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Beyond the Shadow by Gryffin_Duck

Format: Novel
Chapters: 40
Word Count: 137,581
Status: COMPLETED

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Strong Language, Scenes of a Mild Sexual Nature, Substance Use or Abuse, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme

Genres: Drama, Romance, Angst
Characters: Teddy, Albus, Rose, Victoire, OC, OtherCanon
Pairings: OC/OC, Teddy/Victoire

First Published: 01/31/2010
Last Chapter: 07/22/2012
Last Updated: 09/25/2012

Summary:






Thanks to the_tofuubeaver at TDA for the beautiful banner!

A lot can happen in fifteen years. In the last fifteen years I had graduated from Hogwarts and became a Healer and Potion Brewer. Victoire and Teddy had gotten married and had a daughter. At the same time, a lot can stay the same after fifteen years. After fifteen years there still wasn't a Wolfsbane Potion that worked for my brother, but I wasn't going to give up. Some things should never stay the same.


Chapter 1: Turning Thirty
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

This is the sequel to In Moonlight's Shadow.  While it's not necessary to read that story first, I highly recommend it.
Disclaimer-  I don't own Harry Potter.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Amy!”  someone whispered.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “30 is not old.”

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

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

    “Costumes?”  I raised my eyebrows.

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

    “I'll go as a Healer,”  I said.

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

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

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

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

    “And what are you wearing?”  I asked.

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

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

    “Yep,”  Victoire nodded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Victoire's idea,”  I blushed.

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

    “Happy Birthday, Amy,”  he said.

    “Thanks,”  I grinned.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Amy, happy birthday.”

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

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

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

    “When's he leaving again?”  I asked.

    “Who knows?”  Matt shrugged.

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

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

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

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

    “Few hours,”  Matt replied.

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

    “Big surprise there,”  Matt grinned.

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

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

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

    “Thanks,”  I smiled. 

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

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

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

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

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

    “Yes,”  Rose said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Bye,”  I said.  “Bye, Teddy!”

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

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

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

    “We won't,”  Matt rolled his eyes.

    “You look exhausted,”  I told him.

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

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

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

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

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

                        ******

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

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

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

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

    “Happy Birthday, Aunt Amy!”  Sophie shouted.

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

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

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

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

    “Did you?”  I smiled at her.

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

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

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

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

    “You did a great job,”  I told her.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Day after, too?”  Matt asked.

    “Yup,”  I told him.  “Like always.”

    “Any new potions this month?”  he asked.

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

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

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


A/N:  I didn't want to make you guys wait any longer, so I decided to start posting now.  However, since this semester is going to be another crazy one and I won't have much time to write, I am going to do updates every other Sunday until I get a lot more chapters written.  I hope you like it!

Chapter 2: The Study
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Disclaimer-  I don't own Harry Potter.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Pretty good,”  Jack said,  “I'm actually considering retiring from the book store.  Perhaps traveling a bit, looking for obscure magical objects.”
   
    “Like when we were young,”  Dad mused.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    I swallowed hard.  “What's wrong?”

    “She's just getting old,”  Mum sighed.

    I nodded.  “Yeah, I'll visit soon.”

    “I'll go with you,”  Matt said.

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

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

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

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

    “Always will be,”  I said.

                        ******

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

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

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

    “What happened this time?”  I groaned.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Eckerton!”  someone said from behind me. 
   
    I knew the voice even before I turned around.  That high pitched but forceful voice could only be that of Farina.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Healer Eckerton,”  he whispered.

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

    “Tired,”  he said.

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

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

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

    Jamie could not keep taking Wolfsbane, I thought as I went to get the potions.  Getting that ill every month was taking a toll on his body.  The past few months he had been tired all the time, not only around the full moon. 
   
    “I'd like to talk to you in my study,”  I told George and Candace after I'd given Jamie his potions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “What does that mean?”  Candace asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                        ******

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

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

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

    “Healer Farina,”  I cleared my throat.

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

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

    “What is it, Eckerton?”  she asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Dan Bartholomew?”  I asked.

    He nodded.  “You two the Healers?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Will that hurt?”  he asked skeptically.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Thanks,”  I smiled.

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

    “Nope,”  I agreed,  “Not bad at all.”


A/N:  Thanks to everyone for their lovely reviews!  You guys are awesome!

Chapter 3: Sophie Nymphadora Lupin
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Disclaimer-  I don't own Harry Potter.


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

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

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

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

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

    “Roll over,”  I told him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Potions testers also worked in the basement, in separate rooms.  It often took a very long time to get results back from the testing and it was always a very nerve-wracking time.  A few of the potions I had created had come back labeled as dangerous and it was such a let-down when that happened.
   
    I let the Wolfsbane simmer for a half hour before bottling it and filling out the form for testing.  Then I walked down the long corridor towards the testing room.

    The testing room looked like something out of a Muggle horror movie.  It was filled with all sorts of stainless steel contraptions and cauldrons bubbling with various potions.  The testers wore white hazardous waste robes and masks.
   
    There was a window with a small two door box which potions were transferred with.  I rang the bell next to the door and one of the testers came over.

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

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

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

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

    “Thanks,”  I said as I left. 

                        ******

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Victoire and Teddy had found out about it while Victoire was still pregnant. Starting in the second trimester, Sophie became incredibly restless during full moons.  Victoire, being a Healer, and Teddy, being the son of a werewolf, noticed this and Victoire had a test done to find out if the baby had lycanthropy.  It came back positive.
   
    The remainder of the pregnancy had been incredibly stressful.  Lycanthropic babies are incredibly rare and nobody really knew what was going to happen. Victoire had had to take Wolfsbane and spend every full moon in St. Mungo's, in case the baby transformed.  Everyone breathed a sigh of relief when Victoire gave birth to a seemingly perfectly healthy baby.

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

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

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

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

                        ******

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Thanks,”  I smiled.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Hmm?”  Matt asked.

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

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

    “Good,”  Cinda told him,  “And no falling asleep next time.”
   
    “Merlin, that place is too pink,”  I said to Matt as we walked towards a back alley to disapparate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                        ******

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

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

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

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

    “I'm sorry!”  I shouted back.

    “Consider this your warning,”  she told me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amy,

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

Love,
Dad


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

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

    “Bye, Amy,”  he replied.

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

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

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

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

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

    “Ugh,”  he groaned.

    “How do you feel?” I asked.

    “Like shit,”  he muttered,  “What time is it?”

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

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

    “It's ok.  Dad understands,”  I told him.
   
    “No one else would,”  Matt said.

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

    “I don't want to move,”  he mumbled.

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

    “Ok, I'm getting up,”  he said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


A/N:  Thanks to all of my awesome readers and reviewers!

Chapter 4: The Full Moon
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Disclaimer-  I don't own Harry Potter.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                        ******

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

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

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

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

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

    “Thank Merlin,”  George said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     I nodded.  “Mum asleep?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Dung bombs?”  I raised my eyebrows.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Matt here?”  John asked.

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

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

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

    “Had a short shift today,”  Kaden shrugged.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “No bloody idea,”  Matt replied wearily.

    “Vince Spencer,”  John grinned.

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

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

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

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

    “There goes our winning streak,”  Matt muttered.

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

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

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

    “I'm hungry,”  she announced.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “No, it's fine,”  he said.

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

                        ******

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Victoire raised her eyebrows.  “Really?”

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

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

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

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

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

    “What's going on?”  I asked curiously.

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

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

    “And the Muggle is here?”  I asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Dad laughed.  “Are they still there?”

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

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

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

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

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

    “Who are you?”  a brave reporter demanded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


A/N:  Thanks to all the awesome people who have read and reviewed this!

Chapter 5: A Surprise
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Disclaimer-  I don't own Harry Potter.


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

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

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

    “Yeah!”  Sophie said excitedly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “What's for dinner?” 

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

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

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

    “How are you?”  Victoire asked him.

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

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

    “Thanks,”  Matt said and downed the potion.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                        ******

    Monday was very chaotic.  Not only did I have to catch myself up on what had gone on in the ward over the weekend, but I also had to track down the two trainee Healers who were in charge of data collection for the study Rose and I were running.
   
    Trainee Healers basically have to do fully qualified Healers' bidding, much like assistant brewers.  This often included data collection for Healers who were running studies.  Luckily for me, the two trainees involved with my study had actually wanted the job.

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

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

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

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

    “Where are you headed?”  I asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “No problem,”  Lianne replied.

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

    I didn't have any time to look at the data that day.  Morris was busy with the Muggle who had begun to come to terms with the fact that he was now a werewolf and did not have much time to deal with the rest of our patients.  I spent my day with the rest, healing various burns, bites, and stings, and administering potions to the people who had had to spend the night.
   
    Five o'clock arrived and I was finally able to escape to the basement to brew.  It wasn't that I hated working with patients; it just got draining after a while.  Spending my evening hours in solitude with only simmering solutions for company was a nice break.

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

    “Merlin, Amy, what is that smell?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                        ******

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

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

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

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

    “Sorry,”  I replied,  “Work.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Good point,”  Joe agreed.

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

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

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

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

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

    “It's work,”  I said quietly,  “Don't worry, she'll be fine.”
   
    “The lot of you need to take a holiday,”  Mum said,  “You, Victoire, Teddy, your father.  All of you, workaholics.”

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

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

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

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

                        ******

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

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

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

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

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

    “Very true,”  Victoire agreed.

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

    “Lupin!  Eckerton!” 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Does she know about Sophie?”  I asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


A/N:  Thanks to all my lovely readers and reviewers!!!  You guys are amazing!

Chapter 6: Pickles and Ice Cream
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Disclaimer-  I don't own Harry Potter.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Ok,”  Teddy nodded.

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

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

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

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

                        ******

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “So, you're looking happier,”  I said.

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

    “That's good,”  I replied.

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

    “Makes sense,”  I agreed.

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

    “Shut it, Ted,”  Victoire snapped.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Seven weeks,”  Victoire replied.

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

    “Nope,”  Victoire said.

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

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

                        ******

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Even as Matt and I grew up and moved out, we still spent Christmas at home. We still went home to chop down a tree and this year was no different.  One Sunday in early December Matt and I Apparated home and found Dad clad in a few jumpers and a cloak, and Mum busy baking a batch of biscuits. 
   
    It was a frigidly cold day and windy at that, so we didn't take long in the bush to find the perfect tree.  Mum would have settled for the first tree we saw, but I had always insisted on finding the perfect one and that wasn't something I was about to change. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


A/N:  Sorry about the shorter than usual chapter, but this was just where it needed to be split.  Thanks to everyone who has read and reviewed this!

Chapter 7: Kenzie's News
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Disclaimer-  I don't own Harry Potter.


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

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

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

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

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

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

Dear Amy, the letter began.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love,
Kenzie


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Kenzie's engaged,”  I said.

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

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

    “You're kidding!”  Mum exclaimed.

    “Wow, small world,”  Dad replied.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Hello?”  she said as she picked up.

    “Kenzie!”  I replied.  “It's Amy!”

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

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

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

    “I couldn't tell you because of the-”

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

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

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

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

    “That's awful,”  Kenzie whispered.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                        ******

    Whenever I mentioned to my coworkers or acquaintances that one of my friends was getting married (and believe me, it's happened quite a bit), they always just said 'well, that's wonderful' while giving me a somewhat sympathetic look.  It drove me nuts.  I knew what they were thinking, 'oh, another one of Amy's friends is getting married and she's not, that's got to be awful.'  The truth was, it wasn't awful.  Why should I get married when I still hadn't found the perfect guy? It's not like I was going to get married just for the sake of getting married.

    Not everyone finds their soulmate before they turn thirty.  Sure, I'd dated a few guys, but so far none of them had been able to deal with my work hours.  They didn't like having to stay home on a Friday night because I was on call or be by themselves on a weekend because I had to brew Wolfsbane Potion.  Plenty of people managed to live happily with a spouse when they were a Healer, but so far I couldn't.  Victoire and Teddy did it and I had a feeling Ted's odd work hours helped them deal with it.  But I wasn't only a healer; I was a brewer, too, and that meant I had nearly twice as much work.  My hours were worse than Victoire's and guys didn't like that.

    In fact, my last three relationships, the only ones I'd had since I graduated Hogwarts, ended because the bloke didn't want to spend the rest of their life with someone who was at work more than at home.  One of those had stemmed from a blind date Victoire set me up on, and since then she had given up on finding dates for me.  I was grateful. 

    Kenzie had had the same luck with guys as I had, until she met Cameron.  So, I was nothing but happy that she was getting married, not including those slight reservations I had about Cameron's family.  It had been practically unbearable for Kenzie when her little sister, Morgan, got married a few years ago because all of her older relatives kept subtly asking when she was going to tie the knot.

    Victoire was thrilled when I told her Kenzie was getting married.  In fact she was what I would call overly excited and then began crying out of happiness.  I attributed it to the pregnancy hormones, which were still raging.  So far, Victoire's pregnancy was running the same course as it had with Sophie.  Morning sickness, cravings, raging hormones.

    The baby bump started to appear in the middle of December, which caused Victoire to worry about whether any of her relatives would figure out she was pregnant before she told them.  This prompted Teddy to tell her not to worry, that they would just think she'd had a few too many Christmas cookies, earning him a slap from Victoire and a promise to run out to the store for more Neapolitan ice cream.  Thankfully the pickle craving had started to wane. 

    “Can you get that?”  Victoire asked as the doorbell rang.  Teddy had just left for ice cream and Victoire and I were discussing the various dramas of St. Mungo's while Sophie made Christmas tree ornaments out of construction paper. “It's probably Gabriella.  She said she was getting here today.”

    Gabriella was Victoire's younger sister by a little over two years.  All they shared in common were family and the Veela blonde hair, though.  While the two had followed the same Prefect and perfect student track at Hogwarts, Gabriella had gotten fed up with it and didn't wish to pursue a steady job.  Ever since she graduated from Hogwarts, Gabriella had been living in France trying to make her way as an artist.  She had fulfilled the cliché of 'starving artist' and moved from flat to flat every few months.  Currently, she was living with another artist, this one a wizard, but Victoire doubted they'd be together much longer.  Gabriella grew restless easily and never stayed with the same bloke for more than a couple months.

    I opened the door and there was Gabriella, dressed in multi-colored robes and carrying a tattered duffel bag.  Her hair was long, wavy, and going every whichway and her signature wide grin was plastered on her face.

    “Amy!”  she said as she threw her arms around me.  “Haven't seen you in ages! Are you watching Sophie?  Or is my sister here?”

    “She's here,”  I replied as we walked back into the house.

    “Victoire!”  Gabriella shouted once we got back into the living room. Victoire stood up and the two sisters embraced, only for Gabriella to push Victoire away and stare at her open mouthed.

    “Oh my God!”  Gabriella shrieked as she stared directly at her stomach.

    Oh, Merlin, I thought.  She knew.  Gabriella had this incredible ability to sense things that were amiss, especially when it came to looks.  When you thought your pimple wasn't visible, it was the first thing Gabriella noticed, and she was always the first to notice new haircuts, even if you'd only got a couple inches cut off.  Apparently it was the same with pregnancies. 

    “Soph,”  I said as Sophie got up to give her aunt a hug.  “Could you run upstairs for a few minutes?”

    “Why?”  she asked as Gabriella returned her hug.

    “Your mummy just has to talk to Aunt Gabriella about something,”  I replied.

    Sophie nodded and ran upstairs.  I waited until the sound of her footsteps were gone and then looked back at Victoire and Gabriella.

    “When did it happen?”  Gabriella asked.

    “September, I suppose,”  Victoire answered.  “I'm three months along.”

    “Three months?”  Gabriella gasped.  “When were you going to tell me?”

    “Christmas Eve,”  Victoire said.  “I haven't told anyone yet.  Amy's the only one who knows.”

    “Oh.  But Victoire, I thought you weren't going to have anymore kids?” Gabriella asked.  “Does this one have lycanthropy, too?”

    “I don't know,”  Victoire said quietly.  “They can't do the test until the second trimester, so I'm getting tested next week.”

    “But won't you know without the test?”  Gabriella wondered.  “Didn't Sophie get restless during full moons?”

    “I've been on Wolfsbane as a precaution, so I don't know.  If the baby does have lycanthropy, the Wolfsbane is working,”  Victoire explained.

    “That's good, then,”  Gabriella replied as she gave Victoire a hug.  “Whichever way it is, you're going to be fine.”

    “Maybe,”  Victoire sighed.  “How long are you here for?”

    “I don't know,”  Gabriella said.  “At least until New Year's, but after that, who knows?  Whenever I feel like going back.  I broke it off with Francoise before I left.”

    Victoire and I exchanged glances.  No surprises there. 

    “I thought I might spend some time with Georgia before going back,” Gabriella explained. 

    Georgia was one of their cousins and the same age as Gabriella.  She played Keeper for England and was no more ready to settle down than Gabriella was. 

    “Gab, could you not mention anything about the pregnancy to anyone?” Victoire asked.  “I still want to tell the family on Christmas Eve.”

    “Don't worry,”  Gabriella smiled.  “My lips are sealed.” 

    That was true.  Gabriella could keep a secret better than anyone I knew, except perhaps myself and my own family. 

    “Are you hungry?”  Victoire asked.  “Can I get you something?”

    “Sure, so long as you're not going to dip any pickles in ice cream in front of me,”  Gabriella smirked.

    “That phase is over,”  Victoire laughed.  “Now it's just ice cream.”

    “Then it looks like I got here just in time,”  Gabriella grinned.


A/N:  Sorry for the late update!  Although it is still Sunday where I live.  I was quite busy this weekend.  Thanks for all of the lovely reviews!

Chapter 8: A Quiet Christmas Eve
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Disclaimer-  I don't own Harry Potter.


   While Farina seemed like the ruthless dictator of St. Mungo's for most of the year, during the Christmas season she became practically a different person.  She was cheerful, happy, and forgiving.  She supervised the decoration of the hospital, which always became decked out in a variety of holiday decorations, and scared the hell out of any employees who hadn't worked there during a Christmas season yet. The residents and junior brewers in particular got freaked out by her.

    Victoire's appointment was on Tuesday and since the mission Teddy had been on for the past two days wasn't over, like he had thought it would be, I went with her for moral support.  I met her in the maternity ward, which had been decorated with a Santa's Workshop theme.  Victoire was sitting in the small waiting area, looking nervous and staring at a Christmas tree that was set up in the corner. 

    “I'm not sure I want to know,”  Victoire said as soon as I sat down.

    “You have to find out,”  I replied.

    “I know,”  she sighed.  “It's just that up until now I was able to think that the baby doesn't have it, but now I'm going to know for sure.”

    “And it might be negative,”  I pointed out.

    Victoire didn't say anything else and two minutes later a nurse called her name.  We were lead to an exam room and then were left to wait for the healer. Luckily we only had to wait ten minutes.

    The healer, someone neither of us really knew, explained the procedure even though we both already knew what it was.  Victoire grew steadily paler as the healer drew her wand and pressed it to Victoire's stomach.  The test involved extracting some of the amniotic fluid and then putting it in a vial of pure Wolfsbane.  The fluid was then examined under a microscope and if the DNA was destroyed by the Wolfsbane, it meant the baby was positive for lycanthropy.

    The extraction process wasn't nearly as painful as the Muggle version, but it was still uncomfortable so Victoire squeezed my hand as it happened.  We were silent as the healer transferred the fluid to the vial and then left the room to do the test.  Neither of us said a word while we waited. 

    Victoire jumped when the healer returned.  She shut the door and then smiled at us. 

    “Negative,”  she said.  “The baby does not have lycanthropy.”

    “Y-you're sure?”  Victoire gasped.  “But my first did.”

    “Genetics are a funny thing,”  the healer mused.  “Would you like to know the sex?”

    “No, I think I'll wait until Teddy's able to be here for that,”  Victoire replied.

    The healer left and I looked at Victoire.  She was glowing, absolutely glowing.  She had that glow that pregnant women are always described as having, but never had with Sophie.  I suppose she was just too worried and ill to have it with Sophie. 

    “I cannot wait until Christmas Eve!”  Victoire grinned.

    Victoire didn't have to wait long for Christmas Eve.  It was only six days away and the days went by fast.  I worked each and every one of those days and did last minute Christmas shopping in the evenings.  I was so exhausted by the time Christmas Eve arrived that I was looking forward to just sitting in my parents' house and having someone else cook for me. 

    It seemed that the rest of my family felt the same way because when I arrived at the house the rest of my family was sprawled out on various couches, snoozing or reading the paper. 

    “Nap time in the Eckerton house?”  I asked as I stepped into the living room.

    Mum jerked awake and looked at me, and then the clock.  “Merlin, I'm due to pick up Cinda.  I'll be back soon.”

    Mum hurried out the door as Dad set down his paper.  I put the presents I'd bought under the tree and then took Mum's vacated seat. 

    “So, what's the plan?”  I asked Dad.

    “Relaxing,”  he answered.  “We've all got two days off work, so I figured we'd just relax.”

    “Sounds good to me,”  I agreed.  “Although I do have to stop by the hospital tomorrow to work on the Wolfsbane.  It won't take long.”

    “How is your newest potion coming along?”  Dad asked.

    “Well,”  I grinned,  “it passed the preliminary tests, so I'm free to prescribe it to patients.”

    “Well done, Amy!”  Dad got up off his chair and gave me a hug.  “Will it be done for this full moon?”

    “It sure will,”  I smiled.  “But Dad, just because it passed the tests doesn't mean it's going to work.”

    “Amy, you need to stop doubting yourself,”  Dad told me.  “If anyone can do this, it's you.”

    “That may be but I really wish it wouldn't take me my whole life to do it,” I muttered.

    “Amy, nobody has invented a medicinal potion before they turned thirty. Hardly anyone's done it before they've turned fifty,”  Dad sighed. 

    “Who's turning fifty?”  Matt asked sleepily from the couch.

    “Nobody,”  Dad laughed.  “Amy is lamenting her lack of potion creating.”

    Matt groaned.  “Amy, you need to stop doing that.  You're a potions genius. Kaden practically worships you.”

    That was pretty much true, although I would never admit it out loud.  Kaden Dursley is determined to become one of the top brewers at St. Mungo's and really does have the potential.  He's just kind of over exuberant. 

    “The new potion is ready,”  I told Matt.  “You want to take it this month?”

    “Definitely,”  he said.

    “All right, I'll bring some home as soon as it's ready,”  I replied.  “You'll have to take it for a few days beforehand.”

    Both Dad and Matt fell asleep again a little while later.  I smirked to myself as I picked up Dad's discarded newspaper and leafed through it while I watched them sleep.  The two of them looked remarkably similar when they slept; both with their mouths agape and completely sprawled out on their furniture of choice.  It was kind of funny.

    Mum returned with Cinda a short while later, Cinda hobbling inside with her walker, Mum guiding her.  Mum helped her into the nearest chair in the living room and then disappeared into the kitchen.

    “Look at this, all of you lot sound asleep and me wide awake at the age of eighty-seven,”  Cinda said loudly. 

    Dad jerked awake and Mum started laughing.  “Oh, hi Cinda.  How are you?”

    “Better than you, by the look of it,”  she replied.  “You all work too hard.”

    Cinda was looking good, a lot better than she had been.  That meant she would be in top form for gossiping and trying to find out every detail of Matt and my lives, especially if she had heard about Kenzie.

    “Amy,”  Cinda began.  “Have you heard from Kenzie lately?”

    Well, she wasn't wasting any time.  “Yeah, she's getting married.”

    “Isn't it wonderful?”  Cinda sighed.  “I was beginning to wonder if she ever would, seeing as she's thirty.”

    The thing about Cinda was that she was so good at the subtle implications.  She obviously knew that I was thirty and not married.

    “Plenty of people get married past thirty, Mum,”  Mum said as she returned with a tray of crackers and cheese and a tray of drinks.  “Times have changed.”

    “That may be, but surely you want grandchildren?”  Cinda said as she took her drink.

    Then there were the times when Cinda liked to be blatantly obvious.  I tried not to take much offense to her comments, as inquiring about my life was one of the few pleasures she had left in life.  But there was still something odd about your grandmother asking when the last time you went on a date was. 

    “We will love our grandchildren whenever they are born, be it next year or next decade,”  Mum said.  “The important thing is that Amy and Matt wait until they are ready.  Remember, I didn't have Amy until I was in my thirties.  Now, did you hear that Kenzie's fiance is a wizard?”

    “No!”  Cinda exclaimed.  “Really?”

    “Yes,”  Mum smiled.  “He used to go to school with Amy before we moved.”

    “Oh my God, do you remember him?”  Cinda asked me.

    “No,”  I answered, settling back with my drink.

    Thank Merlin for Mum.  She always knew the best way to veer Cinda off into another gossip direction.  Now all I had to do was nod and answer the occasional question and Cinda would keep the conversation going.  As soon as the cheese platter was empty, I excused myself to the kitchen to refill it.

    Matt wandered in as I was chopping cheese the Muggle way, in order to prolong my time in the kitchen.  He grabbed a box of crackers and poured them onto the tray.

    “I was going to do that,”  I told him.  “Now I won't have an excuse to stay in here longer.”

    “She's not that bad tonight,”  Matt shrugged.

    “That's because she's not asking you why you're not married,”  I said.  “Why is that anyway?  Why does she always ask me more?”

    “You're older,”  Matt pointed out.  “Not to mention the fact that I turn furry once a month.  You know that kind of freaks her out.”

    “Well, it shouldn't,”  I muttered.

    “Still, I'm only twenty-three,”  Matt said.

    “Plus you were asleep when she got here,”  I replied.  “Wish I could get away with sleeping through family functions.”

    “No, you really don't,”  Matt said.

    “Ok, I'll give you that one,”  I replied as I picked up the cheese platter. “But you're awake now, so you're stuck without an excuse.”

                        ******

    Mum and Ellie cooked a very good Christmas Eve dinner consisting of lasagna, salad, bread, and treacle tart for dessert.  Everyone proclaimed how they wouldn't be able to eat the Christmas ham the next day given how stuffed they were.  Cinda dominated the conversation with gossip from her nursing home and pondering about what sort of wedding Kenzie would have. 

    “You ought to keep an eye out for eligible men at Kenzie's wedding, Amy,” Cinda told me over dessert.  “So many people meet the one they'll marry at a wedding.”

    I nodded and caught Matt's eye.  He was trying to stifle his laughter and turning red in the process, although most likely not as red as I was.

    “You, too, Matt,”  Cinda added.  “Doesn't Kenzie have a sister around your age?”

    “Mari?”  I asked.  “She's been going out with the same bloke for four years.”

    “Oh,”  Cinda replied.  “Well, I'm sure she'll have friends there.”

    Eventually we returned to the living room, where the conversation continued throughout the evening.  Luckily it turned to Christmases past, where we all reminisced about times in Australia and when Richard was still alive.  Mum and Cinda got quite teary eyed and Dad decided to bring up Christmases when he was little, which lightened the mood.  Dad and Uncle Jack always had creative ways of waking up their parents on Christmas mornings, including blasting horns in their ears and putting ice cubes under their covers. 

    Dad set up a bed in the living room for Cinda and the rest of us went upstairs.  Mum and Dad went to bed, but Matt and I went into the library. I sat down in a huge comfy armchair I had always liked when I was younger.  Matt lay down on the couch and procured a few chocolate frogs.  He tossed one to me and then unwrapped his own.

    “Remember that last Christmas in Australia?”  he asked.  “That tree was huge.”

    I smiled.  That had been the only year my parents gave in to me and let us get a twelve foot Christmas tree.  “Of course.  That seems like so long ago.”

    “You were kind of crazy,”  Matt laughed.  “Insisting that we keep looking for the perfect tree.”

    “And Mum freaked out that you'd been outside so long,”  I added.

    “Sometimes I wish we could just go do that again,”  Matt said quietly. “Christmas was so much more magical then.  Now presents consist of a new set of robes or a tie.”

    “Way to be materialistic,”  I laughed.

    “That's not what I meant,”  Matt groaned.  “It's just different, you know?”

    “Yeah, I do,”  I said.

    “Well, I'm going to bed,”  Matt said as he got up.  “'Night.”

    “Night,”  I said.

    I turned to the window and gazed out it.  For once the sky was cloudless and all the stars were visible, reminding me of all the time I spent stargazing as a kid.  The moon was there as well, three-quarters of the way full, shedding light upon the cow field in the distance. 

    My thoughts turned to Victoire and Teddy.  They had probably already given the news of Victoire's pregnancy to all their relatives, who were probably ecstatic.  I could only imagine the amount of excitement that was in the Burrow at that moment.  It was filled with dozens of people of all ages, generations of Weasleys all spending Christmas together.  I'm sure there was never a dull moment.

    Christmas at my house had never been like that and I never really minded, until now.  I couldn't even explain it, but for some reason what Cinda had said was getting to me.  She was right, in a way.  I was thirty and wasn't even close to getting married or having kids.  Everyone else my age was.  Teddy and Victoire were about to have their second kid, Landon and his wife already have two kids, and Kenzie was engaged.  Me?  I'd dumped every bloke I had been with and created dozens of useless potions. 

    Suddenly I had a very clear picture of Sophie running down the stairs towards the Christmas tree at the Burrow, followed by her little cousins, eager to open presents.  When would I get to experience that?  When would I get to see my own kids excited on Christmas morning?  Why did all the blokes I went out with have to be idiots?

    More importantly, why was I thinking about this?  Love and marriage had always been on the back of my mind since there were other more important things to think about.  My career, for example.  I didn't have time for dating when I was spending more time at St. Mungo's than my own flat.  Maybe after I figured out what was wrong with the Wolfsbane Potion and completed my study, then I would have time for dating.

    But how long would that take?  What if it took until I turned sixty?  I'd have no chance of having kids if I waited that long.  No; I tried to push the thought from my mind.  It wouldn't take me that long and even if it did, what did it matter?  Giving my brother a better life was worth it.

    I must have fallen asleep in that armchair because I woke up with a crick in my neck and Matt shaking my arm.  I squinted in the sunlight and tried to swat him away.

    “Isn't this a switch,”  he said.  “Everyone else is up.”

    “That's because the rest of you spent yesterday afternoon asleep,”  I pointed out.

    “Mum's got brekkie ready, but I want to open presents first,”  Matt said. “So get up.”

    “Oh, you want to open your new set of robes?”  I grinned.

    “Funny,”  Matt replied as he left the room.

    A few minutes later we were all sitting around the tree with presents in our hands.  Well, Matt and I were sitting around the tree.  Mum, Dad, and Cinda were all sitting on furniture.  Matt opened the first present, and surely enough it was a brand new set of robes from Mum and Dad.  Cinda got him a nice green tie to go with it that looked ominously like a Slytherin tie.  I was almost positive the tie would disappear into the depths of Matt's wardrobe, never to be seen again.

    My present from Cinda was hardly better.  I opened the box to find a very fancy blue dress adorned with sequins and below it was a pair of sparkly high heels.

    “I figured you wouldn't want a pink one,”  Cinda said as I held it up to myself, still very confused.

    So she had made some progress since I was fourteen, but what on earth was I going to wear that thing to?  “Cinda, what exactly is this for?”

    “New Year's Eve!”  she said excitedly.  “You can wear it to whatever party you're going to.”

    “Cinda,”  I said quietly,  “there's a full moon on New Year's Eve this year.”

    “So?”  Cinda asked.  “You can still go out.  You're not the one who's a werewolf.”

    Cue the awkward silence.  Neither of my grandparents had ever been exactly comfortable with the fact that Matt is a werewolf, although they always tried to hide it.  Mum and Cinda had a huge fight about it shortly before we moved to England and they wound up agreeing to disagree.  Cinda just did not understand anything about lycanthropy and she never would. 

    “I'll think about it,”  I said as I set the dress back in its box. 

    The rest of my presents were more promising than the dress.  Mum and Dad got me a set of potions ingredient encyclopedias, which would be useful since I had to share the few sets that St. Mungo's had with the rest of the brewers.  Once Matt and I had finished opening our presents, Mum and Dad opened theirs.

    “It's a new kind of quill,”  Mum told Dad as he opened his present from her. “It somehow remembers everything you write with it and with one quick spell, it'll re-write everything.  In case you ever lose your notes or something.  I figured you could use it for your book.”

    “That'll be useful,”  Dad said.
   
    Dad had started writing a book on lycanthropy a few years ago and the rest of us had doubts as to whether he'd ever finish it, but he was determined to.  If it ever did get published, I was sure it would be the most useful book on lycanthropy out there. 

    The rest of the day was relaxing for the most part.  I had to stop by St. Mungo's after brekkie in order to work on the potions, but I was only gone for a couple hours.  The hospital was as deserted as a hospital could ever get and even Farina had taken the day off.  I didn't see any of the other Brewers, only a couple of Healers and nurses.  However, the waiting room was plenty busy, filled with people destined for the spell damage ward after family arguments. 

    Christmas dinner was just as delicious as Christmas Eve's dinner had been. Mum and Ellie really outdo themselves on holidays, more now than they did when Matt and I were kids.  I suppose they like to take advantage of the fact that we're actually home on holidays.  Mum took Cinda back to the nursing home later that evening, but Matt and I decided to just spend another night since we were both tired and rather full. 


A/N:  Thanks to all of the awesome people who have read and reviewed this!  Happy Mother's Day to all of the moms!

Chapter 9: Failed Potion
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Disclaimer-  I don't own Harry Potter.


   At work the next day it was like Christmas had never happened.  All the decorations were gone and Farina was back to her usual self.  I always liked to keep the decorations up until at least New Year's, but Farina preferred to get everything back to normal.  However, the other employees of the hospital spent the next few days discussing their holidays and everything that happened during them. The most exciting news was that one of the nurses on the Magical Bugs floor got engaged to a bloke she had only known for six months.

    I managed to find Victoire around lunch time and cornered her in the nearest bathroom for all the details about the reveal of her pregnancy.

    “Mum cried,”  Victoire said.  “She really did.  Not bad crying or anything. She was just happy, really happy, especially about the fact that the baby doesn't have lycanthropy.  She started going on and on about how she thought she would never have another grandchild besides Sophie.  I mean, she loves Sophie but she always wanted a lot of grandchildren.  Gabriella and Ben just groaned and Gabriella proclaimed that she would eventually get married and have kids.  Mum didn't say anything to that.”

    “I just don't see your sister as the marrying type,”  I said.  “That's great that your mum is excited, though.”

    “I don't see her ever getting married either,”  Victoire agreed.  “She won't be able to just go wherever she likes whenever she pleases if she gets married and has kids.”

    “What about everyone else?”  I asked.  “Are they all excited?”

    “Of course, they're Weasleys!”  Victoire laughed.  “That's what we do, have kids.  My grandma cried, too.  She's so excited about having another great-grandchild.”

    “I think kids that are born into the Weasley clan are possibly the luckiest kids in Britain, possibly the whole world,”  I said. 

    “Possibly,”  Victoire replied.  “So how was your Christmas?”

    “Let's see, my grandmother pretty much asked me why I wasn't married and giving my mother grandchildren and Matt slept through the whole conversation, leaving me to be the only one interrogated.  Then she gave me a sparkly dress for New Year's, assuming that I would go out to a party.”

    Victoire groaned.  “I will never understand your grandmother.”

    “Me either,”  I sighed.  “There is no way I'm going out to a party on New Year's Eve.”
   
    “Of course you're not,”  Victoire agreed.  “Although Gabriella invited me to one.  Only Gabriella could get invited to a party when she hasn't even been in the country recently, and then go and invite other people.”

    I laughed.  “Maybe I should give her my dress.”

    “I'm sure she'd take it,”  Victoire replied.  “Well, I suppose I'd better get back.  I'm due in the clinic in ten minutes.”

    “Have fun,”  I said.  “I should get back, too.  Merlin, this week is already insane.”

    Insane proved to be too tame of a word to describe that week.  It seemed like I hardly went home at all and when I was there, all I did was try to catch up on sleep.  The week preceding the full moon was always crazy for me since I had extra potions to brew (Wolfsbane requires extra attention right before it's taken), but this week was even busier.  Every time a new potion passes the preliminary tests, I have to owl all of my and Morris's patients who would qualify to take it.  Neither of us have very many patients whom regular Wolfsbane doesn't work for, but there's a handful.  Then I have to set up times to meet with them to distribute it and give instructions.  Each new potion usually had about four or five people testing it.

    However, this month Matt was the only one who got back to me.  I figured with the holidays people just hadn't given it much thought and I didn't get the owls out soon enough.  I usually like to send them out two weeks before the full moon, but I just hadn't had the chance that month. 

    Eventually I wanted to get Jamie onto the test potion list, but he wasn't strong enough to risk it yet.  This would be his second full moon off of regular Wolfsbane and while he was getting stronger, he still wasn't ready.  His parents were already eager to try new potions, as seeing their son so injured is not something they wished to see again.

    By the time the weekend arrived I felt like I needed to sleep for two days straight and couldn't imagine going out for New Year's Eve even if it wasn't a full moon.  I slept late on Saturday and then went over to Teddy and Victoire's for an early New Year's celebration.  It was a small gathering, just the two of them, Gabriella, and Ben.  Matt didn't feel up to going. 

    I slept late on Sunday as well and awoke to the sound of banging on my door and immediately wished I hadn't had as much firewhiskey the previous night as I had had.  I hadn't gotten really drunk, but I had had enough to give me a monster headache.

    The pounding got louder and quicker as I made my way to the door.  It better not be anyone selling anything, I thought.  I wasn't in the mood to buy biscuits from cute little girls in vests. 

    Instead of girl guides, Albus Potter stood at the door when I opened it, looking nearly as exhausted as I felt.  His black hair was more messy than usual and there were purple bags under his eyes.  Judging by the Puddlemere United shirt and Gryffindor sweatpants he was wearing, he had either just woken up or not yet gone to bed.  I didn't know him that well, just as well as anyone would know their brother's best friend, but what I did know was that he kept extremely odd hours when he wasn't working. 

    “Matt's sick,”  Albus said immediately.  “Worse than usual.”

    That woke me up.  It was as good as jumping into the Black Lake in the middle of January.  With sleep the last thing on my mind I threw on a pair of shoes and followed Albus back to their flat.

    “He's got a really high fever,”  Albus explained once we were back in the flat.  “And he hasn't been able to keep anything down.”

    I nodded and immediately headed for his bedroom.  It was the neatest part of the entire flat, but was still messy enough for Mum to clean every time she visited.  Matt was buried underneath a myriad of blankets, with only the top of his head sticking out.  I pulled them back and saw that his hair was plastered to his face with sweat and he was incredibly pale.

    “When did this start?”  I asked.

    “Sometime last night,”  Albus shrugged.  “I figured I should come get you since he hadn't emerged from his room since four in the morning.”

    I glanced at the clock.  It was noon.  I gently shook Matt and he groaned.  A little while later I had managed to rouse him.  “Matt, can you sit up?”

    He muttered something and lifted his head up, only to fall back down on the pillow.  “Too dizzy.”

    “I'll get you potions,”  I replied and quickly left the room.

    As soon as I was in the kitchen I leaned up against the wall and took a deep breath.  All right, I told myself, just because he was sicker than usual did not mean I was to blame.  It wasn't necessarily the potion that made him ill.  There were plenty of other explanations for it.  Perhaps he had caught the flu or was overly tired. 

    The one bad thing about Matt testing my potions was that they didn't always just not work.  Sometimes they didn't agree with him at all, making him sick in the process.  It didn't happen often, but when it did, I felt awful. 

    I grabbed the potions as well as a glass of water and a box of crackers.  I had to try to get him to eat something.  If he was weak when he transformed it would make the recovery so much worse.

    John was standing at the front door with Albus when I walked past.  They were talking about John's most recent disastrous date.

    “It's because all you talk about is Quidditch, mate,”  Albus sighed.  “Girls don't only like to talk about Quidditch.”

    “And I'm supposed to take advice from you?”  John replied incredulously. “You haven't had a girlfriend for more than two weeks since we graduated.”

    “Well, girls don't like it when their boyfriends go off to other countries for work for weeks on end without contacting them,”  Albus explained.

    “We're pathetic,”  John groaned. 

    I rolled my eyes and continued to Matt's bedroom.  John was never one to be without a date on Friday nights, but he never managed to find a girl who was tolerant of the level of his Quidditch obsession, which bordered on insanity. 

    Matt did not improve throughout the day.  In fact he only seemed to get sicker.  None of the potions seemed to be helping and the only way he was somewhat comfortable was to be asleep, so eventually I stopped trying to shove potions down his throat and just let him sleep.  Albus and John stuck around the entire day, lamenting their pathetic love lives and complaining about the fact that Kaden was the only one of their group with a girlfriend. 

    I had to side-along Apparate Matt directly out of the flat when the time came to get to our parents' house.  Dad took him right to the basement to sleep until the moon rose.  Then we went to sit our usual once a month vigil in the kitchen, the only difference being the few bottles of champagne Ellie had purchased to toast in the new year.

    “Blue moons are always worse for him,”  Dad commented shortly before the moon rose.

    “It's the potion,”  I muttered.  “I messed something up, I just know it.”

    “You do not, Amy,”  Dad said adamantly.  “He's probably got a bug.”

    I opened my mouth to contradict him, but the first scream began and we all grew silent.  Then another scream, and another, and I realized that they were louder and more pain ridden than normal.  After years of listening to my brother scream on full moons, I knew the exact pitch to expect.  This one was worse.  The screams were horrible, awful, even for him.

    Mum and Dad realized it as well.  We all looked at each other and I could see in their faces that they now believed me.  It was the potion.  No illness would make the transformation more painful.  No, that was all the potion.  I met Mum's gaze and she looked away, trying to hide her disappointment and fear. 

                        ******

    Ellie poured the champagne at 11:55, even though none of us were in the mood for it.  None of us had said a word since the moon rose and the only sound that filled the room was howling, howling that sounded far worse than usual.  However, Ellie, always the one to try and keep some normalcy during full moons, insisted that we have the champagne. 

    We each took a glass and began our half-hearted countdown to the new year. “Happy New Year.”  We each mumbled when the moment finally arrived.  We clinked glasses and sipped the champagne.

    Goodbye 2028, I thought as I gazed at the bubbles in my glass.  Goodbye to another year where all I accomplished was creating a potion that made the full moons worse for my brother.  I looked at the glass and tipped the champagne into my mouth, swallowing it all in one mouthful.  A nice double shot of Firewhiskey would be far more appropriate.

                        ******

    The year 2029 began with a trip to St. Mungo's.  I did as much as I could at home, but eventually we had to take him in and owl Morris.  We found Matt in the basement with far more broken bones than usual, extreme blood loss, and burning up. I hadn't seen him that bad in years.  This was officially my worst potion yet.

    Morris kept me out of the ward while he was working on Matt and while I completely understood, I still couldn't stand to stand there in the corridor not doing anything.  My parents were sitting in my study, but I couldn't sit still.  I paced and thought back over each and every aspect of that potion I had made. 

    I thought about the ingredients, the interactions of the ingredients, the amount of simmering and stirring time, the properties of the cauldrons and spoons and scales I had used, and everything else that went into potion brewing.  Nothing was standing out as being detrimental.  Every ingredient in that potion was something he had had before, so it was definitely not an allergic reaction. 

    “Amy.”

    I looked up from my pacing and saw Victoire walking towards me, looking exhausted, but otherwise glowing with that pregnancy glow.  She immediately hugged me and I bit my lip, trying not to cry
   
    “Your parents sent an owl over,”  she told me.  “How is he?”

    “Awful,”  I choked.  “And it's all my fault.”

    “It's not,”  Victoire said firmly.  “You didn't know that would happen, and he knew the risks in taking that potion.”
   
    “It is,”  I insisted, trying unsuccessfully not to cry.  “I created that potion and he trusted me not to give him one that would make the full moon worse!”

    “Look,”  she sighed.  “I know you're stubborn, but just try to accept that it's not your fault.”

    “It is,”  I groaned as I leaned against the wall.  “I'm not going to accept anything.  I'm going to figure out why it happened and I'm certainly not going to let it happen again.  I'll test the damn potion myself before letting this happen again.”

    “Amy, you know that won't work,”  Victoire said quietly.

    “I know.”

    “I've got to get back home to Sophie.  Teddy's on duty soon.  You're free to come over if you want to.”  Victoire gave me another hug.

    “Thanks,”  I said as I hugged her back.  “But I've got to stay here.”

    “All right,”  Victoire gave me a half smile.  “Tell Matt I hope he feels better.”

    I continued pacing and thinking for the next ten minutes, but didn't come up with anything.  What could possibly have gone wrong?

    The door to the ward opened and Morris stepped out.  He gestured that I could go and see Matt and then followed me in.

    “I'm just waiting for the blood test results,”  Morris said as I sped over to Matt's bed.  “Hopefully they'll give us some answers as to why the potion had this effect on him.”

    I nodded, afraid that if I said something I would start crying again.  Then I saw Matt and froze in my tracks.  All of a sudden the image of Matt, at eight years old, lying in that same hospital bed after being forced to transform with other werewolves was in the front of my mind.

    He looked practically the same now as he did then.  Small, bandaged, covered by sterile white blankets, and either asleep or unconscious.  If it weren't for the fact that we were both fifteen years older, it could have been the same thing all over again. 

    My potion, something I created, something I told him to take, had done the same thing to him as Ralph Lubar had all those years ago.  The thought made me feel slightly sick.  I had to get out of there.  I couldn't look at Matt anymore.  I couldn't look at what I had done to him.

    I practically ran into my parents as I left the ward, but they didn't say anything to me.  Instead I kept walking, not really sure where I was going.  A few nurses and Healers said hello to me as I walked towards the lift, but I didn't stop.  It wasn't until the lift doors were closed did I realize that I was sharing it with Farina.

    “Morning, Eckerton,”  she said, causing me to jump.  “Are you all right?”

    I looked at her and she was wearing that same rare look of concern she gave Victoire the day she found out she was pregnant.

    “Fine,”  I muttered, wiping my eyes.

    “Hmm,”  she replied.  “You don't look fine.  Your brother's upstairs, isn't he?”

    I whipped my head around and stared at her.  I knew as the director of St. Mungo's she obviously knew a lot about the hospital and its patients, but how would she know that off the top of her head?

    “As the director of this hospital, I have access to all the information in the building,”  she told me.  “When you arrived, fresh out of Hogwarts, I was surprised by your determination to succeed and how sure you were of what you wanted to do with your life.  No seventeen or eighteen year old has ever had their career planned out like you did.  Naturally, I had to investigate.  Your brother's medical records were all the answers I needed.  I just checked the new admissions forms and I saw his name on there.  Take tomorrow off.”

    The doors opened and Farina left without another word.  I stood stunned as a maintenance worker muttering about bubotuber pus ambled in, completely shocked at Farina's generosity.  An extra day off?  I wasn't surprised at all that she had looked into my past when I started at St. Mungo's, not that she had ever told me about it before. 

    I got off the lift at the lobby and went off into Muggle London.  Perhaps walking through the streets amongst strangers would help me clear my head.


A/N:  Thanks to all the awesome people who have read and reviewed this!

Chapter 10: Aftermath
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Disclaimer-  I don't own Harry Potter.


   I swirled the firewhiskey around in my glass, watching the ice cubes spin and then settle amongst the alcohol.  I downed the glass and then signaled for another one.  The barkeep, who had nothing else to do anyway, poured me another drink.

    After wandering the streets of London for what must have been hours, I wound up at a lesser-known pub in Diagon Alley.  It was called the Hairy Goat, which seemed like an odd name, especially since the bar was not owned by Aberforth Dumbledore.  It wasn't very popular due to its general uncleanliness, but I never ran into anyone I knew there, so it was well suited for my current activities. 

    So far the activities included drinking enough firewhiskey to stop thinking about Matt and the potion, which I had not yet succeeded in doing.  I've never been one for drinking and I really hate getting drunk because I always feel truly awful the next day, but somehow today it seemed like I might as well try.

    The bar was pretty deserted.  The only other customer was a bloke a few seats down from me at the bar, who was drinking enough firewhiskey to compete with me. His dark hair was messy, reminding me a lot of Al Potter, and looked to be about my age.  He drank his current shot, slammed the glass down on the bar, and turned to me.

    “Shitty new year?”  he asked.

    Why was he talking to me now?  We had been sitting in silence for the past hour.  “You could say that.”

    “Me, too,”  he sighed.  “I bet you a drink that mine was worse.”

    I raised my eyebrows.  “Why would I want to do that?”

    “Oh, afraid you'd lose?”  he smirked.

    What the hell was he playing at?  Why couldn't we each just drink in silence? Maybe he was on his way to being drunk.  That was probably it.  “Fine,”  I replied. “So, why was your new year's awful?”

    “I got fired,”  he said, sipping his new drink. 

    I snorted.  Fired?  Fired?  If only that was my problem.  It would be an easy fix.  Although, I supposed it was still a possibility. 

    “What?”  he asked.  “How is my lack of employment funny?”

    “Not that,”  I said.  “The fact that you think getting fired makes your new year's awful.”

    “Oh, so you had something worse happen to you?”  he said.  “I bet you were dumped, right?  Although I can't see anyone dumping you.  You're too pretty.”

    Drunk, I thought, this bloke was definitely drunk.  “Getting fired would be worse than getting dumped,”  I told him.  “And no, I was not dumped.”

    “Then tell your boyfriend he's a lucky bloke.”

    “Don't have a boyfriend,”  I informed him.  Why was I telling him that?  Why was I still talking to him, anyway?  He was obviously drunk.

    “Interesting,”  he mused.  “Well, why was your new year's horrible, then?”

    Shit, I thought.  Why didn't I think this through?  I couldn't exactly tell him that a new version of the Wolfsbane potion I created had caused my werewolf brother to have the worst transformation he'd had in years.  No, but I could tweak it. I was the queen of coming up with excuses for Matt's lycanthropy.

    “I'm a Healer and a Brewer at St. Mungo's,”  I began.

    “Impressive.”

    “I created a potion and it didn't do what it was supposed to,”  I continued.

    “Shame,”  he replied.  “Guess you'll have to start over.  But you still have your job.  Sorry, not worse than mine.”

    “I'm not finished yet,”  I snapped.  “The potion had a really bad effect on those who took it.  Turns out, it makes a person really sick, the opposite of what it's supposed to do.”

    “Oh.  That's slightly worse.”

    “Again, not finished.  My brother is the one who took the potion and now he's unconscious in St. Mungo's.”

    The bloke looked taken aback.  He quickly took another sip of his drink, clearly in an effort to think of something to say.  I couldn't help but feel smug at this.  I had obviously won this bet.

    “I believe you owe me a drink,”  I told him.

    “Yeah, you're right,”  he muttered and signaled to the barkeep to pour me another firewhiskey. 

    We drank in silence for a few minutes.  A couple people wearing Ministry robes entered the bar and sat down at a table in the back.  The barkeep left to go take their orders.

    I felt something hot in my pocket and pulled out my Galleon Alert.  Everyone who worked at St. Mungo's had one so we could be reached at all times in an instant.  It looked just like a Galleon, but instead it bore the name of whichever employee needed to talk to you, changing each time.  This time, Morris had summoned me.  Sighing, I turned to the bloke who had for some inexplicable reason become my drinking partner.

    “I've got to get back to St. Mungo's,”  I told him as I stood up.

    “All right,”  he replied.  “Hope your new year gets better.”

    “Yours too,”  I said and began to leave the bar.

    “Wait, what's your name?”  he shouted after me.

    “Amy Eckerton,”  I called over my shoulder as I opened the door and left the bar.

                        ******

    “The Wolfsbane is still in his system.”

    “What do you mean it's still in his system?”  I stared at Morris from across his desk.  After leaving the pub, I went directly to Morris's study.  I found him studying Matt's test results. 

    Wolfsbane Potion goes through the system in about twelve hours, which was why werewolves had to take it twice a day starting two or three days before the full moon, depending on their age and size.  It was always long out of a person's system two days after the full moon.

    Morris handed me the results and I scanned them.  He was completely right, of course.  The levels of Wolfsbane were still high in Matt's blood, nearly as high as they would be if he was still taking the potion.  It didn't make any sense.

    “None of the other ingredients are coming up on that tox screen,”  Morris elaborated.  “According to the results, the only ingredient in that potion still in his system is the actual Wolfsbane.  I ran the test three times and they all said the same thing.”

    I nodded as I leafed through the three different tests.  Same exact results. “This doesn't make sense.”

    “You're right,”  Morris agreed.  “It doesn't.  Do you still have the Wolfsbane you used in the potion?  We need to test it.”

    “You think it was contaminated?”  I asked.  I supposed it was possible, but the potion had passed the preliminary tests.  Any contamination would have come up in the results from that and the potion wouldn't have passed.

    “I think it's highly unlikely, but we've got to cover all the bases,”  Morris explained.  “Now, what did you do differently in this particular potion as compared to all the others?”

    “I brewed it in a steel cauldron and tweaked the amounts of a few of the ingredients, including Wolfsbane,”  I explained. 

    “You know, Amy,”  Morris said quietly.  “As awful as this is, if that Wolfsbane was not contaminated, this may hold some answers as to why none of these potions have worked.”

    “I know, I know,”  I muttered.  “I just wish we could get answers without this happening.”

    “So do I, Amy,”  Morris sighed.  “So do I.  He woke up about a half hour ago, if you want to go see him.”

    I nodded and left the study.  Matt was the only patient in the ward, which I was really grateful for.  Other patients really didn't need to see one of their healers break down and cry.  As soon as I saw Matt, with my parents sitting on either side of his bed, my eyes started to tear up again.  It was the Lubar incident all over again.

    “Amy,”  Mum said as I reached the bed.  “Where have you been?”

    “Nowhere,”  I replied, hoping she wouldn't press it.

    “Amy,”  Matt whispered.  “I don't think I'll be taking that potion again.”

    I half-smiled at him.  His head was wrapped in a bandage and he looked like he hadn't slept in weeks.  “Matt... I'm sorry, I didn't know that would happen, but that's no excuse.”

    “Amy, shut it,”  Matt replied.  “I know the risk when I take the potions. It's not your fault.  But what the hell was in that?”

    “Same stuff,”  I sighed.  “Same stuff, different proportions.  The wrong ones, obviously.”

    “Healer Sterling said I've still got Wolfsbane in my system,”  he said. “Have you got any idea why?”

    “No,”  I sighed.  “We're also not sure when it's going to leave your system and you're not going to feel better until it does.  We'll do everything we can to figure out how to get it out as soon as possible.”

    “It's ok, Amy,”  he said.  “I'm going to be fine.”

    There was just something about Matt telling me he was going to be fine while laying in a hospital bed with a fever and a bandaged head that made me want to bawl my eyes out. 

    “I'm- I'm going to go home and get some sleep,”  I said.  “You should get some rest, too, Matt.”

    “I will,”  he assured me.

    I leaned over the bed, gave him a hug, and left while trying to hide the fact that I was crying.  I needed coffee.  All the firewhiskey was starting to give me a headache. 

    The tea room was crowded since it was nearing supper time.  I grabbed the largest cup of coffee they offered and settled down at the table farthest in the back.  It was a good thing Farina gave me the next day off because I was going to have a killer hangover.  What had I been thinking? 

    Someone sat down across from me and I looked up, ready to tell them to find their own table, only to see that it was Dad.  He had his own cup of coffee and the lines in his face were more pronounced than ever before. 

    “You've got to stop beating yourself up,”  Dad said quietly.

    “Didn't you notice?”  I asked.  “He looks exactly like he did after that full moon when he was eight, when he had to transform with the other werewolves.”

    “I did.”  Dad took a sip of his coffee and looked at me.

    “Then how can you tell me not to beat myself up?”  I exclaimed.  “I did that to him!  I did the same thing Lubar did!”

    “Now that is ridiculous,”  Dad told me.  “The two are nowhere near alike. Circumstances, Amy, circumstances.  Think back to that full moon.  Matt's physical wounds were healed within weeks.  It was the emotional ones that made it so awful. The emotional wounds were what made the recovery so long.  Now look at this most recent full moon.  Matt took a potion that you created out of a determination to make his life better and it didn't work.  Sure, there are physical wounds, but they'll heal.  The difference is that there are no emotional wounds.”

    I slowly sipped my coffee and thought about it.  Dad was right.  He was always right.  Why hadn't I thought about that?  I never thought about emotions as much as I should.  Rose was the psychiatrist, not me.

    “I guess you're right,”  I sighed.

    “I know you feel bad,”  Dad continued.  “I'd find it weird if you didn't. You feel bad because you love him and that's what matters.  He'll get better and you'll start working on a new potion.  Life will go on.”

    “Yeah, I know,”  I muttered.

    Dad drained his coffee and stood up.  “Go home and get some rest.  Mum and I are doing the same.  We'll be back tomorrow.”  I nodded and watched as he left the tea room.

                        ******

    “Amy!  Amy, get up!”

    I rolled over in an attempt to get away from whoever was poking me.  What were they doing?  Didn't they realize it was the middle of the night?  Wait, how did they even get into my flat?

    I snapped my eyes open and realized that it was not the middle of the night, but most likely the middle of the day.  Sunlight hit my eyes and the headache I had began to feel more like someone was throwing a brick at my head.  I glanced over in the direction of the voice telling me to get up and saw that it was Victoire, dressed in her Healer robes, looking disapprovingly at me.

    “So many questions,”  she threw her hands up in the air.  “Where do I begin?”

    Ignoring her, I got out of bed and stumbled into the kitchen.  I needed a headache potion and I needed it fast.  Locating the bottle, I downed a dose and followed it with a glass of water.  It started to take effect and I looked at Victoire.

    “Why aren't you at work?”  she demanded.

    “Farina gave me the day off,”  I muttered.
   
    “Well, that just opens more questions than it answers,”  Victoire replied.

    “We shared a lift yesterday and she gave me the day off because of what happened to Matt,”  I explained.

    “And you're using this day off to sleep off a hangover?”  Victoire shouted. “You realize it's three o'clock, don't you?”

    “Er-”

    “Of course you don't,”  Victoire groaned.  “What happened yesterday?”

    “I drank way too much firewhiskey,”  I answered.

    “Obviously.  But why?  Amy, you've never been the type to drink away your problems because you're smart enough to know it doesn't work.”

    “I don't know.”  I collapsed into the nearest kitchen chair.  That was the truth.  Why had I done it.  “I guess I just couldn't take it anymore.”

    “Can't take what?”  Victoire asked as she put an arm around me.

    “Everything,”  I sighed.  “I'm thirty.  I've done nothing with my life.  The potion is obviously going nowhere.  I put my own brother in St. Mungo's.  I'm nowhere close to being married and I have no kids.  Cinda's right; I should be getting married soon.”

    “Since when do you listen to your grandmother?”  Victoire looked shocked. “Isn't this the same lady who dressed you up in frilly pink dresses as a child and bought you ePods or whatever they're called for Christmas?”

    “iPods,”  I sighed.  “And yes, that's Cinda.”

    “She obviously has no idea what you really like, then,”  Victoire told me. “So why should she know what's best for you as far as marriage goes?  Amy, no one should get married until they're in love and ready.”

    “I know,”  I said.  “I guess I just thought everything would be different when we were thirty.”

    “Don't I know it,”  Victoire agreed.

    “What do you mean?  You're married with a kid and another on the way, plus you've got a rewarding job.”

    “And so does Teddy.  We hardly ever see each other, Amy.  When I'm home he's away on missions and when he's home I'm on call.  In all our efforts to make sure Sophie doesn't have to stay with my parents for longer than a work day, Teddy and I rarely see each other for more than a couple hours at a time.”
   
    “But you're happy, right?”  I asked.

    “Of course I am.  Are you?  Besides this potion set-back, that is.”

    “Honestly, I think I am,”  I said.  “Well, as long as Cinda isn't implying that I need to get married.”

    “Then that's all that matters,”  Victoire replied.  “And you will find the right guy someday.  Speaking of which, do you remember a certain bloke from the pub yesterday?”

    I could feel my cheeks redden and judging by Victoire's smirk, it was very obvious that I was blushing.  How did she know about him?

    “I'll take that as a yes,”  Victoire grinned.  “You might be interested to know that he spent about an hour wandering around St. Mungo's trying to find you this morning.”

    “What?”

    “He likes you.  And he's rather attractive.  I told him you'd meet him outside the hospital tomorrow at noon.”

    “You did what?”  I exclaimed.

    “Hey, you said you'd like to get married,”  she teased.

    “Shut it.”

    “So what exactly did the two of you do in this pub?”

    “He bet me a drink he'd had a shittier new year than me.  I won.  He bought me a drink.  I got called back to St. Mungo's, and that was that.”

    “Well, you're meeting him tomorrow and that's that.”

    “Fine,”  I sighed.  I supposed it didn't really matter anyway since I had already made a fool of myself in front of him.  What's the worst that could happen? “I'll meet him.”

    “Good,”  Victoire replied.  “I've got to get back to work before Farina notices that I'm gone.   Can I trust you to not go back to bed?”

    I nodded.  The potion was kicking in and I was feeling far more normal than I had ten minutes ago.  I had to get to St. Mungo's anyway to see Matt and talk to Morris.  Why had I drank so much Firewhiskey?  What a stupid idea that had been. Victoire was right, drinking never solved anything and I knew that.  All that had happened was that I wasted practically a whole day sleeping off a hangover and possibly attracted a very odd bloke.

    “Yes,”  I sighed.  “I'm going to go visit Matt.”

    “Good,”  Victoire said as she gave me one more hug.  “And what are you not going to do?”

    “Drink Firewhiskey.  Ever again.”

    Victoire nodded and then stepped over to the fire.  She tossed in a handful of Floo powder and was gone in three seconds.  Merlin, I sighed. No more Firewhiskey. 

                        ******

    Kaden was just leaving the ward when I entered an hour later.  He was dressed in brewers' robes, so I assumed he was merely on break or lunch and using the time to visit Matt.

    “He slept through my whole break,”  Kaden told me as he hurried off towards the lifts.  He was probably late.

    I was surprised Kaden hadn't just woken Matt up upon seeing that he was asleep.  That was what Matt's friends usually did, especially Kaden and John. Perhaps he had actually had some sense not to since Matt was in the hospital.  I peered into the ward and saw that Matt was indeed asleep, and not looking close to waking up at anytime soon.  Instead of going in, I turned towards Morris's study. 

    Natalie was putting away files when I walked in.  She turned around and offered me a sympathetic smile when she heard me enter.

    “How is Matt?”  she asked.

    “Not sure yet.  Is Morris in?”

    “He's with a patient until four-thirty,”  Natalie replied.  “You've got a few owls and your research assistants dropped off this month's data.”  She handed me a small stack of envelopes and a large binder.

    I took them and let myself into my study.  The binder of results went straight into the filing cabinet because I was just too exhausted to look at data right then, but I set the letters down on my desk and began to open them.  The first two were junk, asking me for interviews for various publications that I didn't like. 

    The third letter, however, caused my stomach to flip when I read whom it was from.  Jamie's parents.  Jamie.  I could not believe it.  I had actually forgotten about Jamie in the disaster that was my potion.  Why hadn't I realized that he hadn't been in?  Jamie wound up in St. Mungo's after each and every full moon, until this past one, and I hadn't even given it a second thought.  For whatever reason he had slipped my mind and that rattled me.  I had never forgotten about one of my own patients, no matter how awful one of Matt's full moons had been. 

    But it was a good thing that he didn't have to go to the hospital, right?  I took a deep breath and read the letter.

Amy,

Jamie had a surprisingly good full
moon!  He's not ill and he only broke
one of his arms.  Candace was able
to heal it in a minute.  He seems
to be healing fine at home, so we
aren't going to bring him in unless
he takes a turn for the worse.

We'll keep you updated.
~George Allen


    It was amazing how even when things seemed to be at their worst, some good news managed to worm its way into life.  Jamie was doing better than he usually was.  I smiled as I set the letter down on my desk.  A full moon that did not land Jamie in St. Mungo's was a miracle.  At least someone's new year was starting off well and I couldn't think of anyone more deserving of a good year than Jamie and his family.


A/N:  Sorry about the late update!  I had a long day at work today and didn't have time to update until just now.  Thanks to everyone who has read and reviewed this!

Chapter 11: Dillan Blayney
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Disclaimer-  I don't own Harry Potter.


   It was a very odd feeling to sit in my study and have absolutely nothing to do and it was a feeling that I never had very often.  I felt like there was something I should be doing, but after replying to George's letter, there really wasn't anything left, since Farina had given me the day off I had no clinic hours, the only patient in the Dai Lewellyn Ward was Matt, and I hadn't started over on the Wolfsbane yet.  The only thing I could have possibly done was look over the data I had just received, but my headache was slowly breaking through the potion I had taken and I knew there would be no way to concentrate on it.

    Instead, I just waited.  I sat in my chair and did absolutely nothing and it was actually quite refreshing.  I couldn't remember the last time I had absolutely nothing to do.  Morris was obviously running late, since 4:30 came and went without him showing up.  When I finally heard footsteps I got up and met him in Natalie's study.

    “Morris,”  I said as he set a chart down on Natalie's desk and then picked up another.  “How is Matt doing?”

    Morris paused and set the chart back down again.  “Cancel my five o'clock,” he said to Natalie, who immediately got up and left, presumably to find Morris's five o'clock. 

    My heart started beating fast as Morris gestured for me to follow him into his study.  If Matt had been doing all right, Morris wouldn't have canceled an appointment.  What had happened that was so awful he needed an entire appointment time to tell me about?

