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"Stay here with me, Julie," Cinda said to Mum, "I didn't wear the right shoes."
The Perfect Tree
"We'll have to try and get home quickly," Dad announced as he gazed at the sky, "It's almost dark."
"Um, is this an iPod?" I asked.
Kicked Out of the Family
"Is that really it? What about yours and Mum's safety, huh? It's perfectly safe and you know it! You lock him up in the basement with loads of charms so he can't get out. You're the head of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, Dad, I know you are able to keep him safely locked up!"
Shopping With Cinda
"Oh Amy," Cinda shook her head as I poured myself a bowl of Cheerios, "Can't you wear something a bit more, sophisticated?"
Cinda had given up on making my brother wear his tie. He screamed anytime she went near him with it and Mum told her to just let it go. Personally, I thought Cinda should just be grateful Dad put on a tie for the occasion. Now Cinda was straightening Richard's tie, which was kind of funny.
"If it doesn't turn out to be anything," I continued, "Why in the name of Merlin are you and Mum so worried about it?"
It had been me who realized that Matt was gone. He must've left the tent to go to the bathroom and disregarded Dad's warning. I have always been a light sleeper and heard growling and screaming coming from outside.
We didn't say much more on our way to my room. It was odd because usually Olivia and I never run out of things to talk about. My mind was racing as to how to tell Olivia I wasn't going to go back to school. I couldn't put it off very long, but I had no idea how to bring it up.
For One of Your Kids
"So," I began as I poured my cereal, "Know what today is?"
Life Goes On At School
I stared at her with my eyes wide open. Was she insane? Me helping with the party would be a one-way ticket to Mum's bad side for the remainder of time. "Are. You. Mad?"
"Yeah, probably. Hey, Mum said we might get to go to Hogwarts. That's where Dumbledore was headmaster. Wouldn't that be neat?"
"What kind of laws?" I asked quietly.
Off to New York
"Are we going to visit Uncle Jack?" Matt asked.
"Figures," a large man wearing a horribly tacky Hawaiian T-shirt muttered, "Always get in the line with the dodgy metal detector."
"Uncle Jack!" Matt shouted and ran over to him.
The Adirondack Academy of Magic
"Well," Roberts clapped his hands together, "I thought we'd start by a tour of the school and then we could talk in my office. I would show you around the grounds as well, but there's a raging snowstorm out there, so we'll skip that."
"Oh, gross!" Uncle Jack called from the kitchen. "There's an old cauldron with a fermenting potion in it in here."
The Salem Witch Institute
Finally, the door to the restaurant opened and a very short man walked through. He looked around nervously before resting his eyes on my family. He walked over to us and I was able to look at him properly.
I heard the thundering of feet on the hardwood floor and a minute later, a man appeared in the doorway. He was shorter than Dad and rather skinny. His hair was brown and untidy, with a dirty look to it. His gaunt face had a smirk on it and his eyes were very sinister. Despite the difference of appearance, he reminded me of Professor Valsey from Salem. I automatically took a step back and didn't look at him directly.
I paced around my awful bedroom wondering about what was going on at my house. I wished more than ever that I was allowed to stay there over the full moon. Would Lubar wait until morning to hunt down my dad? Or would he show up as soon as Matt didn't appear at the Ministry center? Or maybe he would just find Dad at work the next day.
"Well, what's going to happen? Is Dad going to have to go to jail?"
Fired and Fined
Mum let go of Dad and stared at him. "1,000? That's ridiculous. What do they think they're going to spend that on?"
Keeping Up Appearances
"So those are the girls you hung out with at your grandma's New Year's Party?" Kenzie asked as she stood up with Maddie.
"Amy," Mum began, "Take your brother down to the pub and get a butterbeer or something. We'll come get you once we're done talking about this." Mum handed me a couple Galleons. "Don't mention that article to him," she whispered.
"Where are we going?" Matt asked.
Fish and Chips
"I'm bored," I said. "Why can't you finish that later?"
A New House
We landed in the middle of a large field. I stood up and saw an average sized house made of wooden logs and a red roof. Beyond the house was bush, which immediately made me like that house more than the others. I gazed around and didn't see any other houses.
"Olivia's not allowed to visit me anymore, since her parents don't want her around Matt," I explained, "And Mum and Dad won't let me visit her because her parents are prejudiced gits. So we're never going to get to see each other again."
"Dad!" I shouted as I ran up the stairs, "Dad!"
"Wait, wait," Richard held up his hand, "What?"
"Well," Sterling began, "After talking with the healers here and examining him, I've come to the same conclusion." Sterling sighed and paused. "Before he can continue healing, he needs to wake up from that coma."
"I just still can't believe I let that happen," Dad sighed, "If I hadn't have left him alone in the living room, I could've stopped Lubar."
