Chapter 63 : Understanding
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Three nights before the July full moon I decided that I was not going to put up with being kicked out of the house for it. Having to leave my house once a month for the full moon was something that had been driving me mad for years, but I had been going along with whatever Mum and Dad said because they had so much else to worry about.
Now we had moved and we no longer had to worry about Ralph Lubar and his ridiculous laws. Mum and Dad were happy and as stress-free as two parents with a werewolf child could be. It seemed like the perfect time to suggest that I no longer leave the house for full moons.
I spent an entire afternoon coming up with a list of reasons as to why I should stay home. I knew the answer would be no unless I had good reasons.
Reason number one. I was nearly sixteen. A year after that I would be seventeen and no longer underage. So, I would be of age in one year and three months. That was practically an adult. In some cultures, I would be considered an adult.
Reason number two. I was going to become a Healer. Healers had to deal with this sort of thing all the time. I needed to get used to it.
Reason number three. What else were they going to do? Flying me to Australia to stay with Richard and Cinda every month was going to get expensive, not to mention really inconvenient since they didn't like me flying alone. Getting portkeys through the Ministry was completely out of the question since my parents wanted nothing to do with the Australian Ministry anymore. Getting a room at the Hog's Head wasn't going to happen either, judging by how Mum reacted the last time.
Reason number four was the most convincing, in my opinion. In two years, Matt would be at Hogwarts, without Mum or Dad there with him. I would be there. It would be me going with him the Shrieking Shack before every full moon (well, with Madam Pomfrey as well). Me who would be there when he woke up the next day. Me, the only person at Hogwarts he would know. I had to be completely used to seeing him right before and right after transformations by then if I was going to be able to comfort him. It wouldn't do him any good if I was bawling my eyes out every full moon. I had looked at a calendar and saw that there were about seven or eight full moons that I would be home for before Matt's first year. If I started now, I would be used to them before that.
The night before the full moon, Mum and Dad still hadn't said anything about what I was doing. I waited until Matt had gone to bed (which wasn't a long wait; he went to bed at seven) and grabbed my list and went down to the living room to talk to them.
“Mum, Dad,” I stood in front of the couch they were sitting on. They had been whispering about something, but I didn't care that I interrupted them.
“Amy,” Dad said, “We have something we need to talk to you about.”
“Let me go first,” I said, “I need to talk to you about something.”
Mum and Dad exchanged glances. “All right,” Dad replied.
“I would like to propose that I get to stay home tomorrow night,” I began, “And before you say no, I have a list of reasons why.”
Mum and Dad looked kind of amused, but Dad gestured for me to go on.
“Reason number one,” I continued, “I am nearly of age. I will be of age in one year and three months. I'm practically an adult.”
“Practically being the key word,” Dad sighed.
“Reason number two,” I ignored him, “It will save you a lot of money and time. I can't be flying to Australia every full moon I not at school.”
“We can't put a price on your safety,” Mum pointed out.
“Reason number three,” I said, even though Mum had had a good point, “I am going to become a Healer. I will have to deal with this sort of thing. I need to get used to it.”
“Plenty of witches and wizards become perfectly talented Healers without having lycanthropic brothers,” Dad said.
Another good point, I thought. Now to drop the big one. “Reason number four. In just two years' time, Matt will be at Hogwarts. You will not be, but I will. It'll be me who watches over him around full moons, gets him to the hospital wing in time, and possibly takes him to the Shrieking Shack-”
“Madam Pomfrey-” Dad interrupted.
“He doesn't know Madam Pomfrey well,” I cut him off, “He's going to want me there. You know he will. He'll want me there when he wakes up the next morning. And what good will I do if I'm completely shocked by how injured he is? How will it help him if I'm sitting in the hospital wing bawling my eyes out next to his bed?”
I folded the parchment and put it in my pocket. There was nothing else I could do. I had made my point.
Mum and Dad looked at each other. Mum looked shocked and Dad had that tired look about him that was only brought about by full moons.
“She has a point,” Dad said quietly, “I'm not really sure how we missed this.”
“I don't know either,” Mum sighed, “You know she's going to be there when he wakes up at Hogwarts. She'll be at the Shrieking Shack before Madam Pomfrey, you know she will be.”
“I know,” Dad sighed.
I stood there not knowing what to do. They were talking about me like I wasn't there. Usually this sort of thing drove me mad, but I was happy they hadn't gone to talk about it in private. It was a good sign.
“I guess,” Dad began, “That it's just a matter of whether we want her to be here for the full moon for the first time while we're here with her, or whether we want her to do it alone at Hogwarts.”
“It isn't the same, though,” Mum said, “Matt will be in the Shrieking Shack while he's transformed and Amy will be in the castle. Here, they'd be in the same house.”