    Morris's study looks exactly like mine except it was filled with far more books and several pictures of his wife, children, and grandchildren adorned the walls and sat upon his desk.  I sat in in the leather armchair in front of his desk while he took the seat behind it.  He flipped through a stack of parchment and set a sheet in front of me.  I glanced at it.

    “Matt's results from yesterday?”  I asked, curious as to why he was showing them to me again.

    “No,”  Morris said quietly.  “Those are new.  Results from a blood test taken only three hours ago.”  He pointed to the date in the upper right hand corner. January second, 2:07pm. 

    Morris set another piece of parchment alongside it.  Matt's results from the day before.  The numbers were exactly the same.  The exact same amount of Wolfsbane was running through Matt's system that afternoon as had been the previous day.  Why wasn't it getting processed?  Why was it staying in his system?  Why was a medicine that was supposed to be filtered through a person's system in less than twelve hours staying there for nearly forty-eight?

    “Again, I ran the same test three times.  I had three different technicians run it and used three separate test potions.  Then I had the test potions sent for testing and ran three tests each on each of them.  The potions are fine.  The results are as they are,”  Morris said quietly.

    I swallowed hard.  In all my years of studying lycanthropy, all my years of treating people with it, and all my years of brewing various types of Wolfsbane I had never seen a case where Wolfsbane did not filter out of a person's system in twelve hours, give or take a few.  And if had never happened before, what were we supposed to do?

    “Have you ever known this to happen before?” I asked, hoping that since Morris had been working as a Healer far longer than she had, he would know something.

    “No,”  he replied.  “But I think if we treat the Wolfsbane as any other toxin, because it is a toxin to someone with lycanthropy, we should be able to flush it out. 

    That made sense.  It was a good thing Morris was able to remain calm enough to think clearly.  I suppose that was why I'm not Matt's Healer.  Morris was able to separate the rational thinking from his emotions when it came to Matt, whereas I certainly wasn't. 

    “What about the after effects?”  I asked.

    “That is what I am more worried about,”  he replied.  “We won't know what they are until the Wolfsbane is gone and he's awake and conscious.  At the very least he's going to be incredibly exhausted.  Other than that, I really don't know. The best thing we can do is flush out the Wolfsbane as quickly as possible.”

    “Well let's start right now, then.”  I stood up, wondering why we were wasting time talking.

    “I already have.  I've had the potion running intravenously for the past hour.”

    Of course he had, Morris was always on top of things.  “Have my parents been by?”

    “This morning, and on their lunch breaks,”  Morris answered.  “I expect they'll be back once they're done with work.”

    “I'm going to go sit with him.”

    “I'll go with you,”  Morris said.  “I've got to check the IV.”

    Morris and I walked in silence to the ward.  Matt was curled up on his side on the bed, covered in three of those flannel hospital blankets that weren't really very warm, a tall pole with a bag of potion danging from it next to the bed.  A tube ran from the bag into the back of Matt's hand, which was resting upon the blankets.  It was a Muggle IV contraption since magic couldn't replicate the steady drip that an IV had.  In order for his system to be properly flushed, he had to have constant potion dripping into his body. 

    As we drew nearer I saw that his face was still flushed with fever, yet he was sleeping soundly.  Morris drew his wand and waved it over Matt.  “His fever's gone down.”

    “That's a good sign,”  I said as I sat down in a chair next to the bed.

    “Definitely,”  Morris agreed as he fiddled with the bag of potion.  “I'm going to leave this in for twenty-four hours and then we'll test again.”

    I nodded.  Morris finished doing whatever he was doing with the potion and left.  Then it was quiet.  Matt was sleeping very soundly and not snoring at all and the lack of other patients of course attributed to the silence.  I was alone with my thoughts and at the moment which was kind of a scary thing.

    Deep down, I knew Dad was right that I couldn't liken this potion disaster to what had happened when Matt was eight, but on the surface it was hard not to. Plus, regardless of whether the two were similar or not something I had created had still harmed my brother and there was no getting around that.  People could assure me time and time again that Matt had consented to take the Wolfsbane but that didn't matter.  He didn't have a degree in healing or brewing so he counted on me to tell him what was safe and what wasn't when it came to those fields.  I hadn't done that.

    The door to the ward opened and Mum and Dad walked in, both looking in dire need of a nap.  They took seats on the other side of Matt's bed.

    “The Wolfsbane is still in his system,”  I told them, and proceeded to explain everything Morris had already told me.

    “Nothing to do but wait, then,”  Dad said quietly.

    “Sometimes I wonder if it'll even be worth it, in the end,”  I said.

    “What?”  Mum asked.

    “This,”  I gestured to Matt.  “Giving him potions that nearly kill him just for the small chance that I might come up with one that will work.  What if in the end I don't come up with one?  Then he will have gone through all of this for nothing.”

    “You will come up with one,”  Dad assured me.  “Stop thinking you won't.  And it's not for nothing because even though this one didn't work, it will provide answers once you sit down and compare it with the others.”

    “But is it worth it to use my own brother as a guinea pig?” 

    “That's a question that has no answer,”  Dad said.  “If he comes out of this not wanting to test anymore potions then fine.  But if he still wants to try them, that's his decision.”

    I nodded, mostly to appease my father and not because I necessarily agreed, because I was not sure that I did.  My father, as intelligent as he was, did not have the training in healing and medicine that I had.  Give him a complicated question about a magical creature and he'd give you the answer with hardly a thought and no doubt it would be correct, but there were aspects to the morals of healing that he did not understand.  Even I did not completely understand them because they were beyond the scope of the few morals classes I took in training.

    Patients don't get to decide what treatment they get even if a healer explains the risks and they claim they understand the risks.  A healer still has the final say.  If Jamie's parents had wanted to start him on my experimental Wolfsbane as soon as he'd stopped taking normal Wolfsbane, even claiming to understand the risks, I would have said no.  Similarly, it was not solely Matt's decision whether or not to continue taking experimental potions; it was up to Morris and I as well. 

    However, so long as I kept those potions available for any of age lycanthropic witches and wizards to try, I had to let Matt use them if he wished. The only way I could stop him is if I found a medical reason for him not to, and without understanding why this particular potion had affected him so badly, I would not have a medical reason for him not to try the next one.

                        ******

    Farina greeted me the next morning without any recognition that she'd given me the previous day off.  It was like it never happened.  Instead she told me I was due in the clinic as soon as my lunch hour was over, and not a minute later.  My morning was filled with three routine appointments and going over that month's data.  Since we have such a small amount of data I cannot draw any conclusions yet, but I still like to look it over to make sure it's useable.  Luckily all of this month's looked fine.

    It wasn't until nearly eleven-thirty that I remembered that I had told Victoire I would meet the bloke from the pub for lunch.  I cringed when I realized all I had on underneath my healer robes was a pair of old jeans and a sweater Victoire's grandmother had knitted for me, one adorned with a Gryffindor lion.  I didn't even have time to floo home to change because it was either floo home or visit Matt, which I hadn't had time to do yet that morning. 

    Matt was awake when I entered the ward and he looked slightly bored which I took to be a good sign.  He looked over immediately when I entered.

    “Hey, how are you feeling?”  I asked as I bent over to give him a hug.

    “Better than yesterday,”  he replied.

    “Good, that means the wolfsbane is finally being flushed out,”  I told him. “We'll know for sure when you're tested this afternoon.”

    Victoire was waiting for me in my study when I rushed in to strip off my lime green robes after visiting Matt.  She wasn't impressed with what I was wearing underneath but she at least had some make-up on hand and straightened my hair with her wand before I promised her to tell her all about the lunch and rushed downstairs to meet the guy.

    I was five minutes late by the time I got there and he was standing amongst the distressed witches and wizards in the waiting room, looking sorely out of place.  For one, he did not look distressed.  Two, he kept glancing around like he was looking for someone.  Three, he was dressed solely in Muggle attire, wearing jeans and a jacket over a button-up shirt.  His eyes rested upon me and he smiled. I met him near the door but didn't say anything until we left the chaotic waiting room for the slightly less chaotic streets of Muggle London.

    “Sorry I'm late,”  I said.

    “You're closer to being on time than any Healer I've ever met before,”  he joked.  “And you look great.”

    I raised my eyebrows and gestured to my Gryffindor jumper.  “I look like I'm ready for a day of lounging around at Hogwarts.”

    “Well the jumper does kind of answer one of the questions I was going to ask you over lunch,”  he confided.  “I'm Dillan Blayney, by the way.  I don't think I properly introduced myself yesterday.”  He stuck out his hand.

    “No, you didn't,”  I replied as I shook his hand.  “I believe I did.”

    “You did.  I thought we could go get pizza.  I know a great little place around the corner.”

    “What if I hadn't worn Muggle clothing?”  I asked.

    “I took a chance.  I figured you weren't the sort of person to stroll around London in green Healer robes.”

    He was right about that.  Of course I didn't know anyone who wore their Healer robes outside of St. Mungo's due to their hideous nature.  He seemed to be quite the jokester and I did have to admit that he was attractive.  Very attractive.  As much as he'd reminded me of Al Potter the previous day, now he seemed older and better looking which was a good sign since I thought of Al as a little brother. 
   
    We walked in silence until we reached a very tiny shop on the corner that I would have missed had I not been with Dillan.  He held the door open for me and I walked into what was a very adorable little pizza shop.  There was a large picture of some city in Italy along one of the walls and a picture of the Italian Football team from 2006, when they won the World Cup.  On various ledges were bottles of oils filled with herbs and a variety of meats and salads chilled in a display near the counter.  Dillan chose a small booth in the back and plucked two menus out from behind the napkin holder, handing one to me.

    “Get whatever you want, so long as it's pizza,”  Dillan said.  “I do insist that you choose pizza because this is the best pizza, outside of Italy.”

    “Obviously you've never been to Mama Rizzo's in Sydney,”  I told him as I scanned the menu. 

    “Sydney?”  he asked.  “As in Australia?  No, I can't say I've ever traveled that far for pizza.  What was a Londoner like yourself doing in Sydney?”

    “I grew up in Australia, just outside Brisbane.  My grandparents used to live near Sydney,”  I said, making sure to watch his face for the look of surprise that always showed up on people's faces when I tell them I used to live in Australia.

    However, Dillan didn't seem surprised at all.  He looked like he would've if I said I grew up in Scotland.  “Yet you're wearing a Gryffindor jumper.  Here I thought you were a Hogwarts alumnus.”

    “You were right about that,”  I said as the waitress set down two waters.  Thank Merlin, I thought, perhaps the waitress would distract him from asking why I moved to England. 

    “Ready to order?”  she asked.

    Dillan gestured to me.  “Um, I guess we'll take a small pizza with peppers, olives, and extra cheese.”

    “Coming right up,”  she said. 

    “So let me get this straight,”  Dillan said as he stirred his water with his straw.  “You grew up in Australia yet you went to Hogwarts.  I think I'm missing something.”

    “I moved here when I was fourteen,”  I explained, although that really wasn't much of an explanation.

    “Ah,”  he replied,  “and may I ask why?”

    “You can ask,”  I said,  “but you won't necessarily get an answer.”

    “Then I won't ask,”  he replied.  “Although I shall remain curious.  I was born and raised in the same house as I am living in right now.”

    Oh, Merlin, I thought.  I've attracted a thirty-year-old guy who lives with his mother.

    “Literally,”  he continued.  “I didn't wait until my mum got to St. Mungo's and I was actually born in the house.  I love the place.  So many great memories there that when my parents died I moved back instead of selling the place.”

    So glad I didn't mention the 'living with his mother' thing.  That would have been even more awkward than thinking it.  As much as I would like to know why his parents died so young, I felt like if I were to ask that I would have to tell him why I moved which certainly wasn't going to happen. 

    “About yesterday...”  I began.

    “I'm sorry,” he said as he looked down into his glass.  “I'm sure I was overstepping my boundaries a bit with that bet, but I was having an awful day and I don't normally drink that much-”

    “It's ok,”  I assured him.  “I was actually just wondering what job you were sacked from.  Must have been an amazing job if you were that upset about losing it.”

    I saw an ever so slight tinge of pink creep up on his cheeks as he averted his gaze once again.  “The funny thing is, it was kind of an awful job to begin with and not one I really saw myself in for the rest of my life.  So really, it was a blessing in disguise.  Not really sure why it sent me on a drinking binge. Anyway, I was a counterfeit coin checker at Gringotts.”

    I looked at him for a few seconds before responding.  “Seriously?”

    “Yep.”  He laughed.  “Not a job that appears in a pamphlet in the common rooms in fifth year.”

    “No, definitely not,”  I agreed.

    “But it paid the bills up until yesterday,”  he said.  “Unfortunately goblins do not take suggestions to their standard procedures nicely.  I made a few suggestions to improve efficiency and they showed me the door, threw a sackful of Galleons out after me as my last paycheck and that was that.”

    “Wow,”  I replied.  Even Farina took suggestions on how to improve efficiency.  I guess I should be lucky I don't work for goblins.

    “I suppose I'm lucky they're letting me keep my account there,”  Dillan pointed out.

    The pizza arrived a few minutes later, after we had thoroughly exhausted the topic of Dillan's job at Gringotts and right before I was going to ask what sort of job he wanted to get next.  I didn't get to ask since Dillan seemed preoccupied with watching my reaction to the pizza.  He served me a slice and then watched in anticipation as I took a bite.

    “This is amazing!”  I said after I'd finished swallowing.  “Better than Mama Rizzo's.”

    “And closer,”  Dillan pointed out as he served himself a slice.  “You'll save millions on airfare alone.”

    I laughed before taking my next bite.  He was funny, very funny.  I hadn't ever really gone out with a funny guy before, mostly because the only funny blokes I knew were Teddy, Landon, and Matt's friends, none of whom I could or would date. Merlin, was I thinking of dating him already?  We'd just gone out for pizza and hadn't even known each other forty-eight hours. 

    We didn't talk much while we were polishing off the pizza and by the time we'd finished I only had ten minutes to get back to St. Mungo's and up to the clinic.  We practically ran up the sidewalk and were out of breath by the time we reached the hospital.

    “I had a lot of fun,”  he said as he smiled at me.  “Maybe we can do it again sometime.”

    “I had fun, too,”  I said.  “Maybe next time we can do dinner and I won't have to rush out at the end.”

    “That would be good,”  he replied.  “What are you doing Friday night?”

    “Working until seven, but I'm free after that.”

    “Want to have a late dinner at eight-thirty?”  he asked.

    “Sure.  I'd like that.”  I smiled.  I reached into my pocket and pulled out a piece of paper and a pen, scrawling my address on it.  I handed it to him.

    “I'll see you then,”  he said and then turned, disappearing into the crowd.

    I walked back into St. Mungo's and hurried up to my study to don my tacky green robes before getting to the clinic, all the while wondering what the hell I was getting myself into.


A/N:  Thanks to all of the awesome people who have read and reviewed this!

Chapter 12: Victoire's News
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Disclaimer-  I don't own Harry Potter.


   I thought it would have been easy to get sucked into work again and not think about my lunch with Dillan, but even while my mind was on wizards with plants sprouting out of their ears, witches with odd orange rashes, and children with spattergroit, Dillan was there in the back of my mind.  It was strange since every other time I'd gone on a date I'd easily been able to forget about the blokes at work.  Although, thinking about that now, it probably wasn't a good thing. 

    Victoire bombarded me with questions about the lunch as I was walking back to my study after clinic duty and I told her everything, as I promised.  She was thoroughly excited and promised to help me pick out an outfit for our date on Friday.  However we couldn't talk for very long since she was seeing patients all afternoon.  As she headed back to the Spell Damage floor I headed off to find Morris to see if he'd ran Matt's tests yet.

    Morris was in his study writing up notes when I entered a little while later. He must have known immediately why I was there because as soon as I sat down he handed me a piece of parchment with Matt's name, the date, and a time stamp of an hour earlier.  It was his test results and according to them he no longer had any Wolfsbane in his system.

    “Thank Merlin,”  I muttered.  “Did you run it twice to be sure?”

    “Three times,”  he answered.  “They all gave the same results and Matt seems much better.  He's tired of course, but I'm planning on discharging him before I go home tonight.”

    I nodded.  I'd insist he stay with me for the night, but he'd be far less bored in my flat than in the ward.  “Mind if I keep this?” 

    “Go right ahead,”  Morris said.  “I've got another copy.”

    “Thanks.  I'm not starting a new version of the potion until I figure out why he reacted like this.  I don't want it happening again,”  I said.

    “Probably a good idea,”  Morris agreed.  “Let me know what you find out.”

    “I will,”  I answered as I left his study.

    My next stop was the ward, where I found Matt sitting up in bed reading some sort of book on the Chudley Cannons.  He has so many books on that team that it makes me wonder not only where he finds them but what sort of authors would actually want to write books about such an awful Quidditch team.  And I mean awful as in their playing, not that I hate them, because I'm quite indifferent about Quidditch.

    “Hey, Amy,”  he greeted me.  “Hear the good news?”

    “Sure did,”  I replied.  “All the Wolfsbane is gone, but we still haven't got a clue as to why it stayed in there.  Morris said he's going to discharge you sometime today, but I think you should come spend the night at my place.”

    “Sounds good.”

    “And you're not going back to work tomorrow.  I think you need to rest another day,”  I told him.

    “Seriously?  But I've already missed so many days.”

    “Don't tell me you're starting to become a workaholic, too.”  I groaned. 

    “No, you got all of those genes.  It's just I know the only reason I got that job is because of Dad and I don't want to give the Ministry anymore reasons to dislike the fact that I'm working there.”

    “They don't dislike it,”  I argued.

    “I'm not five anymore,”  Matt said.  “You can't hide stuff like that from me anymore.”

    He had a point, I thought.  “All right, we'll compromise.  You can go in in the afternoon so long as you continue to get better tonight.  I'm sure Morris would agree with me on this.”

    “Ok, that'll work,”  Matt agreed.

    “Good,”  I replied.  “I'm going down to the basement to work for the rest of the afternoon, but I haven't got anymore patients to see today so when Morris discharges you we'll go home.”

    “Sounds like a plan.”

    After swinging by my study to gather my very large collection of notes on every single version of Wolfsbane I had ever created, along with Matt's medical file from Morris's study, I headed down to the brewing rooms.  By some stroke of luck I wasn't stopped by anyone on my way.  I wasn't planning on doing any actual brewing that day, but experience had taught me that holing myself up in a brewing room would result in less interruptions than doing the same in my study.

    My usual room was empty so I dumped the stack of notes onto the desk and settled down for what was sure to be a long afternoon.  I couldn't risk creating a potion like my most recent one again so I had to figure out what had caused Matt to have such an awful reaction.  The only way to do that was to study my notes until I reached some sort of conclusion.

    Now that Matt was better and I had had a day to think about what had happened I realized that Morris was right.  As awful as it had been for Matt to have a reaction like that to a potion, it was helpful in the long run.  Generally, with experimental potions, negative reactions were better than no reaction at all when it came to figuring out how to make the potion better.  When Matt had no reaction to a potion I created I had nothing to go on; all I was able to say was that that specific potion didn't work.  Now I had a clue, something to tell me what was going wrong.  If only I knew what that specific clue was.

    No matter what Matt's reaction was to new potions, my first step afterwards was to add a new line into my ever expanding chart of failed potions.  Each potion had a line that included the ingredients, the type of cauldron it was brewed in, the amounts of ingredients, and every other seemingly insignificant step that went into brewing potions.  The littlest thing could be the difference between a useful and useless potion.  Along with information about the actual potion I also kept a separate chart of each person who had taken each potion.  The people varied, although Matt had taken each one.  For that very reason (and of course the fact that he was my brother) I was focusing the most on his reactions. 

    Each year I created and tested either three or four potions and since I had been working on it for six years, there were a lot of entries.  Some had been as useless as original Wolfsbane and others had had awful side effects, but the most recent one was the worst yet. 

    After entering the new information into the charts, the first thing I looked at was the concentration of pure Wolfsbane in the potion.  Wolfsbane potion was different from pure Wolfsbane, the latter being the active ingredient in the potion.  It is the most tricky ingredient to add and if the proportion of it to the other ingredients isn't right, it can have disastrous effects, which is why I thought it had something to do with Matt's reaction.

    Regular Wolfsbane potion uses a concentration of .01 percent pure Wolfsbane. Most brewers agree that anything less than .008 concentration is completely useless while anything above .05 percent is deadly.  My potions have ranged between .007 and .49 in terms of concentration, with the most recent having .04 percent.

    Matt's reaction would have made more sense if the potion had had a higher concentration, especially since the potion made with .49 percent had had no effect on him whatsoever, with the Wolfsbane filtering out of his system in the normal twelve hour window.  That meant that this was far more complicated than the concentration of pure Wolfsbane.  It meant that it had something to do with a reaction amongst the ingredients.

    To make matters even more confusing, Morris had discovered years ago that Matt had a very high metabolism, which was part of the reason why he believed Wolfsbane potion didn't work for him.  Morris discovered that Matt's body processed Wolfsbane between eight and nine hours rather than the standard twelve, but even when he was given Wolfsbane potion every eight hours instead of twelve, it still didn't help him.  But it made it even more confusing that this time the Wolfsbane wouldn't filter at all.

    Scouring my notes for anything that might help is a very tedious task and after working at it for two hours I still came up with nothing.  I was about to start my third time reading them when there was a knock at the door.

    “Come in,”  I said, thinking it was probably one of the junior brewers with a question.

    “I knew I'd find you here.”

    I looked up and saw Victoire, looking if possible, even more pregnant than she had the previous day.  “It's where I'll be for the foreseeable future until I figure this potion out.”

    “Well can you pry yourself away from your notes long enough to hear my good news?”  Victoire asked.

    I glanced up again and really looked at Victoire.  She was glowing, positively glowing, and had a huge smile on her face.  She looked even more excited than she did when she was told her baby didn't have lycanthropy.  “Of course.”

    “Just had another Healer appointment,”  she told me.

    “You did?”  I asked.  I couldn't recall her telling me about it.  “I don't remember you saying anything about it.”

    “I mentioned it a while ago, but I'm sure you forgot after what happened,” she said.  “Anyway, they ran another test, this one to tell us the sex-”

    “Did you find out?”  I interrupted.

    “Yup,”  Victoire said.  “But that's not the best part.  The best part is that I'm having twins!”

    “Oh my God!”  I shrieked and got up to hug her.  “Congratulations!”

    “Thanks.  Teddy's thrilled, especially since they're both boys.”

    “Poor Sophie!”  I laughed.

    “I know.  I'm hoping she'll eventually have some cousins who are girls, but I think Weasleys tend to be prone to having boys.”

    “Well you can always try for another girl after those boys are born,”  I pointed out.

    “I was just told that I'm going to have to give birth to not one but two boys in June.  The last thing I want to do is thinking about having a fourth,”  Victoire said.

    “Fair point,”  I agreed.  “I haven't even had one and I can't even imagine it.  I love Sophie of course, but she's like the perfect kid.  Surely they're not all like her.”

    “Trust me, they're not.  I'm sure these boys will be like my Uncles Fred and George, only worse.  I've got it coming to me after only having Sophie for five years.”

    “Sophie will keep them in line,”  I said. 

    “Even Sophie wouldn't be able to control them if they're like Fred and George,”  Victoire said.  “Merlin, Amy, even if they're like Sophie I'm still going to have three times as many kids.  It's all Teddy and I can do to make sure someone's always around to watch Sophie.  We can't rely on my parents and grandparents to watch three kids.”

    “But Sophie will be in school soon,”  I pointed out.  “Are you starting her at that preschool soon?”

    “Not all the time.  Teddy and I both work a lot of weekends and Sophie won't have school on weekends,”  Victoire said.  “And yes, she's starting next week. She's so excited!”

    “Good.”  I smiled.  Sophie needed to be around kids her own age. 

    “I just don't think I can do the working full time thing with two newborn babies and a five-year-old.”

    “What do you mean?”  I asked.

    “I mean...”  she paused and sat down in one of my extra chairs,  “that I'm thinking of not coming back to St. Mungo's after my maternity leave is up.”

    I said nothing for a few minutes.  While after hearing what Victoire was saying about taking care of three kids and working full time I sort of expected her to say that, it was still a shock.  Victoire wasn't nearly as much of a workaholic as I was, but she had always been determined to work hard at what she does and I couldn't see her not working.  Ever since I met her she knew exactly what she wanted career wise and nothing had ever swayed her. 

    “Have you talked to Teddy about it yet?”  I asked.

    “Yes,”  Victoire answered.  “He agrees with me.  I mean, he makes a decent salary as an Auror so we don't necessarily need my income.  It's weird.  When I was in Hogwarts I always imagined having a job and kids but I never thought about how the two would compete.  My mum stayed home with me and Gabriella and Ben when we were little and it was so much fun.  We weren't ever shuttled off to anyone else's house for a weekend and we never waited until ten or eleven at night for our parents to come home to say good night while a baby-sitter sat in our living room.”

    “Sophie doesn't mind that,”  I said quietly.  “Has she ever complained once about having to spend the day with your parents or grandparents?”

    “No,”  Victoire said.  “But that doesn't mean she doesn't miss us.  It wouldn't be forever.  Just until the boys were at Hogwarts.”  She looked down and placed her hands on her stomach.

    “It's up to you,”  I said.  “My mum was home with Matt and I when we were little, too, so I can see why you would want to.  I'll miss you here, if you don't come back.”

    “And I'll miss you too.  I'll miss everything about this place.  It's why I'm so torn.  I'm not deciding yet since I won't even leave on maternity leave until May or so.”

    “Farina won't be pleased.”  I laughed.

    “No, definitely not,”  Victoire agreed.  “So what were you working on when I so rudely interrupted you?”

    “You're always welcome to interrupt me,”  I said.  “Anyone else will get yelled at, but you can.”

    “I feel so honored.”  Victoire grinned.  “So what are you up to?  I don't see any steaming cauldrons filled with disgusting tasting liquids that will save the world.”

    “Very funny,”  I replied.  “And I'm not brewing anything today.  I'm trying to look at years of notes in order to figure out why Matt had that awful of a reaction to the potion.  I get interrupted less down here than in my study, due to my reputation of hexing people who barge in on my brewing.”

    “Ah, yes, that intern who you hexed last week never did return.”

    “Again, very funny.  I did not hex an intern.”

    “So I take it you're staying late tonight?  I was going to invite you over to dinner tonight.  It's just Gabriella, Sophie, and I since Teddy's working,” Victoire explained.

    “Nope, not staying late, since Morris is releasing Matt today, but he's coming over to my place for the night.  I've got to stay with him.”

    “Another time, then.  Going to bring all of this home with you?”

    “Of course,”  I said.  “Has Gabriella made any mention of taking off again?”

    “No,”  Victoire replied.  “But she disappears everyday so she must be actually doing something here.”

    “If she wasn't, you could hire her as your nanny.” 

    Victoire and I looked at each other and then burst out laughing at the thought of Gabriella being a nanny.  That girl would be a nanny the day John Brickston managed to have a girlfriend for more than a month.

    “It's so weird,”  I began,  “because when we were kids Gabriella was so responsible.  She was a prefect and everything.”

    “Hey, I suppose some kids rebel in their teenage years and others wait until they're out of Hogwarts.”  Victoire shrugged.

    “And others don't ever rebel,”  I pointed out, thinking of Victoire herself.

    “I'm hoping Sophie will take after me.”

    My Galleon alert vibrated and I pulled it out of the pocket of my robes. Morris was paging me so that meant he was probably ready to discharge Matt.  “I've got to go,”  I said.  “I think Matt's going to be leaving.”

    “All right,”  Victoire said as she stood up.  “I'll see you tomorrow.”

    “Yep, sounds good.”  I grabbed all of my paperwork and notes and followed Victoire out of the room, being sure to lock it behind me. 

                        ******

    Morris was waiting in the Dai Lewellyn ward when I got there a few minutes later, and so was Mum.  She was wearing nurse robes and had a stack of clipboards in her arms, so presumably she had snuck away from clinicals for a few minutes to see Matt before he went home.  Judging by the irritated look on Matt's face and the bemused one on Morris's, Mum was doing more than just saying hi to her son.

    “I just don't think it's a good idea for you to go back to work tomorrow,” Mum said as I shut the door to the ward.  “You need another day to rest.”

    “Mum.”  Matt sighed.  “I've been resting for the past three days.”

    “You've been here!  In the hospital!  Twenty-four hours ago you were practically unconscious on that bed, so you can't tell me you don't need another day of rest.”

    “I'm practically unconscious once a month but I still only take a couple of days off,”  Matt pointed out.  “If I rested as much as you wanted me to I'd never get anything done.”

    Morris and I shared a look, knowing that this could go on for ages.  Despite the fact that both of us had degrees in healing, neither of us had any say in whether Matt went to work tomorrow where Mum is concerned.  We could both assure her that Matt was as healthy as she was but she would still insist he stay in bed and eat soup all day.  Degrees were nothing compared to motherly love.

    When Matt was little, Mum constantly told him to rest and she hardly let him do anything that other little kids did.  As he got older he got fed up with it and started arguing with her, but even now that he's in his twenties she still has that pull over him.  Hell, she still has that pull over me.  If she demanded that I stay in bed and rest I'd probably listen to her, even if Farina was barking in my other ear to get to work. 

    “Amy said I could go in in the afternoon if I rested in the morning,”  Matt said.  “Isn't that a good compromise?”

    Instead of agreeing with him, Mum turned around and glared at me, as if that wasn't a compromise at all.  “Amy's not your mother,”  Mum said.

    “But she's a Healer!”  Matt shouted.

    “Not your Healer,”  Mum countered.

    “Healer Sterling agrees with her,”  Matt pointed out.

    Morris sighed and shook his head, looking as if he wished he hadn't gotten involved with this, even though he really hadn't.  Matt dragged him into it.

    “We're busy at work, Mum.  We're looking at that proposal Amy did for the foundation and Dad thinks we might be able to get funding for it if you work with the Ministry and it gets declared an official Werewolf Support Services program.  I really need to be there.”

    I looked at Matt, raising my eyebrows and trying to silently ask him why he hadn't told me about that.  Last I knew we were putting that off until after the holidays.  Plus, the Ministry had never gotten involved with anything the foundation did.

    Mum sighed, clearly defeated.  She glanced at her watch and I realized that her defeat probably had less to do with Matt's reasoning than the fact that she needed to get back to work.  “Fine.  Rest in the morning and work in the afternoon. Dad will tell me if you show up early, so don't.”

    Mum set down her clipboards and gave Matt a tight hug and a kiss on the cheek before turning to me.  “Don't let him go if he seems to get ill again.”  She picked up her clipboards and gave me a one-armed hug before leaving the ward.

    “Merlin,”  Matt groaned as he sat back down on the bed.  “You'd think I was twelve again.”

    “She's your mother,”  Morris said as he flicked his wand above Matt's head. “She'll worry about you forever, no matter how old you are.  Your vitals are normal, so you're good to go.”

    “Thanks,”  Matt said as he got up.  “I'm sure I'll be seeing you again soon.”

    “Hopefully not too soon,”  Morris replied and then turned to me.  “Amy, I'll see you tomorrow.”

    I nodded and Matt and I followed Morris out of the now empty ward.  I stopped at my study to pick up a few more things and then we headed off for the Floo room. With any luck, I'd have a few hours to try and figure out my notes later that evening.


A/N:  Thanks to everyone who has read and reviewed this!  Thanks as well to ngayonatkailanman who gave me the idea for Victoire to have twin boys!

Chapter 13: The Riddleless Ravenclaw
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Disclaimer-  I don't own Harry Potter.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Definitely,”  I said. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    I suppressed the urge to rattle off a list of foods I didn't like and decided to just let him order for me.  French food was French food, right?  It was all going to be gourmet and amazing.  I could always just eat around the mushrooms, trying not to be very obvious with picking them out. 

    The waiter arrived and Dillan must have ordered something in French because a few minutes later the waiter delivered a bottle of red wine, a baguette, and a platter of cheese to the table.  I assumed it was brie, and tentatively put some onto a piece of baguette while Dillan poured two glasses of wine.  The French cheese was actually really good.
   
    “So,”  I began as I spread a bit more cheese on another piece of bread, “what house were in you in at Hogwarts?”

    “Ravenclaw,”  Dillan answered after setting down his glass.  “Spent most of my time wishing I was in Hufflepuff because I'm terrible with riddles.  Usually had to wait until someone else wanted to get into the common room before I could. Bloody embarrassing as a seventh year, waiting for the eleven-year-olds to let me in.”

    I didn't even try to suppress my laugh.  “Poor Dillan, forced to wait every time he wanted to get into the common room.”

    “You'd think the Sorting Hat, having the brains of Godric Gryffindor, would have been able to tell that I couldn't solve a riddle to save my life, let alone gain me entrance into the common room,”  Dillan muttered.

    “Maybe it likes a joke?”  I suggested. 

    “Pretty awful joke if you ask me, making someone be the butt of everyone's jokes for seven years.  The only Ravenclaw too stupid to get into his own common room.  The Slytherins called me 'Dumb Dillan' for two years before they realized it had gotten old.  Then they dubbed me the 'Riddleless Ravenclaw'.”

    “Really?  You were known throughout the school for this?”  I asked.  I'd never heard of anyone not being able to get into their common room.  Either Dillan was a lot older or younger than me, or I was clueless while at Hogwarts.  “What year did you graduate?”

    “2013.  What about you?”

    “2017, but I didn't move to England until 2013, so I started Hogwarts the year after you graduated.  That would explain why I hadn't heard of the Riddleless Ravenclaw.”

    “If you call me that I'll order you the escargot,”  Dillan said as he ripped off a chunk of bread.

    “That's one bit of French that I do know and I won't let you order me snails.”

    “Too bad.  They're tasty.”

    The waiter returned and Dillan ordered something in French.  I did hear the word 'escargot', but I really hoped he was ordering them for himself.  But really, who could possibly enjoy eating snails?  Even Victoire didn't like them and she was half-French.

    “You really like escargot?” I asked after the waiter left.

    “Sure,”  Dillan replied.  “It's an acquired taste, but it's pretty good.”

    “Is there any food you don't like?”

    “Nope.”  Dillan grinned.

    We both reached for our wine glasses at the same time, resulting in a few moments of silence, but it wasn't awkward like so many silences during other dates I'd been on. 

    I set down my glass.  “So how did a Ravenclaw such as yourself start working as a counterfeit coin checker at Gringotts?”

    “That would be the result of my inability to make a decision about what I wanted to do with my life so I got a menial job to do while I decided and well, sixteen years later, I still haven't decided.  Well, I've sort of decided.”

    Completely the opposite of me, I thought, as I had my entire career planned out at the age of fifteen.  “What did you decide on?”

    “You're going to think I'm crazy,”  Dillan began.  “But I would love to open my own restaurant.

    “Like a pub?”

    “No, like a real restaurant, like this only less fancy,”  Dillan explained. “I like to cook, Muggle style, of course.  That's the idea, I'll start a restaurant in the magical world, only I wouldn't use magic to cook.  Some place like Diagon Alley or something.”

    “That's not crazy,”  I said.  “You should do what you really want to do.”

    “You think?”  Dillan asked.  “It would be a risk, of course, starting a business always is, but my parents left me enough when they died and I haven't spent it.  They weren't rich by any means, but it's enough start-up for a restaurant.”

    “Then do it,”  I told him.  “You obviously want to.”

    “It's weird, though, I always thought I'd work for the Ministry like my dad did and his dad before him, doing some sort of middle of the road job and then retiring with enough to get by.”

    “My dad works for the Ministry and so does my brother.  I couldn't do it, though.  I wouldn't be able to keep my mouth shut when I needed to.  Politics are just too...political,”  I replied.  “What department did your dad work in?”

    “He was an obliviator, so he worked wherever he was needed.  Definitely an interesting department and he always had stories when he came home, but I just can't see myself being a Ministry worker.  What about your dad and your brother?”

    “My dad's Head of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures and my brother works in Werewolf Support Services,”  I said.

    “Wow, your dad's pretty high up there.  Is your brother going to follow in his footsteps?”

    “I don't know.  I mean, my dad's never been one to sit back and watch things happen, which is how he got that position.  He started in Werewolf Support Services here, but he had been Head of the entire magical creatures department in Australia, too.  My whole family's like that, though, wanting to change the world kind of thing, always have been.  Matt's different, though.”  I paused, trying to figure out the best way to say it.  There was no way Matt would ever be head of the department, being a werewolf.  “I don't think he's outspoken enough.”

    “What about you?”  Dillan asked.  “Are you going to change the world?”

    At that moment the waiter arrived with our food.  Even though I had already decided I wasn't going to tell Dillan about my work with the Wolfsbane, at least not yet, I was grateful.  Maybe he would forget his question.  I knew there was a big difference between telling him about the Wolfsbane and telling him about Matt, but the two were so interconnected for me that telling him about the first would almost be like telling him about the latter.

    The waiter set some sort of chicken dish in front of me and luckily it did not contain any mushrooms.  It actually looked quite good.  Dillan had his escargot along with some sort of steak dish.  Like with the pizza, Dillan waited for me to try my meal before he tried his own.  I took a bite and yet again, Dillan had introduced me to an amazing dish.

    “Delicious,”  I said after I had swallowed.

    “Glad you like it, but I'm not waiting for you to try the food, you know.” He smiled and I realized he was waiting for me to answer the question about changing the world.

    “I guess you could say I'm not trying to change the world like my dad is, but I'm just trying to make it easier for a few people.”

    “See, that to me is changing the world more than what they do at the Ministry, no offense to your dad or anything.”

    “None taken,”  I replied as I began to dig into my chicken. 

    I never really thought of what I was doing as changing the world anyway. Changing the world to me seemed like something that would involve bringing about world peace or solving poverty or ending world hunger, or even like what Harry Potter did, but not fixing a potion that someone else created. 

    Whether Dillan was analyzing my answer or merely enjoying his steak, I didn't know, but we were silent for the next few minutes, each of us lost in our food and thoughts.  I'd never met anyone like Dillan before, and it both excited and scared me.  The last thing I wanted was for him to be like the few blokes I had dated before, but it's honestly what I expected.  I expected him to be a nine-to-five Ministry drone who wanted to spend every minute of every weekend together completely forgetting the fact that my job wouldn't allow for that.  But Dillan didn't give off that vibe, simply because he wanted to open a restaurant and that would require a lot of his time.

    We finished our dinners over the next half hour, pausing for sips of wine and tales of our times at Hogwarts.  We both ranted about Professor Washburn and the Slytherins who had tormented us.  But we also talked about the good times, the times we snuck out of our dormitories with our friends and impromptu trips to the kitchens.

    By the time dessert arrived (crème brule, something surprisingly tasty for not having any chocolate in it), we were laughing and had earned glares by other patrons.  I suppose loud raucous laughter was frowned upon in fancy restaurants. Dillan paid the bill and we were soon back out in the cold winter night. 

    The sidewalks were less crowded now, and the only people out and about were hurrying towards buildings, most likely due to the fact that the wind had picked up.  I wrapped my jacket tighter around myself as Dillan took my hand and squeezed it.

    “I had fun tonight.”  I said as I smiled up at him.

    “Me too,”  Dillan agreed.  “I was wondering if maybe I could cook dinner for you sometime, now that I've told you about my restaurant idea.”

    “I'd like that.”

    “Next weekend then?  Friday or Saturday, whichever works better for you,” Dillan suggested.

    Next weekend.  Next weekend I was on call.  I was a little taken aback at how upset I was about this.  Normally when blokes asked for second or third dates I hoped they'd pick a day when I was on call, just so I'd have a decent excuse to say no, but not this time.  This time I wished I wasn't.

    “I'm actually on call next weekend,”  I said quietly.  “I wish I could, though.”

    “Not a problem.  How about the weekend after?”

    “That would be great.”  I smiled.

    A few minutes later we reached my flat building.  We paused at the door and Dillan took both of my hands.  I gazed into his eyes and smiled as I noticed they were the perfect chocolate color.  He smiled back and tilted his head as he leaned closer to me.  His lips met mine and I closed my eyes.  The kiss was brief, like all first kisses are, but to me it was the perfect length.  We were both smiling when we pulled apart and I could feel the heat in my cheeks, despite the frigid air. 
   
    “Good night, Amy,”  he said quietly, still smiling at me.

    “Good night, Dillan,”  I echoed, still in a daze from the kiss. 

    He walked away slowly, looking back every so often to gaze at me.  I stood at the door until he disappeared into a nearby alley and I imagined the sound of him Apparating.  Only then did I walk inside, still feeling his lips on mine.


A/N:  Thanks to everyone who has read and reviewed this!  Since my last update, the_tofuubeaver made me a beautiful new banner!  Sorry about the late update, but I was at Infinitus all weekend and didn't get a chance to update until now.  Also, I won't be updating again until after the annual staff vacation since TAs will not be able to post new chapters either.  But this will give me a lot of time to work on both this story and the new Albus story!

Chapter 14: The Support Groups
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Disclaimer-  I don't own Harry Potter.


    Victoire was in tears when I arrived at her house the following evening, making me wonder whether she had forgotten that she had invited me over for dinner. However, once I saw the kitchen, I realized she had merely dropped an entire pitcher of juice on the floor.  Or rather, Sophie had.

    “I told her to just let me pour it,”  Victoire said while sniffling.  “She's five for Merlin's sake!  And it was a full pitcher!”

    “Victoire, it's ok,”  I assured her as I waved my wand to clean up the mess. “Not a big deal.”

    “But it is!”  Victoire sobbed.  “I yelled at her and she ran upstairs and she hates me and I'm obviously an unfit parent if my own daughter hates me so why should I be having two more kids?  Two, Amy, two!  I am insane!”

    “You're not insane.  People can't control whether they're going to have twins or not.  And Sophie does not hate you.  Get ahold of yourself and I'll go find Sophie.”

    Merlin, I thought as I left the room, if that's what pregnancy did to your emotions, I didn't want to do it.  I honestly did not remember Victoire getting so emotional when she was pregnant with Sophie.  Well, except for the whole lycanthropy thing.

    I found Sophie sitting in her room playing with a few My Little Hippogriffs. She looked up when I walked in and her face was streaked with tears.  I sat down next to her and began to brush the purple hair that was knotted in a ball atop the head of one of the hippogriffs. 

    “Mummy's hates me,”  she said quietly.

    “No she's doesn't,”  I assured her.  “She's mad that you didn't listen, but she doesn't hate you.”

    “I just wanted to pour the juice myself,”  Sophie said.  “'Cause soon I'm going to have two little brothers and I'm going to be a big sister.  Big sisters can pour juice.”

    “Not all the time.  Do you know how old your mum was when Aunt Gabriella was born?”

    “No.”

    “She was only two.  Two-year-olds can't do much of anything when they have little brothers or sisters.  They're still babies themselves.  You'll be able to do a lot more when your brothers are born.  You'll be able to make them laugh when they're old enough and your mum and dad will let you hold them.”

    “I guess.”  She fiddled with one of the hippogriff's beaks.  “How old were you when Uncle Matt was born?”

    “Seven,”  I replied.  “So not that much older than you.  What do you say we go back downstairs?”

    “What if Mummy's still mad?”

    “I think she's better now.  You know how your little brothers are growing in Mummy's tummy?”

    “Yeah.”

    “Sometimes that makes her get mad more easily, because it's a lot of work to have babies growing in your tummy.”

    “Oh. Okay.”

    “Come on.”  I offered her my hand as I stood up, and we walked downstairs together. 

    Victoire had recovered by the time we got back to the kitchen and had a pot of water boiling on the stove, a box of macaroni and cheese on the counter. Whenever Sophie was around, we ate kid food.  Sophie hovered around me for a few seconds before Victoire held out her arms and Sophie ran into them. 

    Victoire and I played with Sophie after dinner and didn't get to talk about my date with Dillan until after she went to bed.  However, no sooner had Victoire shut Sophie's door did she grin at me and demand details.  I waited until we were back downstairs to give them.

    “Before I say anything, do you remember anyone called the 'Riddleless Ravenclaw' from Hogwarts?”  I asked.  Victoire would have been at Hogwarts while Dillan was there, for a few years anyway.

    “The riddleless Ravenclaw?”  she repeated.  She didn't say anything else for a few moments, clearly trying to remember.  “Oh, wait!  I think I do remember Teddy telling me about him once.  Some Ravenclaw a few years above us who couldn't solve a riddle and couldn't get into his common room?”

    “Yeah, him.”

    “Why?  What's he got to do with your date?”

    “He was my date,”  I replied.  “Dillan is the riddleless Ravenclaw.”

    “Seriously?”  Victoire laughed.  “I never really met him but still, that's kind of funny.  What's he like?”

    I smiled.  “He's adorable and nice and sweet and get this, he wants to start a restaurant in Diagon Alley or some place.  A restaurant where he cooks like a Muggle.”

    “I thought you said he was a counterfeit coin checker at Gringotts.”

    “He was.  That's the job he was fired from and he actually hated it.  He wants to start a restaurant and he wants to cook me dinner,”  I said.  “But I'm on call next weekend so I probably won't see him for a while.”

    Victoire just grinned.

    “What?”  I asked.

    “Your face.  You look so sad about that and I've never really seen you sad about missing a date to work.  It's like a major 'aww' moment!”  Victoire exclaimed.

    “I know.  I realized that last night.  Never before have I been with someone who makes me want to miss work.  I mean, it's not like we're together yet, but....”

    “You think that's where it's headed?”

    “Unless he suddenly announces that he wants to resurrect Lord Voldemort then yes, I do.”

    “Well, I can guarantee he's not going to do that,”  Victoire said seriously.

    “Why?”  I asked.

    “Because if he can't solve a riddle he certainly wouldn't be able to figure out how to bring someone back from the dead.”

    I laughed.  “Fair point.”

    Victoire shifted and pulled her Galleon alert out of her pocket.  Frowning as she read it, she stood up.  She didn't have to tell me what it said.  “Off to Mungo's?”  I asked.

    “Yep.”  She sighed.  “I suppose I'll have to go wake Sophie so she can spend the night at your place.”

    “No.”  I shook my head.  “I'll stay here.  I can sleep on the couch.  That way you don't have to get her up.”

    “You sure?”

    “Positive.”

    Victoire grabbed her wand and a handful of Floo powder, stepping into the flames a moment later.  I watched as the fire returned to its normal color and wondered just how much longer Victoire was going to be doing this. 

                        ******

    The Lycanthropic Children's Foundation held its first meeting after the holidays the following Monday which meant I went directly to my parents' house from work.  Everyone was already there (except Teddy, as his mission was taking longer than expected) and there was happy chatter about what everyone had done for the holidays.  Betsy was currently in the middle of a story from her trip to France with her fiance.

    After I had poured myself a cup of coffee, Mum called the meeting to order. We first delegated some of the newest donations to certain children and then we had to vote on whether to start support groups as well.

    “The Ministry has agreed to allocate a certain amount of its Werewolf Support Services budget to any support groups we decide to start, so long as we do not focus solely on children.  However, we have to stress that these groups will not be therapy sessions since none of us are certified to give any sort of therapy,”  Mum explained.  “Does anyone move to put this up to a vote?”

    “I move,”  I said.

    “I'll second it,”  Victoire replied.

    “All in favor?”  Mum asked.  There was a chorus of 'yays'.  “Any opposed?” Complete silence.  It had passed unanimously and I grinned.

    For the next hour we hammered out the details of the support groups because deciding to have them was only the beginning.  We had to figure out what groups we would start with, where they would be held, how we would get word out, and who would run them.  It really was a huge step for our foundation, going from a mostly unknown group to having public support groups. 

    In the end we decided to start with four groups and see where it went from there.  One for children with lycanthropy, one for adults with it, one for siblings, and one for parents.  I was elected to ask Farina if we could have the groups meet at St. Mungo's since it was a location that could provide private rooms.  Flyers would be printed and posted in the hospital once we figured out times and exact locations.

    “All we have left is figuring out who is going to run the meetings,”  Mum said once we'd all agreed upon St. Mungo's as a location.  “We'll obviously have to run them, but I don't think all of us should go to all of them.”

    “Yeah, that might be overwhelming,”  Joe agreed.  “And honestly, I haven't got the time to attend that many meetings.”

    “I don't think any of us do,”  Victoire agreed.  “But there are only four meetings and six of us, so I think we can figure it out.”

    “I'd like to run the sibling one,”  I said immediately. 

    Betsy gave me a strange look and while it only lasted a second, I wondered if I'd said that too fast.  Neither Betsy or Joe know that Matt is a werewolf and we've seen no reason to enlighten them.  They don't know about Sophie being one either. 

    “Unless anyone else wants to,”  I said half-heartedly.

    “No, that's fine,”  Mum replied.  “And I'll do the one for parents, if nobody else is volunteering.”

    “Teddy and I can do the one for children,”  Victoire suggested.  That made sense, I thought, since they'd be bringing Sophie anyway.

    Betsy turned to Joe.  “That leaves us for the one for adults.  Want to do it together?”

    “Sure,”  Joe agreed.  “Although to be perfectly honest, I'm not sure how much help either of us will be, seeing as neither of us have lycanthropy.”

    “True,”  Betsy replied.  “But I have a feeling we'll mostly be there to start things off and once everyone knows each other, the group will run itself.”

    “That's the hope of it, anyway,”  Mum said. 

    We decided to wait on deciding a time until after we found out if Farina would let us host the meetings at St. Mungo's.  There was no point in wasting time on that if we couldn't hold the meetings there anyway.  Joe and Betsy headed out a short while later since it was late.  Victoire and I stayed to help Mum clean up.

    “You know, Mum,”  I said as we were washing mugs,  “I was thinking that if he was willing to, Matt would be a good leader of the children's group.”

    Mum set down her sponge.  “You're kidding, right?”

    “Why would I be kidding?”  It made sense to me.  Who better to give these kids hope than someone who had gone to Hogwarts and was holding down a steady job? Better yet, he wasn't old enough to be considered 'old' to the little kids and an adult to teenagers.

    “Because then people are going to find out that he's got lycanthropy,”  Mum said slowly, as if she was talking to a child.

    “Only the people at the meeting, Joe, and Betsy, and what would be the problem with that?  It's obviously ok for everyone else in the support groups to reveal they've got lycanthropy,”  I pointed out.

    “It's just....it's different.”

    “Why, Mum?  Because he's Matt?  He could really help these kids,”  I said as I put away dishes. 

    “I just don't think it's a good idea.”  Mum sighed.

    “He's twenty-three.  Why don't you just let him decide for himself?”

    “What about Teddy and Victoire?”  Mum asked.  “They're going to be running this one.”

    “And I don't think they'd be upset if Matt were to run it instead.”

    “Not at all,”  Victoire said as she came into the room.  “Honestly, Julie, I think it's a good idea.  Just let Amy talk to him.”

    “Fine,”  Mum said shortly.  “Fine.”

    We finished the dishes in silence and said goodbye.  Mum was still having a hard time letting Matt grow up, even six years after he came of age.

    I was determined to talk to Matt about leading the support group before Mum got to him so I went directly to his flat after the meeting.  Matt could say no for all I cared, but I wanted him to make the decision for himself, without Mum interfering.  I knocked on the door, hoping that he was home since Albus had returned briefly over the weekend and I wasn't sure whether he had left yet or not. 

    I had my answer when messy-haired Al Potter opened the door a few seconds later.  “It's your sister!”  he shouted back into the flat.

    I stepped inside, gingerly avoiding a spilled bag of crisps and a Puddlemere t-shirt, clear signs that John had been there recently.  Matt was laying on the couch and there was a pile of Exploding Snap cards on the coffee table.  A second glance at Al's face revealed that he had been losing.
   
    “Hey, Amy,”  Matt said as I entered the room.  “Just get back from the meeting?”

    “Yep,”  I said as I sat down in an incredibly ugly green armchair.  “It passed unanimously.  We're going to be starting the support groups.”

    “Excellent,”  Matt replied.  “I'll make sure the Ministry gets you the money soon.”

    “Thanks,”  I said.  “Listen, I had this crazy idea during the meeting and you don't have to agree if you don't want to but I have to ask.”

    “What is it?”  Matt asked as he sat up.

    “One of the support groups is for kids with lycanthropy.  Teddy and Victoire are leading it, but I thought it, well, might be a good idea if you ran it.”

    “Seriously?”  Matt asked.  He looked beyond shocked, whereas Albus was smiling slightly.

    “Yeah, but you don't have to-”

    “No, I want to,”  Matt replied.  “I'm just kind of surprised since I've never really done anything for the Foundation.”

    “Except, you know, be the whole reason your mum founded it,”  Albus cut in.

    “Shut it,”  Matt said.  “I'll do it, Amy, just let me know when the group meets.”

    “That's great.”  I smiled.  “I really think you'll be a good role model for the kids.”

    “So, Amy,”  Albus said as he flopped down on another ugly armchair.  “Who was that tall bloke you were with the other night?”

    I turned to Albus and stared at him.  “Wh-what?  How did you find out about him?”

    “Shared the lift with him on Friday.  He pushed the button for your floor and I took a guess that he was going to see you rather than old Mrs. Walsh.”

    “Oh,”  I muttered.  “He's just a guy I've been out with a few times.”

    “A few?”  Matt repeated.  “And you haven't told your own brother?”

    “I would've told you about him when it got serious.”

    “Amy, with you, any time you agree to a second date it's considered serious,” Matt pointed out.

    Albus burst out laughing.  “Shut it, Albus.  When was the last time you even went on a first date?”  I asked.

    “I can't help it.  I can't make dates when I have no idea when I'll be working,”  Albus said.

    “On that note, I think I'm going back to my flat.  Matt, are you doing anything tomorrow after work?” 

    “Don't think so, why?”

    “I'm going to visit Cinda; haven't been there in a while.  Want to come?”

    “Sure.”  Matt shrugged.  “I can tell Cinda about your boyfriend.”

    I glared at him before getting up to leave.  “Don't you dare,”  I muttered on my way out.

                        ******

    It only took me half the day to find Farina and ask her about using a few conference rooms for the support group meetings.  After a quick chat with Mum in the morning, I decided to request three rooms on the same night because it would be a lot easier for parents if the parents, siblings, and underage werewolves meetings were all on the same night.  The meeting for adults with lycanthropy would take place on a different night.  We also decided that there wouldn't be a parents meeting on the first night because most would wish to attend the underage meeting with their kids.

    Farina agreed to let us use the rooms without hesitation and even better, without charge.  All that was left to do was decide on a time and make flyers.  We were given the rooms for Tuesday and Wednesday evenings from seven until eight.

    After work I met Matt at the Ministry and we Apparated to the bush behind Cinda's nursing home.  While walking up to the building, I told Matt that we had gotten rooms for the meetings and that they would most likely begin the following week.

    The nursing home hadn't changed in the time that had taken place between our last visit and this one.  Nurses milled about while patients sat around playing cards and sleeping.  A bingo game was taking place in the lounge on Cinda's floor and there was that antiseptic smell in the air that was never missing from any type of medical related building.  I was completely used to it since St. Mungo's had the same smell, but Matt wrinkled his nose as we walked through the corridor. 

    Cinda's door was open and I found her inside, looking at some sort of fashion magazine.  She looked up when we entered, her mouth forming a wide grin.

    “Amy, Matt!”  she greeted us.  “I was beginning to wonder if the two of you left the country!”

    “No, just busy, Cinda,”  I said as I gave her a hug.  Matt and I sat down on the usual couch, settling in for an evening of gossip.

    “Now, I have to tell you about Izzy down the hall...”  Cinda began.

    I smiled and nodded in all the appropriate places but my mind was not on Izzy and the rift that had developed between her and her granddaughter.  My mind was on the support group meetings.  It seemed almost surreal that an idea that I had had was actually going to be put into motion and might really help people.  None of my potions had ever helped people before, but now, I might make a real difference.

    “So then, Izzy's granddaughter was rapping on her door right before dinner and Izzy wouldn't answer.  The nurses all thought something had happened so they unlocked the door and went in, only to find Izzy watching TV like nothing was wrong.  Izzy's granddaughter hasn't been back since.  Trust me, I've kept my ears open for the knocking,”  Cinda finished. 

    “That's sad,”  I replied, knowing that Cinda was focusing far more on the drama than the fact that Izzy had a bad relationship with her granddaughter.

    “Yes, it is,”  Cinda agreed.  “But actually, maybe she'll come visit tonight. If she does you ought to go out there and introduce yourself, Matt.  She's quite a cute girl, about your age.”

    Matt looked up, the glazed look that had previously been on his face disappearing.  “Erm, maybe,”  he muttered.

    “Seriously,”  Cinda replied, leaning closer to us,  “she's single.  I heard a few people talking about how her boyfriend broke up with her a few weeks ago.  I know you and your friends like living the bachelor life, but there's something to be said for settling down.”

    “I'm only twenty-three,”  Matt said, a feeble attempt to sway Cinda from setting him up with a random girl. 

    “Nonsense.  You've been out of school for five years.  Once you're thirty you'll wish you'd listened to me and so will all of your friends.”

    Cinda knew enough about Matt's friends to know that none of them had settled down either, something that baffled her.  She just couldn't comprehend that nobody married right out of school anymore.

    “Just talk to her,”  Cinda went on.  “She's a few inches shorter than you, which is good.  It'll be hard to find a girl who's significantly shorter than you, you know.”

    I stifled my laughter while Matt muttered something incomprehensible under his breath.  No one in my family was tall as a child, but nearly all of us hit a growth spurt in our teenage years.  This rendered me a respectable five feet five inches, about as tall as Mum.  However, the men in my family usually hit more of a growth spurt.  Dad and Uncle Jack were both at least six feet and their father had been that tall as well.  Richard was the only one who had been considered short, mostly since he had been shorter than Cinda by an inch.  Matt, however, was about as tall as me, rendering him the shortest bloke in my family.  We weren't sure if it was just Richard's genes in him or some sort of side effect of the lycanthropy or one of the potions he'd taken as a child.  Whatever the reason, it was a bit of a sore point with him.

    “Amy's got a boyfriend,”  Matt said suddenly, snapping me out of my reverie. 

    Cinda turned to me and patted my hand.  “Really?  Tell me everything about him!  Is he a wizard?  When did it happen?  Why haven't you told me yet?”

    I glared at Matt and he smiled smugly before leaning back on the couch. Cinda wasn't going to mention Izzy's granddaughter again this visit, now that she found out I had a “boyfriend”.  Which I didn't, because we'd only been on two dates.

    “He's just a bloke I met at a pub.  We've been out twice and he's definitely not my boyfriend-”

    “Is he going to be?”

    “I don't know, Cinda.”  I sighed.  This was exactly why I wasn't planning on telling Cinda about Dillan yet.

    Cinda didn't rest until I had told her nearly all of the details of our dates as well as everything I knew about Dillan.  It must have wore her out because by the time visiting hours were over, she was asking fewer questions.  I nudged Matt awake (clearly my talk of Dillan had been boring him), we said goodbye, and left.

    “Thanks,”  I muttered as we left the building.  “For telling her about Dillan.”

    “Sorry.  I needed her off my back about that girl.  Didn't have the energy to put up with it today.”

    “Clearly,”  I replied.  “Seeing as you fell asleep while I was giving Cinda details about my date that I didn't even give Victoire.”

    “What?  I was tired.”

    “Full moon's not for three weeks.  That excuse is not going to work today.”

    “Fine,”  he said.  “I ratted you out for my own benefit.  I am deeply sorry. Happy?”

    “Yes.”  I grinned at him and we Disapparated.


A/N:  Thanks to everyone who has read and reviewed this!  This is the last chapter that I have pre-written so I can't guarantee when the next update will come.  I'm hoping it will be in two weeks like usual but you never know.  I'm on the fourth chapter of the new Albus story so hopefully I'll be able to start posting that soon!

Chapter 15: Falling For You
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Disclaimer- I don't own Harry Potter.




In an effort to get the word out about the support groups, we decided to wait until after the January full moon to hold the first meetings. Although to be honest, I think Mum's ulterior motive in waiting that long was that she was hoping to convince Matt not to run the children's support group. She wasn't going to have any luck, though, because Matt was already planning activities and conversation topics. I hung up flyers at work and told all of my patients about the upcoming meetings and most seemed quite interested.

My on call weekend was monotonous and relatively boring, which was nice for a change. I had a lot of time to sit in my study and research without being called away every ten minutes. I cannot remember another on call weekend that had been that quiet. It worked out nicely because Victoire kept Flooing to my study in order to talk about Sophie's going to school the following Monday. She kept going back and forth about whether Sophie was actually ready or not.

I assured her that Sophie needed to go to school and was proven correct on Monday, when she absolutely adored school. Victoire told me she was a little teary eyed when she first got there but at the end of the day she didn't want to leave. She even made a few new friends.

“Now she's even more bored at my mum's, though,” Victoire told me as we walked up to my flat after work on Friday. “Yesterday she asked if she could go to school everyday. Can you believe it? After one week she's already ready to be there all the time.”

“That's good,” I said. “I knew she'd love it.”

“I know. It's just strange because she's growing up. Next year she could go to primary school.”

“That's a long way away,” I told her, “and you should be proud. Of all the kids with lycanthropy I've met she is by far the most well adjusted. Not many of my patients would be able to deal with going to school at her age.”

“I know, but I can't even think of what I did that's so different. I raised her like my mum raised me,” Victoire said.

“And maybe you would've been fine if you had lycanthropy,” I pointed out.

“Who knows?” Victoire shrugged. “So, you're going over to Dillan's tomorrow, aren't you?”

“Yes,” I replied. “He's cooking me dinner.”

“Merlin, I wish Teddy could cook,” Victoire said. “You'd better keep this bloke, Amy. Imagine, you could work all day and come home to a nice warm meal.”

“He wants to start his own restaurant. There's going to be so much work involved with that he's not going to have time to cook me dinner.”

Victoire broke out laughing. “Oh my God, Amy, you've found yourself a workaholic?”

“Very funny. And honestly, I have no idea whether he's a workaholic or not.”

“But his occupation isn't really the most important thing.”

“True, but this is only our third date. Between you and Cinda I'm going to have a wedding planned by next month,” I said.

“It's only because I've never seen you so excited to go out with anyone before,” Victoire said. “Well, I should probably go get Sophie.”

“Tell her I'm glad she's liking school,” I replied.

“I will,” Victoire said as she walked over to the door. “Have fun with Dillan tomorrow.”

******


I can count on one hand the number of people in my life who can actually cook well. My mother, Victoire, Victoire's grandmother, Kaden Dursley, and now Dillan are the only people I know who can cook. And by cook I mean more than just boiling water for pasta or cooking eggs. Every single bloke I've ever dated cooked worse than I do and that's saying something. You would think that since cooking is so much like Potions I'd actually be good at it but I suppose I had to inherit something from my grandparents.

That is why it felt so odd to go to Dillan's house for dinner and not bring takeaway or have him order takeaway. All I did was bring a bottle of wine. He wouldn't even let me bring dessert.

Dillan's house was in Wales and there weren't any other houses around it. It was small, but cute, with a well-tended garden out front and what looked like a dilapidated swing set in the back. Dillan answered the door mere seconds after I knocked and greeted me with a quick kiss before stepping aside and letting me enter.

Dillan led me through the den to the kitchen, where he placed the wine in the refrigerator and then opened the oven, which released the most amazing scent. The kitchen was very homey and was decorated in a cooking theme. All the pictures on the walls were of food.

“Hope you like steak,” Dillan said as he closed the oven.

“Of course,” I replied.

“Good. It should be ready in ten minutes or so. You want the grand tour?”

“Sure,” I agreed.

“My mum decorated the whole house when she and Dad got married and it really hasn't changed much since. I didn't have the heart to redecorate and even if I did, I'd be terrible at it,” Dillan began as we walked back into the den. “Here's the den. And off of it is the study.” He pointed to a door on the back wall of the den. “Not that I do much studying.”

“Well when you start planning the restaurant you'll have to do work,” I pointed out.

“I know, and it's going to be odd because I didn't even like doing work while I was at Hogwarts.”

“But you were a Ravenclaw.”

“I was the kid who didn't need to study and still aced all his exams,” Dillan said.

“Oh, so you were the kid everyone hated.” I laughed.

“Not really, because the fact that I couldn't get into my own common room kind of evened things out.” Dillan smirked. “Anyway, I won't show you the study because it's a complete mess.”

“I like messes,” I told him. “My study at my flat is a complete mess and it's not even a full study. It's half spare bedroom, so there's a bed in it as well.”

“I knew I liked you for a reason.” Dillan laughed. “My mum would flip if she saw the study now.”

“I never let my mum see my study slash spare bedroom,” I said.

“Good idea. Well, you've already seen the kitchen and the only other room down here is the loo, so let's go upstairs.”

The staircase was one of those old ones with creeky stairs. If the stairs at my house in Australia had been creeky I would've had a problem. It would have made sneeking off to unknown places in the house quite difficult.

“Here's the master bedroom,” Dillan said as he pointed to a door off to the right. “Used to be my parents' of course, and now it's mine. Then there's my old bedroom.” He pointed to the door opposite it.

I walked towards it and peeked inside. It was perfectly neat with a twin bed that was made, a dresser, and a desk that didn't have a single book on it. The only sign that it had once been someone's room were a few pictures hanging on the walls.

“I'm assuming your parents cleaned it once you left Hogwarts?” I asked.

“How'd you know?”

“Just a hunch.” I smiled.

