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 Post subject: In Moonlight's Shadow
PostPosted: Monday 30 June 2008 10:04:42pm 
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Edit: 10/24/2008. I made a new banner for HPFF and I thought I'd put it on here, too. :D It's down the page a little ways.

Edit: 7/18/2008. I have a title! :D Fawkes came up with the best title for this fic, In Moonlight's Shadow, so I decided to take her up on her suggestion for it. All credit for the title goes to Fawkes. This is a much better title than any of the ones I've come up with.

Here is my newest fan fic endeavor. This one is a spin-off of my Albus Potter series, so if you have not read Albus Potter and the Secrets Within , I highly suggest reading that one first. It's not necessary to understand the story, but there are spoilers for my AP&TSW in this fic.

This one is about Amy Eckerton and what led her, Matt, and their parents to move to England. It pretty much tells the story Matt tells in the 'Explanations' chapters in AP&TSW in more detail and from Amy's point of view. I have 6 or 7 chapters written so far and am not really sure how many chapters it will be in the end. I'm sure it will be quite long, though.

I have yet to write about any canon characters in it, although there will be a few in the later chapters. Not very many, though. In fact, the only canon characters that will actually be in it are Victoire, Teddy, and a few teachers. It is also written in first person, which I have never done before in fan fic.

So enough rambling, here is the first chapter!

Disclaimer- I do not own Harry Potter or anything in the Wizarding World. I only own the OCs and the plot.

Image

Chapter 1: Welcome Home

I flung the front door open and ran into my house, throwing my bag down on the newly polished floor. "Yes!" I shouted, "School is over! A whole month off! Third year is done!" I started dancing around the foyer shrieking at the top of my lungs. It's not that I don't like school, I like it a lot. It just gets monotonous after a while and it's nice to have a break. Especially the break in between years. That one is always the longest.

"Amy Marie!" my mother began in a warning tone.

I rolled my eyes and turned around to look at her. She, my father, and my little brother had just walked into the house. My mother was eying my bag and I knew just what she was going to tell me. "Amy, pick up your bag," I said at the same time she did.

Mum sighed, "Amy...."

"I'll pick it up, don't have a hippogriff." I ran over to where my bag had landed, picked it up, and slung it over my shoulder.

"Don't use that tone with me," Mum said.

"I'll just put your trunk upstairs," Dad interjected. He usually liked to get out of the room whenever Mum and I started arguing, which happens a lot. This was our usual 'coming home after school' argument. I always dropped my bag on the floor and Mum always told me to pick it up.

"I want you to go empty your trunk and put all your dirty robes in the basket," Mum told me. "By the time you're done with that I'll have dinner ready."

I nodded, "Whatever. I'll be in my room." I darted past Mum and ran up the main staircase. Yes, main staircase. There are three sets of stairs leading to the upper floors of my house. I suppose you could call my house a mansion, but I don't think of it that way. It's actually smaller than my grandparents' house.

My parents are rich, but you'd never guess it. They dress like regular people and they don't buy my brother and I whatever we want. Well, they do kind of spoil my little brother in my opinion. They don't buy me whatever I want because they want to 'teach me the value of a galleon'. I get an allowance, but it's no bigger than my friend Olivia's. My parents didn't work particularly hard to get all their money, they inherited it. My dad's parents died right after I was born and Dad inherited this house. My dad couldn't bear to sell it so we just moved in. It's fine with me because I get my own bathroom, even though I'm not even here most of the year.

When I got to my room, Dad had already dropped off my trunk and left. Who knows where he went. You could easily live a week in this house without seeing another person. In fact when I was a toddler, I would sneak off to other parts of the house and hide from my parents. I thought this was incredibly funny, but my parents did not. Mum tells me I was a real handful as a little kid and that it hasn't changed much. I like to think that's why they waited so long to have another kid after they had me. My brother is six and a half years younger than me. I wish they had had a baby in between my brother and I, preferably a girl. I think it would be great to have a little sister who isn't that much younger than me. Someone I could talk about what goes on in school with. But instead I just have one brother, who I really don't have much in common with. He's only seven and all he likes to do is go outside and run around and make a huge mess with mud and dirt. It's utterly disgusting. Of course, Mum doesn't really let him do that very often. She's very protective of him. I secretly think he is her favorite. It's probably because we don't agree on anything.

If you haven't guessed already, I have a very strange family. On the outside, we look pretty average. Two parents who aren't divorced with one daughter and one son. Pretty boring, right? Almost too boring and too average. For a while, we were almost that boring average family. Besides the whole inheriting large sums of money thing. When I was younger, we went to all sorts of charity events we were featured in newspapers and magazines. Again, this isn't due to anything my parents did. My mum's parents are rich as well. They're also pretty famous, although I'm not exactly sure why. But since they're famous, my mum is as well. Therefor, so are my brother and I. Well, we were.

Of course, even when we were appearing in the newspaper every week, we were still hiding a secret from most of the world. The Muggle world, that is. My mum is Muggle-born, so my grandparents are Muggles. That meant that we had to pretend we were Muggles at all of these events. Then there were the events in the wizarding world. Those ones were easier since we didn't have to hide anything. I actually liked these events when I was little. I got to dress up in fancy clothes and play with other kids while the adults all got drunk. However, as I got older they started to become extremely boring. The other kids became all snooty and all they did was compare their latest clothes and broomsticks and other things their parents had bought them. The Muggle ones were worse since everyone compared their electronics and I obviously don't have any of those.

Little did I know that I wasn't going to have to attend many more of those. Almost two years ago my little brother was bitten by a werewolf. We were camping and he stupidly left the tent by himself and got attacked by some werewolf. So now my little brother becomes a raging monster once a month and because of that we don't go to anymore Muggle charity events. We still go to the occasional wizarding one, but not many. Nobody knows that Matt is a werewolf and my parents want to keep it that way.

So there you have it, the Eckerton family is anything but normal. Now I've got to go empty my trunk. I really hate emptying it, but my mum makes me do it after every year. I'm a very messy person and would prefer to never have to clean anything in my life. Mum is the complete opposite and everything has to be neat. I'm just glad she doesn't insist that my room be clean.

I opened my trunk and gazed around my messy bedroom as I threw robes haphazardly into the hamper. The walls of my room are purple, courtesy of my four-year-old self. I really dislike the color now and wish my parents would let me change it. I'd really like it to be a nice deep navy with white stars painted along the top. Dad says I might be able to paint my walls if I keep my grades up next year. For now I've settled for charming twinkling stars onto the walls. I really love stars and the night sky in general. Astronomy is my favorite class. At least my bed is a nice color. It's a canopy bed with dark red hangings and matching sheets and blankets. That bed was my reward for decent grades last year. All my furniture is made out of some kind of dark wood that I don't remember the name of. What I like best about my room is the utter state of chaos that its always in. My stuff is strewn all over the floor and nothing is 'put away' as my mum likes to say.

Just as I was throwing the last few broken quills from my trunk into the trash, I heard a small pop and Ellie appeared into my room. "Mistress wants Ellie to tell you that dinner is ready."

"Thanks, Ellie," I grinned at our house elf. I like Ellie. She always helps me persuade Mum to let me keep my room a mess.

"Welcome home, by the way," Ellie smiled.

"Aw, thanks," I smiled back, "Nice to be back, even if Mum is yelling at me already."

"I will be telling Mistress to leave you alone."

"You don't have to, it's ok. I'll deal with her."

Ellie nodded and snapped her fingers. She disappeared into thin air as I got up from the floor. I wish I could Apparate like Ellie can. Then I could visit Olivia whenever I wanted to. Olivia is my best friend from school. Mum never lets her come visit, but I go to her house quite a bit.

I sauntered into the formal dining room and the rest of my family was already sitting down. We always eat in the formal dining room the day I come back from school. Mum also makes my favorite meal, spaghetti and meat balls. Today was no different and there was a large platter of pasta and a tossed salad sitting in the middle of the table. I took my seat next to Ellie and stared ravenously at the food. The snacks I had on the train seemed so long ago.

"Sorry I snapped at you earlier," Mum smiled at me as she served me up a large dish of spaghetti.

"That's all right." This was another part of our routine. Mum always apologized for yelling. "All my laundry is in the hamper."

"Thank you, dear."

"Are we doing anything fun this holiday?" I asked in between bites. My friend Kenzie's family always went away in January, but we rarely did.

"Hadn't really thought about it," Dad shrugged, "I didn't take any time off work. I have Christmas Eve through New Year's Day off, though."

"You know we can't do anything then," Mum replied quietly.

I did some quick counting in my head and figured out that this month's full moon was on the twenty-eighth. Of course. Dad only takes time off work around the full moon. "How about over the weekend or something in January?"

"I wanna go visit Uncle Jack," Matt announced with his mouth full of pasta.

"That's gross," I made a face and handed him a napkin.

"Sweetie, Uncle Jack lives too far away to visit him over the weekend," Mum told him.

I would like to go visit Uncle Jack, too. We haven't seen him in a year and a half. He lives in New York, in some town called Horseheads. That's got to be the craziest town name I've ever heard of, but Uncle Jack likes it there.

"I'm sure we'll think of something to do," Dad assured me. I wasn't so sure. We didn't do anything fun over last Christmas, so why should this one be any different? "If not this holiday then the next one. I'll try and book some time off."

"We're getting the tree on Christmas Eve, right?" I asked, changing the subject. "Like we usually do?"

"Of course. We'll decorate that day, too," Mum said.

"Good. I'm thinking we should go with a 12 foot tree this year."

"You say that every year," Dad laughed.

"And you never get one! I'm serious! The ceiling is so high in the living room so we should get a tall tree! It's not like it would be that much more work. All you have to do is flick your wand and it would be all set up. Then we'll decorate it and you can levitate the ornaments up to the high parts."

"I suppose we could," Dad grinned, "I have always wanted to try that."

"Where are you going to get such a large tree?" Mum asked, shaking her head. No doubt she was thinking about the large amount of needles that would fall off the tree. "They won't have one at the tree farm."

"We'll go find one in the forest," Dad told her, "No big deal."

"Yes!" I shouted, "Finally, the big tree!"

"Are your parents coming this year?" Dad asked.

"Yes, they're coming on Christmas Eve and they'll stay until the full moon," Mum explained.

My grandparents always come to our house on Christmas. It's generally a very quiet affair because I don't have any cousins.

******

I woke up bright and early on Christmas Eve morning. The house was dead quiet as I ran down the stairs and into the kitchen. Nobody else was up that early. My parents are both late sleepers, which is always funny on Christmas morning because Matt and I have to practically drag them out of bed to open presents. Today, however, I was going to have to wait until they got up to go get the tree. Dad said we wouldn't get it until the afternoon, since he and Mum were going to get my grandparents this morning. My grandparents live near Sydney and we live near Brisbane, so my parents always just Apparate them to our house. I sighed loudly. Patience was not one of my virtues. I really didn't want to wait until the afternoon to get the tree.

Getting the tree has always been my favorite part of Christmas. We usually make a whole day of it. We go to the tree farm and spend a few hours picking out the perfect tree. Then we'd sneak off some place away from all the Muggles and Apparate home with it. The decorating itself would take the rest of the day. Dad always does the charm work to get the tree to light up and then Mum does the tinsel. After that Matt and I get to hang all the ornaments.

This year would be different, though, since they were just going to get a tree from the nearby forest. I think it will be funner. We won't have to worry about any Muggles seeing us Apparate and Dad can just chop the tree down with his wand. Of course, I'll miss seeing him trying to use the Muggle ax.

I decided to rifle through the cupboards to see what there was to eat. My all-time favorite breakfast is this Muggle cereal called Lucky Charms. Mum only buys it when I'm home because she doesn't want Matt to eat sugar for breakfast. She really would prefer that I not eat it either, but she figures I get healthy breakfasts at school, so it's ok to eat sugar while I'm home. Sadly, Mum has not boughten this holiday's supply of Lucky Charms and the only cereal I see is healthy stuff. I shut the cupboard and just decide to have some toast. I grab a few slices of bread and shove them in the toaster. Yes, our house does have Muggle appliances because Mum likes those better for cooking.

Once I finished making the toast I settled down and waited for everyone else to get up. By the time I was done eating, the house was still completely quiet. I love being at home, but sometimes it's just too quiet. The common room at school is always loud and there's never a dull moment. I suppose I could start my homework, but there's so much time left to do that. Eventually I just decided to wander into the living room and start a new book until everyone woke up.

I must have fallen asleep because before I knew it someone was shaking my shoulder and whispering, "Amy, Amy...."

I jumped, "What?!"

"Sorry, didn't mean to scare you." It was Dad. "What time did you get up?"

"Erm, maybe around five?"

"No wonder you were asleep," Dad laughed, "It's nearly eleven now. Mum and I have to go get your grandparents. We should be back soon. I need you to keep an eye on Matt for us."

"All right," I yawned and got up. "Where is he?"

"Still sleeping. He hasn't gotten up yet."

"Ok, see you soon," I gave him a hug goodbye. "Bye, Mum!"

"Bye, Amy," Mum shouted from the kitchen, "We'll be back in a half hour."

Dad went into the kitchen and a few seconds later I heard a loud crack and the two of them were gone. Quiet again. I always get used to the quiet that is my house during the holiday, but it's a bit unnerving at first. I suppose if I listen close enough, there is some noise. I could hear Ellie doing something in the kitchen, probably cooking lunch. But it's still too quiet. I picked up my book that had fallen on the ground and flipped through the pages to find my spot. I hadn't read half a page before I heard a loud scream come from upstairs followed quickly by a loud bang from the kitchen.

I jumped up and ran into the kitchen on my way to the stairs. "You all right?" I asked Ellie as I passed through.

"Yes, Ellie is fine. Just dropped this platter," Ellie gestured to a plastic platter on the floor. At least it was plastic, I thought.

"Good," I smiled at her as I ran out of the kitchen. Once I reached the stairs the screaming had stopped but as I started climbing I could hear faint sobbing. I really wasn't too worried. Matt always had nightmares a few days before the full moon. He usually woke up screaming and couldn't remember what his nightmare had been about.

I took a left at the top of the stairs and headed down the long hallway towards Matt's room. His room was closer to my parents', which was also on the left side of the main staircase. My room was on the right side. I pushed the door to his room open and my eyes rested on his bed. He was curled up in the middle of the bed, covered completely by a few blankets, and was shaking. I sighed and walked over to the bed.

"What's wrong?" I asked as I sat down. No answer. "C'mon, Matt." I pulled the blankets off of him and saw tears streaked on his red face. "You can't bury yourself in all these blankets when it's this hot," I said. "You're red."

He nodded and looked at me. "Where's Mum?"

"Went to go get Cinda and Richard with Dad," I explained as I pulled him into my lap. "Are you all right?"

"Yeah, I just had a bad dream again," he mumbled.

"Want to go downstairs? Mum and Dad should be home soon."

"Can I have some Lucky Charms?"

"Sorry, Mum hasn't bought any yet," I laughed, "And Ellie's making lunch right now. After that we're going to get the tree."

Matt's face brightened, "Oh yeah! Christmas is tomorrow!" He jumped off the bed and ran out the door.

I laughed to myself as I chased after him. Nothing cheers him up like thoughts of Christmas. I found him in the kitchen watching Ellie prepare lunch. I sat down next to him and talked to Ellie about school. Ten minutes later I heard the door open and Matt jumped off his stool and ran into the foyer. I followed more slowly.

"Hi Cinda, hi Richard," I greeted my grandparents. A long time ago my grandmother told me not to call her Grandma because it makes her feel old. She insisted that I call both her and my grandfather by their first names.

"Amy, darling!" Cinda kissed both of my cheeks, "How was school?"

"Great," I grinned. My grandmother was definitely strange enough to fit in with the rest of the family. She has this obsession with looking young, despite her real age. She has probably had more Botox than any of the American celebrities I've heard about. Her hair is dyed light brown and is always curled perfectly. She wears stylish (well, stylish for an old lady) pants suits that probably cost more than the latest broomstick.

Richard on the other hand, couldn't care less about his appearance. That's probably a good thing since most of their money is spent on Cinda's clothes, hair, and various Botox and plastic surgeries. Richard is shorter than Cinda by about a head and he looks about ten years older. This makes them quite the interesting couple.

"Matt, you're up!" Mum picked him up and kissed his forehead.

"He had another nightmare," I told them.

"Oh, dear," Mum gave Dad a significant glance and then looked at Matt again, "Are you all better now?"

"Uh-huh! And we're getting the tree today!"

"Oh, honey, I'm not sure-"

"Let him go, Julie. He'll be fine. We're not going far," Dad insisted.

I had a feeling this was going to happen. Mum is always over-protective of Matt especially around the full moon. Dad thinks she needs to loosen up. I agree with Dad. She can't baby him forever. It's not like the full moon was tonight, it was still four days away.

"Oh, all right," Mum sighed, "Let's go get some lunch for now."

"Amy, darling," Cinda said as we went into the regular dining room, "I saw the most adorable dress the other day! I'm sure it would look striking on you."

I groaned inwardly. Cinda was always trying to get me to wear fancy clothing. "Cinda, you know I don't like getting dressed up."

"You did when you were little."

"I know," I sighed as I sat down at the table, "When would I wear it anyway? I wear robes at school."

"You can wear it to our New Year's Party!" Cinda announced.

I blinked at her. New Year's party? I hadn't heard about any New Year's party. I turned to my parents who were looking just as clueless as I was. "What New Year's party?"

"Oh, that's right! I haven't told you yet. I'm sorry. I always forget that I can't mail invitations to you. Unless I want to use one of those birds! Anyway, I've decided that it's been too long since I hosted a good party. You don't have plans already, do you? It starts at seven."

"Cinda..." Mum sighed, "New Year's isn't really a good time for us. The full moon's on the 28th."

"He'll be better by then!" Cinda assured her.

"You don't know that."

"Just try and come, ok?" Cinda asked, "Amy will already be there if the full moon is on the 28th."

I groaned again. Great, just great. I was being swindled into going to some fancy party at my grandparents house. There was no way out of it. I always stayed with them on the full moon and the days following it. Mum says it's easier that way. I have never been at home during a full moon. My parents never really talk about it either, so I don't even know exactly what happens those nights. All I know is that Matt turns into a wolf and Mum and Dad lock him up in the basement. Then he hurts himself and it takes a few days for him to recover.

"I guess we could try," Mum said slowly.

"Good. It's been so long since you went to one of these parties. Everyone is wondering what happened to you!"

"I know, Cinda, I know. We've just had a lot on our plate."

"It will be fun for all of you!" Cinda replied excitedly, "And I'll take Amy to look at that dress once we're back at my house."

"Great. I can't wait," I said flatly.

"Oh, cheer up Amy. You'll love it."

I highly doubted that, but I just smiled and nodded to keep Cinda from saying anything else. The remainder of the meal was spent with Cinda telling my parents who was going to be at the party and what they were all up to. I found this all dreadfully boring and tuned out most of the conversation. I wound up watching Matt make a tower out of his peas until it collapsed and they all rolled onto the floor. It was pretty funny, especially when Mum made him pick all of them up.

"Can we go get the tree now?" I asked loudly once Cinda stopped gossiping.

"Er, yes, good idea!" Richard, who had been sleeping, woke up suddenly and stood up. "Let's get the tree!"

I laughed to myself. Richard never liked listening to Cinda's gossip and never pretended to either. Cinda didn't really care because Mum was at least pretending to listen and she was the one Cinda was talking to in the first place. Well, Mum and I, because towards the end she had started talking about all the kids and what they were up to lately. I really didn't care whose parents had gotten whom a sports car for their birthday or who got in trouble for going skinny dipping in the neighbor's pool.

"Who's coming?" Dad asked as he stood up.

"Me!" Matt shouted and knocked over his newest pea tower. Luckily for him, this one stayed on his plate.

"Do you even have to ask?" I grinned.

"Stay here with me, Julie," Cinda said to Mum, "I didn't wear the right shoes."

I looked at Cinda's shoes and had to agree with her. She was wearing four inch stiletto heels, and I'm not sure why. She knows we get the tree every Christmas Eve.

"I could transfigure those into sneakers, Cinda," Mum commented.

Cinda looked appalled, "My favorite heels? I think not!"

"I suppose I could stay and get started on the cookies," Mum sighed. "But next year you're either wearing the right shoes or I'll transfigure them against your will!"

"All right," Cinda laughed, "Next year..."

"Have fun, kids," Mum gave Matt and I each a hug and then she kissed Dad. "Come back if he's not feeling good," she warned.

"Don't worry," Dad rolled his eyes, "I think I can take care of my own son."

"I know you can. I just worry."


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PostPosted: Monday 7 July 2008 6:26:49am 
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Hey !

Awesome Fic. ! I love it, can't wait 'till you post more.


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PostPosted: Tuesday 8 July 2008 7:13:28pm 
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Thanks, Riley! I'm glad you like it. :)

Chapter 2: The Perfect Tree

I ran to the back door and pulled on my shoes. Matt was right behind me and the two of us ran out onto the deck. I absolutely love our backyard, it's my favorite part about our monstrosity of a house. There's a circular pool along with a hot tub on one side and the rest is covered in all types of plants. There's a stone wall around the entire property, which makes it very private. I like how the nearest neighbor is a mile away, so at night it's pitch black. Every once and a while I'll sneak out of the house after everyone has gone to bed and sleep outside, watching the stars. Mum would positively flip out if she ever found out that I did that. Anything that remotely resembles camping scares the living daylights out of her now.

The best part of the backyard is the forest that surrounds the back and one side of the yard. I love exploring that forest (another thing I do that Mum would freak out about). I wish the wall wasn't blocking it, but I can climb it in about thirty seconds. It's only a six foot wall.

I lept across the yard, jumping over various bushes and flower beds until I reached the wall. Matt was about halfway towards the wall and he was trying to copy my jumping. He tripped over a bush and landed on top of it. I winced and hoped Mum didn't see it. Matt stood up and ran the rest of the way to the wall, dodging the remaining bushes instead of trying to jump over them.

"You all right?" I asked him, grabbing his arms and examining them. Only a few minor scratches.

"Yeah," Matt panted. "I'm fine."

"Good," I grinned at him. He was a lot tougher than Mum made him out to be. I turned back to the deck and saw Dad and Richard coming down the steps. "Hurry up you two!" I shouted at them.

"We're coming!" Richard shouted back, "We're not all spring chickens!"

Matt and I laughed at his Muggle expression and waited for the two men to make their way over to the wall. They were sure taking their time. I sighed, "Let's just start without them," I suggested.

Matt nodded and I turned around and faced the wall. It was made of random pieces of rock that jutted out in many places, which made it much easier to climb. I grabbed hold of one of the larger pieces and started climbing. I've been climbing this wall since I was five and it's only gotten easier as I've gotten taller. The wall is only about three quarters of a foot taller than me now. I hoisted myself up onto the ledge and noticed that Dad and Richard were still walking towards the forest. The ledge of the wall is about three feet wide, which makes it extremely easy to get into the forest. All I have to do is jump.

Matt, however, is just barely four feet tall and can't climb the wall very well. I think this is mostly due to him not doing it very often. Mum would never let him. Instead of having him try and climb it and probably fall off, earning me a stern lecture from Mum, I lay down on the ledge and held my hand down over the side.

"Grab my hand," I told him. He did and I managed to pull him up. It's a good thing he's light.

"Amy Marie, what do you think you're doing?!" Dad shouted as I pulled Matt up onto the ledge.

"Getting into the forest," I replied simply.

"Just use the gate!" Dad shook his head.

Oh, right, the gate. There is a gate that leads into the forest, but that wouldn't have been nearly as fun. I turned to Matt. "Wait here while I jump." I walked to the other edge and jumped into the forest. "Now you jump. I'll catch you." Matt jumped off the ledge and into my arms.

At the same time, Dad started shouting even louder. "Amy Marie Eckerton! I said to use the gate! How many times has your mother told you not to jump off that ledge? And don't even get me started on letting your brother do it as well!"

I had been expecting this. Dad isn't nearly as strict as Mum, but this sort of thing does set him off, too. His threshold for danger is higher than Mum's, but climbing stone walls and jumping off the other side is one of the things he gets upset about. Especially when it involves Matt.

"Amy..." Dad sighed and shook his head as he and Richard walked through the gate. "What am I going to do with you?"

"Let me find the perfect tree," I grinned.

"You'd better hope your mother didn't see that."

"Julie needs to calm down a bit," Richard commented, "She's much too strict with these two."

"She has her reasons," Dad reminded him.

"Maybe. But when I was Matt's age, I was riding my bike through town all by myself and climbing over plenty of fences. My mum didn't even know where I was half the time."

I smirked as I listened to their conversation. Richard loved reminiscing about 'the old days'. We started walking through the forest, keeping our eyes out for the perfect tree.

"You lived in a different world, Richard," Dad pointed out.

"I know, but how different can childhood really be if you're a wizard?" Richard shook his head.

"You know I'm not just talking about the magic," Dad said quietly.

"I know," Richard replied, "All I'm saying is that he's still a kid and needs to have fun. Julie ought to loosen up a bit."

I agreed with Richard. Mum does need to loosen up. Of course, try telling her that. Dad and Richard didn't say anything else on that topic. Instead they started looking at trees, which was fine by me. After all, that's what we came here for.

The forest was full of all kinds of pine trees. There were also shrubs and bushes and flowers and other plant life. Plus there were the animals. None of them were particularly dangerous, although I have seen the occasional wolf. Mostly there are just deer, squirrels, rabbits, and other sorts of harmless creatures.

Most of the trees in the forest are too big for even our living room. We must have been walking around for close to an hour before we started to see some appropriate sized trees.

"How about this one?" Richard pointed to a tree that was about eleven feet.

"Too crooked," I pointed to the top of the tree, where the top most branches were leaning over.

"This one?" Dad pointed to another one.

I walked over and inspected the needles. "The needles are too brown."

I couldn't believe that Dad and Richard would want to settle for the first trees we found. They kept suggesting every tree that was around twelve feet, even though they looked awful. I rejected each one and continued to walk deeper into the forest, searching for the perfect tree.

I looked at each one carefully, examining the branches, the needles, and the trunk. Most of them were disappointing. I had thought we would have been able to find a better tree in the forest than at the tree farm, but maybe not. Then I spotted a cluster of trees a couple meters away and ran towards them. They looked much better than the ones we had seen earlier. I turned around only to see that Dad, Richard, and Matt were no longer behind me. I sighed loudly and started to tap my foot waiting for them. I wasn't worried about being alone in the forest. It didn't scare me at all. I was just anxious for them to look at the trees. Eventually I gave up waiting and started to look at them by myself.

After a few minutes I found what looked to be the perfect tree. The trunk was absolutely straight, the needles moist and bright green, and the branches fell into the perfect triangle shape. I stood next to it, imagining what it would look like in our living room, and my family finally caught up with me.

"Listen, Amy, we've either got to get one now or just go to the tree farm," Dad sighed. He was carrying Matt, who was yawning. "We've been out here all afternoon and he's pretty tired."

I checked my watch and was surprised to find that it was almost five o'clock. We had been out for a long time. "I want this one," I gestured to my newly found tree.

"Good," Dad smiled in relief. "It looks great to me."

"Me, too," Richard walked around the tree, "I must say this one is much better than the other ones we've been suggesting."

"Amy is always the one to find the perfect tree," Dad grinned as he set Matt down on the ground and pulled out his wand. "You two go on the other side and catch it."

I ran to the opposite side of the tree with Richard and the two of us held out our hands to catch the tree. Dad muttered a spell and the tree came crashing down in between Richard and I. It looked a whole lot bigger now that it was chopped down.

"Er," I looked at the tree and then at Dad, "How are we going to get it home?"

"Hmm," Dad stared at the tree, "Well, Apparition would be best, but I can't Apparate all three of you plus the tree."

"It's easier when Mum comes," I commented.

"You know," Richard began, "There are ways of getting trees home without magic. Us Muggles do it all the time."

Dad and I looked at each other and we both shrugged. Usually when we bought a tree at the tree farm, Dad would pay for it and then he'd drag it off to some remote part of the farm and we'd all Apparate. But Mum was usually with us, so she'd Apparate with one of us and Dad would take the other and the tree. "Want to elaborate on that?" Dad asked.

Richard laughed, "When Julie and I would get the tree when she was little, we would bring a rope and tie it to the tree and we'd drag it home."

"A rope?" Dad thought for a moment, "That's actually a really good idea." He flicked his wand and conjured a rope.

Richard laughed even harder, "Of course, we would bring our rope from home."

"None of us thought of it earlier," Dad replied, "And sometimes magic just works best." He took the rope and tied it to the stump of the tree, right behind the lowest branches. "Here, Amy, you and Richard will have to drag it home," he handed me the end of the rope.

"You know this is going to get the tree all dirty on one side," I commented as I grabbed hold of the rope. "Why don't you just levitate it?"

"I have to carry your brother home," Dad explained.

"Oh," I muttered.

"We'll have to try and get home quickly," Dad announced as he gazed at the sky, "It's almost dark."

I nodded and started pulling the tree. It was a lot harder than it looked. Dad conjured another rope, attached it near mine, and handed the end to Richard. Dad swung Matt up into his arms and the four of us set off through the woods.