“I know,” Dad said quietly, “We knew this day was going to come.”
“We did,” Mum agreed.
“I guess, I think we should,” Dad said.
I silently begged Mum to agree. I was over the first hurdle, the shorter one. I knew Dad would give in first.
“All right,” Mum sighed, “If you think it's ok, I agree. But just this one. We're not making promises about future full moons.”
“Thank you,” I said quietly, happy that they agreed, but I was suddenly nervous at the same time.
“But,” Dad said, “I have some conditions that you have to agree to. Number one, you must do anything I tell you. If I say to run out of the house, you run out of the house. No questions. I don't care if it's two in the morning and you're half asleep, if I wake you up and tell you to leave, you leave. You find Ellie and tell her to Apparate you someplace. No waiting for Mum and I. Anything I say, you do. If I tell you to jump up and down while reciting the ingredients for the Polyjuice Potion, you do it. Number two, you stay out of the basement while the moon is full. No potion brewing. Number three, you have your wand on you at all times,” Dad took a deep breath, “And if, something were to happen,” he paused again and lowered his voice, “You use whatever spell comes to mind. Forget the underage magic laws.”
That last one jarred me a little, but I nodded. “Ok, I agree.”
“Good,” Dad softened his voice, “Now I am not really sure you realize how hard this will be. I'm warning you that we don't soundproof the actual safe room. We soundproof the house. I have to listen so we know when he's transformed back and it's safe to go in the room. You'll be hearing him all night. I can put a muffling charm on your room if you'd like.”
“No,” I shook my head, “I don't need one.”
“And,” Dad paused again, “The next morning, it's up to you if you want to see him right after. You don't have to.”
“I have to,” I disagreed, “I just do.”
“All right,” Dad sighed, “I just hope you understand what you're getting into. There are reasons besides physical safety that we don't normally let you stay for full moons.”
The closest I had ever come to seeing Matt right after a full moon was seeing him in the hospital after he transformed in that Ministry center, and that wasn't a normal full moon. Never had I seen him directly after a full moon, though.
However, I was nervous. I tried to hide it from Mum and Dad, but I think they could tell. It was strange. All the times I had begged Mum and Dad to let me stay and they had declined, I didn't think I would be nervous about staying. It was only now that it was actually happening that I was nervous.
I wasn't regretting my decision, though. I was determined to do this.
It wasn't that I didn't know what would happen. I knew full well what was going to happen. I had read numerous books on werewolves and their transformations. For the past three and a half years, I had been trying to pretend that maybe Matt's full moons were different. That was stupid, really, since his full moons were obviously bad. But since I hadn't seen one with my own two eyes, I could still try and pretend. I was nervous because I knew there would be no denying it after the following morning.
Mum and Dad told Matt late the morning of the full moon that I would be staying home. He either didn't really comprehend what they were saying (he was pretty tired at the time) or didn't care.
My parents seemed more stressed about this full moon than they had for one in months, and I knew the reason was me. I even felt sort of guilty about it, but quickly shrugged that off. This was something I had to do.
I didn't go out to the bush that day. In fact, I stayed inside the entire day. Somehow it didn't seem right for me to go explore while Matt was laid up on the couch. It was weird how things changed. A year and a half ago, I would have been out in the bush the entire day. Instead, I stayed in the living room, where Matt was, and read while he slept.
Dad went into work for a few hours, but returned hours before the moon was going to rise. Mum stayed in the living room with us, getting up every so often to bring Matt potions or water.
“Do either of you want anything to eat?” Dad asked shortly after he came home. It was dinner time, but I wasn't hungry in the slightest.
“No, thanks,” Mum said and I shook my head.
The remaining hours until the moon rose ticked by. The house was so quiet that I could actually hear every tick of the clock. I set my book down, no longer able to read.
“It's time,” Dad said quietly a few minutes later.
I looked outside and saw that the sky was dark. Night had fallen. The moon would soon rise.
Dad rose from his chair and walked over to where Matt was curled up next to Mum. Mum gently shook Matt awake and he immediately started crying.
“Shush,” Mum soothed, “It's time to go down to the basement.”
“I don't want to,” Matt mumbled in between sobs.
“I know,” Dad said as he picked Matt up.
Mum and Dad started walking towards the basement door. Matt was in Dad's arms, his head on Dad's shoulder. He was awake and I could see the tears rolling down his face. It nearly made me want to cry.
Neither of them said whether I was allowed to go down to the basement with them, so I got up and followed. I half expected them to tell me I had to stay upstairs, but they didn't say a word.