“The other bedroom looks the same, except the bedspread is pink. It was my sister's room.”

“I didn't know you had a sister,” I said as we walked back downstairs.

“She's five years older than me and is possibly the most normal witch there is,” Dillan said. “She's so normal she's boring. She works for the Ministry, in the Department of Magical Transportation, which is a job she got when she was just out of Hogwarts. She did averagely in school, was a Ravenclaw like me, and never put a toe out of line. Now she lives in a flat in London, which she tries to keep immaculately clean, and we get together for dinner every Tuesday night at six on the dot.”

“Wow,” I replied. “Sounds exciting. Is she married? Any kids?”

Dillan grinned. “That's where it gets funny. She married the bloke version of herself and they have a ten-year-old son who is Peeves in human form. I've never met such a terror of a child.”

“Now that's karma,” I said, thinking of how Victoire was sure her twins would be like her Uncle George. “I can only imagine what their flat must be like.”

“She's counting down the days until he goes to Hogwarts. Only then will she be able to keep a clean flat again.”

“What's her name?” I asked Dillan pulled the steak out of the oven.

“Genevieve, but no one ever calls her that. We just call her Gen,” Dillan answered. “And her husband is Robert, and he only likes to be called Robert. Their son is Gaven.”

“I guess Hogwarts is in for it this September,” I joked.

“I'll be surprised if the castle is still there when he graduates,” Dillan said as he began to prepare two plates.

“Well it survived my brother's friends, who were quite the trouble makers,” I told him.

“Tell me about your family, now that you know all about my sister,” Dillan replied.

Where did I begin? Dillan's family seemed so normal compared to mine. “I think I told you about my dad's job last time,” I began. “My mum's a nurse at St. Mungo's, but she only started that a few years ago. She's finishing up her last clinicals soon, and then she'll be fully certified. When my brother and I were little she just stayed home with us.”

“So did mine,” Dillan said as he brought the plates over to the table. “It was great.”

“Definitely. I knew people who had nannies when I lived in Australia and I think that would be weird,” I replied. “My brother, Matt, is six and a half years younger than me.”

“Wow,” Dillan said, “and I thought Gen and I were far apart.”

“My parents wanted more kids closer together but it just didn't work out that way. I remember absolutely everything about Matt's life, though, from the moment he was born. And I remember being an only child, so it's kind of nice.”

“I can't imagine being an only child,” Dillan said.

“It was nice, but my parents noticed everything I did. I couldn't sneak away and do anything. That was the biggest difference when Matt was born. Suddenly my parents had someone else to focus on so I started exploring without them and realized I liked not having them constantly around. Of course, the day I wandered into the bush for the first time by myself and they couldn't find me...well, that wasn't good. They sent me to my room for hours.”

Dillan laughed. “How old were you?”

“Six,” I replied. “This looks amazing.”

Dillan had not only made steak, but also mashed potatoes with herbs mixed in, some sort of salad, and french bread. I sliced off a piece of steak and ate it.

“It is amazing,” I replied once I swallowed. “What did you do to this? It's the best steak I've ever had.”

“Secret.” Dillan grinned.

Whatever the secret was, it was truly delicious. The rest of the meal was amazing as well and Dillan refused to tell me his recipes for the side dishes. Not that it really would have mattered since I wouldn't have been able to cook them anyway.

We were both quiet as we ate dinner and I was relieved that we weren't talking about our families anymore. As much as I liked Dillan, whenever the conversation drifted towards family I couldn't help but get a little nervous. I was much happier talking about Hogwarts or really any other topic.

“What about your dad?” I asked as I finished my meal. “Where did he work?”

Dillan set down his glass. “He wrote for the Daily Prophet. Nothing front page or anything, but he wrote the average stuff. Small robberies, various events, the occasional obituary, and once a week he had his own column. Nothing that really got him noticed, but he had a small following for his column and he enjoyed it. It's where I got my philosophy about work from. Never settle for something you truly hate.”

“But didn't you hate checking for counterfeit coins at Gringotts?” I asked.

“Never said it was something I understood as a child and even as a young adult. It wasn't until after I was fired that I realized why my dad was so happy all the time. Sure he loved my mom, Gen, and I, but his happiness also came from work. He was always eager to go to work in the morning and now I realize that's what I want as well. I don't want to dread Mondays and count down the minutes until Friday at five. We spend most of our lives at work, so why should we do something we hate?”

I took a sip of wine as an excuse not to respond right away. Dillan had a good point. An excellent point, really. But it was so completely different to how my family thought about work that it really made me think.

“What about you?” Dillan asked, not waiting for me to reply. “Do you love your job?”

“You have a good point,” I began. “You really do. And I would like to believe that we shouldn't settle for something we hate, but I wasn't raised with that same philosophy.

“My maternal grandparents are Muggles and my grandfather, Richard, owned his own business in Australia. A rather large business that sold and serviced computers for large companies. Granted, it was a family business that he inherited from his father, but still, he worked a lot. To be honest I don't know whether he truly wanted to get into the family business, but he did and to this day I have no idea whether he enjoyed it or not. He rarely talked business with my family because my parents are wizards. He sold the business and retired when I was a teenager because he and my grandmother had no other children besides my mum and she certainly wasn't going to take over the business.

“So, I guess what I learned from Richard was that work is just something you have to do to give your family what they deserve and you do it whether you enjoy it or not. It's sort of the same with my dad. Right before we moved to England he absolutely hated his job in the Australian Ministry, but he didn't quit. He stayed until he was fired because that's just what you do. He had to provide for our family.

“When we moved, I thought he was adopting a similar philosophy to yours because he took a lower paying job because it was what he enjoyed. But then when he was offered the position of Head of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, he took it. Even though it's the same job that he hated in Australia. I know he enjoys it more here but sometimes he just looks so exhausted and he's got no plans to retire.”

“I guess it's probably different if you're in a Ministry position,” Dillan speculated. “But he got fired from his position in the Australian Ministry? Why?”

I averted my gaze. “That's not something I'm ready to discuss on a third date.”

“I'll have to be sure there's a fourth date, then.” Dillan winked. “But you never told me whether you enjoy your job.”

“It's complicated,” I began. “I suppose the bottom line is that I do enjoy my job. But there are parts of it I don't enjoy. I don't enjoy seeing people suffer, but I enjoy helping them to feel better. I see a lot of pain, but also a lot of healing. I work on the Creature-Induced Injury ward and specialize in lycanthropy. All my regular patients are lycanthropes, quite a few of them children at that.”

Dillan shook his head. “It's so sad, that anyone has to suffer from that, but children....”

Score one for Dillan, I thought. I hadn't planned it, but that was a great way for me to find out what Dillan thought of werewolves.

“I'm going to go get dessert,” Dillan said as he got up. He returned a moment later with two bowls of chocolate mousse topped with chocolate syrup and a cherry.

Score two, I thought. Chocolate. I took a spoonful and it was amazing. Easily the best mousse I'd ever had in my life. “Delicious,” I said after swallowing. “Absolutely amazing.”

Dillan smiled. “Thanks.”

“Let me guess, another recipe you won't give away?” I asked.

“Not a chance.”

We finished the mousse in comfortable silence and then retired to the den, where Dillan started a fire in the fireplace with a flick of his wand. I settled onto the couch and he sat down next to me. It was amazing to me how comfortable I felt on Dillan's couch, with a fire crackling, with him next to me, after only three dates.

Dillan and I talked for hours. He cracked open another bottle of wine and we slowly drank the entire thing, talking about everything and nothing at the same time. Whenever the conversation veered too close to my family or the past, I steered it away and Dillan either didn't notice or knew not to push it. There was comfort in that. There was comfort in knowing that he wouldn't push me to tell too much before I was ready.

It wasn't until one o'clock in the morning that I finally decided it would be good to leave. As cozy as it was to be curled up on the couch with Dillan, I knew it was too soon to spend the night and I had to watch Sophie the next day anyway.

Dillan didn't seem too bothered that I had to leave. He rose from the couch with me and walked me to the door. “We should have that fourth date,” he said as he helped me into my cloak.

I smiled. “I was hoping you would say that.”

“Next weekend?” he suggested. “If you're not on call.”

“How about sometime during the week?” I replied, realizing as I said it that I didn't want to wait until the following weekend to see him.

Dillan could not even conceal his grin. “How about Wednesday? Say, around seven? I'll make reservations.”

“Sounds good to me,” I said.

“Great,” Dillan said.

I buckled my cloak and Dillan pulled me close to him, wrapping his arms around me. This time I knew what was coming. I expected Dillan's soft lips to push against mine and I pushed back. It was a deeper, longer kiss than last time, and I was flushed and my heart was pounding when it ended. I smiled once more at Dillan and opened the door. He followed and we kissed once more on the porch. We pulled apart at the same time and I walked a few feet away to Apparate. Dillan was still standing on the porch when I disappeared with a crack.




A/N: First, the beautiful banner was made by the_tofuubeaver at TDA! Second, I am very sorry for the fact that I have gone five months without updating. Believe me, I really did not want to, but I've started grad school and it is a lot of work. I definitely will not ever be able to go back to once weekly updates, unfortunately, but I'm going to try to update this monthly. Third, I have five or so chapters of the fourth Albus story written and a tentative title of Albus Potter and the Keeper of the Hallows so that will hopefully be up within the week! Fourth, if anyone wants to talk about my stories or my writing in general, please do so using my Meet the Author page, as linked on my Author Page. My blog on the forums is another way to keep in touch with me. And lastly, if anyone noticed that the chapter is formated slightly differently, it's because I'm using a new browser that does not like the advanced editor and now I have to code the HTML myself. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and thanks so much for all the lovely reviews!

Chapter 16: To Find a Cure
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My weekday date with Dillan seemed to be like a stopper in a dam. Once we said goodnight, the dam was unplugged and we started seeing each other at least every other day. On days I finished work at a decent hour we would have dinner. Either at his place or a restaurant; we never went to my place. On days I could not get away before nine or ten, we would meet for lunch. I wasn't sure how on call weekends would go, but I didn't have another scheduled until February.

The late January full moon passed and once the usual after full moon rush at work died down, I was able to focus on the support groups. The first were scheduled for a week after the full moon, giving enough time for those not on Wolfsbane to recover. Two of the four sessions were scheduled for the first night- for children with lycanthropy and for siblings of children with lycanthropy. The parents would meet the same night the following week, giving them the opportunity to attend with their children in the first meeting. The group for people with lycanthropy would be the following night.

By some stroke of luck I was able to finish work early which left me time to meet Matt at my study before the groups began. He was quite eager to go over what he had planned, making me even more sure that involving him was a good idea.

“I thought I'd just have the kids get to know each other tonight,” Matt began after we'd settled in my study with a few cups of tea. “They won't know each other and I don't think that will help them to open up. So I don't think we'll talk much about lycanthropy tonight.”

“That's a good idea,” I said. “I'm doing the same for the siblings.”

“I'm bringing a few sets of Gobstones and decks of Exploding Snap,” Matt continued. “I figure they'll be more comfortable getting to know each other in pairs or even smaller groups. And I definitely don't think it'll help if I'm just talking to them the whole time. I'm going to have to earn their trust.”

I smiled. This was exactly why he was perfect for this group of kids. And it was why I was the best choice for the siblings group. “What about the parents?”

“I'm leaving it up to them,” Matt said. “If their kids want them to be involved they can, but I'm not forcing them. I think they're basically going tonight to make sure this isn't going to be bad for their kids. Can you imagine Mum and Dad letting me go to something like this when I was younger?”

I laughed. “Good point.”

“One other thing I thought of, though. Do you know the ages of the kids?” Matt asked.

“Yeah.” I nodded. I had asked anyone interested to let me know if they were attending, just to get a rough estimate of numbers. “Most are between 10 and 15. Although I do believe an eight year old signed up.”

“Okay. If we ever do get a huge age difference, I think it would be best to split the group up.”

I had had similar thoughts about the siblings group, but luckily they were around the same age group. “Makes sense.”

“Sophie's not going?” Matt asked.

“No. Victoire isn't sure if she's old enough. She's only five. Maybe in a few years or so,” I explained. “One more thing, Matt, have you decided whether you're going to tell the kids you're a werewolf?”

“I think I will,” Matt said. “I think it's the best way to gain their trust. And if they somehow found out later, I don't think they'd be happy I kept it from them. Are you going to tell the siblings about me?”

“That's up to you.”

“I think you should,” Matt said quietly. “They'll trust you then.”

Matt and I ordered Chinese takeaway for dinner and ate it quickly before heading to the fourth floor of the hospital to prepare the conference rooms. By some stroke of luck we'd actually acquired two conference rooms next to each other. I wished Matt good luck as he entered the room on the left and I headed into the one on the right.

The room did not look very inviting for pre-teens and teenagers and why should it? It was meant for Healers, nurses, and other hospital personnel to discuss patients. There was a large wooden table in the center, surrounded by black office chairs, with a large chalkboard along one wall. There was a poster of a human brain along the opposite wall. I walked across the room and pulled up the blinds, which didn't do much. It was dark, save for the lights of London. Better than nothing, I thought.

I set down a few packs of Exploding Snap, a chess set, and a box of Chocolate frogs onto the table. I wished I knew how to make a decent batch of cookies. They'd at least make the room smell inviting. I also wished it wasn't against the rules to transfigure hospital property. Farina had instituted that rule after a gutsy intern had transfigured all the desk chairs in the hospital into bean bag chairs. I was surprised he hadn't been fired. But I suppose since the rule hadn't been in effect when he'd done it, Farina hadn't the grounds to fire him.

But bean bag chairs or comfy armchairs like the ones in Gryffindor Tower would have been so much better for this sort of thing. Maybe I could talk to Farina about it. Oh, well, I thought as I propped the door open and sat down at the table to wait.

I didn't have to wait long. Two minutes later I noticed two kids hovering in the doorway, clearly not wanting to be the first inside. I smiled. It was so much like it had been at Hogwarts. Rising from my chair, I strode over to the door to encourage the kids inside.

It was clear that the two were siblings. Both were tall and lanky, with stick straight brown hair, about the color of the table in the room. The boy was slightly taller, his face plagued with acne. The girl wore glasses. Judging from the girl's Ravenclaw sweatshirt they were in Hogwarts.

“Hello,” I greeted them. “Are you here for the Siblings of Lycanthropes meeting?”

The boy nodded. Both looked slightly startled. “You're in the right place,” I said and gestured to the room. “Come on inside.”

The boy lead the way into the room and the girl followed. They sat down next to each other at the table, neither saying a word. Soon, the room filled with a few more kids. There were only six all together. The meeting was scheduled to begin at seven, so I waited an extra five minutes in case anyone had gotten lost.

“Welcome,” I began. I had decided to remain seated while I spoke so as to seem less like a professor. “Before we get started I thought we could just go around and introduce ourselves. Why doesn't everyone tell us your name, your age, your Hogwarts house if you're in Hogwarts, and something interesting about yourselves. I'll start.

“My name is Amy Eckerton. Feel free to call me Amy, although I'm not going to tell you my age. When I was at Hogwarts I was in Gryffindor and as for something interesting, I was born in Australia and lived there until I was fourteen.”

The kids all looked slightly impressed or surprised by that. I gestured to the boy to my left to start.

“I'm Tyler Pickins,” he began. He had jet black hair and looked quite muscular, like he played Quidditch. “I'm a fifth year Slytherin.” Tyler paused, trying to think up something interesting. “I like playing Quidditch on the school brooms. It's even more satisfying to beat Gryffindor when I'm on a crappy broom.”

The tall brown haired boy who had been the first one there rolled his eyes. Everyone said hi to Tyler and then the girl next to him began.

“Izzy Alfman,” she said. She was a tiny girl, with red hair and freckles all across her face. “I'm not in Hogwarts yet, but I want to be in Hufflepuff. I'm ten. Two years ago I accidentally turned my cat pink and no one can figure out how to turn him back.”

I laughed and welcomed Izzy to the group. I was fairly certain she was the youngest there.

“Scarlett Sloan,” the brown haired girl in the Ravenclaw sweatshirt said. “First year Ravenclaw. And I don't like chocolate.”

There was an audible gasp from Izzy. “She's crazy,” Scarlett's brother said. “Vincent Sloan. Just call me Vinny. Second year Ravenclaw. And unlike my weird sister, I adore chocolate. I ate an entire chocolate cake on a dare last year. The house elves were placing bets.”

Izzy looked impressed. I turned to the girl seated next to Vinny. She was slouching, with a scowl on her face.

“Kate Young,” she muttered. “Fourth year Gryffindor, and if I wasn't here I'd be in detention for setting fire to the Headmaster's study.”

“That was you?” Vinny exclaimed.

I gaped at her and then recovered quickly, hoping she hadn't noticed. Set fire to the headmaster's study? It seemed like that would warrant more than a mere detention. More like a year of detentions. But it didn't seem like Kate was saying much more on the topic.

The remaining girl was clearly the oldest one there. She hadn't reacted much to anything anyone else had said. Her black hair was thrown up into a messy ponytail and she looked almost sad.

“I'm Liane West,” she said. “Seventh year Hufflepuff. And the most interesting thing about me is that I'm going to find the cure for lycanthropy.”

There was silence for only a few moments and then everyone else in the room started talking at once.

“That's impossible!” Scarlett exclaimed.

“It's been attempted,” Tyler put in, “they say it'll never happen.”

“Wolfsbane's the closest we're going to get,” Izzy replied as she twirled her hair around her finger.

“Wolfsbane is not a cure,” Liane muttered. “And I can do it. I'm already researching.”

“You're still in Hogwarts,” Tyler said. “How the heck do you find the time?”

“I make the time. Instead of goofing off on a broom I research in the library,” Liane said defensively.

“Then why aren't you in Ravenclaw?” Scarlett asked.

“Because not all smart people are in Ravenclaw,” Liane said.

“That's enough,” I said, and surprisingly, they quieted down. “We're not here to comment on whose dreams are achievable and whose are not. We're here to support one another. We're here because we all have one thing in common. We all have a brother or sister with lycanthropy.”

“Except you,” Kate muttered as she picked at the black nail polish on her nails. “You're just some St. Mungo's witch who got picked to run this stupid group.”

Tyler glanced at Kate and then back at me, wearing an expression that clearly read 'she's got a point.' I sighed, very relieved that I had talked to Matt about this prior to the meeting.

“That's where you're wrong, Kate,” I began. “When I said we all have a brother or sister with lycanthropy, I meant all of us. Including me.”

“Wait seriously?” Tyler asked, his eyes growing wide. “Is that why they picked you to lead this?”

“No, it's why I decided to form this group. And the one for people with lycanthropy, and the group for parents,” I explained. “My younger brother has had lycanthropy since he was five years old.”

“How old is he now?” Scarlett asked.

“Twenty-three,” I answered.

“Wow, that's eighteen years,” Scarlett said quietly. “Our younger sister has only had it for two.”

“I brought a few packs of Exploding Snap and a chess set, if any of you are interested in playing,” I suggested after a few moments of silence.

Everyone looked surprised. Scarlett turned to her brother and raised her eyebrows. Tyler grinned and Izzy smiled. Kate did not react and Liane looked pensive.

“What, did you think this wasn't going to be fun?” I asked.

“I thought it was going to be more like therapy, to be honest,” Izzy said.

“It can't be. I'm not a therapist,” I replied.

“Then what do you do here?” Tyler asked.

“She's a Healer,” Izzy replied. “She's my little brother's Healer, actually.”

“I am,” I confirmed. “I work on the Creature-Induced Injury ward and see regular patients with lycanthropy. I'm also a Brewer.”

“Do you brew Wolfsbane?” Izzy asked.

“Yes, I do,” I answered.

Izzy looked slightly in awe, which unnerved me a little. I didn't want them to idolize me. It only lasted a few moments, though, because then they decided to play games. Tyler took on Vinny in chess while Izzy and Scarlett played Exploding Snap. Kate remained stationary while Liane rose from her seat and sat down in the one next to me.

“I am going to do it, you know,” Liane said quietly. “The others just don't want to get their hopes up but I can get my own up because I know I'll do it.”

I turned to look at her. Her dark eyes were filled with determination and not a hint of happiness at all. She looked far older than her seventeen or eighteen years, and for some odd reason I believed her. I knew I was looking at the face of the person who would one day cure lycanthropy. I had been a Healer long enough to know just by looking at a person whether they would make it in the field and she was one who would go far. I couldn't help but smile at her determination.

“I have two brothers,” Liane went on. “One is twenty-five and the other would be twenty-three.” My smile faded at the words 'would be'. “I was born on a full moon. Two weeks early, actually. The nurses said it was the moon that caused me to be early. A lot of nurses and Healers think it affects even those who aren't lycanthropic. My mum and dad rushed here, of course, leaving Shane and Tucker home with my grandparents. But then they fell asleep, and Shane and Tucker went outside. Shane was eight and Tucker was six.

“We live out in the country and there's an old horse barn on the property. Shane dared Tucker to run to the barn and back again. It was really far away, too far for a six year old to go to alone, especially at night. Tucker ran as fast as he could, but he never came back. Shane heard his screams and ran after him, only to find him being attacked by a werewolf. The werewolf saw Shane and abandoned Tucker. Shane ran straight for the house and was caught only a few meters away, where my grandparents were already awake and running after the boys. My grandpa was able to hold the werewolf off while my grandma contacted the Ministry. But it was too late. Tucker died of blood loss and Shane became a lycanthrope.”

I was stunned. First, at the fact that Liane had told me that, after knowing me for a half hour. Second at the story period. It was tragic on so many levels. Having not only one, but two brothers attacked by a werewolf and having one die, all before she was even born.

“You know that happy family?” Liane asked. “The one in Muggle television commercials where they all play a game or eat dinner together?”

I nodded. I did know that family. I had been a part of that happy, everything's perfect, family for the first few years of my life.

“My family was never like that. I wonder what it would be like sometimes. Normal for me was Mum not being able to get out of bed some days, because she missed an older brother whom I had never known. Normal for me was Dad giving excuses like 'Mum was ill' because he didn't want me to know that she would rather live in the past than live in the present. Normal for me was seeing pictures of Shane and Tucker on the mantle, but not one of me, until I put one there myself when I was five.”

It would have been enough to make anyone cry, listening to Liane. But I managed to hold myself together, knowing that I would not have been able to if I did not see sadness on a daily basis.

“I love Shane and I love my parents, but I know things would have been different if Tucker hadn't died,” Liane continued. “I wish I had known him, but I never did. I got over blaming myself, and I did blame myself, a long time ago because I knew it wouldn't help anything. There's nothing that can bring Tucker back, but I could make life better for Shane. Wolfsbane is great and all, but he's still tired for a few days every month and he never got to go to Hogwarts. My parents probably could have gotten him in if they had tried, but they didn't. It's like all their energy died with Tucker.

“I guess that's what I wanted to talk to you about, before I spilled my guts. Sorry about that.” She gave a short laugh.

“Don't apologize,” I said, as I gave her hand a squeeze. “That's what this group is for.”

Liane smiled a little. “I was wondering if you could tell me a little bit about Healing and Brewing since I obviously need to become both a Healer and a Brewer if I want to find a cure.”

“Well, it's a long road,” I began. “You can start your training right out of Hogwarts, and you'll spend about three years in classes and observing. Then about two years as an intern, basically doing whatever your resident and attending Healer want you to, but learning along the way. Then you're a resident for three years, the first two years doing general residency and the final year concentrating solely in your specialty.”

“That would be what you do, right? Creature-Induced Injury?”

“Yes,” I told her. “It would be best for working towards finding a cure. You can either do your Brewing training alongside the Healer training or do it after. I did them together, which made the process a lot more work and I spent an extra year in classes and observing.”

“That's fine. I can do the work,” Liane said. “I won't sleep if I don't have to.”

I laughed. “It's helpful to get at least six hours every two days or so.”

Liane and I chatted for the remainder of the meeting. Everyone else seemed content to play games and Liane had so much to talk about. At eight, I had to wrap up the meeting and once Izzy's mum had picked her up, I walked with the Hogwarts students to the Floo so they could return to school.

All except Kate said goodbye and that they were excited about the next meeting, which would be in two weeks. Liane was the last to Floo and even after the flames turned from green back to orange, I continued to stare at them. There was something about Liane that seemed so familiar to me. It wasn't until I was walking back upstairs to my study that I realized that she reminded me of myself.


A/N: Thanks to everyone who has read and reviewed! You guys are awesome!

Chapter 17: Good News and Bad News
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Matt was already waiting for me in my study when I returned from seeing the Hogwarts students back to school. He looked up from the leftover Chinese he was eating as I walked in.

“How did it go?” I asked immediately as I took one of the chairs in front of my desk. It was slightly odd to look at my desk from that perspective.

“Great,” Matt replied as he set the Chinese on my desk. “Five kids, which is more than I was expecting. Funny thing was none of them said a thing about lycanthropy. They just played games. The parents talked in the back and they only talked about lycanthropy. I think that parent group will be a huge success.”

“Did you tell them you have lycanthropy?” I asked.

Matt nodded. “They were really surprised. They wanted to know if I'd gone to Hogwarts and whether I was on Wolfsbane and whether I had a job.”

“Do any of them go to Hogwarts?” I asked.

“Two of them do. They're in the same house, actually, and were both really surprised to see each other there. They go home on full moons and are on Wolfsbane. How was your group?”

“Good. All but one of them are at Hogwarts. They're all so different, too. It'll be interesting to see how they interact as time goes on,” I said thinking of hyper Izzy and solemn Liane. And then Kate. The boys seemed pretty laid back. “I'd say it was a success.”

“Me, too,” Matt agreed. “We'll see how it goes next week.”

Matt and I gathered our cloaks and I locked my study. We headed down to the floo room and back to our flats. I had a mere ten hours to myself before I had to be back at St. Mungo's the following morning.

The ten hours went by far faster than I would have liked and soon I was unlocking my study and collecting the letters that had been dropped off in my inbox at some point during the night. As usual the junk went into the fire, which left a couple actual letters to answer. My first appointment was not for another hour, so I actually got to open the letters right away.

The first two were from people inquiring about my research and got set aside to answer later when I had time to go through my notes and formulate proper responses. The last puzzled me because it had the Hogwarts crest stamped on the front. I had not received a letter from Hogwarts in years.

Dear Amy,

I hope you have been well. I am
most intrigued by your research and
the work you are doing through the
Lycanthropic Children's Association.
I do hope your first support group
went well last night.

I would like to request a meeting
about a particular student who attended.
Kate Young. I am not sure if she
told you, but she attended last night
in place of a detention and I feel
it is only right for you to know a
little bit about her. Let me know
a convenient time for you.

Sincerely,

Professor Fabius Kendrick
Headmaster
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry


Interesting, I thought as I pulled out a piece of parchment to compose a reply. Well, if Kendrick believed a meeting would help Kate, I would agree to it. After consulting my appointment log I decided the following morning would be a decent time and finished up the reply. I sealed it in an envelope and set it aside to give to Natalie to mail off.

Kate Young. The name did not sound familiar. Perhaps her brother or sister was one of Morris's patients. Most of the kids from my group had siblings who were my patients. Izzy's eight-year-old brother, Danny. Scarlett and Vinny's older sister, Rebecca. I knew for a fact Liane's brother was one of Morris's patients because he was participating in my study. But Kate's sibling was a mystery to me.

I did not have the time to ponder it that morning. I dropped the letter off with Natalie and then set off for a full morning of seeing patients. I didn't have time to breathe until one in the afternoon, when I managed to sneak away to the basement in order to get some brewing done.

It was not exactly relaxing brewing, however, because that afternoon happened to be one where I had an apprentice Brewer to look after. And today that apprentice happened to be Kaden Dursley. Kaden only has a year left until he is fully certified and he truly is a great Brewer, but he's a little over-enthusiastic. He's not one of those apprentices who will concentrate quietly on what they are doing and ask for help when needed. Instead he constantly talks to me and is always running random ideas past me. The thing is, he doesn't need to concentrate quietly to brew an excellent potion. He's that good.

I assigned Kaden to brewing pepper-up potion that day because the hospital was nearly out of it and it was something I knew he wouldn't need any help on so that I could concentrate on the Wolfsbane. The new Wolfsbane, that is. The regular kind was currently going through a two-day simmer and after that I would observe while Kaden brewed it himself. He'd done it before and done it successfully but it was a finicky potion that could have disastrous results of brewed wrong.

“What if you only let it simmer for one day instead of two after adding the first bit of Wolfsbane?” Kaden asked as he stirred the pepper-up potion.

“Believe me, Kaden, I've tried that,” I said as I stirred my own potion. “It renders the entire thing useless. The reaction between the constant heat and the fresh Wolfsbane for two days is necessary. I have a feeling there's something obvious that I'm missing and when I catch on it's going to be an easy fix.”

I pondered that thought for the remainder of the afternoon. If it was something simple then why had I missed it? Maybe I was wrong. Maybe it wasn't such a simple fix. That afternoon didn't provide the answers I was looking for and soon I was locking up the room and helping Kaden take the pepper-up potion to the hospital's apothecary.

Dillan met me outside the hospital at six. I was only fifteen minutes late which must have been some sort of record for getting out of work. He was wearing an unusually large grin on his face and holding up a set of gleaming silver keys in his left hand.

“Guess what?” he said after giving me a quick kiss.

“What?” I replied.

“Got my premises,” Dillan answered. “95 Diagon Alley. Right next to Weasley's Wizard Wheezes.”

“Seriously? You didn't even tell me you were looking!” I exclaimed.

“Wanted to surprise you. I've been looking since shortly after I met you and I just got approved for a loan at Gringott's today. Went and bought the property right after. I've had my eye on it for a few weeks now.”

“Dillan, that's great!”

“Want to see it?” he asked.

“Of course,” I said. We turned and went back into the hospital and into the Apparition room. With a loud crack we disappeared to Diagon Alley.

We reappeared in front of George's shop and turned toward the building to the right of it. It was kind of run down looking, with dusty windows and a door that creaked when Dillan opened it. Inside it didn't look much better, with a few rickety tables and chairs and some dusty bottles on a shelf behind the counter.

“It was cafe up until a few months ago. The owner died and none of her family wanted to take it over. Everything's really outdated so I have to redo the whole place. I'm meeting with a few contractors tomorrow. Hoping to have it up and running within two months.”

I gazed around at the dark room. The place looked terrible. The tables and chairs were mismatched and looked like they hadn't been cleaned since Death Eaters still roamed the streets. The walls were covered with various posters including one of the Ballycastle Bats team of 1956 and one of the Weird Sisters, back before their hair had turned grey and their brains became so addled with “experimental potions” that they could no longer sing. I wondered for a few seconds whether those “experimental potions” were in the mysterious bottles on the shelf behind the counter. Dillan was right. The place needed work.

“It's wonderful!” I said, since he seemed so excited about it. I was sure I'd be able to truthfully call it wonderful after he'd renovated it.

“I know it looks awful now,” Dillan went on, “but it's the best place I've seen. The location is ideal, the size is what I was looking for, and the price was so low that I still have plenty leftover for renovations. Apparently the old lady's family hated this place and just wanted to get rid of it so they sold it for hardly anything.”

“It'll look great in a few months,” I assured him and put my arm around him. “And I can't wait to eat here. Are you decorating it in a specific theme?”

“Actually, the Ballycastle Bats poster gave me an idea. I was thinking of decorating it as a shrine to Quidditch throughout the twentieth century. Posters of various teams in various years. Framed articles from the Prophet if I can get them. I'll have a pub section and then a table section. It'll just be a laid back place to eat.”

“I know a few people who would love to eat at a Quidditch themed restaurant,” I said, thinking of my brother, his friends, and the entire Weasley clan. “You should have little radios at every table so people can listen to matches while eating.”

“Great idea,” Dillan agreed. “Radios. I'll add it to the list. Well, since this is not a restaurant yet, what say we go to the Leaky Cauldron and get some dinner?”

“Sounds good to me,” I said as we left his premises.

I couldn't help but smile as Dillan locked up. The place was a dump and was the dirtiest restaurant I'd ever seen in my life, but it was his. It was Dillan's restaurant. And to be honest, it was nice to have a boyfriend who was nearly as obsessed as me when it came to work.

******


I have only been back at Hogwarts a few times since graduating. The first was for the 20th anniversary of the Final Battle. The second was years later, for Matt's graduation. Since then I've been back a few times, usually for anniversaries of the Final Battle. The last time I went was for a Career Day for fifth years. That was something Kendrick created when Matt was in fifth year and it was a very good idea.

It was always strange to be back at Hogwarts since graduation did not feel like that long ago. The kids looked so young and yet I did not think I looked that young when I was at Hogwarts. I no longer blended in with the students. Instead they gave me odd looks as I made my way up to Kendrick's study. Although, to be honest, they were probably eyeing my lime green Healer robes instead of the fact that I was 30 and wandering the corridors of Hogwarts. I hadn't had time to change before going to the meeting.

Kendrick had given me the password to his study so I muttered it and the stone gargoyle stepped aside so I could ascend to the circular room. Kendrick was sitting at his desk scribbling something and looked up when I entered.

“Amy,” he greeted me as he rose from his seat. “Have a seat.”

I nodded and sat in front of his desk. I couldn't help but think back to my first time in his study, when I was 14 and my family was considering moving to England. It seemed like so long ago and so much had changed.

We exchanged pleasantries for a few minutes and then Kendrick pulled a very large file from a bookcase behind him. “Kate Young's file. Filled with disciplinary forms.”

“Wow,” I said. The file had to be at least two inches thick.

“No Hogwarts student has ever had a file this thick, with the exception of Fred and George Weasley as well as James Potter and Sirius Black, but their files did not reach this level until they left or graduated. Kate is only a fourth year.”

“So she must-”

“Get in trouble nearly every day?” Kendrick asked. “Yes, she does. Most recently, she set fire to my study. It wasn't a bad fire since it was caught early enough, but that's far more than a bit of innocent mischief.”

“She's trying to get attention, isn't she,” I said more as a statement than a question.

“My thoughts exactly. I cannot tell you much about her home life due to privacy, but I think you should be aware that things are not good. She stays at Hogwarts during all breaks except the summer yet she does not seem to have a group of friends.”

No wonder she was acting out, I thought. She clearly didn't think she was wanted in her own home and that was a terrible feeling.

“The professors try to help her, but they can't do much when she refuses to acknowledge them and frankly, they're fed up with her acting out in class. We punish her when she breaks the rules, but it's not dissuading her from breaking them again.

“That's why I told her she had to attend your meetings else face detention every Saturday for the remainder of the year. To be honest, that gives me hope. She clearly does not want the detention, or else she would not have agreed to attend your meeting.”

“She didn't seem to want to be there. But hopefully she will begin to feel more comfortable.”

“That's what I'm hoping,” Kendrick agreed. “I was also wondering if you could take a sort of, special interest, in her. I know you're extremely busy and I wouldn't ask except I feel that you're exactly what she needs. I can't help but see you, at age 14 when you first moved here, in Kate.”

“I never once set fire to your study, Professor,” I replied, grinning slightly.

Kendrick smiled. “And I am very grateful. You expressed your unhappiness in other ways. And you benefited greatly from the therapy you received that year.”

“I'm not a therapist, Professor,” I said. “And I don't pretend to be.”

“I don't expect you to be one. All I want is for Kate to have someone she trusts around. Perhaps she will open up to you, and you will be able to show her that there is hope. Things change. Our childhood experiences greatly affect what we make of ourselves as adults. She's going to be in her O.W.L. year next year. I would hate for her to fail because she's feeling miserable about whatever is happening at home.”

I hated saying no. I really did. I wanted to help Kate as much as Kendirck did, but what more could I honestly take onto my plate? I already had work, Dillan, Kenzie's wedding, Victoire's pregnancy, the support groups; the list went on.

“I don't expect you to give her separate sessions,” Kendrick continued. “Just make a special effort to include her in the group's activities and perhaps pull her aside and ask her a question unrelated to school or her family. Quidditch perhaps. Try and find out what she's passionate about and talk to her about that.”

I could do that, I thought. As long as it didn't require anymore time from me. “Yes, I'll do that. That's not a big deal. Is there anything I should know about the others? Any of the rest set fire to your study?”

Kendrick chuckled. “No. The rest are relatively well-adjusted, considering the circumstances. Except perhaps Liane, but then again, her determination might be just what this world needs...” his voice trailed off.

“I talked to Liane. She told me about her brothers and her plan to cure lycanthropy. She's the one who reminds me of me at that age.”

“At that age, yes, but when you started at Hogwarts, you were far more like Kate,” Kendrick said. “But Liane, she's going to graduate top of her class and whether she'll cure lycanthropy, well, that remains to be seen.”

“She has the determination for it, that's for sure,” I replied. I glanced at the clock. “I should probably get going, if that's all. I have appointments soon.”

“Don't let me keep you waiting,” Kendrick said as he rose from his chair. “Do me a favor and send me an owl every so often about Kate's behavior in the support group. With any luck this will help her.”

I nodded and shook Kendrick's hand before leaving his study. I couldn't help but feel that he was putting far too much faith in me. I was no psychologist. How was I supposed to figure out why Kate was acting out and how to help her? And what if she didn't even want to be helped?

******


St. Mungo's was by no means ever quiet at night, but it was quieter at night than it was during the day. This was especially true during the mid-point between two full moons on my floor. At that point in the month we rarely had any werewolf cases in the ward and were left only to deal with those injuries from other creatures.

For this reason I often saved my letters to respond to at night, after I was done brewing for the day. It was far easier to respond when there were less distractions. Morris had left for the night, so my section of the hospital was about as quiet as a hospital could get.

I had a whole stack of research related letters to respond to that had been piling up for ages. They were relatively easy considering the fact that they all asked me various forms of the same questions. A few went into the fire since they were from news reporters I did not like or potions magazines that were not very reputable. Still others had to be forwarded to Rose since they dealt with the psychological aspect of the research.

The remaining letter was from Kenzie, updating me on all things wedding related. The other bridesmaids had been picked. The maid of honor was going to be her sister, Morgan. Kenzie and Morgan got on terribly as children but once they grew up they reconciled and are now close. Kenzie's other sisters, Mari and Maddie, were also going to be bridesmaids, as well as Kenzie's best friend from university. The dresses had also been picked and thankfully the bridesmaid's dress was neither pink nor hideous. It was light purple, which was not my favorite color, but I could live with it.

I could tell by the tone of the letter that Kenzie was thrilled. The excitement seemed to radiate off the page, which sounds kind of cliched, but was true. Morgan's four-year-old was going to be the flower girl, something Kenzie was ecstatic about. I couldn't help but smile as I read the letter. The wedding was now only six months away and according to Kenzie, there was still a lot to be done.

I took out a sheet of parchment and a fresh pot of ink and prepared to write a lengthy response. It was difficult being so far away from one of my best friends as she planned her wedding. I didn't get to go dress shopping with her and I doubted I'd even see her before the actual wedding, but we had to make do.

As I was dipping the pen into the ink pot, I heard frantic footsteps in the hall. Curious, I set down the quill and made to get up, but before I could, Dad appeared in my doorway, looking frazzled.

“Dad?” I asked, suddenly worried. “Is everything ok?”

He looked upset and was wearing Muggle clothes, which was odd since he would normally still be at the Ministry at this time of evening. “No,” he whispered. “I've just come from the Muggle hospital. It's Cinda. She's, she's had a stroke. It doesn't look good, Amy. Your mother's there with her now. You've got to come now.”

I upended the ink pot in my haste to get up. I swallowed hard and felt tears pricking at my ears. Dad never looked this worried unless there was a reason to be. When Dad was worried, I knew it was time to worry. I hastily shed my Healer robes, donned my Muggle jacket, and hurried to follow Dad out of the room.


A/N: Sorry the update is a few days late! Thanks to everyone who has read and reviewed this!

Chapter 18: Hampton Memorial
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Disclaimer- I don't own Harry Potter.


Cinda had been taken to the hospital closest to her nursing home. I followed Dad down to the Apparition room of St. Mungo's, where we disappeared with a crack. Mere seconds later we were in a deserted field, with only a few rabbits scurrying far away from us, afraid of the loud noise.

“It's about a half mile from here,” Dad said as he started walking towards the closest road. “Can't get any closer with Apparition.”

I just nodded. I was sort of grateful for the walk. Muggle hospitals were just like magical ones with their craziness, rendering them a useless place to get any thinking done.

Cinda was not young. We all knew that. She was well into her 90s, which was very old for a Muggle. Richard had passed years ago and his death had been a shock since he had died suddenly of a heart attack, yet he had not ben young either. But Cinda had seemed to be doing well, considering her age.

A stroke. None of us had seen that coming. She was Cinda. My opinionated, gossipy grandmother. During most of her life she hadn't so much as had the flu. Nothing medical related ever fazed her. The only signs of her getting old were hearing loss and osteoporosis, the latter rendering her wheelchair bound. Part of me often wondered if she had a little bit of magical blood in her and that she might have a longer than normal life for a Muggle.

But strokes weren't a death sentence. Even in the Muggle world. Medical science had come a long way and as long as the stroke was caught soon enough, people could recover. So perhaps this was just a setback.

I spent the rest of the walk convincing myself that Cinda would recover from the stroke and soon we were at the hospital. Hampton Memorial. It was huge. Far larger than St. Mungo's. Dad seemed to know which door to enter, so I followed. He headed straight for a bank of lifts and then punched the number four once we were inside.

We shared the lift with two doctors who reminded me very much of Healers. They looked hurried and were both consulting charts and rushed off when the left stopped at the third floor.

The fourth floor was as busy as I expected, with nurses in scrubs rushing from one room to the next and doctors in white lab coats consulting charts and following nurses into patient rooms. A sign on the wall indicated that it was the Intensive Care Unit. Dad headed straight for the room at the end of the hall, where both Mum and Matt were pacing in front of the empty bed.

Dad immediately enveloped Mum, who broke down crying, in a hug as soon as we walked in. They then left the room, leaving me with Matt and no explanation about anything that had happened. Matt looked disheveled and upset, which did not help my insistence that Cinda would recover. Clearly he knew more than I did.

“What happened?” I asked. “Where's Cinda?”

“They took her away for a CT,” Matt answered. “She had a stroke a few hours ago. An aid found her in her room when she went in to give her her medication. She had already been down for a half hour.”

I swallowed hard. That was not a good sign. Even in the wizarding world people had to be found straight away to have the best chance of recovery.

“She's stable, but she's still unconscious,” Matt said quietly. “They're not sure whether she'll come through.”

“How long have you been here?” I asked, collapsing into the nearest chair.

“Since shortly after they brought her here. They contacted Mum and then she Flooed Dad at the Ministry. I was there, too, so we came straightaway. Dad went to find you as soon as we knew what was going on. We've only seen her for about ten minutes. She's been gone for tests.”

“How's Mum?”

Matt sat down in the chair beside me. “Not good. She's a mess. Remember how she was after Richard died? That's how she is now.”

I bit my lip, trying not to let the tears that had formed fall. Usually my mum keeps it together pretty well. The only times I've seen her truly lose it with grief were when Matt was bitten, when he in the hospital after being forced to transform with adult werewolves, and when Richard died. All three times she was inconsolable.

The room fell to silence. I could hear the hustle and bustle of the corridor beyond, but the room itself was quiet, the only noise being the clock on the wall. There was not much to say and Matt seemed to feel the same way.

We sat in silence for a half hour. Mum and Dad had not returned. Not a single doctor or nurse entered the room. Cinda was still getting tests. The television was off and neither of us made a move to turn it on.

It felt slightly strange to wait in a hospital with Matt. Looking back, I had spent a lot of time in hospitals over the years not even including work. When I was a kid we spent a lot of time waiting in hospitals for Matt. I never had anyone to wait with in those days. Mum and Dad would be off talking with Healers or whispering amongst themselves, their body language telling me that I needed to make myself scarce. When Matt was seven and had transformed with adult werewolves I had learned my way around St. Mungo's. At the age of fourteen I had known the place better than the average new intern. In fact when I was an intern, I already was ahead of most interns because I knew my way around. I saw twice as many patients and procedures as the rest solely because I never got lost.

But this, this was different. Mum and Dad were off by themselves, but now Matt was waiting alongside me, rather than asleep in the bed. With the exception of him none of my family had ever been in the hospital (except when Mum had Matt and I, of course). Richard's heart attack killed him before the ambulance made it to the hospital and Cinda had never been in the hospital before this.

“So is this what it was like for you when I'm in St. Mungo's?” Matt asked.

“Pretty much,” I said. “Not so much now because I work there and Morris always keeps me up to date. There isn't much of this waiting around not knowing what's going on anymore.”

“But when I was little?”

“I knew my way around St. Mungo's well before I started as an intern there,” I replied. “And I was well-acquainted with the tea room staff.”

“Speaking of the tea room, I could go for some tea,” Matt said as he stood up. “Want to come?”

I nodded and stood up to follow him. We asked at the nurse's station where tea room was and then headed for the lifts.

The tea room was rather empty, which did not surprise me because it was nearly nine o'clock. A few nurses sat around one of the tables in the back and a couple tables had one occupant, each staring at a cup of cold tea. Matt went up to the counter and ordered two cups of tea while I found a table far away from the laughing nurses. I was not in the mood for laughter.

“It's weird,” Matt said as he returned with the tea. “I never really felt close to Cinda when we were little, but she's always been there. If she does die, it'll be strange. And I'll miss her.”

“Yeah,” I agreed. “We only saw her once a year at most after we moved, until Richard died and she moved here.”

“I don't even remember much about her when we were little,” Matt said. “I hated going to visit her and Richard for Christmas, though. It was always so boring.”

I giggled a little and took a sip of my tea. “Trust me, that was better than the parties she used to make us go to. You probably don't remember a lot of them since we pretty much stopped going to them once,” I glanced around, “well, once you got sick. There was like one every month before that. And each involved me putting on a frilly dress. I was so happy when I didn't have to go to them anymore when I went away to school.”

“I don't remember very many of those. I remember that New Year's one right before we moved. And the going away one.”

“That New Year's one was a disaster.” I groaned.

“Yeah, it pretty much was,” Matt agreed.

I took another sip of tea. It wasn't very good tea, but it was something to do. “I'd go to a party every day if it meant Cinda would pull through.”

“Me, too,” Matt said quietly.

We sat drinking our tea for a few more minutes. The group of nurses left and another forlorn looking woman entered, ordered a coffee, and sat down at an empty table. Another man left. I heard footsteps behind me and looked over to see Dad enter the room. Our eyes met and he walked over to our table.

“Thought I'd find you here,” he said as he sat down. “Cinda's back. Her doctors just spoke with us.”

Matt and I exchanged glances. I felt my heart start to beat faster.

“It doesn't look good,” Dad said quietly. He began to fiddle with Matt's empty tea cup. “There's a little brain activity, enough for her not to be considered brain dead. She's stable for now, but the next 24 hours will be crucial. That's what the doctors said.”

I knew what that line meant. I'd used it multiple times. It meant that there was a good chance the person might die within 24 hours but if they didn't they had a good chance of surviving.

If I was 14, this was the time when I would have ran out the door to find an empty supply closet to hide in. But I was no longer 14 and knew that hiding amongst medical supplies didn't help anything.

“Is there anything they can do?” I asked.

“Nothing more than they're doing right now. They're monitoring her and pumping her full of whatever medicine. But they're worried about the stress on her heart and the longer she remains unconscious the more chance the little brain activity there is won't be there anymore.”

I nodded. “Can we see her?”

Dad stood up. “Yes. Your mother is in there with her now.”

We followed Dad out of the room and back up to Cinda's room. I paused before entering. This was reminding me a lot of all the times Matt had been in the hospital and I did not like it. Not one bit.

******


Seeing Cinda unconscious in a hospital bed was not nearly as jarring as seeing my mother sitting next to her with silent tears streaming down her face. She was holding Cinda's hand, but her own was shaking. The doctors had all left, but that did not matter at this point. Dad had explained everything to me already. He walked past me and over to Mum, and began to rub her back. Matt and I stood at the foot of the bed, neither of us saying a word. There was nothing to say at this point.

“You two should get some sleep,” Dad said ten minutes later.

I glanced at the clock. It was well past midnight. I had to be at work in less than seven hours. I shook my head. “No, it's ok. I've stayed up for longer than this.”

“Your staying up won't help anything,” Dad replied. “Stop by after work tomorrow. The doctors may have some updates then.”

“But Dad-”

“No, Amy.” Dad shook his head. “I'm fairly sure visiting hours are over anyway. We'll see both of you tomorrow.”

I walked over to the front of the bed and gave Cinda a quick kiss on the cheek. Matt squeezed her hand and then followed me out the door. We were silent as we walked through the hospital and out into the parking lot and silent as we walked to the nearest deserted area to apparate.

There was not much point in Matt and I leaving the hospital, except to appease Dad. Neither of us slept. Matt didn't even go back to his own flat, choosing instead to come back to mine. The two of us stayed up the entire night with cup after cup of tea, neither of us saying what we were both thinking. Cinda was not going to make it. I had enough Muggle medical background in my training to know that. Matt had spent enough time with me to know that. But if either of us said anything, it would seem permanent.

I changed into my Healer robes around six in the morning and Matt left for his own flat to try and get a few hours of sleep before he had to be at the Ministry. Despite the lack of sleep, I was not feeling tired. Surely this was because I was used to going a couple days without sleep, but with a call weekend only a few days away, it wasn't very smart.

St. Mungo's was already busy when I got there a little before seven. I managed to avoid Farina, who looked ready to murder someone, by taking the stairs instead of the lift. The last thing I needed was to be on the receiving end of her anger when I'd gone the whole night without sleep.

My floor was thankfully a little less busy and I was able to hole up in my study answering pointless owls for an hour before checking on my patients and putting in my five hours in the clinic. After a seemingly endless stream of injuries that could have been avoided with a little common sense I was starting to feel the fatigue. I checked on my patients once more and then retreated to the basement to brew.

But even brewing could not take my mind off of Cinda. Usually brewing did wonders for calming me, but not this time. I could not focus and spent the whole time glancing at the clock. I was starting to clean up and get ready to go to the Muggle hospital when the door opened and in walked Victoire, looking quite exhausted herself.

“Hey,” she said as she eased herself into one of the chairs. “Passed you in the corridor earlier, but you looked too busy to stop. What's wrong? I know you haven't been on call yet you look like you haven't slept in days.”

I set down the bottle of anise I had been holding and walked over to Victoire. “It's Cinda,” I said quietly. “She had a stroke last night and it doesn't look good.”

Victoire's face fell. “Oh my God. What did the doctors say?” She got up and hugged me.

“There's very little brain activity and she's still unconscious so they think that might go away soon. And they're worried about the stress this is all having on her heart,” I explained. “I'm about to head over to see her. Mum and Dad have been there since last night. I doubt Dad even went into work today.”

“You shouldn't have either,” Victoire said. “Morris could have taken over your patients.”

“But he doesn't brew. I had to check on the potions anyway. They still haven't found anyone else to brew the Wolfsbane. The only other brewer who did it has officially retired. His wife isn't well and he has to take care of her. And I really doubt we're going to find anyone until Kaden's done with his training.”

“I am sure someone in this department could have stirred those cauldrons for you today,” Victoire insisted. “Do you want me to go with you to the hospital?”

“No.” I shook my head. “You've been on your feet all day. You should go home and rest.”

Victoire looked slightly relieved. “I'm honestly not sure how much longer I'm going to be able to stay. The twins are so much more exhausting than Sophie was. And I swear I'm as large now as I was at nine months with Soph. And I'm only five months along.”

“Twins are rarely carried until full term anyway,” I pointed out. “They'll be here soon enough. Did you ever think of cutting back to part-time first?”

“I have. I think it'll be easier on everyone.”

“Tell Farina tomorrow,” I replied. “You're not helping anyone by exhausting yourself like this.”

“Yes, Mum,” Victoire joked. “But seriously, you should take your own advice. You never take time off. Ever. Take time off for this.”

“I'll see how she's doing tonight,” I compromised. “We'll see.”

I finished cleaning up and Victoire and I walked upstairs and to the Apparition room. I was about to follow her inside when I noticed Dillan standing in the waiting room, a big grin appearing on his face when he saw me. Shit. Dillan. We'd had a date tonight and I'd completely forgotten. I left Victoire and headed over to tell him the bad news.

“Dillan,” I said. “Listen, I can't do tonight. I'm really sorry.”

“Amy,” Dillan replied. “What's wrong? I'd think this was an excuse for you to work longer if you didn't look so exhausted and miserable. What happened?”

“It's my grandmother,” I answered. “She had a stroke last night. Things don't look good and I have to go visit her.”

“Oh, Amy.” Dillan hugged me tight. “I'm so sorry. I'll go with you.”

“No.” I shook my head. “You haven't met my parents yet. I haven't even told them about you, actually, and I really can't have you meeting them for the first time now. My mum's a mess. She'd kill me if I introduced my boyfriend to her now.”

Dillan nodded. “All right. Promise me you'll let me know what's happening.”

“I will,” I said. “But I've really just got to go.”

“I'll see you soon.”

“Yes, soon,” I said as I rushed back towards the Apparition room. Victoire was waiting for me.

“Everything ok?” she asked.

“Yeah, just forgot I'd had plans with Dillan tonight,” I replied. “It's nothing.”

With a loud crack I disappeared from St. Mungo's and seconds later I was back in the field near the Muggle hospital. I was becoming far too familiar with it than I would have liked. The walk to the hospital was too familiar as well. I now knew that I was halfway there when I passed the cow-shaped mailbox on the left and three-quarters of the way there when I passed the abandoned Ford on the right. That was when my heart started to speed up. As the hospital rose into sight, I wondered what sort of news, if any, would be waiting for me when I entered Cinda's depressing room.


A/N: Thanks to everyone who has read and reviewed!

Chapter 19: 12:48 a.m.
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In the medical world, no news was considered good news most of the time, if only because it meant there was no bad news. And no news became the words Mum spoke to me every time I went to visit Cinda at Hampton Memorial. I went every day after work and every time, Mum was there. She had taken time off work to remain with Cinda at all times and despite Victoire's insistence, I did not do the same. There was just too much work to be done. Patients to be seen and potions had to be brewed.

Two weeks passed with no news and I could tell that the no news was turning into bad news. I spent all my free time at Hampton, leaving little time to spend with Victoire and Teddy, as well as little time to spend with Dillan. But Dillan was busy getting his restaurant on its feet and did not seem too put out by the fact that I declined every single one of his dinner invitations.

“I spoke with the doctors today,” Mum said quietly as she set a few boxes of take away on the coffee table.

Mum had spent the day at the hospital and then we had gathered at home since it was the night of the full moon and Matt was in no condition to visit Cinda. Dad had sent me an owl earlier asking me to go to their house rather than go visit Cinda after work. They had something to tell me and I knew it could not be good.

“There's nothing that can be done, right?” I asked, staring at the take away but making no move to eat any of it. I was not hungry.

Mum nodded as tears began leaking from her eyes. “They said,” her voice caught, “they said we should think about taking her off life support.”

My eyes burned. Death was such a normal part of my career, but it was completely different when it was a matter of your own family. Deep down in my mind I had a feeling this was what it would come to, but I hadn't wanted to believe it. Now, I had to.

I looked up and glanced at my family. Mum was sitting with her head in her hands, Dad looking stony while absent-mindedly rubbing her shoulder. Matt was laying on the couch, looking forlorn.

“When?” I asked. “When will you...do it.”

“We haven't figured that out yet,” Dad answered. “We'll all say goodbye in a few days, once Matt has recovered.”

I nodded. Saying goodbye. It seemed surreal. Saying goodbye to my only remaining grandparent. My grandmother, whom I thought would survive anything.

******


As it turned out, I never had the chance to say goodbye. Neither did Mum, or Dad, or Matt. Mum never had to make the decision of when to turn off the life support. Mum's mobile rang at one in the morning. I had not gone back to my flat since I would not have slept anyway. We all knew who was on the other end of that phone. Cinda had died at 12:48 a.m.

Everything seemed to happen in slow motion after that call. Mum set the mobile down and went immediately up to her bedroom. Dad followed. I sat for hours in the living room, unsure of what to do, unsure of what to feel. Sadness, of course. But what else?

When the moon set and the sun rose I went down to the basement to assess Matt's injuries. I healed them and took him up to his childhood bedroom to recover. I did not tell him about Cinda since he was half-asleep and in pain. He needed rest and grieving over Cinda would not get him that rest. Luckily, none of his injuries would require him to stay at St. Mungo's.

Dad emerged from his bedroom just as I was preparing a few potions to take up to Matt. He sat down at the counter and I noticed that his face looked more lined than ever.

“We'll be heading to Australia as soon as Matt can travel. We'll have Cinda transported there and plan the funeral,” Dad said quietly.

“I'll go into Mungo's and get time off,” I replied. “How is Mum?”

“Not good. She has not stopped crying. She's going to need our help with this. With the funeral.”

“Of course,” I said. “I'm going to take these to Matt and then head out to Mungo's.”

Dad nodded. I left and went upstairs. Matt was asleep. I gently woke him and he wordlessly swallowed the potions and went back to sleep. Once again, I did not tell him what had happened. I could not bring myself to be the bearer of such horrible news while he was already in pain from a transformation.

******


It did not take me long to track down Morris. The ward was bustling with activity since it was the day after the full moon and I felt guilt in the pit of my stomach knowing that I'd be leaving him with so much work to do.

“Amy,” he greeted me as I stepped into the ward. “There you are. How did Matt do?”

“He's fine,” I answered. “No worse than usual. Listen, I'm going to have to take about two weeks off.”

Morris looked up from the patient he was examining. “Oh no,” he said, his face falling. “Your grandmother?”

“Yes,” I replied. “She passed early this morning.”

“Oh, Amy, I'm so sorry,” Morris said. “Give my condolences to your parents and take as much time as you need. I can handle things here.”

Finding Farina proved more difficult. Eventually I tracked her down on the Spell Damage floor. Her hard looked softened as soon as I told her what had happened and she also told me to take as much time as I needed. I didn't see Victoire, but I did not have the energy to find her. Word would get around quickly, as it always did at Mungo's.

Sighing to myself as I left the hospital, I realized there was one more place I had to go before I went home. One more person I had to tell.

******


Dillan was directing the construction at his restaurant when I arrived moments later. Despite my grief, I could not help but smile when I saw the big cheesy grin on his face as he watched his restaurant taking shape. It reminded me that life went on, that grief could not last forever.

“Amy!” he shouted when he saw me. “I feel like I haven't seen you in days. Wait, what happened?”

I drew closer and knew he had seen the sadness etched on my face. “Cinda, my grandmother. She- she died early this morning.”

“Oh my God, Amy,” Dillan said as he hugged me. “I'm so sorry.”

“I just-” my voice cracked and I could feel my eyes starting to tear again. “It's not like it wasn't expected, it's just still so sad.”

“I know, I know,” he said as he rubbed my back. “Is there anything I can do? When's the funeral?”

“I don't know,” I answered. “But it's going to be in Australia so you don't have to come.”

“I figured. When are you leaving for Australia?” Dillan asked.

“In a few days. My brother is ill, so we can't leave yet.”

Dillan nodded. “Keep in touch. Owl me. Let me know when you're back.”

“I will,” I promised. “But I'd better go. I'll owl you soon.”

“Ok,” Dillan replied. He hugged me one more time and gave me a quick kiss on the cheek. “I'm here if you need anything. Anything at all.”

******


It took Matt three days to recover enough to travel. Dad booked four plane tickets since he was still very leery about arranging for a Portkey with the Australian Ministry. It was strange how as much as things changed, they stayed the same.

Those three days all merged into one. Mum spent most of it in her room, not wanting to talk to anyone except Dad. Dad arranged for Cinda's transport to Australia and set up meetings with the funeral home and the Minister at the church that Cinda and Richard had occasionally attended in their younger years. I spent all my time at my parents' house, not wanting to be alone. On the third day I went to my flat in order to pack a bag for Australia and to collect some clothes for Matt. Once there, I discovered a sea of flowers and baked goods in front of my door.

I heard footsteps behind me and turned to see Albus Potter. He looked exhausted and had a days old beard on his face.

“Whoa,” he said, eyes resting on the flowers. “Came up to see if you knew where Matt was. Just got back about twenty minutes ago.”

“Another mission?” I asked as I unlocked my door.

“Yeah,” Albus replied and started picking up bouquets. “What happened?”

“Cinda died a few days ago,” I replied. “I haven't been here and I guess people sent stuff.”

Albus's eyes grew wide. “Cinda? But she wasn't even ill, was she?”

“She had a stroke a couple weeks ago,” I replied as I brought in cakes and cookies. “I guess you were on your mission?”

“Been gone about a month with no contact,” Albus answered. He carried the last few vases into the flat. “I'm so sorry.”

I nodded. “You want any cakes or anything? We're leaving for Australia tomorrow and can't exactly bring any of this.”

“Sure,” Albus said.

“Take it all. Give it to your cousins. Or John and Kaden. They're always hungry.”

“Where's Matt?” Albus asked.

“Our parents' house. Full moon was a few days ago. I'm going to collect some things for him for Australia. He's taking a nap, but you can stop by if you want.”

“I will. Give me an hour or so to shower and I'll be over,” Albus answered. “See you in a bit.”

I left the flowers on the counter, knowing they'd die before I got back. There was an even larger amount of flowers at my parents' house, along with countless baked goods. I quickly grabbed a bag and threw some clothes into it. I then walked down to Matt and Albus's flat and did the same for Matt.

******


My parents' house was similar to my flat, in that it was also overcome with flowers and baked goods. The only difference was that there were also numerous casseroles covering the table. Why was it that people always sent food when something awful happened? Loved one die? I'll make a casserole.

I knew the answer of course. People wanted to feel like they were making a difference, like they were easing the pain in some small way. A fair few also did it to ease their guilt about how thankful they were that the tragedy had not happened to them. I was all too familiar with it.

When Matt got bitten when he was five and we had to bow out of the public's eye in both the Muggle and magical worlds, my parents told the Muggles that Matt had come down with a rare blood disorder, rendering him sick a lot of the time. The result was casseroles and cakes, all sent to our house.

While it was nice not to have to cook anything, none of us were really hungry enough to take advantage of the plethora of food. I hadn't eaten more than one meal in the past three days combined, I hadn't seen Mum eat anything, and Matt wouldn't have wanted to eat anything even if Cinda hadn't died. Dad ate the most, but even his appetite was suppressed.

Mum and Dad were busy packing in their bedroom when I arrived back at the house. Matt was laying on the couch, but he wasn't asleep. I sat down on a nearby chair.

“Albus is back,” I told him. “I think he's going to stop by in a bit.”

Matt just nodded and continued to stare up at the ceiling.

“Are you all right?” I asked.

“Fine,” Matt replied. He toyed with a blanket that was draped over the back of the couch. “Amy?”

“Yeah?”

“You've cried, right?” he asked quietly, not looking at me.

“You mean about Cinda?” I swallowed.

“Yeah,” Matt muttered.

“Plenty of times,” I answered. “Why?”

“I...well...haven't yet,” Matt said. “And that's not normal, is it? I mean, she was my grandmother. Shouldn't I have cried by now?”

I tried to hide my surprise. “Er, well, you're sad, right?”

“I guess, well, yeah, of course.”

“Not everyone cries when they're sad,” I told him. “And you had a different relationship with her. We moved when you were only eight and we only saw her once a year at most until she moved here. She wasn't as big a part of your life as she was in mine.”

“But still. I cried when Richard died,” Matt went on. “And I didn't see him more often than I saw Cinda.”

I smiled. “Richard was different. Richard never once saw you as different from other little boys. He never once thought you needed the coddling that Mum and Dad gave you after you were bitten. Nor did he think of you differently after the fact. He's the one who would convince Mum to let you go outside and scrape your knees and get dirty. He let you play like any other little boy. I don't know if you remember, but you used to live for the days we'd spend with Richard and Cinda so you could romp around in the backyard.”

“Vaguely,” Matt said. “Cinda was like Mum and Dad?”

I took a deep breath. “No, not exactly. And don't be mad that none of us ever told you about this, but we didn't really see the point since we were moving anyway and Mum and Cinda did make up about it. But Cinda did not agree with what Mum and Dad did for you, in terms of moving and finding you a new school. She thought we were just running away from our problems. She just never understood what your condition meant in our world. Mum and her had a huge row about it right before we moved, but they did make up.”

“And you never told me this?” Matt asked.

“No.” I sighed. “I guess it just slipped my mind until now. Don't get me wrong. Cinda loved you. She loved having grandchildren. She, well, she was just never one of those grandmothers who bake cookies and constantly give hugs and stuff.”

“She adored you, though,” Matt said. “I do remember that.”

“She adored the challenge.” I grinned at the memory. “I never wanted to do what she wanted me to do. I hated the parties, the fancy dresses, the fact that she always gave me presents better suited for Muggles. And more recently, her trying to get me to settle down.”

Matt laughed. “I guess so. I will miss her, despite her hounding.”

“Me too,” I said wistfully. “Me too.”

******


I've always hated riding in airplanes. The turbulence. The small cramped seats. The awful food. And that's something that did not change as I got older. I've managed to avoid flying for many years, but that did not make it any better.

The ride was long and grueling and when we got to Australia all I wanted to do was sleep, despite the fact that it was the middle of the day. The rest of my family had gotten sleep on the plane, but I've never slept well on planes.

