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   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!

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