the support groups to reveal they've got lycanthropy,” I pointed out.

“It's just....it's different.”

“Why, Mum? Because he's Matt? He could really help these kids,” I said as I put away dishes.

“I just don't think it's a good idea.” Mum sighed.

“He's twenty-three. Why don't you just let him decide for himself?”

“What about Teddy and Victoire?” Mum asked. “They're going to be running this one.”

“And I don't think they'd be upset if Matt were to run it instead.”

“Not at all,” Victoire said as she came into the room. “Honestly, Julie, I think it's a good idea. Just let Amy talk to him.”

“Fine,” Mum said shortly. “Fine.”

We finished the dishes in silence and said goodbye. Mum was still having a hard time letting Matt grow up, even six years after he came of age.

I was determined to talk to Matt about leading the support group before Mum got to him so I went directly to his flat after the meeting. Matt could say no for all I cared, but I wanted him to make the decision for himself, without Mum interfering. I knocked on the door, hoping that he was home since Albus had returned briefly over the weekend and I wasn't sure whether he had left yet or not.

I had my answer when messy-haired Al Potter opened the door a few seconds later. “It's your sister!” he shouted back into the flat.

I stepped inside, gingerly avoiding a spilled bag of crisps and a Puddlemere t-shirt, clear signs that John had been there recently. Matt was laying on the couch and there was a pile of Exploding Snap cards on the coffee table. A second glance at Al's face revealed that he had been losing.

“Hey, Amy,” Matt said as I entered the room. “Just get back from the meeting?”

“Yep,” I said as I sat down in an incredibly ugly green armchair. “It passed unanimously. We're going to be starting the support groups.”

“Excellent,” Matt replied. “I'll make sure the Ministry gets you the money soon.”

“Thanks,” I said. “Listen, I had this crazy idea during the meeting and you don't have to agree if you don't want to but I have to ask.”

“What is it?” Matt asked as he sat up.

“One of the support groups is for kids with lycanthropy. Teddy and Victoire are leading it, but I thought it, well, might be a good idea if you ran it.”

“Seriously?” Matt asked. He looked beyond shocked, whereas Albus was smiling slightly.

“Yeah, but you don't have to-”

“No, I want to,” Matt replied. “I'm just kind of surprised since I've never really done anything for the Foundation.”

“Except, you know, be the whole reason your mum founded it,” Albus cut in.

“Shut it,” Matt said. “I'll do it, Amy, just let me know when the group meets.”

“That's great.” I smiled. “I really think you'll be a good role model for the kids.”

“So, Amy,” Albus said as he flopped down on another ugly armchair. “Who was that tall bloke you were with the other night?”

I turned to Albus and stared at him. “Wh-what? How did you find out about him?”

“Shared the lift with him on Friday. He pushed the button for your floor and I took a guess that he was going to see you rather than old Mrs. Walsh.”

“Oh,” I muttered. “He's just a guy I've been out with a few times.”

“A few?” Matt repeated. “And you haven't told your own brother?”

“I would've told you about him when it got serious.”

“Amy, with you, any time you agree to a second date it's considered serious,” Matt pointed out.

Albus burst out laughing. “Shut it, Albus. When was the last time you even went on a first date?” I asked.

“I can't help it. I can't make dates when I have no idea when I'll be working,” Albus said.

“On that note, I think I'm going back to my flat. Matt, are you doing anything tomorrow after work?”

“Don't think so, why?”

“I'm going to visit Cinda; haven't been there in a while. Want to come?”

“Sure.” Matt shrugged. “I can tell Cinda about your boyfriend.”

I glared at him before getting up to leave. “Don't you dare,” I muttered on my way out.

******

It only took me half the day to find Farina and ask her about using a few conference rooms for the support group meetings. After a quick chat with Mum in the morning, I decided to request three rooms on the same night because it would be a lot easier for parents if the parents, siblings, and underage werewolves meetings were all on the same night. The meeting for adults with lycanthropy would take place on a different night. We also decided that there wouldn't be a parents meeting on the first night because most would wish to attend the underage meeting with their kids.

Farina agreed to let us use the rooms without hesitation and even better, without charge. All that was left to do was decide on a time and make flyers. We were given the rooms for Tuesday and Wednesday evenings from seven until eight.

After work I met Matt at the Ministry and we Apparated to the bush behind Cinda's nursing home. While walking up to the building, I told Matt that we had gotten rooms for the meetings and that they would most likely begin the following week.