Dad rented some sort of car at the airport and we all piled in to make the drive to Richard and Cinda's mansion, which had been untouched ever since Cinda moved to England. My heart rate sped up as we got closer. I wasn't sure I wanted to see the house without Richard and Cinda in it. It would be far too weird. They had owned that house since before I was born. Since before Mum was born. It was the house she grew up in and the house I spent a good portion of my own childhood in.

But despite my not wanting to go, we arrived all the same. The place looked well kept since Cinda had hired both a gardener to keep the outside looking nice and a housekeeper to clean the dust off everything inside. In fact, it looked just as it had when I was a teenager, like if I went inside I'd see Richard reading the paper and Cinda gossiping on the phone with a friend. I shook the thought from my head. No. The house would be empty.

Mum's hands shook as she unlocked the door. It creaked as she pushed it open. None of us moved an inch as we stood on the porch. No one wanted to be the first inside. Eventually, Mum stepped in and the rest of us followed.

I felt like crying again as soon as I stepped in. It just was not right. We should not be in Richard and Cinda's house without them. It was almost eery, as if I'd see their ghosts floating down the staircase.

I immediately went upstairs to my old bedroom, which also had not changed a bit. It was still pink and still flowery. The furniture was still white. Upon looking in the closet I saw that all the dresses I had worn to Cinda's fancy parties were still there. I shuddered. It was too creepy. I climbed onto the canopy bed and laid down. Despite the old ugly bedspread, the mattress was still comfortable, and I was asleep within minutes.


A/N: Bit of a shorter chapter, but this was a good stopping point. Thanks to all who have read and reviewed! You guys are awesome. I'm home for the summer and HPFF unfortunately does not work right on my Internet at home and one of the issues is not being able to respond to reviews. I get to the library every so often and respond to a few, but review responses will be slow for the summer. But I do read every single review and they all make me happy.

On a more serious note, I've had issues with people plagiarizing my other stories and characters from my stories. Please be aware that no stories on this archive may be taken and posted elsewhere without the author's permission and will not be tolerated. Nor will any outright plagiarism of plots, characters, and whole stories. I haven't had issues with this specific story, but I wanted to post the warning anyway.


Chapter 20: Cinda's Will
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Soon, Richard and Cinda's mansion house started to resemble my parents' house and my own flat. Meals, deserts, and flowers appeared on the doorstep and in the arms of neighbors and friends I had not seen in years or even decades. They were nice gestures, but I did not want to be social with people who were acquaintances at best. The only visit I appreciated was that of Kenzie's parents, who stopped by with a casserole and bouquet of wildflowers the day after we got to Australia. They informed me that Kenzie would arrive two days later, in time for the funeral.

The day after we flew in we met with the minister of Cinda's church. None of us had been there since Richard's funeral years before, and I did not like the feelings that it brought back. The sanctuary was cheery enough with the sun streaming through the beautiful stained glass, but the place held nothing but sad memories for me. Richard and Cinda rarely went to church and never brought me, save for a few Christmas Eve services.

It was decided that the funeral would be held in four days, giving us enough time to prepare and notify people. Most had already heard, due to a front page obituary in the local newspaper. How the newspaper found out was beyond me, but then Cinda had been very well-known in her community and moving to England for a few years did nothing to deter that.

The rest of the day was spent with funeral arrangements. The entire day was depressing. Not that I expected it to be anything but. Still, it just reinforced the fact that Cinda really was gone.

We sat around the table that evening picking at the casserole Kenzie's mum had dropped off. It was good, but nobody was very enthusiastic. The phone rang and Mum stood to retrieve it. Probably another one of Cinda's acquaintances calling about funeral times.

“That was the solicitor,” Mum said once she returned to the room. “I've set up a meeting for tomorrow at ten.” Her eyes were glistening.

Dad rubbed her back after she sat down. “He probably just has to have you sign a few papers, give you the will. That sort of thing.”

“I don't even want to think about that right now,” Mum replied.

“I know,” Dad said quietly. “But you must. All you'll have to do is sign papers to transfer everything to your name and that'll be that. The house has sat empty for years. No reason why it can't continue to sit empty until you feel up to figuring out what to do with it.”

Mum nodded. “I suppose.”

“We'll get through this,” Dad said quietly.

No one said a word throughout the remainder of the meal.

******


Ten dawned bright and early. Mum and Dad sat on a couch in the waiting room of Peter Tang, Esq. Matt and I were in chairs across from them. A blonde secretary sat typing at a computer a short distance away. She assured Dad that the solicitor would be with us shortly.

A door opened and a middle-aged Asian man with glasses perched on the very end of his nose appeared. He smiled sympathetically at Mum and then gestured for all of us to follow him. Mum and Dad must have already met him. I didn't recognize him.

He lead us to a small study with only two chairs across from his desk. Matt and I stood against one wall, next to a book case filled with books on Australian law.

“First, I was so sorry to read about Cinda's death. She will surely be missed in this town,” Peter began.

“Thank you,” Mum replied. “And thank you for the flowers. They're beautiful.”

“You are quite welcome,” Peter said as he placed a file folder on his desk.

“Oh, these are our children, Amy and Matt,” Mum said, gesturing to Matt and I. “I don't believe you've met.”

“Nice to meet you,” I said as I shook Peter's hand. Matt followed.

“Pleasure,” Peter replied and sat back down. “I think this will be fairly straight forward. As you're already aware, all of your parents' assets became the sole property of Lacinda when Richard died.”

Mum nodded. “Yes. You sent her a letter.”

“And there have been no changes to the will since Richard's death in 2023. Prior to 2023, the will was not touched since it was first created in 1990,” Peter explained.

“Cinda changed the will after Richard died?” Mum asked. “More than just switching all the assets to be in her name only?”

Peter's eyes widened. “Cinda did not tell you about the change?”

Mum's face paled. “N-no. She never mentioned a thing about changing her will.”

Peter flipped through the folder. “There was a change. I am rather shocked she did not inform you.”

Mum and Dad exchanged glances. “What was it?” Mum asked.

Peter cleared his throat. “I'll just read it. 'Upon the death of Lacinda Ann Bailey, all financial assets including stocks, bonds, bank accounts, mutual funds, and charitable accounts are to be passed on to the only daughter of Lacinda and Richard Bailey- Julietta Jane Bailey Eckerton.”

“That's the same,” Mum said quietly.

“Further, all possessions owned by Lacinda Ann Bailey at the time of her death including furniture located in her England inhabitance, vehicles, and clothing will be passed on to Julietta Jane Bailey. The exception being the house located in Sydney, Australia and all furniture, art, and decorations it contains.”

Mum swayed in her chair and turned to look at Dad and then back to Peter. “Except the house?”

“That is the change,” Peter said quietly. “Shortly after Richard died, Cinda came to my office to inform me of a change in her will involving the house.”

“But what does she wish us to do with it?” Dad asked.

“Let me continue. The house located at 23 Turning Lane, Sydney, Australia and all furniture, art, and decorations inside of it are to be passed on to Lacinda and Richard Bailey's only granddaughter- Amy Marie Eckerton.”

Suddenly it seemed like I was no longer in the room, that the words my parents were now speaking to Peter were miles away. Matt was giving me a strange look and I needed to sit down. I sunk to the floor. How could Cinda have given me her house? That didn't make any sense at all. Mum was her next of kin and everyone knew that in rich families the houses were passed on from parents to eldest child. That's how Dad had wound up with our old house in Australia.

The room was silent. Not even the solicitor said anything. He looked rather nervous as he fiddled with his pen and looked at each of us in turn. Matt kept staring at me and I shrugged, trying to convey the fact that I had had no idea about any of this.

The solicitor finally cleared his throat and began to speak. “There are also letters in here, to each of you.” He stuck his hand into the folder again and pulled out four envelopes, handing them to my parents.

“Wait,” Dad said quietly. “You're sure it says Amy? And it's legal? She was of sound mind?”

“I assure you it is perfectly legal and-”

“And Mum's mind never left,” Mum interrupted. “It was her body that failed her.”

“I know that, Julie. I'm just trying to be sure,” Dad said.

“Well clearly my mother knew what she was doing,” Mum snapped. “Just would have been nice if she had clued us into it.” She turned to Peter. “Is there anything else in that will?”

Peter shook his head. “No. I just need you and Amy to sign some papers. We'll transfer the deed of the house to her name.”

I still could not believe this was happening as I walked to the desk and signed and initialed where Peter instructed me to do so. I had a house. Scratch that; I had a mansion. I had Richard and Cinda's mansion. What in the name of Merlin was I to do with a mansion in Australia?

We left the solicitor's office a short while later, with me possessing the deed to the house. Cinda's letter was in my pocket and my curiosity was getting the best of me. What did it say? I wanted more than anything to read it right then and there in the car, but we had to stop by the funeral home first. Mum needed to check on a few things and sign a few documents.

Mum still hadn't said anything to me by the time we pulled into Cinda's driveway an hour and a half later. I knew she was more than just a little upset about my inheriting the house, and I couldn't blame her. She'd just lost her mother and now this shock. More than anything I hoped that Cinda's letter would contain her reasoning for giving me the house.

Dad offered to make sandwiches once we were inside, but I declined and went upstairs to my room in order to read the letter. Mum and Matt did the same and I assume Dad did, once he realized nobody wanted anything to eat.

Once the door to my room was shut I sat down on the frilly bedspread and carefully broke the seal. I pulled out a few sheets of paper and recognized Cinda's elegant handwriting upon them. The letter was dated September 12, 2023. Two months to the day after Richard's death.

My dearest Amy,

I still remember the day you were born.
It was hotter than anything and the we
hadn't seen rain in months. You were
a blessing to your parents, one that you
cannot even begin to imagine the extent
of. More than anything in the world
your parents wanted a child and I often
thought it as very cruel for them to
have been denied that blessing for so
many years. Then, on that hot October
day, you came into the world. Your
parents had no idea the whirlwind they
were in for.

I saw myself in you from the time you
were one year old. The first time you
ran away from them in a parking lot
and then grinned back at their horrified
looks as a sedan had to swerve away from
you, I saw myself. From the moment you
were born you had to do things your way
and your way only. It came as no surprise
to me that you started rebelling against
the society life of myself, Richard, and
your parents.

You hated the balls, the dresses, the
making of small talk to my friends. I
fought you every step of the way,
insisting that you wear expensive
outfits and attend dinner parties. The
more you fought it the harder I tried
to get you to cooperate. We butted
heads so much because we are so much
alike. You wanted to do things your
way and I wanted them done my way.

I know you hated staying with Richard
and I during full moons but I loved
getting to see you once a month. I
regret that I let my stubbornness get
the best of me and didn't let you
have the kind of fun you would've
liked.

When you moved to England I missed
you and your mother and brother and
father so much. But it was you I
missed on that one weekend out of
the month. I wished for weeks that
you and your family would move back
but deep in my heart I knew that your
parents had lost their love for their
country and the more I thought about
it the more the shock wore off.

But you never wanted to move to England.
With your stubborn personality you
fought your parents every step of the
way, despite the fact that in the end
you had to go with them, as children
do not get much choice in those matters.
I knew in your heart you still had love
for Australia. It was your home and
would never leave you.

It is the proper thing in society for
family homes to pass on to the eldest
child of the parents' that own them.
In my case, the home would pass to your
mother. When Richard and I created our
will in 1990 that was what we decided.
It made sense. It was what was done.

So much has changed since 1990. Your
parents were married. You were born.
Your brother was born. You left for
England. Circumstances change, Amy,
and I began to realize that passing
the house on to your mother would be
a mistake. She would sell it.

I do not want my home sold. I wish
for it to stay in the family and I
fear that if I were to pass it to your
mother that would not happen. But
to pass it to you, Amy, I know you
will not sell it.

You love Australia. You always have.
I knew the moment you left for England
that you would be back one day. You
will not be living with your parents
forever and hopefully by the time you
read this you'll be on your own, and
perhaps already back in Australia.

I hope you can forgive me for all
the stress I put on you when you were
a child. That is just who I am and
old ladies tend to be stuck in their
ways.

Do not mourn for me. I have lived a
full and happy life. So many of my
best memories are in the house. I
hope that you'll be able to create
your own memories there.

Love,
Cinda


I had to reread the letter twice before I finally set it down on my bed. I swallowed hard and stared at it. It truly was unbelievable how much my own grandmother could not know me at all. Tears began to form and I wiped them away. No, I would not cry over this. Cinda had not understood me at the age of fourteen and now, according to that letter, she did understand my fourteen-year-old self. The only problem was that I was no longer fourteen and I was no longer the rebellious teenager that had fought every step of that move.

Any desire I had had to move back to Australia had dissipated long before Richard had died and long before Cinda had written that letter. Cinda may have never lost her mind before she died, but she had certainly made the wrong decision in bequeathing me that house. I did not want to move back to Australia. My entire life was in England.

But the thought of selling it gave me an uneasy feeling in my stomach. Cinda had never stated in her will that the place could not be sold, that it had to remain within family, but her letter had certainly implied it. At the same time, what in the name of Merlin was I to do with a mansion in Australia.

I fought back more tears. Mum had always said Cinda and I were too much alike for our own good and it was something I denied for years. As I got older I realized just how much it was true. I was stubborn. I did like to do things my own way. And if I had never realized the horrors that Matt went through on full moons, had never met Victoire, and had never became a Healer, than I probably would have moved back to Australia. But things had changed. I was still stubborn but I was no longer the selfish fourteen-year-old I had been.

I wondered what Mum's letter had said. It was probably similar to mine, in that it explained why I had been given the house and not her. Who knew what Dad and Matt's letters had contained. Neither of them had been left anything via the will.

What was I supposed to do? I sighed and shoved the letter back into its envelope. I got up from the frilly bed and left my room. I paused once I reached the main floor, listening for Mum and Dad's whispering. There was no sound.

Dad was in the kitchen, preparing sandwiches. Matt was alongside him, chopping fruit. Mum was nowhere in sight.

“Where's Mum?” I asked.

“Bedroom,” Dad replied, not looking up from the sandwiches.

I nodded, even though neither Matt or Dad could see. Turning around, I left the room and headed immediately to the bedroom that Mum and Dad used when staying at Richard and Cinda's. I had no idea what I was going to say once I found Mum, but I knew I had to say something.

I knocked lightly on the door before entering. Mum was sitting cross-legged on the bed, her shaking hands holding the letter. She did not look up when I walked in. I slowly walked over to the bed and sat down next to her.

She was crying. The letter was stained with tears and Cinda's handwriting was smeared. I tentatively put my arm around my mother, but that only succeeded in making her cry harder. I did not move my hand away.

Emotional support has never been my strong suit. For as long as I could remember seeing people crying has made me feel awkward and unaware of what to do to help. The only person I've been able to comfort is Matt and on occasion, Victoire. Yet here I was, attempting to comfort my own mother. Nothing I could say would make anything better, so I remained quiet.

Mum cried for a solid ten minutes before her tears finally subsided. She wiped her eyes and they met mine. The same eyes. The same shade of dark blue. Matt and Dad had lighter blue eyes, although Matt's had been flecked with gold ever since he became a werewolf.

“Amy,” she said quietly. “I'm not mad at you. I was never mad at you about this.”

I nodded. “It's ok. My letter, the one from Cinda, she explained why I got the house.”

“She explained in mine as well,” Mum replied. “And you know what?” Her voice rose a bit and cracked. “I'm mad at her! I'm angry with my own mother. My mother who is dead. How can that be normal?”

“It probably is. I don't know. But I'm mad at her too. She gave me her house. Her house. How ridiculous is that?” I couldn't help but give a short laugh.

“It is!” Mum exclaimed. “What are you going to do with a house?”

“I don't know!” I replied. “She thought I'd move here. She thought I'd want to go back to Australia.”

Mum sighed. “Never changed, did she?”

“Not at all,” I agreed.

“She told me she didn't want to pass the house to me because she knew I would sell it,” Mum said. “What else would there be to do with it?”

“She told me that too,” I said. “She thought I wouldn't sell it. What am I to do with a house this large halfway across the world? I have a life in England. I have my research. I have you and Dad and Matt and Teddy and Victoire and Sophie.” And Dillan, I mentally added.

“It's yours,” Mum said quietly. “It is up to you to do what you want. You know her wishes and you know yourself. Now you have to make a decision. But you do not have to decide now. You can wait.”

I nodded. “I know. It's just so hard.”

Mum reached over and hugged me. “I'm here for you if you need to talk.”

“Thanks,” I said and hugged her back.

Mum refolded her letter and put it back in its envelope. The two of us went back downstairs, the thought of Dad's sandwiches sounding better. But I could not get thoughts of the house out of my head. To sell it or not to sell it? And what would I do with it if I didn't sell it? Mum was right, this was going to take a lot of time to decide.


A/N: Sorry for the lack of updates! For whatever reason my muse has liked my Albus story better and I've written about four chapters of that in the past two weeks and only about one chapter of this. Thanks to all who have read and reviewed. You guys are awesome. I've caught up on all review responses for reviews I received before August 5th.

Chapter 21: The Funeral
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Disclaimer- I don't own Harry Potter.


Cinda's will never left my mind for the next few days. It plagued me while I was awake and was the main feature in all of my dreams. Cinda appeared in those as well, telling me how the mansion needed to stay in the family and that she knew I would do the right thing. It was enough to keep me awake most of the nights leading up to the funeral and I spent those nights gazing out my window at the waning moon.

I had missed looking at the stars in the Southern sky. As a child I spent hours upon hours watching the stars from my bedroom in my old house whether with my naked eye or through the telescope I received for Christmas one year. The night sky was one of the things I missed the most about Australia when we moved, but eventually I grew to enjoy the Northern sky as well. Now it was just strange to look at the stars in Australia. It brought back memories of my childhood, memories that I hadn't even thought about in years. The night before the funeral I thought back to the time I'd slept outside without telling my parents and the scolding I had received afterward.

When the sun finally rose I crept out of my room and down into the kitchen. It was still filled with flowers and there wasn't a spot of bare counter. I pushed aside a few bouquets of lilies and located a lone box of cereal in the cupboard.

The house was silent as I ate my breakfast. Mum, Dad, and Matt were still asleep, not thinking about what we were going to do later that day. The funeral was scheduled for eleven o'clock, a mere five hours away. In five hours we would be placing my grandmother in her final resting place, beside her husband of over fifty years.

It was an average Australian summer's day and I couldn't help but think that Britain's usual weather would have been more appropriate. The sun was already bright and heat was streaming through the windows. There was not a cloud in the sky to block its rays. But at the same time, it was almost fitting because Cinda loved the sun.

I finished my cereal and quickly scourgified the bowl before putting it back in the cupboard. The house remained quiet and I wondered how long the rest of my family would sleep. I left the kitchen and walked back upstairs, deciding not to go back to my room, but instead to wander around the house and just look at it.

Matt's room was right next to mine. I opened the door, not worrying about waking him up because he could sleep through anything. It was still decorated for the eight-year-old boy he had been when we moved, filled with toy trucks and a bed that was outfitted in dinosaur bedding. I shut the door and continued down the hallway.

The walls were adorned with portraits of long dead relatives and paintings done by famous Australian artists. They were mine as well. It was very strange and I wondered what I would do with all the paintings and furniture if I did sell the house. I supposed I'd have to have an estate sale, like my parents had when we moved.

I walked past the ballroom and the rest of the guest bedrooms and the multiple living rooms and dens. I walked past Cinda and Richard's room and the room my parents were staying in. Everything looked exactly the same as it had the last time I was there. That had not been a happy occasion either, for it had been the time that we'd moved Cinda from Australia to England.

After I'd walked through every corridor and every room, I went back to my own room to get ready. I'd gone with Kenzie the previous day to buy a black dress since the one I'd worn to Richard's funeral didn't fit me right anymore. Kenzie had been home for a few days and while it was an awful occasion for the two of us to meet again, it had been nice to spend the time with her.

My parents, Matt, and I were ready at ten o'clock. It was a twenty minute drive to the church and we had to be there early. Dad and Matt were both dressed in Muggle suits and Mum was in a black dress similar to mine. Mum's eyes were wet and up close I could see that she'd used a lot of make-up to conceal the purple bags under her eyes. The lines on Dad's face were more pronounced than ever and for once, Matt looked the best out of all of us.

Dad drove slowly, as if he wanted to take as long as possible to get to the church. Mum cried silently in the front seat while Matt and I remained quiet in the back. There was nothing any of us could say at this point.

The church was empty when we arrived, save for the minister and the people from the funeral home. A hearse was parked out front and I tried not to look at it as we entered the foyer of the church. Mum and Dad spoke quietly to the minister while Matt and I stood off to the side. A short while later were were shepherded into an antechamber where we would wait for the church to fill and the funeral to begin.

I was able to watch people enter the church from the antechamber. I recognized most of them as Cinda's friends' children and various other people who had attended Cinda's parties many years ago. There were few of Cinda's friends, seeing as she had outlived most of them, but the few that were still alive were helped into the church by family members. Kenzie, her parents, and her younger brother, Mike, arrived when it was almost eleven. Her sisters were not there, but I knew that both Morgan and Mari lived hours away and both of them had young children. Kenzie's youngest sister, Maddie, was in uni.

The coffin was wheeled into the foyer and we left the antechamber to follow it into the sanctuary. A slow funeral march was playing as we entered and I tried to avoid everyone's gaze. They all looked so sad and I did not want to start crying. We sat in the very front pew and the minister continued to the pulpit.

“Today we gather to honor the life of Lacinda Ann Bailey,” he began. “Lacinda, known to her family as Cinda, was a well-respected member of the community and will be greatly missed by many....”

I sat unmoving in the pew, the minister's speech becoming a mass of jumbled words in my brain. His words meant nothing to me. They were the standard words he had spoken at every funeral he had ever given. He did not know Cinda well. My family knew Cinda well.

I took the opportunity to gaze around the sanctuary. It was decorated with more lilies than I had ever seen in my life, along with other flowers that I did not know the names of. The room was packed, with standing room only, and every face was etched in sadness. I could not help but think that Cinda would have been very pleased with the turnout. She was a woman who loved having everything revolve around her and she would have been sorely disappointed if her own funeral had been anything less but huge and extravagant.

The minister alternated between speech and song, the hymns being lead by a large choir wearing blue robes that greatly resembled the robes that Dad and Matt wore to work. Their voices emanated throughout the entire sanctuary and I imagined they could be heard down the street. I wished that the entire affair was just hymns, for they seemed to fit my mourning more than words ever could.

Earlier in the week the minister had asked if I would speak at the funeral and I'd said yes because I felt as if saying no would have been awful. Mum was also going to speak, but I had no idea how she was going to manage because she was silently sobbing as we sat there listening to the hymns. I didn't even know how I was going to speak. I'd not prepared anything and was going to have to do it off the top of my head.

“We will now hear a few words from Amy Eckerton, Cinda's granddaughter,” the minister said once the hymn was over.

I swallowed hard and got up from the pew, averting eye contact with anyone, including the minister. I stepped up to the pulpit and looked out upon the room. It looked even more massive from where I was now standing and every last person had their eyes fixed on me. It was downright terrifying.

Every once in a while I had to give a lecture to a group of Healer or Brewer students and that was hard enough, but at least with those lectures I knew my subject. I knew healing and brewing like the back of my hand, especially when I gave a lecture on lycanthropy or Wolfsbane. But this, I was out of my element. I knew nothing about grief. I knew nothing about emotions.

I took a deep breath. It was true that I knew nothing about emotions, but I did know my grandmother. I knew Cinda more than anyone else in this room, save for Mum, and that made me realize that I could do this. All I had to do was talk about Cinda, talk about the Cinda that I had known my entire life. That I could do.

“Some of my earliest memories involve my grandmother,” I began. “My family spent Christmas with her and my grandfather every year for as long as I can remember. One of the first things I remember her telling me was 'Don't call me Grandma. It makes me feel old'. She was Cinda to me ever since then, and I think that one sentence sums Cinda up fairly well. She did things her own way, and that's a trait my parents tell me I inherited from her.

“Cinda and I used to clash when I was a teenager and everyone told me it was because we were so alike. I denied it every time and hated it when people likened me to her. She liked parties and fancy gatherings and being involved with all her social obligations and I liked to stargaze and explore the bush and hated wearing dresses. On the outside we were as different as anyone could be.

“I only realized how alike we were after I grew up. I grew up a lot in the first year I spent in England and I started to realize that everyone was right when they said we were so alike. We were both stubborn, liked to do things our own way, and stuck to our ideals.

“Cinda was there for me when I was a child and I never realized just how much until I was older. She was always there when my parents had to take Matt to doctor's appointments or to overnight treatments. I didn't enjoy the days I spent at her house while Matt was in the hospital, but looking back, I've come to realize the good that it did me.

“She didn't change as I grew up, but I came to appreciate her more. Sure, we still butted heads on numerous occasions. Her insisting that I worked too much and needed a social life. Me insisting that work was all I needed. I've learned recently that Cinda was right about that. She certainly had a social life of her own and perhaps I should have listened to her sooner.

“Cinda was the one to go to if you ever wanted an honest opinion about something, be it a dress you just bought or whether the man you just went on a date with was worth a second date. She had an opinion on anything and everything.” I paused and finally raised my head to look out at the crowd. They were all still gazing up at me, some with tears in their eyes.

“Cinda. She was my stubborn, opinionated grandmother, whose best and worst traits were passed down to me. I'll miss her terribly, but I know that she's still here, with us. She's probably here right now, thrilled with the turnout to her own funeral and very approving of the sheer amount of flowers and decorations.” I gave a half smile and stepped down from the podium.

There was a smattering of applause and a few small giggles at my last line. Matt squeezed my hand once I slid back into the pew and mouthed “good job” before the minister stepped back up to the podium.

“Thank you, Amy,” the minister said.

The choir broke out into another hymn and I listened while they sang. I took a few deep breaths and my heart rate returned to normal. The speech had gone well, a lot better than I had expected. People even seemed to like it, which I was slightly nervous about. I hadn't sugar-coated anything about Cinda. I spoke about her as I knew her, both her good qualities and her bad ones.

“Lastly, we will hear from Cinda's daughter, Julietta Bailey Eckerton,” the minister announced once the last note faded away.

Mum wiped her eyes one last time and then slid out of the pew and walked up to the pulpit. She stood there for a few moments, flipping through the notes she had brought. I hadn't even known she had prepared anything.

“Thank you all for coming,” Mum began. “My mother. Amy is right when she spoke of Cinda's stubbornness. She-she... She was also the most wonderful mother. She was always there to support whatever I did...” Mum's voice trailed off and she wiped her eyes. “I-I can't do this.”

Mum set down her notes and ran from the podium, burying her head in Dad's shoulder as soon as she got back to the pew. The minister stood up to return to the pulpit, but Matt stood as well and quickly slid by me and hurried up to the pulpit. He glanced at Mum's notes before sliding them into his pocket. The minister resumed his seat.

“I'm Matt Eckerton, for those who do not know me,” Matt said. I was shocked at how sure of himself he sounded. As far as I knew, Matt had never spoken in public before and to this day I still saw him as the shy eleven-year-old he had been when he first went to Hogwarts.

“I'd like to say a few words about my grandmother as well,” Matt continued. “I don't have as many memories of her when we were kids like Amy does, since I was much younger when we moved, but she's been a big part of my life.

“The few memories I do have of spending time with her and Richard in Australia are some of the best of my childhood. She also told me not to call her Grandma, even though I was already calling her Cinda since that's what Amy called her. I remember playing football, or rather trying to play football, in her backyard with Richard.

“She wasn't the type of grandmother to stay in the kitchen baking biscuits while we played outside, though. She and my mum would gossip about everything and anything and then go out and buy biscuits from the store for us to eat after we were done. But that didn't matter; it was still fun.

“Some of you may know that I didn't have the most carefree childhood since I got sick when I was very young. I barely remember a time when I wasn't sick, yet in all my memories of spending time with Cinda and Richard I can't remember a time when my illness was the focus of the conversation. Rather than treating me like a sick kid, Richard and Cinda treated me as any other little boy. They let me run outside and skin my knees and eat dirt.

“Neither of them thought I should have had any different of a childhood as any other kid. I don't have the connection that Amy had with Cinda, but I still have some really good memories of her. When she moved to England after Richard died I started to visit her regularly and she loved telling me all the gossip at the nursing home. You'd be surprised just how much drama goes on in one of those places.

“She would tell me that I needed to find myself a nice girl and even tried to set me up with the granddaughter of someone in her nursing home. I laughed it off, of course, but she had her heart in the right place. When it comes down to it, Cinda just wanted all of us to be as happy as she was. Overall, Cinda led a very happy and successful life, and I think that's what we need to think about today. We shouldn't dwell on her death when she had such a wonderful life. We'll mourn her, of course, but she would not have wanted us to stay sad for long. She would have wanted us to be happy.”

Matt stepped down from the podium as the sanctuary broke out into a quiet round of applause. I was completely shocked. I'd had no idea Matt could speak like that. He slid into the pew and I stared at him. He shrugged and gave a small grin.

The minister resumed his position at the pulpit and gave a few more words, but none of them were as meaningful as the ones Matt had just spoken. He gave his final remarks and then the choir began another slow funeral march.

The funeral home workers pushed the casket out of the room and we followed. Mum looked slightly better after her failed speech attempt and I was fairly certain it was because of Matt's speech. I caught Kenzie's eye as we left and she gave me a supportive smile.

We waited as the casket was loaded into the hearse and then got into Richard and Cinda's old SUV to follow the hearse to the cemetery. The ride was short and quiet. No one said a word and the only noises were Mum's occasional sobs.

Only a few of Cinda's closest friends were at the graveside service. Kenzie and her family was there as well. Her mum was shedding silent tears as she slid into place next to her husband. I took my place next to Matt and waited for the minister to begin.

The service at the graveside was short. The minister read a few more Bible verses and spoke again about how the dead never really leave us. The casket was then lowered into the ground and Mum started sobbing louder. I reached up to my own face and realized I was crying as well. It then dawned on me that I had made it through the entire funeral without crying at all.

After the burial we left for the restaurant where a few of Cinda's friends' children had organized a luncheon. It was a very fancy restaurant, which only seemed fitting. The banquet room was decorated with more lilies and black table clothes and drapings. A lavish spread was set out on a buffet table and a bartender was setting up shop in a corner.

Mum, Dad, Matt, and I had to stand at the door and greet people as they walked in. They all gave their condolences and I wished they'd all hurry up and arrive so I could find a table. All I wanted to do was sit with Kenzie, Matt, and Kenzie's brother, Mike. I did not know the rest of the people very well and was starting to feel very exhausted. I hoped the luncheon wouldn't last long since my bed was starting to seem very appealing.


A/N: Thanks to everyone who has read and reviewed this! You guys are awesome.

Chapter 22: The House that Built Me
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“Thanks for coming,” I said to Kenzie and Mike once Matt and I had managed to break away from greeting people.

“We wanted to,” Kenzie said as she set a plate of fruit, cheese, and crackers down at our table. “My sisters wanted to, too, but they just couldn't make it.”

Kenzie had a huge family, second only to the Weasley's. She was the oldest, followed by Morgan, Mari, Maddie, and Mike. Morgan was a few years younger than Kenzie, Mari was Matt's age, Maddie was around 20, and Mike was 17 and in his last year of secondary school. All of them had curly brown hair that varied only slightly in shade.

“Did I tell you that Morgan's pregnant again?” Kenzie asked, as if sensing that I did not want to talk about Cinda. Mike set off for the buffet table, with Matt following.

“No, really?” I gasped. “What's this, her third?”

“Fourth,” Kenzie corrected. “And it's only been a year since Lainey was born. All I have to say is that there's no way I'm having kids the way she does.”

“Cameron didn't come, did he?” I asked, realizing that I hadn't seen Kenzie's fiance.

“No.” Kenzie shook her head. “He's swamped at work. Apparently two of his employees up and quit last week so he's been pulling extra hours at the shop.”

“You have no idea how weird it is that you're marrying someone I used to go to school with,” I replied. “I didn't know him well, but still.”

“And you have no idea how weird it is that after all these years I now know the real reason why you had to move and that your brother wasn't really sick when he was little.”

“Technically, he was,” I pointed out. “Still is.”

“But the Muggles,” Kenzie giggled, “Muggles, such a funny word. They think he's better? I mean, I guessed that much from your speeches.”

“Yeah.” I nodded. “We hadn't seen them in so long and it's not really something that's going to create an issue anymore.”

Mike and Matt returned with food and I picked at the fruit on Kenzie's plate. A few people came up to me to give me their condolences, but I was not in the mood to make small talk. I'd spent the last week crying over Cinda and I didn't think I could take much more of it in one day.

“Hey,” I said to Kenzie. “Do you want to get out of here? There's a gazebo out back and we could really talk,” I lowered my voice, “about my world. Without the Muggles hearing.”

“Your parents wouldn't mind?” Kenzie asked.

I gazed out over the room and saw that both of my parents were deep in conversation with a group of people I vaguely recognized. Neither of them seemed to be paying any attention to Matt or I.

“I don't think so,” I said as I got up.

Kenzie shrugged and she and Matt followed me out of the room, while Mike left to tell his parents where he was going. I walked quickly, avoiding eye contact with everyone as we left. The gazebo was a short walk across a field and it looked like the type of place that would be used for weddings.

“I'm just ready for this to be over,” I said once we'd reached the gazebo. “It's like we've had the funeral, so why can't we just get back to our lives? I hate making small talk.”

“It will soon,” Kenzie assured me. “When do you go back to England?”

“In three days,” I answered. “Mum needs a bit more time to sort through everything.”

“Oh that's right. She probably owns the house now.”

Matt gave a short laugh and Kenzie stared at him. “What?” she asked.

“Cinda gave me the house,” I muttered. “In hopes that I would move back to Australia and not sell it.”

“You're kidding,” Kenzie replied. “What did she think you'd do with it?”

“Live in it,” I said. “Which is insane because my whole life is in England.”

“That's so like your grandmother,” Kenzie said.

“I know,” I said wryly. “That's the funny part.”

“What are you going to do with it?”

“Let it sit for now, I suppose.” I sighed. “It's been sitting for ages anyway. I don't really want to talk about that, though.”

Kenzie nodded. “Let's talk about magic, then. What do you two do for a living, really? I'm assuming it's something different than what you actually told me.”

I smiled. “Sort of. I am a doctor, just a wizard doctor. We're called Healers and we use magic as medicine. Plus we use potions instead of drugs.”

“Potions?” Kenzie asked. “Like brew in a cauldron potions?”

Matt laughed. “Tell her the rest, Amy.”

“Yes, we brew them in a cauldron. There's a whole class in school devoted to brewing potions. I'm not only a Healer, though. I'm also a Brewer, so I brew medicinal potions at work.”

Kenzie looked impressed. “Wow. So what do you brew? Cures for colds and flu and stuff?”

“Sometimes, but those are mostly brewed by newer Brewers while I brew the more complicated potions. I brew the Wolfsbane Potion, the one that's supposed to render werewolves harmless during full moons,” I explained. “And I am experimenting with it to come up with a new version that will work for Matt.”

“Seriously?” Kenzie replied. “That is amazing.” She turned to Matt. “What do you do?”

“I work in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures,” Matt answered.

“That's the department that your dad was sacked from, isn't it?”

“Er, yeah,” Matt muttered. “But he's now Head of the department in Britain.”

“Cameron's dad is head of Magical Law Enforcement down here,” Kenzie told us. “He wanted Cameron to become an Auror, but I'm really glad he didn't because it's such a dangerous job.”

“One of my friends is sort of an Auror,” Matt said. “But it's even more dangerous than that.”

“Really? What does he do?”

“I can't really say,” Matt replied. “It's very secretive.”

“Has Cameron said whether his dad is going to be at your wedding?” I asked tentatively.

“Yeah, he said he'll be there,” Kenzie answered. “Why?”

“My dad knows him and they don't get along, based on the fact that Cameron's dad thinks that werewolves shouldn't have any rights,” I said quietly. “I just don't want there to be any...issues.”

“I'll seat them far away from each other,” Kenzie said. “I doubt he'll start anything since he and Cameron don't really get along anyway.”

“Thanks,” I said.

“If you're not busy tomorrow, do you think you could come with me to my dress fitting?” Kenzie asked. “And you could try on bridesmaid's dresses. I picked one out.”

“It'll depend on whether Mum needs anything, but yeah, probably,” I said, secretly grateful for having something to do that would get me out of the house.

We wound up staying outside in the gazebo for the duration of the luncheon. Mike joined us after about a half hour and I couldn't help but feel happy about spending time with old friends. I didn't feel at all guilty about it either because I knew that Matt was right: Cinda did want us to move on and to be happy.

***


The next day I found myself on my way to a bridal shop with Kenzie. Mum had told me to go and not to worry about her; she and Dad were going to spend the day going through some of Cinda's things and figure out what they wished to bring back to England with them.

“So who are your other bridesmaids?” I asked after we'd turned onto the main road.

“All of my sisters, of course.” Kenzie laughed. “Mari's my maid of honor. And then two of my friends from uni. Dana and Elizabeth. I swear I have a record number of bridesmaids. That's what, six?”

“Yeah.” I laughed. “But it's only because you have so many sisters. Is Mike in the wedding?”

“He's going to be an usher,” Kenzie answered. “And Morgan's oldest daughter is going to be the flower girl while Mari's son is going to be the ring bearer.”

“Wow, you're going all out, aren't you?”

“Yeah,” Kenzie answered. “Mum's loving it. You'd think she'd be sick of weddings since she's already had to do two, but I think every day she calls me with something new and exciting that she wants to get for it.”

“How did your parents take the whole magic thing?” I asked.

“You know, they were more shocked at the fact that you and your family are wizards than the fact that Cameron's one,” Kenzie replied. “I think Mum was slightly offended that your parents never told them, but once I explained the Statute of Secrecy she got over it.

“Did you tell her about Matt? The real reason why he's sick all the time?” I asked.

“No.” Kenzie shook her head. “I'm the only one who knows that. Plus Cameron of course, since he remembers it. I figured there's a reason you never told us.”

“Besides the magic, you mean.”

Kenzie laughed. “Besides that.”

“Just don't mention it to anyone,” I said. “It's really up to Matt if he wants to tell people.”

“No problem,” Kenzie said as she pulled into a parking lot. “Here we are.”

The bridal shop was small and mostly consisted of dozens of wedding dresses on racks. There was also a rack of bridesmaid's dresses and a separate room of accessories. A saleslady who seemed far too cheerful descended upon us immediately, welcoming Kenzie back to the store.

“This is Amy, one of my bridesmaids,” Kenzie said to the saleslady.

“Nice to meet you!” the saleslady, exclaimed. She was tiny, but had a very loud voice and big curly black hair. “I'm Felicity. You must be the one who lives in England.”

“Yeah.” I nodded, figuring that everyone else had already gotten their dresses.

“Fascinating!” Felicity replied. “And you two have kept in touch despite that distance. That's truly inspiring.”

“We managed.” Kenzie smiled. “I'm also here to try on my dress.”

“Oh, that's right,” Felicity said. “I'll go get that and the sample bridesmaid's dress. You can go ahead into dressing rooms one and two and I'll meet you there.”

Kenzie led the way past the rows and rows of white gowns, through a dizzying maze of merchandise, to the back where the fitting rooms were. She took number one and I took number two. I heard the clack of Felicity's heels even before I saw her. Given her short stature it was almost like she popped out of nowhere since she couldn't be seen over the racks of gowns.

“Here we are!” she said, handing Kenzie a large bag. Kenzie disappeared into the room.

In Felicity's other hand was a long lavender gown. “And here's yours. I took a guess on your size but I can grab smaller and larger ones if necessary.”

I took the dress and pulled the curtains shut. Before trying it on, I took a good look at it. It was far too long for me and was made of satin with clear beading on the bust. The dress was simple, yet stunning, and I was amazed that a bridesmaid's dress could look that nice. The stereotype was that they were ugly. But then again, this was only the second wedding I'd ever been in. The first had been Victoire's and I knew Victoire would be incapable of picking an ugly dress.

I slipped into the dress and pulled up the spaghetti straps before zipping it up. It was slightly too big, but after looking in the mirror I saw that I actually looked decent in it. More than decent, actually, and I immediately wondered what Dillan would think of it.

“How are you doing?” Felicity asked as she pulled the curtain open. “Oh, it's beautiful! Yes, I think this size is good. We'll have to take it in a little and take a few inches off the bottom, but I think it'll be perfect. Are you going to be back in Australia before the wedding? We'll have to do another fitting.”

“Er, probably not,” I replied.

“It's okay,” Kenzie shouted from the other fitting room. “My mum can do a quick alteration once you're here for the wedding if need be.”

“If you're sure...” Felicity said.

“Positive,” Kenzie said. “Plane tickets from England are expensive. And Amy, don't you dare take that dress off without me seeing it first.”

Kenzie knew me too well. My hand was already partially to the zipper, but I stopped. Felicity went in to help her get the wedding dress on and I waited in my lavender dress just outside the small room.

A few minutes later Felicity exited the fitting room with a huge grin on her face, revealing perfectly straight white teeth. Kenzie followed her wearing a gorgeous ivory gown with a ruffled skirt. It was sleeveless, with similar beading to the bridesmaid's dresses splashed across the bust and down into the skirt. A swath of lavender, the exact color of my dress, was wrapped around her middle and tied in the back in an elegant bow. She looked positively radiant with a glow that was very similar to the glow Victoire had when she wore her wedding dress. All this time I thought it had been the Veela in her, but Kenzie was obviously not even part Veela and she had the same glow.

“What do you think?” Kenzie asked.

“Wow,” I said. “Just wow. It's beautiful. You're beautiful.”

Kenzie smiled and I could see that her eyes were starting to water. “God, I cry every time I put it on!”

“That's a good thing, right?” I asked.

Kenzie laughed. “Yes. Mum and Maddie cried when I first found it. So did Dana and Elizabeth.”

“I'm all cried out,” I said.

“Amy, you wouldn't cry even if you weren't all cried out,” Kenzie pointed out. “You're just not the type of person to cry for a wedding dress.”

“Good point,” I replied. “I didn't cry when my friend Victoire found her wedding dress.”

“I think we've got the fit down,” Felicity said. “I'll send it back to the seamstress for a final look through and then it should be ready for you to take home in a few weeks.”

Kenzie and I changed out of our dresses and I ordered mine from another lady who was working the till. After we left we went out to lunch and had a great time catching up on more of what had been happening in our lives. As weird as it was that Kenzie now knew about magic, it was also a big relief. I no longer had to hide something that was such a big part of me from one of my best friends.

***


My parents, Matt, and I spent another two days in Australia. I felt a whole lot better having the funeral behind us. Cinda was gone and it was horribly sad, but I felt it was time for us to start moving on. Mum was going to have a harder time than the rest of us and it would probably be weeks or months before she started to feel better, but at least she could get started.

Mum and Dad spent the remaining days going through Cinda's things so Mum could pick what she wanted to bring back to England. She chose a stack of photo albums, a few portraits, and various other knickknacks. But most of it would remain in the house, which I had decided to ignore for the time being. The place had already sat for years, so why couldn't it sit more?

I had been leafing through a photo album from when Mum was little on the last day when Matt sat down next to me.

“Amy,” he said quietly. “I have a really weird favor to ask you and I completely understand if you say no, but I have to ask.”

I gave him a strange look before replying. “Okay...” There were very few things that Matt could ask me that I wouldn't do. It had been that way ever since I was 15; I would pretty much do anything for him.

“We're in Australia and won't be back until Kenzie's wedding and probably won't have much free time then,” Matt began. “I had this random thought last night. I kind of want to see our old house. The one that Clarence now owns.”

I must have stared at my brother for a full five minutes. He did not look away, his face hardened and his eyes determined. It had honestly never crossed my mind to go back to our old house when we were in Australia. To me, it wasn't our house anymore and I had no desire to see it. It represented everything that was awful about Australia to me and the fact that Clarence owned it solidified that.

Clarence is Dad's cousin and the two of them, as well as Uncle Jack, were really close when they were little. They were practically brothers. But Clarence developed a negative view of werewolves at some point and when Matt was bitten he pretty much disowned us. Then when he found out that we were moving and selling the house he dug up some law that would require us to give the house to him instead. Dad was livid and so was Clarence, when we sold all the contents of the house instead of passing them to him as well.

“You're serious?” I asked.

Matt nodded. “I don't even know why, but I just want to see it.”

“You don't want to go talk to Clarence and Gregory or anything, do you?” Gregory was Clarence's son, my second cousin. I didn't even know if he was still living with his father.

“Merlin, no,” Matt answered. “I never want to see either of them again. I just want to see it. We moved when I was so little that sometimes I can hardly remember it.”

“And you want me to go with you,” I said.

“Well, yeah, because going alone would be pretty stupid.”

“Yes, it would,” I agreed. “All right, I'll go. But we can't tell Mum and Dad because I don't think they'd be pleased.”

“I agree. We'll tell them we're going to pick up dinner or something,” Matt decided.

Ten minutes later Matt and I were walking down Richard and Cinda's (it would always be their house to me) long driveway under the pretense of picking up something for dinner. I made a mental note to actually pick up a pizza or something on our way home.

“Once we get to that cluster of trees we'll Apparate into the bush behind the house,” Matt said.

Matt and I held hands as we Apparated, to ensure that we both wound up in the same spot. The bush was huge and we could easily wind up very far from each other. The Apparition was instantaneous and we were soon back in the bush that I had spent so much time as a child. The rush of memories that popped into my head was almost overwhelming.

“It's exactly the same,” I said quietly. “The bush. It's like I just went back fifteen years in time.”

Matt let go of my hand and started to walk forward. He got a few yards ahead of me before he turned around. “I've no idea how to get to the house from here.”

The bush was dense and you couldn't see the house from where we were. All that could be seen was trees and shrubbery, with large rocks and downed trees every so often. Without saying a word I turned to my right and started walking forward. Matt changed direction and followed me. I silently lead us through the bush, through all my own memories, until the trees began to clear and we reached the all too familiar wall that surrounded our old house.

I had to take a deep, slow breath to steady my heart. My stomach was in knots and I could feel the beginnings of tears in my eyes. It was exactly the same. It was the same wall that I had climbed to escape into the bush, to get away from the drama of my own family. It was the same wall that Matt had fallen off of when he was only seven, an accident that had been blamed on me.

The wall was only six feet tall, a height that now seemed impossibly short. I remembered it as being so much higher and judging by Matt's face, he did, too.

I finally forced myself to look up and into the backyard. That was all the same, too. It had the same swimming pool and the same trees and the same landscaping. The tree that I had slept beneath to spend the night stargazing was still there. It hardly looked as if it had aged at all, which seemed strange because I was so much older. Matt and I looked completely different from when we were fifteen and eight, but the tree, after fifteen years, remained the same.

“Hasn't changed much, has it?” Matt said quietly.

“Not in the slightest,” I replied.

“I kind of thought Clarence would have changed something,” Matt said as he ran his hand along the top of the wall.

My eyes traveled up to the actual house. Aside from a thicker growth of plants on its walls, it looked the same. Sure, the paint may have been a little more weathered, but not so much that I noticed. My window was still there, with its balcony. The balcony no longer contained a telescope, which almost struck me as wrong. With a balcony like that, why wouldn't anyone take advantage and put out a telescope?

Matt suddenly turned around and headed back into the bush. I stared at my bedroom window for a few more seconds before following him. He walked further and further into the bush, going past the point that we had Apparated, until we reached a clearing that contained a large rock. Matt sat down on the rock and I sat down next to him.

“You okay?” I asked after he sat quietly for a few minutes.

“Yeah,” he replied and then turned to look at me. “It's just, coming back here, it makes me wonder what would've happened if we never moved.”

“Your life would have sucked,” I said flatly.

“No, I mean if we never even had to move. If I had never became a werewolf. This still would've been our house. Mum and Dad would've still been living here,” Matt explained.

“I suppose. But don't beat yourself up about it. You were five. It's not your fault,” I told him.

“I know,” Matt said. “And I'm not feeling guilty about it or anything. I got over that ages ago. It's just weird to think about, that's all.”

“Yeah,” I agreed. “I probably wouldn't have become a Healer.”

“And I probably wouldn't be working a Ministry job that I got only because Dad's Head of the Department.”

“You earned that job,” I insisted. “If you weren't good at it you wouldn't have gotten to keep it.”

“I just wish that things were different, even in England. It's better than here, of course, but it's still not great. We still have to be secretive and I couldn't get most jobs,” Matt pointed out.

“Things have come a long way since Teddy's dad was our age, though,” I said. “Imagine what it'll be like when Sophie's an adult.”

“Even better, I hope,” Matt said.

“Me, too,” I agreed. “You think you're ready to head back?”

“Sure,” Matt said.

We stood up and grabbed each other's hands once more. With one final glance at the bush that had been my playground growing up, we disappeared with a loud crack.


A/N: Sorry for the late update! I started school and this semester's gonna be insane. Thanks for all your lovely reviews! If you like this story, or any of my stories, head over to the forums and nominate them for a Dobby Award!

Edit 3/30/12: Editing the title of this chapter. It's named after The House that Built Me, a song by Miranda Lambert. I heard it shortly after posting this chapter and it immediately made me think of it. It describes Amy's feelings towards the Australia house perfectly.


Chapter 23: Stay the Night
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Once we were back in England I only had about ten hours to relax and get over my jet lag before I had to get back to work. There were numerous potions to brew, the Wolfsbane to work on, and my patients to check on. Plus, Rose had managed to get more data for our study and I needed to go over it and figure out what I would be able to use. All of that meant that I'd be putting in twelve hour days for about a week.

Plus, the next support group was scheduled for the following Tuesday and I needed to prepare what I was going to do for it. We had decided that the support groups would work better if they only met every other week rather than every week, for everyone involved. I was very relieved since my work load only seemed to be increasing.

I spent most of my first day back in the basement working on the next full moon's batch of regular Wolfsbane while teaching Kaden Dursley how to brew it. He was making progress, but wouldn't be able to brew it on his own for a few months at least. Part of me could not wait until that day arrived because it meant a huge weight would be lifted off of my shoulders.

The next day was devoted to paperwork and checking on a few of my patients that had wound up in St. Mungo's while I was away. Luckily Jamie was not among them. The days that followed all seemed to merge into one, with me only going back to my flat to catch a few hours' sleep before heading back to St. Mungo's.

Dillan was desperate to see me and I was longing to see him, but our schedules were clashing more than not and it would not be until the following weekend that I'd be able to see him. Before that I had to get through March's first support group, which would only be the second one, total. The second one was supposed to occur the previous week, but I had been in Australia.

Since the first support group meeting had gone so well I decided I would give a little more direction in the second, rather than let everyone play games the whole time. I thought a discussion would be nice, whether it centered around lycanthropy or not; it would help everyone get to know each other.

I had been thinking about Kate ever since my meeting with Professor Kendrick. She was still such a mystery to me and I wished I knew a way to help get through to her. I'd agreed to help her, but she was very standoffish and I knew it would take more than just a couple meetings for her to feel comfortable around me and the others.

The same kids showed up to the meeting as had the first. Izzy arrived first, dropped off by her mother, and everyone else arrived a few minutes later. It was obvious that all of them (except Kate) were more comfortable this time. Scarlett immediately took a seat next to Izzy and the two of them began to whisper and giggle with each other. Tyler and Vinny, despite their three year difference in age, began to argue about Quidditch. Kate sat down and crossed her arms, clearly not wanting to be there. Liane chose a seat next to mine and looked pensive.

“Welcome back, everyone,” I said and all conversations stopped. “Sorry about the cancelation of the last meeting. My grandmother died.”

“Oh I'm so sorry,” Liane replied. Everyone else nodded in agreement.

“It's okay,” I said. “She had a very long life. I spent the last week and a half in Australia, though, so I couldn't hold the meeting.

“I thought today we could discuss what we want to get out of these meetings. Even though we're all here for the same main reason, we each have our own specific reasons for coming. I'm not asking you to tell everyone why you're here, but I think we can all think of what we want the meetings to be about. It can be anything you want. You can mention something you want to discuss or something you want to do during the meetings, and I'll try and work everything in. I'll give you all a few minutes to think.”

After a few minutes I asked if anyone wanted to go first. Izzy immediately volunteered.

“My mum told me about these meetings. She saw the flyers here when she took my brother to a Healer appointment. I guess I just want to meet people who also have brothers or sisters with lycanthropy, because I don't have anyone I can talk to about it. Besides my parents, but they're parents, you know?” Izzy explained.

“Same with me,” Scarlett said. “Professor Kendrick told me about the meetings and I had thought I was completely alone. Besides Vinny, of course.”

“I understand the feeling,” I replied. “I would have loved to be able to talk to someone my own age who was going through what I was going through when I was your age. Vinny?”

“I was mostly curious,” Vinny answered. “Because Kendrick said that there would be other Hogwarts students going. Plus Scarlett wanted me to come.”

“My sister has been a werewolf since before I was born,” Tyler began. “So I don't know anything else. Her being a werewolf was just normal to me. When my dad told me about these meetings I guess I was just surprised that they would exist, because lycanthropy just seems normal to me. I think I came because it's something to do.”

I nodded. “Well I hope you find it helpful anyway.” I turned to Kate, who was next. “Kate? Is there anything you hope to get out of this group?”

Kate looked up from the table. “I'm only here because it got me out of detention.”

At least she was being honest, I thought. But I had no idea what to even say to her. I was going to have to talk to Rose before the next meeting.

“Hopefully you begin to find the meetings helpful,” I finally said. “Liane?”

“I'm curious as well,” Liane said. “I guess I'm just wondering what everyone else's childhoods were like because mine was awful. Plus, I want to learn as much as I can about lycanthropy's effects on family members as well as people who have it. It'll help with my research.”

“That's actually a good discussion question for tonight,” I replied. “How about everyone talk about a childhood memory. It can be either happy or sad. You don't have to share if you don't want to. Would you like to begin, Liane?”

“Sure,” Liane said as she shifted positions in her chair. “I'll talk about when I got my Hogwarts letter. Neither of my older brothers went to Hogwarts because one of them was killed by a werewolf and the one is a werewolf, as a result of the same attack. My parents never bothered to see if he could go. But anyway, I was the only one of us to go.

“I wanted my mum to go with me to Hogsmeade to get all of my stuff, but she wouldn't. She spent most of her days in bed, ever since my brother was killed, which happened when I was a baby. My dad went with me, but he wasn't very enthusiastic. I think he was mostly thinking about my brothers. Then, when I got to Hogwarts, the thing I remember most of my first day wasn't my Sorting or the boat ride. It was eating dinner in the Great Hall and having actual dinner conversations, because I'd never had that growing up.”

It amazed me that Liane could talk about her brothers and parents so easily. My childhood had been a dream compared to hers and yet I would not have been able to talk so casually about it with a roomful of strangers at that age. Even now it was difficult.

From the looks on the rest of the kids' faces it didn't seem like they'd had childhoods like Liane's either. Izzy and Scarlett looked stunned while Tyler and Vinny looked sad. Even Kate was staring at Liane strangely.

Liane shrugged. “That's why I'm curious about all of you.”

“Vinny,” Scarlett said. “Remember that trip we took, right before Ava got bitten?”

“Oh yeah!” Vinny exclaimed. “That was fun. Mum and Dad saved for ages and we went to Italy. We did all the tourist things and it was great.”

“We got to take a week off school, too,” Scarlett added. “Neither of us were at Hogwarts yet. We haven't gone on a trip since.”

“Between Hogwarts and full moons there's never a convenient time,” Vinny explained. “Ava was bitten two weeks after that trip.”

“I've never really been on a trip,” Liane said. “Unless you count Hogwarts. It's just amazing that the same situation can result in totally different things, depending on who they happen to.”

“It's so weird,” Tyler agreed. “I never once thought lycanthropy was supposed to change your life like that. It's always just been something that's there. I guess it's different for you since one of your brothers was actually killed, but still.”

“Are your parents still like that?” Scarlett asked. “Miserable and stuff?”

Liane nodded. “I only go home during the summer. Home just isn't home for me anymore. It hasn't been since I was eleven. I'm getting a flat as soon as I graduate.”

“I just can't imagine...” Tyler's voice trailed off.

The conversation about their childhoods continued throughout the rest of the hour. I barely said a word since the kids were very talkative and it seemed as if they were already comfortable with each other. Kate remained quiet, but she did at least seem to be listening. That was progress in my book.

When Izzy's mother came to pick her up I noticed that her brother, Dean, was with her. Dean was three years younger than Izzy and had only been bitten about six months ago. He looked a lot like Izzy, only paler and shorter. Luckily Wolfsbane worked for him so I had only seen him twice since he left the hospital after being bitten.

I walked the rest of the group to the Floo room so that they could return to Hogwarts. All seemed very happy as they disappeared one by one into the green flames. Kate was the last to go. She paused and turned to look at me before she stepped into the fireplace and I almost thought she was going to say something. But then she turned away and stepped into the fire without saying a word.

***


It was a huge relief when Dillan and I were finally able to have dinner together that weekend. I missed him, but did not realize how much until I saw him standing in the corridor at my flat when he came to pick me up. We embraced and shared a quick kiss before setting off for the French restaurant he had made reservations at.

The evening was wonderful. We had dinner and then strolled down the streets of London, ignoring everyone else, and catching each other up on our lives. The plans for his restaurant were going well and he was aiming for a May opening. I told him about inheriting the house and my time in Australia. While he didn't have any advice for me on what to do with the house, he did tell me that I should think on it for a while, since it wasn't something I could go back on after I'd already made a decision.

It was nearly midnight by the time we got back to my flat and I invited him inside for a drink. Locating my only bottle of alcohol (some kind of rum I'd purchased for a recipe), I poured him a bit and handed it to him.

“No idea how it tastes, to be honest,” I said as I sat next to him. “I pretty much only drink wine.”

“And the occasional shot of firewhiskey,” Dillan said with a smirk.

I groaned. “That was one time. One time.”

Dillan grinned and took a sip of the rum. He grimaced and then set it down. “Interesting.”

I laughed. “I think I bought it to bake a cake, but I can't ever remember baking a cake, so I have no idea.”

“Let's just forget about drinks,” Dillan said as he pulled me closer.

I wrapped my arms around his neck and leaned in for a kiss, gradually increasing the intensity. My heart started to beat faster, but in a good way. His kisses were warm and the warmth spread through me like fire. Everything that had been in the back of my mind prior to his first kiss of the night was pushed from my head, and the only thing left was Dillan and Dillan's kisses and Dillan's hands all over me.

Time had stopped. It felt like only seconds and hours at the same time, as we continued to cuddle and kiss on the couch. There was a sense of urgency between us that only increased as we continued, and it was unlike anything I'd ever experienced. Dillan had the ability to make me focus on him and him only, which was foreign and scary and exciting at the same time.

Dillan pulled away and I held on, wanting to continue. He grinned as he got up from the couch, holding my hand, and leading me to the bedroom. I kicked the door shut with my foot as we entered, and followed Dillan to my bed. The kissing resumed and my heart rate with it. Dillan. I'd never truly been in love before, but this was the closest I'd come so far and it felt great.

***

For the first time in years, I awoke with a man in my bed. The sun had just risen and was streaming in through the curtains, shining on Dillan's black hair. He was sound asleep, the blankets pulled down enough to expose his bare back. I slipped out of bed without disturbing him and headed to the bathroom to shower.

I stood in the shower, letting the hot water stream across my skin for longer than was necessary. Dillan had spent the night. Dillan and I had made love for the first time. Usually I found some reason to dump my boyfriends before we got to that part of the relationship because that always meant that things were getting serious. I was not a serious relationship type of person because relationships required time and time was something I did not have. Serious relationships also meant that the people in them shared secrets with each other.

For some reason I thought of Cinda and what she would tell me if she was there, knowing what I was thinking. She'd scoff and tell me I work too much and that I have to put myself first for once in my life.

If I was honest with myself I realized that there was a little voice in my head telling me that I needed to break up with him. It was getting too serious and I was too close to solving the Wolfsbane mystery to be distracted by a man. Usually that part of my brain won out, but this time, the part of my brain telling me that I was happy with Dillan was winning. It was beating the other voice out of my brain. No, my relationship with Dillan was going well and I couldn't end it.

I turned the shower off, toweled off, and changed into a pair of jeans and a top. By the time I had finished Dillan was up and pulling a shirt on. His hair was messy and he still looked sleepy.

“You have any plans today?” he asked.

More research and checking on the Wolfsbane, I thought. There was that voice again. Don't work so much. “No, not really,” I found myself saying.

Dillan smiled. “I have to pop into the restaurant briefly, but after that do you want to go on a picnic?”

“Sure,” I replied. “I should put in a few hours at work as well, so do you want to meet at noon?”

“Perfect,” Dillan said.

I found myself eagerly anticipating the picnic while I was at St. Mungo's working on potions. Not so much as to distract me from the work, but enough that Victoire, had she been there, would have noticed that something was up. The few hours went by fast and I Apparated to Diagon Alley to meet Dillan.

We spent the entire afternoon at the park, our picnic turning into a walk through the bush. The two of us were fairly cold by the time evening arrived and I had to go to Sunday night dinner at my parents' house so we said goodbye at my apartment.

“Are you doing anything next Sunday?” I asked just as he was leaving.

“Don't think so,” Dillan replied.

“Would you like to come to dinner at my parents' house?” Keeping my silent promise to Cinda that I would introduce him to my family, I had decided that it was time.

“Sure,” Dillan said without hesitation. He kissed me goodbye and I watched as he left.

I wasn't sure how to bring up Dillan at dinner that night. I knew I had to tell my parents that he was going to come the following week, but they had no idea I was even dating someone, let alone at the point where I'd be introducing him to them. I wound up waiting until Mum and I were doing dishes and Matt was helping Dad hang a few pictures in the living room to finally bring it up.

“Mum,” I said as I put a few plates away. “Could I bring someone to dinner next Sunday?”

“Oh, Victoire?” Mum asked. “Is Teddy working again?”

“No, not Victoire,” I answered. “Someone new. You've never met him.”

“Oh, a boy?” Mum asked.

I sighed. “A man, but yes. His name is Dillan and we've been dating for a few months now.”

“Really,” Mum said. “And you didn't tell me.”

“There wasn't a good time. Between Matt's bad full moon at the beginning of the year and your work and my work and Cinda...” my voice trailed off.

Mum nodded. “Yes, bring him to dinner. I'd like to meet him.”

“You'll like him,” I assured her.

Mum nodded again. My parents hadn't met any of my boyfriends in years since most of them were less than stellar and there hadn't been many. But Dillan...I wanted my parents to like him. It almost felt strange to feel that way at the age of thirty, but my family was so close and I honestly don't know if I could be with someone who didn't get along with any of them.


A/N: So...I owe you all a huge apology for the horrifying amount of time between the last update and this. Romance is not my strong suit, so I'd been dreading this scene for a while. I finally decided to just post it. Be honest; tell me if it's awful. In other news, I am nearing the end of school! I only have about a month left, so that will be one less thing I have to fit writing around. Thank you so much to everyone who has read and reviewed!

Chapter 24: Meet the Family
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The week seemed to crawl by at an incredibly slow rate. It may have had something to do with the amount of hours Farina scheduled me to be in the clinic or the fact that a good portion of the brewers were out due to some sort of flu and I had to take over brewing Pepper-Up Potion and other easy potions. But mostly it was because I didn't see Dillan much and I was constantly thinking about the dinner with my family.

I spent all of Saturday at St. Mungo's working on my own potions that I neglected all week, but it was therapeutic. The Wolfsbane was coming along and the more I researched the stronger my feeling got that I was onto something. I had a nagging feeling that I was going to find the solution soon and that only made me want to spend even more time on it. But I forced myself to get back to my flat at an appropriate time and get some sleep for the next day.

After a night of fitful sleep I rose with the sun and spent the morning cleaning my flat. Days of spending most of my time at St. Mungo's resulted in not having much time for cleaning and it was in dire need of a few good spells. If Mum had seen it she probably would have shuddered at the uncleanliness.

Dillan met me at my flat at four wearing dress robes, which I thought was very hilarious. I myself was wearing jeans and a jumper. After informing him that Sunday dinners were not formal affairs he transfigured his robes into something more casual and he placed his hand on my arm so I could guide him as we Apparated.

We arrived in the bush near my parents' house and I lead him the short distance to the yard. He grinned as soon as he caught his first sight of the house and turned to look at me.

“It's like a log cabin,” he said. “I like it.”

Matt was already there when we arrived and was having a discussion with Dad about something to do with work while Mum set out a tray of appetizers. All three looked up when we entered. Dad and Matt rose from the couch.

“Mum, Dad, Matt, this is Dillan,” I said as Dillan shook hands with all three of them. “Dillan, this is my mum, Julie, my dad, Walter, and my brother, Matt.”

“Nice to meet you,” Dad said.

Mum nodded. “Have a seat. Dinner will be ready in about an hour.”

I lead Dillan to the couch and we both sat down. Matt and Dad resumed their seats while Mum returned to the kitchen. Matt grabbed a plate and piled it high with cheese and crackers.

“So, Dillan,” Dad began. “What do you do for a living?”

I groaned inwardly. That had to be the first question out of his mouth, even though Dillan was a grown man.

“I'm in the process of opening my own Quidditch pub,” Dillain answered. “I love cooking and I love Quidditch. And I figure, Muggles have sports pubs, why not wizards?”

“Your own business; that must keep you busy,” Dad replied as he took a slice of cheese.