Dad opened the door to the safe room with a wave of his wand. I hadn't seen the place since Dad first put it in. It was slightly smaller than the one in Australia, but other than that it looked the same. Padded walls on every side and no windows.
Dad set Matt down on the floor, but he kept his arms wrapped around Dad's neck.
“We'll see you in the morning,” Dad said as he unwrapped Matt's arms from his neck, “I promise. I love you.”
“We'll be here as soon as the moon sets,” Mum said as she bent down to give Matt a hug, “I love you so much.”
I had been lingering in the doorway, but as soon as Mum let go of Matt, I walked over to him. I bent down and gave him a hug. He was trembling harder than I had ever seen him tremble before. He was really warm, too, like he had a fever.
“I love you,” I whispered and then stood up. I followed Mum out of the room and then waited for Dad.
Dad walked slowly out of the room and shut the door behind him. He pulled out his wand and performed a variety of intricate spells on the door. After he was done, we followed him up the stairs.
“Do you have your wand, Amy?” he asked quietly.
“Yes,” I nodded.
I followed my parents to the kitchen. They sat down at the table and didn't say a word. I did the same.
“Ten minutes,” Dad said.
I counted every second in that ten minutes. 600 seconds went by. Then I glanced out the window and saw the moon peeking out over the horizon.
Then I heard it. A horrible, awful, high-pitched shriek coming from the basement. My heart skipped a beat. It felt like somebody had punched me in the gut. Then came another, and another, until there were no pauses in between the shrieks.
I looked up at my parents. Mum looked like she was ready to cry and Dad's face was hard.
Then the shrieking stopped and there was silence. I breathed slowly to try and stop my racing heart, but then there was a loud howl. And another. And another. Mum and Dad hadn't moved an inch. I sat completely still as well, at a complete loss for words. I understood why Mum and Dad were being so quiet. There was nothing to day.
I stared out the window at the moon. The round orb of light that had been one of the only constant things in my life, all our lives, this past year and a half.
I had been fascinated with the moon and stars for as long as I could remember. The night sky was one of my favorite things and I could stargaze for hours. The moon was so beautiful, in every phase, and the twinkling stars just accented that beauty.
Now, as I stood in my kitchen, listening to the howls of my little brother, I did not see that beauty. For the first time in my life, I stared at the moon and hated it. I hated it for everything it did to Matt, everything it had done to my family.
There are so many different ways that time passes. The way it seems to fly by when you're doing something fun, the way it seems to go backwards when you're sitting in History of Magic, the way it seems to go by fast when you're dreading something and when that thing comes, it slows down.
As I sat in the kitchen during the full moon, I realized that none of those ways fit this situation. I was certainly not doing anything fun and I wasn't bored either. I wasn't dreading anything; the thing I had been dreading already arrived, Matt's transformation.
The actual transformation had been relatively quick. Five, ten minutes tops. It felt like longer, but the clock told me otherwise. I'm sure to Matt it felt like hours.
Now, time was creeping by. This was possibly due to the fact that I could still hear every second ticking by on the clock. Every second brought us closer to morning, but time seemed to have stopped anyway.
It soon became clear to me that Mum and Dad did not even try to go to bed during full moons. Neither of them made any move to go upstairs. They only left the kitchen to use the toilet.
I decided that I wasn't going to bed either. Originally, I had thought I would go up to my room when my parents went up to theirs, but they weren't going to.
“Amy, do you think that you'd like to get some sleep?” Dad asked, breaking the silence for the first time, around two in the morning.
“No,” I said. I wasn't even tired anymore. I had been tired around midnight, but it had gone away. There was no way I would be able to sleep.
Dad didn't bring it up again. The room descended into silence once again, only broken by the occasional howl coming from the basement.
Mum fell asleep slumped over the table around four in the morning. Dad followed suit shortly thereafter. I was still wide awake.
I watched the moon set through the den window. I had had to switch rooms to watch it. As the moon set, the howling slowed and then stopped. The house was completely silent.
I walked back into the kitchen. Mum and Dad were still sound asleep. I had no idea what time they normally went to go get Matt, but I thought they went as soon as the moon set.
“Mum,” I whispered, “Dad.”
Mum woke up first. She looked up sleepily and then jumped out of her chair when she saw that the sun was up. Dad quickly followed. Neither of them said a word as they ran out of the kitchen and down to the basement.
My heart started beating faster as I followed them. I really had no idea what Matt was going to look like. I made myself keep walking, though. There was no way I was going to stay upstairs.
Mum and Dad paused in front of the transformation room and listened for a few minutes. It was absolutely silent. Eerily silent.
Dad waved his wand in front of the door and then slowly pushed it open. I took a deep breath and then squeezed under Dad's arm to get into the room first. Mum and Dad didn't stop me.