"What color do you want me to do the lights this year?" Dad asked. We always had a specific color scheme for the tree.

"Hmm," I thought, "How about red and gold?" I've always liked those colors, but we have never done a tree in them before. "And Mum can use the gold tinsel."

"Good idea," Dad smiled, "Those are good colors."

We continued talking about how to decorate the tree as we walked through the forest. The sun was almost set all the way and the forest was dark. Dad lit his wand and held it out in front of us. My arms were starting to ache due to pulling the tree, but I didn't care. It was the perfect tree for our house and it would be well worth the soreness that would result from taking it home. Eventually, we reached the edge of the forest and I dropped the rope and leaned against the wall. "Wow," I panted, "That thing is heavy."

"Just a bit further," Richard pulled the tree over to the gate.

"And you're going through the gate this time," Dad said sternly.

"I know, I know."

Dad opened the gate with his wand and Richard and I pulled the tree through. Dad followed with Matt and we started the trek up to the house. There was no way I could run this time. I looked to the sky and saw the stars coming out. They are so beautiful. The nearly full moon was rising as well. I instinctively turned around and looked at Dad and Matt. My brother had his head buried in Dad's shoulder and I could see him shaking. He really wasn't supposed to be outside at night the couple of days before the moon was full. The pull of the moon caused him to ache all over and get terrible headaches. He probably had one now, which meant Mum would yell at all three of us when we got back in. I could deal with it, though. Nothing was going to stop me from enjoying this tree.

Mum and Cinda were at the door when we finally pulled the tree up onto the deck. Mum threw the door open and I could see the relief on her face. "There you are!" she shouted, "I thought you'd be back before dark!"

"We tried," I said, "But we had to go deeper into the forest to find a tree than I thought we would."

Mum looked at me sternly but didn't say anything. She ushered us all inside and into the living room. There was a plate of freshly baked cookies sitting on the coffee table, along with a pitcher of eggnog. Mum had pulled a couple chairs and a book case out of one of the corners and covered the floor with towels.

"Walter..." Mum sighed as she took Matt from Dad's arms, "You know he can't be out after dark."

"Honey, he's fine," Dad assured her, "A few minutes isn't going to matter that much. We weren't expecting to be out that long."

"I know you weren't," Mum snapped, "Amy had to find the perfect tree."

"Well, we found the tree before dark. We just couldn't Apparate home because you decided not to come! Dad can't Apparate three people and a tree! If you'd been there, we would've Apparated home before dark," I interrupted.

"Amy, don't," Mum replied as she set Matt down on the couch.

"Julie, he's fine. No harm done. Don't ruin the evening. It's Christmas Eve, let's just forget it and decorate the tree," Dad wrapped his arms around her.

"I'm sorry," Mum muttered, pulling away from Dad. She left the room and returned a few moments later with a potion. "Matt honey," she gently shook him awake.

"Mum?" Matt yawned, "My head hurts."

"I know, here drink this," Mum handed him the potion and he drank it. "There."

"We found the best tree, though," he grinned, "Amy found it. She's the best at finding trees."

Mum turned and smiled at me and then gave my brother a big hug. "Yes, it really is a beautiful tree. Now let's decorate it."

The evening became much more cheerful after that. I had been expecting Mum to yell a bit more, but was very happy she didn't. Instead, she just sat with Matt on the couch while Dad levitated the tree into the house and set it up. He cleaned it up and then charmed the red and gold lights onto it. Mum summoned the tinsel and ornament boxes and laced the tree with gold tinsel. After that the fun really began. Matt's potion kicked in and the two of us rifled through all the ornaments, planning the best way to organize them on the tree. Usually we can't fit all our ornaments on the tree because we have so many. This year, however, the tree was so tall that all of them fit on. Matt and I decided to make the tree look like the earth and sky by putting all the animal and people ornaments towards the bottom and the stars, planets, and moons at the top. We stuck the ones that didn't fit into either category wherever they fit. Once all the ornaments were on, Dad put the star on the top with his wand and it was complete.

"This looks absolutely beautiful," Mum smiled and gave me a hug, "Amy, the tree really is perfect. Thank you for finding it."

"No problem," I grinned back.

"Time for bed, I think," Mum announced, "It's really late."

We all left the living room at the same time, admiring the tree as we went. Mum picked Matt, who had fallen asleep, up and took him up to his room. I said good night to all of them and headed to my own room. I put my pajamas on and climbed into bed, but couldn't fall asleep. I was too excited about Christmas. It was my favorite holiday and always had been.

Christmases when I was little were much different than they are now. We used to go to a couple parties every Christmas, both magical and Muggle. We never had Christmas dinner at our house. Unless of course we were holding our own Christmas party. The last party we ever hosted was on Christmas two years ago, only a few days before Matt was bitten. I was twelve and was positively sick of getting dressed up and behaving myself at fancy functions. I remember having a fight with Mum over what I should wear at the party. I wanted to wear jeans and a t-shirt, but Mum wasn't having it. I grudgingly wore the pale blue dress she had bought me and greeted guests like a polite child. We haven't hosted another party since, although we have been to a couple. Not in a long time, though. I think the last one we went to was right after third term had ended my second year. It was a magical one and dreadfully boring. It was also right before a full moon and Matt fell asleep during it. A couple of people asked about him, but Mum assured them nothing was wrong. Of course, that was when my parents decided to just stop going to the fancy occasions at all.

Christmas Eve, on the other hand, was always like it was now. We never went to any sort of party on Christmas Eve. It was always a time for family and was spent getting the tree and decorating it. My grandparents always came and usually accompanied us to get the tree. That's what I really enjoyed about the holiday.

I sighed and turned over to face the window. It was a wonderful cloudless night and it would be perfect for stargazing. I always had trouble sleeping on Christmas Eve, probably due to excitement. I decided to do what I always did when I couldn't sleep. Go out onto my balcony and watch the stars.

That was another great thing about my room, the balcony. Matt doesn't have one in his room. Luckily the latch to mine was relatively quiet and my parents never found out that I did this. I grabbed a pillow and crept out onto the balcony. The night sky was even better from the balcony than from my room. The stars twinkled down on me and the moon's rays showered me with light. That was one problem with an almost full moon, the light. A new moon was perfect for star gazing, since there would be no light to obstruct the stars.

I lay down and stared up at the sky while listening to the sounds of the night. Bugs chirping in the grass, owls hooting, water trickling in the yard, the occasional car driving along the nearby road. It was all very soothing to me and I eventually drifted off to sleep.


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PostPosted: Thursday 17 July 2008 7:02:04pm 
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I've been writing a lot of this fic lately. I'm already on the 14th chapter. I've been neglecting my Albus fic because of this one. Anyway, here's the third chapter. It's another kind of fluffy chapter, but I have a few set up type chapters that have to be posted before I really start the main plot. This is one of them.

Chapter 3: Happy Christmas

Birds were chirping and the sun was shining through my closed eyes. I wrenched my eyes open and the bright sun blinded me. I stretched and sat up, remembering pulling the tree back to the house as my arms ached. It was Christmas morning and I was surely the first one up. I had no idea what time it was, but it must have been early since the sun was just barely up. I quickly ran back into my room and threw my pillow down on the bed as I looked at the clock. It was just after six o'clock. All right, I was definitely the only one up. Except perhaps Ellie. She was probably awake and starting to cook breakfast.

Light was shining in through the windows in the hall as I walked quietly down it. It was bright enough to illuminate the thin layer of dust that covered the carpet. Mum would surely notice that and decide to clean it as soon as she woke up. It was very quiet on the second floor, although if I went up to the third floor I would be able to hear Richard's snoring. I wish I could wake them all up now. Mum and Dad have this rule of not waking anyone up before seven o'clock.

On most Christmas mornings, Matt and I wake up early and sit in one of our rooms talking about what we think we'll get for Christmas. Last year we decided to hover around their room, waiting for the clock to strike seven. We ran into their room shrieking as soon as we heard the clock hit seven. I doubted we would do anything of the sort this year. Not with the full moon only a few nights away. I crept to Matt's room and gently pushed the door open. Sure enough, he was sound asleep, buried beneath a few blankets. I didn't have the heart to wake him up while he slept so soundly. Plus, Mum would have my head if she found out about it.

Instead, I decided to go up to the third floor. We don't use the third floor for much. There are a couple guest bedrooms up there and that's where Cinda and Richard stay when they come. They're pretty much the only guests we have anymore. A few of the rooms are used for storage, but the third floor is also where my favorite room, besides my bedroom of course, is.

My favorite classes in school are Astronomy and Potions. Olivia thinks I'm crazy to enjoy Potions so much, but I do. There's just something so calming about a simmering cauldron and creating something useful out of ingredients. Potions isn't just a class I enjoy, though. It's a hobby for me. I like to experiment with stuff and try and come up with my own potions. I haven't come up with anything useful yet, but I'm trying.

Mum of course, doesn't really like me experimenting with potions because it's dangerous and messy. Two things she despises. She positively flipped when I first started experimenting in my room. She talked it over with Dad and the two of them decided that I could experiment, but only if I had a separate room for it. Thus, my Potions room on the third floor was established.

I ran past Richard and Cinda's room towards the end of the hall. I pushed the door to my potions room open and walked inside. Everything was just as I left it before the past term. My family rarely ever ventures into the room. Dad does occasionally to see what I'm up to and Mum does to see if I'm cleaning it properly, but that only happens once in a while. Matt isn't allowed to come in alone or with me. Mum or Dad have to be with him when he's in here. I wish they'd let him be in here with me. He's often very interested in my creations, but sometimes wants to help. I guess that's why Mum and Dad rarely let him in here.

The room itself is smaller than my bedroom. The walls are just plain white and there isn't any carpet, just tiling. That's better, though, because I do occasionally spill stuff. There's a large work table in the middle of the room with a couple stools around it. I also have a cupboard that's filled with all sorts of ingredients and cauldrons. Some potions have to be brewed in specific kinds of cauldrons. I have a couple different sizes of pewter cauldrons and even have one silver cauldron. Last, there is a bookcase with numerous books about potion brewing. That's where I was headed today. I had to find something to work on over the holiday. I pulled down a book, opened it to the first page, and settled down to read it.

Time flew by and I was soon startled by the chiming of a grandfather clock that was out in the hallway. I quickly stood up and ran out the door. Yes, it was seven! I would finally be able to wake up my family!

I skipped down the hall until I reached Richard and Cinda's room. "Richard! Cinda!" I flew open the door and ran in, "Wake up! It's seven!"

"Oh, Amy," Cinda groaned, lifting her head up, "Can't you just let us sleep until 8 this year?"

"Nope!" I grinned at her, "Get up and meet me downstairs!"

Cinda muttered something that sounded an awful lot like 'crazy child' and started shaking Richard awake. Once I was satisfied that they were going to get up, I ran down the stairs and back to Matt's room. Him I would wake up more gently. "Matt," I hissed in his ear, "Wake up, it's Christmas!" I shook him gently until he opened one of his eyes.

"Christmas?" he mumbled.

"Yes, Christmas! It's seven, you've slept late!"

"I'm tired," he pulled the covers over his head.

I sighed, "I know, but we always open presents early."

Matt pulled the covers back and smiled at me, "Presents?"

"Yes, presents," I grinned, "Here, I'll carry you."

"All right," he yawned as I picked him up. We left the room and went to wake up Mum and Dad.

The two of them were sound asleep. I laughed and looked at Matt. "Ready? On the count of three, we start shouting."

He nodded. "One," I said. "Two...Three! Mum! Dad! Up and at 'em! Time to get up!"

"Wake up!" Matt shouted.

"You'd better get up now, or I'll start singing!" I shrieked. They still weren't getting up. I happen to be a terrible singer, so they were really asking for it.

"God rest ye merry hippogriffs...!" I sang off-key.

"On the first day of Christmas, Merlin gave to me...!" Matt chimed in.

"Ok!" Dad sat up, grinning, "I'm up!"

"But Mum isn't," I smirked, "Oh, Mum..."

Mum sat up and sighed, "I'm up to. You can stop singing now. What am I going to do with you two?"

"Come with us to open presents," I announced, "Meet you downstairs."

Matt and I left the room and went downstairs to the living room. I hate waiting for my parents and grandparents to come downstairs. We're allowed to wake them up at seven, but they never come downstairs until at least 7:30.

The tree looks so beautiful with the sunlight glistening on it. There is now a sizable stack of presents under it, and our stockings are stuffed full of candy. We grabbed them and started pulling everything out while we waited for the adults.

Mum, Dad, Richard, and Cinda finally meandered into the room about twenty minutes later. Ellie was right behind them with a platter of hot sticky buns. I grabbed one and waited for the present opening to begin.

"Who's first?" Cinda asked.

"Me!" Matt and I shouted at the same time.

"Amy is this year," Dad announced, handing me a small box. "You went first last year, Matt."

"How do you possibly remember that?" Cinda stared at him.

Dad shrugged, "Just do."

I took the box from Dad and inspected it. The tag said it was from Richard and Cinda. I tore the paper off in one rip and looked at it. I wasn't exactly sure what it was. There was a picture of a rectangular pink object on it, with two wires coming out of the bottom. I vaguely remembered that Kenzie had one, but I couldn't possibly know why I needed one. "Um, is this an iPod?" I asked.

"Yes!" Cinda said excitedly. "All the teenagers have them now."

"Er, ok," I continued to look at the box, "These are for listening to music, right?"

Cinda laughed, "Yes."

"Oh, I've heard about those!" Dad said, "Muggles hook them up to their computers and somehow put music on them."

Oh, yeah. Now I remember watching Kenzie do that. "Cinda, I don't have a computer."

"I know. You can use ours when you come over in a few days."

"Thanks," I smiled. To be honest, I wasn't really that enthusiastic about the Muggle device. I really didn't care to use Muggle electronics and the thing wouldn't work at school anyway.

After Matt opened one of his presents, I decided to open one of the ones from Mum and Dad. It was the largest box under the tree and I was very curious about it. I pulled it over to me and it was very heavy, although not nearly as heavy as the tree itself had been. I ripped the paper off and what was beneath it astonished me. This present was exactly what I had asked for! It was the newest telescope that I had seen at the Night Sky Shoppe. I couldn't believe it! "You got me the Star Gazer 700! Thank you so much!" I leaped over a couple presents and gave each of my parents a hug.

"You're welcome, Amy," Dad smiled, "We'll set it up on your balcony tonight."

"I'm glad you like it, honey," Mum replied.

"I love it," I settled back into my spot on the floor. I didn't care what the rest of my presents were. The telescope far exceeded my expectations. The thing must have cost a fortune. I'm honestly not sure how much money my parents actually have. I know Dad inherited a lot, but I'm not sure how much he has left. He spent a lot of it after Matt got bit on hospital bills and trying to find some kind of cure.

We spent much of the remainder of the morning opening presents and talking. None of the rest of my presents compared to the telescope. They included various clothing items and books. I did get a bunch of new potions ingredients, but I still liked the telescope best. I couldn't wait until Dad and I set it up later. Brunch followed presents and it was very leisurely. Ellie always outdid herself on Christmas mornings. Of course, her Christmas dinners were even better. Mum always helped with those because they really are a lot of work.

The entire Christmas day was very relaxing. I spent most of it outside reading a few of my new books while Matt played with the new football that Richard got him. It was kind of funny to watch the two of them playing with it. Richard used to play football when he was in high school and was still rather good at it. Matt has always been kind of clumsy and kept tripping over the ball.

Ellie and Mum served dinner in the early evening and they had prepared a lot of food. They served it in the formal dining room and the entire table was covered. I didn't think we would be able to finish it all, but Cinda always took food home after Christmas anyway. Cinda isn't much of a cook and she loves Mum's cooking.

"Do you have something appropriate to wear to the party, Julie?" Cinda asked partway through the meal. I groaned inwardly. I had been hoping we would be able to get through the entire dinner without any talk of Cinda's party.

"I'm sure I still have something upstairs," Mum assured her.

"Good. But if you want something new, I'd be happy to go with you shopping before we leave."

"I'm going to be pretty occupied, Mum," Mum sighed, "I'm sure you know that."

"I know you will, but I thought maybe you could leave the house for a couple hours."

"I'm not planning to. I have a lot to do, Mum," Mum explained.

"Surely Walter can handle it," Cinda commented.

"I'm sure he can, Mum, but I'd rather be with my son when he's not feeling well than go shopping for a dress," Mum said shortly. "End of discussion."

"Oh, all right," Cinda muttered.

After a few moments of awkward silence, Cinda began talking about who would be attending her party and what they were up to. It was incredibly boring and I only half listened.

"I'm just so happy you're going!" Cinda said in between bites of turkey. "You haven't seen everyone in such a long time. They'll be so happy to see you."

"I'm sure," Mum smiled politely.

"You can't just not attend anymore functions, Julie. You have to stay involved!"

"Let's just see how this one goes," Mum sighed.

"So, Dad," I changed the subject, "Can we set up the telescope after dinner?"

"Of course, Amy," Dad grinned, "It doesn't look that difficult to set up, it won't take long."

"Great!"

Ellie served dessert a short while later, a magnificent looking pudding. I had two helpings of it and was positively stuffed afterwards. "Telescope now?" I asked Dad.

Dad groaned, "Just let me sit a minute. I don't think I can move."

"Me neither," Richard agreed, "That was an excellent dinner, Julie and Ellie."

"Thanks, Dad," Mum smiled.

"Thank you, Master Richard," Ellie grinned.

"Hey, Cinda," I turned to my grandmother, "Is Kenzie going to the party?" I hoped she was. Her family wasn't really in the same social scene as my grandparents were, but I was hoping that Cinda would invite them anyway.

"I did invite them," Cinda replied, "But they already had some other party to go to, so they won't be going."

"Wonderful," I rolled my eyes.

"Oh, you'll have fun anyway," Cinda assured me, "Your other friends that you haven't seen in over a year will be there."

I nodded but didn't say anything. Cinda may think that they were my friends, but they weren't and never will be. Sure, they politely talked to me during all the functions we used to go to, but I wouldn't consider us friends. They thought that I was weird for not having any of the same electronics they did and for going to a different school than they did. They all went to some fancy private school that my Mum was supposed to go to before she got her letter for the Australian School of Sorcery. I, of course, never had any intentions of going to the school they went to. It was also considered strange that I wouldn't talk about my school around them, but how could I? I'd break the Statute of Secrecy. Kenzie doesn't know anything about my school either, but it doesn't bother her. That's part of what makes her a friend. The party wouldn't be so bad if she were going.

A half hour later Dad's food had finally digested enough for him to help me set up my telescope. He carried it to my room while I ran ahead of him and threw open the door to my balcony. Dad set the box down and we opened it up. The telescope was mostly put together already. All we had to do was mount it on the stand. It was even more beautiful than I had remembered. The entire thing was pitch black with 'Star Gazer 700' written on it in white script. Dad quickly read over the directions and then gave a few flicks of his wand. The telescope immediately levitated out of the box and set itself on the stand.

"Where do you want it?" Dad asked.

"How about over here?" I pointed to the right side of the balcony.

Dad waved his wand and moved it to the side I specified. "There you go."

I grinned, "Thanks Dad!" I went over to the telescope and maneuvered it to look at the sky. The sun had just set and the stars were starting to come out. I fiddled with the focus until I could see the stars clearly. It was amazing, much better than the telescope I had for school. It felt like I could reach out and touch the stars. "This is amazing, want to look?"

Dad stooped down and peered through the eyepiece, "Wow, Amy, this is incredible! Maybe I would have done better in Astronomy if I had had one of these."

I giggled. Dad had been horrible at Astronomy when he was in school. He just scraped a passing grade each year. Of course, he didn't really need Astronomy for his job. He's the head of the Department for the Control and Regulation of Magical Creatures. His best classes when he was in school were charms and Defense Against the Dark Arts. Those are two classes that I'm not so great at. I can't duel to save my life and my charm work is marginal.

"I'm glad you're happy with it," Dad stood up and gave me a hug.

"Thanks for getting it for me," I hugged him back.

"How's the telescope?" Dad and I let go of each other and I looked back into my room and saw Mum walking towards me, carrying Matt. Richard and Cinda were right behind them.

"It's great, Mum."

"I'm glad."

"Can I look?" Matt asked.

Mum hesitated and looked at Dad. "It's not facing towards the moon," I told her.

"All right," she sighed and set Matt down on the floor. He ran out onto the balcony and over to the telescope.

He stood on his tip-toes and peered into the telescope. "Whoa! The stars are so big and sparkly!"

"Yup, that's what the telescope's supposed to do," I explained.

"Can I have one?"

"You don't have a balcony in your room," I pointed out, "But you can come look through mine whenever you want."

"Awesome!" Matt turned away from the telescope and smiled at me.

"All right, Matt, it's time for bed. You need a good night's sleep tonight," Mum announced. "Say good night to everyone."

"'Night, Amy," he wrapped his arms around me and I hugged him back.

"Good night, Matt," I replied.

Mum and Matt left a few moments later, but Richard and Cinda stayed. My grandparents each took a turn looking through the telescope before going back downstairs. Dad left shortly after they did, leaving me alone with my present.

I still couldn't believe they actually got me this. It was one of the best Christmas presents I had ever received. It was up there with the silver cauldron I got last year. I had been even more surprised about the cauldron, though, considering that my brother is allergic to silver.

A soft wind blew through the air and I stared up at the sky. Most of the sky was clear, but there were a few clouds off to the west. It would probably rain tomorrow, but for now I was going to take advantage of the clear night. The moon was just starting to rise and shine down onto my balcony. I went back to watching the stars through my telescope and thinking about the long stretch of holiday I had in front of me. I decided to ask my parents if Olivia could spend a few days once I got back from Richard and Cinda's. There wasn't really any point in asking them before. I knew they would be incredibly tense because of the full moon.

I have never been home the day of the full moon before. I always went to my grandparents house the day before during the past full moons. Since the full moon was a few days after Christmas this month, they just decided to let me stay until the day of the full moon. Dad is supposed to Apparate us back on the 28th. I am pretty curious about what goes on the day of the full moon. I wish Mum and Dad would just let me stay home during it. The only good part about it is that I get to see Kenzie. I don't particularly enjoy staying at Richard and Cinda's. Their house is even fancier than ours and Cinda is very obsessive about keeping everything neat and perfect. There are rooms in her house that Matt and I aren't even allowed to go in. The formal dining room, formal living room, the ballroom, and Richard and Cinda's bedroom, for example. I'm assuming that the party will take place in the ballroom. So, I'll obviously be able to go into them then, but not before the party starts. I remember once when Matt and I were a lot younger, Kenzie dared me to run through the formal living room. I bumped into a cabinet and broke a glass dolphin. Cinda was incredibly angry at me and I was grounded for two days. Not that that stopped me from going into the room again. I do, I'm just more careful about it.

The night sky kept me occupied for a couple hours and I eventually had to stop and go to bed. I was really tired since I hardly slept last night. I climbed into my comfy bed feeling very content and happy. This was probably one of the best Christmases I have ever had. I got exactly what I wanted and there were minimal arguments. Olivia says her family's holiday get togethers are basically one large argument. Her two sets of grandparents don't get along at all and neither do her father and maternal grandparents. Whenever I hear about her Christmases, I consider myself lucky that my family gets along for the most part.


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PostPosted: Tuesday 22 July 2008 9:26:47pm 
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I know it's been less than a week since I last posted a chapter, but I wanted to get 2 chapters posted before I leave on vacation. :)

Thanks to Fawkes for the awesome title! :double jump:

Chapter 4: Kicked Out of the Family

The sound of someone screaming tore through my dreams the day of the full moon. I wrenched my eyes open and rolled over to look at the clock on my bedside table. It was a little after nine o'clock, much later than I usually got up. I must have stayed up star gazing later than I thought. My eyes were still heavy with sleep and I pulled my pillow over my head, trying to drown out the screaming. No doubt my brother was having another nightmare. After a few more minutes of trying to get back to sleep I gave up and got out of bed. Mum must be having a hard time calming him down. I quickly threw on some clothes and left my room.

I ran down the hallway, pausing just outside Matt's room, unsure of whether to go in or not. I knew that Mum would be tense and wasn't sure whether my presence would help or if I would just get in the way. My mind was leaning towards the latter, but I decided to pop into the room anyway. I quietly stepped into the doorway and saw Mum with Matt on her lap, who was sobbing into her shoulder. I wasn't exactly sure how to announce my presence and was about to just leave when Mum noticed me.

"Amy," she whispered, "Did you just get up?"

"Er, yeah, I was just going to go downstairs," I replied awkwardly, "Um, is he ok?"

"He's always like this the day of the full moon," Mum explained, "He's got a fever. Could you do me a favor and go downstairs to the kitchen and get a potion? It's in the cupboard above the sink in the green bottle. It should say 'fever reducer' on it."

I nodded and left the room. That went better than I had expected. Mum actually wanted my help. Of course, I really didn't know what went on the day of the full moon, so maybe this was completely normal. Still, it would probably just be best to keep my distance today. Well, that's what my rational side told me. What I really wanted to do was stay the whole day and the night. I didn't want to go to the Bailey Manor with my grandparents. Was it really fair that my parents just sent me away for a couple days every month? It's like I'm not even a part of the family or something. Aren't families supposed to stick together through bad times as well as good? That's the way it was for most families, but not mine.

Richard and Cinda were both in the kitchen and looking extremely exhausted. Ellie was there as well, preparing brekky for both of them. I didn't see Dad in the living room as I passed it and he wasn't in the kitchen, either. "Morning Richard, Cinda, Ellie," I said on my way over to the cupboard Mum told me about.

"Morning," Richard mumbled.

"Hi darling," Cinda yawned, "Did you sleep well?"

"Fine," I replied, "You?"

"Not really," Cinda said, "Your brother kept having nightmares last night."

"Oh, I didn't hear them until the one just now," I shrugged. I am a pretty deep sleeper. I would have thought Cinda was as well, what with Richard's snoring, but I guess she's just become used to that.

"Does Amy want any brekky?" Ellie asked.

"Sure, thanks Ellie," I smiled at her, "I just have to bring Mum a potion and I'll be back down."

I grabbed a stool and stood on it to reach the cupboard. I had never looked in this cupboard before. Inside were numerous potions and salves. I rummaged through them until I found the green bottle labeled 'fever reducer'. I jumped off the stool and ran out of the room. Curiosity got the better of me and I pulled the stopper out and gave it a whiff. The scent made me gag. It smelled absolutely disgusting. Kind of like a combination of rotten eggs and mushrooms. I detest mushrooms.

Once I got back to Matt's room, Mum had managed to calm him down and had laid him back down in his bed. I quietly walked over to the bed and sat down next to Mum. My brother looked absolutely awful. He was paler than I had ever seen him, was drenched in sweat, and was shivering despite the large amount of blankets on top of him. The sight made my stomach lurch more than the scent of the potion had. I wordlessly handed Mum the potion, but didn't leave. Mum pulled off the stopper and poured the liquid into a cup that had been sitting on Matt's bedside table. The potion looked as gross as it smelled. It was a sickening green color and was bubbling. I could only imagine how it tasted. I watched as Mum gently pulled Matt into a sitting position and handed him the potion. He drank it, gagged, and started crying again.

"Shush," Mum soothed him and gave him a hug, "It'll make it better."

I got up from the bed, "Er, I'll just go back downstairs."

"Thanks, Amy," Mum turned to me and gave me a smile that didn't reach her eyes.

I nodded and left, feeling an immense relief once I was back into the hallway. Why was it that I suddenly felt like an outsider in my own family? Oh, yeah, probably because my parents shoved me out of their lives once a month. Matt has been a werewolf for two years now and I still don't really know what goes on during the full moon. It's like a secret that's shared between everyone in my family except me. The thought angered me and I stormed back downstairs.

When I got back into the kitchen, Ellie had set a plate of food on the table. I sat down in front of it and started to pick at my eggs. Richard and Cinda were both still there, clutching cups of coffee like their lives depended on it. "How is your brother?" Richard asked in between sips.

"He's got a fever," I replied.

"And how's your mother?"

"Not as touchy as I thought she'd be," I answered. "Where's Dad?" I realized that I hadn't seen him at all that morning, which was kind of strange considering what was going on that night.

"Master is at work," Ellie announced, "He tells Ellie to tell you that he will be back later."

I nodded. Work. It was the day of the full moon and he was at work. I thought he had taken the days from Christmas Eve to New Year's Day off. Plus, he never worked the day of the full moon that I knew of. He always told me he had that day off. Of course, I didn't really know for sure since I was never home the day of a full moon. I went back to my brekky in silence while my grandparents continued downing coffee. I wasn't really that hungry, but I made a show of eating for about twenty minutes. I looked up when I heard someone come into the room. It was Mum.

"How is he?" Cinda asked quietly.

"He's ill," Mum sighed, "Like always. I really hate this." She walked quickly over to the cabinet above the sink and started rummaging around in it. When she turned around, arms laden with numerous bottles, I could see the sadness in her eyes.

"Why is Dad at work?" I asked before she left the room.