“It does,” Dillan agreed. “Works out, though, because Amy is always busy with work.” He chuckled.

Dad grinned. “That's our Amy. She won't rest until her potion works. When is the restaurant scheduled to open?”

“In a few months,” Dillan said. “There's still a lot of work to do since the premises I bought hadn't been occupied in ages.”

“Well, once it opens, we'll have to check it out,” Dad said.

“A Quidditch pub,” Matt said. “That's brilliant. My friend John alone will keep you afloat. Are you going to have wirelesses so people can listen to the matches while they're there?”

“Of course,” Dillan answered. “You're a Quidditch fan?”

“Chudley Cannons.” Matt grinned. “Since I was seven.”

Dillan cringed. “The Cannons? Are you kidding? They haven't won a match in years. I support Puddlemere.”

“You'll get along with John, then,” Matt replied, ignoring Dillan's dig at the Cannons. “He's one of their strategists.”

“Really?” Dillan looked impressed. “Maybe he can give me advice on the Quidditch aspect of the pub.”

“Sure,” Matt said. “I'll give him your name.”

“Honestly, though, the Cannons?” Dillan asked.

Why was it that every man in my life was a huge Quidditch fan? I didn't mind that Dillan was a Quidditch fanatic, of course, but did blokes who didn't like Quidditch even exist?

“Amy's the one who introduced me to them.” Matt smirked.

Dillan looked aghast as he turned to stare at me. “You're kidding.”

I laughed. “I was fifteen and we'd just moved here. I wanted to get him a Quidditch jersey for Christmas and didn't know any of the teams here. One of my dormmates told me that they were underdogs, so I figured it was appropriate for a kid who could barely walk across the room without tripping over anything.”

Dillan groaned. “So if you had picked Puddlemere, Matt would probably be a Puddlemere fan?”

“Probably,” Matt said. “But it's too late now.”

Mum returned to the living room while Dillan shook his head and Matt laughed hysterically. “Dinner is ready.” She smiled.

We followed Mum into the dining room. She had set the table with the fancy dishes and there was a steaming platter of lasagna, a salad, and a basket of bread in the middle. I chose a seat and Dillan sat down next to me. Dad served the food and for the next few minutes nobody spoke as they ate.

“This is delicious,” Dillan said after a few minutes.

“That's high praise, coming from a chef,” Mum said in between bites.

Dillan chuckled. “I'm not really a chef. I've never been to culinary school.”

“Doesn't matter,” Mum said. “You'll be cooking at your pub, so that means you're a chef.”

Dillan's cheeks turned slightly pink and he took a quick sip of wine. I tried to hide my laughter behind a slice of bread.

“So,” Dad said. “How did you two meet?”

Dillan and I looked at each other, then I turned to Dad. “We met at a pub in London. I'd had a, er, particularly hard day at work and Matt was in St. Mungo's. I was at the pub and Dillan was, too. We went out shortly after that and well, we've been together since.”

“That was in January,” Mum said. “Almost four months and we're just meeting him tonight.”

“Mum.” I sighed. “You know how busy I am and Dillan's busy, too.”

“As are we,” Dad said. “And we're happy to meet him now. Anyway, Dillan, did you grow up in London?”

“No,” Dillan said as he set his fork down. “I don't live there now, either. I actually live in my parents' old house in Wales. I was born there, grew up there, and I moved in after my parents passed away.”

“Wales is so beautiful,” Mum said. “Do you have any siblings?”

“One sister. She lives in London with her husband and kids,” Dillan explained.

“So you must have gone to Hogwarts, then,” Matt said. “What house were you in?”

“Ravenclaw,” Dillan said. “The only Ravenclaw who couldn't figure out the riddles.”

Matt snorted into his glass and set it down. “Wait. You're the Riddleless Ravenclaw!”

Dillan sighed. “Yes, I'm the Riddleless Ravenclaw.”

“You'd think the Sorting Hat could figure out that someone couldn't do riddles and not put them in Ravenclaw,” Matt said.

Dillan shrugged. “Guess not. It wasn't too bad, though. Sometimes the riddles would be so hard that there would be a whole crowd of us trying to figure them out.”

“Wow. Seems like a password would be so much easier,” Matt replied.

“I often wonder what houses we would've been in if we'd gone to Hogwarts,” Mum mused.

“Probably Gryffindor,” Matt said. “Most times families are sorted into the same house.”

“Not always, though,” I pointed out. “I heard that Professor Patil's twin sister was a Gryffindor and she was a Ravenclaw.”

“I think they'd be Gryffindors anyway. I wouldn't want to be on either one of your bad sides,” Matt said.

“Good point,” I agreed. Mum and Dad laughed.

The room lapsed into silence, the only noise being the clinking of silverware. I took a few deep breaths and continued eating. It was going well, I thought. Mum and Dad seemed to like Dillan and Dillan seemed less freaked out than he did earlier. The Quidditch talk must have calmed him down.

Once we had finished eating Mum brought out a treacle tart for dessert. Dillan was thrilled since treacle tart was his favorite dessert. He had two helpings. Only Matt surpassed him, by having three helpings. I seriously do not know where that boy puts it. He's still as skinny as ever.

Dillan, Matt, and I volunteered to do the dishes while Mum and Dad had coffee in the living room.

“I think it's going well,” I said as I put away the dishes that Dillan and Matt washed. “They like you.”

“I really thought my days of being nervous to meet a girl's parents were behind me,” Dillan said. “But apparently not. Maybe those days are never gone.”

“The few times I've done it I've been nervous,” Matt said. He didn't date often since he was afraid of getting to the point of telling a girl he was a werewolf and then her rejecting him for it. I couldn't really blame him there.

“But now you've done it and it's behind you,” I pointed out.

“True,” Dillan agreed.

A few minutes later the dishes were done and we joined my parents in the living room for coffee. We stayed for about a half hour and then said goodbye.

“Nice meeting you, son,” Dad said as he shook hands with Dillan.

“He's a catch,” Mum whispered in my ear as she hugged me good night. “Don't let him go.”

“Mum!” I hissed. She seemed to be channeling Cinda.

“Well I know how you get with men sometimes,” Mum whispered. “There are so few good ones out there, so just don't let this one slip by.”

I rolled my eyes, but at the same time I knew she was right. I gave her one more hug before moving on to Dad.

“Night, Dad,” I said.

“Night, Amy,” Dad replied as he hugged me. Luckily he did not whisper bloke advice into my ear as he did so.

We left the house and returned to the bush to Apparate. Dillan squeezed my hand and gave me a quick kiss. “I'd say it was a success,” he said. I smiled and we disappeared with a crack.

***


The following few weeks were blissfully quiet. The March full moon came and went with little excitement, which is fairly rare. Usually there's someone who requires a stay in St. Mungo's or an unfortunate incident where someone gets bitten. Even Matt and the others not on Wolfsbane had a quiet full moon. I was incredibly grateful for the few weeks of relative peace. The second half of February and nearly all of March were so tumultuous that I, along with the rest of my family, needed a break.

That isn't to say I wasn't busy. I still had healing, brewing, the study Rose and I were working on, the support groups, Kenzie's wedding, Victoire's pregnancy, Dillan, and my family. Dillan was constantly busy as well, which was both a blessing and a curse. It was a blessing because he didn't seem to notice how often I was at work and a curse because we were lucky if we got to see each other on weekends. I was on call the first full weekend in April and we didn't see each other at all.

The support group I ran was actually a welcomed relief every other week. For an hour I got to be thrown back into Hogwarts age drama and teenage antics. Everyone except Kate had opened up and became great friends. Even Liane, despite her maturity and determination, managed to let loose every week and have a good laugh with the younger members. The kids hardly ever actually talked about their siblings with lycanthropy, but Rose told me that it was just as important for them to just know there are others going through similar things and act like regular kids.

In fact, if it weren't for two glaring problems, I'd say I was completely happy. However, the Wolfsbane potion continued to present problems. Every time I thought I was onto something it proved to not work or even be dangerous. My most recent discovery had lead me to a dead end resulting in a potion that didn't even make it past testing. It was incredibly frustrating to have every single one of my potions fail week after week.

The other thing bothering me was my mum's adjustment to life without Cinda. Mum and Cinda's relationship had been rocky over the years, but within the past ten they'd managed to put everything behind them and focus on the future. Cinda's sudden death threw my mum into a depression. She still lead her daily life and to most strangers she would seem fine, but Dad, Matt, and I knew better. She had been on autopilot ever since returning from Australia and it was slightly scary to see. Mum had always been someone to wear her emotions on her sleeve and never hide anything. Now, it almost seemed as if she wasn't feeling anything. She'd even stopped crying in front of us.

After a few weeks of insisting, she finally agreed to see Rose a few times a week. It was helping, slowly, but helping nonetheless. She never talked to me about therapy, but just seeing her smile again was nice. I brought Dillan round for dinner a few more times and that seemed to cheer her up.

“So I was thinking,” I said to Dillan as we lay in bed Sunday morning, in the middle of April.

“That's never a good sign.” Dillan grinned at me.

“Shut it,” I said as I punched him playfully in the shoulder. “Anyway, we've been to dinner at my parents' three times now, but I've never met your family.”

“You know my parents are dead, Amy,” Dillan said flatly.

“Of course I know that.” I sighed. “I was talking about your sister.”

Dillan laughed. “My sister? You want to have dinner with my sister?”

“I'm serious!” I said. “You've met my family and I want to meet yours.”

“But your family is so much fun,” Dillan pointed out. “Your parents have interesting jobs and do fun things with their time off. Your brother is funny and the type of bloke I could see myself actually being friends with even if you weren't my girlfriend. But my sister? She's the most boring person alive.”

“I find that hard to believe,” I said. “It's not possible that you and the most boring person alive be birthed by the same mother.”

“Trust me, it is. And I guess we'll have to have dinner with them now to prove it to you,” Dillan said. “How about Tuesday? That's my usual dinner night with them.”

“What time?” I asked.

“Six,” Dillan replied.

“I'll try and sneak out early,” I told him.

“Good,” Dillan said. “Gen and Robert have boring jobs that end at five every day. They won't know what to do with someone who gets out of work at a different time every day.”

“What does she do again?”

“She's in the Department of Magical Transportation,” Dillan said. “I'm not sure of her exact job. Robert works in the Muggle-worthy Excuse Office. A bit more exciting, but still.”

“Oh, this is going to be fun.” I grinned mischievously.

Dillan groaned.

***


When Tuesday arrived I knew there was no way I'd get to Dillan's sister's flat by six. Morris was out with an awful stomach flu so I had to take over his patients for the day as well as work on that month's regular Wolfsbane. I neglected my own Wolfsbane since there was not enough time in the day. By the time six arrived I was completely exhausted. I quickly changed out of my healer robes and made it to the Apparation room by six-thirty.

I Apparated to a neglected alley near Gen and Robert's flat and walked to the building. It was a wizard owned building, but I'd never been there so I couldn't familiarize it to Apparate. I located the flat and knocked.

Dillan answered the door. He looked as exhausted as I felt, but was smiling anyway. I gave him a quick kiss and stepped inside.

“Hi, Amy,” Dillan said. “How are you?”

“Exhausted,” I said. “Morris was out sick, so I was twice as busy. I'd still be there, actually.”

“Trust me, this will be more exhausting than work,” Dillan whispered.

The flat was very elegant, but I could tell just by looking at it that Gen was a neat freak. Everything seemed to be in its place. It didn't look like the type of place a ten-year-old would live in. It was also fairly large, with a kitchen, den, three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a formal dining area. Every room was decorated with a theme and each looked like they were taken directly from a catalogue.

The kitchen was designed in an Italian theme, with reds, browns, and tans. I followed Dillan inside it and saw Gen and Robert cooking together. Gaven was sitting at the island, banging chicken with a hammer.

Gen and Robert turned around as we entered. Gen looked like Dillan, with long curly black hair. Her eyes were a few shades lighter than Dillan's and she was very pretty. Robert was incredibly tall, even taller than Matt's friend, John. He looked to be at least a head and a half taller than me. His hair was cut very short and was blonde. Gaven had the same sharp facial features as his dad, but his hair was just like his mum's, although shorter.

Introductions were made and soon I found myself sitting next to Gaven, who was grinning manically as he pounded the chicken cutlets. Dillan sat on the other side of him.

“Gaven, honey, they're pounded enough,” Gen said as she took the bag of chicken from him.

“Noo!!!” Gaven shouted. “They're not done yet!”

“They are,” Gen insisted. “Go wash your hands.”

Gaven groaned loudly and ran out of the room, crashing into something in the hallway.

Gen sighed as she began to bread the chicken. “Dinner will be ready soon. So, Amy, Dillan tells me you're a healer?”

“Yes,” I replied. “Creature-Induced injuries.”

Gen shuddered. “That must be awful.”

I shrugged. “You get used to it. It's actually quite interesting, once you get past the blood.”

Gen shuddered again. “I had an absolutely fascinating discussion on floo travel today,” she said loudly.

Dillan rolled his eyes. I tried to stifle my laughter. It was clear that she was trying to steer the conversation away from blood and gore.

“It was about whether we should allow Muggle fireplaces to be hooked up to the network, for Muggle relatives of wizards. It got quite heated,” Gen continued.

“I can imagine,” I said. “What did you decide?”

“Oh, we haven't reached a decision yet. We've been discussing it for years,” Gen said.

“I've sat in on a few of the discussions,” Robert said as he set a salad on the island. “Very interesting.”

Gen and Robert continued to talk about the floo network as they cooked dinner. I raised my eyes at Dillan and he laughed silently. I really hadn't believed him, but here we were discussing the merits of Muggle houses on the floo network.

Dinner was ready within a half hour and we soon moved to the formal dining room. Gaven rejoined us and started to serve salad with his hands. Gen scolded him and served food to everyone with actual utensils.

Dinner consisted of breaded chicken cutlets, a basic iceberg lettuce salad, and a loaf of Italian bread. Clearly Gen did not get Dillan's gourmet cooking skills.

“Do you have any brothers or sisters?” Robert asked as we began eating.

“I have one brother. He's six and a half years younger than me,” I said.

“That's quite a difference. Is he a healer too?” Robert asked.

“No,” I said in between bites of chicken. “He works in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures.”

“Her dad's the head of that department,” Dillan put in. “Bit of a family thing with them, magical creatures.”

Gen nodded and took a sip of her wine. “Very dangerous, though. I can't imagine working with magical creatures.”

I hid my laughter behind a piece of bread. Oh, this was too fun. Her reaction to Matt's lycanthropy would probably be the funniest thing ever.

“Well, Amy was a Gryffindor at Hogwarts,” Dillan pointed out.

“I'm going to be in Gryffindor!” Gaven shouted as he rolled his slice of bread into a ball, then shoved the whole thing into his mouth.

“Your father and I were both Ravenclaws,” Gen said.

“I don't care,” Gaven answered. “I'll be in Gryffindor.”

“It is the best house,” I told him.

“Yeah it is!” Gaven shouted. He stood up on his chair and pointed his hand to the ceiling. “It's where all the best fighters are. And Harry Potter was a Gryffindor!”

“I know Harry Potter,” I told him.

Gen sighed. “Please, don't encourage him.”

“Really?” Gaven asked. He sat back down and stared at me. It was the first time that he sat still all night.

I nodded. “My brother is his son, Albus's, flatmate.”

“Can I meet him?” Gaven asked. “Please?”

I glanced at Gen and Robert. They both looked slightly embarrassed. “I think that's up to your mum and dad.”

“I'm sure he's very busy,” Robert said.

“But I'm going to be an Auror just like him!” Gaven exclaimed.

Wow, I thought, he really is the polar opposite of his parents.

“We'll see,” Gen said.

We made small talk about various meaningless news stories throughout the past week. Topics included the weather, Quidditch, and the death of the second Weird Sister. All in all it was slightly awkward and as Dillan had ensured it would be, boring. Gen served a plain vanilla cake for desert and Gaven ate it with his hands. Dillan and I didn't linger after dinner, instead choosing to go back to my own flat, which was only a few blocks away.

“You weren't kidding,” I said as I poured us both glasses of wine.

Dillan sat down on the couch. “Told you. That was actually more lively than most dinners. I should point out that they cook that same meal every time I go over there.”

“Really?” I asked as I handed Dillan his wine and sat down next to him.

Dillan nodded. “I've offered to cook for them before, but they always turn me down.

“That Gaven, though,” I said.

“He makes the whole thing worth it.” Dillan grinned. “I've no doubt he'll get into Gryffindor. Gen and Robert will be horrified.”

“Was she always like that?” I asked.

“Mostly,” Dillan said. “Got worse when she married Robert. So, you agree that your family's more interesting?”

“Yes.” I laughed. Although I really never doubted that. It didn't get more interesting than my family, except perhaps the Weasleys.

The exhaustion hit me again as we sipped our wine. Dillan didn't need much convincing to stay over, so we soon left our half-empty wine glasses and got into bed. I fell asleep immediately, feeling very content, with Dillan's arm wrapped around me.


A/N: Thanks to everyone who has read and reviewed this! I am officially done with school! I've finished all my work and am now awaiting my degree to come in the mail. I'm officially a librarian now in need of a real job. But the good news is that I'll now have more time to write! I've been working on this story quite a bit lately.

Chapter 25: Baby Shower
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I didn't join Dillan for anymore Tuesday dinners with his sister. Tuesdays were just too impractical since they rarely allowed me to leave St. Mungo's before eight. But Dillan did join me for every Sunday dinner with my family. He soon became a fixture at our dinner table, one that Mum enjoyed seeing very much.

For the first time since their start, my support group was scheduled to meet right before a full moon. Two days before, to be exact. As soon as the kids started trickling in, I knew that this week's meeting was going to be different from meetings in the past.

For one, Izzy arrived with tears streaming down her face. She was the first one there and sat down at the table, sniffling as she did so.

“Izzy?” I asked. “Is everything okay?”

“No.” Izzy shook her head. “My brother is sick. Full moons are always worse when he's sick.”

I was all too familiar with that fact. “The moon is still two days away,” I told her. “He might be a little better by then. And if it is a bad moon, we'll fix him up here.”

“I know, but it's just always bad when he's sick,” Izzy said.

“He'll get through it,” I assured her.

Izzy nodded and wiped the tears from her face. The Hogwarts contingent walked in next, all looking a bit more subdued than usual. Kate Young was missing. Liane was carrying a stack of books. She sat down and immediately started reading.

“Does anyone know where Kate is?” I asked.

“I think she used one of those portable swamps in the dungeons,” Tyler said. “Someone did anyway and I heard rumors it was her. She's probably in Kendrick's study.”

I sighed. She still had yet to make any progress.

“Is the lycanthropy support group meeting tonight?” Scarlett asked.

“No,” I said. “They're putting it off until next week.” Matt and I had both agreed it would be best not to have them meet two days before the full moon. Plus, Matt had woken up with a fever so he wouldn't have been able to lead it.

“Is it easier when you're in Hogwarts?” Izzy asked the group.

“What do you mean?” Scarlett asked.

“The full moons. I hide out in my room during them and right after. I just wonder if it will be better when I'm at Hogwarts next year.”

“It won't be,” Tyler said immediately. “You'll still worry and you'll have to wait for your parents to owl you to find out how the moon went.”

Scarlett and Vinny nodded in agreement. Liane didn't look up from her books. I sat back and let them take control of the conversation. It always seemed to work better that way. Usually they talked about school or Quidditch, but today they spent the entire hour discussing how they deal with their worry during full moons.

“What about you, Amy?” Scarlett asked toward the end of the hour. “What did you do during full moons at Hogwarts?”

Everyone was looking up at me expectantly and it struck me how much these kids trusted me and relied on me. Even Liane, who had been reading the entire hour, now looked up from her book. There were only four people in the world who knew what I did on full moons during my first year at Hogwarts and they were Matt, Victoire, Madam Pomfrey, and Healer Norlam.

“Well, during my first year at Hogwarts, which was when I was a fourth year, I went to the hospital wing. I couldn't sleep so I'd help Madam Pomfrey. She was the only one in the castle who knew about my brother, so she understood. I didn't always stay the night. Sometimes I would go back to Gryffindor and stay up all night in the common room or in my dormitory. I never slept. Not even after that year.”

“I don't sleep either,” Liane said. Everyone else nodded in agreement.

“I still don't sleep,” I told them. “It's okay if you don't. You may never sleep during them.”

Vinny, Scarlett, Tyler, and Izzy continued to talk about full moons while Liane went back to studying. I glanced at her book and saw that it was a N.E.W.T. potions review book.

“Potions?” I asked. “That was my favorite subject.”

Liane glanced up from her book. “It's one of my favorites. I need an O on my N.E.W.T. I've already been accepted to the healer program, but if I want to pick up brewing, too, I need the O. Not to mention the other N.E.W.T.s.”

“They're not as bad as everyone makes them out to be,” I assured her. “You'll do fine.”

“Do you teach any of the classes for healing?” Liane asked.

“No,” I said. I'd been asked to many times but I just didn't have the time. “I've given a few guest lectures, though.”

Liane nodded. “I hope you do some next year.”

“I'll try to,” I told her.

“I've heard that we're supposed to shadow a healer next year for a certain number of hours.”

“That's true,” I said. I followed Morris around when I did my observation hours.

“Do you get to pick who you observe?” Liane asked.

“Not usually,” I said, “but certain healers have requested specific students. Healer Sterling requested me since I'd known him since I was fourteen and he knew I had an interest in creature induced injuries.”

“Would you be willing to request me?” Liane asked quietly. “I know you're busy, but-”

“Of course,” I assured her. “I'll put in a request to the School of Healing right away.”

“Thanks.” Liane smiled. She didn't say anything else, but instead returned to her studying for the remaining few minutes.

The more I got to know Liane the more of myself I saw in her. She was so determined and worked so hard, but I did worry about her. I worried that she would find herself in the same place I did one day, realizing that she'd pushed aside everything else except her career. It took me a long time to figure out that that had been a mistake and I didn't want that for Liane.

***




When I arrived at Victoire's house the day after the full moon it looked like a tornado had hit it. I'd never seen it in such a state, even immediately after the full moon. Victoire hadn't even answered when I rang the bell, so I let myself in to find the huge mess, as well as Victoire and Sophie asleep on the couch.

I usually tried to stop by Victoire's the day after the full moon just to check on Sophie, despite the fact that her mum is a healer. I wasn't always able to, but this month's full moon happened to fall on a Saturday and I hadn't been called into work.

“Victoire!” I said as I gently shook her awake. “Victoire!”

Victoire opened her eyes and groaned. It took her three tries to sit up, given her very swollen belly. She was already as big as she'd been with Sophie at full term, and she still had a month to go. Sophie stirred as her mum got up, but didn't wake.

“How is she?” I asked as I helped Victoire off the couch.

“Fine,” Victoire said through a yawn. She looked exhausted.

“And what about you?” I asked.

Victoire sighed. “Hold on. I'll meet you in the kitchen.”

Victoire waddled toward the bathroom and I walked to the kitchen, which was just as much a mess as the living room had been. I located a clean kettle and put it on the stove. Victoire returned a few minutes later and collapsed in one of the chairs. She laid her head down on the table for a full minute and when she finally raised it, there were silent tears streaming down her face.

“Victoire!” I exclaimed as I sat down next to her and wrapped her in a hug. “What's wrong?”

“Everything,” she moaned. “I thought when I stopped working last month I'd get a handle on things but I'm just so tired all the time. I can't get anything done.”

“When does Teddy get back?”

“I don't even know. That's half the problem. He used to get nice, simple missions where he'd be gone for two days and I'd know when he would get back. But now, I guess since he's more experienced, he's gone for weeks and I never know when he's going to get back.”

“He's been gone for two weeks,” I said. “He must get back soon.”

Victoire groaned. “Merlin, I hope so. And it's just going to get worse after the twins are born. I don't think I'm ever going to get back to work. At least not until the twins are in school.”

“You don't know that now,” I told her.

“Yeah, I kind of do,” Victoire said. “Remember with Sophie? She was over at my mum's more often than she was with me and Teddy. I can't do that with the twins. I can't expect Mum to take care of two babies as well as all the other kids she takes care of during the day. Not to mention call weekends. If one of those lined up with one of Teddy's missions, and let's face it, that'll happen more often now, Mum would have to watch Sophie and the twins.”

“You know your mum would love that. Or even your Nana Molly.”

Victoire put her head in her hands. “I know, but I can't ask them to keep doing that. And then when I really think about it, I don't want to miss anything with the twins. Remember, I missed Sophie's first steps.”

I did remember that. Sophie took her first steps while Victoire was on call and Victoire had been upset about it for a full week. I didn't even have kids and knew that I'd want to be there for that milestone.

“I can't miss anything, Amy,” Victoire said quietly. “I missed so much with Soph and I regret it. I don't want to miss anything this time.”

I nodded. “It's completely up to you. Just make sure you're doing it for you, not because Teddy's so busy. You know he'd ease up on the missions if you asked him to.”

“I don't want to ask him to,” Victoire said. “He loves going on missions. He isn't going on any for about three months after he comes home, though. They've given him a desk job so he can be home when the twins are born.”

“Good,” I said. “Now, I'm going to make you a large cup of tea and you're going to relax while I clean your house.”

“Amy...”

“Don't protest,” I said. “You're exhausted. I don't mind.”

“But-”

“No buts,” I replied as I stood up.

Victoire sighed, but looked relieved. I made her a steaming cup of tea and got her settled back on the couch. She was asleep in five minutes.

It took me half the day to clean Victoire's house. By the time I finished Sophie was waking up and looking much better than she had the previous day. Victoire was as well, and insisted upon ordering a pizza to repay me for cleaning her house.

We were just finishing up when the front door opened. Victoire dropped the pizza box and walked to the door as fast as she could. Sophie beat her there. I followed, but waited just inside the kitchen.

“Daddy!” Sophie exclaimed.

There was Teddy, standing in the doorway, a rucksack on his back and at least two days' worth of stubble on his face. His hair was bright turquoise, but he looked as exhausted as Victoire had earlier in the day.

“Sophie!” Teddy shouted. He dropped the rucksack and hoisted Sophie up into his arms. “How are you?”

“Better now that you're here,” Sophie said as she wrapped her arms around his neck.

Teddy walked inside and shut the door. He set Sophie down on the floor and embraced Victoire, who was crying again. Sophie now had her arms wrapped around Teddy's legs. I smiled as I watched their reunion. They'd be okay. They had their issues, with balancing both of their work schedules and Sophie's lycanthropy, but they'd be okay.

I quietly stepped around them and gave Victoire a wave as I left the house. Teddy would be home for three months now and they needed that. More than anything, the Lupins needed three months of stability, where everyone was home.

***




The following Wednesday was Victoire's 30th birthday, but she told me multiple times that she didn't want a surprise party. Being as pregnant as she was, I didn't blame her. I think birthday celebrations were always slightly awkward for her since May 2nd was also the anniversary of the Final Battle and Voldemort's death. That meant that it was also the anniversary of Teddy's parents' deaths. This year her mum and sister decided to throw her a combined birthday party and baby shower the Saturday after her birthday. It wasn't a surprise and Victoire insisted it be small.

Small by Weasley standards would be considered huge by others' standards, especially for someone with a family as small as mine. However, I'd spent enough time with the Weasleys to not be surprised to find that Victoire's parents' house was packed on Saturday. It was only filled with the Weasley women, but even if you half the number of Weasleys, you still have a lot of Weasleys.

Victoire's mum and her sister, Gabriella were there, of course, along with her Nana Molly. I assumed they'd sent Bill off to one of his brothers' houses for the day. All of Victoire's aunts and female cousins were there, as well as the wives of a few of her male cousins. A couple nurses and healers from St. Mungo's were there as well. All in all, I guessed there were at least thirty people packed into the house.

Fleur and Gabriella had done a beautiful job decorating. They'd asked if I wanted to help, but given my schedule and my lack of artistic talent, I turned them down. Streamers and balloons were hanging up everywhere, all blue and green. Candy dishes filled with bottle shaped candies were set out on every surface. However, the funniest decorations of all were the cakes made out of rolled diapers that sat upon the dining room table. There were three of them. One blue, one green, and one yellow. Rattles and other assorted baby items decorated the tops of the diaper cakes.

I knew I was the last one there so I set my present down on a table and hurried over to the couch, where I squeezed in next to Rose. I was glad she was there. I'd been meaning to talk to her about the lycanthropy study.

“Oh, good, everyone's here now!” Gabriella exclaimed. “We're going to do games first, then we'll eat, and then Victoire can open her presents.”

Rose and I exchanged looks. Baby shower games were always kind of ridiculous. Gabriella planned Victoire's shower for Sophie, too, and that one had been filled with games.

“First we're all going to guess the babies' weight. Remember to write down two weights, since it's twins. Victoire, you haven't decided on names yet, have you?”

Victoire was seated in a rocking chair next to Gabriella. “Er, not yet.”

“All right, just label the guesses 'baby 1' and 'baby 2. Remember to put your names on them. Whoever is closest to both twins' weights at birth gets a prize,'” Gabriella said as she started to pass around slips of paper and pens.

“You know,” I whispered to Rose. “All the nurses and healers have an advantage over everyone else.”

Rose laughed. “Oh well!”

I got my piece of paper and pen and thought for a moment. If I was remembering right Sophie was 7lbs 8oz at birth, so the twins would be quite a bit smaller. I scribbled down 6lbs 3oz for one twin and 6lbs 5oz for the other and figured it was a decent guess. Gabriella sent around a basket to collect the answers.

The next game was Pin the Diaper on the Baby, which wound up being quite hilarious with thirty plus people involved. Victoire's cousin, Angie, came the closest to getting the diaper in the right spot so she won a package of bottles.
Angie is only 21 and doesn't have any kids, so she gave them to Victoire.

The afternoon continued with more funny games including the purse scavenger hunt and a Weasley tradition- Guess the Weasley Baby. This one was a take on the Muggle shower game of Guess the Celebrity Baby. Gabriella held up pictures of every single Weasley baby and we had to write down on a piece of paper which Weasley we thought the baby was. I was awful at this game, but it was fun nonetheless. Nana Molly won, just as she had at the shower when Victoire was pregnant with Sophie. I had a suspicion she won most of the time.

Lunch time finally arrived and I wandered around the house until I found Rose in the kitchen. She was talking to Lily. I gathered a plate of food and waited for her to be done.

Our study on lycanthropy had been stuck in data collection for months since she relied upon werewolves willingly coming into St. Mungo's to speak with her. There were a few reliable patients who came in every month, but it was a slow process since data could only be collected once a month. However, I was getting anxious to analyze the data since my Wolfsbane research had been in a rut for months.

“Rose,” I said after Lily drifted away.

“Oh, Amy, hi!” Rose said. “Lost you after Pin the Diaper on the Baby.”

I laughed. “I'm surprised I even managed to get the diaper on any part of the baby.”

“Yet, somehow, I don't think a diaper would help on a baby's head,” Rose said. “I meant to find you after the moon, but you were never in your study when I passed by.”

“It's been a busy week,” I said. “I've been meaning to ask you about the data collection.”

Rose laughed. “That's what I've been wanting to find you about. We've almost got all we need. I'd guess that another two moons will get us enough.”

“Oh, good,” I said, very relieved. At least in two months I'd be able to feel productive again.

“How is the Wolfsbane going?” Rose asked.

“Not well,” I said. “I'm stuck. I keep going over the information again and again, but nothing's jumping out. I swear, it's going to be something really, really obvious.”

“You'll get there,” Rose assured me.

“It's just so hard, month after month, seeing him,” I said quietly.

Rose nodded. “I still remember when I figured it out, first year. I thought it was so obvious, but Albus and John, they were clueless.”

“He didn't do the greatest job of hiding it,” I said. “I tried helping, but he's never been good at keeping secrets.”

“It all worked out, though,” Rose said.

“I swear the only reason he got through Hogwarts was because of you and Albus, and the others,” I pointed out.

“But he did,” Rose said. “And you're going to fix the Wolfsbane. Just keep thinking about how great it will be when you do it.”

“I try. But at least we'll have a distraction soon. The twins will be born soon!”

“Yes!” Rose exclaimed. “I can't wait! It's been two years since we've had a Weasley baby.”

For the Weasleys, that was a long time to go without someone having a baby. Rose and I continued to talk until it was time to open presents. We were all given baby bingo cards and instructed to mark off spots if one of our spots matched a present Victoire opened.

Opening presents took a good hour since someone got baby bingo every ten minutes or so. I even won one round, earning me a baby bottle filled with Bertie Bott's.

Victoire opened my present toward the end. I got her two sleepers, one with ducks on it and the other with dinosaurs, and a package of diapers. Matt also contributed to the gift with two unrealistically cute wolf stuffed animals.

“Those are from Matt,” I said as Victoire pulled them out of the bag.

Victoire laughed and smiled at me. Next to me, Rose smirked and shook her head. We were the only three in the room who understood why that was so funny, but no one questioned it.

After presents Fleur brought a birthday cake out of the kitchen and we spent another half hour eating cake and talking. I didn't manage to talk to Victoire until after everyone else had left.

“Merlin, Amy, that was exhausting,” she said after the last few people trickled out the door.

“But fun,” I said.

Victoire smiled. “Yes, very fun. I think we're set now, for baby clothes.”

“And for diapers, for maybe, a week?” I said as I gestured to the huge mountain of diaper boxes stacked in a corner of the living room.

Victoire laughed. “Diapers are the best baby shower gift. Seriously. People don't realize it until they have kids, but diapers are probably the most important.”

“Amen to that,” Nana Molly said as she picked up stray pieces of wrapping paper. “Vic, dear, in a week you're going to be having those babies. If I were anything like George I'd bet on it.”

“Nana, I'm not due for another three weeks.”

Nana Molly smiled. “I've had seven kids and watched them have countless grandkids. I've even watched a few of you have my great-grandkids. Trust me. You've got less than a week.”

Victoire groaned. “Twins. Merlin. The labor is going to be awful.”

“At least you'll get two at once,” Nana Molly said. “Better to get two out of the labor than one and have another later.”

“You did that and then had two more,” Victoire pointed out.

Nana Molly shrugged. “Well, don't listen to me, then.”

“I'm done after this,” Victoire said. “Three will be plenty.”

“I'm going to have to get going,” I said as I located my purse. “I've got a stack of paper work at St. Mungo's calling my name. But I'll see you Wednesday.”

“Wednesday?” Victoire asked.

“I'm cooking dinner for you, Teddy, and Sophie, remember?”

Victoire smirked. “You mean bringing us take-away?”

“Same thing.” I grinned and gave her a hug. “Take care, and keep those babies inside a bit longer.”

Victoire smiled. “I'll try.”





A/N: Thanks to everyone who has read and reviewed this!


Chapter 26: Remus John and Henri William
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“And remember, keep your wand out of reach,” I told the father of a three-year-old, as he carried his newly deflated son out of the exam room. I handed him a pamphlet entitled '10 Tips for Wand Safety and Children' and followed him out into the waiting area.

I sighed as I watched him leave. My three hours of clinic duty that day were filled with easily preventable magical injuries just like the bloke whose son inflated to the size of a small inner tube. I glanced at my watch. 2:59. Close enough. My clinic hours were over for the day. I hurried out of the clinic and into the nearest lift before a nurse could catch me and direct me into another exam room. Three hours in the clinic was plenty, especially on a day when I still hadn't had time to check my potions. That wouldn't come until later, though, because I still had a few of my own patients to see.

When I arrived at the Dai Llewellyn ward, Natalie had already let my three o'clock appointment into the exam room. I glanced at the chart on my way to the room, but the name of the patient stopped me in my tracks. Thomas Young. I recognized the name, of course, as Thomas had been a patient of mine for the past three years. He was possibly one of my saddest cases, even sadder than Jamie, and I was surprised I hadn't put two and two together before. Thomas Young was Kate Young's little brother.

Thomas Young was bitten at the age of three and was the youngest known survivor of a werewolf attack. Most children under the age of six didn't survive, Matt and Remus Lupin being a few of the lucky ones. However, until Thomas, no one under the age of four had survived. Thomas's recovery from the attack was long and heart breaking. He spent a full six months in St. Mungo's and still came back for appointments every three months. In fact, it was just within the past year that he'd stopped needing to stay after every full moon. He was lucky in that Wolfsbane worked for him, but the actual transformations made him sick every month.

His parents' reactions to his lycanthropy were very similar to my own parents' reactions, although they were even more magnified. In fact, I hadn't even realized that they had another child. Realizing that Kate was Thomas's sister gave me a sudden understanding of Kate's behavior.

I continued my way toward the exam room and debated whether it would be a good idea to mention Kate after the appointment was over. I knocked and then entered.

Thomas was sitting on the exam table. He looked nothing like his sister. While Kate was tall with olive skin and wavy, dark hair, Thomas's skin was pale and his hair was light, sandy brown. Kate looked just like their dad and Thomas resembled their mother.

“Hey, Thomas!” I said as I entered. “How are you feeling today?”

Thomas smiled. “Good. Mummy let me have ice cream for lunch.”

“Thomas!” Mrs. Young scolded playfully. “You're not supposed to tell Healer Eckerton that.”

“I'll tell you a secret. I've had ice cream for lunch on many occasions,” I said. “All right, today we're just going to take some blood and make sure all his levels are still normal. I'll need to send them away to the lab so we'll get the results back to you by owl sometime later this week.”

Thomas stuck out his arm without even being asked. For the first two years after he'd been bitten, I took blood once a month. Now it was so routine that he barely noticed when I did it. It certainly made things easier, but in a way it was sad.

“All right,” I said as I drew a blood sample with my wand. “Done. And the nurse already got your height and weight, so unless you have any questions or concerns, I think we are set.”

“I think we're good,” Mr. Young said. “The past few months have been a breeze, comparatively.”

“I hate to jinx it, but I think we've finally got it under control,” I said as I transferred the blood to a test tube.

Mrs. Young smiled. “It's such a relief-”

There was a knock on the door. I glanced at it. That was odd. It was common courtesy at St. Mungo's not to bother healers while they were with patients, unless there was an emergency. Matt, I thought. My mind always jumped to Matt when there was a potential emergency, but it was the middle of the lunar cycle. He should be fine.

I got up and opened the door. A nurse was on the other side. I didn't recognize her and judging by the alphabet block print on her scrubs, she worked in the maternity ward. Victoire!

“Sorry to bother you, Healer Eckerton, but Victoire's gone into labor and she's asking for you,” the nurse said. “I've got to get back, but I told her I'd try to find you.”

“Thanks,” I said as I shut the door. Merlin, Victoire's grandmother had been right!

“Good news?” Mrs. Young asked.

I grinned. “My best friend's just gone into labor with twins.”

“Oh, wow, how exciting!” she replied. “We'll get going, then.”

I said a hurried goodbye to the Youngs and realized on my way back to my study that I hadn't mentioned anything about Kate. Part of me was relieved as I didn't know what I would've said.

After asking Morris to take my four o'clock appointment I found myself back in the lift and on my way to the maternity ward. I liked the maternity ward because as soon as you got off the lift it didn't feel like you were in St. Mungo's anymore. The entire ward was decorated in soft pastels and it had a happy feel to it, unlike the rest of the hospital.

It wasn't very large since many witches still preferred home births. Victoire was not one of them. “Why in the name of Merlin would I want to give birth where I eat and sleep?” was her exact response to the idea when she'd been pregnant with Sophie. The ward had two private rooms, two shared rooms with two beds in each, and two delivery rooms. After asking a nurse at the nurses station I found out that Victoire had one of the private rooms and I hurried toward it.

Victoire was laying in bed looking absolutely miserable. She looked exhausted and she hadn't even given birth yet. This was only the beginning. Teddy was pacing the room and appeared to be even more stressed than Victoire.

“Amy! Thank God!” Victoire exclaimed when I walked in.

“Victoire!” I replied. “When did you get here?”

“About an hour ago,” she answered. “Merlin, Teddy, quit pacing! You're making me crazy!”

“Sorry, sorry,” Teddy said as he sat down in the chair next to the bed.

“Morris took my four o'clock, but I've got to take my five o'clock and brew afterward,” I explained. “I wish I didn't, but the Wolfsbane-”

Victoire groaned. “Shit! Dammit!”

“I'm sorry, I wish-”

“No, not you, it was a contraction. I know you're busy. I just wanted you to know what was happening and see you before I went into the delivery room. It's going to be a while.”

“How far are you?” I asked.

“Only two centimeters,” Victoire said. “Remember how long my labor was with Sophie?”

“Fifteen hours or something?”

“Fourteen. And this is two babies.”

“Won't they come right after the other?” I asked.

Victoire shook her head. “Not always. Apparently there was a woman in here last year who had twins and one of them was born a full two hours after the other.”

“Wow,” I said. “Where's Sophie?”

“With Mum,” Victoire said. “Amy, I need one favor.”

“Anything,” I said.

“If anyone else from my family comes here, besides Mum, because she said she and Dad would come as soon as she can find someone else to watch Sophie, don't let them in. Gabriella is okay, but any of my cousins or their spouses or anyone else, don't let them in. I'm begging you.”

“Don't worry about it. I'll fend them off,” I said.

When Victoire had had Sophie, the entire waiting room had been filled with Weasleys. They spent fourteen hours begging nurses to let them in and a few caved and at one point there were eight people in the room.

“I already told them not to come, but they will.”

“I'll guard the waiting room as soon as I'm done with those potions.”

“Thank you,” Victoire said and then groaned loudly. “Shit!”

I sat with Victoire until my next appointment and returned after that. She dilated another centimeter while I was gone and then another two during the three hours I was brewing. By the time eight o'clock rolled around it was clear that this labor was going to be a lot shorter than Sophie's. At that point both of her parents and Gabriella had arrived, so I joined a small vigil of anxious soon-to-be-grandparents, aunts, and uncles in the maternity ward waiting room. I was soon joined by Victoire's dad.

Far fewer Weasley cousins showed up than I had expected. After I thought about it I realized that the reason so many had shown up for Sophie was because Sophie had been the first child of any of Victoire's first cousins. This time only Nana Molly, Angie, Georgia, Heather, and Rose showed up. Victoire's brother, Ben, also showed up but he had no desire to see Victoire until after the babies were born.

I sent owls to my parents, Matt, and Dillan while we were waiting, letting them know that Victoire went into labor. Other than that it was a fairly boring waiting game that involved drinking many cups of tea and talking about Quidditch far more than I would've liked.

Gabriella and Fleur entered the waiting room just after three in the morning to announce that Victoire had been moved into the delivery room and now it was only a matter of time before the babies were actually born.

“Have they decided on names yet?” I asked Gabriella as I sipped what must have been my twelfth cup of tea.

“They were arguing about them as Victoire was being wheeled to the delivery room,” Gabriella said.

I laughed. “Why does that not surprise me.”

Fifteen minutes later Teddy ran into the waiting room wearing surgical scrubs and a huge grin on his face. Everyone in the room, including the other soon-to-be-dads, stood up expectantly.

“First twin is a boy! Just like we already knew, but still,” Teddy announced. “Have to get back for the other.” He rushed back into the ward.

“He didn't even tell us the name.” Gabriella groaned.

“Probably doesn't have one picked yet,” I pointed out.

Teddy was back only ten minutes later, with an even bigger grin on his face. “Twin number two is also a boy. They're identical as far as we can tell.”

“Are either of them metamorphmagi?” Ben asked.

“I don't think so,” Teddy replied. “My gran said I was changing my hair color just minutes after I was born and these two both have normal hair.”

“Merlin, Teddy, tell us the names!” Gabriella exclaimed. “Or do they not have names yet?”

Teddy laughed and leaned against a snack machine. “They've got names. The older one is Remus John, after my dad, and the second is Henri William, after Victoire's dad and grandfather.”

Remus and Henri. They sounded nice together. I'd predicted that they'd name one of them Remus since Sophie's middle name was Nymphadora, but I wasn't predicting Henri for the other. Victoire's grandfather had died before I even met her, but she said she'd always been close to him.

Teddy soon left to get back to Victoire and the twins. Gabriella, Bill, and Ben went with him. I glanced at my watch and saw that it was four in the morning. Groaning to myself, I got up and decided to stop by my flat to have a quick nap and change before having to go back to work. I'd see Victoire and the twins later, after all her cousins and other assorted family members had had their turn.

***


By eleven o'clock it became clear that working a full day on three hours of sleep was not a smart idea. I'd done it before, many times, but this time it seemed more exhausting than usual. I wanted to try and slip away to see Victoire and the twins around ten, but I wasn't able to until noon. I grabbed a quick sandwich in the tea room and then hurried to the maternity ward.

Victoire was sleeping when I arrived, but Teddy was awake and sitting with both twins on his lap in a rocking chair. The grin on his face from when he came to the waiting room to tell us they'd been born had not faded and he looked like a very proud father.

He looked up when I entered. “Hi, Amy,” he whispered.

“Hey!” I whispered back as I tiptoed toward him. “How is everyone?”

“Vic's been sleeping for the past five hours,” Teddy said. “And the twins for the past two.”

“Wow,” I replied. “Hopefully that's a sign of things to come.”

“I doubt it.” Teddy smirked. “Come meet them.”

I sat down in the armchair next to Teddy's rocker and peered into the bundles in his arms. Both babies looked very serene and pink, with matching crops of sandy brown hair upon their heads. I usually think that all babies look the same, but even less than twelve hours after their birth, I could tell they looked like Teddy.

“They're beautiful,” I said. “Absolutely adorable.”

“Gran says they have my dad's hair, before it turned grey, that is,” Teddy said.

“They've got even more hair than Sophie did,” I commented. Sophie had been born with the biggest crop of white-blonde hair I'd ever seen on a baby. But the twins, they even beat her. “Have either of them changed their hair yet?”

Teddy laughed. “I don't think either of them are metamorphmagi. You want to hold one of them?”

“Of course,” I said. I reached over and carefully took the twin from Teddy's right arm. He squirmed slightly as I did so, but didn't wake. He felt so warm and tiny in my arms and I had a sudden pang in my stomach. It was a strange feeling, almost as if I wanted a baby of my own. Never before had I even thought about having a baby, but holding this brand new baby boy in my arms brought out a feeling that I didn't even know I had.

“That's Henri,” Teddy said. “They've got personalities already. Henri's the fussier one and Remus seems to be calmer.”

“Has all your family come to see them?” I asked.

“All the ones in the country,” Teddy said. “A few of Victoire's cousins are abroad, but they're all planning on coming soon.”

I sat with Henri for at least a half an hour, just watching him sleep and smiling at him. Teddy fell asleep with Remus in his arms and I wished I had a camera. As I watched them, I couldn't help but imagine how proud Teddy's dad would've been to see his son with Remus John Lupin Junior asleep on his lap.

Victoire stirred in bed and opened her eyes. “Hey, Amy,” she said. Her throat was hoarse.

“How are you feeling?” I asked.

“Like I got hit by the Hogwarts Express,” she said flatly. “Remind me not to have anymore children.”

I laughed. “They're so sweet.”

“They really are.” Victoire smiled. “It's amazing how much you can love someone you've only just met.”

“But really, you've gotten to know them for the past nine months,” I pointed out.

“Yeah, that's true,” Victoire agreed. “Honestly, though, I'm just relieved they're born and they're healthy.”

I nodded. After the lycanthropy scare at the beginning of her pregnancy, I couldn't blame her. For that reason alone I knew she wouldn't be having anymore children. She and Teddy hadn't been planning anymore after Sophie, but the twins had been an accident. A good accident, I thought as I watched baby Henri.

Henri started to stir in my arms and soon he was letting out a wail loud enough to wake people up on the floor above. I rocked him gently, but he didn't stop.

“He's probably hungry,” Victoire said as she held out her arms.

I got up and placed Henri in Victoire's arms and as soon as she began nursing him, he quieted down. Remus didn't even stir upon hearing his brother's cry.

“Remus sleeps like his dad,” I said as I gestured to Teddy and the other twin.

Victoire laughed. “He sure does. Henri doesn't. He wakes up every time Remus cries. I guess I would've gotten off too easy if I had three kids who would sleep through anything.”

“Two out of three is pretty good,” I said.

“Definitely,” Victoire agreed.

“Mummy!”

I looked up to the door and saw Sophie standing in the doorway. She ran to the bed and jumped up, squeezing in next to her mum. “Mummy, I missed you.”

“I missed you, too, Soph,” Victoire said. “Meet one of your new baby brothers. This is Henri William.”

“He's so cute!” Sophie exclaimed. “Can I hold him?”

“Once he's done nursing,” Victoire said.

“Is his name French like mine?” Sophie asked. “And is he going to turn into a wolf like I do?”

“Yes, his name is French, but he's not going to turn into a wolf. Neither will your other brother,” Victoire explained.

“Oh,” Sophie said. “Where is the other one?”

“Daddy has him,” Victoire pointed to the sleeping Teddy and Remus.

Sophie climbed off the bed and hurried over to her dad. “Daddy!”

Teddy woke up with a start and smiled at Sophie. “Hi, Soph.”

Sophie climbed onto her dad's lap and Teddy moved Remus out of the way. Soon he had both of them on his lap and Sophie was petting Remus's forehead like he was a cat.

“What's his name?”

“Remus John,” Teddy said. “He's named after your grandfather.”

“Your dad? The one who turned into a wolf?” Sophie asked.

“Yes,” Teddy answered.

“He looks just like Henri,” Sophie said.

“They're identical twins,” Teddy explained.

“How will we tell them apart?” Sophie asked.

“For now we'll have to put different ankle bracelets on them, but soon we'll know who is who just by looking at them,” Teddy said.

Remus stirred and began to cry, which set Henri off again. Sophie covered her ears upon hearing Henri's ear piercing howl.

“Ted, Remus is hungry,” Victoire said.

Teddy nodded and gestured for Sophie to get off his lap. He carried Remus over to Victoire and switched babies with her. After a few minutes they both quieted down and Sophie wanted to hold Henri.

“Remember, you have to support his head,” Teddy said after he got Sophie seated in the armchair. He carefully placed Henri in Sophie's arms. Sophie lit up and smiled down at her baby brother.

“He's a lot bigger than my dolls,” Sophie said. “He's heavy.”

“Oh, that reminds me, Amy,” Victoire began, “Gabriella said you won the guess the baby weight contest. I think the prize was a box of chocolate.”

“Excellent.” I grinned. “How big are they?”

“The babies or the chocolates?”

“The babies,” I said.

“Henri is six pounds, eight ounces, and Remus is six pounds, five ounces,” Victoire said.

“Wow, they're big,” I replied.

“I'm just glad they didn't stay in there any longer. Imagine how big they would've been two weeks from now.”

I laughed. After a quick glance at my watch I realized I was late for clinic hours and said a rushed goodbye, with a promise to stop by before I went home. I paused on my way out the door, watching the happy family. Victoire and Teddy always seemed very happy to just have Sophie, but I couldn't help but notice that they seemed even more happy, and more complete, with the twins there as well. It must be a Weasley thing, I thought. A family wasn't complete without at least three kids.


A/N: Big thanks to WeasleyTwinMom aka momotwins for all her help with the pregnancy, birth, and twin questions I had! Thanks to everyone who has read and reviewed!

Chapter 27: Life With the Twins
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Victoire and the twins went home the following day. Nana Molly soon figured out a schedule for every member of the Weasley family to bring dinner to the Lupins for the following month. Victoire was very relieved about this since Teddy only had another week off and would then be returning to his desk job in the Auror office. However, Victoire wouldn't be hurting for help after Teddy went back to work given the eagerness of her family members to go visit the twins.

I managed to stop by the Lupin house a few times during the twins' first week at home and every time I went one of Victoire's cousins was there either cooking, cleaning, helping with the twins, or playing with Sophie. Victoire's life seemed to consist of nursing, changing diapers, and sleeping when she could.

The twins were an absolute joy despite Henri's tendency to cry more often than not and Remus's tendency to wet his diaper as soon as you put a new one on. They both looked more and more like Teddy every day, but had that mischievous glint to their eyes that Nana Molly said was uncannily like Fred and George at that age. Victoire groaned upon hearing this and lamented the fact that she couldn't handle twins like Fred and George. I insisted that she'd got away too easily with Sophie and needed some mischievous kids.

Two weeks after Victoire and the twins went home I awoke to someone shouting my name from the fireplace in my flat. I groaned and rolled over, slapping Dillan in the face in the process. He swore under his breath and muttered something about 'six in the morning' and 'who the hell could that be?' and 'bloody crazy'. Dillan was not a morning person, especially on Saturdays.

“Go back to sleep,” I told him as I got out of bed and pulled on a robe. “I'll get it.”

I entered the living room to see Teddy's head in the fireplace. There were bags under his eyes and it looked like he hadn't slept properly in nearly a month, which was probably true.

“Teddy?” I asked. “You realize it's six in the morning?”

“I haven't been asleep at this hour in three weeks,” Teddy said. “But yeah, I realize it.”

“What's wrong?” I replied, kneeling down next to the floo.

“Sophie,” Teddy answered. “Well, more Henri, but because of him Sophie's upset and no one's slept in two days which isn't good because the full moon's tomorrow and every time Remus cries Henri cries-”

“Teddy, slow down.”

Teddy sighed. “Henri's been crying on and off for four hours. We're not sure why. He's not sick, he's been fed, he's been changed. Victoire thinks it's colic, so he'll be fine. But for some reason Henri's cries are the one thing Sophie can't sleep through so she hasn't slept all night and now she's got a fever and it needs to go down before tomorrow night when the moon rises, and she can't sleep at our house, and she's been crying since midnight-”

“Teddy.”

“Sorry. Can I bring Sophie over? She needs somewhere quiet to sleep and your flat is the only place I can think of that would be quiet. I have to be at work in two hours. My gran's coming over to help with the twins today, but unless Henri calms down Sophie's never going to sleep.


“Of course,” I said immediately. “Bring her over whenever you want. I don't have to work today so I'll take care of her.”

A look of immense relief washed over Teddy. “I'll be back with her in ten minutes.” With a flash of green Teddy's head disappeared from the fire.

I hurried back to my room to wake Dillan up again. “Hrmph?” he said after I shook him awake.

“Dillan, wake up.”

“Wha's going on?” he asked sleepily.

“Sophie's sick,” I said. Dillan didn't know about Sophie's lycanthropy and it wasn't my place to tell him. “She can't sleep through Henri's crying so Teddy asked if she could stay here today. I'm going to have to back out on our plans today. I'm sorry.”

“It's okay,” Dillan said as he sat up. “Stuff happens. Is Sophie going to be okay?”

After Sunday, I thought. “She'll be fine. She just needs to rest in a quiet house.”

Dillan yawned and got up out of bed. “I'll just head back to my place to sleep and then check on the restaurant. Is it okay if I stop by with something for dinner?”

I smiled. “That'd be great.”

Dillan changed into his clothes from the day before and left the flat to Disapparate. Two minutes later the fire lit up green again and Teddy stepped through with Sophie in his arms.

“Amy, thank you so much,” Teddy said. “Victoire was in tears over the fact that Sophie couldn't sleep.”

“Not a problem,” I assured him. “Sophie? You okay?”

Sophie's face was streaked with tears. She shook her head, but didn't say anything. I showed Teddy to the guest bedroom and he laid her down in the bed. He whispered something to her, gave her a hug, and then turned back to me.

“I don't know what we're going to do about tomorrow night,” Teddy said quietly. “We hadn't thought about it before now, which is insane, since we've had eight months to think about it. We don't know where she should transform, now that the babies are born.”

“She's on Wolfsbane, Ted,” I pointed out. “The babies aren't in any danger.”

“No, it's not that,” Teddy said. “It's Sophie. We don't know how the wolf is going to react to hearing the babies cry. Usually the wolf just sleeps all night, after the actual transformation, but if Sophie can't sleep through Henri, the wolf might not be able to either.”

Now I understood. “I hadn't thought about that.”

Teddy sighed and sat down on the couch. He rubbed his hands over his face and then leaned back. “I just don't know, Amy. She's always transformed at home and there isn't anywhere else.”

I sat next to him. “I don't know, either. I'd let her transform here if it was a house, but it's a flat. It's just too risky. If the neighbors found out...”

Teddy shook his head. “No, I wouldn't ask you to do that. I think we're going to have to take her to Victoire's parents'. Their house is on the shore with no one else around. That would work.”

I nodded. “If Matt was on Wolfsbane she could transform at my parents' house, but he isn't.”

“Yeah, that wouldn't work,” Teddy agreed. “Vic's parents' it is, then. Guess I'd better get going if I'm going to talk to them before work. Oh, I nearly forgot.” Teddy reached into his cloak and pulled out a potion bottle. “Wolfsbane. She had a dose right before I brought her here.”

I took the bottle. “Got it. I'll make sure she takes it.”

“Thanks,” Teddy said. “For everything.”

“It's not a problem.”

Teddy left to go speak with Victoire's parents and I headed back to the spare bedroom to check on Sophie. She was sound asleep. Poor girl probably hadn't slept well since the twins arrived. I felt her forehead and was happy to find that she wasn't overly warm. All she needed was a few days of uninterrupted quiet to sleep.

The day was just what Sophie needed. She slept the entire morning and woke up in the early afternoon. I gave her another dose of Wolfsbane and a plate of macaroni and cheese and then she was asleep again. I spent most of the day researching and as much as I wished I could've spent the whole day with Dillan as planned, I needed the research time. Matt stopped by in late afternoon and fell asleep on the couch ten minutes after he arrived.

Dillan arrived a little past six with enough takeaway to feed half the Weasley family. He took one look at Matt asleep on the couch and Sophie asleep in the guest bedroom and had to cover his mouth with his hand to stifle his laughter. I ushered him into the kitchen and kissed him.

“What are you doing, running a St. Mungo's annex?” he asked as we broke apart. “Is your brother okay?”

“He'll be fine in a few days,” I said. “He doesn't like being alone when he's ill.”

“Can't say I blame him there,” Dillan said as he started unpacking the takeaway bags. “I got Italian. You think he'd want any?”

“Probably,” I said. “I'll go wake him.”

Both Matt and Sophie wanted dinner so we were soon sitting around my kitchen table eating spaghetti and meatballs. We made a very odd family. A healer, a cook, and two werewolves, one of which was only five. Then throw in the fact that Dillan was the only one who didn't know they were werewolves and the fact that the full moon was the next day and it was like a wizarding sitcom.

“Aunt Amy, am I staying here tonight?” Sophie asked as she picked at her spaghetti.

“Your mum and dad didn't say,” I replied. “What do you want to do?”

“Do you think Henri is going to cry again tonight?”

“Probably,” I told her. “Babies cry a lot, especially when they're this little.”

“Remus doesn't cry as much as Henri,” Sophie pointed out. “I want to stay here if he's going to cry again.”

“We'll ask your parents, then,” I said.

Sophie yawned. “Can I be excused.”

She hadn't eaten much of her pasta, but I wasn't surprised. “Sure.”

Sophie walked slowly over to the couch rather than the spare bedroom and I figured she still wanted to be near the rest of us. We were quiet for the rest of the meal, not wanting to wake her. Matt finished a few minutes later and fell asleep in an armchair.

The fireplace lit up again while Dillan and I cleaned up. Teddy stepped out dressed in his Auror robes. “Merlin, that was a long day.” He glanced around the room and smirked. “It's like St. Mungo's in here.”

“Exactly what I said,” Dillan replied.

“Daddy,” Sophie called from the couch.

Teddy hurried over to the couch and pulled Sophie onto his lap. “Soph, how are you?”

“Tired,” Sophie replied. “Aunt Amy said I could stay here tonight.”

“Do you want to?” Teddy asked. Sophie nodded. “Okay, you can stay.”

Teddy carried Sophie to the spare bedroom and came back a few minutes later, telling me that she would sleep from now until morning.

The remainder of the evening was quiet, just like the day had been. Teddy returned to his house and I hoped he'd be able to get some sleep tonight. He sure needed it. Dillan stayed for a few more hours and then headed back to his house. We both agreed that it wouldn't be appropriate for him to spend the night with Sophie there. Matt moved to the couch after Sophie went to the spare bedroom and was still asleep at midnight, so I left him. As I went to bed that night, I thought to myself that if I ever needed a career change I could open up a boarding house for wayward werewolves.

***


Sophie wound up staying at my flat until late afternoon the following day, when Teddy arrived to take her to Bill and Fleur's. She seemed slightly apprehensive about transforming in a new place, but Teddy and I were able to convince her that it would be better for the wolf. After she and Teddy left I side-along Apparated Matt to our parents' house for his own transformation.

My parents and I kept our usual full moon vigil at the kitchen table, only getting up for fresh cups of tea and to use the toilet. Once the moon set Dad helped Matt up to his room and I assessed his injuries. Nothing major this time, just a few broken bones and scratches that I healed instantly. After he fell asleep I cooked myself a few eggs and then Flooed to Bill and Fleur's to see how Sophie did.

Victoire's childhood home always seemed like something out of a fairytale to me. People would probably say the same about my own childhood home in Australia, given its grand entrance hall and sprawling grounds, but to me, Victoire's was better. It was uniquely designed with secret passageways and rooms of all different shapes and sizes. The ceiling was too low for her dad in places and in others it seemed to go on forever. It was surely held together by magic since Muggle construction probably wouldn't be able to keep it together.

It was also located next to the sea, which always fascinated me. I first visited Victoire at home during the summer in between our fourth and fifth years and I must have spent nearly half the trip sitting by the sea. It was chilly, even in the summer, which was so drastically different from the ocean at Australia, but lovely just the same. I still loved visiting her parents' house and would often go there if I needed to think.

Both Bill and Fleur were awake when I arrived. Fleur was busy baking cinnamon buns and judging by the smell, they were Nana Molly's recipe. Bill was at the table, digging into a large pile of drastically undercooked bacon.

“Bacon?” he offered after I stepped inside.

“No thanks,” I said. “Looks a bit rare for me.”

Bill grinned. “But it's just how Sophie and I like it.”

“How did she do?” I asked.

“Fine,” Fleur answered. “Teddy stayed until about two in the morning. He was planning on staying all night but Victoire needed him at home. Sophie's asleep in Victoire's old room.”

“I'll go check on her,” I said.

Sophie was indeed asleep when I got upstairs. Victoire's room hadn't changed much since her Hogwarts days since Bill and Fleur chose not to redecorate after she moved out. The walls were still lavender and there were still a few pictures of various wizarding bands on the walls. A picture of Victoire and I at our Hogwarts graduation was stuck in the mirror.

I felt Sophie's forehead and her temperature was normal. She slept as I checked her for injuries but there were none. It was rare for someone on Wolfsbane to sustain any broken bones or severe bites, but it happened occasionally.

I returned to the kitchen to find that Victoire had arrived, with one of the twins in her arms. Fleur was seating her at the table and placing a large platter of cinnamon buns in front of her.

“Victoire!” I exclaimed. “And...?”

“Remus,” Victoire said with a smile. “I figured it wouldn't be best to bring Henri over while Sophie was asleep.”

“You look like you got some sleep last night,” I commented as I plucked a cinnamon bun off the plate.

Victoire grinned. “Remus slept most of the night and Teddy stayed up with Henri. They're both asleep now.”

“Well, Sophie's great,” I said. “No fever and no injuries.”

Victoire let out a sigh of relief. “Thank Merlin.”

“Didn't hear a peep all night,” Bill commented. “She's welcome to transform here until the babies are sleeping through the night.”

“That would be wonderful,” Victoire said. “Thanks, Dad.”

I spent the remainder of the morning at Bill and Fleur's, leaving just before lunch in order to check on Matt. After confirming that he was fine, I took off for Hogwarts, to see if I could catch Professor Kendrick. I needed to speak with him about Kate's family situation.

I'd been meaning to meet with Kendrick for two weeks, but with the chaos of Victoire's giving birth and Sophie's issues, I hadn't found time yet. I was unsure whether Kendrick would be busy on a Sunday, but decided it couldn't hurt to stop by. I sent an owl ahead of me and wandered around Hogsmeade until I received a reply, which was 'yes'.

Hogsmeade is very quiet on Sundays and since the weather was relatively warm, it was a nice walk up to the castle. The castle itself seemed deserted, although the grounds were filled with students enjoying the nice weather.

Professor Kendrick was waiting for me in his study. I sat down in one of the chairs in front of his desk and noticed that Professor Snape was the only portrait paying attention. His menacing stare always gave me the creeps.

“Miss Eckerton, what can I help you with?” Kendrick asked.

“It's about Kate,” I said.

“Ah, yes. Miss Young. How is she doing at meetings?”

I sighed. “She hasn't made any improvements. She still just sits there, not paying any attention and not contributing.”

“Her behavior has not improved in school, either,” Kendrick said. “The other day she served detention for trapping three first years on the Astronomy Tower.”

“How much do you know about her family background?” I asked.

“A fair amount,” Kendrick answered. “I am aware of her little brother's condition.”

I took a deep breath. I was treading the fine line of breaking healer/patient confidentiality and offering necessary information to the headmaster about one of his students.

“It took me until a few weeks ago to put two and two together,” I began. “Kate's little brother is one of my patients and I never thought about that until he had an appointment a few weeks ago. All I can say is that it's been an extremely long road for both Kate's brother and her parents. His recovery was not easy and it continues to be a battle, albeit an easier one now.”

Kendrick nodded. “That was the impression I got as well. Although, I got the same impression from your parents when you transferred here.”