The nursing home hadn't changed in the time that had taken place between our last visit and this one. Nurses milled about while patients sat around playing cards and sleeping. A bingo game was taking place in the lounge on Cinda's floor and there was that antiseptic smell in the air that was never missing from any type of medical related building. I was completely used to it since St. Mungo's had the same smell, but Matt wrinkled his nose as we walked through the corridor.

Cinda's door was open and I found her inside, looking at some sort of fashion magazine. She looked up when we entered, her mouth forming a wide grin.

“Amy, Matt!” she greeted us. “I was beginning to wonder if the two of you left the country!”

“No, just busy, Cinda,” I said as I gave her a hug. Matt and I sat down on the usual couch, settling in for an evening of gossip.

“Now, I have to tell you about Izzy down the hall...” Cinda began.

I smiled and nodded in all the appropriate places but my mind was not on Izzy and the rift that had developed between her and her granddaughter. My mind was on the support group meetings. It seemed almost surreal that an idea that I had had was actually going to be put into motion and might really help people. None of my potions had ever helped people before, but now, I might make a real difference.

“So then, Izzy's granddaughter was rapping on her door right before dinner and Izzy wouldn't answer. The nurses all thought something had happened so they unlocked the door and went in, only to find Izzy watching TV like nothing was wrong. Izzy's granddaughter hasn't been back since. Trust me, I've kept my ears open for the knocking,” Cinda finished.

“That's sad,” I replied, knowing that Cinda was focusing far more on the drama than the fact that Izzy had a bad relationship with her granddaughter.

“Yes, it is,” Cinda agreed. “But actually, maybe she'll come visit tonight. If she does you ought to go out there and introduce yourself, Matt. She's quite a cute girl, about your age.”

Matt looked up, the glazed look that had previously been on his face disappearing. “Erm, maybe,” he muttered.

“Seriously,” Cinda replied, leaning closer to us, “she's single. I heard a few people talking about how her boyfriend broke up with her a few weeks ago. I know you and your friends like living the bachelor life, but there's something to be said for settling down.”

“I'm only twenty-three,” Matt said, a feeble attempt to sway Cinda from setting him up with a random girl.

“Nonsense. You've been out of school for five years. Once you're thirty you'll wish you'd listened to me and so will all of your friends.”

Cinda knew enough about Matt's friends to know that none of them had settled down either, something that baffled her. She just couldn't comprehend that nobody married right out of school anymore.

“Just talk to her,” Cinda went on. “She's a few inches shorter than you, which is good. It'll be hard to find a girl who's significantly shorter than you, you know.”

I stifled my laughter while Matt muttered something incomprehensible under his breath. No one in my family was tall as a child, but nearly all of us hit a growth spurt in our teenage years. This rendered me a respectable five feet five inches, about as tall as Mum. However, the men in my family usually hit more of a growth spurt. Dad and Uncle Jack were both at least six feet and their father had been that tall as well. Richard was the only one who had been considered short, mostly since he had been shorter than Cinda by an inch. Matt, however, was about as tall as me, rendering him the shortest bloke in my family. We weren't sure if it was just Richard's genes in him or some sort of side effect of the lycanthropy or one of the potions he'd taken as a child. Whatever the reason, it was a bit of a sore point with him.

“Amy's got a boyfriend,” Matt said suddenly, snapping me out of my reverie.

Cinda turned to me and patted my hand. “Really? Tell me everything about him! Is he a wizard? When did it happen? Why haven't you told me yet?”

I glared at Matt and he smiled smugly before leaning back on the couch. Cinda wasn't going to mention Izzy's granddaughter again this visit, now that she found out I had a “boyfriend”. Which I didn't, because we'd only been on two dates.

“He's just a bloke I met at a pub. We've been out twice and he's definitely not my boyfriend-”

“Is he going to be?”

“I don't know, Cinda.” I sighed. This was exactly why I wasn't planning on telling Cinda about Dillan yet.

Cinda didn't rest until I had told her nearly all of the details of our dates as well as everything I knew about Dillan. It must have wore her out because by the time visiting hours were over, she was asking fewer questions. I nudged Matt awake (clearly my talk of Dillan had been boring him), we said goodbye, and left.

“Thanks,” I muttered as we left the building. “For telling her about Dillan.”

“Sorry. I needed her off my back about that girl. Didn't have the energy to put up with it today.”

“Clearly,” I replied. “Seeing as you fell asleep while I was giving Cinda details about my date that I didn't even give Victoire.”

“What? I was tired.”

“Full moon's not for three weeks. That excuse is not going to work today.”

“Fine,” he said. “I ratted you out for my own benefit. I am deeply sorry. Happy?”

“Yes.” I grinned at him and we Disapparated.


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