Mum paused and looked at me, "It's a very busy day in his department. They have to try and set up certain, er, precautions I guess you could say. There's all sorts of stuff that needs to be done the day of the full moon."

"But I thought he took those days off."

"He used to. Up until a couple months ago, he did. Then, the Ministry insisted that everyone in his department work the day of the full moon due to the increased work load. There have been, certain, er, incidents, happening over the past few months on the full moon," Mum explained wearily. "He'll be home by three at the latest."

I could tell there was something she wasn't telling me. That, combined with the fact that I was being forced out of the house later, made my face hot with anger. "What incidents? You're not really telling me what this is about, I just know it!"

"Amy, please, this isn't a good time," Mum sighed, "Just let it go. Dad will be back later in time to take you, Richard, and Cinda back to their house."

"I don't care about that! I don't even want to go!" I shouted. "I want to know what this is about!"

"Amy, enough!" Mum snapped. "Stop screaming and forget about it. I'm not talking about this now. You will go to your grandparents' house this afternoon, end of discussion." Without waiting for a reply, Mum left the room.

I picked up my plate and dumped it in the sink, unable to eat anything else. Why wouldn't she just tell me what was going on at Dad's office? I assumed it had something to do with werewolves, considering that Dad had to be there every full moon. But why would Mum want to keep it from me? We're a family and we shouldn't have secrets like that.

"Cut your mother some slack," Richard said, "It's a hard day for her."

"I know that!" I turned and ran out of the room. I stormed down the hall and to the nearest staircase. I didn't dare stop by Matt's room on my way to my own. Instead I just headed straight there and slammed the door behind me.

Why was my family so intent on excluding me from everything? First, they kick me out of the house once a month and now they won't even tell me what's going on at Dad's work. Was I untrustworthy or something? I paced around my bedroom thinking about this over and over again, but I never came to any conclusions. There wasn't any logical reason why my parents would keep something like this from me.

I decided to write Olivia a letter. Unfortunately, I really couldn't tell her what was going on, since she doesn't know that Matt is a werewolf. I wished I could just talk to her about my family problems. She might have some ideas on how to get my parents to tell me things. Olivia is very good at convincing her parents about things. I scrounged around in my desk until I found a piece of parchment and a quill.

Dear Olivia, I began.

How was your Christmas? Mine was great! My parents agreed
to the twelve foot tree and we cut one down in the bush on
Christmas Eve. It was fun, but Christmas morning was even
better. I got the Star Gazer 700 telescope! I can't believe
my parents actually got it for me. It was my best present by
far. I got some books, potion ingredients, and clothes, too.
But what my grandparents got me is really funny. They got
me this Muggle device called an iPod. You attach it to a
Muggle computer and put music on it. I haven't got a clue
what to do with the thing. What did you get?

Mum and I are fighting again.
I paused, trying to think about the best way to tell Olivia about the issues. Dad had to go into work today,
even though he took the day off. Mum said there are
'incidents' happening that he needs to be at work a lot for.
Mum won't tell me what the incidents are no matter how many
times I ask her. I think it's quite unfair. I'm part of this
family and need to know what's going on!

I have to go to Richard and Cinda's again today. I'll be
there until after New Year's. Cinda's having a New Year's
Eve party that should prove to be excruciatingly boring. I
have to get dressed up and make polite talk with all her rich
friends. I'm going to try and convince Mum and Dad to let
you come over after New Year's. I'll let you know if I'm
able to.

Talk to you later!
-Amy


I found an envelope, put the letter inside, and sealed it. I felt calmer now that I had written to Olivia, but I was still mad at Mum. I scribbled Olivia's name onto the front of the envelope and set off to find Jasper, our owl. He usually spent the day in Dad's office, sleeping in his cage. Unless he was away on a journey, of course.

Mum wasn't in Matt's room when I passed it on my way to the stairs. She must have been getting more potions or something. I ran down the stairs and down the hall until I was at the door to Dad's study. Dad had never forbidden me from going in his study when he wasn't there, but I still felt weird going in. I opened the door and crept inside. Dad, unlike Mum, is a somewhat messy person and doesn't really clean his study very often. Mum doesn't bother neatening it up because Dad prefers it messy. She just deals with it by closing the door.

Jasper was sitting on top of his cage and was sound asleep. He was a very large brown owl speckled with white. We've had him ever since I could remember, but he doesn't act that old. I stepped over a couple piles of books on my way over to him. I woke him up and he eagerly stuck out his leg for me to attach the letter.

"Take this to Olivia, ok?" I told him after giving him a few pats, "Thanks."

Jasper soared out the open window and I watched until he was just a tiny speck in the distance. I turned to leave, but something caught my eye on Dad's desk. It was a piece of parchment that was mostly obscured by a book that was sitting on top of it. The part that was showing read 'Due to an increase of werewolf attacks, the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures has proposed new legislation. If passed, the following new laws-'

What was that about? I curiously bent over Dad's desk, trying to find more about these laws without actually disturbing anything. What new laws were being passed? I didn't want to move anything around on his desk in case he noticed, but my curiosity was really getting the better of me and I carefully pushed aside one of the books.

"Amy, what are you doing?" I jumped at the voice that was coming from the doorway.

My cheeks felt hot as I turned around and saw Mum standing there, looking tense. "Nothing, nothing! I was just sending a letter off to Olivia. I was just leaving." I quickly left the room without meeting Mum's eye and ran back up to my room.

That was a close one, I thought as I started pacing the room. On any other day I was sure Mum would have interrogated me as to why I was snooping around Dad's desk. What was that about, though? I knew Dad's job involved a lot of werewolf business, since they are considered magical creatures, dangerous ones at that. He hadn't mentioned any laws, though. Something told me that these laws weren't the good kind, either. Surely they were strict ones if they are the result of increased werewolf attacks. But why would Dad pass those? He doesn't want to make Matt's life anymore difficult than it already is and strict werewolf laws would make it much harder.

I sighed and stopped pacing. Thinking about this wasn't getting me anywhere. Might as well do something useful before being forced out of my own house. I left my room and went up to my Potions room. I wouldn't be able to do anything Potions related at Richard and Cinda's house, so I decided to just spend the rest of the afternoon working on my new project.

The particular potion I was working on was supposed to turn a person's ears a different color. Not a very useful potion, but a funny one nonetheless. I was trying to figure out a way how to make it more permanent. Right now I had only succeeded in creating a potion that would work for ten minutes.

The hours flew by as I worked on my potion. I added some new ingredients and the potion had turned a lovely blue color, which was exactly the color I was hoping for. It was still a bit on the thin side, so I was stirring it over a low heat and it was gradually thickening up. A knock on the door caused me to look up at the clock and I was surprised that it was already five after three. I also realized how hungry I was. "Come in," I shouted.

The door opened slowly and Dad came walking in. He looked utterly exhausted in need of a shower and a nap. "Hi, Amy."

"Hey, Dad," I replied, continuing to stir my cauldron.

"What are you working on?" Dad asked as he sat down on the stool next to mine.

"Potion to change your ears into a different color."

"That sounds...well, like it might have some uses," Dad stifled a laugh.

"It's good practice," I explained. "Where have you been today?"

"Work. There were a lot of things to take care of," he replied wearily.

"I thought you took the day off," I said flatly.

"I did, but I had to be there anyway, seeing as today is the full moon."

"That's what Mum said. Want to tell me what's going on?" I stared him right in the eye.

He sighed and put his head in his hands, "Oh, Amy, not now. There's just a lot of stuff going on and the office has been swamped. I'll tell you sometime, just not now. Look, it's already getting late and I need to get you and your grandparents back to their house."

I nodded, "I'll be right down. Just let me bottle this up."

Dad got up and left the room, shutting the door behind him. I doused the fire under the cauldron and poured the contents into a flask. Once I cleaned up the table, I went back down to my room. Despite the fact that I had no intention of going to my grandparents' house that day, I grabbed the bag I had packed the night before and started to go downstairs.

I took one quick peek into Matt's room and saw him fast asleep with Mum sitting on the bed next to him. Once I was downstairs I saw that Richard and Cinda were already packed up and ready to leave.

"I'll take them first and then come back," Dad explained, grabbing hold of Richard's arm and his suitcase. The two of them disappeared with a crack.

Cinda and I sat in silence as we waited for Dad to come back. I really wasn't in the mood to talk and I wasn't going to announce my plans to stay until after both of my grandparents were home.

Dad returned a few minutes later and Cinda wordlessly got up and walked over to him. The tension in this house was so thick you could cut it with your wand. Both of my grandparents were nervous about having a werewolf for a grandson, but they tried to hide it. I guess with that night being the full moon, they were having a harder time than usual. The house was as quiet as it was in the early morning. Ellie wasn't even around, which was strange since she usually said goodbye to me before I left. Maybe she liked to make herself scarce as evening came. I didn't know since I was never around either.

There was a loud crack and Dad reappeared in front of me. "Ready to go, Amy?"

I stood up and crossed my arms, facing him. "Actually, no."

Dad wiped his forehead with his hand and sighed. "What is it? Something you forget to pack?"

"No, not really. I'm actually thinking of staying here tonight," I replied casually.

Dad's eyes bugged out and he stared at me. "Amy, no. We've been through this before. You stay with your grandparents on the night of the full moon. It's for your safety."

"Is that really it? What about yours and Mum's safety, huh? It's perfectly safe and you know it! You lock him up in the basement with loads of charms so he can't get out. You're the head of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, Dad, I know you are able to keep him safely locked up!"

"Amy, enough!" Dad replied sternly, "Charms are not always foolproof. There's always a chance of him breaking through them. I do not want you in the house if that happened. Your mother and I are qualified wizards, much more capable of dealing with it than you are."

"Then make me capable! Teach me the spells I'd need! I don't care if it's dangerous! I'm sick of you kicking me out of the family once a month!" I shouted at him, my voice cracking.

"That's not it at all, Amy! If that's what you think then you've got it all wrong. You are a part of this family and we are only doing this to keep you safe. It's because we love you."

"It doesn't feel that way! You and Mum are keeping things from me, I just know it! Something is going on at your work and you won't tell me."

"What is going on down here?!" Mum shouted louder than both Dad and I. Both of us stopped yelling and looked at her. I hadn't heard her come downstairs.

"You're kicking me out of the house again, that's what!" I screamed at her.

"Amy wants to stay here tonight," Dad sighed.

Mum's face paled and she looked at me. "No. Absolutely not."

"That's what I said," Dad told her.

"Why, Mum? Families are supposed to help each other when things are bad, not kick them out of the house!"

"Amy, be quiet," Mum's face was filled with anger as she spoke to me, "You're going to wake up your brother. This is not the time to talk about it. You need to go to Richard and Cinda's house. Now. I will see you at the party." Mum turned to leave the room. She was halfway there when she turned around and looked at me once more. "I love you, Amy. Remember that. That's why we do this."

I ignored her as she walked away. She could say that a million times and it wouldn't make a difference. There was no reason why I couldn't stay here during the full moon. No good reason anyway. Dad's charms and spells were the best there were. Plenty of other werewolves transform under less advanced spells and they didn't escape, I was sure of it. Dad knew spells from his job that other wizards didn't, that I knew. He used advanced spells to get the werewolf that attacked Matt off of him two years ago. Spells that would be able to disable a werewolf. If he knew those, he would surely be able to keep Matt in the basement every full moon.

"We're going now, Amy," Dad said quietly.

I sighed and grabbed my bag. The battle had been lost as soon as Mum walked into the room. There had been a slight chance of winning if I was just up against Dad, but no way could I convince Mum. Dad pulled me into a hug and with a loud crack we disappeared from the living room.


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PostPosted: Tuesday 5 August 2008 2:20:36am 
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Joined: Thursday 28 December 2006 6:45:34pm
Posts: 2538
Location: Going through LeakyCon withdrawal
Sorry for the lack of updates! It's been nearly 2 weeks since I posted a chapter. I was going to post right before we left for vacation, but I didn't have time.

Chapter 5: Shopping With Cinda

After arriving in the middle of Cinda and Richard's drawing room, I immediately ran up to my bedroom and remained there the rest of the day. The last thing I felt like doing was being social with my grandparents. I knew Cinda would immediately want to show me the dress she had picked out for me, but I wanted no part of it.

My bedroom at Richard and Cinda's makes me cringe every time I go in it. The large chamber is the exact opposite of what I would want a place of my own to look like. The walls are a sickening pink color, adorned with flowery wallpaper running along the top. The bed is a canopy bed complete with a flowery canopy that matches the walls. Atop the cushy mattress are pink linens with a pink rose print comforter. 'What little girl doesn't want a pink canopy bed?' Cinda had giggled when she bought it years ago. The thing was, I didn't want it, even back then. I tried to tell Cinda this, but she wouldn't listen. To go along with the pink walls and pink bedding, all the furniture is white with a little pink rose on each drawer. The carpet is plushy and white, but Cinda added a couple rose shaped pink throw rugs. The entire room looks like it belongs in a Muggle fairy tale, which is probably what Cinda had been thinking when she decorated it.

Despite the sheer ugliness of the room, I spent the remainder of the afternoon there. It was the only place where Cinda wouldn't bother me. I wanted to be alone with my thoughts and not be interrupted by anyone, especially my grandmother. I pondered about what I had found in Dad's office until my brain hurt and I still didn't come up with any conclusions about it. The only way I was going to get any answers was if I constantly hounded my parents about it. Which I was planning on doing as I got back home. I wasn't going to let it go this time, either. I would keep asking them about it until I got the answers I needed.

Eventually, hunger drew me out of my pink bedroom and downstairs into the kitchen. I quietly slipped out of my room and into the hallway. My grandparents' house is even bigger than mine and my bedroom is on the second floor. The top floor is mostly storage and guest bedrooms and I hardly ever go up there. It also houses the room my parents stay in when they spend the night. Not that that happens very often. I'm really the only one who spends a significant amount of time in the large house. Along with my bedroom, my grandparents' and Matt's bedrooms are also on the second floor. The ballroom is on that floor as well. Yes, they have a ballroom. I personally think it's a bit excessive, but Cinda hosts parties so she thinks it's completely necessary. The first floor consists of the kitchen, formal and regular living rooms and dining rooms, Richard and Cinda's offices, the drawing room, various other small rooms, and the library.

Richard and Cinda were sitting at the table in the dining room when I entered a few minutes later. Cinda had heated up leftovers from Christmas dinner and she and Richard were eating them. There was a third plate on the table and I sat down in front of it.

"Feeling better?" Cinda asked.

"Fine," I mumbled as I started to eat the lukewarm turkey.

"Good," Cinda smiled, "We'll be going shopping for your dress tomorrow."

"Wonderful," I replied flatly.

"You're welcome to invite Kenzie to come," Cinda said, an obvious attempt to make me happy about this shopping trip.

"Misery loves company," I commented, "I'll call her after dinner."

"Tell her we'll leave at ten."

I nodded and went back to my food. I continued to shovel it into my mouth, wanting to finish before Cinda launched into another gossip fest. Fifteen minutes later I had returned to my pink sanctuary, free from an evening of boredom with my grandparents. Well, as free as I could get in this room. I supposed that I could sneak out if I wanted to, but I just didn't have the energy tonight. I would be seeing Kenzie the next day anyway.

I grabbed the cordless phone (pink of course) that was always on my dresser and threw myself onto the bed. My fingers typed Kenzie's phone number into the device and waited for her to pick up. There were only two phone numbers I ever called and I had them both memorized. Richard and Cinda's, and Kenzie's. Someone picked up on the sixth ring.

"Hello?" It was Kenzie's mum and she sounded out of breath.

"Mrs. Dawe? It's Amy," I told her.

"Oh, Amy! Hi! You're with your grandparents, then? Kenzie told me you'd be coming sometime shortly after Christmas, but she didn't say when. How is your brother?"

"He's ok," I answered. The first time I ever spent the full moon with my grandparents, Mum told Kenzie's parents that I stayed with them while Matt received treatment for some kind of illness at a Muggle hospital in Sydney.

"Tell him and your parents I pray for him everyday," Mrs. Dawe continued, "Why these things happen to kids, God only knows..." I could imagine her shaking her head as she said it.

"Yeah," I replied uncomfortably. Mrs. Dawe really did think Matt had some kind of incurable Muggle disease and I hated lying to her. Mum told me it really wasn't that much of a lie, since lycanthropy was really a disease.

"Well, how was school?" Mrs. Dawe sounded a bit happier as she changed the subject.

"It was good. I'm glad to be done for now, though."

"Glad to hear it. Well, you probably want to talk to Kenzie, so I'll stop rambling."

"Ok, bye Mrs. Dawe."

"Bye, Amy."

I really did like Kenzie's mum. She was so motherly. She kind of had to be with five kids. Kenzie is the oldest and she has three sisters and one brother.

"Amy?" Kenzie came onto the phone a few moments later.

"Kenzie!" I shouted in delight. It had been so long since I had last talked to her. "I'm with my grandparents now."

"Mum told me! Listen, we've got to get together!"

"I know. Cinda's having a New Year's Eve party."

"Yeah, she invited us but we're going to my cousins' house. I'm sorry, I know how you hate those things," Kenzie sighed.

"I'll survive. Hey, she's dragging me around dress shopping tomorrow. Want to come?"

"Sure, why not?" Kenzie laughed, "A day shopping with your grandmother, sounds like a blast."

"With any luck she'll find something satisfactory in the first shop we get to. It's not like I'm going to have any choice in what dress I wear."

Kenzie laughed, "True. But it'll be fun just hanging out. What time should I be over?"

"She said ten."

Kenzie groaned, "God, that's early. Whatever, I'll be there."

"Ok, see you then," I said.

"Bye," Kenzie replied.

"Bye." I got up off the bed and hung up the phone. My telephone conversations with Kenzie were always short. We never really talked much on the phone, preferring to wait until we saw each other to really talk. It was probably because I'm not really used to talking on the phone. I really only talk to Kenzie and my grandparents, since no one else I knew used phones. I was glad that Kenzie was coming with us shopping, though. She always made shopping trips interesting to say the least.

I sighed and looked around at my room until my eyes came to rest on the clock. It was still early, too early to go to bed. The days spent at my grandparents' house were always incredibly boring. Cinda was sure to rope me into getting ready for the party, but that probably wouldn't start for a couple days. I'm somewhat curious as to what theme Cinda was planning for this party, but not enough to actually go ask her.

After a few more minutes of thinking about the next day's activities, I dug a book out of my bag and sat down on my bed to read. I quickly became lost in the story and didn't even know how late it became until Richard and Cinda came in to say good night. By then it was nearly eleven and I decided to attempt to go to sleep.

I never sleep well the night of the full moon. I think it's mainly due to curiosity about what goes on at my house, but I worry as well. My worrying doesn't even come close to Mum's, though. Mum and Dad have never really explained what happens these nights, so I don't entirely understand her worrying. Sure, I know the basics of what goes on, but nothing more than you would read in a book. Mum never fully answers my questions about it and even Dad seems keen on keeping me in the dark. What their reasons for not telling me anything about it are, I have no idea. So I lay awake every full moon, until I fall asleep out of sheer boredom.

I was not exactly sure when I fell asleep that night, but it must have been sometime after three in the morning. I pried my eyes open at half past nine the next morning to the sound of Cinda yelling at me to get up. Despite my late sleeping, I was incredibly exhausted. This is so unlike me, I thought as I got up off the bed. I quickly threw on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, which would surely send Cinda into a tizzy as soon as she saw them. I ran a brush through my hair and put it up in my standard ponytail, and then ran down to the kitchen.

My grandparents were both eating bowls of cereal and drinking coffee when I entered the room a few minutes later. Richard was still in his pajamas, which wasn't surprising since he wasn't joining us on our shopping excursion. Cinda was the complete opposite, dressed in an expensive green pants suit with her hair perfectly styled.

"Oh Amy," Cinda shook her head as I poured myself a bowl of Cheerios, "Can't you wear something a bit more, sophisticated?"

"Would you rather I wear robes, Cinda?" I grinned mischievously at her.

"R-robes?" Cinda visibly paled. "No, I was thinking more along the lines of a skirt and blouse."

I gave her a look, "You're lucky you're getting me into a dress for this party. I'm wearing this when we go shopping." I gestured to the outfit I had on.

"Fine," Cinda muttered and took a sip of her coffee.

I smiled to myself as I ate my brekky, looking out the window at the cloudy sky. Richard and Cinda's kitchen had a wonderful view of their backyard. The entire yard was surrounded by tall trees, but not a bush like at my house. These trees were planted there years ago by whoever built the house. They are to provide privacy, Cinda told me when I was four or five, not for you to climb. Contained inside the perimeter of trees are two tennis courts and an in ground swimming pool. The pool has a load of landscaping around it in order to make it look like a natural pond. I'm really not sure why it was done that way, since there is a real koi pond not ten meters from the pool. Swimming is not allowed in the koi pond, as I found out when I was seven. I did enjoy my brief swim with the koi, though.

A loud bell jolted me out of my day dreaming and I jumped up and ran over to the intercom. I pushed the button and shouted into it, "Hello?"

"Amy! It's Kenzie! Let me in!" Kenzie shouted back. I grinned and pushed another button, which opened the gates at the bottom of the driveway.

"We'll be leaving now, Amy, since Kenzie is here," Cinda got up from her place and gave Richard a kiss on top of his bald head, "See you later, Richard."

"Have fun, girls," he smiled at us.

Kenzie opened the door to the Entrance Hall and walked in just as Cinda and I left the kitchen. "Kenzie!" I shrieked and ran over to her, giving her a big hug.

"Amy!" she hugged me back. "Holy cr*p, you've gotten tall!"

"Yeah, I grew about four inches since I last saw you," I laughed.

"Geez, you're almost as tall as me," Kenzie replied. "You're not a shrimp anymore."

Up until a few months ago, I had always been kind of short. Then I went through a growth spurt and am no longer the shortest person in my year at school. I hated being so short and Mum always told me to be patient and I would eventually catch up. She was short as a kid, too, and then she caught up to everyone else.

Kenzie has always been tall. She was always at least a head taller than me when we were little, but now I'm just a couple inches shorter. He hair is extremely curly and is brown to match her eyes. Kenzie's features may be average, but her personality is anything but.

"I was never a shrimp," I told her. "You were a giraffe."

"Was not," Kenzie insisted, "And you were short."

"Oh, fine, I was short. But you are tall."

"C'mon, girls," Cinda interrupted, "You're both shorter than me, so it doesn't matter." Cinda threw open the doors and started walking haughtily down the steps.

Kenzie and I giggled as we followed her to the garage. Cinda unlocked the doors of her black BMW and got into the driver's seat while Kenzie and I climbed in the back. Riding in cars is another thing I only do at Richard and Cinda's. My parents don't own any cars and they really don't need any.

"I always feel rich when I ride in this," Kenzie commented as she sat down on the black leather seat. "To the mall, Driver!"

I rolled my eyes at her and watched the scenery as we turned off the driveway and onto the road.

"So what's new at your fancy school?" Kenzie asked eagerly.

"Not much," I replied, "Passed everything and am glad to be home, although Mum is getting on my nerves already."

"Your mum is just too strict, no offense."

"None taken," I replied, "I agree, she is too strict. I wish she was more like your mum."

"Yeah, my Mum is pretty cool. But I have four siblings to deal with, so that kind of off-sets it."

"Are they driving you mad again?"

"Of course, they always do. They keep going through my stuff all the time. Especially Morgan," Kenzie groaned. Morgan is her twelve-year-old sister she has to share a room with. "At least you only have one brother, and he's so quiet anyway."

"Trust me, you don't want to have to deal with my brother," I sighed, wishing I could tell her the truth about my brother.

"We should trade families for a week or something," Kenzie joked.

"You'd be begging for your crazy siblings after living with my mum for a week," I told her. "Amy, pick up your stuff! Amy, be quiet you'll wake up your brother! Amy, don't climb over the wall!" I mocked.

"Amy, don't make fun of your mother," Cinda warned.

Kenzie was laughing hysterically, "My mum does that, too, especially the don't wake up your brother one. Anyway, did you get anything good for Chrissie?"

"Oh, yeah, I got the telescope I wanted!"

"That's great!" Kenzie grinned, "I got a bunch of art supplies and clothes."

"That's good. I got clothes, too. Plus an iPod."

"Finally!" Kenzie laughed, "I've been telling you to get one for ages. Do you have any music on it?"

"Er, no," I replied. Life would be so much easier if I could just tell Kenzie that I was a witch.

"Well, come over to my house after this and we'll put some on it," Kenzie announced.

"Sure, if this doesn't take all day."

A few minutes later, Cinda pulled the car over to the side of the road in front of an expensive looking boutique. The place had a pink awning with 'Lisa Mae Libere's Fashions' written in gold script atop it. I rolled my eyes as I got out of the car. I could tell already that I wouldn't find a single dress I would like at this place.

"Hello, lacy pink dress," Kenzie muttered as we followed Cinda into the shop.

The store was small, with bright lighting and soft classical music playing in the background. The walls and floor were both white, although the walls were mostly covered by dress displays and mirrors. A skinny, short saleslady approached us as soon as we walked in.

"Mrs. Bailey!" she greeted us, "How nice to see you again!"

"You, too, Kadre," Cinda smiled at her.

"What brings you here today?"

"I'm hosting a party this New Year's Eve and my granddaughter," Cinda gestured to me, "Is in need of a dress. I was hoping you still have that pale pink one with the beads embroidered onto it that was in the display the other day?"

"Oh, yes, we still have that one! I'll get it and bring it into the fitting room." Kadre smiled and walked to a rack that was in the middle of the store.

"Come along, girls," Cinda started walking towards the back of the store. Kenzie and I followed.

"She seems...perky," Kenzie whispered to me.

"I'll say," I replied. I knew that Cinda frequents this store a lot and have been here a few times, but I have never met Kadre before.

Cinda, Kenzie, and I entered one of the large fitting rooms and waited for Kadre to return. When she came back, her arms were laden with not only the dress Cinda was talking about, but a few other colors, too.

"Here's the pink one," Kadre held it up. The sight of it made me want to gag. It was the exact same color of my walls at Cinda's house. There were beads and sparkles all over it, with their intensity gradually increasing towards the bottom. The straps were thin with silver stitching. I groaned inwardly.

"I also brought a few other colors," Kadre gestured to a pale blue, mint green, and bright red versions of it.

"I like the red," I announced.

"It's too bright," Cinda replied immediately.

"I like it too," Kenzie agreed.

"Try on the pink," Cinda held it up to me. I took it and pulled it on. Both Cinda and Kadre immediately pronounced it 'charming' and cooed over how beautiful I looked in it. Kenzie was sitting on a nearby chair and I could tell she was trying not to laugh. She was probably very happy that I was the one trying on dresses and not her.

I tried on the blue, green, and red ones after the pink one. Cinda and Kadre agreed that the pink one looked best, but I wanted the red. I absolutely detested the style, but I love red. If I am going to have to wear a fancy dress to this party, I want it to be red. "I'll take the red one," I said adamantly after I changed back into my clothes.

"The pink looks better," Cinda insisted, "You'll wear the pink one."

"Cinda," I began, "I don't even want to wear a dress. If it were up to me, I'd wear what I'm wearing now to your party. That, or my school uniform," I smirked at her.

"All right, fine!" Cinda relented, "You can get the red one. Now let's go look for shoes."

Kenzie gave me a questioning look as we left the small room and headed over to the shoe section. "She gave in pretty easily."

"She hates my school uniform and knows that I would probably show up in it if she bought me that pink dress," I explained. The thought of wearing robes to Cinda's party made me want to laugh out loud. All the explaining she'd have to do to her Muggle friends....

Cinda and Kadre spent nearly an hour mulling over the choices for shoes. Kenzie and I became so bored with it that we decided to stand in the display windows and pretend to be mannequins. Then we would startle passersby by suddenly moving.

"Stop that, Amy!" Cinda scolded us once she noticed. "We've found shoes for you."

"Great," I climbed off the display and sat down. Cinda pulled out a pair of strappy red sandals with a two inch heel. I tried them on, walked around a little bit, and told her I would wear them. By then I would have agreed to just about anything, considering how bored I was.

Cinda paid for my outfit and we finally left the boutique. I was thrilled to be done with shopping, although I still had to endure the party. At least the dress was a decent color. I don't think I could have tolerated wearing that pink dress.

Kenzie and I ran up to my room as soon as we got back to Richard and Cinda's house, grabbed my iPod, and went back to her house to put music on it. Kenzie's house was as chaotic as ever and we had to wait a good half hour for Morgan to get off the computer so we could use it. I didn't mind since I didn't really care if I got music on my iPod or not. Once we were on the computer, Kenzie did most of the work since I was clueless as to how to download music. I was just happy to be at Kenzie's house and not at my grandparents'. Kenzie's house felt so homey and comfortable to me. I couldn't really explain it, but I was more comfortable there than at Richard and Cinda's. My grandparents' house felt so empty, probably because it was so big for only a couple people. I wound up spending the night at Kenzie's house, forgetting for the first time in days the things my parents were obviously keeping from me.


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PostPosted: Monday 11 August 2008 10:00:58pm 
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This is a really long chapter. I believe it might even be twice as long as the others, but I couldn't find a good place to split it, so I just left it. Hope you enjoy!