“The Youngs are not having problems with the Ministry, though. All their struggles have stemmed from Thomas's lycanthropy. I cannot go into details, but for the sake of discussion, he's worse off than my brother.”

Kendrick nodded. “I imagine that is why Miss Young has so many problems at home.”

“Professor, I was not even aware that the Youngs had a daughter until I realized they were Kate's parents three weeks ago. I've been treating Thomas for three years.”

Kendrick sighed. “I had to make a visit to their house in order to get Kate's Hogsmeade permission form signed. They'd forgotten to sign it. She just wants their attention.”

“I agree,” I said. “But I think this goes beyond her wanting attention, to be honest.”

Kendrick nodded. “Most likely.”

“I think she'd benefit from seeing a psychologist,” I said. “Merlin knows I hated the idea when I was in Kate's shoes, but it helped in the long run.”

“I will propose the idea to her parents,” Kendrick said. “Is Healer Norlam still practicing?”

“No, he retired a few years ago,” I replied. “But I'd suggest Rose Weasley.”

Kendrick smiled. “Ah, yes, Miss Weasley would be a good choice.”

“Let me know what happens.”

“I will.”

I stood up and said goodbye to Professor Kendrick. As I walked back to Hogsmeade I thought more and more about the similarities between Kate's situation and my own at that age. There were obvious differences, of course, but the underlying issues were the same. I just wished she would open up more during support group meetings. I wanted to help her, but I couldn't unless she let me. I hoped Rose would have more success.


A/N: I'm writing this story for Camp NaNoWriMo, so I'm fairly certain I'll have it done within the next month, if not sooner. Thanks to everyone who has read and reviewed!

Chapter 28: The Rusty Bludger
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As May turned into June the weather improved and therefore construction on Dillan's pub quickened. He picked July sixth as the opening day and I managed to get the day off from work. It was my first scheduled day off in years. In some stroke of luck, this also happened to be the day of a Puddlemere Chudley Cannons match, which would be broadcast over wirelesses in the pub. Dillan even picked a name for the pub. The Rusty Bludger.

Rose collected enough data during the May full moon that she only needed one more month's worth of data. As the June full moon grew closer I became even more anxious to get my hands on that data. The practical side of me knew that there was most likely no connection between what werewolves remembered during the full moon and whether the Wolfsbane potion worked for them, but it was worth a shot.

Baby Remus and Baby Henri continued to grow at an extraordinary rate. Victoire commented that they were nearly always hungry, which resulted in near constant diaper changes. Neither of them were sleeping through the night, but that wouldn't come until much later. On the day they turned one month old Matt and I babysat both twins and Sophie so that Victoire and Teddy could have their first night off since the twins' birth and both returned very giggly and relaxed. Matt and I thoroughly enjoyed babysitting and I offered to do it once a month so that the tired parents could have some time to themselves.

Dillan and I continued spending all of our free time together, which wasn't much. We spent every weekend I wasn't on call together and had dinner together nearly every night, even if I was working late. It got to the point where Dillan rarely went back to his house in Wales, except to grab fresh sets of robes.

June went fast and soon we were facing yet another full moon. Sophie spent the days leading up to it at Bill and Fleur's since I was working. I returned to my flat extremely late the day before the full moon, after checking on both Sophie and Matt, only to find Dillan sitting in my living room.

“Amy, there you are,” Dillan said as he set down a copy of the Prophet.

“Dillan.” I smiled. “I wasn't expecting you.”

“I know,” he said as he got up and kissed me briefly on the lips. “But I want to ask you on a rare Tuesday night date.”

“A date?” I raised my eyebrows. Dillan and I hadn't gone on an actual 'date' out in two months. Usually we just ate at my flat. “Tomorrow?”

“Yes.” Dillan grinned. “Tomorrow night, after you get out of work. Around nine.”

I chewed my lip. Tomorrow was the full moon. I never did anything the night of the full moon, unless I had to work. “Where are we going?”

“It's a surprise,” Dillan said. “What do you say?”

I couldn't exactly tell him I had to sit at home while my brother turned into a raging werewolf in my parents' basement. The only excuse I could think of was that I had to work the next day, but that wasn't a good excuse. Dillan had to work the next day, too.

“I guess,” I said.

“Good,” Dillan replied.

“Well, you're here, you might as well stay over.” I grinned mischievously.

Dillan returned my grin and I grabbed his hand and pulled him to the bedroom. A date during the full moon. This was going to be strange.

***


The following day I was truly regretting my decision to agree to Dillan's date. Matt awoke with a raging fever and I was two hours late to clinic duty because I had to make sure it went down before I left. Farina chewed me out for being late and then my afternoon appointments were all late. The afternoon ended with one of the brewing interns blowing up a cauldron of Pepper-Up potion in the basement. That stuff doesn't even explode easily. I snuck out at six and took Matt to my parents' house, but his fever was back and I could tell it was going to be an awful moon.

I set him up on the couch and joined Mum in the kitchen. There was still an hour until he had to go to the basement. Once he was there, I'd go back to St. Mungo's and brew until my date with Dillan. Merlin, what had I been thinking?

“Mum, I'm insane,” I said as she made tea. “Last night I told Dillan I'd go out with him tonight.”

“Tonight?” Mum asked. “You haven't done anything during a full moon in years.”

I groaned. “I know. It was stupid. I should be here-”

“No,” Mum interrupted. “You should go out. There is absolutely no reason you need to stay here-”

“But if something happens-”

“Then your father and I will have it covered. We got on during full moons perfectly fine when you were a child.”

“But it's a Tuesday,” I pointed out. “I have to work in the morning.”

“Amy, you're only thirty. You can go out on a weekday once in a while,” Mum said as she set a hot cup of tea in front of me.

“What if something happens?” I asked as I picked up the tea.

“Nothing's going to happen,” Mum assured me.

“He's ill. It's going to be a bad one.”

“And you'll be here when the moon sets. But for tonight, Amy, for two or three hours, you can forget that your little brother is a werewolf.”

I sighed. Mum was right. But the thing was, I really couldn't just forget he was a werewolf. I'd built my whole life around that fact and it wasn't something I could just 'forget.' I did find it both funny and odd that Mum was telling me this since she had never in her life forgotten that her son was a werewolf. Cinda's death really had changed her.

Mum rushed me out the door as soon as Matt was in the basement. I Apparated back to St. Mungo's and brewed for two hours. It was incredibly therapeutic and by the time I went back to my flat to change, I was feeling much more relaxed. Well, as relaxed as I can be during a full moon.

Dillan told me that morning to meet him at his house at nine. Beyond that, he didn't say a word about our date. My curiosity spiked as I changed into a blue sundress and Flooed to his house.

The house smelled amazing. Dillan was cooking something that smelled very much like chocolate, which instantly made me happy. When I entered the kitchen I saw that he cooked some sort of elaborate chicken dish with a side of the most colorful rice I'd ever seen. There was also a steaming pot of broccoli.

“No restaurant?” I asked.

“Nope,” Dillan replied. “We hadn't eaten here in a while. I wanted to surprise you.”

“You did.” I grinned.

“It's ready,” he said.

Dillan and I embraced before we sat down. Our kiss was long and probably would have led to something more if my stomach hadn't growled in the middle of it. Dillan laughed and gestured for me to take a seat at the table.

We spent an hour lingering over dinner, wine, and then dessert. It was the most pleasant meal I'd ever had during a full moon and surprisingly I was able to forget about it for a short while. I was glad that Mum convinced me not to cancel on him.

After we finished Dillan took my hand and led me upstairs. I thought we were going to finish what we started when we were kissing, but instead of taking me to his bedroom, he took me up to the attic. Dillan's attic looked like a normal attic, with boxes most likely filled with his grandmother's ceramic figurines and old, moth-eaten robes. There was dust everywhere. Dillan helped me over the boxes and then over to a window. He opened it and climbed out onto the roof, gesturing for me to follow. I did.

I'd never been on a roof before. The closest I'd came was the balcony in my house in Australia. But this, this was an actual roof. Dillan sat down on the shingles and gestured for me to do the same. I was slightly confused about this part of the evening until Dillan pointed at the sky.

“The stars are beautiful tonight,” he said.

“You brought me out here to stargaze?” I asked.

“I did.”

I reached over and kissed him on the lips, grinning as I pulled away. “I haven't had time to stargaze in months.”

“I know,” Dillan replied. “That's why we had to do this tonight. It's the only clear night this week.”

I nodded. This was quite possibly the sweetest thing Dillan had ever done for me. I mentioned on one of our first dates that I stargazed all the time when I was a kid and it was still one of my favorite things in the world. He remembered.

“Plus, the moon is full,” Dillan said. “It's huge tonight, too. It's beautiful.”

I swallowed. I used to think the moon was beautiful, too, but as I got older and realized what it really did to my brother, I started to hate it. Now that Dillan pointed it out, I started to think of Matt and how he was a wolf stuck in the basement at that very moment. I thought of Sophie and Jamie and Thomas and Liane's brother and all my other patients. But I couldn't tell Dillan any of this.

“You know,” I began, “the moon actually makes for the worst stargazing. It's too bright and you can't see the dimmer stars.”

Dillan laughed. “We'll just have to do this again when the moon isn't there.”

Yes, yes we would, I agreed. I wanted to stargaze with Dillan all the time, whenever the sky was clear. I inched closer and he put his arm around my shoulders. We sat there cuddling and watching the stars and moon for hours. I lost track of time. We both nodded off at one point.

I opened my eyes and saw that the moon was starting to sink in the sky. The stars had moved. I jostled Dillan and he woke up.

“I love you, Dillan Blayney,” I said quietly.

“I love you, Amy Eckerton,” Dillan replied.

I readjusted myself and cuddled up to Dillan again. The moon was going to set soon, but I still had a few minutes left. A few minutes to watch the stars with the man I loved.

***


My perfect night with Dillan was over too soon and I had to make an excuse to leave. Dillan didn't push me but instead told me he'd be by my place later for dinner. I hurried back to my parents' house and got there just in time to get Matt from the basement. Neither of my parents said a word about the fact that I was gone all night.

My prediction about the moon being a bad one was right. I assessed Matt's injuries and when I found out that he still had a fever, I took him to St. Mungo's. Once there I discovered that he had an infection along with his usual injuries and got him started on an IV of antibiotic potion. Luckily my other patients had fared better and none of them showed up needing to be hospitalized.

Matt was better two days later and I discharged him, making him promise not to go to work for another two days. He reluctantly agreed and I told him to come over for dinner with Dillan and I that evening.

Throughout the next week I was preoccupied with the results of the study. Rose told me that the data was ready to be analyzed but that it would take her a week or two to organize it in a way that we'd be able to interpret it. This drove me slightly mad since I wanted to get my hands on it as soon as possible.

“Monday,” Rose said after I asked her about it for what must've been the twentieth time. “It'll be ready Monday.”

“Monday,” I repeated. “Three more days. Okay.”

“I promise,” Rose said. “It's very interesting already.”

“Rose. You're killing me.”

“Fine, I'll shut up. I've got to go anyway. I'm meeting with Kate Young at her house.”

“Oh, good!” I said. “Let me know how that goes.”

“I will,” Rose replied.

I glanced at the clock. It was eight in the morning and I needed to get to Diagon Alley. It was the day of Dillan's pub opening and I promised I'd be there at nine, but had wanted to find Rose first.

Diagon Alley was quiet when I arrived, which wasn't surprising given the time of day. A few hurried witches walked by me as I strolled to Dillan's pub, two of them dragging bored looking children along. Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes appeared to be the busiest of all the shops and Victoire's uncle George was busy inside. I spent a moment laughing at the display of hollow text books in the window ('Read what you like in class, be it funny or crass!'), and then went continued next door, to Dillan's premises. There was sign sticking out of the storefront, made to look weathered even though it was brand new. It said 'The Rusty Bludger' and had an actual rusty Bludger hanging from it. The name was also painted on the window with a broomstick painted beneath it. Gabriella had painted it only a few days prior.

I entered the pub and saw that it was bustling with activity. I'd yet to meet any of Dillan's employees but knew he'd hired two kitchen helpers, two barmen, and a couple waiters and busboys. He didn't want many employees to begin with, but obviously could not run the place by himself.

I didn't see Dillan in the main area of the pub so I decided to give myself a tour and then find him. The place looked very different from the last time I'd been in, which was two weeks ago. New booths had been installed, all a rusty red color. The tables were oak and second hand, as were the chairs. All in all, the seating and tables looked like your average pub seating, but what made the place stand out were the decorations.

Gabriella, with her creativity and Weasley knowledge of Quidditch, had been the perfect person for Dillan to hire to help him decorate. Originally he was going to do it all himself but after a few failed attempts he took Victoire up on her suggestion of hiring Gabriella. I think Victoire was relieved as it gave her sister an excuse to hang around for a few more weeks after the twins had been born. In fact, Gabriella had stayed in England since Victoire's birthday, a full two months ago. It was a new record.

The Weasleys had plenty of Quidditch memorabilia that Gabriella convinced them to donate. Posters of teams from decades ago, some autographed by players, old broomsticks, Quaffles, Snitches, Bludgers, Beater bats, newspaper clippings, and the list went on. All of it was perfect to decorate the pub, and none of it cost Dillan a Knut.

The posters and newspaper clippings had all been hung up seemingly at random throughout the pub, but upon further inspection I noticed that they went in chronological order. The earliest artifacts were hung to the left of the door and they grew newer in clockwise around the walls. It was simple, but genius, and resulted in the posters and clippings being spread out and organized well.

Broomsticks also decorated the walls. The oldest model (a Comet 120), was mounted above the door, and newer models were scattered about the other walls. The Quaffles and Bludgers had been made into candle holders and were mounted on each wall as well. Snitches, each painted a new color, were mounted on top of all the taps behind the bar. It was all ingenious. However, my personal favorite, were the bar stools. They were oak to match the tables and chairs, but the tops were each made from a magically flattened Quaffle. They still very much resembled Quaffles and it was obvious that they'd each been used. All in all, it was the perfect pub atmosphere.

I continued wandering and found that the one adjoining room to the main pub area had been converted into a game room, with a pool table and a few dart boards. Quidditch memorabilia decorated the walls in there as well. The only other room I'd yet to see was the kitchen, which was where I figured I'd find Dillan.

Dillan was in fact in the kitchen, but only managed to give me a wave before he had to go back to getting everything ready. It was nearly ten and the place was scheduled to open at noon since the Chudley/Puddlemere match started at one.

I spent the rest of the morning talking with Gabriella as she added last minute details to the decorations. Dillan remained busy and I had a feeling I wouldn't get to really talk to him until the pub closed at midnight.

Dillan left the kitchen briefly just before noon and I wished him luck before taking a seat at the bar. One of the barmen, a tall, skinny bloke who barely looked out of Hogwarts, poured me the pub's new signature drink. It was called the Rusty Bludger and looked the color of rust. I took a sip and was pleasantly surprised that it tasted rather good.

“Vodka, grenadine, and a dab of honey,” the barman told me. “I'm going to experiment a bit more depending on how well it goes over. We've got drinks for each team, too. Today we're featuring the Chudley Cannon and the Puddlemere as well.”

“Well, seeing as it's barely noon, I think I'll just stick with one,” I told him. I was fairly certain the last time I drank this early was the day I met Dillan.

People began trickling in around twelve-thirty and by the time the match started at one there was a decent crowd in the pub. Most were older Hogwarts students and people around Matt's age, but there were a smattering of older wizards as well.

The match was broadcast through a wireless and speakers that had been set up throughout the room, so it was easy to hear over all the chatter. Gabriella joined me at the bar and we ordered a few sandwiches to eat while listening. I knew the food would be delicious since Dillan cooked for me all the time, but for Gabriella, it was something new.

“This is amazing,” she said after the first bite. “Seriously, amazing.”

I grinned. “Told you.”

“God, you're lucky. He can cook for you all the time. I need to find myself a man like that.”

“You mean you haven't already?” I joked. “Out of all the men you've found?”

“Shut up,” Gabriella replied, but she was grinning. “A few of them did cook, but not like this.”

The match was a short one, as far as Quidditch goes, lasting only an hour. Puddlemere won, to no one's surprise. But the crowd stuck around and I had a feeling more would arrive as soon as five o'clock hit. It was a Friday, after all.

A half hour after the match ended Matt walked in followed by John, Albus, and to my surprise, Amanda. Amanda was another one of Matt's friends and I hadn't seen her in ages. She worked as a Ministry ambassador and spent more time in other countries than in England. They grabbed a table just as a few Hogwarts blokes got up and waved Gabriella and I over.

“Amanda!” I exclaimed. “How long are you here for?”

“A few weeks,” Amanda replied. “I've got to be in New Zealand next, meeting with their Muggle minister as well as their magical minister.”

The Ministry employed very few ambassadors since not many were needed and even fewer of the ambassadors were employed to deal with both magical and non-magical governments. Amanda, being a Muggleborn, was in the perfect position to work with both types of government. It also helped that her uncle had been Prime Minister of Britain for a number of years when she was young. Politics was in her family.

“Well, you've almost got the whole gang together again,” I commented.

“Kaden and Rose are meeting us here after they get out of work,” Matt explained.

I nodded. “How was the match?”

“Brilliant.” John grinned. “All my plays worked and we won. Can't get much better than that.”

Matt groaned. “It was awful. The Snitch was right there under Addison's nose and he didn't get it!”

“That's what makes it so beautiful,” John said. “I'll get drinks. We need to celebrate!”

John headed to the bar and returned a few minutes later with a pitcher of beer and enough glasses for all of us. There was also an orange drink on the tray. John set it in front of Matt.

“Here. It's called the Chudley Cannon. Drown your sorrows.” John smirked.

“What is it?” Matt asked.

“Orange vodka, grapefruit juice, a squeeze of lemon, and a shot of firewhiskey,” John answered. “The Puddlemere one is made with UV blue. Didn't care to try that.”

Matt took a sip. “Citrusy. With the aftertaste of firewhiskey. Weird.”

I laughed as I took the glass of beer John poured for me. I watched the pub and listened to Matt and his friends chatter away as I drank my beer. It was truly wonderful to see the pub do so well on its first day.

I stayed at the pub well into the night. Kaden and Rose arrived around seven and were both tipsy shortly after that. John, Matt, and Albus were long gone, in terms of sobriety, and left to play darts while Rose and Amanda caught up. Kaden joined the boys as soon as he'd had a few beers. I lost track of them an hour or so later, but spent the rest of the night with a few of Victoire's other cousins.

Dillan returned to my flat after three in the morning, smelling like a pub. I woke up as he got into bed and despite my own inebriation, listened as he talked about the day.

“It went better than I expected,” he said. “We were busy all night. If business keeps up like this I'll need another barman and waiter for the weekends. But I shouldn't get ahead of myself.”

“I think you're amazing,” I said. “And your pub is amazing. And the food is amazing. And the drinks are amazing.”

Dillan laughed. “You've tried quite a few, haven't you?”

“I had a Rusty Bludger and a Chudley Cannon and beer. And then Matt's friend, John, made me try a Puddlemere. That one was kind of gross. I think your barman is going to change that one.”

“He's very enthusiastic,” Dillan said. “Fresh out of Hogwarts.”

“I thought he looked young,” I said. “Dillan, we are old.”

“We're not old.” Dillan chuckled.

“Yeah, we are. Look at us. We have real jobs. I'm a Healer and a pretty good one at that. And I am one of the only people who can brew Wolfsbane. And you have your own pub now. We are adults.”

Dillan burst out laughing again. “Yes, Amy, we are adults. And you need to get to sleep.”

“I do,” I agreed.

Dillan laughed again and snuggled closer to rub my back. I smiled and buried deep into my pillow. Soon I fell asleep, dreaming of pubs and potions and bizarre mixed drinks.


A/N: I'm very excited to announce that I've finished writing this! It's 40 chapters long. I'll be doing two updates a week until I get it all posted. Thanks to everyone who has read and reviewed!

Chapter 29: The New Strain
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I woke up the next morning with the worst hangover I'd had since the morning after I met Dillan. It was awful. I stayed in bed until early afternoon thanking every deity I knew that I didn't have to work that day. Dillan got up hours before I did and headed immediately to the pub in order to get ready for that day's business.

There was a knock on my door shortly after I got up. Groaning, I grabbed the bottle of hangover potion and drank it from the bottle as I walked to the door. I opened it and found Matt, looking just as awful as I felt.

“Thank Merlin,” he muttered as he grabbed the potion bottle from my hand. “I'm all out. Al drank it all before heading to work today.”

“Al had to work today and still drank as much as he did?” I asked as I shut the door and followed Matt into the living room.

“He's just doing paperwork,” Matt answered. “It's not like he's got a mission or anything.”

“Still,” I said. “That was fairly dumb of him.”

“I take it you don't have to work today?”

“No,” I said. “My plan is to do absolutely nothing today.”

“I'll join you,” Matt said.

Matt and I did exactly that. We stayed in all day, laying on the couch and drifting in and out of sleep. We played a few rounds of gobstones once we felt a bit more human and then ordered takeaway for dinner. It was very enjoyable, especially since Matt and I hadn't spent much time together lately, save for around the full moon.

The Rusty Bludger continued to do well throughout the rest of the weekend. It received a great review in the Sunday edition of the Prophet, something Dillan was ecstatic about. I didn't return all weekend since I had to work on Monday and didn't want to test out anymore Quidditch team themed drinks.

Monday arrived and I spent the entire day anxiously awaiting the time when my last appointment would be over and I'd be able to find Rose. I was thankful that Dillan would be at the pub all night because I'd probably be at St. Mungo's much of the night.

“Amy! There you are!”

I'd just walked out of my study when I saw Rose hurrying up the corridor, a stack of parchment in her arms. She looked slightly shocked, which piqued my curiosity.

“Rose, what is it?” I asked as she reached me. I gestured her into my study.

“I've been trying to find you all day,” she said as I shut the door behind us. Rose set the parchment down on my desk and began pacing the room. “It's the results.”

“You've already analyzed them?” I asked.

“Merlin, no,” Rose said. “The psychological analysis is going to take weeks. I just did preliminary analysis. Comparing the results to the demographics and such.”

“And?” I asked.

Rose stopped pacing and turned to me. “It's the preliminary results of the strain of lycanthropy compared to the level of remembering full moons. I haven't done much yet and it's all very basic, but I found something odd about the results so I looked at the genetic samples from all the participants. And obviously this will need to be checked by you as well as a genetics healer, but I think I'm right-”

“Rose,” I said. “Just tell me what you've found.”

“It's the New Holland strain,” Rose began. “I think it's mutated. It's very subtle, so I'm not surprised it's been overlooked before, but Amy, this could be what you're looking for.”

My mouth fell open and I stared at Rose. I had to sit down. The room began to spin. I blinked a few times and continued to stare at Rose. Mutation. How had I missed this before?

There are three strains of lycanthropy. All three are very old and were discovered centuries ago, when healers first began studying lycanthropy. They were all mutations of an original strain, although it was not clear which strain was the original, or even if the original strain was no longer in existence. The three strains are the Eurasian strain, the New Holland strain, and the Mundus strain.

The Eurasian strain was the one most commonly seen in the United Kingdom, which made sense as it originated somewhere in Europe or Asia. It was also the one most commonly found in Africa, due to its proximity. The New Holland strain was most commonly found in Australia and New Zealand. It was the most recently discovered strain, although it was still centuries old. The Mundus strain originated in North America and traveled to South America sometime after its origin. The Mundus version was the second most common in the United Kingdom, with the New Holland version being quite rare.

Everyone involved in the study had been genetically tested in order to discover their particular strain. Most had already been tested, since both Morris and I test all of our patients. Matt had the New Holland strain, as did the werewolf who bit him. Sophie had the Eurasian strain, as did Teddy's dad. Since Victoire's dad had been attacked by the same werewolf who infected Teddy's dad, he had a few of the genetic markers of the Eurasian strain. Jamie had the New Holland strain, despite the fact that he'd been attacked in Wales. Kate Young's little brother had the Eurasian strain. There were only eight participants in the study who had the New Holland version, Matt being one of them.

“You're kidding,” I replied, after I composed myself.

Rose shook her head and sat down in the chair next to mine. “It's slight, but it got me curious. Three of the eight participants with the New Holland strain have slightly different genetic markers in the lycanthropy gene. One of them is your brother, and the other two aren't on Wolfsbane, either.”

“And the reason they're not on it?” I asked.

“They've tried it and it doesn't work,” Rose said. “This could be it.”

I nodded. This could be it. It could also be nothing, a simple coincidence. I needed more data and I needed it as soon as possible. “I need more, Rose. I need more people with the New Holland strain.”

“I know,” Rose agreed. “But it's so rare here.”

“Jamie has that strain,” I said quietly.

“Who's Jamie?”

“One of my patients. Wolfsbane doesn't work for him, either,” I explained. “What about those with the Eurasian and Mundus strains? Does Wolfsbane work for all of them?”

Rose nodded. “That's what makes me think this is it. They're not all on it, but it works for all of them.”

“Dammit,” I muttered. “How could I have possibly missed this?”

“I told you, it was really slight,” Rose said.

“But it's so obvious. I've looked at the DNA so many times,” I said.

“Look, there's no point in beating yourself up over it now,” Rose reasoned. “You need to concentrate on getting more data.”

“I know,” I said quietly. “But for that I have to contact the hospital in Australia.”

“It's been years,” Rose pointed out. “Chances are they don't even remember your dad or your brother. Plus, there are people here who have the New Holland strain who weren't in the study. Put an ad in the Prophet. This will be easier than the study since it won't require them to come back. All they'll need to do is come in, fill out a questionnaire, and get a DNA sample taken.”

“Good point,” I agreed. “And I can let kids participate in this one.”

“See? You've got a plan.”

I got up. “I need to see the samples.”

Rose took me to the lab and I spent a few hours looking at the samples and comparing the markers. Rose was right, of course. It was there, plain as day, that Matt's DNA sample did not match the majority of the samples from those with the New Holland strain. Neither did the other two participants whom Wolfsbane did not work for. By some stroke of luck one of the genetic researchers was still there and he agreed with Rose and I. Matt, as well as the two other participants, did not have the regular New Holland strain of lycanthropy. It was something new entirely, although it resembled the New Holland strain more than the Mundus or Eurasian strains.

I worked well into the night. I created an ad for the Daily Prophet and sent it off, requesting that they print it as soon as possible. I also drafted an ad for a few professional journals, hoping that other healers would send their lycanthropic patients along to me. After much consideration, I also sent a letter off to the head healer at Eastworth Hospital in Australia, asking them to send me DNA samples from anyone with the New Holland strain.

By the time I returned to my flat it was well after two in the morning. Dillan was already there, asleep on the couch. I felt a pang of sympathy as I realized he was probably waiting up for me, but it didn't stay long. This discovery was huge and Dillan would understand. I tucked a blanket around him and headed to bed. I lay awake for two hours letting the excitement of the discovery come over me. This was the closest I'd gotten in my entire career of researching lycanthropy and the Wolfsbane potion. If it proved correct, it could be the biggest discovery in lycanthropy since Belby invented the Wolfsbane potion decades ago.

I found it very hard to keep my discovery to myself the next day, but I had to. I shared it only with Morris, which brought the total number of people aware of it up to four. Until I was sure, I needed to keep it to myself. The last thing I needed was a lot of press attention before I was even sure of the discovery.

Throughout the day one thought kept plaguing me. Did the strain mutate after a person was bitten? Or was it a strain that began years ago and had been passed on by the bite? More specifically, did the werewolf who bit Matt have the mutated strain of New Holland or not? It didn't matter to the initial discovery, but it would be important to figure out later on.

Most werewolves had no idea who infected them because werewolves run off immediately after biting someone. The only way they're caught is if others are around during the attack and they're able to capture the werewolf. Matt's attacker was caught, giving him the rare knowledge of who his attacker was. I couldn't remember the name of the werewolf, though, just that he'd been imprisoned for a few years.

I left work around seven and decided to go to my parents' house to ask about the werewolf who bit Matt. Considering the fact that they rarely clued me into anything back then, there was a chance they knew more about him than I did. I just hoped I'd be able to get information out of them without telling them about my discovery. I didn't want to get their hopes up.

“Amy, what are you doing here?” Mum asked after I walked into the house. She and Dad were on opposite ends of the couch, reading books.

“Just came to see my wonderful parents,” I answered as I gave her a hug, and then Dad a hug.

“You never visit on weekdays unless there's a Lycanthropic Children Foundation meeting,” Mum said.

“You got me,” I said as I sat down. I grabbed a few chocolates from the dish on the coffee table. “I've got a few questions, actually.”

“What about?” Dad asked.

I took a deep breath. “I need to know all you know about the werewolf who bit Matt.”

Dad closed his book and stared at me. Mum's eyes grew wide. I offered a half smile.

“What prompted this?” Dad asked quietly.

“It's for my research.”

“Have you found something?” Mum asked. I could hear the anticipation in her voice.

“I can't say anything. It's on-going research.”

“But, Amy, this has to do with Matt-”

“Julie,” Dad said, “she's right. She can't say anything about on-going research.”

“I still think we've got a right to know,” Mum said.

“Well, we don't,” Dad muttered.

“Can you just tell me, if you know anything?” I asked, not wanting to spark an argument.

“His name was Silas Humphrey,” Dad said quietly, staring at the cover of his book rather than me. “He was held in captivity for two months before his trial and then got ten years in prison. He never got parole, since it's illegal for werewolves who've bitten people to get paroled in Australia.”

“So, he got out in 2021?” I asked, counting in my head.

Dad nodded. “Yes. That was the last I heard about him. He was required to check in with a Werewolf Control Unit employee every full moon for two years after, but he fell off the fact of the planet afterward. Could be dead for all I know.”

“I hope he's dead,” Mum muttered.

“Julie, he was remorseful. Remember the trial? He was crying and completely upset about the whole thing.”

“He could've prevented it!” Mum exclaimed. “And transforming near a Muggle campsite? It was stupidity on his part and I can't forgive him for that.”

Dad sighed. “Julie, there's no need to rehash this.”

“Apparently there is, since Amy needs the information for some reason she won't tell us,” Mum said resentfully.

Oh, boy, I thought. Mum really wasn't going to like what I had to say next. “Unfortunately I need more than that. I need to find him.”

Mum groaned and put her head in her hands. “You're kidding, right, Amy?”

“I'm not kidding,” I said. “Do you know how rare it is for someone to know who bit them?”

“Of course I know,” Mum snapped. “I also know that Matt doesn't want to talk to the man.”

“Matt doesn't have to. This is purely for my research. Look, I'll tell you part of it-”

“Amy, you don't have to,” Dad interrupted.

“It's fine,” I said. “I need DNA samples of as many werewolves with the New Holland strain as possible, and I also need to compare samples of those with New Holland who've infected people with those who they infected. I need Silas Humphrey's DNA.”

“And this has something to do with the Wolfsbane?” Mum asked.

It was so much more than that, I thought. I'd make history if this proved correct. “Yes, something to do with it.”

“Fine, fine! Find Silas Humphrey. Just don't involve your brother.”

I hadn't thought about whether I'd tell Matt what I was doing. Part of me wanted to protect him and not bring up that part of his past, but the other part of me knew he had the right to know.

“Let's just see if she can find him first. You're going to need a private investigator, Amy.”

“I know,” I replied. “One of Victoire's cousins is a PI.”

“Whatever it is you're doing, Amy, good luck with it. I know you'd only do this if it was absolutely necessary. I hope you find him,” Dad said quietly.

“Thanks Dad,” I said.

***


To say I was nervous about meeting with Victoire's PI cousin was an understatement. I knew him, of course, and I wasn't nervous about him. I was nervous about the process, about what I'd have to tell him, and about finding Silas Humphrey.

Victoire's cousin, Bradley Weasley, had his PI office in Knockturn Alley. Victoire assured me he was exactly the same as he'd been at Hogwarts and that the only reason he was in Knockturn Alley was because more people who frequented that section of London needed a PI than those in Diagon Alley. Due to my work schedule, I had to make an evening appointment on Thursday, the one day a week that Bradley had evening hours.

Knockturn Alley was sketchy during the day and at night it was downright scary. Dillan hadn't wanted me to go but I made the appointment anyway because I didn't have a choice. He didn't have much to say to that, but I could tell he was upset about it. I didn't even tell Mum what time I was going or about the fact that the office was in Knockturn Alley.

Dillan needn't have worried and I got to Bradley's office in one piece. It was one of the nicer buildings on the street. A bell tinkled as I entered, but no one was in the front room. A desk sat in the middle of the floor with a few shabby chairs along one wall. A few peeling posters of Quidditch teams decorated the walls. Filing cabinets stood behind the desk. All in all, it wasn't the nicest place and if Bradley hadn't been the PI, I probably would've left.

“Hello?” I shouted. “Bradley?”

“Come on back!” Bradley replied.

I walked down a short hall and entered the only open door. It lead to a small office with another old desk and a few patched chairs. More filing cabinets stood along one of the walls.

Bradley Weasley was about two years older than Matt. He was a tall man, although that wasn't noticeable because he was sitting behind the desk. His red hair was messy, he was wearing a pair of patched robes, and there was stubble on his face. Bradley, son of Percy and Corrine Weasley, was Percy's second disappointment in a child. The first was their eldest daughter, Georgia, who refused the Ministry internship Percy secured for her just out of Hogwarts and played professional Quidditch instead. Despite the fact that she now played for England, Percy still considered it a disappointment. Bradley was Percy's second chance of having a child work for the Ministry and he also refused, choosing instead to become a PI. Again, he ran a successful (albeit shabby) business, but was still a disappointment. Georgia and Bradley's younger brother, Cedric, followed in his Uncle George's footsteps and worked at Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes, mostly in research and production. Again, Percy had been disappointed when Cedric refused to work in the Ministry, but was slightly more proud of Cedric than of Georgia and Bradley. I wasn't sure what Bradley's younger twin sisters did for a living, but they were only 19.

“Amy!” Bradley greeted me with a strong handshake. “Never thought you'd need a PI.”

“Neither did I,” I said as I sat down. “Interesting place you've got here.”

Bradley grinned. “Dad hates it. Usually I've got a secretary, but she says working here isn't worth getting murdered after dark so I can fire her if I like, but I don't care to. She's grouchy and about sixty years old, so she can stay as long as she likes.”

I laughed. “The older nurses get away with just about everything at Mungo's.”

“Must be an old people thing,” Bradley said. “So, Victoire didn't tell me much about why you're here.”

“I didn't tell her much,” I replied. Victoire had begged me for details, claiming that she needed intelligent conversation and speaking baby talk all day to the twins was making her stupid. “And if I can help it, I can't tell you much. Do you require your clients tell you why they need to find someone?”

Bradley burst out laughing. “I'd never make any money if I did. In fact, I'll give you the spiel I give everyone. If you need to find someone for illegal reasons, don't tell me. I'd be required to tell the Ministry.”

I blinked. “Do you really get people who need to find people for illegal reasons?”

Bradley shrugged. “Probably. I think half the people I help want to find people who owe them money. Once they do when I find them...well...I'm sure they don't all use legal means to get what's owed to them.”

I shuddered. “I don't need anything like that. But it's going to be a hard case; I can tell you that.”

“I'm always up for a challenge,” Bradley said.

“Well, what would you say if I told you chances are this bloke I need to find is probably not in the country?”

“I'd say that would be a challenge,” Bradley said. “I've only done that twice.”

“Really? You've been in business for how many years?”

“Five years,” Bradley said. “Took me a while to figure things out, after Hogwarts. But I'm telling you, most people just want me to find people who owe them money, and they don't usually leave the country.”

“This bloke, I can pretty much guarantee he's not in the country,” I said. Most werewolves, even if they wanted to, did not have the means to move to a new country.

“Should be fun,” Bradley said. “Well, tell me everything you know about him.”

“His name is Silas Humphrey,” I said. “He's a werewolf-”

Bradley let out a low whistle. “They're notoriously hard to find.”

“I know,” I replied. “But you'll be able to find a record of him until 2023. He was in Gardinham, the Australian prison, from 2011 until 2021 and had to check in with the Werewolf Control Unit every full moon until 2023.”

“He bit someone?” Bradley asked as he scribbled furiously on a piece of parchment.

“Yeah,” I said quietly. “Years ago.”

“Do you know anything else about him?” Bradley asked. “Any known places of residence? Family members?”

“I think he lived near Brisbane when he bit someone,” I answered. “But I don't know an exact location. No idea about family members.”

Bradley nodded as he continued scribbling. “If you think of anything else, let me know as soon as possible.”

“I will. How long does it usually take you to find people?”

“Some I find within a day and others take weeks,” Bradley said. “This one's going to be tough. Now, the way I do payment is half up front and half after I find the person. Obviously if I don't find him you don't have to pay the second half.”

“Sounds good,” I said as I pulled a handful of gold out of my pocket and set it on the desk.

“Thank you,” Bradley said as he put the gold in a drawer. “I'll keep you updated. So, do you mind me asking why you need to find this bloke?”

“Can't say exactly,” I said as I stood up. “It's for work, is all.”

Bradley nodded. “I'll owl you soon.”

“Thanks.”

I left the little shop and Disapparated quickly. As I did so, I couldn't help but wonder if I should have gone with a different PI. One with a little more experience, perhaps. But then again, I needed someone who didn't ask many questions and Bradley seemed to be the best for that.


A/N: Mundus means 'new world' in Latin. Australia used to be called 'New Holland.' That's where those two names came from. I think Eurasian is pretty self-explanatory. Thanks so much for all the reviews!

Chapter 30: Front Page News
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I hadn't known it was possible, but I soon began spending even more time at St. Mungo's. It got to the point where I only went to my flat to sleep and eat the occasional meal. Dillan and I saw each other in passing and at night, when we were both asleep. He essentially moved into my flat without us ever discussing it; it was just easier for him to live in London with the pub doing so well.

The problem was that my regular work day did not give me time to work on the study or the Wolfsbane or my new project of examining DNA samples. The regular work day was spent seeing patients, doing clinic hours, and brewing regular potions. Then, around seven, I finally got the chance to work on the Wolfsbane or examine the DNA.

The response to my requests for DNA was overwhelming. I got a few samples via owl every single day and I'd already had a dozen people come in in person. This was wonderful for the study, but it did ensure that I was at the hospital until at least midnight every single night.

As I examined more and more samples, I realized that mine and Rose's discovery was in fact correct. The more DNA I acquired the better the results would be, but so far the correlation was obvious. There was a very high correlation between Wolfsbane being ineffective and a person having the mutated New Holland strain of lycanthropy, which meant that the answer to the ineffective Wolfsbane was somewhere in that mutation. All I had to do was find it.

My energy was also put into hiding this discovery. Rose and I knew that the press would get wind of it eventually, but we didn't want to give any interviews until we knew for sure. After a month of analyzing results and DNA, we were fairly confident in our discovery but agreed not to make any announcements until the number of samples sent in decreased.

It was very difficult to keep the secret, especially from my family, and to my surprise, the kids in my support group. I wanted them to know about the discovery to give them hope that research on lycanthropy hasn't stopped.

The group continued to meet throughout the summer. July's excitement was that Izzy got her Hogwarts letter and came in one day proudly clutching her new wand. She brought it again to the first August meeting and was waving it around trying to cast spells when I walked in ten minutes late.

I was nervous about this meeting because I'd decided to talk to Kate after everyone else left. Rose had told me she was making progress, albeit slow progress. But before I could get to that we had to have a little celebration. Liane was moving out of her parents' house the following week into a flat in London and would be starting at the School of Healing on September first. She'd announced that this would be her last meeting since she didn't think she'd have time after classes started. She was right about that.

“Izzy, you better put the wand away,” I said as I walked in.

“My mum made cupcakes!” Izzy exclaimed as she pointed to the cupcakes with her wand. They immediately caught fire. “Oh no!”

I tried to hide my laughter as I doused the flaming cupcakes with my own wand. “I told you to put the wand away.”

Izzy turned red and placed her wand on the table. “I guess we don't have cupcakes anymore.”

“We can still celebrate,” Liane said.

“Of course,” I agreed.

Izzy gave a half smile and shrugged. Vinny, Scarlett, and Tyler were laughing on their side of the table and even Kate cracked a smile. I had to contain my excitement about that, but I was soon talking about healing school with Liane while everyone else (except Kate) told Izzy all the ins and outs of Hogwarts. The hour went by fast and soon Izzy's mum arrived to pick her up and Vinny, Scarlett, and Tyler went to Floo home.

“Could I talk to you in private?” Liane asked, glancing at Kate.

“Sure,” I said. “Do you know where my study is?”

“Right near the Dai Llewellyn Ward?”

“Yes. I'll meet you there in twenty minutes or so? I need to speak with Kate.”

Liane nodded and left the room. Kate was still sitting at the table, making no move to go home. I walked over and took the seat next to her.

“Kate,” I said quietly. “I want you to know that I know who your brother is. He's been one of my patients since he was first bitten.”

“Did Kendrick tell you?” Kate asked.

“No,” I said. “I put the names together when your brother came in for an appointment a few months ago.”

“And you waited until now to mention it?” Kate snapped. “I know you're the reason why I have to meet with a psychiatrist every week.”

“Healer Weasley is one of my best friends,” I said. “I hope talking with her is helping.”

“Well, it's just annoying,” Kate said.

“I understand-”

“No, you don't!” Kate exclaimed as she stood up. “You might know all about my brother and my parents and what idiots they are, but you don't understand me.”

“Kate,” I said as I turned to look at her. She was near the door now. “Please, sit down. I want to tell you something.”

I'd been toying with the idea of telling Kate more about my own past and seeing Healer Norlam. I finally decided to just tell her. Maybe it would help.

Kate groaned loudly, stomped over to the table, and sat down again. “What?”

“The way your parents reacted to your brother's lycanthropy is incredibly similar to how mine reacted to my brother's lycanthropy,” I began. “I felt like they didn't care about me and only cared about him. Shortly after we moved to England I saw a psychiatrist once a week. He really helped.”

“Well, I'm not you,” Kate said.

“This is true,” I replied.

“And my parents are not yours.”

“When we lived in Australia my parents made me stay with my grandparents during full moons. I thought it was because they didn't want me around, but in reality, they were thinking of my safety,” I said.

“My parents don't care that much,” Kate said. “Look, it's great that you think we're so similar, but we're not. Can I go now?”

I sighed. It was worth a try. “Yes, you may go. I'll see you in two weeks.”

“Maybe,” Kate muttered. She would be back. Kendrick said she had to continue throughout the summer and the following school year if she was going to avoid detention.

As soon as Kate left, I walked back to my study to talk to Liane. I was going to miss her in the support group, but I'd be seeing her around St. Mungo's and as soon as September began, I would have her shadowing me once a week.

Liane was leafing through the most recent issue of Potion Master's Monthly when I arrived at my study. She quickly closed it and set it back on my desk. I shut the door and sat down, looking at Liane.

“I need to ask you something,” Liane said as she picked the nail polish off her nails.

I was slightly confused as to why she seemed so nervous. “Anything.”

Liane sighed. “I saw your ad in the Prophet the other day. The one about wanting samples of DNA from werewolves with the New Holland strain.”

I nodded. “Yes, the ad's been in the paper for a while now.”

“You've found something, haven't you? Something about the New Holland strain? It's not the strain my brother has, but will you tell me?”

“I have found something,” I said. I hadn't expected anyone to guess that from the advertisement, but then again, Liane wasn't the average person.

“Does it have to do with your Wolfsbane research? Your brother has the New Holland strain, right?”

“He does. How did you know?”

Liane shrugged. “I guessed. You used to live in Australia when you were little, so I assumed that's where he was bitten, and that's the most common strain there.”

“You're going to do great in healing school,” I told her.

Liane smiled. “Does Wolfsbane not work for people with that strain?”

“Not exactly,” I said. I might as well just tell her. She wouldn't tell anyone. “Healer Weasley and I have made a discovery about the New Holland strain. It's mutating. We're not sure whether the entire New Holland strain is mutating or if a new strain is developing from it.”

Liane's eyes grew big. “And those with the mutated strain can't use Wolfsbane?”

“It looks that way,” I replied.

“Wow,” Liane said. “Can I help you with it next year?”

“We'll see,” I said. “It'll depend on where I am in terms of the potion and the study. But you'll get to observe almost everything I do.”

“I can't wait,” Liane replied.

I laughed. “Enjoy your last few weeks of freedom.”

“Freedom is boring,” Liane said.

“You say that now....” I grinned. “We'll see what you say six months from now.”

***


Halfway through August Rose and I decided it was time to tell the rest of the world about our discovery. The number of DNA samples I was receiving had slowed and I was fairly sure we now had samples from the majority of those with New Holland strain in the United Kingdom and probably a third of those in Australia. Eastworth Hospital had actually been very excited about the discovery and if they recognized my last name, they didn't bring it up. In fact, their Head of Creature-Induced Injuries wanted to meet with me. I told him I'd meet with him in September, when I'd be there for Kenzie's wedding.

Rose and I met with a few reporters from the Daily Prophet, healer magazines, and brewing magazines. They each drafted a piece and agreed to publish them on the same day, after they'd been approved by us. It all went very smoothly. All that was left was to see how the public would react. But before that, I needed to tell my parents and Matt. If they found out via the Prophet, I'd never hear the end of it. I also wanted to tell Dillan, but I couldn't tell them at the same time without revealing to Dillan that Matt was a werewolf.

“What's this about?” Matt asked as we walked up to my parents' house. “We never come here for dinner on Wednesdays.”

I told my parents and Matt that I needed to talk to them, but didn't tell them what it was about as I wanted it to be a surprise.

“I told you, I'm not saying a word until dinner,” I said.

I opened the door and was met with the scent of lasagna and garlic bread. I told Mum she didn't need to cook an elaborate dinner. Takeaway would've done just fine.

“Come in, come in!” Mum shouted from the kitchen. “Dinner is ready, so let's hear your news!” She hurried to the door, but her face fell slightly when she saw us. “Oh, I thought Dillan would be with you.”

“No,” I said. “I said it was just Matt and I.”

“Well, I just assumed...” she said as we followed her into the kitchen. She quickly removed a place setting from the table.

“Mum,” I asked quietly. “Did you think that Dillan proposed?”

Mum turned pink. “No, no.”

“Don't try to hide it,” Dad said from the table. “I told her she was wrong.”

“Sit, sit,” Mum said.

We all sat and Mum busied herself by serving us lasagna, salad, and garlic bread.

“Well?” Matt asked.

I grinned. “All right. I know I haven't seen any of you very often the past few months.”

“You've missed too many Sunday dinners,” Mum scolded.

“And this is why,” I continued. “Rose and I made a discovery through the lycanthropy study we've been working on.” I took a deep breath. “We've discovered that the New Holland strain has mutated.”

Dad choked on his pumpkin juice. Mum dropped her fork onto the floor. Matt let out a long stream of curse words.

“Matthew Conan!” Mum shouted. “I won't have that kind of language here.”

“Shit!” Dad exclaimed.

“Walter!” Mum scolded.

“Wait,” Matt said. “Is this a good thing or a bad thing? And do I have this mutated strain?”

“It's a good thing,” I replied. “Well, it's a good thing that I've discovered it. I'm fairly certain that this is why Wolfsbane won't work for you. You do have the mutated strain. So do a whole bunch of other werewolves and Wolfsbane doesn't work for them either.”

“Oh my God, Amy,” Mum said and promptly burst into tears.

“I knew it.” Dad grinned. “I knew you'd make history.”

“Amy, what does this mean?” Matt asked.

“I'm nowhere closer to fixing the Wolfsbane, but at least now I have a pretty good idea why it doesn't work for you. Rose and I have to collect more samples and keep researching, but it's possible that this is a new strain.”

“Then what?”

“I keep experimenting with the potion,” I answered.

“Amy, you're brilliant.” Matt grinned. “So, does this mean I'm even weirder than I already thought I was?”

“You're not weird,” I said.

“I'm a werewolf. Doesn't get much weirder than that. Except now I'm some sort of mutated werewolf.”

“All the strains mutated from the same strain. So they're all mutations. That's how genes work,” I explained.

“Will you get to name the new strain?” Matt asked.

“I have no idea. I guess maybe? Rose and I will. But all the other strains have been named after the places they were discovered in. New Holland is what Australia used to be called. Eurasian is obvious. Mundus means 'new world' in Latin.”

“What will this one be, then? English lycanthropy?” Matt asked.

I shook my head. “No, it didn't originate in England. You just happen to live in England. It originated in Australia. If anything it'd be called the Australian strain. But we don't even know if the whole New Holland strain is mutating or if this is in fact a new strain. This could just be the new New Holland strain. The other one might eventually die out.”

“It still needs a name,” Matt said.

I laughed. “That might take a while.”

“Doesn't matter what it's called,” Dad said. “All that matters is that my daughter discovered a new strain of lycanthropy. I couldn't be prouder.”

I smiled as I began to eat my lasagna. If only I could go back in time and tell my fifteen-year-old self that this would eventually happen. She probably wouldn't believe me, but I still wished I could.

After dinner I went back to my flat, hoping Dillan would be there. The pub was stable enough that he didn't have to be there whenever it was open anymore, but he still spent most of his time there. I unlocked the door and walked in to find him asleep on the couch. I put down my stuff and shook him awake.

“Dillan,” I said. “I've got news.”

“Oh, Amy,” Dillan said as he sat up. “I guess I fell asleep waiting for you. Haven't seen you in so long....”

“Dillan,” I said as I sat down next to him. “I've got-”

“Amy, I'm serious about the haven't seen you in so long thing. We practically live in the same flat, but I haven't seen you in a week. You've canceled dinner on me five times in the past month. What's been going on?”

I immediately felt guilty. He wasn't exaggerating about the canceled dinner thing and I did feel awful about it, but I couldn't help it. “That's what I'm trying to tell you. I haven't been able to tell anyone before today. Rose and I, we've discovered a new strain of lycanthropy.”

“You what?” Dillan exclaimed. “I didn't even know you were working on that.”

“We weren't,” I said. “At least not at first. We discovered it through the results of the study we've been working on. But for the past month we've been analyzing DNA samples from werewolves with the New Holland strain and we're pretty sure there's a new strain mutating from it.”

“Amy, this is huge,” Dillan said.

“I know,” I replied. Part of me wished I could tell him just how huge it was. “It's going to be in the Prophet tomorrow.”

“And this is why you've hardly been home?” Dillan asked.

“Yeah,” I answered. “I don't have time in the day to work on this and get everything else done that I need to get done.”

“Well, make yourself un-busy for tomorrow night because I'm taking you out to celebrate.”

I smiled. “Okay. But let's go to bed. I'm exhausted.”

Dillan grinned. “Good plan.” He took my hand and we headed to bed together, at the same time, for the first time in weeks.

***


“You're front page news,” Dillan said the following morning, as he handed me a copy of the Prophet.

“Front page?” I asked as I took the paper. “I wasn't expecting that.”

Healers Discover New Strain of Lycanthropy

Healers Amy Eckerton and Rose Weasley have
discovered a new strain of lycanthropy,
mutated from the New Holland strain. The
discovery was made through a separate study
the two healers have been working on for over
a year. Eckerton, of the Creature-Induced
Injury ward and Weasley, a psychiatrist, began
the study in order to discover psychological
impacts of lycanthropy.

The discovery was made by analyzing DNA of
lycanthropes with New Holland strain. “We're
90% certain that this is a new strain,”
Eckerton said in an interview with reporters
Wednesday, “but there is a slight chance the
New Holland strain itself is just mutating.”

New Holland strain is most common in Australia,
where it was discovered. Eurasian strain, the
most common strain in the United Kingdom, has
not been mutating.

Eckerton believes that this mutation may be why
Wolfsbane potion does not work for certain
werewolves. There is a strong correlation
between those whom Wolfsbane is ineffective
and those who have the mutated New Holland strain.

“We'll be working hard to verify these results
throughout the next few months,” Eckerton said.


“Very impressive,” Dillan said after I finished reading.

I smiled. “Unfortunately, this doesn't get me out of work today. I'll see you later?”

“Of course,” Dillan said. “Celebration dinner, don't forget!”

I stole a slice of toast off Dillan's plate, gave him a quick kiss, and stepped into the Floo. I managed to go unnoticed until I reached my study, where Morris was waiting for me with words of encouragement and congratulations.

“There have been so many owls in your study this morning that Natalie had to give you another inbox. I always knew you'd make some sort of amazing discovery,” Morris said.

“Thanks.” I smiled. “I'll get to them later.”

“You might want to open this one,” Morris said as he handed me a letter. “The owl wouldn't stop pecking me until I opened it. I didn't read it, though.”

“Thanks,” I said as I took the letter and went into my study.

I sat down behind my desk and flipped open the letter. It was from Bradley. I'd nearly given up hope of ever hearing from him again.

Amy,

I found Silas Humphrey. He works
for an apothecary in Karratha,
Australia. Lives there, too.
I have not contacted him. I
can set up a Portkey with the
Ministry if you wish to visit
him.

-Bradley


I set the letter down, stunned. This was it. Conceivably, since he could set up a Portkey, I could be in Australia today. I had to do it. What was to say he would stick around Karratha? I didn't know how long he could hold a job. But first I had to talk to Matt. I'd decided that I couldn't go meet with Silas Humphrey without at least telling Matt, no matter what Mum thought of the idea.

I scribbled a quick reply to Bradley on the back of his letter, telling him I'd like a Portkey for that afternoon, and left my study. I had to find Farina and beg her to let me have the day off. I'd have to cancel my appointments, but it wouldn't be the first time.

People stopped me in the corridors as I walked through the hospital looking for Farina. I tried to be patient in accepting congratulations, but I'd long since put my discovery out of my mind. The only thing on my mind now was going to Australia and meeting with Silas Humphrey.

“Eckerton!”

I turned around and saw Farina marching toward me. She motioned me into the nearest exam room and followed me in.

“I've been trying to track you down all morning,” Farina said, making no mention of the fact that it was only eight. “Congratulations on your discovery.”

“Thanks,” I replied.

“You and Weasley have worked well together,” she said. “Keep it up.”

“We will,” I assured her. “I know this is last minute, but something came up today and I need the day off.”

Farina raised her eyebrow. “Personal reasons?”

“Not exactly. It's for the research on the new strain,” I explained.

“And it has to be today?” Farina asked.

“Yes,” I said. “I wouldn't be asking if it wasn't necessary.”

“Fine,” Farina said. “You rarely take time off, anyway.”

“Thank you,” I said.

Farina nodded and then left me in the exam room. I hurried out and back to my study. A few quick owls to my patients and I was ready to go. All I had left to do was go to the Ministry, talk to Matt, and then I'd be off to Australia via Portkey. It was a little hard to believe.


A/N: Thanks for all the wonderful reviews! :)

Chapter 31: Silas Humphrey
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My adrenaline was flowing as I hurried through the corridors of the Ministry of Magic, on my way to find Matt. I hoped he wasn't busy, as I didn't want to waste any time. Luckily the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures seemed quiet when I got there so I rushed over to the Werewolf Support Services room, ignoring the secretary's attempts to stop me, and barged in.

“Matt,” I said, “I need to talk to you.”

Matt glanced up from his desk and stared at me with a strange look on his face. I didn't blame him. I very rarely visited him at work and when I did it was for official business, business that I usually did with Dad, and not him.

“Er, okay....” Matt got up and turned to his co-worker at the desk next to him. “I'll be back in a bit.”

“We need somewhere private,” I said as we left the department.

“Dad's study,” Matt said and led me to the closed door next to the department. “He's gone on an assignment all day today.”

“You can get in?” I asked.

“Sure,” Matt said as he pointed his wand at the knob. “I know the spell and it's not sophisticated enough to tell mine and Dad's magical signatures apart. It'd probably work for you, too.”

I didn't take the time to ponder whether that demonstrated a lack of security at the Ministry or was just simply an oversight. Matt muttered a spell and opened the door, shutting it behind us. I walked in and took a quick glance around the room, out of curiosity. I hadn't been in it in a while. The place looked exactly the same as it had when Dad first moved in just over ten years ago. He wasn't much for decorating, so he left it as it was when he got it from the previous head of department. The furniture was all solid oak and the chairs were upholstered in red leather. The walls were covered in bookcases, most of which Dad had added to house his extensive collection of books on lycanthropy.

“What is it?” Matt asked as he sat down in one of the red leather chairs.

“Don't be upset I didn't tell you about this earlier,” I said. “But it had to be kept quiet due to the research and stuff.” I took a deep breath. “You know how it's really rare that we know who bit you, right?”

“Yeah... What's that got to do with anything?” Matt asked.

“The next step in figuring out this new strain of lycanthropy is figuring out whether it's being passed from a werewolf to their victim, or whether it mutates after entering the body. The only way to do that is to compare DNA of werewolves with that of their victims. And you know how hard that will be considering most werewolves have no idea who bit them.”

Matt nodded. “How are you going to do that?”

“I've no idea,” I said. “But I know who bit you. About a month ago I hired Bradley Weasley to find him.”

“Wait, what?” Matt shook his head, as if trying to wrap his mind around what I was telling him. “You're trying to find Silas Humphrey? The bloke who caused me to turn into a wolf every month?”

“Yes,” I said quietly. “And Bradley's found him. I'm going to Australia today to meet him.”

“Amy, you cannot be serious,” Matt said.

“Dead serious,” I replied. “It's the only lead I've got on this new strain, and I'm going to take advantage of it. I didn't think you'd be this angry about it-”

“I'm not angry that you want to find him. That's your business. It's just a stupid idea. What if he's dangerous?” Matt pointed out.

I hadn't thought of that. But, really, he wasn't dangerous. He just wasn't in control of himself when he attacked Matt. “He's not dangerous.”

“He attacked me when I was five.”

“When he was a wolf! You know more than anyone that he couldn't control himself.”

“Of course I know that,” Matt snapped. “You didn't need to point it out.”

He had a point there. “Sorry. It's just, I can't let it slip by.”

“I'm going with you,” Matt said quietly. “I'm not letting you do this alone. That's just stupid.”

There were dozens of reasons why Matt shouldn't come with me, but I wasn't in the mood to fight about it. Nor did I really have the time. “Fine. But we're leaving now.”

“Fine,” Matt said as he grabbed a piece of parchment and a quill off Dad's desk. “I'll leave Dad a note.”

Matt scribbled a note to Dad and then went to tell his co-worker that he was leaving. As I waited for him, I realized just what a monumentally stupid idea it was to let him come. For one, the full moon was only a few days away. Second, we were to go by Portkey and I wasn't quite sure the legal ramifications of a werewolf entering Australia via magical means without checking in with the Ministry. Third, the whole psychological aspect of it. I was sure meeting Silas Humphrey for the first time since he'd been attacked would have some sort of effect on Matt's psyche, but I didn't know what. But it was too late to change my mind. Plus, if I did leave without him, he'd probably tell Mum and Dad and they'd come after me.

Ten minutes later Matt and I were standing in front of Bradley's run-down shop in Knockturn Alley. I opened the door and Matt followed me inside. The place hadn't changed in the month since I'd been there, but this time the secretary was in.

She was an older lady, probably around Mum's age or a little older, except she didn't dye her frizzy grey hair. She was skinny as anything and it looked like a decent breeze would knock her over. Her face was caked in too much makeup and was partially hidden by her overly large, round glasses. She wore a set of lavender robes that matched her eyeshadow perfectly.

Matt shut the door with a bit more force than was necessary, causing the secretary to jump and realize we were there. She set down her quill and adjusted her glasses.

“Can I help you?” she asked, in a voice that sounded like she'd smoked a pack a day since she was sixteen.

“We're here to see Bradley,” I said.

“I figured that,” she said. “That's what most people are here to do. Mr. Weasley isn't in at the moment.”

It was very odd to hear an old lady call Bradley 'Mr. Weasley'. “That's okay. We'll wait.” Matt and I sat down on the beat-up chairs across from the secretary's desk.

“This place is a bit sketchy,” Matt whispered.

“I know. But Victoire told me Bradley was good. Guess he must be since he found Humphrey.”

“Don't see people looking like you around Knockturn Alley,” the secretary said. “Most people who come in here look like they'll murder you if you so much as look at them the wrong way. That's why I keep two wands. One in my desk and the other hidden in my stocking.”

I glanced at Matt and tried not to laugh. I wondered how Bradley came to employ this woman.

“Can't imagine why you two would need a PI,” the woman continued. “My name's Gladys, by the way. Don't suppose you'd tell me why you hired Bradley.”

“Nope,” I said. “I'm Amy Eckerton. This is my brother, Matt.”

Gladys's eyes grew large. She pushed her glasses down to the very tip of her nose, leaned across her desk, and stared at us. “You're the one who found that new strain of werewolves, aren't you? Yes, you are. I remember your name from the paper this morning.”

“Yes, that's me,” I said, feeling slightly uncomfortable. I wished Bradley would get back.

“Back in my day there were just werewolves. None of this different strains business.” Gladys shook her head.

“Actually, the three strains have been around for centuries,” I pointed out.

“Aren't you a little smarty-pants,” Gladys muttered. “Guess you must be, being a healer and all.”

The door opened and Bradley walked in, causing me to let out a sigh of relief. I wasn't sure how much longer I'd be able to sit there and talk about lycanthropy with Gladys the secretary.

“Amy!” Bradley said. “Come back to my study.”

Matt and I followed Bradley into his study. “Your secretary is weird,” Matt said as soon as Bradley shut the door.

Bradley grinned. “Oh, she's completely mad. But Merlin, is she good with a wand. Never seen anyone her age duel the way she does. Being in Knockturn Alley, I needed someone who could defend themselves. But never mind Gladys. I bet you're wanting to get to Australia.”

“Yes, as soon as possible,” I said.

“I've got the Portkey here,” Bradley said as he pulled an old high heel missing the heel out from behind his desk. “It'll leave as soon as I tap it with my wand. You going, too, Matt?”

“Yeah,” Matt answered. “Told her she would be mad to go alone.”

“I completely agree,” Bradley said.

I rolled my eyes. “Let's just get on with it.”

“Congratulations on your discovery, by the way,” Bradley said with a grin. “I've got a bit of an idea why you needed to find this Silas Humphrey bloke now. Anyway, here's the address of his place of employment and his home address.” Bradley handed me a slip of parchment. I pocketed it. “You're on your own for finding a way home.”

I nodded. “Thanks, Bradley.” I pulled a bag of Galleons out of my pocket and handed it to him.

“No, thank you!” Bradley said as he put the Galleons in his desk.

“Ready?” I asked Matt.

Matt nodded and we both placed our hands on the high heel. Bradley tapped it with his wand and I felt a hook behind my belly button. I closed my eyes and waited for the arrival in Australia.

***


Portkeying to Australia always seems to take forever, even though it's much faster than flying. It's very bizarre because you feel as if you're floating in nothing for a few minutes. Local Portkeying is so instantaneous that you hardly notice. When my feet finally touched ground again I had to sit down immediately because I was so dizzy. Matt landed next to me, although not gracefully. He'd probably never be able to land gracefully after Portkeying anywhere.

We landed in some sort of Ministry Portkey and Apparition center. The bloke manning the station was asleep, so we hurried out quickly before he woke up. No point in alerting the Ministry to our presence. I glanced at the clock as we left.

“It's just after five,” I said to Matt. “With any luck he'll still be at work.”

“Where does he work?” Matt asked as we walked down the cobble-stone street the Portkey center was on.

“Smithy's Apothecary,” I said as I pulled the slip of parchment Bradley gave me out of my pocket. “According to Bradley it's on this same street.”

“A werewolf working at an apothecary?” Matt asked. “That's...odd.”

“I thought so, too,” I agreed. Matt had trouble staying in an apothecary for more than ten minutes at a time due to his overly sensitive sense of smell, not to mention the aconite, which was incredibly poisonous to werewolves when undiluted.

Karratha the Muggle town and Karratha the magical town were two very different places. The Muggle town was fairly new, only established in the 1960s, but wizards had inhabited the area for decades prior to the Muggle development. The magical inhabitants of the town very rarely mingled with the Muggles and the towns were literally separate towns, lying next to each other. The Muggle town was very industrialized, whereas the magical town was not. In fact, it looked a bit like Hogsmeade, except larger and much hotter. Being August, and therefore winter, Karratha was actually cooler than usual. But Karratha's winter was still far warmer than Britain's summer.

We passed a few pubs, just starting to fill with the after work crowd, a couple shops, and a building of flats before coming upon Smithy's Apothecary. It looked like most apothecaries, with a cauldron of snake fangs in the window.

Matt grabbed my arm as I made to open the door. “Wait, have you thought about what you're going to say to him?”

“Er, not really,” I said. I really hadn't. All I had been able to think about was getting to the apothecary and finding him, not what I'd say.

“He's not going to want to talk to you,” Matt said. “He's a werewolf working at a legitimate business in Australia. Last I knew employers could still sack people for being werewolves here. I'd bet he won't even admit his lycanthropy.”

“Maybe after I explain why-”

“Amy, you're going to have to do a lot of convincing. I know you're all for equality for werewolves and there's no one better to have on our side than you, but you're not a werewolf.”

I hadn't thought about it that way before. “Well, I'm going to try.”

Matt let go of my arm and I pulled the door open. A bell jangled as I did so. The apothecary was dim and it looked nearly deserted. Jars of all sorts of ingredients lined the shelves and cauldrons of other ingredients sat in corners and in the middle of the floor. It didn't seem very organized.