"Well, we have a few options," Sterling began, "He can continue taking the dreamless sleep for a few weeks, and hope he gets over the trauma from the transformation by then. Or, we could try the therapy I mentioned a few days ago which might help him get over it faster."
Walking through the quiet house at that hour, I could almost pretend the past few months hadn't happened. Almost. The lack of furniture in a lot of the rooms and the empty places on the walls where the portraits had been told me otherwise. The past few months had happened. How many more times would I walk through the house at this hour?
"Matt's in the living room," Dad said and pointed down the corridor.
Mari and Maddie soon grew bored of listening to our conversation and started running around the yard. They stopped in front of Matt and noticed his crutches.
"I still can't believe this is our last sleepover," Kenzie sighed as she flopped down onto my bed.
The Last Night
It was a clear quiet night with hardly a hint of wind. It was cool, but not cold. The perfect night to sleep outside, I thought. I realized that I hadn't snuck out of the house and slept in the yard in months. Why was that? I used to do it all the time. This was my last chance. I knew I wouldn't get any sleep inside, so why not?
The Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures
The phone booth settled into a large atrium. Dad opened the door and it disappeared once we left it. I looked around the huge place and saw fireplaces lining the sides. Every once in a while, a witch or wizard would floo into one of them or floo out. There were a few people walking through the foyer, but none of them so much as looked at us. They all looked rather busy.
The Only Bank in England
Dad led us all the way down the street and up the steps of a very large white building. We walked through the door and into the foyer. There was a long desk along either side of the room and numerous goblins behind them.
Microwaved Eggs and Home Renovations
In fact, we all thought it was best not to bring up the topic of the renovations unless Dad did. The next day progressed much as the first one had, with more swearing and trips to the hardware store in Diagon Alley. They would know Dad by name soon.
Dad returned a few minutes later with shrunken furniture that had not been sold. "So, this is it," he said quietly.
"I've got a solid gold cauldron," a voice drawled from behind me.
The room was about as dirty as the pub below. The bedspread on the only bed looked to be older than the bloke who was running the place. It was patched and frayed and missing some chunks of fabric. There was no doubt in my mind that a goat had chewed on it.
Here Comes Goodbye
"I think you're going to have to get on the train," Dad said quietly.
"You should chop those lacewing flies into smaller pieces," Willinson announced and pointed to his own, "Like mine."
The Charms professor was a short man with thinning black hair and very bushy eyebrows. He turned away from the class when I walked in five minutes late. He glared at me with such menace that I was taken aback.
In the Hospital Wing
"What did you get on that werewolf essay?" Monica, who had unfortunately picked the telescope next to me, asked.
The Slug Club
I tentatively bit the pheasant while Teddy watched. It was disgusting. I grimaced and swallowed it, dropping the remaining bit onto my plate. Teddy burst out laughing.
"Why are you two so out of breath?" I asked warily.
"Who was that?" Dad asked.
The Chudley Cannons
I turned to see Samantha Meyers looking at me curiously. "Oh, hi Samantha."
Shopping With Mum
What would it be like this year? I stared at the swirling snow outside my window and shivered. Christmas was warm and sunny, not cold and snowy. Christmas was spent barbecuing and playing outside.
Christmas in Australia
"A year ago we were doing this in the bush behind your old house," Richard said as we began looking at trees, "Things sure do change."
A Meeting With Professor Kendrick
"Did Morgan get a mobile phone?" I asked Kenzie as she and I sat in a tree in her backyard. Morgan was walking around the yard jabbering away into a tiny phone. One thing I learned from Vivienne, Breanne, and their lot was that mobile phones are very important to girls like them.
The Room of Requirement
It was kind of exciting. I was finding new parts of the castle! I left the room and turned away from it. The door disappeared. I paced again and it returned. Getting the door to materialize was so much fun that I did it over and over again until I was convinced that pacing in front of the wall three times was the way to get it to appear.
“Why Monica!” Teddy bowed deeply, “What has caused you to grace the library with your presence? Might I offer you a tour? The place may have changed since you were here last.”
The House Elves left and Victoire and I waited near the door.
Maybe I didn't like Quidditch that much. Maybe the idea of watching Matt's new favorite team get their arses kicked didn't interest me. But I was going to pretend to be excited for Matt's sake.
An Interesting Combination
There was then a very long list of the O.W.L.s and N.E.W.T.s that were required. I turned to the last page of the pamphlet, which listed a bunch of famous healers. One of the last names on the list hit me like a bludger to the stomach.
It was strange how you settled back into life at home so easily after life at school. During the last few days of any given year, I would always think about how weird it would be to go back home and be around my family all the time. But when the time came to go back home, it wasn't that strange.
I counted every second in that ten minutes. 600 seconds went by. Then I glanced out the window and saw the moon peeking out over the horizon.
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