Chapter 6: The Party

I spent most of my time at Kenzie's house the next few days. Things at my grandparents' house were incredibly boring and I really didn't have much to do there. Cinda was preoccupied with party planning and I knew I would be dragged into it if I stayed there for any length of time. Richard was playing golf with his friends everyday. I really didn't understand the point of golf. It had to be the dullest sport on earth. So, I wound up spending more time at Kenzie's house than my grandparents'. Kenzie's parents went out to dinner one evening and we watched her little sisters and brother. It was actually pretty fun. Kenzie's siblings are loud and kind of obnoxious, but very funny. However, Kenzie and her family left to go visit her cousins early on the thirty-first, leaving me to hole up in my room, hoping that Cinda wouldn't ask me to help decorate.

My parents had sent an owl the previous day letting us know that they would arrive a couple hours before the party started. I had also gotten a reply from Olivia, in which she wished me luck with the party and told me she would love to visit after I got back home. I just had to hope that my parents would let her come. Cinda had decided that the party would start at seven in the evening and go until whenever people decided to leave. There would be tables of food stationed on the edges of the ballroom, along with tables for people to sit at. That was pretty much all I knew about the party because I was trying to stay away from any and all planning.

"Amy!" I heard Cinda shouting up the stairs. I sighed and rolled off my bed. Great, she was going to make me help.

"What?" I opened my door and shouted.

"Can you come to the ballroom and help?" she yelled back.

As if I had a choice in the matter, I thought. "Coming!"

I took my time descending the stairs and meandering into the ballroom. Cinda was busy putting silvery tablecloths onto the tables Richard was setting up when I got there.

"Amy," Cinda smiled and looked at me, "I haven't seen much of you the past few days."

"Yeah, I've been with Kenzie," I explained.

"Well, you're here now, so you can help set up," Cinda walked over towards a large pile of silvery cloth, "Do you know what the theme is?"

"No," I replied. I didn't really care what the theme was. The last party of Cinda's I had attended, the theme was flowers. The tablecloths had been pink that time with large bouquets of flowers everywhere. I spent half the evening sneezing until Dad Apparated home to get me a potion. The entire party had been miserable and I seriously hoped flowers weren't the theme this time.

"Since this event will is going late into the night," Cinda continued, "I decided to go with a night sky theme, isn't that great? You love stars."

I smiled, "That's actually pretty cool," I told her. This year's theme was definitely better than the flower thing. I doubted the decorations would make the party anymore tolerable, but at least I wouldn't have to be surrounded by flowers.

"I thought so," Cinda grinned, "I think it will go nicely with the sky outside." Cinda gestured to the wall of windows that reached from the floor to the ceiling. "It's not cloudy now, so as long as it stays that way, the stars and moon will shine right in."

Maybe I could just sit near the windows and watch the stars all night. "That would be nice."

"Yes. Now for decorations I have silver tablecloths and silver draping for the chairs, along with sparkley stars and a crescent moon to dangle from the ceiling. The center pieces are a metal crescent moon, surrounded by a few stars..."

Cinda continued talking about the decorations for ten minutes, while I just nodded. She loved to decorate for parties, but I sure didn't.

"Are you listening, Amy?"

"Uh, yeah," I looked at Cinda and noticed she was holding the pile of chair draping.

"Like I said, I want you to set up the chairs and put a draping on each one. Put six chairs around each table."

I nodded and took the draping from Cinda, setting it down on a nearby table. This was going to take forever. There were easily at least twenty tables set up throughout the room. Richard had just finished setting up the last one and was now starting to set out plates and silverware. Well, it wasn't really made of silver. Cinda does have silver place settings, but she can't use them if Matt is here. Today's settings were made of some other kind of metal that just looked like silver. I walked over to the middle of the room, where stacks of chairs were sitting. I began to unstack them and carry them over to tables. Magic would make this so much easier. Why was there that rule that said you can't use magic outside school anyway? One flick of my wand and this would all be done. Well, I really don't know any charms that would set up chairs, but it's the principle of the thing.

Setting up the chairs took me the better part of an hour to complete. I was ready to sneak out of the ballroom by the time I was done, but Cinda spotted me and called me back to her. She wanted me to hang the stars from the ceiling, which I actually didn't mind doing. It was certainly better than setting up chairs. I decided to cluster a lot of stars in one corner, around the moon, and have them spread out throughout the room, getting further apart as they went. Once I was done with that, the decorating was nearly complete.

"There," Cinda announced as she tossed some silver and blue glitter down on one of the tables. "I think we're done."

"Yes!" I shouted.

"What do you think, Richard?"

"It looks great, honey," Richard replied, just as the doorbell was ringing.

"That'll be the caterers, I think," Cinda said, "Amy, can you go let them in?"

Happy to get out of the ballroom, I ran down the hall and into the kitchen. I buzzed the caterers through the gate and ran to the door to let them in. A few moments later, there were four chefs in the kitchen cooking up all sorts of food for the evening. Cinda came into the kitchen shortly after the chefs started cooking to go over last minute menu issues. Richard, I noticed, had snuck into the living room and was reading the paper. I tried to slip out of the kitchen just as the doorbell rang again.

"Amy!" Cinda shouted.

"Got it," I turned around and returned to the intercom. "Hello?"

"Amy! It's us!" Dad's voice came through the box.

I quickly buzzed open the gate once again and then went to the front door to meet them. I wasn't really sure how I felt about seeing my parents at the moment. I was kind of nervous, since we had that huge row right before I left. On the other hand, I missed them and my own house. At least after tonight I would get to go home.

My family entered the house a few minutes later, already dressed in their fancy Muggle clothes. Dad looked tense and throughly worn out in his Muggle suit. Mum looked elegant in her long black dress, but her face was etched with worry. Matt looked oblivious to both of their nerves in his miniature version of Dad's suit, although he was holding his tie in his hand instead of wearing it.

"Amy!" he grinned and threw his arms around me. My brother was always rather affectionate towards me after the full moon, but I think it mostly had to do with not seeing me for a couple days. I don't think he really likes that I get kicked out of the house either. It doesn't really make sense, considering that I leave for a couple months at a time to go to school.

"Hey, Matt," I smiled and hugged him back, "How are you?"

"I'm good now. But look at this," he pulled his left pant leg up to reveal a disgusting bruised cut.

"Ouch," I winced as I looked at it. Blood and other injuries never really bothered me, but this one looked awfully painful. I've seen numerous of Matt's wounds from full moons, but most of the time they're almost healed by the time I go home.

"Yeah, it still hurts a bit," Matt replied, lowering his pant leg.

"Hi Amy," Mum gave me a weary smile.

"Hi Mum, Dad," I greeted them, "How are you?"

"All right," Mum answered. Dad nodded.

The two of them looked very preoccupied with something and neither of them looked 'all right'. I couldn't tell if they were worried about the party or something else, but it didn't seem like they were going to elaborate on it. I wanted to ask them about it, but figured it wouldn't be a good idea to start a row right now.

We all headed into the kitchen, where Cinda immediately told Mum about all the party planning and Dad sat down, clearly happy to just do nothing. My curiosity was very high right now as to why Dad looked so tired and tense. Mum usually worried enough for the both of them, and Dad was the one to take everything in stride. What was going on?

Cinda didn't even seem to notice how strained my parents looked. She gave them both a lengthy description about the food, music, and everything else about the evening. Then she took everybody upstairs to look at the ballroom. Mum liked the decorations, but Dad didn't seem to care one way or the other. By the time Cinda was done showing off, I had to go upstairs and change into my dress. I was perfectly happy to leave, because Cinda was trying to persuade Matt to put his tie back on and wasn't having much luck.

The dress was hanging up in my closet, amongst the pale colored dresses I had worn at past parties. I quickly threw it and my shoes on. I was incredibly happy that I didn't have to wear the pink one Cinda picked out. My hair went up into its usual messy ponytail. Cinda had laid out the jewelry she wanted me to wear on my dresser. There was a silver necklace with drop shaped diamond in the middle and matching dangling earrings, but no bracelet. Good, I thought. I hate bracelets. They always just get in the way, especially when I'm brewing potions. Silver, though. Mum wouldn't be happy. Oh well, I thought as I hastily put the jewelry on. I was either going to displease Mum or Cinda and since this was Cinda's party, I thought I'd better please her.

"Oh, Amy!" Mum's eyes opened in awe as I walked back into the ballroom. "You look beautiful in that dress."

"Thanks," I smiled as I walked over to her.

"I'll be on the lookout for any boys tonight," Dad said, "And I'll have my wand."

"Dad," I rolled my eyes. Like I was actually going to get together with any of the boys at this affair.

"Amy, I must admit that that color looks nice on you," Cinda smiled. "Especially with that necklace."

"Thanks, Cinda."

Mum peered at my jewelry and frowned, "Is that silver?"

"Er, yeah."

"Amy, you know you're not supposed to wear silver," Mum shook her head.

"Cinda gave it to me."

"Mum," Mum turned to Cinda, "You know I told you not to give her anything like that."

"I'm only letting her borrow it for the evening," Cinda insisted, "It's just for a few hours, I'm sure it'll be fine."

Mum pursed her lips and glanced from me to Cinda and back.

"Just let her," Dad replied wearily.

"Fine. Just for tonight."

"Good," Cinda said, "Now let's go to the door and greet everyone."

I followed my family out of the ballroom and to the door. The evening of boredom was just starting. Cinda, who had changed into a navy blue evening gown, insisted that we all stay by the door for a half hour and welcome people into the house. Waiters and waitresses were starting to carry trays of food and drink up to the ballroom. A bartender had been hired and he was busy preparing drinks.

Cinda had given up on making my brother wear his tie. He screamed anytime she went near him with it and Mum told her to just let it go. Personally, I thought Cinda should just be grateful Dad put on a tie for the occasion. Now Cinda was straightening Richard's tie, which was kind of funny.

Cinda quickly abandoned the tie straightening endeavor when she saw the first guests strolling up the drive. About time, I thought. It was almost seven thirty. Why didn't anyone ever arrive on time to these things?

"Marcy!" Cinda kissed a woman on both cheeks and then turned to the man who was next to Marcy. "Peter! How nice to see you again!"

"You, too," Marcy returned Cinda's kisses. "It's been too long."

"It has, it has," Cinda agreed, "My daughter and her family are here as well." Cinda gestured to Mum.

"Julie!" Marcy exclaimed, "I haven't seen you in at least a year!"

Mum smiled politely, "Yes, we've been rather busy."

"We'll just have to get you out more! Oh, are these your children? My, they've gotten so big!"

"Yes, this is Amy and Matthew," Mum reminded her.

"Amy, you're a young woman now!" Marcy gave me a quick hug. I smiled politely, while wishing I could just stay up in my room. I'm not particularly fond of hugs from people I barely know.

"And Matthew, you've gotten tall as well," she stooped down and ruffled his hair. "You must be what, six now?"

Matt skirted away from her hand. "I'm almost eight," he said flatly. I had to stifle a laugh. My brother is really short and does look about six.

"Oh," Marcy replied, "Well, you have gotten taller since I last saw you."

Cinda motioned for Marcy and Peter to go upstairs to the ballroom, and told Mum, Dad, and Richard to go with them. I moved to go upstairs as well, but Cinda insisted that Matt and I stay with her to greet guests. For the next half hour, Cinda and Richard's friends sauntered in, each of them behaving much like Marcy had. I was thoroughly sick of smiling politely as they exclaimed how tall I'd gotten and how long it had been since they had seen me. Not all of them were Richard and Cinda's age, either. There were plenty of people around my parents' age and they brought their children. I have met most of them before at previous parties and they were all surprised to see me. The 'meet and greet' charade was thoroughly exhausting and by the time Cinda decided we could go up to the ballroom, I was ready to just skip the whole thing and go up to my room. Not that Cinda would ever let me, of course.

I followed Cinda up the stairs with Matt at my side and the three of us entered the ballroom. The party was already in full swing when we walked into the room. A small amount of couples were dancing to the small orchestra that was playing in a corner. Even more adults were milling about with drinks in their hands and talking to one another. Others were seated at tables, neatly eating the food that the waiters were serving. The younger children were running around amongst the stationary adults and being told to slow down every once in a while. Matt immediately joined them, happy to be done greeting guests. I sighed and wandered over to the window, where the stars were clearly visible in the cloudless sky. I almost wished I was Matt's age. At that age, you could just play with whoever was around, not really caring if you had anything in common with them or not. I wished more than ever that Kenzie was here. She would make this fun. We would probably spend the evening joking around and goofing off.

Just as I was going to go find some food, I almost ran into a dark haired girl in a black and white dress. "Oh, sorry," I mumbled as I stepped back.

"Amy?" the girl stared at me, "Is that you?"

The girl looked somewhat familiar and I racked my brain trying to remember her name. "Vivien?"

"God, Amy, I haven't seen you in forever!" she exclaimed.

Vivien was the granddaughter of one of Richard and Cinda's friends. The last time I saw her was over a year ago, at the last one of these parties my family attended. I wouldn't exactly say we were close, but she was definitely one of the tamer teenagers at these functions.

"Oh, I know," I smiled politely, "I was downstairs greeting everyone."

"Yeah, we were late," Vivien rolled her eyes. "Like usual."

Everyone had been late to this party, but I didn't mention that.

"Well, let's go sit down," Vivien grabbed my arm and pulled me towards one of the tables in the corner opposite the one the orchestra was in. "Everyone's there."

By 'everyone', Vivien probably meant her crowd of friends. The Muggle kids I had sort of grown up with, but never really liked. I groaned inwardly. The last time I saw all these kids, it was very awkward. They all attend the same private school and don't really know why I don't go there as well. We made it through the crowd and over to the table, where Vivien's friends were waiting.

There were three girls and two blokes sitting around the glittery table. They were all roughly my age, but I was pretty sure one of the blokes and two of the girls were older.

"Whoa, Amy!" the older bloke, who had his arm around the younger girl said upon my arrival.

"Yup, Amy actually decided to come tonight!" Vivien replied. "Amy, you remember Damien?" Vivien gestured to the bloke with his arm around the girl. "And he's going out with Cassie now."

I nodded, "Hey."

"And my brother Jared," Vivien gestured to the other boy, who looked like the male version of Vivien. They were twins. "And Breanne and Alicia."

"Hi," I replied as I sat down next to Alicia.

"So," Breanne eyed me. If I remember correctly, she was the ringleader of the group. "What have you been up to? You didn't even come to my sixteenth birthday party last month."

I hadn't even known Breanne was having a birthday party last month. "I was at school."

"Oh, yeah, your mysterious school," Breanne gave me a curious look, "Why do you go there anyway? You should transfer to our school."

Even if I wasn't a witch, I don't think I would want to go to school with these girls. "I like my school."

"You would like ours better," Breanne continued, tossing her perfectly curled golden hair over her shoulder, "It's exclusive."

I laughed to myself because no matter how exclusive her school was, it couldn't come close to mine. "Mine is exclusive, too. You have no idea...."

Breanne gave a loud sigh. "Well, what have you been doing besides school?"

I thought for a moment. What could I tell them I had been doing? I certainly couldn't mention my potions experiments. "Um, reading, drawing, star gazing."

"Sounds fun," Breanne replied, not sounding interested in my hobbies at all. "What's your favorite subject?"

Potions, I thought. "Chemistry."

Breanne grimaced. "Ew. Chemistry sucks. I always get Damien to do my science homework for me."

"And your test grades reflect that," Alicia muttered.

"What?" Breanne glared at her. "My test grades are fine."

"If you call almost failing fine...."

"Don't go there, Alicia!" Breanne shouted.

"Oh, shut it the both of you," Damien interrupted, "I'll go get us some drinks." Damien got up from the table and headed over to the bar.

"Oh my God, did I tell you that Prescott got caught sneaking around the parking lot of the mall after dark last night?" Cassie announced suddenly.

Vivien, Breanne, Alicia, and Jared immediately looked at her. "What?" Vivien shouted, "Explain!"

"Well," Cassie began, "He was lurking about the dumpsters and the cops drove by. They spotted him and he ran. They caught him when he tripped over an old tire and fell down. They brought him to the station and his parents picked him up. But the kicker is that they caught a dealer a short while later, in the same parking lot!"

"No way!" Vivien shrieked.

"I'm not kidding," Cassie grinned.

"Whoa, that's insane," Jared shook his head.

"What an idiot," Alicia muttered.

This was exactly the kind of thing I had been expecting to happen. The gossip would start flowing and wouldn't stop. I didn't particularly care what kind of trouble this Prescott bloke had gotten into because I didn't know him. He wasn't at the party and I had never met him before.

Vivien and the others immediately launched into a conversation about what would happen to Prescott and I tuned it out. Luckily none of them asked for my opinion on the subject. A few minutes later, Damien returned with a tray full of what I presumed was soda.

"Here you go, everyone," Damien passed out the sodas and stuck the tray on a nearby table.

"I hope you have something to add to this," Breanne whispered to him.

"Of course," Damien reached into his jacket and pulled out a bottle of liquor.

My eyes bugged out of my head as I watched Damien add a bit of liquor to everyone's glass. He actually snuck alcohol into my grandparents' house. Not that there was a lack of alcohol in this place to begin with, but we were all underage! I could only imagine what would happen if Richard or Cinda found it.

"Any for you?" Damien asked me.

"No, no thanks," I muttered.

"Suit yourself," Damien shrugged and put the bottle back in his jacket. He picked up his glass and held it up. "Cheers." Everyone else raised their glasses as well and then started drinking them.

"You don't drink, Amy?" Breanne looked at me as if I was a Blast-Ended Skrewt.

"Er, not really. I mean, my parents are here. They'd kill me if I got drunk. Aren't you worried about your parents finding out you're sneaking booze?"

Breanne scoffed. "As if. My parents wouldn't notice if I came home drunk, high, and pregnant all on the same night." Everyone else nodded in agreement.

"Your parents would notice? They're not all focused on their jobs?" Vivien asked.

"What do your parents do, anyway?" Breanne raised one eyebrow at me.

"Er," I frantically tried to think of a way to explain what Dad did. How do you tell Muggles that your father is the Head of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures? "Uh, my dad works for, the government," I said quickly, hoping they wouldn't ask me to elaborate.

"Ah, secretive stuff," Breanne smiled. "What about your mum?"

"She doesn't work," I replied. "She stays home and watches Matt."

"Wow. I grew up with a nanny," Cassie commented, "I think we all did."

"Yeah, but her brother's sick, right?" Vivien looked at me.

"Oh, yeah!" Breanne exclaimed, "That's why you haven't been around much. I'd forgotten about that. What's he got again?"

"Rare blood disorder," I said automatically. That's what we always told Muggles when they asked.

"He looks fine now," Jared gestured to Matt, who was still running around with the other little kids.

You should have seen him a couple days ago, I thought. "He just had treatment the other day."

Vivien and her friends nodded and looked at each other uncomfortably. I found a topic that none of them seemed able to talk about, my brother. The lull didn't last long, however, because Breanne soon launched into a lengthy update about one of her friends who was pregnant. I half-listened to their conversation, not really interested in it, but just happy that I wasn't the focus of attention. The things that went on in their group of friends amazed me. Nobody at my school got pregnant, or drunk, or high, or bought drugs or anything like that. Well, most of the time, that is. There was that group of seventh years who bought a few bottles of firewhiskey at the end of the year, but they were of age. The more I listened to what Breanne and the others were talking about, the more I was happy I went to the Australian School of Sorcery.

The hours seemed to drag by after the initial hour of being interrogated by Vivien's friends. They had seemed to accept that I was back in their group, so to speak, and were pretty much ignoring me. Although that might have also been because Damien had spiked a few more drinks for everyone. Alicia in particular was looking tipsy. I was perfectly fine with this turn of events, although I was getting pretty bored. I had taken to watching everyone else at the party, which was proving to be kind of amusing.

First, I just watched my parents and grandparents. Richard and Cinda were milling about, talking to everyone and being gracious hosts. Nothing too exciting. Mum and Dad were doing the same, but I had seen them sneak off and talk to each other alone on multiple occasions. They were both still looking extremely tense and worried, which was making me kind of nervous as well. What were they so worried about? I thought about this for about a half hour and then realized there really wasn't any point in getting worked up about it now. My parents weren't going to tell me what was going on.

After that I decided not to pay attention to my parents and to focus on the other couples instead. So far I had seen no less than five rows, two of which ended with the wife throwing her drink in the husband's face, and on the opposite side of the spectrum, at least eight couples intensely making out in the middle of the dance floor. The most recent couple to have done this chose to do so right when Matt and the other little kids were nearby, which sent them into hysterics until the embarrassed couple finally broke apart. There was also a plethora of drunk people to watch. Two men in particular had started singing along with the music with their arms around each other. One of their wives was standing nearby looking mortified and the other wife was laughing her head off.

"Let's go dance!" Breanne stood up and grabbed Jared's arm. Jared reluctantly got up and followed her. From what I had heard of the conversation so far, Breanne and Jared occasionally went out, but weren't an actual couple.

"Yeah, c'mon, Damien," Cassie pulled her boyfriend out of his chair and the two of them followed Breanne and Jared to the dance floor.

Vivien and Alicia got up as well. "Aren't you coming, Amy?" Vivien asked.

I hadn't made any move to get up and wasn't really planning to. "Er."

"Oh, let's go!" Vivien rolled her eyes at me.

"Fine," I muttered and followed her and Alicia.

There was a fast song playing and the dance area was dominated by the younger crowd. Vivien's friends had joined another group of teenagers and they were all dancing together. I vaguely recognized them, but nobody introduced me to them. The new kids didn't pay much attention to me. I didn't mind at all since I didn't want to explain my absence from these sorts of events again. I started to sway to the music and waited until Vivien and the others had enough dancing.

They danced for much longer than I would have expected, not stopping until a slow song came on and even then, Damien and Cassie continued. Jared made a beeline to one of the desert tables as soon as Breanne turned away from him.

"Hey, I've got an idea," Breanne grinned as they walked off the dance floor, "Let's go to your room, Amy."

"Um," I began, "Why don't we just-"

"Yeah! Let's go!" Alicia agreed.

"Please, Amy?" Vivien pouted.

I sighed, knowing that they wouldn't give up until they saw it. Maybe they would only want to stay for a couple minutes. Maybe they'd be put off by the pinkness of it. "Oh, fine."

"Great!" Breanne turned and left the room, with everyone else following. "Where is it?"

"Just down the hall," I pointed in the direction of my room. I ran ahead of the rest of the girls and opened the door. A quick glance at my room told me that most of my stuff was well hidden. But my overnight bag was still sitting open on the floor, with a Potions text book in plain sight. I hurried and stowed it in the closet. I shoved the letter from Olivia that was on my desk into the drawer, just as Breanne and the others walked in.

Breanne stared around at the walls before announcing, "This place is ugly."

I laughed, "Yeah, it's pretty bad."

"I'll say," Vivien agreed, "Who decorated?"

"Cinda," I told them.

"Your grandmother's so, so, girly," Breanne smirked.

"My room at my house is better," I explained. Although, not exactly how I'd like it, I thought.

"My room's bigger," Breanne informed me. "Than this one, that is. I've never seen your real room. I should go to your house sometime and compare."

"Uh, well, I live kind of far away." Well, it was true, although the real reason was because no Muggle could set foot in my house without finding out about magic.

"Where?" Vivien asked, "I forgot."

"Near Brisbane."

"Oh, wow! My aunt lives in Brisbane!" Breanne exclaimed, "Next time I visit her I can see your house."

"Uh maybe." I quickly changed the subject, "Hey, let's get back to the ballroom. I'm pretty sure there's a cake out now."

"Cake? I can't eat cake," Breanne stared at me like I was crazy, "It'll go straight to my ass."

I personally thought Breanne could use a little cake. "You look fine, Breanne."

Breanne scoffed. "Sure, now I do! But if I ate cake?"

"Stop talking about cake," Alicia groaned. I glanced over at her and saw that she was looking a little green.

"Are you ok?" Breanne asked, walking over to her friend.

"I feel sick," Alicia clutched her stomach, "Where's the bathroom?"

"Right over there," I pointed to the door leading to my bathroom.

Alicia stumbled over to it, tripping over my chair on the way. Breanne and Vivien followed quickly. I wasn't really sure what to do. This evening was just getting stranger and stranger as the hours dragged by. I hadn't seen any of these girls in over a year and now one of them was puking in my bathroom.

I stood awkwardly in the middle of my room, not sure whether to go into the bathroom or not. Alicia was retching now and I could hear Breanne and Vivien trying to comfort her. I decided to peek my head in to see if they needed anything.

"Er, are you all right?" I asked awkwardly. Alicia was hunched over my toilet with Breanne and Vivien on either side of her.

"Oh, God. I want to go home," Alicia whispered.

"How many drinks did Damien give you?" Vivien asked.

"Five, maybe?"

"Geez, I've only had two," Vivien replied.

"Ugh, my head is killing me," Alicia groaned and put her head in her hands.

"Amy, why don't you get her some Tylenol or something," Breanne suggested.

I nodded and left the bathroom. Tylenol, what in the name of Merlin was that? I hadn't heard of that. Was it some kind of Muggle medicine? I had never taken Muggle medicine before. Whenever I was sick, I'd just take a potion. Maybe Cinda had some in the kitchen.

I ran out the door and down the stairs to the kitchen, hoping that Cinda would have something labeled 'Tylenol' in her kitchen. The kitchen was filled with caterers, waiters, and waitresses when I got there. Cinda's kitchen was huge and I didn't have the slightest idea where I might find Muggle medicine. I rummaged through cupboard after cupboard trying to find it. After five minutes of searching, I finally found what appeared to be a drawer full of Muggle medicine. It was funny, really, that I had spent a few days here every month for the past two years and didn't have a clue where the medicine was.

I rifled through the drawer, trying to find the Tylenol. It wasn't there. Great, I thought, now what was I supposed to do? Wait, Breanne had said 'or something', hadn't she? There must be something in this drawer to help with headaches. I pulled out a few bottles and looked at the labels. One of them said it was used for headaches as well as muscle cramps and a fever reducer. It sounded like the potion Matt takes before the full moon.

On my way back to my room, I heard voices coming from inside the bedroom next to mine. I paused at the door, which was open a crack.

"I know, but there's nothing we can do now." That was Dad! I leaned closer to the door, straining to hear what he was talking about.

"Yes, but we've got to do something! This is getting out of hand." That was Mum! What were they talking about? What was getting out of hand?

"You think I don't know that?" Dad snapped. Wow, this must be serious. Dad rarely looses his temper with Mum.

"Do you have to work tomorrow?" Mum asked. Work? Did this have something to do with the parchment I found in Dad's office?

"No," Dad sighed, "But the day after."

"All right," Mum replied tensely, "Let's just go back to the party."

"Why bother? I'm not having any fun. This whole thing is awkward."

"I know. It is for me, too. But we can't leave now. The Muggles will get suspicious."

I heard them walking towards the door and I ran into my bedroom. Something was going on at Dad's office, and that's what my parents were so worried about.

"Amy!" Breanne came out of the bathroom, "There you are! God, what took you so long?"

"Didn't know where Cinda kept the medicine." Well, it was half-true. I handed her the bottle, hoping whatever it was would suffice.

Breanne rolled her eyes and took the bottle, running back into the bathroom. I sat down on my bed and thought about what I had overheard. Something told me this wasn't a small problem Dad was having. This was something big if he was having to involve Mum like this. Dad rarely ever talked about work, but he never seemed tense about it either. The only time I have ever seen him this worried is right before full moons. Usually he's cheerful and calm right after full moons.

A few minute later, Alicia appeared from the bathroom still looking sick. She told us she was going to find her parents and go home. I felt bad for her, but couldn't help but think she brought it on herself. She didn't have to accept Damien's liquor. Still, she looked awful, so I felt sorry for her.

Once Alicia left, Breanne, Vivien, and I went back into the ballroom. The party was still going in full swing and was probably louder and more chaotic than before. There were only minutes left until midnight now. I followed Breanne and Vivien back to our table, where Jared was sitting with a large piece of cake.

"Hey," he mumbled with his mouth full of cake.

"That's gross, Jared," Vivien grimaced and sat down next to him. "Where are Damien and Cassie?"

"They left to go ring in the new year by themselves," Jared announced after he swallowed his cake. "Where's Alicia?"

"She got sick. Had too much liquor," Breanne explained.

The minutes ticked by and soon Cinda organized a countdown until midnight. My parents were still nowhere to be seen and I didn't have the energy to find them. The waiters were passing out glasses of champagne and I took one. My parents wouldn't mind if I had one glass, just to be festive. I stood next to Vivien and rang in the new year surrounded by people who might as well have been strangers. Despite the crowd of people, I felt utterly alone.

"Three...two...one!" everyone shouted, "Happy New Year!"

"Happy New Year!" I gave a half-hearted smile and clinked my glass with Vivien before taking a sip. I scrunched up my face in disgust and set down my glass. Champagne was disgusting.

"You gonna drink that?" Breanne pointed to my glass.

I didn't really think it was a good idea for Breanne to drink my champagne considering what happened to Alicia, but I shook my head and Breanne downed it.