I heard footsteps and a skinny, middle-aged man appeared out of the back room. His face was gaunt and he had that look of appearing older than he really was. His hair was mostly grey, but still had a few patches of black here and there. But most noticeable, he looked completely exhausted. I knew without even asking that this was Silas Humphrey. Matt stepped a bit closer to me, although I wasn't sure if this was his attempt to protect me or his nerves about meeting the man who turned him into a werewolf.

“Closing in five minutes,” Humphrey muttered. “Better pick fast.”

“Actually,” I said as I stepped to the counter. “We aren't here to buy anything.”

“Then you best get going,” he said. He turned around and coughed loudly. Surely it wasn't good for someone with lycanthropy to be working this close to aconite.

I reached into my pocket and pulled out a copy of the Prophet, with the article about Rose and I on the front page. I set it on the counter. “My name is Healer Amy Eckerton,” I said.

“So?” Humphrey said, without looking at the article.

“I'm researching lycanthropy,” I answered, tapping my finger on the paper

Humphrey flinched and his eyes darted to the article. He scanned it briefly and then looked back at me. “You're from England?”

“Yes,” I said. “I've discovered a new strain of lycanthropy. Mutated from the New Holland strain.”

“Why should I care?” Humphrey asked. He began scratching at the loose bits of wood on the counter and his eyes started darting around the shop. They rested upon Matt. “And who is he?”

“My brother,” I said. “Matt Eckerton.”

Humphrey's face paled considerably. He rushed out from behind the counter and over to the door, and I noticed he had a considerable limp. For a minute I thought he was going to leave, but instead he flipped the sign to closed and locked the door. Matt stepped in front of me and reached into his robes for his wand.

Humphrey held up his hand. “No, don't. I'm unarmed. I just don't want anyone coming in.”

Matt made no move to let go of his wand. Personally, I thought he was overreacting. Humphrey did not look good and I doubted he'd be a much of a match for either of us.

“So you remember me,” Matt said quietly.

“Of course I remember you,” Humphrey said as he shuffled back behind the counter. “Not a day goes by that I don't think about you or that night. After I got out of prison I found out you'd moved to England. I always wondered what it was like, being a werewolf in England. Must be better than here.”

“It is,” Matt replied.

“It was an accident, you know,” Humphrey went on. “The night I bit you. It was my first transformation and I'd taken Wolfsbane. It was supposed to keep me from wanting to attack people, so I didn't bother putting up any wards. I don't know why it didn't work. I still don't.”

Matt and I glanced at each other. Dad never told me that part of the story. But maybe he didn't even know. Even if it came out during the trial it wouldn't have mattered. Trials for werewolves who bit people were merely a formality.

“Why are you here?” Humphrey asked. “I did my time. Not a day goes by that I don't regret not putting up wards. I never wanted to condemn anyone to the life I live.”

“Wolfsbane doesn't work for me, either,” Matt said. “Amy's researching it. That's why we're here.”

“I need a blood sample,” I said. “To test your DNA. I need to compare it to Matt's to see if your lycanthropy gene is mutated as well.”

“Are you going to cure it?” Humphrey asked.

“I'm going to try and create a different version of the Wolfsbane potion,” I explained. “One that will work for Matt, and perhaps even work for you.” It was strange. This bloke brutally attacked my brother when he was five, but I was feeling sorry for him.

“Take it,” Humphrey said. “Fix this.”

“I'm trying. Do you by any chance know who bit you?” I asked.

“I've no idea,” he said. “I was nineteen, just out of school, and drunk as anything. Stumbled home the night of the full moon, blacked out before I got there, and woke up with a huge bite on my arm. Went to Eastworth and was told it was a werewolf bite and I now had lycanthropy. They never caught the werewolf who did it. Not that they looked very hard.”

I nodded and pulled out my wand. “I'll just take a DNA sample, then.”

Humphrey held his arm out on the counter and I quickly drew a sample, putting it into a test tube I'd brought.

“I hope you fix it,” Humphrey said as Matt and I prepared to leave.

“Me, too,” I said quietly. “Thanks for agreeing to the blood sample.”

“Anything to help,” he said. “Goodbye.”

“Bye,” I said. Matt nodded.

I followed Matt to the door, but he paused before unlocking it. He turned back to Humphrey, who was staring down at the counter, as if it held all the answers in the world. “Silas,” Matt said. “I forgive you.”

Humphrey looked up and the corners of his mouth turned up slightly, almost like he was trying to smile, but couldn't quite manage it. Instead he simply nodded and returned his gaze to the counter. Matt unlocked the door and I followed him outside, back into the heat of Karratha.


A/N: I hope you enjoyed this chapter! It was one of my favorites to write. Thanks for the reviews!

Chapter 32: It's Not That Simple
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Matt and I didn't speak until we reached the nearest pub, some tiny place called the Karratha Watering Hole. Weird name, but it was out of the heat and looked relatively clean. It was crowded enough that we walked in unnoticed but managed to get a table toward the back. Matt looked slightly exhausted so I went to the pub and got us a couple Butterbeers while he held the table.

“You okay?” I asked as I set the Butterbeers down on the table and slid onto the booth opposite Matt.

“I don't know how Humphrey can work at that place,” Matt said after taking a long swig of Butterbeer. “We were in there, what, ten minutes? My head is throbbing.”

“They had the aconite right there in an open cauldron,” I said. “It's supposed to be kept covered at all times. But are you okay, otherwise? I mean about meeting him?”

Matt nodded. “It's almost sad, actually. I doubt he has any family left. He looks awful.”

“It is sad,” I agreed. “But he's still the bloke who turned you into a werewolf.”

“I'm fine, Amy, I promise,” Matt said. “I really hadn't expected him to remember who I was, though.”

“Me either,” I said. “That was so long ago.”

“What do we do now?” Matt asked and then drained the rest of his drink.

“Go back home, I suppose,” I said as I picked at the label on my bottle. “Guess we'll have to fly. Bradley didn't give us a Portkey home and I don't fancy stopping by the Ministry to get one.”

“What about that blood sample?” Matt asked. “There's no way you'd get that past Muggle security.”

“I guess I'll have to owl it home,” I said, although I didn't really want to. “Let's get lunch before we go. Er, I suppose it would be dinner here.”

Matt and I ordered sandwiches and ate them while watching the pub fill up. Neither of us said much and I had a feeling Matt wasn't being quite truthful about being okay with meeting Silas Humphrey. I didn't want to push it, though. After we finished we located the nearest bank and exchanged some of my gold for Muggle currency, owled the blood sample back home, and then Apparated to the nearest airport. Once there, we transfigured our wands into carry-on luggage, as it would be suspicious for two Muggles to be flying across the world without a lick of luggage, and bought two tickets for the next plane to England.

Matt fell asleep ten minutes into the flight, leaving me to be alone with only my thoughts as company for the entire fifteen hour flight. Why hadn't I thought to buy a book while we were waiting at the airport? I really was an idiot sometimes. If only I could sleep on planes. But even if I could, it was technically only early afternoon in England and I wasn't at all tired.

Halfway through the flight I started to get this weird feeling I'd forgotten something in England. I hadn't thought about anything besides Humphrey for the past twelve hours, but as we drew closer to home, I started to realize just how spur of the moment my trip had been. Only Bradley and Dad had any idea we'd gone.

Dillan. I suddenly remembered that we were supposed to have gone to dinner to celebrate my discovery of the new strain of lycanthropy. I got a sinking feeling in my stomach and I had to swallow hard in order to repress it. After doing some quick math in my head I realized we'd arrive in England at five in the morning, a full ten hours after I was supposed to have met Dillan. This was not good. I had no method of contacting him while on the plane. Maybe Matt and I should have braved the Ministry for a Portkey.

Maybe he would understand. No, he wouldn't. I couldn't even try to convince myself otherwise. Dillan had been frustrated about the amount of time I'd been at work for the past month. He didn't voice his frustration often, but I got that sense from him and he was going to be beyond angry with me. This was supposed to have been our dinner to make up for the fact that I hadn't been around and what did I do? I stood him up and left the country without even telling him. That was about as bad as it could get. I had royally screwed things up.

I thought about how my spur of the moment trip to Australia had probably combusted my relationship with Dillan faster than Matt could blow up a cauldron throughout the rest of the flight. I wasn't sure whether my stomach hurt from thinking about Dillan or the turbulence, but either way it made for a miserable trip home. Matt continued to sleep, blissfully unaware of the turbulence or my doomed relationship.

He didn't wake up until we landed at Heathrow, but he did look a whole lot better than he had after we left the apothecary. I guess that was a positive of this whole thing. The trip hadn't made my brother ill.

The sun was just beginning to rise by the time we got through customs and collected our “luggage.” Once in the nearest alley we turned the suitcases back into our wands and Apparated home. It was a short walk from the Apparition spot to our flat building and my heart steadily sped up as we got closer.

“You going to work?” Matt asked as we entered the building.

That probably depended on whether Dillan was currently home, I thought. “Not sure yet. You?”

“I think I'll go in for the afternoon, but I want a nap first,” Matt said.

“You slept the whole way home,” I pointed out.

“But it wasn't the same type of sleep as I can get in a bed,” Matt replied as we neared his floor.

“Enjoy your nap, then,” I said once we arrived at his door.

“Enjoy work,” Matt said, “because I know you'll go in.”

I hoped I'd get to go in. I left Matt at his flat and continued up the stairs to mine. I paused before putting the key in the lock, contemplated Disapparating on the spot and going to Victoire's, but then figured there was no point in putting off the inevitable. I unlocked the door, opened it, and stepped inside.

The table in the kitchen was set with my one good tablecloth and silver dishes that I didn't own. Matching candlesticks held the remains of candles that had completely burned down. Half a steak sat cold on one plate and a whole steak sat on the other. A dish of potatoes and green beans were also on the table, a bottle of wine sat unopened next to them. My stomach sank further. He'd cooked for me.

I left the kitchen and walked slowly into the living room. Dillan was asleep on the couch, still in yesterday's clothes. I didn't want to wake him, partly because of what was to come and partly because he just looked so adorable when he slept. I watched him for a full two minutes and then he started to stir. I guess I wouldn't have to decide whether or not to wake him.

“Amy?” he said as he sat up.

“Hi,” I said as I leaned down to kiss him.

He pulled away and stood up, taking a few steps back from me. “Where the hell have you been?!”

“I'm sor-”

“No!” Dillan shouted. “Sorry is not going to cut it. Do you have any idea how worried I was?”

“I'm sorry! Something came up-”

“Something always comes up with you! Remember last week when I wanted to go to lunch when we hadn't seen each other in days? You had to work.”

“I did have to work!” I shouted back. It wasn't fair of him to drag work into this. Healers don't get free time like other people do.

“You're always working,” Dillan said flatly. “Usually I can forgive that. But this time? This time you bloody left the country without telling me! I had to go round your parents to find out! When you didn't come home at seven I figured you'd been held up. At eight I went to find Matt, but no one was home at his flat. At ten I really started to worry so I went to St. Mungo's. Couldn't find you there, so I went round to your parents'. And your dad told me you'd gone to fucking Australia, Amy. Australia?! You don't even have any family there left!”

“It wasn't to see family-”

“I bloody well know that now! I asked your dad why you'd gone and he wouldn't tell me. It was like some big secret. He and your mum kept glancing at each other and it was so bloody obvious there's something you're not telling me.”

I turned away from him to try and hide the tears that were forming. He was right. I was hiding something from him, something big, but it wasn't my secret to tell.

“What is it, Amy?” he asked, lowering his voice. “Why did you go to Australia?”

“I went for work,” I said. It was partially true. The reason I needed to find Silas Humphrey was because of work.

“Then why does it have to be so secretive? What about your work made you go to Australia?”

“The research I'm doing,” I said.

“You've been getting samples by owl,” Dillan pointed out. “I know you have. There was no need for you to go and get them yourself.”

“I had to!”

“Look, I don't care that you had to go to Australia. It's just the fact that you missed dinner and didn't even tell me. And it was all so sudden. It's just odd. I thought we didn't have any secrets.”

“I told you, it's just research for work.”

“Then why didn't your parents just tell me?” Dillan asked as he sat down on the couch. “It's not just work, Amy. I've figured that much out. What have you been hiding?”

“Nothing!” I said, a little too quickly.

“Then what is it about this research that makes you want to work on it rather than spend time with me?”

“It's the potion I'm working on,” I said quietly. “I need to make it work.”

“Why?” Dillan asked. “Why is it so important?”

“I can't tell you that,” I replied. It was the truth, at least.

“You spend so much time on it. You haven't even seen Victoire and Teddy in weeks. You always seem to pick the potion and the research over the people you love. Over me.” He stood up and began pacing around the room. “You're going to alienate everyone who cares about you. You're going to have to pick the potion or the people you love.”

I wiped my eyes. There was no point in hiding the tears now. If only I could just tell him. I'd be able to explain everything. “It's not that simple,” I said. “For me they're the same. The potion and the people I love.”

“That makes no sense, Amy,” Dillan said. “Explain.”

“I can't!” I shouted.

“Then I don't think this is going to work,” Dillan said quietly. “I know you like your work and I know you're trying to make a difference, but you can't always be the hero. You can't save the world by yourself.”

“I'm not trying to save the world!” I exclaimed. This was so frustrating.

“It sure seems like you're trying to. You've undertaken this research and this potion all by yourself.”

“Rose Weasley is working on the research with me,” I pointed out. “But the potion is mine. It has to be me.”

“Why, Amy?” Dillan asked. “Why does it have to be you? You're so hard on yourself about this potion and I just don't understand. You act like it's the end of the world if you don't get it right.”

I took a deep breath. “I have to get it right.”

“Make me understand, Amy, or else I can't do this any longer. We've been together for eight months. We're beyond keeping secrets.”

“I can't,” I said as I sat down in the armchair across from Dillan. “I can't tell you.”

“Then I can't do this anymore,” Dillan said as he got up.

“I'm sorry!” I said. I got up and followed him to the door. “I'd tell you if I could but I can't.”

“I love you, Amy,” Dillan said quietly as we stood near the door. “I really do.”

“I love you, too,” I said with tears streaming down my face.

Dillan opened the door and stepped out into the corridor. He paused for ten seconds and then turned around and left, without looking back. I stood there and watched him leave, remaining in the doorway even after he was long gone. Tears continued to stream down my face and I was happy it was six in the morning. No one would be up to see me standing in my doorway, having just watched the one man I'd ever loved leave my flat.

***


When I finally went back inside I stared at the remnants of the dinner Dillan cooked me. This only caused me to cry harder, but then I suddenly became pissed off at Dillan. I took the plates of steak and dishes of potatoes and shoved them in the bin, dishes and all. The candlesticks, silverware, tablecloth, napkins, it all went into the bin. I'd no idea where the dishes had come from but I didn't care.

After the dinner had been binned, I washed my face and put on new clothes. I'd been wearing the same thing for over twenty-four hours now. Then I decided to go to Victoire's. It may have been only six-thirty in the morning but Victoire had twin infants so she was bound to be awake. And I couldn't be alone, not yet. Dillan had broken my heart all because I wouldn't tell him my family's biggest secret, one that wasn't even mine to tell.

I was too distraught to Apparate so I Flooed. When I stepped out of the fireplace I saw that the Lupin house was in its usual chaotic state. Teddy was pacing the living room while rocking one of the twins, probably Henri based on the screams. I heard Victoire in the kitchen, telling Sophie that she couldn't make her pancakes that morning.

“Amy, thank Merlin!” Teddy exclaimed a mere two seconds after I arrived. He thrust Henri into my arms and hurried upstairs. He returned five seconds later with his rucksack. “I've got a mission. Great seeing you, Amy.” He ran into the kitchen and I heard him saying goodbye to Victoire, Sophie, and Remus. He then ran back into the living room, threw some Floo powder into the fire, stepped in, and was gone.

I stood there in shock while staring at Henri's screaming face. I began to rock him and then realized I'd probably never have a baby of my own, which caused me to start crying again.

“Shush, Henri,” I said through the tears. “It's okay.” My assurances were probably no help considering I was bawling my eyes out as well.

“Amy!” Victoire said as she walked into the room. “I didn't know you were coming over.”

I turned around. “It wasn't exactly planned.”

“Amy!” Victoire's face fell and she rushed forward to take Henri, after placing Remus in the bassinet in the corner. “What on earth happened? I haven't seen you in weeks and now you're here in tears.”

“D-Dillan broke up with m-me,” I said as I sat down on the couch. “This morning.”

“This morning?” Victoire repeated as she sat down next to me. “It's only six-thirty!”

“It's a long story,” I said.

“Well, let's hear it,” Victoire replied. “I'm not going anywhere.”

Over Henri's screams I told Victoire about the spur of the moment trip to Australia, the missed celebration dinner, and the fact that Dillan knew I was keeping something from him. I felt slightly better by the time I finished, but still felt absolutely awful. It didn't help that I hadn't slept in a day.

“I didn't think it would happen so soon,” I said.

“That he'd break up with you?”

I nodded. “That and having to decide whether or not to tell him about Matt. None of my other relationships have gotten this far.”

“And you chose not to tell him,” Victoire replied. She turned to the kitchen. “Sophie! Have you finished your cereal?”

“Yes, Mummy!” Sophie shouted back.

“Go upstairs and get dressed, then!” Victoire shouted and then turned back to me.

“Yeah, of course I didn't tell him,” I said. “It's not my secret to tell.”

“But you shouldn't let it ruin your relationship,” Victoire said quietly.

“You think I should've told him?” I asked.

“No,” Victoire said. “But I think you're both at fault here.”

“What do you mean?”

“He shouldn't have given you an ultimatum like that,” Victoire said. “But the whole topic wouldn't have come up if you didn't work so much.”

“I have to work that much,” I pointed out.

“No, you don't. Australia could have waited. You could've gone today, after you had your dinner with Dillan.”

“To be honest I just forgot. It wasn't even a conscious decision to miss dinner.”

“Because work is always first on your mind,” Victoire said.

I raised my eyebrows. “Who are you, Rose?”

Victoire laughed. “She's rubbed off on me. But after you met Dillan you let up on the work a bit. You made time for him. Then, the past couple of weeks you've been back on work. It's like before you met Dillan.”

I knew I'd been working more often than normal, but I hadn't thought about it too much. Dillan seemed busy with the pub and even though we rarely saw each other except when we slept, I thought things were good.

“But he's been busy with work, too,” I pointed out. “He's at the pub all the time. He has to be.”

“He would've taken time off to be with you,” Victoire said quietly. “Or you could've gone to the pub.”

“I guess so,” I said. “But I've really screwed things up now, with the whole Australia thing. It's all my fault.”

“He shouldn't have given you that ultimatum,” Victoire said.

“But he did. And he won't be with me unless I tell him about Matt,” I said.

Victoire didn't respond for a few minutes. Henri had finally calmed down and begun to nurse quietly. Sophie returned and settled with a book on the floor. “Amy, I think you're going to have to decide whether you could've seen this relationship going anywhere long-term.”

“Like marriage?” I asked.

“Like marriage,” Victoire said. “Because if you married him, you'd tell him about Matt, right?”

To be honest I hadn't even thought about that. Most of my relationships didn't go past the third date, which meant marriage was completely out. But the bloke I married would be a part of my family. That meant he should know about Matt. Only if I could trust him, though. “I guess,” I said. “I hadn't really thought about it.”

“You would,” Victoire said. “But would you want to marry him? If he asked you, what would you say?”

Marry Dillan? I loved him, but the thought of marriage was still so bizarre and out there for me. I loved him, though, and that was all that mattered, right? “I think I would.”

“Then there's your answer,” Victoire said.

“If only it were that simple,” I said.

“So make it that simple,” Victoire replied.


A/N: I am sorry. I know a lot of you hate what happened in this chapter, but just keep reading. ;) Thanks for all the reviews!

Chapter 33: An Epiphany
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I wound up falling asleep on Victoire's couch and missing an entire day of work. This only served to make me feel worse than I already did, but Victoire pointed out that I'd gone twenty-four hours without sleep, traveled halfway across the world and back, and then broken up with my boyfriend of eight months. She said I deserved a personal day. I supposed she was right, but it still felt very odd taking a random Thursday off work, especially since I skived off the previous day as well.

The thought of telling my parents and Matt about the breakup made my stomach churn. My parents loved him, especially Mum. And Matt had become really good friends with him. All three of them were going to be devastated. Telling Matt was going to be the worst since the whole reason I broke up with Dillan was because I didn't want to tell him about Matt's lycanthropy.

By mid-afternoon I'd had quite enough of Victoire's house. Remus decided to defy his usual personality by screaming at the top of his lungs and Victoire couldn't figure out what was wrong. Henri joined in the cry fest, but Victoire knew he was only doing it because Remus was doing it, not because he actually needed anything. Sophie had taken to trying to “make Aunt Amy feel better” and brought me a suspicious cup of tea she made herself. I pretended to drink it and emptied it into a nearby plant when she wasn't looking. When she brought me a plate of biscuits that had been dropped on the floor I knew it was time to go back to my own flat.

I slept another few hours after I got back because there was simply nothing else to do, and I was still really tired. I was going to be screwed that night when I was wide awake, though. I should've just stayed up and not napped all day, but it was too late now. After making myself a box of macaroni and cheese and then having another good cry over the fact that Dillan would never make boxed macaroni and cheese, I decided it was time to tell Matt about what happened.

I walked right in to Matt and Albus's flat, as I usually do. Their flat was a complete mess, as usual. Albus was laying on the couch with a cup of instant noodles. I hadn't even known he was home.

“Hey, Amy,” Albus said in between bites of noodle.

“Is my brother here?” I asked.

“He's been in his room all day. I think he's asleep. Said he was going to go into work this afternoon, but he never did. Can't blame him since the moon is tomorrow. So, what exactly did the two of you do in Australia?”

I ignored Albus's question and headed to Matt's room. I'd completely forgotten that the full moon was tomorrow. It really was stupid of Matt go have gone to Australia with me and now I was going to drop the bomb on him that I broke up with Dillan, the day before the full moon. Part of me thought I should wait until after, but then he'd just be angry at me for waiting.

I opened the door to Matt's room and shut it behind me. I sat down on the bed and shook him awake, which took a good five minutes. When he finally woke up he looked awful and again, I wished I didn't have to tell him.

“Matt,” I said. “Sorry to wake you up, but I've got to talk to you.”

“What time is it?” he asked as he sat up.

“Seven,” I answered.

“Dammit,” Matt said. “I missed work.”

“I think they'll understand,” I said. “Are you okay?”

“Nothing worse than normal,” Matt said. “What did you need to talk to me about?”

“Dillan and I broke up,” I said. No point in beating around the bush.

Matt rubbed his eyes and then stared at me. “Wait, what?”

“We broke up. Right after we got back home this morning,” I said.

“But, but why?” Matt asked. He looked utterly confused and I didn't blame him. Dillan and I had been fine.

“A lot of things, really.” I sighed. “It started because we went to Australia so suddenly and I didn't tell him. We were supposed to have dinner last night and I completely blew him off. And that dinner was supposed to make up for the fact that I've been constantly working the past few weeks. Work was another thing. He thinks I work too much and I'm trying to save the world. He thinks I put work before my family and friends. But my work is tied up with my family-”

“But he doesn't know that,” Matt said.

I groaned. “I know. That's what makes it worse. I can't properly explain it to him. And he knows that us going to Australia wasn't just about work and he knows I'm keeping something from him-”

“My lycanthropy,” Matt said flatly.

I nodded, biting my lip and trying not to cry again. “I couldn't tell him.”

Matt stared at the blankets. “You broke up because of me.”

“No,” I said quickly. “It's far more complicated than that.”

“If I weren't a werewolf you'd still be with him,” Matt said flatly.

“Probably, but only because if you weren't a werewolf I wouldn't be a Healer and wouldn't work so much. That's the reason we broke up. I spend too much time on research and the potion.”

“Which you do because of me,” Matt pointed out. “I don't want to be the reason you break up with Dillan.”

“Well, he broke up with me, so I didn't have much control over it. I work a lot. I like to work a lot. That's the kind of person I am, and if he can't accept that then we shouldn't be together. I'm not changing for anyone and that potion has always been my number one priority. You're my brother. You're number one in my life.”

“But I want you to be happy,” Matt said quietly.

“I am happy,” I replied. I was trying not to cry. I wasn't happy, not in the slightest, but I wasn't going to let Dillan get in the way of fixing that potion and making my brother's life easier. “Look, there's nothing you can do to change what already happened. We broke up. That's it. I'll let you sleep.”

I gave Matt a quick hug and he fell back asleep before I even crossed the room. I shut the door quietly behind me and stepped back into the living room. Albus had finished his noodles and left the empty bowl on the floor.

“Hey, you never answered me,” Albus said.

“Ask Matt,” I muttered as I left the flat. Somehow talking to Matt had only made me feel worse than I already had.

***


I told my parents about the breakup during the full moon. In retrospect that was probably a bad idea. Mum took it poorly. I suspected she thought Dillan and I would get married and give her grandchildren, despite the fact that Mum had never voiced her desire for grandchildren before. Dad didn't seem to have an opinion beyond telling me that he just wanted me to be happy.

All in all it was a fairly awkward night and I was relieved when the moon set and I had something to do. Matt had sustained a few broken ribs and a sprained ankle, so I busied myself with healing his injuries and then went to Shell Cottage to check on Sophie and then head to work.

Breaking up with Dillan killed my already non-existent social life. Without Dillan to come home to (all of his stuff had vanished from my flat, although I'm not sure when exactly he retrieved it), I had absolutely no desire to be there, except to sleep. I left for St. Mungo's early in the morning and didn't return until after midnight. My flat was just too quiet without him, which was odd because I'd lived there for years without him. But I didn't even attempt to figure out why this was. Psychology was Rose's territory, not mine.

“I've got more results for you,” Rose said as she knocked on the door of the brewing room I was using. It had been about a week since the trip to Australia and the breakup. I'd spent the week brewing as much as possible.

I turned away from the cauldron I was stirring. “Great. What did you find?”

Rose came in and sat down on the only other stool in the room. “It looks like werewolves with the mutated New Holland strain remember absolutely nothing from their time as werewolves, ever. They completely black out during the transformation and it's like they're not even there. It's similar to the Eurasian strain. But those with the original New Holland strain as well as the Mundus strain have fragmented memories from their time as wolves.”

“That's odd,” I said as I dropped a few snake fangs into the potion.

“I thought so, too,” Rose said. “I don't know if it'll affect your potion, but it's very strange that the mutated New Holland strain is acting more like the Eurasian strain than the regular New Holland strain.”

“Very strange,” I said.

“So, you never told me why you up and went to Australia so suddenly,” Rose said.

I guess I hadn't, I thought. That whole trip had been overshadowed by my breaking up with Dillan. “A little over a month ago I hired your cousin Bradley to find the werewolf who bit Matt.”

“Oh my God,” Rose said. “And you went to Australia to find him? What did Matt think?”

“I had to. You know how rare it is for someone to know who bit them, and we need DNA samples like that to figure out when the New Holland strain mutates. Matt went with me, although he shouldn't have. He says he's okay, but I really don't believe him.”

“There's no way he's okay,” Rose said. “So, did you get his DNA?”

I nodded. “And it's mutated, just like Matt's. Wolfsbane doesn't work for him, either.”

“The little evidence we have shows that the mutated gene is being passed from one werewolf to another,” Rose commented.

“That was my prediction,” I said.

“And are you okay?” Rose asked softly. “About Dillan?”

I sighed. I could lie, but there really wasn't much point in lying to Rose. She had the uncanny ability to tell when people were lying. “Not really, but I'm dealing with it. It happened. I have to deal with it. That's been my motto lately.”

“Well, I'm here if you need to talk,” Rose said as she gave me a hug. “I'd better go. I've got a patient coming in in five minutes.”

I nodded. I really didn't want to talk about it anymore. I'd already rehashed the entire ordeal not only with Rose but with Matt, Victoire, and my parents. I just wanted to move on with my life, and brewing constantly provided me just the opportunity I wanted.

The following day I had an epiphany about the Wolfsbane potion. It happened while I was in the shower, which was the standard cliched spot for a person to have an epiphany, but that's where it happened. I got out without even washing my hair, threw on the robes I'd just taken off, and rushed back to Mungo's. I didn't care that it was midnight and I was meant to be sleeping.

Night was the best time for brewing, anyway. The hospital was the least busy at night and there was little chance I'd be disrupted, especially since no one knew I was there. I locked myself in my usual brewing room and stared at the new Wolfsbane I'd just discovered didn't pass the initial testing phase. I took a deep breath, picked up the cauldron, and poured the useless potion down the sink. I tossed the cauldron in after it and set a new cauldron on the table.

Thinking about the new strain of lycanthropy made me realize I'd been going about the potion all wrong. For the past five years I'd been trying to make slight changes to the existing Wolfsbane potion in order to find a version that would work for Matt, but now that I knew he had a completely different type of lycanthropy I knew that was the wrong way to look at it. I needed a completely new potion. For all I knew the gene was mutating because of the Wolfsbane potion.

This could be why I was so stuck on the potion, I thought. I'd been a licensed brewer for eight years. I had the knowledge and experience to create my own potions. Hell, I'd created many potions before. Granted, they were less complicated than a potion to counteract the effects of lycanthropy, but they were my own recipes all the same. Merlin knew I had possibly the most extensive knowledge of the medical aspects of lycanthropy of anyone in the United Kingdom, except perhaps Morris. If anyone could do this, it was me.

All I needed to do was put the research I'd gathered over the past eight years to good use. I needed to look at it from a new perspective and try not to think about the recipe for the existing Wolfsbane. A completely new potion for a completely new strain of lycanthropy. It made sense.

I spent the remainder of the night leafing through my existing notes, research, and various books on lycanthropy in order to create new notes. I probably wouldn't have even realized morning arrived had it not been from the argument out in the hall between Farina and one of the brewing interns. Apparently one of them left another brewing room unlocked last night.

I finally glanced at the clock after being interrupted by the argument and saw that it was just after eight. I had morning clinic duty but then I was free for the rest of the day. I'd need to find Rose.

The morning dragged by but I finally removed the last extra arm from a four-year-old around noon and one of the Healers from Magical Bugs relieved me. I headed up to the psychiatry ward and located Rose in her study.

“You available for lunch?” I asked after I entered the room.

Rose glanced up from her desk. “Sure. I've only got about a half hour, but we can go up to the tea room.”

“Works for me,” I said. “I've got to talk to you.”

Once Rose and I were settled in the tea room with a few limp salads and bowls of soup, I explained about my revelation with the potion.

“That actually makes a lot of sense,” Rose said as she shoveled salad into her mouth. “New strain, new potion.”

“That's what I thought,” I said. “So I've basically been here since midnight. And I had only been home for about a half hour before I came back. So, no sleep, but I'm not even tired. This is so exciting!”

Rose looked at me strangely and set down her fork. “Amy, are you sure you're okay?”

“Why wouldn't I be okay?” I asked. “I might have solved this.”

“You've been working literally non-stop since Dillan broke up with you. Have you done anything besides work?”

“I sleep,” I said. “Probably six hours a night. And I've gone to my parents' for dinner.”

“That's not what I mean. I mean fun things. Going to Victoire's, spending time with friends. That sort of thing.”

“Well, no,” I said, playing with my fork. “But I'm on a roll with this potion and I need to take advantage. And Victoire's been busy with the twins....”

Rose sighed. “Amy, I'm happy about the potion. That's great. But you need to do something that's fun.”

“Kenzie's wedding is in two weeks,” I pointed out. “That will be fun. I'll be in Australia for about a week for it.”

“Where you'll be meeting with the Healers at Eastworth,” Rose said flatly. “And that's work.”

“Well, I can't help that that's how the timing worked out,” I said. I wished she wouldn't keep insisting that I wasn't okay. I was. I was fine.

Rose shrugged and ate the last few bites of her salad. “Well, tell me about the potion, then. Obviously the active ingredient will still be aconite.”

“Yes,” I said, relieved that Rose seemed to take the hint that I didn't want to talk about my lack of social life. “But it's the reaction between the aconite and the other ingredients that I need to figure out. That reaction is what makes the Wolfsbane work. Aconite alone would kill a werewolf, no matter how small the dose. The smallest reaction can change the way the potion works. Sugar makes it completely useless.”

“Very odd how that works. The littlest thing... Have you tried adding sugar and seeing if it'll work for Matt?”

“That was the first thing I tried,” I said. “I thought it might have the opposite effect on him, but it was still useless. It's probably some sort of reaction like that that will make a useful potion, though.”

“That makes sense,” Rose said.

“And I'm fairly certain it doesn't work for Matt and the others with the new strain because they metabolize the aconite differently,” I said. “I need to find a way to keep the aconite in their systems longer. I've tried increasing the amount of aconite but even at the highest does possible it doesn't work. So I need to find another ingredient that will react with the aconite and keep it in their systems longer.”

“And you figured all of this out last night?” Rose asked.

“Mostly,” I said. “I've had inklings about it for a while, but nothing was confirmed, and I was so dead set on just altering the regular Wolfsbane instead of creating my own new potion.”

“I think you're right about creating your own new potion,” Rose said as she drained the rest of her soup. “You're a great brewer, so there's no reason why you can't.”

“So my midnight idea wasn't completely insane?”

“Of course not,” Rose said. “I'm no brewer, but everything you said makes sense.”

“I really think this is what I've been missing,” I said. “I mean, obviously I still have a lot of work to do in actually making the potion, but I feel better about it.”

“Then that's all that matters,” Rose said as she piled her garbage onto her tray. “I've got to run. Have an appointment in five minutes.”

“All right,” I said as I looked down at my uneaten soup and half-eaten salad. Good thing I didn't have any appointments. “Thanks for listening.”

Rose smiled and stood up. “Anytime.”

I always felt better after talking to Rose. My idea wasn't insane, despite the fact that staying up all night may have been insane. This was going to work. I had a good feeling about it.


A/N: Thanks for all the lovely reviews!

Chapter 34: Mr. and Mrs. Cameron Clint
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Dillan's lack of presence in my life became even more painfully apparent as Kenzie's wedding drew nearer. In July I'd asked if he wanted to go with me and he'd said yes. He was only going to go for the actual wedding and travel via International Floo since he couldn't take a week off work, but he had figured out a way to go. Now that we'd been broken up for two weeks, it was obvious that he wouldn't be accompanying me.

When we'd broken up there was a part of me that thought we'd get back together within a few days. I thought I would find him at my flat and he'd apologize for the ultimatum and everything would be back to normal, but I hadn't so much as gotten an owl from him since that August day. Now it was September and I still hadn't seen or heard from him. I hadn't even told Kenzie yet because I kept hoping we'd work things out.

Taking a week off work was a very difficult thing for me to do normally, but with my potion research in its current state it was practically impossible. I had yet to start any actual Wolfsbane potions, but I had a few cauldrons with aconite and various other ingredients going, just so I could see the reactions between them. In order for me to go to Kenzie's wedding, I'd had to pick a junior brewer to look after the cauldrons for the week. In all honesty, there were none that I trusted completely, but I had to pick one. In the end I settled on Kaden Dursley because he showed promise and because he was friends with Matt, so he was more dedicated than his peers in making sure the research was done correctly. But despite Kaden's enthusiasm and skill, I was still nervous.

I flew to Australia three days before wedding (four, if you went by British time) since I had to do a final dress fitting, join in on Kenzie's hens night, and then attend the rehearsal dinner the day before the wedding. I'd then be staying a few days later in order to meet with one of the healers at Eastworth on Monday. The wedding itself was on Saturday the eighth.

Kenzie invited me to stay at her parents' house with her before the wedding. At first I'd been reluctant since her family was huge and her house was small. I didn't think it could possibly accommodate another person, but she insisted. After I thought about it I was grateful since staying at Richard and Cinda's old house, or rather my house now, would have felt odd. However, my parents and Matt were going to stay there once they arrived and I'd stay there after the wedding.

From the moment I arrived at her house I was swept up in wedding preparation and didn't even have time to think. I briefly told Kenzie about Dillan, but neither of us had time to dwell on it. The wedding preparation was actually quite enjoyable, especially since I adore Kenzie's family and hadn't seen all of them together in years.

All of Kenzie's sisters were bridesmaids, with Mari being the maid of honor. Morgan, the next oldest, was about two years younger than Kenzie and while she'd been very annoying as a child, she'd grown into a very mature woman and was now a wonderful mother to three children with endless energy. She was also very pregnant with a fourth. The oldest of her brood, Annie, was going to be the flower girl. Mari came next and she's Matt's age, married, and has a two-year-old son, who was going to be the ring bearer. Maddie was the youngest sister and in the process of getting a degree in something I couldn't remember at uni. Mike was the baby of the family, in his last year of secondary school. He was going to be an usher. The wedding was a family affair.

Two of Kenzie's mates from school were also bridesmaids. Their names were Dana and Elizabeth and they brought the grand total up to six bridesmaids. They were also staying at the Dawes' residence. They, along with Mari, had been in charge of planning the hens night and I sincerely hoped it was going to be a tame one.

“Kenzie, I look awful in my dress,” Morgan exclaimed as we gathered in the living room before setting off for the hens night. “I just tried it on and it makes me look fat.”

“Mor, you're eight months pregnant. You're going to look fat in everything,” Mari said.

“Shut up,” Morgan said.

“Hey, I was engaged before you got pregnant again, so you can't blame me,” Kenzie pointed out.

It was banter like this that made me feel I missed out on something by only having one sibling.

“Girls, I hope you've planned something tame,” Kenzie's mum said as she followed the rest of the group into the room. “I don't want Maddie out with any men who entertain for a living, if you get what I'm saying.”

“Mum!” Maddie exclaimed. “I just turned twenty-one! I'm an adult! I can even drink legally in the States.”

“Well, you're not going to the States, so I don't see how that's relevant,” Mrs. Dawe said.

“Don't worry,” Mari said. “We're going to get dinner and then go to an average club. We can't do anything too crazy else Morgan will give birth on the dance floor.”

“And then get pregnant again the next day,” Maddie joked. Everyone had been making fun of Morgan for getting pregnant not even a year after her last child had been born. She'd fit right in with the Weasleys.

Mrs. Dawe seemed satisfied, warned us to get back at a decent hour, and then left the room. We set off on our hens night adventure, which was exactly what Mari had told us it would be.

We had dinner at a classy restaurant and then headed off to the club, already slightly tipsy (except for Morgan, of course). There weren't any “men who entertained for a living” as Kenzie's mum had put it, but there were plenty of attractive men there, nonetheless. I danced with a few, but it felt odd and eventually I joined Morgan at the table and we reminisced about when we were kids while the rest of the group danced the night away. By the time we headed back to Kenzie's house, all of her sisters except Morgan were completely drunk. Kenzie, Dana, and Elizabeth seemed to be able to hold their liquor better, but were still quite happy.

Once back at the house everyone passed out quickly, except for Kenzie and I. We lay awake in the double bed in Kenzie's room while everyone else slept on the floor around us. Kenzie was a bit tipsy, but when she drinks she can't just pass out. Instead, she gets talkative.

“If I hadn't met Cameron and we weren't getting married, would you have ever told me you were a witch?” she asked.

“No,” I said. She'd asked me this before, but her current state of inebriation probably caused her not to realize this.

Kenzie sighed. “It's just so weird. Cameron's showed me everything, though. Magic, all the different secret magical places in Australia, he even took me to the magical Ministry since his dad works there.”

Alexander Clint. Cameron's dad. I was still nervous about my parents and Matt attending this wedding with Alexander Clint present. He was the Head of the Department of Magical Transportation in Australia and the reason we always had to take Muggle transportation when we came here (except the time we got the Portkey through Bradley, that is). He hates werewolves, hates my dad, and I wasn't sure how much that had dissipated over time.

“And I saw your old school!”

“You went to the Australian School of Sorcery?” I asked.

“Yeah. He wanted to show me where he went to school. It was beautiful,” Kenzie mused. “Am I insane?”

“To get married?” I asked. “You're not getting cold feet, are you?”

Kenzie rolled over onto her back. “No. I love Cameron. I mean am I insane to start a life in the magical world?”

“Seeing as you're marrying Cameron, I don't think you've got much choice.”

“I know, and I want to. God, the magical world is just so cool. But the secret keeping part of it. My sisters and Mike know, and my parents know, but no one else. Not Dana. Not Elizabeth. Not any of my aunts, uncles, or cousins. They've no idea I'm marrying a wizard.”

“Kenzie, I've spent my life keeping secrets, so I'm not the greatest person to ask,” I said quietly. “Secrets have ruined every single romantic relationship I've been in.”

“But Cameron and I, we don't have any secrets,” Kenzie said.

“Then you'll be fine,” I said. My stomach was churning and it wasn't from the four martinis I'd had.

“I guess that's the secret to a good marriage,” Kenzie mumbled. “No secrets. Haha, the secret is no secret.”

“I guess you're right,” I replied.

Kenzie drifted off to sleep and I soon heard her soft snoring beside me. I lay awake for hours, thinking about what she'd said about the secret to a good marriage. It was true. Every single successful married couple I knew didn't have any secrets. Richard and Cinda. My parents, Victoire's parents, Victoire and Teddy. But Dillan and I, we had secrets, or rather I had one secret. And I guess our relationship wouldn't work unless it wasn't a secret anymore.

***


The day of the wedding arrived quickly and with all the usual wedding related chaos and crises. The worst being that Morgan's dress did not fit at all.

“I don't understand it!” Morgan said as the rest of us bridesmaids attempted to zip it up. “I had it on two days ago and it was fine!”

“Maybe you've got twins in there,” Maddie joked.

“Don't even think that,” Morgan said seriously. “I can't handle twins. But the dress. Kenzie's going to murder me. I just hope she waits until after I have her niece.”

“It's a girl?” Mari exclaimed.

“Dammit, I was going to wait until after the wedding to mention that,” Morgan said. “Didn't want to take anything away from her day. Pretend you didn't hear that.”

“Dana, Elizabeth, why don't you go help Kenzie?” I said. I had an idea, but the two of them couldn't be present for it. “And distract her. Don't let her come in here.”

If the two of them were suspicious as to why I chose them, they didn't show it. They probably figured Morgan needed her sisters.

“Okay, I've got a plan,” I said as soon as the two of them left and shut the door. “But I need my mum.”

“Can your mum magically make my dress bigger?” Morgan moaned. Then her eyes grew big. “Wait. Amy, oh my God. Your mum can make my dress bigger! But so could you!”

“I suck at any sort of domestic spells,” I said. “But my mum isn't half bad and I bet she could figure something out. I think it's our only option, since the wedding is in two hours.”

I Apparated directly into Richard and Cinda's house once safely away from Kenzie's house. After quickly explaining the situation to Mum we Apparated back to Kenzie's house. The entire process took less than five minutes and Kenzie's sisters were all dually impressed.

“I need to find a wizard to marry,” Maddie said as Mum assessed Morgan's dress.

“It won't be pretty and it won't look exactly like the rest, but I can do it,” Mum said as she pulled out her wand.

“I don't even care,” Morgan said. “Just get the damn thing to close.”

Mum muttered a few spells and soon Morgan's dress was sufficiently zipped. Kenzie's sisters stared in awe as Mum worked and even clapped when she finished. I had to suppress my laughter.

The rest of the last minute wedding preparation went off without a hitch and soon we were all dressed and on our way to the church, which was only a short drive from the house. I was grateful that Kenzie wasn't getting married in the same church as Cinda's funeral. I wasn't sure I could've handled going back there.

I was very nervous about walking down the aisle and I tried hard to conceal my nerves since this was Kenzie's day, but I couldn't stop the butterflies in my stomach. Cameron's friends were the people I'd gone to school with and I hadn't seen them in years. What were they going to do when they saw me walk down the aisle as one of Kenzie's bridesmaids? Would they even recognize me? Merlin, I hoped not. But they'd recognize my name in the program. There wasn't anyone in wizarding Australia over the age of 30 who didn't know my last name, at least.

“You okay?” Kenzie asked as we waited in an antechamber off of the foyer.

I nodded. “It's just going to be odd, seeing all of these people I haven't seen since I was fourteen.”

“It'll be fine. They'll be focused on me anyway.” Kenzie grinned.

I heard the music in the sanctuary start and the lady in charge of making sure we all went down the aisle at the appropriate time ushered Cameron's parents out the door and down the aisle. His dad gave me a weird look as he passed, which told me he at least knew who I was.

Kenzie's mum was next, escorted by Mike. Then came five-year-old Annie accompanied by two-year-old Parker. I could hear the 'awws' from the guests over the music. Soon, it was the bridesmaids' turn to walk down the aisle.

Kenzie had decided to have us walk down the aisle in the order she met us, which meant Morgan was first, followed by Mari, me, Maddie, Elizabeth, and then Dana. I was happy with that arrangement since it meant I was neither first nor last.

Once Mari got halfway down the aisle I began to walk and managed to keep pace while not falling on my face in my heels. I kept my head facing forward and didn't make eye contact with any of the guests. If any of them had recognized me I wasn't aware of it. Once I reached the alter, I took my place and stared just over all the guests' heads, so I wouldn't have to make eye contact.

Maddie, Elizabeth, and Dana followed me and once they were settled, the Wedding March began. The doors in the back of the sanctuary opened and Kenzie appeared, with her dad on her arm.

Kenzie looked radiant. Her dress was perfect. It was a beautiful ivory with a ruffled skirt and elegant beading on the bust. A lavender ribbon wrapped around her waist and tied in the back with a bow. Her bouquet of lavender tulips with baby's breath and fern was perfect. But even more perfect was her smile. It spread across her whole face, reaching up to her sparkling blue eyes. She looked so beautiful, so grown-up, and so happy.

I was shocked to realize that my own eyes were tearing up as Kenzie's dad handed her hand to Cameron at the front of the chapel. I blinked a few times to keep them from falling down my cheeks and ruining my make-up.

Cameron walked Kenzie up the few steps to the alter while her dad sat down next to her mom in the first pew. His eyes were glistening with tears. I'd never seen him cry before.

The preacher, dressed in white robes (not wizard robes, though, as this was a Muggle wedding), stepped forward with his Bible.

“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today...” he began.

My mind drifted as the preacher spoke. I'd heard his speech yesterday, at the rehearsal, and it was very touching. But I chose instead to gaze out at the sanctuary and the people gathered.

The sanctuary was decorated with white and lavender tulips to match Kenzie's bouquet, as well as the bridesmaids' bouquets. Ours contained white tulips, baby's breath, and ferns, and were a bit smaller than Kenzie's. The sanctuary itself was large, with a central aisle and two rows of pews. Each pew had a bouquet on its end and a lavender runner went down the central aisle. Annie had dropped white rose petals down its length.

Kenzie and Cameron's guests were dressed in their wedding finest. I spotted my parents and Matt on the bride's side of the aisle, about halfway up. Dad and Matt looked thoroughly uncomfortable in their Muggle suits and Mum looked beautiful in her green dress. I purposely didn't make eye contact with anyone else so as not to draw attention to myself.

“The bride and groom have written their own vows,” the preacher said. “May we have the rings?”

Mari handed Kenzie Cameron's ring while Cameron's best man (who looked suspiciously like someone in my year at the Australian School of Sorcery) handed him Kenzie's ring.

“Cameron,” Kenzie began. “I still remember the first time I knew I loved you. On our first date I mentioned I loved Jane Austen novels. You had never read any of them. Six months later you gave me a copy of Sense and Sensibility with a personalized note on the first page. You annotated the book as you read and your comments were just so funny. It was then that I knew I loved you and that you loved me. You loved me enough to read my favorite book and annotate it with your own opinions.

“I want to experience the things you like and I want to be a part of your life, part of your world, forever, Cam.”

Only the witches and wizards in attendance would fully understand the 'part of your world' bit, I thought. Kenzie's vows were making me cry and my mind had gone again to Dillan.

“I promise to love you forever, Cam, in sickness and in health, and beyond death,” Kenzie finished. Her voice was cracking. She took Cameron's hand and slipped the ring onto his finger.

“Kenzie,” Cameron said. “I'm not as articulate as you, but I love you. I remember the first time I saw you, standing in front of that book shop with a stack of books so high you could barely see over them. I realized I'd never heard of any of them when I ran over to help you. You've made me a smarter, better man, McKenzie. You are the magic in my life.”

Another line for the witches and wizards in attendance, I thought.

“I promise to love you forever, Kenzie, in sickness and in health, and beyond death,” Cameron said. He took Kenzie's hand and fit the ring onto her finger.

“By the power vested in me by God and the State of New South Wales, I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss your bride,” the preacher finished.

Kenzie and Cameron embraced and kissed briefly, before turning back to their guests. Everyone was clapping. My tears were flowing freely now and I didn't even try to stop them. Kenzie and Cameron started the procession out of the church and were followed by Mari and the best man.

I walked back up the aisle with one of the other groomsmen, a tall bloke with a military style haircut. I didn't recognize him and he didn't seem to recognize me. The best man, though, I swear we had classes together.

Once we were outside Kenzie and Cameron climbed into a white limo that would take them to the hotel where the reception was. Another limo followed it, this one for all of us bridesmaids and groomsmen. The guests had followed us outside and waved as we climbed inside. I was grinning ear-to-ear despite my tears. Kenzie was married. We really had grown up.


A/N: Thanks for all the awesome reviews!

Chapter 35: Change of Heart
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The reception was held at a hotel in Sydney. It was a very nice hotel, although not one of the really fancy ones. The reception hall was decorated with the same flowers as the church and the round tables were covered in lavender and white tablecloths. The head table was a rectangle and I was seated in between Mari and Morgan, although none of us had sat down yet.

Guests were milling about and talking to one another while we waited for Kenzie and Cameron to come inside. Kenzie was currently changing into her reception dress, a white sundress with purple flowers on it.

A few minutes later the doors opened and Kenzie and Cameron came inside, holding hands. They really were adorable. They were stopped by a few people telling them congratulations on their way to the table, but soon we were all seated and waiting for dinner to arrive.

The best man was sitting across from me. His shaggy black hair was really familiar. So were his very blue eyes and his slightly crooked nose, but I couldn't remember his name. I knew he wasn't Cameron's brother since Cameron didn't have any brothers, so who was he? He looked vaguely like this really quiet kid from potions.

I watched him while we ate salad and rolls, looking away every time he started to look at me. I'm pretty sure he thought I looked familiar, too. We continued this throughout the main course of shrimp scampi and didn't stop even when he and Mari gave their toasts. We finally did stop when Kenzie and Cameron rose to dance their first dance as a married couple.

They danced to Sway With Me by Allie Overton, who I was pretty sure was a witch, but the song didn't contain any magical references so I guess it didn't matter. After they finished they began to make the rounds and talk to all of their guests and I turned back to the table to finish my pasta.

I only got a few feet before someone grabbed my arm. I turned to see that it was the best man. He nodded toward the door that led to the corridor and let go of my arm as he headed toward it. I followed him. I had to find out if he was the quiet kid from potions.

I followed him out the door and into the corridor, but he didn't stop there. He lead me to the end of the corridor and then checked to see if there was anyone around. There wasn't.

“This has been bugging me all day,” he said. “You look so familiar.”

“So do you,” I said. “But why weren't you at the rehearsal dinner?”

“Couldn't get off work,” he muttered. “If I'm wrong about this, I'm going to get into so much trouble.... Honestly, I must be wrong. You're Kenzie's friend from England and I know there's no way Kenzie can have a friend who's a-”

“A witch,” I finished for him. “And you're right, I am one.”

His jaw dropped. I guess really he hadn't expected his hunch to be right. “But Kenzie's a-”

“A Muggle,” I said. “My grandparents lived just up the road from where she grew up. I used to stay with them quite a bit, so that's how I met Kenzie.”

He ran a hand through his hair. “Oh, that makes sense. But you live in England? I'd swear you were in a few of my classes in school.”

“I was,” I said. “I moved at the end of third year.”

“Oh holy Merlin!” he exclaimed. “You're Amy Eckerton! Your dad's the one who got sacked from the Ministry because you're brother's a-”

“Shush!” I interrupted. “You can't just shout that in the middle of a corridor, but yes. And you actually remember that?”

He grinned. “Sure do. Corrupt politics at their finest. That was my thing back then. I used to dream of the day I'd be a journalist who would find out all the secrets of the Ministry. All the corruption and dirty laundry. Your dad's story was the juiciest.”

I wrinkled my nose. I wasn't sure how I felt about this bloke's feelings about my dad getting sacked. On the one hand it was weird but on the other he didn't seem to care about the fact that Matt was a werewolf.

“Don't take it the wrong way,” he said. “I was outraged that he was sacked because of it. It was an obvious cover-up of the fact that he was really sacked because of your brother.”

I breathed a sigh of relief. “So did you ever become a journalist?”

He laughed. “No. I actually work for the Ministry now. Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office, but still. How things change. What about you?”

“I'm a Healer and a Brewer,” I said. “Creature-Induced injuries.”

“I'm not surprised. You always were the best in potions,” he said.

“That's where I remember you from,” I said. “Potions.”

“I was awful. Remember when I blew up that cauldron on the first day first year?”

I laughed. “That was you?”

He grinned sheepishly. “Yeah. So, Amy, can I buy you a drink?”

I thought of Dillan and immediately pushed him from my mind. “Sure. I'd like that.”

***


An hour and three drinks later I was feeling much better about being at a wedding two weeks after going through a break-up. I smiled as I watched Kenzie and Cameron on the dance floor, looking completely happy. They were surrounded by their family and friends and didn't have a care in the world. And right now, neither did I. After the second drink I'd confessed to the bloke from potions that I didn't remember his name and he told me it was Brandon Edison and that he was Cameron's cousin. Kenzie must have mentioned that at some point, but I'd forgotten.

I was on my fourth drink when Matt sat down in Mari's empty chair next to me. “You look pretty happy. Who's the bloke?” he asked, nodding to Brandon, who was on his way to the loo.

“Brandon Edison,” I said. “We were in potions together first through third years.”

“Don't do anything stupid,” Matt said quietly.

“I am a single woman,” I told him. “I can do what I want. Or who I want.”

Matt groaned. “How many drinks have you had?”

“This is my fourth,” I said. “Are you having fun?”

Matt shrugged. “I guess. It's kind of weird, to be honest. Dad's been talking with Cameron's dad.” Matt pointed to a table across the room, where Dad was deep in conversation with a man who looked like an older version of Cameron.

“Isn't he the head of the Department of Magical Transportation?” I asked.

“Yeah,” Matt said. “He and Dad hate each other.”

“That's what I thought,” I said. “So what are they talking about?”

“No idea. He keeps looking at me, though, with a weird look in his eyes. It's creeping me out.”

The man was creepy, I had to admit. In more than just a 'I hate you because you're a werewolf' kind of way. “Has anyone else recognized Dad?”

“A few people,” Matt said. “No one's made a big deal about it. They're just all surprised we know Kenzie.”

“Good. Only Brandon has recognized me. It's a funny story, how he remembers me, though,” I began, and told Matt about Brandon's wish to be a journalist.

“That's weird, Amy,” Matt said, wrinkling his nose. “Be careful.”

“I'm fine,” I assured him. “All we've done is talked about school. We haven't talked about Dad or you.”

“Keep it that way,” Matt said shortly. “I really don't like this.”

“What, me talking to Brandon?” I asked, suddenly a little peeved that my little brother was giving me advice about men.

“Well, that, but mostly just this wedding,” Matt said quietly.

“You said it yourself, only Cameron's dad has really brought it up,” I reminded him. “Nothing bad is going to happen.”

“I'm back!”

I turned away from Matt and saw Brandon returning with two beers. He set them down on the table and grinned at me. “Who's this?”

“My brother,” I said. “Matt, Brandon. Brandon, Matt.”

A flash of realization crossed Brandon's eyes but it was gone within a second. He shook Matt's hand and the two stared at each other, making me feel very uncomfortable.

“Let's dance!” I said, standing up and grabbing Brandon's hands. “Matt, you should go dance with Maddie. She's sweet and quiet and doesn't have anyone to dance with.”

Matt turned bright red and I led Brandon to the dance floor. It was very crowded but we found a spot and began to dance. I wasn't very good and stepped on Brandon's feet more than just a few times, but he didn't seem to care. A few minutes later I was both surprised and happy to see that Matt did ask Maddie to dance with him and the two were dancing a few feet away from us.

We spent the remainder of the evening dancing and drinking with Matt and Maddie. Matt managed to loosen up a bit after Dad stopped talking to Cameron's dad and started to enjoy himself. We took a break for cake and then returned to the dance floor.

Soon, it was time for Kenzie and Cameron to depart on their honeymoon. They were going to Paris, a trip paid for by Cameron's parents. We followed the crowd outside and were given bubbles to blow as the happy couple walked out of the hotel and into the awaiting limo.

I stood in between Matt and Brandon as Kenzie and Cameron walked hand-in-hand to the limo. Kenzie caught my eye and raised her eyebrows slightly at Brandon standing next to me. I shrugged, grinned, and continued blowing bubbles until the limo drove away.

We lost Matt and Maddie on our way back inside. Brandon stopped me in the corridor outside the reception hall and pulled me aside.

“Beautiful wedding,” he said, smiling.

“It really was,” I agreed.

Brandon wrapped his arms around me and kissed me passionately, his tongue pushing its way into my mouth. I was thrown for a few seconds but kissed him back and linked my arms around his neck. We kissed for a few minutes, before I pulled away.

I'd kissed someone other than Dillan. Tears pricked at my eyes and my stomach churned. I regretted all the drinks and the second piece of cake. Dillan and I were broken up. Kissing another man shouldn't make me feel this awful, but it did.

Brandon didn't seem to notice that I'd started crying. He was still grinning. “Want to go back to my place?”

I shook my head. “No. I can't.”

“Why not? I thought we'd had fun tonight.”

“We did, but I can't.”

“Do you have a boyfriend?” he asked, his voice slightly angry.

“Not exactly. Sort of. I don't know,” I replied.

“You either do or you don't.”

“Fine. I don't,” I said. “But I can't go back to your place.”

“Whatever,” Brandon muttered. He turned and stalked off, without even saying goodbye.

I burst into tears and ran into the nearest loo. It was empty, thank Merlin. I cried for nearly ten minutes before I got control of myself and was able to go back to the reception hall. It was much emptier now and the employees were beginning to clean up.

I grabbed my purse, wiped my eyes one last time, and went over to my parents' table. They were both giggling, but stopped when they saw me.

“Are you okay, Amy?” Mum asked.

“I'm fine,” I said. “I'm going back to the house, though.”

“We'll see you later, then,” Mum replied.

I couldn't find Matt anywhere so I headed to the nearest deserted alley to Disapparate. I landed in the middle of Richard and Cinda's living room and realized I didn't put the proper wards on the house when it became mine. Not that it mattered since no witches or wizards knew it existed. Considering how much alcohol I'd had I was lucky I didn't splinch anything.

Soon I was tucked in bed in my old room, underneath the horribly pink canopy bed Cinda had been so sure I wanted. Cinda. I could only imagine what she would've had to say about Dillan and our break-up.

Now that I was sobering up I realized that I wanted what Kenzie had today. I wanted the big wedding in the church with the fancy reception. I wanted someone who would love me even beyond death. And more than that, I wanted that person to be Dillan. Kissing Brandon had made that very clear. Dillan was the one for me and if he proposed to me, I'd say yes. But that wasn't going to happen. Not now. Merlin, I thought as I drifted off to sleep, I needed to talk to Victoire.

***


I woke up the next day feeling absolutely awful and wishing that I'd thought to bring a hangover potion along on the trip. There was nothing in the house that resembled any sort of pain suppressant that wasn't expired, so I had no choice but to suck it up. There was a box of cereal on the counter that Mum must've bought, but the thought of food just made me feel worse.

I was contemplating going back to bed despite the fact that it was nearly eleven when the back door opened and Matt walked in, still wearing his suit from yesterday. I raised my eyebrows and his cheeks turned pink.

“I thought you'd still be sleeping off last night,” he muttered as he threw his blazer onto the table. “Where are Mum and Dad?”

“This is sleeping late for me. And I've no idea where they are.” I walked closer to Matt and gave him a smile. “So, what did you get up to last night?”

“Er, nothing,” he said, averting my gaze.

“You know, if it was with Maddie, she'll tell Kenzie and then Kenzie will tell me so you might as well just tell me now,” I pointed out.

Matt sat down at the table. “Fine. Maddie and I got a hotel room after the reception last night. Do you need me to spell it out for you?”

“Matthew Conan,” I said, laughing. “Are you telling me that you spent the night with a girl?”

His blush deepened. “Is that really so weird?”

I let out a snort. “Yes. Usually you say you can't go out with anyone because you'd have to tell them about your lycanthropy eventually.”

“Well, I figured that since Maddie lives in Australia, it's not going to get serious,” Matt said.

“Not necessarily,” I said as I sat down next to him. “What did she say when you left?”

“She said last night was fun and that she needed to do laundry and pack before she drove back to uni later today,” Matt said.

“Seriously?” I asked. “She didn't tell you to call her?”

“Nope. I told you, casual,” Matt answered. “But what about your night? What about Mr. Journalist?”

“He's not a journalist. And he's a prick,” I said. “I came back here right after Kenzie and Cameron left.”

“Good,” Matt said as he got up. “I'm going to go shower.”

At least Matt enjoyed the evening, I thought. Honestly, Maddie would not be a bad match for him. She's only four years younger and she's very sweet. But the whole 'living in Australia' thing would be a problem. She'd have to move to England because there is no way Matt could move back to Australia. Matt was right, though, it was unlikely to go anywhere.

Mum, Dad, and Matt flew back to London that evening. After my hangover started to wear off I had Chinese takeaway for dinner and turned in early. Despite my sleeping late that morning, I was still exhausted.

I felt better the next morning, although I was very nervous about my appointment at Eastworth. I hadn't been there since I was twelve or thirteen and didn't exactly have fond memories of the place.

Eastworth Hospital is smaller than St. Mungo's, probably because St. Mungo's serves all of Britain while Eastworth only serves the East coast of Australia. There's another hospital on the West coast.

The waiting room was busy when I arrived and I joined a short queue at the receptionist's desk in order to find out where I was going. The layout was still vaguely familiar to me, but for all I know they'd changed things around.

“I'm here to meet with Healer Gregory Kingston,” I said once I'd reached the front of the queue.

A pretty witch around Matt's age was manning the desk. “Fifth floor, office number four,” she said and pointed to the corridor to her right. “Lifts are that way.”

“Thank you,” I said and walked to the lifts.

I shared a lift with a few nurses who barely gave me a second glance and soon found myself walking down the fifth floor corridor. I had to walk around the entire floor before I found office number four, but found it eventually and knocked.

“Come in.”

I opened the door and saw that the study was very similar to mine. It had a messy desk, a few chairs, and many bookcases filled to capacity. A few framed degrees decorated the walls.

Healer Gregory Kingston, Head of the Creature-Induced Injury ward, sat behind his desk. He was an old man, with very little hair left on his head, and a bushy white beard with no mustache, resulting in his upper lip appearing naked. His face was heavily lined and the knuckles in his hands were knotted. He appeared to have aged quite a bit since I last saw him at the age of twelve. I didn't like him at all. While he was not the same healer who suggested that my parents just 'have a new child' after Matt was bitten, he didn't disagree with that healer.

“Healer Eckerton,” he said as he stood. “Pleasure.”

I shook his knotted hand. “Healer Kingston, the pleasure is mine.” Sometimes, in the field of healing, one had to do a lot of pretending.

We both sat down and I wondered which one of us was supposed to begin this conversation. I also wondered if he recognized my last name and whether his opinion on werewolves had changed over the years.

“So tell me a little bit about the study you conducted that led to your discovery of this new strain of lycanthropy,” Kingston said as he leaned back in his chair and folded his hands over his chest.

I gave Kingston a brief overview of the study Rose and I conducted and then told him all the details about the new strain of lycanthropy.

“Very interesting,” he said after I'd finished, although his facial expressions had not changed. “And have you given any thought as to whether the New Holland strain mutates once inside a person or whether this strain has been passed on by werewolf to person for a while now?”

“That's the problem,” I said. “It's extremely rare for someone to know who attacks them, so conducting a study on that with enough data would be difficult.”

“Indeed,” Kingston mused. “The only way to do it would be to have those with the new strain inflict others and that's certainly not ethical.”

I was slightly blown away that Kingston would bring that up, even in jest. I decided to ignore it. “I'd hazard a guess that it's been passed on by werewolf to person for a while.”

“Based on what evidence?” he asked.

“I've discovered the strain in werewolves of all ages, who have been bitten as long ago as thirty years and as recent as the past six months.” I took a deep breath. I had to tell him about tracking down Silas Humphrey. “And I have two samples of DNA, one from an attacker, and one from his victim. They both have the mutated strain.”

“It's your brother, isn't it?” Kingston grunted.

“You remember?” I asked.

“Hell no.” Kingston laughed. “That was nearly twenty years ago. After we set up this meeting I took the liberty of requesting the court records of all werewolves who have been incarcerated for infecting others from the Ministry. Your brother's attacker's file is in there.” He handed me a stack of files. “They'll contain the names of the attackers and the victims. You can compare the names with DNA you already have and see if anything matches up. The Ministry forensics team will have DNA on file for all currently or formerly imprisoned werewolves. The ones currently imprisoned have no rights so I can get the DNA for you.”

“Really?” I asked. “You want to help with this?”