I stopped two feet into the room. I just couldn't go any further. What I had felt when I first heard Matt screaming the previous night was nothing to what I was feeling now. I didn't think I'd ever breath normally again.
There was one thing that I could compare to what Matt looked like now, and that was what he looked like when he was attacked. If I didn't know any better, I would say he had gotten attacked by another werewolf the previous night.
My brother was sprawled out on the floor looking as limp as a rag doll. His hair was all matted together with blood. But that was nothing compared to everything else. There was so much blood throughout the room that I was amazed he had any blood left in him. His whole body was covered in deep cuts and I was pretty sure his left arm was broken.
I was vaguely aware of my parents rushing past me. Both of them bent down next to Matt and started waving their wands around him. Then Dad picked him up and they walked out of the room. I followed.
Matt was completely unconscious. He looked like he did when he was in the coma. What if he was in another one?
Dad laid Matt down on his bed and Mum left the room. She returned a little while later with a bunch of potions. I stood in the doorway while my parents continued performing all the healing spells and gave him potions.
Matt looked a little better once they finished. All the severe cuts were bandaged, as was his arm. But he was still asleep. Or unconscious.
Mum was sitting next to his bed ruffling his hair while looking at him sadly. Dad pocketed his wand and then turned to me.
“Amy,” he said quietly.
I walked over him and he wrapped me in a tight hug. I burst into tears and let Dad comfort me like I was five years old again.
It was just so unfair that Matt had to go through this once a month. I had truly not understood everything until then. I had had to see it for myself.
We had moved in order to give Matt a better life. That was something I had come to terms with months ago, and even came to enjoy. But what I hadn't completely understood was that everything hadn't been solved by moving.
Sure, Matt was going to be able to go to school and hopefully make friends. But he would never live an entirely normal life. His life was still going to revolve around the moon. No matter where we moved, he would still have to transform once a month. Once a month he was still going to get really ill. Unless someone fixed that Wolfsbane potion.
“D-Dad,” I pulled away, “Mum.”
Mum turned away from Matt and looked at me. Neither of them said anything, like they were waiting for me to continue.
“I-I'm going to come up with a new version of Wolfsbane,” I said, “You know, if Sterling doesn't. It's the real reason why I want to be a Healer.”
“Oh, Amy,” Mum got up from her chair and gave me a hug. She let go of me and I could see tears in her eyes. “If there is anyone who could do that, it's you.”
“I'll do it,” I assured her, “He doesn't deserve this.”
“I'm sure you can,” Dad said.
“I can. As soon as I'm done with Healer training, I'm going to start,” I told them.
I sat down in between my parents on the floor in Matt's room. None of us said anything else, but we didn't need to. They hadn't said anything about whether I was going to be allowed to stay home for future full moons, but I had a feeling I would. Something had changed between us. It wasn't anything sudden, either.
It was more like something that had happened over the past year, since we had moved. I just got the feeling that my parents saw me as more of an adult now than a child, and staying home during the full moon had seemed to reinforce that idea.
I didn't even have to ask them about it. I just knew. I knew that I would no longer be going to Richard and Cinda's on full moons. I knew that my parents were going to tell me everything about the full moons that happened while I was at school. I knew there were going to be less hushed conversations taking place between them behind closed doors.
The bed gave a slight creak and I looked up. Matt was slowly opening his eyes. He couldn't sit up very easily, but he slightly lifted his head up and looked at us.
“Amy?” he croaked.
I smiled at him despite my teary eyes and got up and sat down on the side of his bed. He wrapped his bandaged arms around me and I gently hugged him back. He didn't say anything else, but leaned his head up against my chest. It felt like foreshadowing of his first year of Hogwarts that was only two years away.
I looked up and saw Mum and Dad. Dad had his arm around Mum and was smiling. Mum was smiling as well and there were silent tears running down her face. They were tears of joy, though. That I could tell.
It was one of those happy family moments that often seemed so distant in my family. I only hoped that within a few decades' time, we could have this type of moment without Matt being sick and injured from a full moon.
A/N: Well, that's it! I hope you guys enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I do have a sequel planned and partially written, but I'd like to get more of it written before I start posting. So I'll hopefully start posting it in a few weeks or so. I also have a sort of epilogue one-shot that I want to write, the idea of which was actually Dancer_of_Starlight's, and I'm hoping to write that soon. It'll be posted as a one-shot, not as a part of this story.
Thanks to my beta, Dancer_of_Starlight, as well as Moonylupin, ngayonatkailanman, Liana, phoenixy_friend, lunahermione181, Anonymous, roxyroxtheworld, Meg, and Blaze for their reviews! Also thanks to anyone who has read or reviewed any part of this story!