The party didn't show any signs of winding down even now that it was the new year. I noticed a few couples leave, but most people were staying. This party was going to last until three in the morning, I thought. I was getting tired and wanted more than anything to go to bed, but I couldn't if all the guests were still there.

Breanne, Jared, and Vivien launched into more discussion about their school, but they seemed less enthusiastic now that half their group had left. Breanne asked me if anything exciting ever happened at my school and was quite disappointed when I told her that hardly anyone got pregnant or drunk or anything like that.

"Hey, isn't that your brother?" Jared interrupted Breanne and Vivien's gossiping and pointed behind me.

I turned around and saw Matt wandering around without the group of little kids he was playing with earlier. He was also limping a little.

"Is he all right?" Vivien asked.

"Matt!" I shouted and waved at him. He turned and a look of relief washed over his face when he saw me. "Are you ok?" I asked quietly after he walked over to me.

"My leg hurts."

I leaned over and whispered, "Have you had any potion recently?"

Matt shook his head. "I can't find Mum and Dad."

"Let's go find them," I told him and then turned to Vivien, Breanne, and Jared, "I have to go find my parents. I'll see you later."

"I hope you feel better," Vivien smiled at my brother. Breanne and Jared nodded.

"Ok, Matt. I'm not sure where they are. I'll carry you," I picked him up and no sooner had he wrapped his arms around my neck that he let out a loud shriek. It felt like my heart plummeted into my stomach as I remembered that I was wearing a silver necklace.

Vivien, Breanne, Jared, and everyone at the surrounding tables turned to stare at us. "What happened?" Vivien asked.

"Is he ok?" some lady at the next table asked.

"What's going on?" an old man asked.

"He's fine," I assured them and looked at Matt. He had taken his arms back from around my neck and was crying uncontrollably. I ignored the stares of those nearby and left the room as fast as I could.

It was my necklace. My stupid necklace. The one Cinda insisted I wear. I should have listened to Mum. Between the chaos of the evening and my fatigue, I had completely forgotten that I was wearing a silver necklace. And now the damn thing had burnt Matt. I tried not to think about what Mum was going to do to me as I carried my brother into my room.

As soon as I shut the door, I set Matt down on the bed and ripped off the necklace and yanked off the earrings. Stupid silver jewelry. I was never wearing it again.

"N-now m-my arms h-hurt," Matt wailed from the bed.

"I know, I know," I put my arms around him, "It was my necklace. I'm sorry." I gently turned his arms over and saw a long thin burn mark on each of his forearms. Mum was going to kill me.

"M-make it s-stop," Matt cried and looked at his red arms.

"I can't," I stood up, "We'll have to find Mum and Dad."

Matt sniffled and nodded. I picked him up and walked cautiously to the door. Hopefully no one had followed us. I opened the door slowly and peeked out. There wasn't anyone there. I doubted Mum and Dad were still in the empty bedroom next to mine because if they were they would have heard Matt's screams. They also couldn't be in the ballroom for the same reason. Well, that kind of counted out the entire second floor. I headed for the stairs and passed a few waiters and waitresses on the way. They gave us curious looks, no doubt brought upon by Matt's muffled crying.

I ran down the hallway of the first floor, peeking into every room as I went. They were all empty. My parents weren't in the kitchen, living room, dining room, drawing room, or any of the bathrooms. Where were they? It wasn't like them to leave Matt alone like this. I was there, of course, but they hadn't even let me know they were leaving. Matt's crying wasn't subsiding and I was very happy that this part of the house was empty of guests. That would have brought about awkward questions I didn't want to answer.

It was only after I looked in every single room on the main floor that I thought to look in Richard's office. But of course that's where my parents were. I pushed open the door and saw them talking quietly with each other.

They both lifted up their heads as I walked in and Mum came running over to us and lifted Matt out of my arms. She carried him over to a chair and set him down in it. "What happened?"

I sighed and prepared myself for the lecture that was coming. Matt was still wailing uncontrollably and whatever he was trying to say wasn't making any sense. That was a good thing since I would be able to soften the story for them. Matt would probably have just blurted out 'Amy burned me with her necklace' or something similar.

I took a deep breath and began, "Well, I noticed that he was limping so I asked him what was wrong and he said his leg hurt. I asked if he'd had any potion this evening and he said no so I told him we'd go find you. Since his leg hurt I figured I'd just carry him-"

Mum, who had been looking at Matt's leg, turned over his arms after he managed to communicate that they were what was really bothering him. She took one look at them and put two and two together. "Oh my God, Amy! What did you do? Your necklace burned him!"

"That's what I was getting to," I turned away from her. "I'm sorry, ok! I forgot I was wearing it. I never usually wear anything silver, you know that."

"And this is exactly why!" Mum shouted.

"M-make it s-stop, Mum!" Matt cried.

"I will, sweetie, I will," Mum soothed and then turned to Dad, "Could you go home and get some of the burn salve and pain potion?"

Dad nodded and with a crack he disapparated. Mum looked back at me and shook her head. "Amy.... You just don't think sometimes, you know that? And this is what happens when you don't think."

"I said I was sorry!" I yelled back, "And you know what? This wouldn't have happened if you'd just stayed in the ballroom with him! Why did you leave like that anyway? You never leave him alone."

"I don't want to discuss that right now!"

"This could have happened with anyone," I continued, "It didn't have to be my jewelry that burned him. Loads of the ladies up there are wearing silver! Ever think of that? You've left him alone practically the whole evening. He could have accidentally bumped into half the people up there and he would have ended up burnt."

I appeared to have hit a nerve. Mum just stared at me and didn't say anything else. After a few moments she went back to comforting Matt and started ignoring me. I was perfectly happy with that. I knew why she was upset now, too. There isn't anything Mum hates more than someone criticizing the way she takes care of Matt and I.

Dad returned moments later with two bottles. He looked at me, then at Mum, and shook his head. I wasn't exactly sure where he stood in this argument. It was completely my fault that Matt got burnt and I knew it. In fact, I did feel horrible about it, but I just hate it when Mum lays the guilt on me. As if I don't feel bad enough already without her yelling at me. That's what I really like about Dad, he doesn't lay the guilt trips on.

I watched as Mum rubbed the salve onto Matt's arms and gave him a cupful of potion. He quieted down shortly afterwards and wrapped his arms around Mum. She started whispering something to him that I couldn't quite catch.

There was a soft knock on the door that startled all of us. Dad got up and went over to it. "Who's there?"

"It's Cinda!"

Dad sighed and opened the door. Cinda walked in with a concerned look on her face. She shut the door quietly and bent down next to Mum and Matt. "Is he all right? I heard him crying and saw Amy running out of the ballroom with him. What happened?"

Mum looked up and glared at Cinda. "What happened? What happened? That necklace you gave Amy burned him!"

Cinda turned to look at me and then back to Mum. "And this is my fault?"

"Yes, you do deserve some of the blame, Mother!" Mum shouted. "I told you she shouldn't wear it and you insisted."

"I'm not the one who let him touch it!"

"It was my fault, Mum," I said quietly, "I was stupid. I should have remembered I was wearing it. I'll never wear anything silver again. I really am sorry."

"I know you are, Amy," Mum sighed.

"And so am I," Cinda said, "But he's better now anyway, right? Let's go back to the party."

Mum looked at Cinda like she was mad. "Yes he's better now, but he's not going back to the party. It's nearly two o'clock in the morning and the full moon was only a couple nights ago. He's practically asleep now. I should have never let him stay up this late."

"Oh, well, I guess I'll just go back then. Everyone is wondering if he's ok, you know," Cinda told us.

"Tell them he's fine," Mum stood up with Matt in her arms. He was indeed half asleep.

"And what should I tell them happened?" Cinda asked.

"Tell them his leg was bothering him," I announced, "Vivien, Breanne, and Jared noticed he was limping."

Mum nodded. "Good idea. Tell them that."

Dad got up and followed Mum out of the room. I followed as well and said good night to Matt, but he was too sleepy to really notice. Mum stopped to let me say good night to him but she didn't say a word to me.

"She'll come around," Dad said to me, "She's stressed right now. Both of us are."

"I wish you'd tell me why," I muttered.

"I will sometime. Now's just not the right time," Dad said as he went to catch up with Mum. "See you in a little while."

I nodded. "There will never be a right time," I said too quietly for him to hear.


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PostPosted: Tuesday 19 August 2008 9:43:39pm 
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Ok, I know the past 6 chapters have been mostly set-up and get to know the character chapters, with a bit of humor thrown in. Now the plot is really going to get introduced. Hope you enjoy it!

I'm not entirely sure when I'll next update. I'm leaving on Thursday for school, so I will be quite busy!

Comments, questions, and general reviews are always appreciated! :)

Chapter 7: The Letter

People were finally starting to leave the party when I wandered back into the ballroom a short while later. Richard and Cinda were standing near the door saying goodbye to them as they trickled out. Vivien, Jared, and Breanne were all sitting at the same table they had been at before I left and I walked slowly over to them.

"Oh my God, is your brother all right?" Vivien asked immediately.

"He's fine now," I assured them.

"What was wrong with him?" Breanne asked.

"His leg was bothering him," I said quickly, "He hurt it the other day and needed some medicine to put on it."

"Oh, well, I'm glad he's better now," Vivien smiled.

I didn't elaborate on the subject. All I wanted was for the three of them to go home so that I could go to bed. Fortunately, their parents came over only a couple minutes later and told them they were leaving. Breanne complained saying it was too early to leave, but in the end she got up and followed her parents out of the room. I got up as well and said good night to them near the front door. Vivien told me she was thrilled that we had gotten to spend time with each other and we should do it again sometime.

After they left I ran up to my room and shut the door behind me. It was finally over. The dreaded party had lasted well over six hours and I was beyond exhaustion. I yanked off my shoes and changed into more comfortable clothes. Despite my fatigue, I found that I couldn't really sleep after crawling into bed. My mind was racing with thoughts of the evening. First, there were my 'friends' that I had not seen in over a year. I honestly didn't mind Vivien so much or her twin brother, but Breanne drove me crazy. I'm pretty much indifferent to Alicia and Cassie, although I think Damien is somewhat of an arse. I wasn't really sure how I felt about visiting Vivien again after this. I mean, she's nice and everything, but I feel like I have to be so guarded around her. It's strange because I don't feel that way around Kenzie and she's a Muggle as well. I do kind of have to watch what I say around Kenzie, but it doesn't feel strange like it does with Vivien. I'm completely used to it because it's been that way forever. Same with Olivia. Even though Olivia is a witch there are things I have to keep secret even around her. Namely, everything about Matt. There really isn't anyone I can be completely open with except my parents.

My thoughts drifted to them next. My parents and what they were whispering about earlier. I honestly couldn't think of anything that would distract them so much as to forget about Matt's potion. I wish they would just tell me what was going on. It would make life so much easier. Maybe I could sneak into Dad's office again once we went home. No, I thought, I can't do that. It's just wrong. Well, if I go in there to find Jasper again and just happen to notice something on his desk and I accidentally read it, that wouldn't be so bad. I drifted off to sleep trying to think up ways to find out what was going on, but didn't come up with a single good idea.

******

Everyone was feeling the after-effects of the party the next morning. Nobody got up early, not even me. I slept until eleven o'clock and was the first one up. Richard and Cinda were the next ones up, although neither of them were awake enough to really do much. They sat at the kitchen counter drinking coffee for a full half hour before they perked up. Shortly after they finished their coffee, Mum and Dad came downstairs looking in much need of coffee themselves.

My parents set to work helping Richard and Cinda clean up after the party and they forced me into helping as well. It wasn't really that bad since Mum and Dad did mostly everything with magic. The clean-up went quickly and was completed in about twenty minutes. Once we were done with that my parents finally said we could go home.

"We'll see you next month, Amy darling," Cinda gave me a quick hug.

"See you then," I gave her a forced smile. I didn't really want to think about next month right now. Well, actually it was next month, since it was January. At least it would be the last one before I went back to school and then I wouldn't have to go back to my grandparents' house for a while.

"Ready?" Mum came down the stairs with Matt in her arms. He hadn't yet woken up and was sleeping with his head on her shoulder.

Dad nodded. "See you in a couple weeks, Richard and Cinda."

Mum said goodbye to her parents and Dad wrapped his arms around me. With a loud crack, the four of us Apparated to our house.

We arrived in the middle of the kitchen and Ellie came running into the room as soon as she heard us appear. "Hey, Ellie!" I grinned at her.

"Welcome back, Amy," Ellie smiled, "Ellie is happy you is home."

"Me, too," I agreed and tossed my overnight bag onto the kitchen floor.

Mum eyed the bag and shook her head. "I'm taking him upstairs." Dad nodded and then Mum left to take the still sleeping Matt up to his room. I was pleasantly surprised that she didn't tell me to pick up my bag. Whatever was going on was certainly distracting her.

Dad wearily wiped his forehead and started to walk into the living room. "You know, you really ought to pick that up."

I shrugged and followed him. "Eh, I'll do it eventually." I was kind of interested to see how long it took Mum to tell me to take it up to my room.

Dad sat down on the couch and I sat down in a chair across from him. He looked even more exhausted than he had the previous night. I wondered what time he and Mum went to bed. They were still up when I finally called it a night. "So," I began, "Are you going to tell me what's going on? And don't say it's nothing."

Dad sighed, "Amy, honestly, I'm not entirely sure what's going on. There have been some, er, rumblings at work, and if they turn out to be anything, they could change things."

I stared at him. He was telling me a whole lot of nothing cleverly packaged to sound like something. What were the 'rumblings'? Without knowing that, everything else was useless. What might change things? What would they change? "What rumblings?"

"I'm not going to tell you that. I don't want you to worry. There's a distinct possibility that this won't turn out to be anything."

"Why would I worry about it? What's it got to do with me?" I demanded.

Dad rubbed his hands on his face. "Again, I'm not going to tell you."

"If they won't turn out to be anything," I continued, "Why in the name of Merlin are you and Mum so worried about it?"

"Because of what might happen if it does turn out to be anything!" Dad leaned forward and looked me in the eye, "Now please drop it. I assure you that you'll find out eventually if it turns out to be anything at all."

I crossed my arms and frowned. "Fine."

Dad and I sat in silence, neither of us getting up or doing much of anything. There were things I probably should have been doing. Homework, putting my stuff away, working on potions, but I really didn't want to do anything right now. Maybe if I'm constantly around Mum and Dad, one of them will let something slip and I'll find out what is going on.

Mum came in a few minutes later and sat down next to Dad. I waited for her to tell to pick up my bag, but she never did. She kind of acted like I wasn't there. Good, I thought, now start talking about whatever is going on at Dad's work.

"He's still sleeping," Mum told Dad.

"That's good," Dad replied sleepily.

"You look like you could use a nap."

"So do you," Dad smiled. "I have to go into work later."

"Of course."

Yes, work! Talk about work! I stayed still with my ears poised to listen to whatever they were going to talk about.

"I'm just glad that party's over," Dad commented, "No offense to your parents, but the company of their friends is taxing."

"None taken. I completely agree. I lost count of the number of times I had to explain about where we've been the past year and a half."

"Me, too. Just hope we told the same stories," Dad laughed.

"Yeah," Mum agreed.

"Are they planning anymore parties?" Dad asked.

"Oh, I hope not. But knowing my parents they will. And now that we've been to one, they'll expect us to go to the rest."

"I don't think I can take another one of those," Dad groaned.

Hopefully the next party would be held while I'm at school. Then I wouldn't have to go at all. Mum and Dad didn't seem to be interested in discussing what was going on at Dad's office, although that was probably because I was in the room. They just kept talking about the party, which wasn't really something I wanted to talk about. It was kind of funny to listen to them make fun of Cinda and Richard's friends, though. They were laughing a lot but it seemed a bit forced. The two of them must be incredibly distracted by whatever was going on.

Perhaps now would be a good time to ask them if Olivia could come over. They were tired and distracted, which would probably cause them to give in faster. I waited for a pause in their conversation and cleared my throat. Mum and Dad looked up and waited for me to say something.

"Um, Mum, Dad," I began, "I was wondering if maybe Olivia could come over for a couple days."

Mum and Dad looked at each other and seemed to be having a wordless conversation. I hated it when they did that. The forced laughter had died away from their faces and was replaced by more worry.

"Oh, I'm not too sure, Amy," Mum replied.

"Why not? She's never been here before!" I pleaded.

"We've been through this before," Mum reminded me. Of course we had. We went through it every holiday and they always said no.

"I know that. But I don't get why she can't come. I mean, it's not around the full moon, so she'll never suspect a thing!"

"She has a point," Dad said after a few minutes.

"I know, it's just with everything going on..." Mum trailed off.

"She won't find out about that by spending a few days here, Julie," Dad replied. "It's really not fair to Amy that we don't let her friends visit."

Mum thought for a few moments. "All right, she can stay for a couple days."

"Really?" I stared at them in shock. That had been easier than I thought.

"I suppose," Mum sighed. "Tell her she can come sometime next week and stay for three nights or so."

I stood up and ran over to my parents. "Thank you so much!" I grinned and hugged each of them.

"Go write her a letter and come back down in about fifteen minutes," Dad told me, "We'll send it off with Jasper along with a letter your mother and I need to send."

I nodded and ran out of the room. As I was turning into the hallway I noticed that the two of them were whispering to each other and looked tense again. Was it about Olivia visiting or something else? My curiosity about what was worrying them waned now that I was allowed to invite Olivia over. Nothing else seemed to matter right now.

My room was just as I left it and I hurried over to my desk. I grabbed a piece of parchment and a quill and scribbled out a note to Olivia asking her what days she would be able to come. She was going to freak out when she read my letter. Olivia has been asking me for the past year when she would be able to see my house. I've told her all about it and she's absolutely enthralled with it. She thinks it would be so cool to live in a manor. I've told her that it's not all it's cracked up to be, but she wants to see for herself.

A glance at the clock told me that it had only been five minutes since I left the living room. Why had Dad told me to wait fifteen minutes? Did he really think it would take me that long to write a letter? I decided not to bother with waiting fifteen minutes and ran back to the living room.

Mum and Dad weren't there when I got there. Ellie was dusting some shelves. "Hey, Ellie," I greeted her.

"Hi Amy," Ellie replied.

"Guess what? Olivia is going to come over next week!" I grinned.

Ellie smiled, "Oh, good, Ellie has been wanting to meet Olivia."

"Do you know where my parents are?" I asked, "They were here before and said they'd send this to Olivia along with something they had to send."

"Mistress said she and Master had to be writing a letter in Master's office. They is not wanting to be disturbed and is saying they is coming out soon."

"Oh," I sighed and sank down into a chair. "I'll wait then."

I wasn't really that curious about the two of them secretly writing a letter. They did so on a regular basis, usually trying to find cures for lycanthropy. I was just incredibly impatient to get this letter out. I wanted it to get to Olivia as soon as possible. If only I had my own owl.

Mum and Dad emerged from the office a short while later and came into the living room with Jasper flying behind them. Mum was clutching a letter in her hand and neither of them looked any less tense than before. I handed Dad my letter and he affixed both envelopes to Jasper's leg.

"Let me know as soon when she'll be here as she replies," Mum told me.

"I will."

Dad glanced at his watch. "I've got to go into the office now. I'll see you two later, although I'm not sure when I'll be back." He kissed Mum and gave me a hug.

"Bye, Dad, and thanks for letting Olivia come over."

"Bye, honey," Mum said.

Dad nodded and opened a nearby window. Jasper flew out of it and Dad closed it once more. He walked over to the fireplace and within seconds he had Flooed to work.

******

Olivia sent me an owl the next day. She said that she could come on Monday, which was four days away. Nevertheless, the four days seemed to drag by. Dad spent everyday at work, working longer hours than he ever had before. Mum still seemed overly anxious about something and wouldn't tell me what it was. When Dad was actually home, the two of them spent hours locked up in Dad's office talking about something. Matt seemed oblivious to the whole thing and played outside or with his Christmas presents. He begged me to play with him a few times and I gave in, but really didn't feel like it. I was too excited about Olivia coming to do one thing for any length of time. I worked on potions and on homework, or when it was dark I star gazed. But mostly I just wandered around the house and tried not to think about how slowly the time was passing.

I got up late on Sunday morning, most likely do to the fact that I stayed up star gazing the previous night. One more day, I thought, and then Olivia would be over. If I could just wait one more day. I got out of bed and threw some clothes on, while wondering what I could do that day. Homework would be the smart option, but not something I really felt like doing. Potions would be a funner choice. But first, brekkie.

The house was kind of quiet as I walked through the hallway. Dad had surely left for work hours ago. Matt's room was empty which meant he was probably outside enjoying the sunny day. Who knew what Mum was up to. I hadn't actually talked to her much over the past few days. She had been short and snappy whenever I said anything, so I just started ignoring her. I wished whatever it was that was bothering her and Dad would just stop. It was making this holiday awkward and not nearly as fun as it should have been. At least Olivia would be there tomorrow.

The silence stopped as soon as I descended the stairs to the main floor. I heard a faint muffled sobbing noise coming from the kitchen. I stopped in front of the stairs and listened for a moment. Who was that? It didn't sound like Matt and his crying was usually the only crying in the house. I cautiously crept towards the kitchen and paused before entering.

I peeked into the room and saw Mum sitting at the table with her head in her hands. It was her. Mum was crying. There was an opened letter sitting next to a cup of coffee. I swallowed nervously and walked over to her. She didn't seem to notice me as I sat down across from her and watched her for a few moments.

"Mum?" I asked quietly. "Is something wrong?" That was kind of a stupid question. Obviously something was wrong or she wouldn't have been crying. But it was what everyone always seemed to ask in a situation like this.

Mum startled and looked up at me with her tear streaked face. Her eyes were red and blotchy and it looked like she had been crying for a while now. She shook her head, but not in a way that was answering my question. Then she returned to her previous position without saying a word.

I sat awkwardly for a little while, glancing up at Mum and then towards the folded up letter next to her. I never knew what to do in these kinds of situations. Mum cried a lot right after Matt was bit and I never knew quite the way to comfort her. Only this time it seemed worse because of how strained our relationship had been the past few days.

My eyes kept drifting to the letter. It was like it was calling to me or something. I wanted nothing more than to just pick it up and read it. My hand slowly crept along the table, inching closer and closer to the letter. I watched Mum as I did so. She hadn't looked up and did not seem to notice that I was going to take her letter. Normally if I tried something like this Mum would snatch it away from me and tell me it was rude to read others' mail. This time she didn't do anything. I picked up the letter and unfolded it.

I immediately noticed the familiar letterhead of my school. I swallowed and my heart thudded. Was this about me? I couldn't recall doing something so bad that would bring my mother to tears. I continued down the page and read the short letter it contained.

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Walter Eckerton,

I am writing in regards to your recent letter. You
asked if your son could attend our school in four
years. You informed us that he is a werewolf, who
does not take Wolfsbane.

How can you possibly expect us to accommodate
a monster? I find it unbelievable that you actually
thought we would accept him to our institution.
We have never ever accepted a werewolf to our
school and do not intend to start now. Doing so
would put all our other students at risk which
is not something we wish to do. To think that
you had the nerve to ask us if a werewolf could
attend boggles my mind. Let alone a werewolf
that isn't even on Wolfsbane.

Keep your werewolf child away from us and do
not contact us any further. Doing so will
cause us to contact the proper authorities.

Sincerely,
Addair Killigan
Headmaster
The Australian School of Sorcery


I threw the letter down on the table and stared at Mum. She was looking at me now and obviously knew that I had read the letter. I glared at the piece of parchment that my headmaster had sent my parents. I never particularly liked Killigan, but wouldn't have expected him to send my parents such an awful letter.

I honestly hadn't thought much about my brother attending school. I went to Muggle school before I went to the Australian School of Sorcery, but Matt had been home schooled from the start. He was bitten a few weeks before he would have started Muggle school. I kind of just assumed he would go to my school once he was eleven, but I guess it wasn't as simple as that. When I thought about it, it did make sense. I mean, he couldn't exactly stay in school on the full moon. But couldn't he just come home for that or something?

Mum rubbed her hands on her eyes and blew her nose before speaking to me. "Amy, I guess you know what is going on now."

"I guess so," I replied quietly. But what did this have to do with Dad working long hours?

"It seems that your brother cannot attend your school," her voice cracked, "I would never have expected such discrimination of Addair Killigan!"

I nodded, but couldn't think of anything to say. I didn't know the headmaster that well.

"He was my Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher!" Mum continued, "To think he would deny a child of an education just because of something they can't control!"

Mum seemed to have passed the initial stage of shock and crying and had entered the stage of anger. She stood up with murder in her eyes and stalked out of the room. I quickly followed her to the living room. She grabbed the pot of floo powder. She threw it into the fireplace and stuck her head in. "Department for the Control and Regulation of Magical Creatures, Head Office," I heard her shout in.

Whatever she told Dad, I heard nothing of it. She stayed in the fireplace with her head in Dad's office for nearly ten minutes, presumably talking about the letter. Her face was still filled with anger when she left the floo.

"Your father is coming home to discuss things in about ten minutes," she said in a voice that I knew not to argue with, "We'll be in his office. Go outside and watch your brother."

I nodded and ran to the back door. I knew not to cross Mum when she was on a warpath like this. The headmaster had not heard the end of it from Mum, that I was sure of. He could try and threaten her with the authorities, but in essence, Dad was the authorities Killigan would contact. That might get a little tricky.

Matt was running around the backyard kicking a football around and looked very excited to see me come out. "Amy! Want to play with me?"

"Sure," I replied. I kind of felt sorry for him at the moment, seeing as he probably wouldn't get to go to school. I knew he had been looking forward to it ever since I started.


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PostPosted: Tuesday 26 August 2008 12:36:44am 
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First chapter posted from school. I figured I should post one before the classes really picked up. I haven't managed to actually write any chapters here yet, but I've got quite a few stored up. Hope everyone likes it!

Disclaimer- I don't own Harry Potter or Lucky Charms.

Chapter 8: That Night

I played football with Matt for about an hour and a half before he had had enough. Neither Mum or Dad had come outside so I assumed they were both still talking about the letter.

"I'm hungry," Matt whined as we sat down on the deck. "Is it lunch time yet?"

I glanced into the kitchen and didn't see anyone. Mum didn't expect us to stay out here all day, did she? "Uh, sure, we could go have lunch."

The house appeared deserted when we walked into the kitchen, although I could hear voices coming from Dad's study. Ellie wasn't anywhere to be seen but she didn't usually prepare lunch anyway. I wound up making Matt and I sandwiches and we ate them sitting at the counter.

"What's Mum doing in Dad's study?" Matt asked.

Of course he could hear her in there. It still amazes me what he's able to hear. Ever since he got bit, he's had excellent hearing. That's probably why Mum wanted him to stay outside. "I'm not sure," I replied.

"Sounds like she's talking to Dad," Matt announced. "But isn't he at work?"

"Uh, he had to come home to talk to Mum about something. I'm not sure what."

"Oh, I want to go see him," Matt jumped off his stool and started running to the door.

I got up and blocked him. "You can't. Mum said not to interrupt them."

The door to the study opened at that moment anyway. Mum and Dad walked into the kitchen, both looking sad, angry, and nervous at the same time. Mum seemed to have been crying again and her face was streaked with tears.

"Dad!" Matt shouted and ran over to him, throwing his arms around Dad's waist.

"Hi, Matt," Dad looked at him sadly.

I wasn't really sure what to say at this point. Matt still had no idea about the letter and I didn't want to be the one to tell him. I settled on looking from Mum to Dad questioningly until one of them said something.

"Amy, Matt," Dad began, "We need to talk to both of you. Let's go into the living room."

I followed the three of them into the living room. Matt was talking animatedly to Dad about playing football earlier and Dad was nodding his head every once in a while to show he was listening. I sat down on the couch next to Matt once we got into the room. Mum and Dad sat down on the chairs facing us.

"Amy," Dad said slowly, "You read the letter, so you probably already know what this is about." I nodded. Dad turned to Matt. "Matt, a few days ago we sent a letter to Amy's school asking if you could go when you're eleven."

Matt looked from me to Dad with a look of confusion on his face. "Why couldn't I?"

Dad sighed and looked at him sadly. "Because of what happens once a month on the full moon."

"I don't even like it," Matt replied, "I don't want to do that anymore."

"I know, honey," Mum said, "Neither do we. More than anything, we want it to stop. But it just can't right now."

"We got a letter back from the headmaster today," Dad continued, "He said you can't go to school there."

Matt sat there in shock for a few seconds and then his eyes filled with tears. "No! That's not fair!" he shrieked.

"I know, it's not fair," Mum started crying as well and gestured for my brother to climb onto her lap.

"I want to go," Matt sobbed and buried his head into her shoulder. "Why can't I go?"

"They won't let you, honey," Mum replied, "It's not very nice at all, but there's nothing we can do."

"Nothing?" I asked, "Weren't you going to send them another letter?"

"It wouldn't do any good," Dad said quietly, "Under the law, the school is in no way obligated to accept him as a student."

"That's not right," I said, "Why don't you fight it?"