“I do,” he said. “I find I've become a bit more liberal with my old age. Hating werewolves, it uses up energy I can use elsewhere. At my age I haven't got much energy to begin with and I can't waste any. I like your ultimate goal. Creating a new version of the Wolfsbane potion, right?”

“Yes,” I said. “How did you know?” That bit hadn't been in the papers.

Kingston tapped the pile of files. “It's in there, the fact Wolfsbane doesn't work for your brother. The court took that into account, gave Silas Humphrey more jail time.”

“But that's not fair,” I said. “It wasn't his fault-”

“Werewolves didn't have many rights back then,” Kingston said as he leaned back in his chair again. “Still don't, for that matter. Not here anyway. Your dad was the only one in the Ministry who really cared to give them any and after he left, well....”

I nodded. “And are there others in these files? Others who got worse sentences because their victims can't use Wolfsbane?”

“A few,” Kingston said. “And I'd bet a week's salary they match up with your DNA samples.”

“Thank you, Healer Kingston,” I said as I picked up the stack of files. “Really, thank you. This is so helpful.”

“You're welcome,” Kingston replied. “Owl me with the names of anyone you need DNA from.”

“Thank you, again,” I said as I stood and let myself out. Kingston nodded to me as I left.

I left Eastworth with a much better opinion of it and its healers than when I entered. Kingston had taken me by surprise and I was pretty excited to tell Dad about his change of heart. More than that, I felt I was definitely on the right track for my new potion. I hurried back to Richard and Cinda's house so I could gather my things and get back to London. I had work to do and I didn't want it to wait.


Sorry about the late update! Although technically it's still Thursday in my time zone. :) The song Kenzie & Cameron danced to is completely made up, as is the artist, just in case you were planning on searching for it. For those who read my Albus novels, I won't be updating tomorrow because my cousin is getting married. I'll be back on Sunday so I'll update it then. Thanks for all the wonderful reviews!


It was easy to throw myself back into work and forget about what happened with Brandon at the wedding after returning to London. Muggle travel might be slow and irritating, but it does wonders for making one feel as if they really are going halfway across the world. What happened in Australia just felt like it was no longer relevant. However, I still felt awful about Dillan and wished we could make up and go back to the way things were. The feelings I'd felt after kissing Brendan hadn't gone away, despite the long journey to London.

As always, work was a welcomed distraction. I was delighted to find that Kaden Dursley hadn't destroyed my potion experiments and all were fine when I returned. Kaden seemed very relieved at my satisfaction and then asked if I'd start teaching him how to brew Wolfsbane potion on his own. I told him I would after the new year in order to give myself a few months dedicated to my new potion.

A week after I returned Liane began observing me. She spent two hours a day with me, every other day, in order to get a feel for every aspect of my job (or rather, two jobs). She was very quiet at first, hardly saying two words during the first week, only scribbling furiously on her clipboard. The second week she began to talk and asked me questions about brewing and patients. She was absolutely fascinated by my brewing room and the cauldrons of aconite with various additives.

My first set of cauldrons proved useless. None of the additives I'd used helped the aconite to remain in its useful state despite the spell I'd put on it. The spell I used simulated the chemical processes of the human body and the way a person's metabolism worked. I used the fastest metabolism speed possible on the spell, since werewolves with the new strain seemed to have particularly fast metabolisms. I suspected that was the reason why regular Wolfsbane did not work.

“So, you just keep trying new ingredients until one works?” Liane asked as she watched me.

“Pretty much,” I said as I poured aconite into each cauldron. “There's an infinite amount of possibilities since it might not be one ingredient that does the trick. It might be more than one or even as many as ten or twenty. I just have to hope that I hit on the right one sooner rather than later.”

“How do you pick the ingredients?”

“Each ingredient has different properties and is used for different things, so I've chosen ingredients that are used in other potions in order to keep the potion in a person's body for a longer period of time. I made a list of various possibilities and now I'm just going through them. Once I find one that seems to work, I'll add other inactive ingredients to turn it into a potion and then send it off for testing.”

“And then Matt will be able to try it?”

“If the testing goes well, yes,” I said.

“Can I help you brew?” Liane asked.

“Sorry,” I replied. “You're only allowed to observe at this point.”

Liane sighed. I could tell she was impatient, but that was a good sign. She was determined and that would only help her.

After I got the cauldrons set up I walked Liane back to the Floo and Apparition room and headed back to my study to change. I was due for dinner at Victoire's that night. Teddy was on a mission and she needed help with the twins. It was hard to believe they were already four months old. So much had happened since they were born that it felt like it'd been years and yet only days at the same time. It was the perfect night to spend with Victoire since I needed advice about Dillan.

I arrived at Victoire's an hour later, armed with a pizza, a jug of pumpkin juice, and a box of biscuits. That was how I did dinner. Victoire had cousins who cooked and they could provide her and her kids with homemade meals. Me, I was good for pizza and other takeaway.

Victoire answered the door with one twin in her arms and I heard the other one screaming somewhere in the house. I figured the one in her arms was Remus. He'd always been the quieter one.

“Amy, come in,” Victoire said.

I followed her inside and shut the door behind us. As soon as I set the food on the table she handed me Remus and hurried upstairs to get Henri. Sophie was on the floor coloring in a large outline of what I guessed was her. Except she'd colored her hair bright pink.

“Daddy's a metmorph,” Sophie said as she stood up. “I want to be one.”

I laughed. “A metamorphmagus?”

“Yeah, that. He can change his hair whenever he wants. So in this picture I'm one, too. Did you bring biscuits?”

“Yes. Chocolate chip.”

“Good!” Sophie grinned. “We ran out days ago and Mum won't go buy more. She says taking the twins to the store without Daddy would drive her to an early grave, whatever that means.”

I laughed again. “They're in the kitchen. If you go quick, you can sneak one before dinner, before your mum comes back downstairs with Henri.”

Sophie giggled and took off for the kitchen. I really was an awful influence on her. Victoire should've chosen one of her cousins to be her godmother.

Sophie returned a minute later with her mouth covered in chocolate. I grabbed a tissue and wiped it off just as Victoire came downstairs with Henri. She noticed the grin on Sophie's face and sighed. She figured it out. Nothing got past Victoire.

We settled down at the table and ate the pizza, which was now slightly cold. Victoire only had to get up twice to change diapers, which was probably some kind of record. After we finished she fed the twins while I read a few books to Sophie. We put her to bed around eight and a half hour later both twins were asleep, too.

“Merlin,” Victoire said as she collapsed on the couch. “It's actually quiet. Teddy will never believe me when I tell him later.”

“When is he due back?”

“In two days,” Victoire said. “Can't come soon enough.”

“I bet,” I replied.

“How was Kenzie's wedding?” she asked. “I've hardly seen you since.”

I groaned. “I've meant to talk to you about that.”

“What happened?” she asked anxiously. “Kenzie's okay, right?”

“Oh, it's not Kenzie. It's all me. The wedding was beautiful, Kenzie's very happy. I've had a few owls from her since. It's so convenient she married a wizard.”

“So crazy, though,” Victoire said. “Very weird coincidence.”

“Very,” I agreed.

“What happened with you, then?” she asked.

“Oh, it was bad,” I said, and then proceeded to tell her the entire Brandon story, from the beginning.

“And he expected you to spend the night with him?” Victoire asked incredulously. “What a pig!”

“That's what I thought!” I said. “But I feel awful about kissing him. I can blame it on the booze all I want but I didn't stop him at first and I definitely kissed back.”

“Amy,” Victoire said as she leaned in close and looked me in the eyes, “you and Dillan are broken up. You're allowed to kiss other blokes. You're allowed to have sex with them, if you want.”

“I don't want to kiss other blokes and I definitely don't want to have sex with them,” I said. My eyes were tearing up. “I want Dillan back.”

Victoire smirked. “I wondered how long you'd take to admit that.”

I groaned. “Is it really that obvious?”

“It's all over your face,” Victoire said with a smile. “I've never seen you happier as when you were with Dillan.”

“You know how you asked me if I'd marry him if he asked? And I said I think I would?”

Victoire nodded and shifted positions on the couch.

“I would marry him, no thinking involved. If he burst in your house right now and asked me, I'd marry him,” I confessed. “Is that bad?”

“Merlin, no. Why would that be bad?”

“Because of everything I've kept from him. He made it clear he doesn't want to be with me if I'm keeping secrets.”

“Then you're just going to have to tell him.”

“Not to mention the fact that I work too much for his liking,” I said. “And I can't tell him, not without Matt's permission, at least.”

“The working thing is just something you're going to have to work on,” Victoire said, and then giggled at her own choice of words. “As for Matt's lycanthropy, don't you think he'd want you to be happy?”

“Yeah, sure,” I said.

“And do you trust Dillan completely?”

“Of course,” I said. It wasn't until I said it out loud that I realized I did. I trusted Dillan completely and I knew he would keep Matt's secret. Nor would it bother him in the slightest. “Then why am I so worried?”

“Because you care about your brother,” Victoire said. “And because the only person you've ever told about it is me.”

That was true. I hadn't thought about it that way. “I suppose you're right.”

“Don't let him slip away, Amy,” Victoire said. “Dillan's one of the good guys.”

“But what about the fact that he gave me an ultimatum?” I asked.

“To be honest, I think his demanding to know what you've been keeping from him is just a mask for his insecurities about the fact that you work all the time. He wants to be important in your life. He probably feels like you put work above him.”

“I sort of do,” I said quietly. “But only because my work relates to Matt.”

“Then you need to explain that to him.”

“You think he'll understand?” I asked.

“There's only one way to find out.”

“So you don't think I should hold the ultimatum against him?”

“I wouldn't,” Victoire said. “He just wants to be a full part of your life. And I'd guess he feels pretty bad about your breakup, too.”

“I guess I need to talk to him,” I replied. “Thanks...for the advice.”

“No problem. Might as well put my experience of seven years of marriage to good use.”

I laughed and one of the babies started crying upstairs. Victoire groaned and got up.

“Sounds like Remus,” she said. “So, you're definitely going to talk to him?”

“Yeah, I'll talk to him,” I assured her.

Victoire grinned. “Good. I'll be right back.”

Dillan and I really did need to talk and we needed to talk soon. But first, I needed to talk to Matt because no matter how much I trusted Dillan, I could not tell him about Matt's lycanthropy without Matt's permission. I'd have to talk to him away from Mum and Dad because as much as the two of them liked Dillan, there was no way they'd approve of me telling him about Matt's lycanthropy.

***


A couple days later I paid a visit to Matt's flat in order to talk to him and opened the door to find him and Al cleaning. Not just picking up their dirty robes and throwing them into baskets like they do before their mothers visit, but actual, legitimate cleaning. Albus was even wielding a vacuum and was hoovering the floor. Matt was scrubbing the stove.

“What have I walked in on?” I shouted over the vacuum.

Al shut off the vacuum. “We're cleaning!” he exclaimed.

“I got that. But why? You two haven't cleaned this flat, well, ever.”

“Al's mum stopped by,” Matt said. “She said if we didn't clean this place up we weren't allowed to the Burrow for dinner anymore. You've tasted his Nana Molly's cooking. It's well worth a bit of tidying up.”

He definitely had a point there. “But you're using a vacuum and sponges. You'd make it a lot easier on yourselves if you used magic.”

“Er, we've discovered that neither of us are any good at cleaning spells,” Albus muttered. “So instead I transfigured a lamp into a vacuum and Matt went out and bought cleaning supplies. Care to help?”

“Absolutely not. This is your mess. Matt, could you take a break? I need to talk to you.”

“Sure,” he said as he set down the sponge and led me into his bedroom.

I shut the door behind us. Matt's bedroom had always been the cleanest part of the flat he shared with Albus Potter, but now it looked messy since the rest of the flat was getting cleaned. I shoved aside a pile of books on the bed and sat down.

“What's up?” Matt asked as he sat down next to me. “Finish that potion yet?”

I smirked. “I'm working on it. You'll be the first to know. I need to talk to you about Dillan.”

“Shouldn't you talk to Victoire? Or Rose?” Matt asked skeptically.

“No, it's not that sort of thing.” I took a deep breath. “I miss him. I want to get back together with him. But I need to be honest with him, about everything. About work and the reasons I work so much and do the work I do.”

Matt nodded. “You need to tell him I'm a werewolf.”

“Only if you're okay with it,” I said quickly.

Matt smiled. “Tell him. He makes you happy and I want you to be happy. And I trust him.”

I breathed a sigh of relief. I'd mostly known Matt wouldn't have a problem with me telling Dillan about his lycanthropy, but the bit of doubt had been there. “Are you sure?”

“Positive,” Matt said. “And it'll make my life a lot easier once the two of you are back together.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Because my friends love his pub and I couldn't go back after he broke up with you. I'd be a terrible brother.”

“You could've gone back,” I told him. “And we're not back together yet.”

“You will be,” Matt said. “Soon.”

Why was it that everyone else seemed to understand mine and Dillan's relationship more than I did? It didn't make any sense.

I went back to my own flat immediately after Matt and I finished talking, not wanting to be roped into cleaning out the fridge or something. I made myself a cup of instant noodles and settled onto the couch and was ready to read the most recent issue of Potion Master's Monthly, when my fireplace lit up green and Kaden Dursley's head appeared amidst the flames.

“Amy, Amy!” he shouted. “You've got to get back to Mungo's!”

“Why, what's happened?” I asked, thinking the worst, such as some massive explosion that resulted in dozens of injuries.

“It's your cauldrons!” he said. “I was testing them like you'd asked me to and I looked at the results and compared them with the results from the past few days and the aconite, it's still there!”

I practically spilled my noodles all over myself and the couch. “Seriously? But today's the last day for results to be taken. Since the aconite's still there, that means....”

“That the active ingredients should work!” Kaden said.

I'd had Kaden do the necessary tests that night since I needed to talk to Matt about Dillan, but I never expected them to actually yield anything. If I had I would've stayed and done them myself. My heart began to pound. This could possibly be the answer....

“How many of the cauldrons?” I asked.

Kaden grinned. “Three.”

“Which ones?”

“Numbers two, three, and six,” Kaden said.

Those were the ones with anise and powdered root of asphodel, just powdered root of asphodel, and the one with snake fangs, witch hazel, and garlic. If it was just the first two I'd say it was the powdered root of asphodel that did the trick, but that third one was just weird.

“I'll be right there,” I said as I stood up.

I quickly changed out of my pajamas and into the robes I was wearing earlier. I Flooed to St. Mungo's and within five minutes I was back in my brewing room. Kaden was standing behind the cauldrons, grinning madly, as if he'd created the successful potion himself.

I checked and double checked Kaden's results before confirming that the three cauldrons were in fact still containing aconite. All three combinations of ingredients could be used to create new versions of the Wolfsbane potion.

“Let's get started,” I said to Kaden. “The full moon is tomorrow, so none will be ready for testing by then, but if we hurry we can possibly have one of these ready by the October moon.”

Kaden eagerly went to the storage closet and pulled out three cauldrons, knocking over the rest of the cauldrons in the process. He muttered apologies as I stifled my laughter and hurried over to help him clean them up. He was a bit overenthusiastic at times.

Two hours later we had the starts of three new versions of the Wolfsbane brewing and bubbling over strong heat. They would each take a week to brew completely, but with any luck they'd be back from testing shortly after that and we'd still have time to re-brew them before the October full moon.

“Think we've done it?” Kaden asked as we cleaned up the work area.

“I don't like to get my hopes up, but I've got a good feeling about it,” I told him.

“And if one of them works, what will happen?”

“If one of them works on the initial test group-”

“That's Matt, right?”

I nodded. “And a few other adult werewolves, willing to give very experimental potions a try. Anyway, if a potion works for them it will be sent out to a potions research lab for even more stringent testing. If it passes those tests, I'll have to come up with research project to test it on a greater number of werewolves. That study will probably be run numerous times with different variables. If it continues to prove successful, I'll be able to market it as an official potion recognized by the Board of Potion Brewers and all werewolves with the new strain of lycanthropy will be able to use it.”

“That sounds like it will take a while,” Kaden said as we began to put away the clean bowls and instruments we just washed.

“It will,” I said. “At least two years, if not more. But Matt will be able to use it even before it's officially recognized, since I can brew it for him as a family member rather than a Brewer. Benefits of having a sister who's a Brewer.”

Kaden seemed relieved. “Good. I really hope one of these works.”

“Me too, Kaden, me too,” I said. “You've no idea how long I've waited for this.”

Kaden nodded. “Do you think that when you're ready to do the official study I can help you with it?”

“Of course,” I said. “You've already helped with this stage, so you're already involved. There's no turning back now.”

Kaden grinned. “I hadn't thought of that. I haven't even brewed regular Wolfsbane and I'm already helping with the new one.”

“I promise I'll start teaching you in January,” I said. “Merlin knows we need another Brewer who can brew that, especially if one of these new ones work. I can't be brewing multiple types every single month. I'd never have time to do anything else.”

“I'll be able to do it,” Kaden said adamantly. “I know it.”

“I've no doubt,” I said. “I can usually tell who's going to be able to brew it and who won't. It's a weird type of sixth sense.”

“If you didn't think I could do it, would you tell me?”

“Yes,” I said. “I've told two other Junior Brewers before. One of them proved me wrong but the other pretty much just brews pain potion and Pepper-Up potion. Wolfsbane isn't a forgiving potion. If you screw it up even a little bit it won't work and then many people suffer.”

Kaden nodded. “That's what I like about brewing. Sure it's fun, but what I really like is how it helps people. Even just the simple ones like pain potion and Pepper-Up potion.”

“Me too,” I said. “It's why I got into the field in the first place.”

Kaden nodded again and we both lapsed into silence, just watching the delicate steam wafting above the three cauldrons that possibly held the solution that I'd been looking for my whole career.


Thanks for all the lovely reviews! I'm hoping to be able to respond to them soon!

Chapter 37: Together Again
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I spent many hours over the next few days thinking about the best way to approach Dillan as I continued to work on the three new potions. They were simple enough to brew, but required near constant attention. Either Kaden or I checked on them every hour during the day and recruited an intern to keep an eye on them at night. But despite that I still didn't sleep well while they were brewing.

I finally decided that I'd just surprise Dillan at his house in Wales. It was as good an idea as any and the element of surprise would probably be advantageous. Since I didn't know when he'd be home I figured I'd just let myself in with the key I still had and wait.

The night finally arrived. I gave the potions one last check at ten, changed in my study, grabbed the bottle of wine I'd bought earlier, and Apparated to Wales. Dillan's house was dark when I arrived and I quickly got inside, not wanting him to get back mere seconds after I got there. I lit my wand and hurried to the kitchen, where I located two wine glasses. I set them on the counter, along with the wine, and sat down to wait.

I grew steadily more nervous as the seconds on the clock ticked by. Maybe this was a bad idea. Maybe I should just go home, drink the whole bottle of wine, and fall asleep on the couch. But I knew if I didn't stay, I'd never talk to Dillan and never hear the end of it from both my brother and Victoire. More than that, I wanted him back, even more than I was nervous.

I heard a key turn in the lock about a half hour later. I picked up my wand and held it out in front of me.

“Who's there?” Dillan asked. “I'm armed!”

I heard the floorboards creak as Dillan walked slowly to the kitchen. “It's me, Dillan.”

“Amy?” Dillan replied. “Lumos.”

The hallway lit up from the light of Dillan's wand and I saw him standing on the threshold leading to the kitchen. His hair was tousled and he looked very confused.

“Hi,” I said, still holding my lit wand. “Can we talk?”

Dillan rushed into the kitchen and threw his wand onto the island. He grabbed hold of me, causing me to drop my own wand, and kissed me hard on the lips.

“Of course we can,” he said after we broke apart. “But don't let that kiss fool you. I'm still angry with you.”

I nodded, swallowing hard. “Can we go up on the roof?”

“Sure,” Dillan said.

I followed him up to the messy attic and then out the window and onto the roof. He'd grabbed the blanket we used the last time and set it on the shingles before we both sat down. I pulled my knees up to my chest and wrapped my arms around them as I stared at the waning moon.

“Did you know that February in 1865 is the only recorded month without a full moon?” I said after a few minutes of silence.

“Er, no,” Dillan said. “That was random. Why are you here, Amy? I miss you. God, do I miss you, but I made myself clear.”

“I want to explain something to you,” I said. “If you'll listen.”

“I'll listen,” Dillan said, “but that doesn't mean we're getting back together.”

“Okay,” I said quietly. He was still hurt and that just made me feel worse.

“Can I just say something first?” Dillan asked.

“Sure,” I said.

Dillan turned and looked at me. “I've thought a lot since we broke up. I still stand by everything I said. You don't have to be the hero all the time. You act like the creation of whatever potion you're working on rests solely on your shoulders, like you're the only one who can do it.”

“I'm not trying to be a hero,” I said. “I'm just trying to save one person. And I am the only one who can do it. If you just let me explain-”

“I will. I just wanted to say my bit first. And that makes no sense. Trying to save one person?” Dillan asked, bewildered. “But anyway, I just wanted to tell you that I think it's a bad idea to spend so much time on work, even if we're not together. You're going to alienate everyone. Your parents, your brother, Victoire, Teddy, the rest of the Weasleys-”

“No, you've got it all wrong,” I said. “It's not that simple-”

“At some point, you'll have to choose between them and the potion.”

I was getting a little impatient now. If he would just let me talk first, everything he had to say would be irrelevant. “Dillan! It's not that simple. For me, work and my family are the same thing.”

Now he looked even more confused. “What are you talking about?”

“That's what I'm trying to explain to you,” I said. “I've never told you exactly what the potion I'm working on is.”

“I always figured you couldn't say anything until it was a success,” he said.

“It's another version of the Wolfsbane potion,” I said, ignoring him. “That's the potion I've been working on. It's for werewolves with the new strain of lycanthropy.”

“But wait, you've been working on this since before you made that discovery, since before I met you.”

“I've been working on it since I was a Junior Brewer,” I said quietly. “It's my life goal. I never meant to discover a new strain of lycanthropy, although that has certainly made this potion easier.”

“They let you do potions research as a Junior Brewer?” Dillan asked, clearly impressed.

“It was a combination of my skill and extenuating circumstances.”

“What circumstances?”

I took a deep breath. “This potion, my entire career, it's all based on one person. When Matt was five, he was bitten by a werewolf.”

Dillan gasped. “That means that-”

“He's a werewolf,” I said. “He has the new strain and Wolfsbane potion has never worked for him. When I was fifteen, shortly after we moved here, I swore I'd fix the potion and make one that would work.”

“That's what you meant when you said your work and family are the same,” Dillan said quietly.

“Yes,” I said. “And it's why I work so much and why I canceled our plans so many times.”

“Oh,” Dillan said. “Merlin, Amy, why didn't you just tell me?”

“You know how we moved to England after my dad got sacked?” I asked.

“Yeah, but what in the world does that have to do with you not telling me things?”

“That move has to do with everything,” I said quietly. “Dad didn't just get sacked, he got sacked because my brother is a werewolf.”

“What? That's not legal,” Dillan said, incredulously.

“The Australian Ministry was very corrupt back then. There was a bloke named Lubar who hated Dad, held a grudge against him because he knew about Matt's lycanthropy, and thought Dad was going soft on the werewolf control laws because of Matt. Dad wasn't, of course, he was just smart enough to understand that werewolves deserve the same rights as anyone.”

“And this bloke, Lubar, he didn't think they deserved rights?”

“No,” I said darkly. “When the Ministry passed him up for a promotion, and promoted Dad to the Head position instead, Lubar started trying to pass very restrictive legislation. It took him a few years to get it passed, but when it did, it required all werewolves not on Wolfsbane to transform in Ministry centers if they couldn't create their own transformation buildings. But, the law required these buildings to be their own separate dwellings, not rooms in houses.

“Matt always transformed at home, in the basement. Dad broke the law in order to keep him transforming there, where he was comfortable. The law was ridiculous anyway. Soon after, Lubar got a law passed that said Werewolf Control Unit employees could forcibly take werewolves into custody if they refused to comply with the law. Lubar Flooed into our house and took Matt, before Dad could even do anything.”

“Oh my God,” Dillan said quietly. “How old was he?”

“Eight,” I said. I hated talking about this. “They sacked Dad shortly after, after a hearing only done to save face. Lubar got promoted and we moved. We were already planning on moving anyway, because the Australian School of Sorcery wouldn't accept Matt. Matt was in therapy for months after the kidnapping.”

“Amy, that's awful,” Dillan said. “Poor Matt. And only eight! What kind of monster does that to a child? Is he still at the Ministry?”

“No,” I said. “He got sacked years ago for embezzling Ministry funds.”

“Good,” Dillan replied.

“That's why I didn't tell you. My parents, Matt, and I, we don't tell anyone. Ever. The only people who know are five of Matt's good friends. Rose figured it out their first year. And Victoire and Teddy know. Plus, whoever has access to the Werewolf Control Unit's records and Dad's very strict about that. Plus anyone in Australia who still remembers it being in the news. Kenzie knows because of that, because her husband is a wizard. Matt thought you deserved to know, though. And I knew I could trust you.”

“Wow, Amy.” Dillan let out a low whistle. “I knew you were keeping something from me, but Merlin. I'd no idea that was it.”

“Victoire told me you weren't just upset about the secret thing, not really anyway. She said that you probably felt you weren't a priority in my life.”

Dillan chuckled. “Sounds like she's the Weasley with the degree in psychiatry. She was right, though. I did feel like you were putting work before me.”

“And I was,” I confessed. “I'm not going to hide that from you.”

“But now I understand,” Dillan said. “Technically it was work, but in reality, it was your family, your brother. It was him you were putting before me, and I can't fault you for that. As much as Gen drives me insane, I'd do anything for her.”

“This potion, if I can get it to work, it'll change Matt's life forever.”

Dillan nodded. “I can't even imagine. But what did you mean when you said only you could make it? Aren't there usually teams of researchers working on this type of thing?”

“Usually,” I agreed. “But lycanthropy still has a stigma associated with it. Not many people care to work on it. Plus, regular Wolfsbane is near impossible to brew properly. I am the only one in the country who can brew it, so there's no one else close by to help me with the research. Kaden Dursley is assisting with the actual brewing, but he can't do much.”

“You're the only one?” Dillan asked, clearly awed. “In the whole country? So all the werewolves in Britain....”

“They're all supplied Wolfsbane that I've brewed. It's a lot of work. After the new year I'm going to teach Kaden to brew it and that will be a big help, but it's still a lot.”

“I had no idea....”

“So do you see? Why I work so much?” I asked hopefully.

“I do,” Dillan said quietly. “But Amy, why did you go to Australia without telling me? Can you tell me that now?”

“Yeah,” I said. “I can. It's very rare for a werewolf to know who bit them, seeing as it's near impossible to ID the person who bit them. The only way is if they're captured immediately after the attack. For the research on the new strain I need as many DNA samples as possible of werewolves and their attackers. Dad captured the werewolf who bit Matt and I had Victoire's PI cousin track him down. He found him that day and I completely forgot about our dinner. All I was thinking about was getting to Australia as quickly as possible. Werewolves are very hard to track down and you never know how long they'll stay in one place.”

Dillan nodded. “Did you find him?”

“Yes. Got his DNA, too. I realized I forgot our dinner on the plane home. That's another thing, my family and I, we can't take magical transportation to Australia anymore because their Head of Magical Transportation hates Dad. His son is actually the bloke Kenzie married, weirdly enough. Bradley got Matt and I a Portkey to get there, but we were on our own coming back, which meant Muggle transportation.”

“Merlin, that's a good excuse,” Dillan said. He was staring at the moon as if he'd never seen it before. “It's not as beautiful when you personally know a werewolf, is it?” he asked after a few minutes.

“No,” I said quietly. “That night we sat out here during the full moon was one of the hardest things I've done.”

“I forgot about that,” he said. “But you came anyway, even though it was a full moon.”

“I wanted to, even though I didn't want to. Does that make sense?”

“Yeah, it does.”

“He transforms at our parents' house,” I explained. “We just sit in the kitchen all night waiting for morning. I haven't slept during a full moon since I was fourteen.

“I'll stay up with you, if you want me to, next full moon,” Dillan said.

My heart soared. “Does that mean you forgive me?

He put his arm around my shoulder and gave me a hug, then kissed me briefly. “Yes, Amy, I forgive you. But don't disappear into the world of potion brewing again. And please don't go off to Australia without telling me.”

“Okay,” I said. “And I do promise to make more time for us. I missed you, Dillan. But I do have a confession. I kissed the best man at Kenzie's wedding.”

Dillan said nothing for a full two minutes, then let out an exasperated sigh. “Did you sleep with him?”

“No,” I said. “He wanted me to, but I felt horrible about kissing him. I'm sorry.”

“Technically we were broken up,” Dillan said quietly. “Thanks for being honest.”

Dillan was clearly the most forgiving bloke ever. “You're the only one I want to be with.”

“You're the only one I want to be with,” Dillan said as he pulled me closer. “Should we get the wine?”

We fell asleep on the roof after drinking the entire bottle of wine. Dillan told me about the pub and how successful it had been in the past month and I told him about meeting with Healer Kingston. We caught up on each other's lives while cuddling under the starry sky and then fell asleep in each other's arms. It was wonderful.

***


Everyone in my life was thrilled that Dillan and I got back together. We had dinner with Mum, Dad, and Matt the following Sunday and Mum was unable to contain her excitement. She grinned throughout the entire meal and even Dad seemed more cheerful than normal. Dillan didn't treat Matt any differently despite knowing about his lycanthropy and I was very grateful. Victoire and Teddy were also very happy for us, although I think part of their happiness stemmed from the fact that they now had another babysitter as well as someone who could actually cook and not just bring takeaway. Dillan had only met the twins once, but shortly after getting back together we invited the whole Lupin family for dinner at Dillan's house and he cooked for us.

It was then that we found out that Dillan possessed the rare ability to get Henri to sleep with just ten minutes of rocking. No one in Victoire's entire extended family had managed that yet.

“I'm shocked, completely shocked,” Victoire said as we sat on the couch in Dillan's living room, watching him rocking Henri to sleep.

“Jealous?” I asked.

Victoire laughed. “I haven't had a proper night's sleep in nearly six months. Of course I'm jealous. But mostly I just want to know if he'll come over to my house on command and get Henri to sleep.”

“Hard to believe they're almost six months,” I said.

“You're telling me,” Victoire said. “Did I tell you that Remus sat up on his own the other day?”

“No!” I exclaimed. “That's awesome.”

Victoire nodded. “And early, too. Not all babies can do that at six months and he won't be six months for another week.”

“They'll be crawling before you know it.”

Victoire groaned. “Don't bring that up. It's easier when they can't move on their own. You always know where they are. Once they crawl, Merlin, I won't be able to keep up.”

“Want me to put him to bed?” Dillan asked.

“That would be amazing,” Victoire said. “Hey, Ted, could you go conjure a crib upstairs?”

The men went upstairs with Henri and Victoire turned and grinned at me. “So, Dillan with a baby? What do you think?”

“Very adorable,” I said. “But that's not going to happen anytime soon.”

“Aw, come on,” Victoire said. “Remus and Henri need a playmate. You can't tell me you haven't thought about it.”

That was true. I had thought about it. I'd been thinking about it since Victoire found out she was pregnant with the twins; I just hadn't told anyone. “Yeah, okay, I have. But Dillan and I aren't even married yet, and I'm at such a breakthrough point with the potion. But within the next few years, who knows?”

“Tick-tock, tick-tock!” Victoire joked. “You're going to be thirty-one in a few weeks. Which reminds me, do you want a party?”

“No, definitely not,” I said. “I had one last year. And my age means nothing. Mum was thirty-five when she had me and forty-one when she had Matt.”

“But only because she had trouble conceiving. You know risks are increased the older you are.”

I'd forgotten about my parents' trouble conceiving. “You don't think that's genetic, do you?”

“It's possible,” Victoire said. “But equally possible that it's not.”

“Tell you what, if and when Dillan and I get married, I'll think about having a baby soon after.”

Victoire laughed. “If. It's all about when. He's going to propose and my guess is that it'll be sooner rather than later.”

“Shush!” I said, hearing footsteps on the stairs. “They're coming back!”

Victoire burst into a fit of giggles and that made me start laughing. Sophie, who was asleep on an armchair, stirred but didn't wake up. Dillan and Teddy appeared in the doorway and shared a look.

“Were you two talking about us?” Teddy asked.

“Of course not, Ted. Women never talk about their husbands and boyfriends while they're out of the room,” Victoire said. That only made me laugh harder.

“Want a beer?” Dillan asked Teddy. “Let's let the women talk. We can go out to the garage and I'll show you the cupboard I've been fixing. It's supposed to hold an infinite amount of stuff, but it's crooked and that's making the charm not stick.”

“Sure,” Teddy said. “I'll take a look.”

The men disappeared into the kitchen. I heard the refrigerator open and then the sound of the door to the garage open and close.

“Teddy likes to pretend he can fix the plumbing,” Victoire said. “He'll spend a whole day swearing at it and making multiple trips to the hardware store only to make it worse. Then I'll call a plumber while he's at work and we both pretend it never happened.”

“Sounds like my dad when he renovated the basement after we moved to England,” I said. “Learned a few new swear words that day.”

Victoire laughed. “What about Dillan? Can he fix things?”

“He actually can,” I said. “I'm not sure if he's ever tried plumbing, but he does most of the maintenance on this house.”

“Okay, I'm impressed. Is there anything he can't do?”

I thought for a moment. “He loses everything. Constantly misplaces his wand. I mean, honestly, what would happen if he actually needed it?”

Victoire and I burst into laughter again. There was nothing more wonderful than spending the evening with my boyfriend, my best friends in the world, and their kids.


A/N: Thanks for all the wonderful reviews!

Chapter 38: One Step Closer
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The three new versions of the Wolfsbane potion took a week to brew. I sent them for testing immediately after and it had been two weeks. There was still about three days left before I'd have to start brewing one of them for the full moon, but I was getting nervous. Sometimes testing took as little as two days and other times as long as three weeks. It all depended on the backlog of potions needing testing and the qualities of the potion, but no matter how long it took, the whole process made me nervous.

I never told Matt or my parents about the possible success of the three new potions. It wasn't a conscious decision, just merely the result of my constantly busy life. First there was the September full moon, then my getting back together with Dillan, then I had to brew a new batch of Skele-Gro, and by the time I realized I hadn't told them, the timing just didn't seem right. Instead, I decided to wait until after they went through testing. It made sense. This way, no one would get their hopes up if these potions were duds, too. The only people who knew were Dillan, Liane, and the potions testers.

“I think I'm going to stop by the support group meeting this week,” Liane said as she watched me do my charts while we waited for my next appointment. “I actually don't have anything else going on.”

“That'd be great. Everyone would love to see you.”

“How is Kate doing?” Liane asked. “I always felt really bad for her. She hardly talked at the meetings.”

“She's actually opening up a bit this school year. Ever since she got back to Hogwarts,” I said. “She never talks about her brother, but she talks. Last meeting she said she wants to be a writer some day.”

“Wow,” Liane said. “Never would have guessed that.”

“Me either,” I said. Whatever Rose was doing for therapy was working. “Professor Kendrick told me she's only had three detentions so far.”

“That's got to be some sort of record.”

“I think it is,” I said as I set down my quill. “We have to get going. Appointment in five minutes.”

After the appointment Liane and I went to the basement to check on my potions in the testing facility, again. I tried to only check once a day, but I'd checked so early that morning that I figured it couldn't hurt to check once more.

“Any news for me?” I asked as we stepped up to the window.

Paul was working that day. He's an old man with white wispy hair on his head that gives him a very Albert Einstein look about him and he's sharp as anything. He used to brew, but got into potion testing after he “retired.”

“Actually,” Paul began as he turned around and rifled through a stack of parchment. “I do!” He handed me three pieces of parchment, one for each of the potions.

I glanced at the first one. It was the one for the anise and powdered root of asphodel. “Oh my God, it passed!”

“So did one other,” Paul said with a grin.

I flipped to the next sheet. The one with just asphodel had failed. That meant that the snake fangs, witch hazel, and garlic passed! “Merlin, this is amazing!”

“Congratulations,” Paul said.

“One step closer,” I said.

Liane and I went back to my study and poured over the results. After a half hour of deliberating I decided to brew the snake fangs, witch hazel, and garlic potion first.

“One of these is going to work,” Liane said. “I just have this weird feeling about it.”

“Me too,” I said. And I did. It was a feeling that I couldn't explain and it hadn't gone away. It stayed there, in my gut, in my heart, in my mind. The feeling was everywhere.

***


The new potion, like regular Wolfsbane, took four days to brew and could be stored for up to a week. I didn't like to risk week old potions, so I always brewed two batches of Wolfsbane. One for the first half of the week and one for the second. I always added a bit more aconite to the batch for the second half of the week because the full moon was closer. It was a slight tweak to the potion that not all brewers agreed upon, but it was one I felt was beneficial.

I kept the potion a surprise until a week before the full moon, when Matt was due to start taking it. It was the day of support group meetings, so I owled him and told him to meet me at my study before we went over to the meeting rooms. I had the steaming goblet ready when he arrived.

“What's that?” he asked, eyeing the goblet suspiciously.

I grinned. “New potion for you.”

Matt's jaw dropped. “But you didn't tell me you were making another one.”

“I know. I wanted to keep it a secret. I've got this one and then another recipe to try next month if this doesn't work. They're both based on the new strain of lycanthropy Rose and I discovered.”

“Merlin, I'm surprised you kept that secret,” Matt said as he grabbed the goblet. He drank it in one gulp. “Disgusting, as usual.”

“Sorry. Sugar still renders the aconite ineffective,” I said. “Three times a day for the next week and we'll see what happens.”

“Do Mum and Dad know?”

“Nope,” I said. “Only Kaden and Liane know. Plus the potion testers.”

Matt nodded. “Guess we better get going to the meetings.”

I agreed and we set off for the meeting rooms. Matt never said much about the potions I created for him, mostly because he didn't like to get his hopes up. It bothered me in the beginning but I was used to it by now. If and when I ever made one that worked, he'd get excited then.

Everyone was waiting for me when I arrived at the meeting room. To my surprise Kate was deep in conversation with Scarlett, a very unlikely pair. Izzy had her nose in a book and Vinny and Tyler were once again discussing Quidditch.

I walked in quietly, not announcing my presence, so that Kate and Scarlett would keep talking. Kate looked genuinely happy and I smiled to myself as I watched them out of the corner of my eye.

“Sorry I'm late!”

I looked over to the door and saw Liane rushing in, depositing a stack of books onto the table.

“My exam went later than I thought,” she said.

“Liane!” Izzy exclaimed as she jumped up from her seat and gave Liane a hug.

The rest of the group followed suit, even Kate, although she did not embrace Liane like Izzy and Scarlett did.

“How is healing school?” Izzy asked.

“Gotten covered in blood yet?” Tyler added.

“Is it really busy?” Scarlett asked.

“Good, no, and yes.” Liane laughed.

The entire meeting was spent with everyone catching up with Liane. She talked in great detail about her classes and how she'd been observing me. Everyone seemed very impressed with that last part, although I honestly had no idea why. My life didn't seem that exciting to me.

At the end of the meeting Liane promised to come back and Izzy insisted if she didn't she would tell her owl to peck Liane incessantly until she did. I had Liane walk them to the Floo room so that I could talk with Kate privately.

“What's up?” Kate asked after everyone left. That was an improvement. Usually she would just sulk.

“I wanted to ask how Hogwarts is going this year, and how therapy is going.”

“Rose is actually really cool,” Kate said with a smile. “She lets me call her Rose. Over the summer we always had our sessions at the Leaky Cauldron or some other restaurant. Or we'd go for walks. Never in her office or my house.”

“That must have been nice, getting out of the house,” I commented.

“It was. My parents...they just don't get it. I know every teenager says that, but they really don't. They're so wrapped up in Thomas that they just don't pay attention to me. No matter what I do.”

“They'll realize their mistake eventually. Mine did,” I said quietly.

“I know. Rose keeps telling me that. She also said that I should do something to make them notice me, but not anything bad like setting Kendrick's study on fire.”

I had to stifle a laugh. “She's right. My parents started respecting me right around the time I stopped resenting my brother for us having to move and around the time I decided to become a healer.”

“Well, I'm not becoming a healer,” Kate insisted.

“I never said it had to be that,” I replied. “Not everyone can be a healer, and the world needs people to choose other careers.”

“But should I want to be a healer?” Kate asked quietly. “Shouldn't I want to try and make the world better for Thomas? You're a healer, Liane's studying to be a healer....”

“No,” I said. “It's perfectly normal for you not to want to be a healer. Look at your parents, neither one of them went out and became a healer, did they?”

“Well, no, but-”

“No buts,” I said. “If you want to be a healer, fine, but if not, that's fine, too.”

Kate nodded. “I've actually started a book. I haven't told anyone about it, not even Rose.”

“That's wonderful,” I said.

“I told Rose I like to write, but I didn't mention the book...it's about me. Kind of an autobiography type thing. It's about Thomas, too.”

“That would be a great way to get your parents to respect you,” I said. “Don't tell them about it until you're ready, but when you are, they'd love to know.”

“I was actually thinking of trying to get it published. I'd change all the names of course, to keep Thomas's lycanthropy secret, but I think I could do it.”

“That is a wonderful idea,” I told her. “I bet you would open a lot of people's eyes with a book like that.”

“That's what I thought.”

“And that would be helping your brother just as much as becoming a healer would,” I said.

Kate smiled. “You think so?”

“I know so,” I said, smiling back. “Ready to get back to Hogwarts?”

Kate nodded. “Thanks, Amy.”

We walked quietly to the Floo room, but neither of us needed to say anything. Somehow, whether it was due to me and the support group or more likely, due to Rose, Kate was coming around.

***


I didn't tell Mum and Dad about the new potion until Sunday night dinner, which was the night before the full moon. Matt spent the evening on the couch, not eating a thing. Dillan joined us as well.

“I just don't understand why you didn't tell us you were working on a new potion,” Mum said over dessert. “We're your parents for Merlin's sake!”

Dillan snorted into his glass of water and I kicked him under the table. “I just don't see the point in getting everyone's hopes up. I'm nearly always working on a new potion and Matt tests at least five of them a year.”

“Yes, but this is the first one since you discovered the new strain of lycanthropy. Has that been recognized officially yet?” Mum asked.

“No,” I said. “It's going to take a while. My results have to be confirmed by other researchers in multiple countries. Then the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures has to get involved.”

“But you and Rose will be credited with the discovery, right?” Mum replied.

“Yeah,” I said.

“Which means you'll get to name it,” Mum said.

“We're probably just going to call it the Australian strain,” I said. “All the strains are named after where they were discovered.”

“I suppose that makes sense. Do you have anything else you've been hiding?”

“I've got another potion to try next month if this one doesn't work,” I said.

“Merlin, Amy! Two potions you've been hiding?”

Dillan burst out laughing again, earning him another kick. Mum dropped the subject and Dillan told a few amusing stories about inebriated customers at work. Matt wound up staying at Mum and Dad's since he'd just have to go back the following evening for the full moon.

I found it very difficult to concentrate on anything the next day. In twenty-four hours I would know whether the potion was successful or not. It was a nerve-wracking feeling, one that was very familiar to me and foreign at the same time. For the first time I could see an end to this part of my career.

For the first time, I was starting to think about what would happen after I created a potion that worked for Matt, for all of the potions with the new strain of lycanthropy. I'd never allowed myself to think about that before because it was such an abstract concept, one that a little part of me never thought would happen. But now it was within reach.

The obvious thing was that Matt would never again attack himself during full moons. He would obviously transform and that in itself was exhausting, but he most likely wouldn't wake up with injuries. It would change his life forever, but it would also change mine. My name was already becoming easily recognized amongst the general public, for the discovery of the new strain of lycanthropy, but creating a new Wolfsbane would seal that fate. I wouldn't be Harry Potter famous, but I'd be famous enough.

I thought about this all day. I honestly wasn't sure I wanted the fame that would come with creating a new Wolfsbane potion, but I didn't have much choice in the matter. I'd deal with it if and when it came.

I left work a little after six and arrived home to an owl from Dillan. He wasn't going to be able to sit with me at Mum and Dad's during the full moon because his bartender had come down with the flu and he had to fill in. I wasn't angry about it and Dillan assured me he'd sit with me for next month's.

Matt was asleep when I arrived at my parents' house. Mum and Dad were eating sandwiches and I joined them. We didn't talk. Just before moonrise, Matt woke up and Dad took him downstairs, putting up the appropriate wards after he was shut in.

This was it. My heart was pounding fast and I couldn't sit still. Mum and Dad sat at the table, but I paced around the kitchen, waiting. The seconds ticked by and the moon peeked its way above the horizon. Then I heard it. The unmistakable howling and growling of the wolf.

My heart sank. After all that build-up, mostly on my part, the potion had failed. Why had I thought it would? My potions never work. Why should this one have been any different?

“You don't know that it didn't work,” Dad said quietly. “We won't know until morning.”

“Sophie doesn't howl or growl on Wolfsbane,” I said. “No one does.”

“Maybe this one's different-”

“No, Dad, it just means the potion didn't work. It's okay. I have another one to try next month.”

We sat our full moon vigil in silence like usual. Dad didn't bring up the idea that maybe the potion did work again and Mum, who hadn't said a word about it after the moon rose, didn't bring it up to begin with.

Dad went down to the basement after the moon set and brought Matt up to his room. I followed and healed his injuries without a single word to Dad. “I'll try again next month,” I said to Dad, more to comfort myself than him.

I left the house and Apparated to Shell Cottage, but I didn't go inside right away. Instead I walked to the sea and stood there, letting the water soak into my shoes, feeling the cold seep into my feet and course through my whole body.

I wasn't sure why this one was hitting me so hard. Usually it didn't affect me when a potion didn't work, unless it went so far as to harm Matt, like the one last December. But this one hadn't hurt him. I guess I just thought that the new strain of lycanthropy really had been the answer, but it wasn't. Second potion. I kept reminding myself of the second potion, but it wasn't helping.

The waves crashed against the shore and I let the mist from the sea hit me. It felt good. I'm not sure how long I stood there watching wave after wave come crashing into the sand and into my feet. But then there was a shadow coming closer to me. I turned around and saw Victoire walking toward me without a baby in her arms. It was a rare sight these days.

“Amy, you've been standing here for nearly an hour,” she said as she reached me. “Aren't you cold?”

“I don't really feel it anymore,” I said quietly.

“What's wrong?” she asked. “Is Matt okay?”

“He's fine. The potion didn't work.”

“Oh.” She gave me a hug and then cast a drying spell on me.

I felt the warmth from the spell engulf me, which made me realize just how cold it was. “I really thought this one was going to work. I always tell my parents and Matt not to get their hopes up which is why I didn't tell anyone about this particular potion for so long, but this time, I got my hopes up. Guess I'm bad at taking my own advice.”

“You're going to get it,” she told me. “Ever since you first told me about wanting to fix the Wolfsbane potion I knew you were going to do it.”

“It's been years, Victoire,” I said. “I'm not sure what else I can do. I've researched. I've tried everything.”

“Hey, don't get discouraged,” Victoire said. “The answer is out there. And you still have that second potion. If that one doesn't work I'll give you the right to mope, but you can't mope now.”

I giggled. “Oh, and you're in charge of moping rights?”

“I have a six-year-old smarter than me and twin five and a half month old boys who are well on their way to following in their prankster great-uncles' footsteps. I haven't slept properly in months. So, yes, I have the right to tell you you can't mope.”

I laughed. “Okay, I suppose you're right.”

“Of course I'm right. Now come inside and have some breakfast. Mum's done a whole fry-up and if you don't have some Teddy's going to eat all of it. And if he does that I'm going to have to let out his Auror robes and I just don't have the time.” Victoire grabbed my arm and started pulling me toward the house.

I smiled as I followed her. Victoire was right. There was still a whole other potion that had the same possibilities as this one. I could mope about if that one didn't work, but I wouldn't know that for another month.


A/N: Only two more chapters left. Thanks for all the lovely reviews!

Chapter 39: A Good Different
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My birthday passed with little fanfare, which was just how I liked it. I let everyone have their fun in throwing me a 30th birthday party, but it seemed odd to have a party for a 31st birthday. Instead, Dillan took me out to a nice restaurant and then we went back to my flat to curl up on the couch with a bottle of wine.

“I have something for you,” he said as he reached into his robes and pulled out a box.

I took the box and untied the ribbon. It was a a small jewelry box, like the type a necklace would come in. I opened it and saw a gold necklace with two charms. One was a crescent moon and the other was a very tiny wolf.

“It's not a regular wolf. It's a werewolf,” Dillan said. “Look closely.”

I looked and he was right. The tiny differences that distinguished a wolf from a werewolf were indeed there. I smiled and he took the necklace and hung it around my neck.

“I noticed that you wear that bracelet all the time, so I thought I'd get you a matching necklace,” he said.

“Thank you, Dillan,” I said as I gave him a hug. When we broke apart I fingered my battered charm bracelet. It had seen better days and was now slightly discolored from the time I spilled aconite on it in when I was a Junior Brewer. “My parents got this for me for my fifteenth birthday, right after we moved to England. The wolf is made out of wood from my favorite tree in our old backyard in Australia.”

“That's really cool,” Dillan said. “I knew it had some sort of significant meaning.”

“Thanks for dinner and the necklace,” I said.

“I hope you enjoyed your birthday,” Dillan said and then gave me a quick kiss.

“I did,” I said. “I like doing things like this instead of huge parties. Last year I had a huge party at the Three Broomsticks, given by Victoire. Everyone was there. All the Weasleys, people from work, my parents, my uncle, Matt. The Weasleys don't do small birthdays.”

“So I've noticed,” he said with a laugh. Dillan had gone with me to Sophie's sixth birthday party at the end of September. It was so big I doubted that everyone even saw Sophie.

“Is my birthday over now?” I asked as I set down the box the necklace came in and traced my finger on his leg.

Dillan grinned. “Not yet.” He grabbed my arms and pulled me up, leading me to the bedroom. Yes, this was definitely preferable to a huge party.

***


If nervous described my feelings about last month's potion than they hadn't invented a word to describe my feelings for this month's. The nerves started as soon as I started brewing the potion and never left after that. Everyone, including Mum, Dillan, Kaden, Matt, Victoire, and Rose, told me I needed to calm down, but I didn't think it was possible.

Dillan kept his promise and took the night of the full moon off from work and it was a good thing, too, because I was a complete wreck. I was so jittery about it that I couldn't manage to Apparate to my parents' house, so Dillan had to side-along Apparate Matt while guiding me. He managed it well. Nobody so much as splinched an eyebrow.

“Amy,” he said after Matt lay down on the couch. “You've got to calm down.”

I nodded, but didn't calm down. While my parents and Dillan ate the usual full moon sandwiches I paced around the kitchen.

“Amy!” Matt called from the living room.

My heart sped up, despite my not thinking that was even possible. Matt wouldn't have to go to the basement for another half hour. What was happening? I shared a quick worrying look with my parents before rushing into the living room.

“Matt!” I exclaimed. “What's wrong?”

He looked up from the couch. “Nothing. I just need to talk to you.”

“What's up?” I asked as I sat down on the edge of the couch.

“I don't know,” he said quietly. “I feel weird.”

“Bad weird?”

“No, good weird. I can't explain it. It's almost like I'm calm. You know that weird hypersensitivity jittery nervous feeling I usually get before full moons? I don't have it. I mean, I still feel awfully ill, but just normal ill.”

I swallowed hard. “Matt, I don't want to get your hopes up, but that's what people on Wolfsbane feel before a full moon.”

Matt's eyes grew large. “Seriously?”

I nodded. “Have you ever felt like this on any of the potions I've given you?”

“No,” Matt said quietly. “Amy, do you think this could really be it?”

“It's the closest we've gotten yet,” I said.

“Don't tell Mum and Dad,” Matt said.

“No, of course not,” I said. The last thing I needed was for them to get their hopes up.

Dad popped his head into the room. “Everything okay?”

“Yeah,” Matt said.

“Okay, we'd better go down,” Dad said as he stepped into the room.

Matt nodded and got up. Dad met him halfway across the room and the two headed for the basement door.

“Good luck,” I said so quietly that Dad wouldn't be able to hear it, but Matt's hearing would pick it up.

***


Mum, Dad, and Dillan sat around the table, each clutching a mug of the tea Dillan had brewed. I paced and my thoughts raced. I paused next to the window and stared at the horizon, waiting for the moon to rise. Any second now, it would inch over the line of trees.

There it was. The moon rose. There was no howling and no growling coming from the basement. As the moon continued to rise, the basement remained quiet, as quiet as if there was no werewolf transforming in its depths.

***


Mum gasped. Dad stared into his mug, not letting his expression give away his feelings. Dillan turned to look at me. I returned to the table and tried not to cry. My heart soared and I tried to calm it down. We wouldn't know for sure until the morning and the last thing I needed was to get my hopes up once again.

“He's not howling,” Mum said. There were tears in her eyes.

“We won't know for sure until morning,” I said immediately.

“That's what I said last month and you wouldn't listen to me,” Dad said.

“It's just not a guarantee-”

“He howls every month,” Mum said. “This is it.”

The hours passed and there was still no howling. None of us heard a single sound from the basement the entire night. When the moon set and the sun rose, Dad and I jumped up from our seats and hurried to the basement. Mum followed.

Dad quickly undid all the wards and unlocked the door. He paused before opening it, but when he did, we saw a scene we'd never seen before.

Matt was sitting up against the back wall, fully clothed, and he was grinning. He looked exhausted, but he didn't have a single cut or bruise on him. None of his limbs appeared broken. For the first time in nearly twenty years, my brother escaped from a full moon virtually unscathed.

“Oh my God!” Mum shouted as she burst into tears. She rushed into the room and enveloped Matt in a hug. That confirmed the no broken bones theory.

Dad turned to me with tears in his eyes. He wrapped me in a hug and we cried tears of joy into each other's shoulders.

“You did it, Amy, you did it,” he said. “I always knew you would. I knew it ever since you were fifteen. I never doubted it. God, Amy, you're brilliant.”

“Thanks, Dad,” I said through my own tears. “I did it for him. I did it for Matt.”

“I know you did,” Dad said quietly.

Dad and I broke apart and we joined Mum and Matt in the safe room. We joined their hug and the four of us sat there, crying, for ages. It was the moment we'd been waiting for since that fateful night when Matt was five.

***


Dillan left after congratulating me, seeming to sense that I needed to just be with my family. Over breakfast, I told Mum and Dad everything about the potion and the process I took in creating it and brewing it. Matt, while feeling much better than he usually did after full moons, was still tired and went to bed. After breakfast I sent owls to Kaden, Morris, Albus, Rose, and Victoire. Shortly after noon I went upstairs to talk to Matt.

I knocked on the door before letting myself in. Matt stirred and woke up right away, which meant he hadn't been in a very deep sleep, considering he can sleep through anything.

“Hi,” I said as I sat down on the bed. “How do you feel?”

“Comparatively? Great! If this is what other werewolves feel after being on Wolfsbane then I'm more jealous than I used to be. But I am really exhausted.”

“That's normal,” I said. “I do need to ask you about last night. What do you remember?”

“Not much,” Matt said. “I felt the pull of the moon like usual and then the change came. That hurt like it usually does and I blacked out during it. I don't remember anything after that until I woke up. That's when I knew it worked. I feel achy and tired, but that's it.”

“You didn't howl at all,” I said. “I'm guessing you just slept like Sophie does.”

“Can I take this every month?” Matt asked.

“Yeah,” I said. “It'll be a while before I can market it to other werewolves, but you can take it from now on. You'll still have to get locked in the basement because there's a very slight chance this was a one-time thing. I really doubt it, though.”

“Everything's going to be different now, isn't it,” Matt mused. “I'm going to have to skip work a lot less. I worked yesterday and was fine.”

“Everything is going to be different,” I agreed. “But a good different.”

“Definitely,” Matt said.

“It's weird, though,” I said. “I've spent ten years on this and now I've done it. I mean, I'm far from done with the work because I'll need to run studies on this, but the big part is over. I've done what I've always wanted to do and that's make a potion that works for you.”

Matt nodded. “You're going to be famous now. Between this and the new strain of lycanthropy. Merlin, you'll be like the Harry Potter of lycanthropy.”

I laughed. “The Harry Potter of lycanthropy?”

“Yeah. I'm serious. You've done more for werewolves than anyone else, ever.”

I suppose he did have a point, but I didn't like to think about it that way. I'd done a lot, but there was still so much more to do, so much further to go. Lycanthropy was still there, no matter how many versions of Wolfsbane potion were created. There was a cure out there and someone was going to find it. I doubted it would be me, but someone would. But the new version of the Wolfsbane potion was a start. The world was moving forward and I'd do whatever else it took to get to the end. The cure.

I glanced over at Matt and saw that he'd fallen asleep again. Smiling to myself, I stood up and walked quietly to the door. I creaked the door open and stepped through.

“Hey, Amy?”

I turned back to Matt. His eyes were partially open. “Yeah?”

“Thank you,” he said quietly and then rolled over.

My eyes teared up as I shut the door. I'd done it. I'd really done it.


A/N: It was so bittersweet posting this! I hope you all enjoyed it. There is a short epilogue, but the main part of the story is over. Thank you so much for all the wonderful reviews!


Two Months Later

“This one is called the 2030,” Dan, the skinny barkeep, said as he handed me a violently green drink. “Vodka, crème de menthe, and a shot of whipped cream.”

I eyed it suspiciously. “Why green?”

“We only have one other green drink so I thought I'd do a green one for the new year,” Dan explained.

I shrugged and took a sip. It actually wasn't half bad. A bit too sweet for my taste (if you could believe that), but not bad, especially for a drink created by Dan. With the pub nearly having reached its six month anniversary, Dan was now legendary for his Quidditch team themed drinks, and how awful they were.

Dillan had closed the Rusty Bludger to the public for New Year's Eve, wanting to host a private party for the friends and family of his employees. Of course, this meant that all the regulars were in attendance, including just about every member of the Weasley family. Even if the pub was open to the public, no one else would fit in the building.

“Hey, Amy!” one of Victoire's cousins was pushing his way through the crowd and over to the bar. It was Bradley and he was holding a copy of the Daily Prophet. “Nice article!”

“Thanks,” I said, blushing.

Bradley took a seat next to me and ordered a beer, clearly not brave enough to try the 2030. He set the paper down in between us and my eyes drifted toward it, even though I'd read it multiple times. It was right there on the front page of today's paper.

PROMISING NEW WOLFSBANE POTION CREATED

St. Mungo's Healer and Brewer Amy Eckerton has
created a promising new version of the Wolfsbane
potion, used to render werewolves harmless during
full moons. Eckerton, 31, is credited along with
Healer Rose Weasley, 24, with discovering a new
strain of lycanthropy. This strain is immune to the
current Wolfsbane potion, for reasons unknown to
researchers.

Eckerton's new potion is similar to regular
Wolfsbane potion, but early tests have indicated
that it works for the new, yet to be named, strain
of lycanthropy. 'I've tested it on a few early
participants and they've all had success with it.
It has been tested for two full moons now, with
one participant testing it during both full moons,'
Eckerton said to Daily Prophet reporters yesterday.

The new potion will undergo strict testing and
further studies before it is marketed to the public.
'The testing and research process could take as
long as two years,' Eckerton said, 'but we're hoping
to get a trial up and running soon.'

Anyone interested in participating in trials of
the new potion are asked to contact Healer
Eckerton at St. Mungo's, via owl.


I finished reading the article and glanced up to see that Bradley had left. It had been two full moons since I had success with the potion and Matt now had had two full moons as a harmless werewolf. I'd given the potion to three others with the new strain of lycanthropy for the December full moon and it had been a success for them, too. It was exhilarating and kind of scary, yet exciting at the same time, to realize that my potion had the potential to help hundreds of people.

“Amy!”

I turned to see Victoire and Teddy arrive at the bar. They were without children, which was just a bizarre thing to see. Victoire and I hugged while Teddy ordered a firewhiskey for himself and a fizzy drink for Victoire (she was still breastfeeding).

“Victoire!” I said as she sat down next to me. “You found a babysitter?”

“Nana Molly,” she said. “Told me she was too old for parties at pubs for New Year's Eve and would rather spend the night in with her husband and three great-grandchildren.”

I laughed. “Works for you. You get a night off.”

“I know! Haven't had one in months,” Victoire said. “I saw your article. I'm so happy for you. And for Matt.”

I took another sip of my drink. “This has been the craziest year ever. Wonderful, but bloody insane.”

“I agree. Wasn't it exactly a year ago that your potion landed Matt in St. Mungo's?”

I groaned. “Yeah, and then I met Dillan while getting drunk in the middle of the day at the Leaky.”

“But that worked out, didn't it?” Victoire grinned and nodded to Dillan, who was over at a table chatting with Matt and his friends.

“Yeah, it really did,” I said with a smile.

“Merlin, if you'd told me last year that I'd quit my job in order to stay home with Sophie and the twins, I'd have thought you swallowed a bit too much confusion potion.” Victoire laughed. “But I love it. So much. I haven't regretted it since.”

I smiled at her and gave her another hug. “I'm glad. I think Sophie's really been enjoying it, too. Except for when Henri screams.”

“I don't think he's ever going to grow out of that. It's just going to turn into epic tantrums once he hits his toddler years.”

“I don't envy you there,” I said.

“Oh, don't you say a word,” Victoire said with a grin. “You're going to have kids before you know it.”

“But they'll be perfect angels,” I pointed out.

Victoire raised her eyebrows. “With you and Dillan for parents? Yeah, right.”

Victoire, Teddy, and I soon joined Dillan, Matt, and Matt's crowd of friends at one of the larger tables. Kaden was telling crude jokes only to be scolded by Amanda after each one, but even she was giggling and judging by her bright red face, had had a few too many 2030 drinks. John had his arm around a girl I'd never seen before and the two of them disappeared around eleven.

“I'll get the next round,” Kaden announced at 11:45. He disappeared to the bar with Albus, who had offered to help him carry drinks.

The crowd around the table had dwindled. Victoire and Teddy were hailed by Gabriella and Stanley, another one of their many cousins, and disappeared into the back room for a game of pool. Amanda and her boyfriend got up to dance, although they were the only ones doing so. This left Dillan, Matt, Albus, Kaden, Rose, and myself.

Dillan pulled me close and whispered in my ear. “Want to sneak off?”

“Where?” I asked. “It's almost midnight.”

“That's what I mean,” he said. “I want to ring in the new year with just you. Come on.”

“Can you leave?” I asked. “I mean, it is your party and your pub.”

“The employees can handle it,” he said.

“Okay,” I said and we said goodbye to the group.

We weaved our way through the crowd until we found the door. I had no idea where Dillan was taking me, so he side-along Apparated me.

I knew where we were immediately. Dillan's house. He led me inside and up to the attic and then out onto the roof. It was the spot where we'd had so many significant parts of our relationship, so it made sense that he'd want to ring in the new year there.

Except now it was winter. And it was very, very cold.

Dillan wrapped a blanket around us and cast a few heating charms. They barely helped. “I hadn't realized it would be this cold.”

“It's winter in Wales in the middle of the night,” I said flatly.

“I know. It was stupid. I just wanted it to be romantic,” he said.

“It is,” I said and then kissed him.

He smiled. “Do you realize it was a year ago that we met?”

“Yes,” I said. “I was talking about that with Victoire.”

Dillan took my hands in his. “Amy, we've only known each other a year. That isn't very long, but I feel like we've known each other longer. That month that we were apart was the worst month of my life and it taught me that I never want to be without you. I never want to live without you.”

My heart started beating fast. Merlin! Was Dillan proposing? On the roof in the freezing cold?

He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small box. He got on one knee, awkwardly since we were both sitting. “Amy Marie Eckerton, will you marry me?”

“Yes!” I shouted. “Yes, yes, yes!”

Both of our hands shook as he slipped the ring on my finger. I'm not sure if that was because of nerves or just because it was so cold. The ring was beautiful. Silver, with one single diamond cut in a square. It fit perfectly.

Dillan pulled me close and we kissed. We kissed as if we'd never kissed before and soon I didn't notice how cold it was or the fact that it had started snowing and that my face was wet from both snow and tears. Dillan had proposed. We were going to get married!

I heard a beeping and Dillan pulled away. He pointed his wand at his watch and the beeping stopped. He turned and smiled at me. “It's midnight. Happy New Year, Amy.”

“Happy New Year, Dillan.”

We kissed.


A/N: And that's it! I really hope you guys enjoyed the epilogue and the story in general. I'd like to thank my sister, Linda, and our Skype writing group who helped me through so much of this by word racing with me. And of course, thank you so much to everyone who has stuck with this story for so long, especially when I took those two long hiatuses during grad school. You guys are all amazing! Thank you so much for the awesome reviews.

I'm not going to say that I'm done with Amy and her world just yet. I will definitely be writing a one-shot for her wedding because I can't not write that. But I also have some other ideas in the works, although they won't hit the archive for a long time. First I need to finish Lost Legacy and Between Here and Somewhere. I'd really love it if you would check BH&S out because it's really enjoyable to write. It's a Marauders story, but it's quite different from the usual Marauder stories floating around.

Finally, please check out my Meet the Author page on the forums (linked on my main archive page) and feel free to ask me any questions about this or my other stories. So long as the answers don't spoil any of my future stories, I'll answer anything! All right, long author's note is over! Thanks again for all the support!


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