"It's not a good time to be fighting something like this," Dad answered.

"Well, you can home school him like you've been doing all along," I suggested.

Mum and Dad exchanged looks and I got the sense that there was more that they had to tell us.

"Amy," Dad began, "We were actually going to try and find a school to accept him."

"But there aren't any other wizarding schools in Australia," I told him.

"I know," Dad said, "We were going to write to schools abroad."

I stared at him. "You mean we're going to move?!"

"Perhaps. If another school will accept him."

"That means I'll have to change schools." I swallowed hard. I didn't want to move. I liked my school even though the headmaster was a discriminating troll. I had friends there and the other teachers were nice. I'd been going there for three years! I couldn't transfer to another school now!

"Amy, I know this is going to be hard, but even if another school doesn't accept him, you're not going back to the Australian School of Sorcery."

"What?!" I shouted and stood up angrily. "Just because of him I can't go back no matter what?! Even if we don't move I'm not allowed to go to school there?! That's not fair!"

Mum and Dad exchanged looks. "Amy, it is not his fault. We would never have let you go to that school to begin with if we knew what the headmaster thought," Mum explained.

"Well then you should have found out before I started going there!" I glared at them.

"Maybe we should have," Dad said quietly, "But we didn't."

"It's just not fair!" I shouted again, "Killigan doesn't teach any of my classes! The other teachers might not have the same opinions as him!"

"That might be true," Dad agreed, "But nevertheless, while you are at that school you are under his influence. I'm sorry, but you won't be returning."

"You're not sorry! If you were sorry, you'd let me go back! You just don't get it. This will ruin my life! I'll never get to see Olivia again!"

"Amy, of course you'll see her again. She's coming over tomorrow, after all," Mum sighed.

Oh, yeah. I had almost forgotten about that amongst the news. "And what exactly am I supposed to tell her?"

Mum and Dad looked at each other again. "You will certainly not tell her why you aren't going back," Mum said.

"Right, like she'll just accept that the two of you won't let me go back for no reason at all? What do you suppose the reason should be?" I demanded.

"Your father and I have more on our minds than what you'll tell your friends about this!" Mum shouted.

"Can you just let me go back until you find another school?" I pleaded, my eyes starting to well up. "Please?"

"No," Dad replied sternly, "Absolutely not."

"This is so unfair!" I yelled, "And it's all his fault!" I pointed at my brother, who was still crying into Mum's shoulder.

"You will not blame him for this!" Mum shouted, "I will not have it!"

"I'll blame whoever I like!" I turned and left the room, not waiting for a response.

Ellie was lurking outside the entrance to the living room and jumped out of the way as I went storming past. "Is Amy all right?" she asked.

I stopped and turned around to look at the house elf. She looked a little scared and I couldn't blame her. We had been shouting awfully loud. "No, it's not."

"What is going on?"

"We might be moving, Ellie," I told her, "And Mum and Dad won't let me go back to school." My voice cracked.

Ellie's face broke out in a look of confusion and then her ears dropped in recognition. "Ah, Mistress's letter."

I nodded, "Did you read it?"

"Ellie did. Ellie is not liking Headmaster Killigan."

"Neither do I. But it's not like I see him on a regular basis at school," I explained, "Well, I'm going upstairs. See you later."

Ellie said goodbye and I continued to the stairs. I wanted nothing more than to be alone right now. I threw myself onto my bed as soon as I slammed my door shut. I buried my face into my pillow and let the tears flow. The anger I felt downstairs was subsiding and grief was replacing it. The fact that I wouldn't be returning to the Australian School of Sorcery was sinking in.

All the memories I had of the place would become just that, memories. I would not form any new ones. I would never again run through the quiet halls with Olivia when we were late for class. Never again would I shout my throat dry during a Quidditch match or dueling tournament. Even though I was rubbish at both, I absolutely loved going to the matches and tournaments. There would be no more late night study sessions in the dormitory or early morning jaunts through the grounds. I would never get to go to another start of term feast or end of term party. No more potions competitions, no more sneaking off to the Astronomy tower in the dead of night to stargaze.

I spent hours laying in bed crying and thinking of everything I would miss about school. I had no idea what the rest of my family was doing and didn't really care. Dad most likely went back to work and who knows what Mum and Matt did. Matt. He was the reason for all of this. No matter what Mum and Dad told me, this whole thing was his fault. If he hadn't have been so stupid as to wander out of the tent alone that night, none of this would have happened. We would both be going to the Australian School of Sorcery and would never have found out about Killigan's beliefs about werewolves. Not that it really would have mattered if Matt wasn't one anyway.

I still remember that night as if it was yesterday. It had been our first and only Muggle camping trip. The trip had been really fun at first. We hiked, boated and swam in the lake, and played at the nearby playground. Then came the night of the full moon. Dad warned us repeatedly not to leave the tent without one of them. He knew full well that it was the full moon, since he was the head of the Werewolf Control Unit of the Department for the Control and Regulation of Magical Creatures at the time. I don't think he really expected anything to happen but he was a bit worried due to what he saw at work. Turns out, he had reason to worry.

It had been me who realized that Matt was gone. He must've left the tent to go to the bathroom and disregarded Dad's warning. I have always been a light sleeper and heard growling and screaming coming from outside. There were flashlights shining all over the place and I heard Muggles running around. I saw that Matt wasn't in the tent anymore and woke up my parents. They have always been heavy sleepers.

The two of them immediately got up when I told them Matt was gone. They grabbed their wands and ran out of the tent. I followed them and immediately saw the chaos. Muggles were running around everywhere, grabbing their children and heading for their cars. Quite a few were talking on cell phones and I heard fragmented bits of conversation that included phrases like 'huge dog', 'a wolf or something', 'attacking a kid', 'biggest damn animal I ever saw', and 'better send someone down right away'.

Mum, Dad, and I kept running towards the area that all the Muggles were running from. We were shouting Matt's name and a couple Muggles told us there was a kid being attacked in the woods. Mum shrieked and the three of us ran even faster. Both of them had their wands held up high but the Muggles didn't seem to notice or care amongst all the chaos.

When we reached the woods we saw a small group of Muggles surrounding what was the biggest wolf I had ever seen in my life. I let out a gasp as I saw that the huge animal was standing on top of my brother and ripping at his back. Mum let out a loud cry and Dad an angry growl. Mum ordered me to stay back while Dad tried to disperse the Muggles. I stood a couple meters away and watched through tears as the two of them sent spell after spell at the werewolf.

The Muggles watched in amazement and shock as Mum managed to get Matt away while Dad succeeded in stunning the werewolf. Mum carried Matt over to where I was standing and I let out a scream when I saw him. He was shaking uncontrollably, bleeding profusely from numerous cuts and scratches, looked to have a few broken bones, and was clearly unconscious. Mum started trying to heal the wounds and Dad bound the werewolf with ropes. He tried to ignore the shaken Muggles as he walked over toward us. He wordlessly took out a piece of parchment and then started mumbling as he wrote on it. 'Werewolf attack, need backup from Werewolf Control Unit, and Obliviators.' Then he pointed his wand at it and the parchment vanished.

Dad told Mum to Apparate with Matt to the hospital and he would meet her there. Both of them seemed to have forgotten that I was there. I stood in the background for the next hour as various people from Dad's office and other people from the Ministry showed up. Someone interviewed a few Muggles and Dad, then Obliviated all the Muggles who had seen the attack. Someone else took the still stunned werewolf away. After the whole thing was over, Dad found me and the two of us Apparated to the hospital.

The next few weeks went by in a blur. Matt spent three whole weeks in the hospital, before they let him leave. I think they would have wanted him to stay longer but he had to leave before the next full moon. Mum spent most of her time at the hospital and whenever I saw her, she was crying. Dad didn't cry much in the open, but I heard him at night.

I had nightmares about that night for months after. Even at school I would wake up screaming. It freaked Olivia out, but I never told her what happened. No one ever found out what happened except the people who worked with Dad. He was able to hush the whole thing up and there was no mention of it in the paper. The nightmares subsided after a while, but that hadn't made the memory of it any less vivid.

Even though it was my brother who got attacked, and not me, my life changed drastically as well. I didn't have any secrets from Olivia before that night, and ever since then I'd been keeping a big one from her. My only secret from Kenzie had been about magic before, but now I kept two big secrets from her. Not to mention the fact that I spent more time at my grandparents' house after that. We also went on less holidays, since Dad had to use all his time off work for full moons.

I sighed and rolled over on my bed. Now my life was going to change again because of my brother. What were my parents planning anyway? Where would we go? There was only one school of magic in Australia, so I doubted we'd stay in the country. That meant a new house. I liked this house and I didn't want to leave. I could hardly remember the house we lived in before this one. This house was my home, where I grew up. It was also where Dad grew up and Uncle Jack. Was Dad really going to sell it and move?

Of course he would. I didn't even have to think about it. I knew my parents would do anything for Matt. They would do anything for me, too. Well, anything except let me stay at my school. I wondered what schools they were going to look at. They would have to be in English speaking countries, of course. Mum knew French, Italian, and a bit of German, but none of the rest of us did. They would probably look at the school in New Zealand, since it was closest. But besides that one, what other schools were somewhat nearby? Did they even want to stay nearby? Maybe they would just try and see if the school in New York would accept Matt and we could live near Uncle Jack.

I wouldn't mind living near Uncle Jack, but I didn't really want to move to New York. I didn't want to start over in a new school. Fresh tears formed in my eyes and I squeezed them shut. Wizard school wasn't like Muggle school. Kenzie says that there are new kids all the time at her school and others move away. Muggles seem to move a lot more than wizards do. Wizards generally stay put. In my three years at my school, I had not seen one kid who just moved to Australia. Everyone in my year had started together in first year and no one had moved away. I assumed it was like that in other countries. I would be the weird new girl who moved during her fourth year for reasons she won't even tell us. They would all already have friends and everyone would ignore me. It had been hard enough making friends when I was a first year. I could only imagine what it would be like when I was a fourth year.

******

I must have cried myself to sleep because before I knew it, sunlight was streaming into my window and my stomach was growling. My first thought as I got out of bed was that Olivia was coming over that day. I grinned and quickly changed clothes. Then the previous day's events hit me like a Bludger to the head. My grin faded immediately and I quietly left my room.

The house was quiet and it appeared that I was the first one up. Dirty dishes in the kitchen sink told me otherwise. Dad must have already left for work, I thought as I poured myself a bowl of Lucky Charms. I ate slowly and tried to get excited about Olivia coming over.

The thing was, now that I wasn't going back to school, the prospect of Olivia coming over wasn't nearly as fun. I should be even more excited since I wouldn't see her at the end of the month when school starts, but the fact remained that I wasn't. I was dreading telling her that I wouldn't be going back. And after I told her, what were we going to do? I mean, most of the stuff we talk about has something to do with school since both of us spend most of our time there. But I didn't really want to talk about school right now.

Just as I was finishing my bowl of cereal, Mum came into the room looking like she hadn't gotten a minute of sleep that night. I ignored her as she poured herself a cup of the coffee Dad must have brewed earlier. She sat down across from me and took a long sip of coffee. I started to stand up, but she laid a hand on my arm and looked at me. "Amy, I'd like to talk to you."

"I wouldn't," I said coldly.

She gave me a stern look that made me sit back down. I crossed my arms across my chest and glared at her.

"What time is Olivia coming over?" she asked.

"Two," I said.

Mum nodded. "Well, I would like to talk to you about yesterday. You ran out of the room so fast."

"Yeah, that's because I didn't want to talk about it anymore."

"You didn't let us finish, though. Your father and I have given this quite a bit of thought."

"Oh, yeah? Ever think how this is going to affect me? Switching schools after I've already done three here? Actually, I'll probably wind up switching in the middle of the year once you two figure out where we're going. Can only imagine what that'll be like," I rolled my eyes.

Mum sighed, "That's exactly why I want to tell you more about this. We do have a plan and I would like to tell you it. First, you are not going to switch in the middle of the school year."

"What, you've found a new school already?"

"No. Not all schools start their year in January. You will not be going back to school at the end of this month, not any school."

I raised an eyebrow. "Oh, really? I get an extra long holiday?"

"I will home school you."

"What?!" I stared at her. I did not want to spend an entire school day with my mother.

"I will home school you for now. The schools we are looking at start their year in September and you will start as a fourth year in nine months at one of those."

"That's an odd time to start the year."

"Well, it's not odd for the countries they are in. The schools we are looking at are in New York, a couple of other states in the US, one in Canada, and one in Scotland."

I blinked at her. "Those are all far away."

"Yes, I know."

"How are you going to decide?" I demanded.

"We'll send letters and whichever Headmasters or Headmistresses are agreeable, we will set up times to visit their schools."

"And if none of them will let Matt go?"

Mum sighed and closed her eyes. She didn't say anything for at least a minute, during which I stared at her, but didn't dare speak.

"We'll deal with that if it happens," Mum finally said.

I rolled my eyes. Wonderful, they didn't have a plan if that happened. How could they not think about that? What made them so sure one of these other schools would let Matt attend?

"Could I go back to school here?" I asked hopefully. I knew it was selfish to want the other schools to deny Matt from going, but if they did, one of us might as well be happy.

"Absolutely not."

"Fine. I'll be upstairs until Olivia is here." I glared at her and stood up, stomping out of the room.

"Amy, take your bag with you," Mum pointed to my bag that was still sitting on the kitchen floor.

I grabbed it wordlessly and ran up to my bedroom. I had completely forgotten about my overnight bag and was surprised that Mum waited so long to tell me to put it away. I tossed it unceremoniously onto a pile of dirty clothes once I entered my room. I had no desire whatsoever to empty it and put anything away. Olivia wouldn't care if my room was a mess. She's a messy person as well and our dormitory at school was incredibly messy.

Our dormitory. I squeezed my eyes shut as I realized that it wouldn't be our dormitory anymore. It would just be Olivia's dormitory. There were six girls in our year and two of us shared each dormitory. Olivia would be by herself now since I doubted the school would put a first year in with a fourth year. The only way Olivia would get another roommate would be if someone transferred in. Someone like me. I was going to transfer into some other school. Into someone's dormitory who I had never met before. Someone who already had friends.

I sighed and walked over to the window. It was a bright and sunny day, the complete opposite of my mood. It was probably hot, too, but I couldn't be sure since Mum had put Cooling Charms all over the house. I wondered when we would move. All the schools Mum and Dad were looking at were in the Northern Hemisphere, which meant the seasons would be flipped. It was winter right now in all the countries we might be visiting. Would we move as soon as Mum and Dad found a school? Or would we wait until right before the year started? I hoped we wouldn't move until right before the year started. If we were here, there was a chance I could see Olivia a few more times. Who knew how often I'd see her after we moved.


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PostPosted: Monday 1 September 2008 3:31:06pm 
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Here's the next chapter. As always, comments, questions, and general reviews are always appreciated!

Chapter 9: Olivia

Olivia told me she would arrive by the Floo Network. I left my room at a little before two and found Mum and Matt standing in the living room waiting for her to arrive. Neither of them said a word when I entered the room. I stood a few feet away from them, hoping Olivia would arrive soon so we could go up to my room.

The fireplace lit up with green light a few minutes after two. Olivia stepped out of the fireplace with a large grin on her face and ran over to me with her long black hair swinging behind her. Olivia was a little shorter than me with big brown eyes.

"Amy!" she shrieked and threw her arms around me.

"Olivia!" I replied and hugged her back.

"I cannot believe I'm actually here!"

"Me either!"

I looked up and saw that someone else had stepped out of the fire who I recognized immediately as Olivia's mum. Olivia and I stopped embracing each other and walked back over to where the adults were standing.

"Hi, Natalie," Mum put on a fake smile and greeted Olivia's mum. I could tell she was trying to conceal her worry that had plagued her for the past few days.

"Julie, nice to see you again," Olivia's mum replied, "Thank you so much for having Olivia over."

"No problem at all."

"Send her back in a few days," Mrs. Quelch said and then turned to her daughter, "I'll see you then."

Olivia gave her mum a quick hug. "Bye, Mum!"

"Bye, honey. Have fun girls!" Mrs. Quelch waved and threw some Floo powder in the fireplace. A few seconds later, she was gone.

"We'll be in my room," I said as soon as Olivia's mum left. Mum nodded.

Olivia grabbed her bag and followed me out of the room. "This place is amazing!" Olivia grinned at me.

"I suppose I'll give you the grand tour," I smiled and lead her down the hall. "You just saw the living room. This is the kitchen," I opened the door to the kitchen and found Ellie inside. "Hey, Ellie. This is Olivia."

Ellie bounded over to us and bowed. "Ellie is pleased to meet you."

"You, too," Olivia grinned, "I wish I had a house-elf."

I continued the tour of the main floor, pointing out the formal dining room, Dad's study, a few bathrooms, the drawing room, and a few storage areas. Then we went upstairs and I showed her my room, Matt's room, my parents room, more bathrooms, and a couple guest bedrooms.

"I'm ready to move in," Olivia laughed as we started up the stairs to the third floor.

I swallowed hard and didn't say anything. It was just an innocent statement, but it felt like a punch to the stomach. The fact was, was that in a few months, Olivia might actually be able to move in. Someone else would be living in our house. Some other kid would have my bedroom and my balcony. I shook the thought from my head and lead Olivia down the hall. I pointed out more guest bedrooms and storage, saving my Potions Room for last.

Olivia wasn't really into potions. Sure, she did decently in Potions at school but it certainly wasn't something she would want to turn into a hobby. Despite this, she was thoroughly impressed with the room. She had a million questions about the stuff I was brewing and I answered them patiently. She even went so far as to ask if she could brew something while she was here. I told her we would do it the next day or something.

"So," Olivia began as we were walking back to my bedroom, "Was that your brother down there?"

"Yeah."

"He's quiet. Didn't say a word when I got here."

"He's like that," I explained, "Kind of quiet around people he doesn't know." That was true, but I had a feeling Matt was still thinking about the previous day's events.

We didn't say much more on our way to my room. It was odd because usually Olivia and I never run out of things to talk about. My mind was racing as to how to tell Olivia I wasn't going to go back to school. I couldn't put it off very long, but I had no idea how to bring it up.

"All right," Olivia sat down on my bed and patted the spot next to her once I had shut my door, "You've been quiet ever since I got here. What's up?"

One look at Olivia's concerned face made me want to start crying again. She had always been a great person to confide in. Unlike me, she always knew exactly what to do or say. I just wished I could tell her the whole story.

I bit back tears and sat down on the bed next to her. I didn't say anything for a few minutes and just stared at the back of my door. Olivia didn't seem to mind and just sat patiently waiting for me to talk.

I sighed and started fiddling with a loose thread on my comforter. "I- I, don't really know how to tell you this," I swallowed hard, "But, I-I'm n-not going b-back to school." I watched the loose thread become blurry as tears started to run down my face.

"What do you mean?" Olivia asked.

"I m-mean that I c-can't go back for f-fourth year."

"You're not coming back? But why?"

"M-my p-parents won't let m-me," I explained, finally picking up my head and looking at my friend.

Olivia had a combined look of confusion and concern on her face. "Why not?" she asked softly.

I thought fast. What could I tell her? I hated more than anything to lie to my friends and this was a big one. "Um, my p-parents had a disagreement with the headmaster," I said finally. Well, it wasn't a total lie.

"And they won't let you go back because of it? Blimey, must've been a big disagreement. What was it about?"

"I have no idea," I lied.

"But what are you going to do now? Where are you going to go to school?"

"I don't know!" I wailed as tears poured down my face, "We're m-moving!"

Olivia pulled me closer to her and I saw that she was starting to cry. The two of us cried in each other's arms for what must have been ten minutes before we finally stopped.

"We're going to figure this out," Olivia said, wiping tears from her eyes. "You're not going to move."

"What c-can we do? Mum and Dad have already decided. They're l-looking at s-schools. Either in the S-States, or Canada or England!"

"But those are so far away!" Olivia exclaimed.

"I k-know!"

"You can't go, you just can't," Olivia said as she stood up, "Maybe your parents will make up with the headmaster. I mean, how long can they stay angry with each other?"

About this issue? Forever. I just wished I could explain it to her. "They won't ever make up. That's completely out of the question."

"But what is it about?" Olivia sighed and shook her head. "I thought you didn't know."

This is why I hated lying. I could never keep the lies straight. "I don't know exactly. It's something with Dad's work." Again, it wasn't a total lie. Matt going to school did kind of have to do with Dad's work.

"What's Killigan involved with the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures for?"

"I don't know, but they got into a huge row and now I've got to find a new school."

"What about your dad's job, though? He can't keep it if you move across the world," Olivia pointed out.

That was a good point. I hadn't really thought about it. What would Dad do? Just quit and try to find a new job? I wondered if he could even find a new job doing the same thing he's doing now. I mean, there aren't really very many open positions for heads of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. Of course, I wasn't even sure Dad still liked his job. He was working all the time now and never looked happy when he came home.

"I don't know," I sighed, "There's something going on with his job, too. He comes home all tense and is working a lot more than he usually did. Plus, he and Mum keep having private conversations about it and won't tell me anything."

Olivia paced the room for a few moments and then stopped in front of the dresser. "Wait. Maybe the two things are connected. Your Dad's job issues and the thing with Killigan."

I laid down on the bed and stared up at the ceiling. "Who knows? All I know is that whatever it is, it's causing me to have to move across the world and I can't stand it!"

Olivia finally seemed at a loss as to what to say. She sat down and leaned against the bed. I continued staring up at the blurred ceiling. Something inside me told me that it didn't matter what Olivia and I did, there was no way I would ever go back to the Australian School of Sorcery. That part of my life was over. My life was just changing so fast and I didn't seem to care about anything at that moment. Just days before this, I had been incredibly curious about what was going on at Dad's work, but now it just didn't seem to matter. I mean, if we were just going to move to the States or something in a few months, what did it matter that Dad hated his job? He was just going to have to find a new one anyway. And the changes he was so vague about? They couldn't possibly affect us if we were thousands of kilometers away.

"You'll come back and visit, won't you?" Olivia asked a few minutes later.

I sat up and slid off the bed next to Olivia. The tears had dried up in her eyes, but she still looked sad. "Of course. I mean, I'll make my parents let me visit. We'll still come back to visit my grandparents, so they'd better let me visit you while we're at it."

Olivia nodded. "Good. Because I couldn't stand it if we never saw each other again."

"That won't happen," I said adamantly, "Maybe you can even visit me, wherever I wind up moving to."

"I'd like that. I've never been outside Australia before."

"I've only been to the States, but that's just when I visit my Uncle Jack. Haven't been there in over two years, though."

The last time we visited Uncle Jack had been the holiday before the time Matt got bit. Ever since then we hadn't been able to work out a good time to go. There always seemed to be a full moon whenever I had a school holiday or when it was a good time for Uncle Jack. He came and visited us over last Christmas, though. Too bad there had been a full moon and I was at my grandparents' for half the visit.

"Are you going to go visit him anytime soon?" Olivia asked.

"Not sure. Probably when we go to visit the school in New York. We'll probably stay with him then." That would be the silver lining in this whole mess, getting to visit Uncle Jack.

"Amy?" There was a knock on the door. I recognized the voice as Matt's.

"What?" I shouted.

"Dinner's ready," he replied.

I wasn't really that hungry, but I got up and led Olivia downstairs. Apparently Olivia coming over was enough to eat in the formal dining room and my parents, Matt, and Olivia were already sitting down. Matt was sitting next to Ellie that night, which left the two seats opposite them for Olivia and I.

"This looks delicious, Mrs. Eckerton, Ellie," Olivia said politely as she sat down.

"Thank you," Mum and Ellie said at the same time.

Once Dad had said the prayer, he served everyone up a heaping plate of steak, potatoes, and carrots. I mainly stirred my food around my plate and watched everyone else eat. The fact that I was going to be moving had caused my appetite to evaporate.

Both Mum and Dad still wore looks of worry and Dad looked positively worn out. There were more lines on his face than there had been the last time I was home. He was eating, but didn't seem to be that enthusiastic about it. Mum was eating less than he was, but more than I was. She did not seem all that excited about the meal either. All I had to do was look at them for a few seconds to realize that the entire meal was just a show for Olivia. They were trying to hide that anything was wrong. I was sure that if Olivia wasn't there, we would be having sandwiches in the kitchen or something.

They shouldn't have bothered with pretending for Olivia, however. Olivia looked a bit uncomfortable and kept stealing glances at each of my parents and then giving me significant looks. I knew she knew something was up. It's hard to hide that something is the matter from Olivia. Despite this, she was clearly enjoying the actual food and was cleaning her plate.

Matt was as oblivious to his surroundings as ever. He was eating about the same as he usually did, but was mostly concentrating on making a tower with his carrots. This habit had amused me just a few short weeks ago when he did it with peas, but now it was bugging me. How could he just sit there clueless as ever when it was his fault we were moving? His fault that I was having to switch schools. Probably his fault that my parents were all tense and exhausted. Well, that was probably also due to Dad's job, but the whole school issue certainly couldn't be helping matters.

Ellie was clearly worried about my parents. That's what I loved about Ellie. She was always so considerate of others and rarely ever thought about herself.

After about fifteen minutes of awkward silence, Dad cleared his throat. "So," he began, turning to Olivia, "How has your holiday been?"

"It's been good," Olivia answered.

"Looking forward to fourth year?" Dad asked.

I stared down at my plate. How could he ask something like that with me right there? I wasn't going back for fourth year. I tried not to look at Dad as I grabbed my glass of milk for something to do.

"Not really," Olivia replied flatly, "Since Amy won't be there, it's going to be positively horrible."

I choked on the milk I had been drinking as I tried not to laugh. Olivia usually had more tact than that. She was probably trying to be funny for my benefit. I coughed and she slapped me on the back.

"Oh, right," Dad said quickly, grabbing his own glass of milk.

No one attempted anymore polite conversation. The remainder of the meal was spent in awkward silence. Olivia and I both politely declined dessert and ran back up to my bedroom as soon as we were finished.

"Merlin, that was awkward," I groaned as I shut my door.

"Your parents really didn't need to fix such a fancy dinner," Olivia sighed and sat down on the floor. "They're so distracted about something."

"They've been that way since the beginning of the holiday, pretty much. Ever since right after Christmas. It's something to do with Dad's work. He said there are some changes that might be coming that could have a negative impact on us. He wouldn't elaborate, though."

"Geez, what more could happen? You're already moving across the world."

"I know, but Dad told me about that a few days before the school thing. I think they're two different things," I explained.

"Really? I kind of think they're connected somehow. What if the argument your parents had with Killigan had something to do with the changes at your dad's work?"

I highly doubted that the issues at Dad's work had anything to do with Matt attending school, but I had to keep up the lies.

"Maybe. Who knows?" I sighed, "But you know what? It doesn't really matter because I'm moving no matter what. I don't want to waste all our time talking about this."

Olivia nodded. "Yeah. Let's do something."

"I haven't showed you my new telescope yet, have I?"

"Nope."

I stood up and went over to the balcony. "It's out here." I opened the doors and walked out. Olivia followed.

Olivia absolutely loved my telescope. The two of us sat outside talking about everything except my moving to who knows where until the stars came out. Once the sky was dark we spent hours watching the stars move across the sky.

******

Despite the fact that Olivia and I went to bed late, I was still up early in the morning. I could hear the birds chirping outside my window and Olivia's soft snoring next to me. I sat up and crawled out of the bed, being careful not to wake Olivia. I got dressed quietly and then laid down on the floor with a book, waiting for my friend to wake up.

Olivia finally got up a couple hours later. I had already read a quarter of my book. I closed it as I heard her sitting up in bed.

"Morning, sleepyhead," I greeted her.

"Morning," Olivia yawned.

We went downstairs for brekkie once Olivia changed her clothes. I felt better that morning than I had the previous day. Today I didn't want to dwell on the fact that I was moving. I just wanted to put it out of my head while Olivia was there.

Dad had long since left for work, but Mum and Matt were in the kitchen when we entered. Mum was pouring over a piece of parchment while drinking a large cup of coffee. Matt was eating a bowl of Lucky Charms, which meant that Mum was still feeling bad about how he couldn't go to my school. Well, what used to be my school.

Olivia and I poured ourselves bowls of Lucky Charms as well and sat down across from Mum and Matt. Mum muttered a good morning but didn't lift her head from the piece of parchment. She pulled it closer to her when I tried to read what it said. Chances are it had something to do with one of the schools Mum and Dad were looking at.

We decided to go explore the forest after brekkie. I hadn't been in it since we got the tree and Olivia had never been in it. I led her over to the wall and insisted she try climbing it. It took her a couple tries, but she eventually made it over.

Olivia and I spent the whole morning in the forest, but we didn't find anything particularly exciting. We mainly talked. I told her all about the party my grandparents threw for New Year's and about the Muggle kids I had spent time with during it. Olivia agreed that they seemed incredibly annoying, except perhaps Vivien. I told Olivia how Kenzie was doing, although Olivia and Kenzie had never met. They probably never would, I thought, now that I would be moving.

The remainder of Olivia's visit was much like that second day. We spent a lot of time just talking in my room or wandering through the forest. Mum pretty much left us alone except to tell us when dinner was ready. She seemed just as agitated and tired the next few days as she had been since Christmas. I wondered how much sleep she and Dad were getting. Dad left for work early in the morning and didn't return until late at night. I had no idea what Matt did while Olivia and I were out in the forest, but I didn't really care. We were slowly becoming one of those families who just lived in the same house but didn't really interact much.

I woke up early as usual the day Olivia left. Over the past couple days I hadn't thought about moving much. The thought was always in the back of my mind, but with Olivia there, it kind of seemed distant, like it wouldn't happen for a very long time. The fact that I was really moving came crashing back to me the day Olivia left.

Olivia was going to go back to school in two weeks. She would be going back alone, without me. Life would go on for all my classmates, all the professors, and everyone else at the school. They would probably wonder where I had gone, but within a few weeks, they would begin to forget. Everyone except Olivia, that is.

"I still can't believe you're not coming back," Olivia whispered as we stood in front of the fireplace.

Olivia was going to be Flooing back to her house in mere minutes and I wasn't even sure when I would see her again. Mum was standing near us, but not saying anything.

"Me neither," I replied, swallowing back tears.

"I'll owl you as soon as I get back to school. I'll tell you everything that's going on."

I nodded. "Thanks."

"And you've got to keep me updated about this moving thing. Tell me when you're visiting schools and houses and stuff like that. And definitely tell me when your parents have decided."

"I will," I assured her.

"Well, I guess I've got to go now," Olivia gave me a long hug and then looked at me, "We will make this work. I'll owl you soon. Bye."

I hugged her back, "Bye, Olivia." My voice cracked and tears started to trickle down my cheeks.

Olivia gave a weak smile, grabbed her bag, and stepped into the fireplace. A few seconds later, she was gone. I turned around and saw Mum looking at me with concern.

"Oh, Amy," she sighed.

"Just leave me alone, Mum," I glared at her, "Who knows when I'll see Olivia again, now that you've decided we're moving."

"You girls will make it work."

"Oh, yeah? How can we really stay that close when we're thousands of kilometers away? I can't imagine you'll let me come back and visit every school holiday. Oh, wait, that wouldn't work anyway, would it? The schools you're looking at have different holidays!" I shouted.

"Maybe, but I'm sure you'll make new friends, too."

"I don't want to make new friends! I want to stay here, where Olivia and Kenzie are!" I turned and ran from the room.

I didn't stop running until I had locked myself into my Potions room. How could Mum suggest that I make new friends? I didn't need new friends when I had Olivia and Kenzie. They were the best friends I could ever have. The only thing I really wanted was to be able to tell my friends the real reason why I was moving, but I couldn't.


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PostPosted: Monday 8 September 2008 7:40:09pm 
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Just thought I'd let everyone know that I've finally written canon characters into this story! The first one makes her appearance in Chapter 25, and just for fun, I'll let you know who it is. Madam Rosmerta, but I'm not telling you why she's in it!

As always, comments, questions, and general reviews are appreciated!

Chapter 10: For One of Your Kids

The day I would have usually departed for school was quickly upon me. I had spent the past two weeks avoiding contact with my family by staying in my room or my Potions room. Neither of my parents seemed to care or even notice. They were both being highly secretive about something that I could only guess was researching schools for me to transfer to. Whatever it was, it seemed to take up all of Dad's time when he was home. The two of them would hole up in Dad's study for hours on end. I tried to listen in on what they were saying, but one of them must have put up a silencing charm since I couldn't hear a thing.

I wandered down to the kitchen a few hours after I woke up and found Mum sitting at the table with the usual large mug of coffee and piece of parchment she didn't want me to see. This had become a habit of hers, although I'm sure the parchment was a different one each day.

"Morning," I said as I grabbed my box of Lucky Charms.

Mum jumped and then stared at me, raising one eyebrow. Probably due to the fact that I hadn't said good morning to her in a few weeks. "Hello, Amy."

"So," I began as I poured my cereal, "Know what today is?"

Mum sighed, "January 25th? Two days before the full moon?"

"Anything else happening today?" I inquired.

Mum set down her parchment. "Not that I can think of. Just tell me what it is. I'm not in the mood to play guessing games."

"I can't believe you forgot," I huffed and sat down in front of her. "It's the day I should be returning to school!"

"Oh, well, I see," Mum muttered.

"Olivia's probably getting ready to leave for the train," I commented in between bites of cereal. "Sure wish I was going...."

"Amy, you're not going to guilt me into changing my mind about this. Don't even bother trying."

"I'm just letting you know everything I'm missing," I smiled sweetly.

"That actually does remind me, though. We'll have to get started with your homeschooling."

I groaned inwardly. I really didn't feel like having Mum teach me. Sure, she'd do all right with some stuff like Charms and Transfiguration, but what about Potions? Mum was dreadful at Potions. I'd be better off just learning by myself.

"Have you been doing your homework that your teachers assigned last month?"

I stared at her. "Are you mad? I'm not going back, why would I bother with the homework?"

"Well, that's a good place to start then. Complete the homework and then bring it to me. We'll see where to go from there."

"But-"

"No buts. Your professors know more about this than I do. You'll learn a great deal just by doing the homework they assigned. Then we'll start with the homeschooling. I won't be doing much, basically just keeping your skills up until the fall when you'll enter school again."

"That's not fair, though," I whined, "I don't want to just practice what I've already done. Why bother? I'm not going to forget anything."

"I will not have you not keeping up with your studies for six months," Mum said.

"It's your fault," I huffed, "I should be going back to school today."

"I'm not discussing that right now, Amy," Mum said sternly. "I want you to start your homework after you're done eating. We're going over to Richard and Cinda's after lunch. Your father and I have to tell them about our new plans, especially since you'll be going over there in two days."

"But Dad's at work," I pointed out.

"He's going to sneak out for a couple hours."

"Whatever," I muttered. This was just wonderful, I thought. Now I'll be spending every full moon for who knows how long at my grandparents' house. At least I'd get to see Kenzie, but I had no idea what I'd tell her when she asked me why I wasn't in school.

I finished my soggy cereal while Mum continued reading her piece of parchment. I dumped my empty bowl in the sink and went back up to my room. I opened my trunk and pulled out my Astronomy book. I knew better than to not start my homework. Mum would be riding me about this for weeks, so I'd better actually do it. Of course, I'd save the worst for last, like the two rolls of parchment Transfiguration essay.

I sat down on my bed and gazed out the window, my book laying unopened in front of me. It was a sunny day, the kind that was perfect for wandering through the forest. Well, I could read my book while I wandered through the forest, I thought. It certainly didn't look like I'd get much reading done in my room.

Mum was still in the kitchen as I walked past it. She looked up when she saw me.

"Don't go gallivanting through that forest today," she warned. "There's not enough time before we leave."

Yeah, right. We weren't going to leave for a few hours. But I knew she would watch me as I went outside to make sure I didn't go into the forest.

I nodded but didn't say anything and opened the door to the deck. I decided to just lay on the wall next to the forest and read there. I ran over to the wall and tossed my book up onto it.

"Amy!" a voice shouted from behind me. I turned around and saw that it was Mum sticking her head out the window. "Don't go into the forest!"

"I'm not! I'm just sitting on the wall!"

Mum shook her head, but walked away from the window. I climbed the wall and settled down to read my book. Astronomy has always been one of my favorite subjects and I was soon fully immersed in the chapter I was reading. Astronomy and Potions text books are the only ones I can read without being extremely bored. Transfiguration and History of Magic are the worst. They'd put me to sleep in less than five minutes. Charms, Herbology, and Defense Against the Dark Arts aren't that bad, but I'm not very good at DADA. I also take Ancient Runes and Care of Magical Creatures. I wish I had taken Arithmancy instead of Ancient Runes, though. Olivia says it's fascinating and I can't stand Ancient Runes. Care of Magical Creatures isn't that bad, but I'm not very interested in it. Dad wanted me to take that one, since it's pretty much what he built his whole career on.

I was almost done with the chapter I was on when I heard footsteps approaching. Probably Mum telling me lunch was ready or something. Why she actually bothered to come outside and not just yell out the window, I had no idea. Maybe Matt was asleep or something.

"Amy?" a quiet voice asked. I jumped and my book fell off the wall as I heard the voice. It wasn't Mum, it was Matt.

"What?" I asked in an annoyed tone.

"Um, sorry for scaring you."

"You didn't scare me. I just thought you were Mum."

"Oh," he bent down and picked up my book.

I took it and looked at him, "Well, what do you want?"

"Will you play with me? Mum won't let me go swimming."

Probably because she's too busy inside, doing whatever it was that she had been preoccupied with lately. "I'm doing homework, so no."

Matt sighed, "Can I sit up there with you, then?"

"Are you mad?" I stared at him, "Mum would kill me. You're not supposed to be up here. Hell, I'm not supposed to be up here."

"Why are you, then?"

"Because I really don't care what Mum thinks," I say as I sat up and dangled my legs over the edge of the wall.

"I don't either," Matt grabbed the wall with his hands and started trying to climb the it.

"Hey, stop!" I shouted, "She's not even going to yell at you if you get up here. She'll yell at me."

"No she won't. She's busy." He wedged his feet onto the wall and got about a foot off the ground.

"I'm serious, Matt. Stop. Get off the wall," I seethed.

"No. It's not fair. You come up here all the time."

"And I get yelled at for it. Plus, life's not fair," I said bitterly and crossed my arms. My life was just about as unfair as it got right now.

"I know that," Matt snapped, "Otherwise I'd get to go to your school." He continued trying to climb up the wall.

"Otherwise I'd get to go to my school!" I groaned, "Now get off the wall!"

"No!" he shouted.

I sighed. He always got so stubborn around the full moon. Any other time of the month and he probably would have listened to me. I glanced up to the house, hoping that Mum wasn't anywhere near the window. I couldn't see her, but she might walk by a window soon. Then I'd be in for it.

Matt was already halfway up the wall now. "Get down, now," I glared at him.

"NO!" he shouted. He reached up for the top of the wall, but his hand slipped. "Amy!" he said in a panicked tone. "Help!"

"This why you shouldn't have done this!" I yelled. I laid back down and tried to grab his hand, but his foot had already slipped and he landed on the ground, flat on his back.

"Ow!" he screeched and started crying loudly.

I jumped off the wall, my heart beating fast. I was in trouble now. I hoped he hadn't gotten hurt badly. "What hurts?" I asked as I bent down.

"My back," he cried.

I looked back to the house, but Mum wasn't anywhere in sight. That was strange. She usually had a sixth sense about these kinds of things and was by Matt's side within seconds of him getting hurt.

"C'mon, let's go inside," I picked him up and he started crying even more. I ran as fast as I could to the house.

I laid him down gently on the couch in the living room and then tried to find Mum. "Mum!" I shouted into the kitchen. She wasn't there. I wandered into the hall. "MUM!" I shouted even louder.

The door to Dad's study burst open and Mum appeared in the doorway with her wand. "What's wrong?" she asked anxiously.

"Um," I said nervously, "Matt got hurt outside. He's in the living room now."

Mum pushed past me and ran into the living room. "What happened?" she asked on the way.

"He tried to climb the wall," I said quietly.

Mum turned around and looked at me. "Really? Did you tell him to?"

"No! I swear I didn't! I tried to stop him but he wouldn't. And then when he was halfway up he fell off it."

"Amy..." Mum groaned and went into the living room.

I followed her over to where my brother was laying. She gently pulled him up and comforted him. She asked him what was wrong and looked at his back once he told her. I snuck a quick glance at it when she was looking and saw that he had a huge cut that was already bruising.

Mum wordlessly left the room and returned a minute later with two potions. She gave Matt one of them to drink and cleaned the cut with the other. Then she tapped it with her wand and the blood disappeared. Mum is pretty good with healing spells, but she can't heal cuts all the way. Matt's back was still bruised and the cut was still noticeable.

"Amy, you know I don't want you on that wall," Mum said as she held my brother in her lap.

"What? Just because of him?"

"Yes, because he likes to copy you."

"That's not fair! Every part of my life revolves around him!" I shout and run from the room.

I spent the remainder of the morning in my room, reading more of my Astronomy book. The last thing I really feel like doing is going over to Richard and Cinda's house, but I'm sure my parents wouldn't let me stay home.

I glanced at the clock. It was almost noon. Olivia was still on the train to get to school. The train always left at ten o'clock sharp. I almost missed it my first year because Mum was busy taking pictures of me at home and lost track of time. I wondered who Olivia was sitting with. The two of us sat together on the train in our second and third years and nobody else sat in our compartment. She's probably sitting with the other girls in our year. Or maybe not, since neither of us really like those girls. I'll probably never see them again.

"Amy! Come down for lunch!" I heard Mum shout.

My stomach was growling so I decided to go down and eat lunch even though I didn't want to be in the company of my family.

Mum made sandwiches and sliced up apples. I sat down in my usual chair and start to eat without saying anything. Mum was only picking at her food and she looked anxious. Matt seemed to have gotten over his fall from the wall and was eating all his food.

Mum glanced up at the sound of someone Flooing into the house and a minute later, Dad walked into the room. He looked preoccupied and tense as he sat down at the table and grabbed a sandwich.

"Did you get away ok?" Mum asks.

"Best as could be expected. Nobody was happy that I was leaving, but since I'm Head, nobody could really stop me."

I snort into my milk and try to stifle my laughter. Mum and Dad both gave me stern looks. "Sorry," I muttered. Hey, I thought it was funny.

"Your daughter spent the morning on that wall in front of the forest," Mum announced. It was never good when she said 'your daughter' to Dad.

"What happened?" Dad asked without looking up from his food.

"Matt tried to copy her and fell on his back," Mum explained. "He's all right now, but he's got a large bruise."

Dad sighed and shook his head. "Well, there's nothing we can do about that now. You're all right now, right Matt?"

Matt nodded, "Yup. Mum gave me a potion."

"Good," Dad said and then turned to me, "Amy, we've told you a million times not to climb that wall."

I shrugged, "I know. I told him not to follow me."

"Just be more careful in the future," Dad said distractedly.

We all finished our sandwiches in silence. Ellie came in partway through the meal and ate her sandwich. Once we were all done, she cleaned up and wished us luck at Richard and Cinda's.

"Ready?" Dad asked.

"Yeah," Mum nodded.

Mum picked up Matt while Dad wrapped me in a bear hug, and the four of us Apparated out of the kitchen. We appeared moments later in a secluded area of woods near Richard and Cinda's. I followed my family to the bottom of the driveway. Mum pushed the button and muttered something into the speaker. A few seconds later the gates opened and we started up the long driveway.

Cinda was waiting for us at the door with a worried look on her face. She ushered us into the house and we settled in the living room. Richard came out of the kitchen with a plate of cookies.

"What's wrong, Julie?" Cinda asked once everyone had sat down, "You sounded so tense on the phone."

Mum nodded, "We have to tell you something. It's pretty serious."

"What is it?" Richard asked anxiously, "You're not sick or anything, are you?"

"Oh, no, we're all fine," Mum assured him. "It's nothing like that."

I grabbed a cookie and started eating it. Matt and I were the only ones who were eating them.

"Walter and I sent a letter to Amy's school a few weeks ago," Mum began. "Remember when I told you that well, werewolves aren't always treated very nicely in our world?" She glanced at Matt, but he hadn't seemed to notice what she said. He was busy eating his third cookie.

"Yes," Richard said. Cinda nodded.

"Well, because of that we weren't sure if he would be accepted into the Australian School of Sorcery, so we sent the headmaster a letter."

"Is it the same headmaster that was there when you were?" Richard asked.

"No. Now Professor Killigan is the Headmaster. He taught Defense Against the Dark Arts while we were there," Mum confirmed. "Anyway, we got a letter back. Professor Killigan basically said that Matt would not be welcome at his school."

"He was downright rude and discriminatory," Dad muttered.

"That doesn't seem right," Richard said, "What about the right to an education? Doesn't your world have that?"

"Yes, but it doesn't apply to werewolves," Dad explained. His voice was stern and his face hard. "I have tried multiple times to change that, but nobody else seems on board."

"That's horrible," Richard replied and slammed his fist on his chair.

"What are you going to do?" Cinda asked, "Can you fight it?"

Mum shook her head, "The law is on Killigan's side, and as Walter said, he can't change the law by himself. The majority of the department has to agree and then the Minister would have to approve it. The majority of the department doesn't agree."

"That's just not fair," Cinda sighed.

"No, it's not," Mum agreed, "Walter and I did some serious thinking after receiving that letter and have decided not to let Amy go back to that place. Not with Killigan there."

"I don't blame you," Richard said.

"But where is she going to go to school? I thought that there was only one wizard school in the country," Cinda asked.

Mum took a deep breath, "Yes, and that's what we've got to talk to you about. We are looking for another school. One that will let Matt attend. Once we find a decent one, Amy will enroll there. We are going to move."

"What?!" Richard and Cinda shouted at the same time. "You're kidding!" Cinda adds.

"We're completely serious," Dad said.

"Where are you planning to move to?" Richard asked. "New Zealand?"

Dad shook his head, "We sent them a letter the same time we sent one to Professor Killigan, as a back-up plan. They won't let Matt attend either. We're sending letters to schools in New York, Massachusetts, Canada, and Scotland so far. There are a couple other schools in the States that we might look into as well. We're hoping for the school in New York, though, since my brother lives there."

"New York?" Cinda stared at Dad, "That's on the other side of the world."

Dad nods, "I know, but we're willing to do it."

"You're mad," Cinda shook her head, "Can't you just home school them?"

Mum and Dad glanced at each other. One of those parental exchanges of information that don't require speech, I thought. I hate when they do that. I never understand what they're communicating about.

"We could," Mum began, "But we don't want to. There are experiences in school that they can't get at home."

"When are you leaving?" Cinda asked.

"Not sure," Mum said, "Before September, hopefully, since that's when the year starts at all of these schools."

Cinda sighed and shook her head, "I can't believe you'd move out of the country. We're not going to be able to see each other as often."

"I know, Mum," Mum said quietly, "But this is something we have to do, for our kids."

For one of your kids, I thought. I would be perfectly fine staying here and going to the Australian School of Sorcery. I didn't need to move across the world to go to school. Just Matt did.

"Since Amy is going to be home from school until we move," Mum said, "Can she stay here during the full moons? The next one is on Sunday."

"Of course," Cinda nods, "Will you bring her over tomorrow?"

"Yeah," Mum said, "That would be best."

"We'll be here," Cinda said, "We've got a dinner to attend next Sunday, but we're not doing anything this one."

They would have probably just dragged me along to their dinner if it had been this Sunday. I was glad it wasn't this Sunday. I have been to a couple dinners with my grandparents and they are incredibly boring. The food is always exotic and strange, too.

Mum stood up, "Well, we'll see you tomorrow, then."

"Can't you stay for dinner?" Cinda asked.

"I've got to get back to work," Dad told her.

"All right," Cinda said. She got up and gave Mum a long hug. "I can't believe my baby is going to move across the world."

"I can't believe it either, Mum," Mum said, "But we're not moving yet."

"Good, because I'll have to throw you a goodbye party."

"Oh, Mum, no. We don't want anything like that."

I'll say. A goodbye party thrown by my grandmother would just be a repeat of the New Year's party. Plus, we'd have to come up with an excuse as to why we're moving.

"Nonsense, I have to throw my own daughter a goodbye party. People would wonder why I didn't."

"Let them wonder," Mum said, "I'll see you tomorrow. Bye, Dad."

Richard got up and gave Mum a hug as well, "Bye, Jule."

Dad got up and said goodbye to my grandparents. Then Richard and Cinda said goodbye to Matt and I. The two of them hardly said anything to the two of us during the time we were there. I guess they were too focused on the fact that we were moving.

The four of us Apparated back home and Dad immediately Flooed back to work. Matt wanted to go swimming and Mum decided to actually let him. I had thought she would go back to whatever she had been doing earlier. I guess she wanted to keep an eye on him after what happened that morning.

I went up to my room and decided to start my Astronomy essay. I managed to write the introductory paragraph before getting distracted by thoughts of school. The train was probably almost to school by now. Soon everyone would be getting off and going inside to the feast. Killigan would make his start of term speech and announce any new teachers. There would be a new Transfiguration teacher this year since the other one retired. About time, too. He was ancient, and not very nice either. I hoped for Olivia's sake that the new one was nicer. Then, everybody would go to their dormitories and decorate them for the year. I always loved doing that. Olivia and I are best friends, but our tastes in decorations are so different that each of our sides of the room looked drastically different. Olivia would get to decorate the entire room herself this year.

I closed my Astronomy book and stared up at my ceiling. How long would it take the other students in my year to notice that I wasn't there? What would Olivia tell them? Would they really even care since I wasn't friends with them? The teachers would definitely wonder where I was. Killigan would surely tell them why I wasn't back. Or maybe he wouldn't. I didn't really know. I was going to miss most of my teachers, especially Professor Maratta, my Potions teacher. She was really nice and always let me experiment in my spare time. I hoped whoever my new Potions teacher was would let me do that.


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PostPosted: Sunday 14 September 2008 12:30:27am 
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I like it!
How do you come up with Harry Potter plots ? I'd just copy something from the original ;) Or something daggy that wouldn't be good.


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PostPosted: Sunday 14 September 2008 4:37:09am 
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Thanks, Riley. I'm glad you like it. :grin:

How do I come up with plots? Well, this one spun off of Albus Potter and the Secrets Within. I started off just wanting to write about Albus's years at Hogwarts, and the ideas just sort of came to me. Then I wound up coming up with a lot of back story about Matt, probably due to the fact that he's a werewolf and a lot can be done with that, but I couldn't use all that back story in my Albus fics since they focus on Albus. So I just decided to turn it into a new fic. I chose to do it from Amy's point of view because I wanted to explore how she would feel about her brother being a werewolf and her parents focusing on him all the time.

The thing is, I can only come up with stuff that is Harry Potter related. I haven't really come up with any entirely original ideas. Fawkes is always asking me if I'm ever going to write an original story, but I haven't come up with anything.

If you want to write something, Riley, just start writing! That's how I started Secrets Within. I just sat down and started writing without having a real plot in my head. It just sort of evolved into something better. If you just write, you might come up with something good! Who knows what could happen. :) If you don't like it, then just don't let anyone read it. After all, any kind of writing is good practice. :)


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PostPosted: Monday 15 September 2008 7:48:05pm 
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Here's the next chapter. Comments, questions, and general reviews are always appreciated! :)

Chapter 11: Life Goes On At School

I was still tired when I got up the next morning, probably because I spent half the night looking through my telescope. The house was quiet like usual as I went to the kitchen to find something to eat. Even Mum was no where to be seen, but I noticed that the door to Dad's study was closed, which meant she was probably in there. I was starting to get vaguely curious about what she and Dad were doing when they were by themselves in there. I couldn't really tell if Dad was in there with her or not. It was Saturday, which meant that Dad shouldn't be at work, but he had been working the past few Saturdays.

After I ate brekkie, I spent the remainder of the morning working on various potions. There was no way I would get behind in Potions, whether Mum actually taught me anything or not. How she expected to home school me when she was cooped up in Dad's study all the time was beyond me, not that I really cared. The only schooling I wanted was schooling from the Australian School of Sorcery anyway.

Olivia's owl was sitting on my balcony when I forced myself to stop brewing and start packing for my stay at Richard and Cinda's. All thoughts of packing flew out of my head when I saw the owl. I retrieved the letter, gave the owl a piece of a biscuit that I had on my desk, and sat down on my bed to read the letter.

Dear Amy,

I still can't believe that you're not here.
It totally sucks. The train ride was dead
boring without you there. I wound up sitting
with a couple of first years. One of them
kept picking his nose the whole ride. Ew.

The feast was just like it always is. The
food was great and Killigan's speech was
boring. We've got a new Transfiguration
teacher. He looks nicer than the old one,
but I won't really know until I've been to
one of his classes.

The dormitory is so quiet without you here.
I hate it. It's kind of sad, really. I
only decorated my half, because it felt
really weird to take over the whole room.
That way if your parents change their minds,
you'll have your half back. Thank Merlin
they didn't stick some first year in with me.
I think I would have just left if they did.

Everyone is wondering where you are. Well, ok,
not everyone. The rest of our year kept asking
me if I knew where you were. I told them that
your parents had a row with Killigan and you
weren't coming back. They were all surprised
and wanted to know what the row was about. I
told them I didn't know, which is the truth anyway.

Carmen is jealous of my room now. She wants
her own room and has been whining all evening
that it's not fair how I've got my own now. I
told her to just stuff it and have been ignoring
her ever since. She's such a b*tch. Doesn't
even care that you're not going to come back.
The other girls haven't been that bad. Izzy is
even kind of sympathetic.

I wish you were here. Write back soon about
all the new stuff about your move! I want to
know everything as soon as it happens. I'll
keep you updated about everything here at
school. Good luck with all the moving stuff.

Your friend,
Olivia


I bit back tears as I folded the letter. Reading it just made me miss school even more. Merlin, I was even starting to miss Carmen and her bitchiness. She and I have disliked each other ever since first year. Olivia can't stand her either. She's just very snotty and thinks that just because her parents are rich she can do whatever she wants. I guess she kind of thought we'd be friends, since my parents are rich too, but I couldn't stand being around her. She wasn't too happy about that.

Olivia wasn't even going to use the entire dormitory, that was so sweet. She's really the best friend I could ever have. I wished she didn't have to deal with everyone asking questions about me. I felt guilty that I couldn't even tell her the truth. She was such a good friend to me and I had to lie to her and keep secrets from her. It just wasn't fair.

I put the letter in my desk and pulled my overnight bag out from my closet. This thing would be getting a lot of use the next few months. I tossed a bunch of Muggle clothes haphazardly into it and realized that I wouldn't be wearing robes very much for the next few months.

A few hours later, which I spent writing my Astronomy essay, it was time for me to go to Richard and Cinda's. I still hadn't seen much of Mum, Dad, or Matt, but found them all in the living room when it was time for me to leave. Matt was laying on the couch with her head on Mum's lap while Mum leaved through a pamphlet of some kind. Dad was in his work robes and was sitting in an armchair reading a piece of parchment while rubbing his temple.

"Did you go to work today, Dad?" I asked as I entered the room.

"Yeah," Dad said absentmindedly, "Loads of work to do right now."

"Are you going back later?" Mum asked, looking up from her pamphlet.

Dad nodded, "I've got to. I'll be back later this evening. I should have all of tomorrow off, though."

"Good," Mum said and then turned to me, "Bye, Amy. I'll see you in a few days, ok?"

I nodded and bent down to give her a hug. "Bye, Mum."

"I love you, Amy," Mum hugged me back.

"Love you, too," I replied and stood up again. "See ya, Matt."

"Bye," Matt mumbled sleepily.

Dad and I Apparated a few moments later and reappeared in the same bit of secluded woods. We walked to the gate, got buzzed in, and walked to the house. Richard and Cinda greeted us and Dad left shortly after. I went to my room and dropped off my bag in my horribly ugly and flowery room.

Richard and Cinda were both sitting in the living room when I entered a few moments later.

"Anything you want to do today, Amy?" Cinda asked.

I raised my eyebrow at her. That was odd. Usually when I went over there, my grandparents just continued about their business and I did whatever I wanted. Maybe they felt bad that I wasn't going back to school and wanted to be extra nice or something.

"Er, I thought maybe I'd just call Kenzie and see if she was home. I've got to tell her that I'm not going back to school."

"That's fine. If you two want to go into town and do anything, just let me know," Cinda replied.

"Um, thanks," I said, "I'll just go call Kenzie."

To say Kenzie was shocked that I was at my grandparents' house was an understatement. She shrieked so loudly that Richard could hear it in the other room. She immediately demanded to know what I was doing there, but I told her I'd rather tell her face to face. I suggested she come to Richard and Cinda's, where we could talk in private. I loved Kenzie's siblings and her chaotic house, but it was impossible to talk without interruptions there.

I buzzed Kenzie in a little while later and met her at the door. She was completely out of breath and drenched with sweat.

"I...ran...all the way...here," she panted.

"Do you want something to drink?" I asked as she stepped in.

"Yeah...thanks."

I grabbed a couple sodas from the fridge and we went up to my room. Kenzie downed her entire soda and collapsed onto the floor. I sat down next to her and leaned up against my bed.

"Ok, tell me what's up. Why are you here? I thought your school started again this weekend."

I toyed with the top to my soda, "Yeah, it did."

"Then why aren't you there?"

"I'm not going back to that school," I said quietly.

Kenzie sat up and stared at me, "What? Why?"

I sighed. Here it goes, more lying. "My parents got into a big row with the headmaster."

"Are you serious?"

"Yeah. Apparently they have very different views about certain things."

"What things?"

Things you don't even know about, I thought. "No idea. They won't tell me."

Kenzie laid back down, "Well that's stupid. They should at least tell you."

"I know. And my parents have lost all respect for the headmaster." So have I, but it's not like I really interacted with him at school. "They can't stand him. They won't let me go back to school because of it."

Kenzie rolled over and stared at me with wide eyes. "Wow. What do you think about it?"

"It sucks," I replied, "It's not fair. I loved that school, and now I can't go back just because of my parents." And my brother, I thought.

"What school are you going to go to now? Maybe you could transfer to mine?" Kenzie asked hopefully.

I shook my head, "I don't think so. I've got to go to another school like the other one."

When I first started attending the Australian School of Sorcery, I told Kenzie that it was a school for people who like to live really simple lives without many electronics. It was kind of true since with magic, we have no need for electricity.

"Oh, right," Kenzie said, "Where is the new school?"

I took a deep breath and stared at the ceiling, "That's the other thing I've got to tell you. I've got no idea where the new school is because my parents haven't decided on one yet. But the thing is, there aren't any other schools like mine in Australia."

Kenzie sat bolt upright and put her hands on my shoulders, "What do you mean?"

"I mean," my voice cracked, "That we're moving."

"What?!" Kenzie shouted, "You can't move!"

"I know, it totally sucks!" I agreed, "But I've got no say in the matter!"

Kenzie sat down next to me, "Any idea where you're moving to? How many of these weird schools are there?"

"I don't really know. There's usually one school per country, except the States has a bunch since there's so many people there. China must have a bunch, too.

"My parents said they're looking at schools in the States, Canada, and Scotland."

"Are they insane? Those are on an opposite hemisphere! What about New Zealand?"

"Nope. They said that the New Zealand headmaster has the same opinions as the one at my school," I sighed.

"Oh, Amy," Kenzie frowned, "This is awful. You can't move across the world."

"I think I'm going to have to," I whispered, "My parents want to go to New York if possible, around where my uncle lives."

"New York," Kenzie repeated, "Like the City? I can't see you in a city."

"No. I'm sure we'd move somewhere else in the state. Maybe near my uncle. He lives in this town called Horseheads."

"That's a strange name," Kenzie giggled.

"I know. But I don't want to live there, despite it's odd name."

Kenzie laughed, "You've been there, right?"

I nodded, "It was all right, but I wouldn't to move there."

"When are you moving?"

"No idea. Mum's plan is to move sometime before September so I can start as a fourth year at the beginning of term. The school years up there start in September."

"So it could be anytime between now and then?"

"I guess. I assume we'll move as soon as Mum finds a school for me," I bit my lip, "And...and...we find a house."

"Oh, right," Kenzie said, "I hadn't thought about that."

"I don't want to move. I don't want someone else living in my house. I think my parents are going to sell it, Kenzie."

"Maybe you'll find a nice house in New York or wherever you move," Kenzie replied.

"I doubt it'll be as nice as the one we've got now. I've lived there practically my whole life. I can't imagine living anywhere else."

"I know what you mean. I've lived in mine my whole life. I wouldn't want to move either."

I nodded, "It's just going to be strange."

"You'll come back and visit, right?"

"Yeah, since my grandparents will still be here. I'll still see you, just probably not as often."

"We already hardly see each other," Kenzie sighed, "Since you, er, used to go to a boarding school."

"Well, I'll be here once a month until we move."

"We'll just have to spend every moment you're here together," Kenzie decided. "Hey, what are you going to do while your brother's getting treatment if you move? You can't fly back here every month."

Why hadn't I thought about that? What were my parents going to do about that? I couldn't possibly come back to Australia during every full moon. Of course, I'd be in school for most of them, but still. Maybe they would actually let me stay home. I doubted it, though. They would surely figure something out that would keep me out of the house for a couple days before, during, and after the full moon.

I shrugged, "I'm not really sure. I hadn't even thought about it. I'm sure they'll figure something out."

"I just can't believe you're going to move," Kenzie said quietly.

"Me either," I agreed.

Kenzie stood up. "Let's go do something. We should make the most of the time we've got before you move."

"What do you want to do?"

"Let's go swimming in your grandparents' pool. That thing is freaking huge!"

"Sure, why not?" I smiled and stood up. Kenzie always knew how to cheer me up. Merlin, I was going to miss that.

******

Kenzie and I spent the rest of the day with each other in my grandparents' backyard. Richard even decided to barbecue. I actually had a really good time and it kept my mind off moving.

"I wish you could sleep over," I said to Kenzie as we laid on lounge chairs next to the pool. We had just finished dinner and were watching the sunset. The two of us had begged Kenzie's parents to let her sleep over, but they said no since Kenzie's first day of school was the next day.

"Me too," Kenzie sighed, "I wish I didn't have school tomorrow."

"I kind of wish I did," I confessed, "Who knows when I'll next go to school."

"Just don't think about that right now. Think about all you can do with six months off. You can sleep-in everyday, stay in your pajamas all day, and stay up all night."

"I never sleep-in, you know that. I'm always up early. And Mum is making me do the homework I got at the end of last term."

"Really? That sucks," Kenzie replied.

"Yeah, she's going to home school me so I don't forget anything," I rolled my eyes.

"Ugh," Kenzie agreed, "What a way to ruin six months of freedom."

"But it's not like I would've been free anyway. You're in school and so is Olivia. My house has been so quiet lately it's driving me mad. My mum and dad are hardly ever around. Dad's always at work and when he isn't, he and Mum are shut up in his study doing who knows what. Even when Dad isn't at home, Mum spends all her time in there.

"I've just been hanging around by myself. Or with Matt when he feels the need to follow me around."

"Sounds boring," Kenzie commented.

"It is."

"How long are you staying this time?" Kenzie asked.

"Erm, not sure," I shrugged. My parents never really told me how long I would spend at my grandparents'. It always depended on Matt. "At least until Tuesday."

"Oh, then I won't get to sleep over this time."

"There's always next month," I replied, although I wasn't sure what day of the week the full moon fell on the following month.

"Amy! Kenzie!"

I turned around and saw Cinda waving at us from the deck. "What?" I shouted back.

"Kenzie's mum just called! She's got to go home now."

"cr*p," Kenzie said and got up from the lounge chair.

"Good luck at school tomorrow," I said and walked with her into the house.

"Thanks," Kenzie replied and grabbed her stuff from the kitchen. "I'll come over as soon as school's out, ok?"

"Sure. I'll be here," I said.

Kenzie smiled at me, "Don't worry. You're going to get through this."

I nodded, "I know. I just don't want to do it."

"I wouldn't either," Kenzie said, "But it's not the end of the world. We'll still see each other every once in a while. And we can write."

"Yeah, we'll write," I agreed. "Well, I'll see you tomorrow."

"Definitely. Bye!"

"Bye!" I shouted as Kenzie walked down the driveway.

I sighed and shut the door. It was strange, I was going to be seeing Kenzie a whole lot more now that I wasn't in school. Well, in the next six months that is. But I couldn't help but feel that we were being pulled apart. How often would we really see each other after I moved? Once a year, maybe. I would only get to see her when we visited Richard and Cinda and I wasn't sure how often we would do that.

I wandered into the living room and found Richard and Cinda talking quietly to each other. They stopped as soon as I walked in. No doubt they were talking about me.

"Hi Amy, darling," Cinda greeted me and set down her drink. "Kenzie leave?"

I nodded and sat down across from my grandparents. "She's coming back tomorrow after school, though."

"That's fine," Cinda replied. "I'd like to talk to you about something."

"What?" I asked.

"I really would like to throw you a goodbye party," Cinda said.

I raised my eyebrows, "That's probably not a good idea, Cinda. Mum said she didn't want one."

"Nonsense. She probably just doesn't want to be involved with planning it since she's got so much on her plate."

I groaned inwardly, "I'm pretty sure she just doesn't want one."

"Would you like to help plan it, Amy?"

I stared at her with my eyes wide open. Was she insane? Me helping with the party would be a one-way ticket to Mum's bad side for the remainder of time. "Are. You. Mad?"

"Of course not! It would be fun. We can plan it when you're here during the full moon next month. Of course it would be helpful to know exactly when you're leaving. You haven't the slightest clue, do you?"

"Uh, no. Mum and Dad really aren't telling me much."

"I'll just plan for April or so. You won't have left by then."

"I really don't think this is a good idea," I warned her. "Mum doesn't want a party."

"Lacinda," Richard interjected, "I think you ought to listen to Amy."

"I'm throwing them a party, Richard."

At that point I knew it was a lost cause. When Cinda got something into her head, there was no stopping her. She was going to throw us a party. I just had to make sure to make myself scarce whenever she asked for help in planning it. That and make sure Mum knew I had nothing to do with it.

******

I was incredibly bored the next day. I got up early as usual and Richard and Cinda had not yet woken up. I wandered around the house and finally decided to read my Potions book in the living room. Richard and Cinda got up when I was half-way through with the chapter and both of them offered to hang out with me. They were really trying to be extra nice to me in the wake of the news of us moving. I declined both offers and decided to write my Potions essay. I really didn't feel like doing anything with my grandparents anyway. I wanted to do something with Kenzie, but unfortunately, she was at school.

Kenzie came over as soon as she was done in school. We spent the afternoon and evening lounging in the pool again. The next day was pretty much the same, with Kenzie coming over after school.

"Are you leaving tomorrow?" Kenzie asked as we collected our stuff from a table by the pool.

"Yeah," I replied. Mum had sent an owl earlier in the day to let me know that Dad would be coming to get me early the next morning, before he had to go to work. "Really early, though. Seven in the morning."

"I guess I'll see you next month, then," Kenzie said as we walked back through the house.

"Yeah, I'll be back," I replied.

Kenzie gave me a hug. "Write me if you find out where you're moving or anything like that."

"I will," I replied and hugged her back, "See you then."

"See ya," Kenzie said and left the house.

I quietly shut the door behind her and went up to my room. With Kenzie gone, my mind immediately returned to thoughts of moving. If I saw Kenzie once a month until July, or so, I would get to see her six more times. Six, that was it. After that, who knew how often I'd see her. Of course, I really didn't see her that often now since I was usually in school all the time. Six times in six months was actually quite a few times compared to the past three years. I guess it was just because I knew that after those six or so times, we'd rarely see each other. Even though I didn't see her that often the past three years, it wasn't that bad since I always knew we'd see each other the next school holiday.

Even though I was sure we'd visit Richard and Cinda after we moved, that wouldn't necessarily mean I'd get to spend a whole lot of time with Kenzie. We'd surely visit my grandparents during school holidays and school holidays in New York might not be the same as Kenzie's. Despite our different schools in Australia, the holidays usually coincided.

I fell asleep before I even had a chance to stargaze, but I was up bright and early the next day. Good thing, too, since Dad was coming to get me so early. I got out of bed, packed my bag, and went down to the kitchen. Cinda had bought Lucky Charms a couple days ago and I poured myself a bowl. Cinda never bought Lucky Charms and I mean never. I couldn't remember a time when I'd had them at her house. Probably more of her sympathy about moving, I thought as I munched on the colorful marshmallows.

Richard and Cinda were still sleeping when I finished my brekkie. I tip-toed up to their bedroom and slowly pushed the door open. Richard was laying on his back and was snoring. I had no idea how Cinda could possibly sleep through it, but she was.

"Cinda," I whispered after I crept over to her side of the bed. "Wake up."

Cinda rolled over and opened her eyes. "What is it?" she groaned.

She looked about ten years older without her make-up on. Her hair was disheveled and kind of resembled the hair that witches that Muggles come up with have. It was a bit strange since I rarely ever see her without her make-up and hair done. I kind of thought she looked more grandmotherly without her make-up, but that was the exact reason she chose to wear it. If I told her what she looked like right now, she would make an appointment for more Botox.

"It's almost seven," I told her, "Dad will be here anytime to get me."

"Oh, right," Cinda said and sat up. "I'll be right down."

I nodded and left the room. Dad rang the intercom when I was half-way down the stairs. I ran into the kitchen and buzzed him in. A few minutes later, he was at the door.

I opened it and he walked inside, looking extremely tired. The lines on his face seemed more pronounced and there were purplish bags under his eyes. I wondered when the last time he got a decent night's sleep was. He still wore his usual tense look and I was starting to get used to the fact that he and Mum were constantly stressed nowadays.

"Hey, Dad," I said.

"Hi Amy," he replied. "Are you all ready?"

"Yes. I just woke Cinda up, she said she'd be down soon."

"All right."

"Um, are you ok, Dad?" I asked tentatively, "You look kind of tired."

"I am. Nothing for you to worry about, though. Just work stuff."

Right. I turned away from him and rolled my eyes. It was always work stuff. Always something he couldn't share with me. I was beginning to wonder if he wasn't just using work as an excuse. There was something else going on and I had a feeling it probably had to do with the move.

"Hello, Walter," Cinda strolled down the stairs and smiled at my dad. "How are you?"

Cinda was looking much better now. She had put on a bit of make-up and brushed her hair. She wasn't dressed in a trademark pants suite yet, though. She had donned a fancy pale pink robe. The buttons on the thing looked like they were real silver. It was utterly excessive in my opinion.

"Hanging in there," Dad replied, "You?"

"I'm fine," Cinda said and then turned to me, "I'll see you next month, then. If not earlier."

"Earlier," Dad interjected, "Matt's birthday is next week."

"Oh, how could I have forgotten!" Cinda exclaimed.

"No parties," Dad said flatly.

"Don't worry," Cinda said, "I couldn't throw a party in a week anyway."

She probably could, I thought, but she just didn't want to throw my family two unwanted parties.

"We'll see you in a week, then, Cinda," Dad said, "Thanks for everything."

"No problem. Bye, Amy. I hope you had fun."

I smiled at her. I actually had fun this time, although it was mainly due to spending time with Kenzie. "I did. See you next week."

I picked up my bag and Dad wrapped his arms around me. A few seconds later we Apparated back to our house. Back to the only place I could call home, but would be forced to leave in only a few short months.


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PostPosted: Monday 22 September 2008 7:06:49pm 
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Chapter 12: Muggle Encyclopedias

Life at home returned to normal as soon as I got back. Well, as normal as it had been since I wen home for the holidays after third year. I wouldn't have considered that normal a few months ago, but it was starting to feel normal now.

Dad still hadn't elaborated on his issues at work and I had just given up on asking him. It would probably be better to focus my attention on weaseling information about the move out of them. I deserved to know what was going on with the move anyway, since it directly involved me. Mum and Dad didn't seem to pay any attention to that, though, since they just told me that they would tell me more about the move when they were ready to. I took this to meaning they still hadn't found a school that would accept Matt.

The two of them still hadn't told me any new information when Matt's birthday arrived the following week.

"Come on, Mum, you've got to know something else about it now," I said.

"I've told you, we don't know anything new right now," Mum replied as she frosted Matt's cake.

"Which schools have you written to?" I asked.

"You already know which ones. One in New York, one in Massachusetts, one in Canada, one in Scotland."

"That's it? There have got to be others."

Mum sighed and set down the frosting. "All right. We've also written to schools in Pennsylvania and Illinois. Those are just to start. We'll write to every school in the States if it comes to that."

"Illinois and Pennsylvania?" I repeated and stared at her, "The only place I might consider moving to in the States is New York and that's only because Uncle Jack lives there."

"Well you don't really have a say in this, Amy," Mum shook her head, "Your father and I will be making this decision."

"What are the schools like?" I asked, "I don't want to go to one I'll wind up hating."

"We'll visit them, if they agree to let Matt attend. If there are a couple that will accept him, you might have a say in the decision."

"They'd better all accept him, then," I muttered. "Haven't you gotten any response letters yet?"

"Just that rejection one from New Zealand. I'll tell you when we get one," Mum said as she put the left-over frosting into the fridge. "I need you to watch your brother while I go get Richard and Cinda."

I glanced at my watch. It was almost half-past five. "I thought Dad was getting them."

"He was, but he sent an owl a little while ago to tell me that he had to stay late at work. He won't be back until six-thirty."

"Oh," I replied. He was always staying late at work lately.

"I'll be back soon," Mum replied, and with a crack, she was gone.

I got up from the table and wandered into the hall. I didn't even know where Matt was. The house seemed empty with only the two of us there. I went upstairs and found Matt in his room. He was laying on his bed rifling through his collection of chocolate frog cards.

"Mum's getting Richard and Cinda," I announced and walked into his room.

"Ok," Matt replied without looking up, "Have you got any Dumbledores?"

"Nope," I said as I sat down on the bed. I collected chocolate frog cards as well, but had never gotten Dumbledore.

"bu***r," Matt replied, "I've got about twenty Merlins, but not a single Dumbledore."

"You'll get one eventually," I assured him.

"Yeah, probably. Hey, Mum said we might get to go to Hogwarts. That's where Dumbledore was headmaster. Wouldn't that be neat?"

I honestly wouldn't care if Merlin himself was currently headmaster at that school, I still wouldn't want to go there.

"I guess," I replied.

There was a loud crack coming from downstairs and another one a few seconds later.

"Richard or Cinda is here. Let's go downstairs," I suggested.

Matt followed me as I went downstairs and into the kitchen. Cinda was standing next to the table in a lavender colored pants suit. She had been looking at the cake, but looked up when she heard us walk in.

"Happy Birthday, Matt!" Cinda smiled and gave my brother a hug.

"Ta," Matt grinned

"Hi, Amy," Cinda kissed both of my cheeks once and gave me a hug.

"Hey, Cinda," I replied.

There was another crack and Mum and Richard Apparated into the room. Richard wished Matt a happy birthday and said hello to me. After that, Mum took my grandparents into the living room to talk before dinner. Matt and I followed them and settled down on the floor to play a few games of Exploding Snap.

I listened to Mum and my grandparents talk as I played Exploding Snap. They really weren't talking about anything that interesting. Richard had immediately asked about the move, but Mum told him pretty much the same thing she told me: That they were still waiting for letters from schools.

Cinda hadn't said a word about the party she was planning on throwing. I was sure she was still going to have it, though. Maybe she was thinking of having a surprise party. That would probably go over even worse than a regular party. I could only imagine Mum's reaction to showing up at Cinda's house one day to find a party going on.

"What's so funny?" Matt asked.

I stifled my laughter about the surprise party. "Nothing."

Matt and I continued to play Exploding Snap while Mum talked to Richard and Cinda. I noticed that Mum kept glancing at the clock and then to the fireplace.

"When's Dad coming home?" Matt asked after I beat him in yet another game of Exploding Snap.

"Anytime now," Mum replied.

"I'm hungry," he whined.

"I know, honey. We'll eat as soon as Dad gets home," Mum said.

Dad finally appeared in the floo a little after seven o'clock, a half hour later than he said he'd be.

"Sorry I'm late," he said as he brushed ash off of his robes.

"Dad!" Matt jumped up and ran over to the fireplace.

"Hey!" Dad grinned and picked him up, "Happy Birthday!"

"Let's eat now!" Matt announced.

"All right," Dad smiled and let him down.

Matt ran into the hall and Richard and Cinda followed him. I decided to hang back a bit because Dad had started whispering to Mum. I strained to listen in on what they were saying.

"Everything ok at work?" Mum asked.

Dad sighed, "Not really. Everything is just escalating. It's only a matter of time...."

Until what? I thought. What was escalating? I took a step towards them, but both of them had gone silent. It didn't seem like Dad was going to elaborate on the topic. Probably since Mum obviously already knew what was escalating.

I quietly followed them out of the room and into the formal dining room. Richard, Cinda, Matt, and Ellie were already sitting down. Ellie must have taken all the food out of the fridge and heated it up, since it was all on the table with steam wafting off of it.

I took my seat in between Matt and Ellie while Mum and Dad took their seats on the opposite ends of the table. Dad said the prayer and then served everyone up heaping plates of food. I dug into my portion and nobody said much for a while.

It was a bit strange being home for Matt's birthday dinner. For the past three years, I had been at school on his birthday, so I missed the celebration. Hell, I hadn't even been home on my own birthday for the past three years. My birthday is October 27, which is during the last term of the school year. I had been having my birthday dinner during the holiday in between the third and fourth terms for the past few years.

Before I started going to school at the Australian School of Sorcery, Cinda would throw me a birthday party every year. I loved it when I was little, but by the time I was ten I was sick of them. The last one I had was when I turned eleven and I put up with it because I knew it was the last one. The parties just became too big and I hardly knew half the people who went to them. I would have been satisfied with having Kenzie over to my house to sleep over, but Cinda had other ideas.

Matt used to have big parties at Cinda and Richard's house, too. His last one had been the year he turned six, which was only a month and a half after he got bit. I didn't go since I was in school, but Mum and Dad told me it was an absolute disaster. It was only a week after the full moon, which had been his first transformation ever. That transformation had gone terribly and Matt was still worn out and cranky from it when the day of the party arrived. Not to mention the fact that he was covered in fresh scars and partially healed cuts. Dad told me that everyone was asking about them and that in itself was exhausting. Apparently Matt fell asleep shortly into the party and he and my parents were the first ones to leave. Mum told Cinda flat out no more big birthday parties after that.

Ever since then, Matt had been having small birthday dinners like I had. Usually they were a bit more fun than tonight's, though. Tonight, everyone was quiet. Even Matt was kind of subdued, which was a bit strange since he had been hyper all day. He must have been picking up on Mum and Dad's stress. I certainly was. Richard and Cinda weren't saying much either. Richard was a normally quiet person but it was rare to see Cinda not talking.

Just when I thought I wouldn't be able to stand the silence any longer, Cinda finally decided to say something.

"Any idea when you're moving?" Cinda asked. I groaned inwardly. The only reason she was asking was so she could plan that goodbye party, that was now destined to be a surprise party.

"I've told you, Cinda, I really don't know," Mum said.

"Where are we moving?" Matt asked for what must have been the hundredth time since Mum and Dad told us we were leaving the country.

"I don't know," Mum told him.

"Can we move to where Uncle Jack lives?"

"I really don't know," Mum sighed.

"I've been meaning to ask you, Walter," Richard began, "What about your job?"

Dad and Mum exchanged another one of those glances and Dad didn't say anything for a few moments. This just confirmed what I'd already been thinking. Something was going on at Dad's work and whatever it was, it wasn't good.

"I'll find something wherever we go," Dad finally said, "The number one priority is finding a school for Amy and Matt."

Finding a school for Matt, I thought to myself. I could get an education anywhere.

"Are you going to sell the house?" Richard asked.

"We're not exactly sure," Dad replied, "I've got to talk to my brother before we do anything with the house."

I stared at Dad, "Wait, we're not selling it?"

"I didn't say that," Dad said, "I said we're not sure what we're doing with it."

"So there's a chance we'll keep it?" I asked eagerly. I thought it was a given that we'd sell the house, but maybe I'd guessed wrong. Maybe they would keep it and I could move back after I graduated!

"We don't know, Amy," Dad replied adamantly, "I'm not promising anything."

"Can we have cake now?" Matt asked loudly.

"Good idea," Mum hastily got up from the table and returned moments later with a large cake.

She set it down on the table and I looked at it. It was a two-layer chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. Atop it was a green dragon made out of frosting that was breathing red frosting fire. It said 'Happy 8th Birthday, Matt!' on it and had eight green candles.

"Wow!" Matt grinned at Mum, "Cool cake!"

It was somewhat of a tradition in my family for the birthday person not to see the cake before dessert. We all liked to be surprised on our birthdays.

"Thanks," Mum smiled back and pointed her wand at the candles. Flames erupted on each candle and with another flick of Mum's wand, the lights dimmed and only the candlelight remained.

We all broke out into an off-key rendition of 'Happy Birthday', which we all sang in different tunes. Dad's ended last and once he was finished, Matt took a deep breath and blew out all the candles at once.

"What'd you wish for?" I asked as Dad cut slices of cake.

"Can't tell you," Matt said, "Or it won't come true."

"I know," I grinned, "Just asking anyway."

Dad passed Matt a piece of cake and he immediately stopped talking and took a bite. He gave Mum a wide grin after swallowing it, but didn't say anything. Another one of our traditions. The birthday person was not allowed to talk from the moment they took their first bite of cake until they finished the last bite. Then everyone else would try and get them to talk. No one ever managed to convince me to talk, but I had Matt talking before he was halfway done with his cake on his fourth birthday. That was the last one I had been home for. Of course, now he was twice that age and it would probably be harder to get him to talk.

I took a bite of my cake and thought about what to ask him as I chewed. I figured I might as well start with what had gotten him to talk when he turned four.

"So, Matt," I smirked, "I know what Mum and Dad got you."

He completely ignored me and continued eating his cake. I actually saw Dad crack a bit of a smile at this. I hadn't seen him smile in weeks.

"Yeah," I continued, "They got you a nice set of encyclopedias."

Matt snorted into his cake and started coughing. He took a gulp of milk and then shook his head. bu***r, I thought, this was harder than it was four years ago.

"They're Muggle encyclopedias."

Mum and Dad were trying to stifle their laughter. Richard and Cinda were smiling a bit, but didn't seem quite as amused as Mum and Dad. Matt took another bite of cake and I could tell he was trying hard not to laugh. His face was bright red.

"They're quite nice, really. All of them have a nice blue cover and gold edged pages."

"Everyone needs a good set of encyclopedias," Dad chimed in, "Amy got some when she turned eight."

This time it was my turn to laugh into my cake. "Mine are purple. They're upstairs in my potions room. Yours are in that closet upstairs that's always locked."

"Tradition in the family, to get encyclopedias on your eighth birthday," Mum commented.

Matt was beetroot red now and shoveling in his last bite of cake. He looked ready to burst with laughter. I knew he didn't actually believe the encyclopedia thing, but it was still funny. Plus, it had gotten my parents laughing a bit, which was great.

Matt took a large gulp of milk and slammed down his glass. "All right, where are my encyclopedias? I've always wanted a set of them."

Everyone, including Matt, burst out laughing. We laughed for what must have been five minutes before we all calmed down.

"Where's my real prezzie?" Matt asked, grinning, "It's not in that closet, is it?"

"No," Mum laughed, "Not in that closet. I'll be right back."

Mum got up from the table and left the room. My present for Matt was already sitting on the counter in the kitchen, so I got it and returned to the table before Mum did. Mum came back with a rectangular box wrapped in shiny green wrapping paper and a gold bow.

"This is from Dad and I," Mum said as she set the box down in front of Matt.

He tore into the wrapping and pulled out a box. I leaned over and saw that it was a gobstones set. The board was oak and the gobstones were green and red.

"Wow!" Matt grinned, "Thanks Mum and Dad."

"You're welcome," Mum and Dad said at the same time.

"Here's one from me," I handed Matt a small box wrapped in the same green paper. I had had no idea what to get him for his birthday, so I just went with something I knew he'd like.

Matt took the box and unwrapped a box of Chocolate Frogs. "This is great, Amy! Thanks!"

I smiled at him, "You're welcome." I knew he'd like those, due to his chocolate addiction. Only my own chocolate addiction could top his. There were twelve Chocolate Frogs in that box and I hoped one of them had Dumbledore in it.

Cinda excused herself from the table and returned a few moments later with another box. This one was smaller than the gobstones set, but bigger than the Chocolate Frogs. It was wrapped in blue paper.

"This is from Richard and I," Cinda said as she handed Matt the box.

Matt quickly unwrapped the box and then stared at it. "What's this?" he asked.

I looked at the box and started laughing.

"What's so funny?"

"It's a Nintendo DS. A gaming system," I explained. Kenzie had one and I'd played it a few times. It was pretty fun.

"What does it do?" Matt asked.

"You can play virtual games on it," I told him, "What game did you get with it?"

Matt picked up another box that had come with it. "Mario Kart 7."

"Oh, Kenzie's got that one. It's a car racing game. You'll like it."

"You got him a Muggle electronic game system?" Dad asked.

"Yes. All the kids like them," Cinda said.

"First the music thing and now this," Dad muttered.

"I like it," Matt announced, "It looks fun. Thanks Richard and Cinda."

"All right, if you say so," Dad shook his head. He often seemed reluctant about the Muggle devices. He didn't even like to use the microwave.

Matt opened the box and pulled out the red DS. "How does it work?"

"You've got to charge it first," I told him and reached over to grab the box. I pulled the charger out and unwrapped it. "See this plug? One end goes into the DS and the other into the socket in the wall."

I got up and went over to the socket that was near the kitchen counter. Our house doesn't have many electrical outlets, but there were a couple in the kitchen. I plugged the DS in and set it down on the counter.

"Can I play it now?" Matt asked.

"It's not charged yet. It takes a lot longer than with magic."

"Oh. Do you want to play gobstones, then?"

"Sure," I said.

The rest of the evening was quite relaxing. Matt and I played match after match of gobstones, most of which I won. Matt didn't really care, though, since Mum would vanish all the slime off of him whenever he got squirted. Mum, Dad, Richard, and Cinda talked more about the move, but none of them said anything I didn't already know. Cinda still hadn't said anything about the party, which confirmed my suspicions that it would be a surprise party. At least she had dropped the idea of me helping her with it.

Richard and Cinda spent the night, since it was already late when we finished dinner. I went up to my room when Mum and Dad told Matt it was time to go to bed. I decided to spend the night on my balcony. I dragged a blanket out there and laid on my back, looking up at the stars. It was a clear night and I could see loads of constellations. It was a good end to what had turned out to be a great evening. Once Dad had come home, the evening had been fun. Him and Mum were a bit tense, but that seemed to dissipate a bit once I started joking around during the cake. I should do more of that, I thought. My family was in dire need of more humor in our lives.


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