Chapter 1 : Welcome Home
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I flung the front door open and ran into my house, throwing my bag down on the newly polished floor. "Yes!" I shouted, "School is over! A whole month off! Third year is done!" I started dancing around the entrance hall shrieking at the top of my lungs. It's not that I don't like school, I like it a lot. It just gets monotonous after a while and it's nice to have a break. Especially the break in between years. That one is always the longest.
"Amy Marie!" my mother began in a warning tone.
I rolled my eyes and turned around to look at her. She, my father, and my little brother had just walked into the house. My mother was eying my bag and I knew just what she was going to tell me. "Amy, pick up your bag," I said at the same time she did.
Mum sighed, "Amy...."
"I'll pick it up, don't have a hippogriff." I ran over to where my bag had landed, picked it up, and slung it over my shoulder.
"Don't use that tone with me," Mum said.
"I'll just put your trunk upstairs," Dad interjected. He usually liked to get out of the room whenever Mum and I started arguing, which happens a lot. This was our usual 'coming home after school' argument. I always dropped my bag on the floor and Mum always told me to pick it up.
"I want you to go empty your trunk and put all your dirty robes in the basket," Mum told me. "By the time you're done with that I'll have dinner ready."
I nodded, "Whatever. I'll be in my room." I darted past Mum and ran up the main staircase. Yes, main staircase. There are three sets of stairs leading to the upper floors of my house. I suppose you could call my house a mansion, but I don't think of it that way. It's actually smaller than my grandparents' house.
My parents are rich, but you'd never guess it. They dress like regular people and they don't buy my brother and I whatever we want. Well, they do kind of spoil my little brother in my opinion. They don't buy me whatever I want because they want to 'teach me the value of a galleon'. I get an allowance, but it's no bigger than my friend Olivia's. My parents didn't work particularly hard to get all their money, they inherited it. My dad's parents died a few years after I was born and Dad inherited this house. My dad couldn't bear to sell it so we just moved in. It's fine with me because I get my own bathroom, even though I'm not even here most of the year.
When I got to my room, Dad had already dropped off my trunk and left. Who knows where he went. You could easily live a week in this house without seeing another person. In fact when I was a toddler, I would sneak off to other parts of the house and hide from my parents. I thought this was incredibly funny, but my parents did not. Mum tells me I was a real handful as a little kid and that it hasn't changed much. I like to think that's why they waited so long to have another kid after they had me, even though I know that's not the reason. My brother is six and a half years younger than me. I wish they had had a baby in between my brother and I, preferably a girl. I think it would be great to have a little sister who isn't that much younger than me. Someone I could talk about what goes on in school with. But instead I just have one brother, who I really don't have much in common with. He's only seven and all he likes to do is go outside and run around and make a huge mess with mud and dirt. Of course, Mum doesn't really let him do that very often. She's very protective of him.
If you haven't guessed already, I have a very strange family. On the outside, we look pretty average. Two parents who aren't divorced with one daughter and one son. Pretty boring, right? Almost too boring and too average. For a while, we were almost that boring average family. Besides the whole inheriting large sums of money thing. When I was younger, we went to all sorts of charity events we were featured in newspapers and magazines. Again, this isn't due to anything my parents did. My mum's parents are rich as well. They're also pretty famous, although I'm not exactly sure why. But since they're famous, my mum is as well. Therefore, so are my brother and I. Well, we were.
Of course, even when we were appearing in the newspaper every week, we were still hiding a secret from most of the world. The Muggle world, that is. My mum is Muggle-born, so my grandparents are Muggles. That meant that we had to pretend we were Muggles at all of those events. Then there were the events in the wizarding world. Those ones were easier since we didn't have to hide anything. I actually liked those events when I was little. I got to dress up in fancy clothes and play with other kids while the adults all got drunk. However, as I got older they started to become extremely boring. The other kids became all snooty and all they did was compare their latest clothes and broomsticks and other things their parents had bought them. The Muggle ones were worse since everyone compared their electronics and I obviously didn't have any of those.
Little did I know that I wasn't going to have to attend many more of those. Almost two years ago my little brother was bitten by a werewolf. We were camping and he stupidly left the tent by himself and got attacked by some werewolf. So now my little brother becomes a raging monster once a month and because of that we don't go to anymore Muggle charity events. We still go to the occasional wizarding one, but not many. Nobody knows that Matt is a werewolf and my parents want to keep it that way.
So there you have it, the Eckerton family is anything but normal. Now I've got to go empty my trunk. I really hate emptying it, but my mum makes me do it after every year. I'm a very messy person and would prefer to never have to clean anything in my life. Mum is the complete opposite and everything has to be neat. I'm just glad she doesn't insist that my room be clean.
I opened my trunk and gazed around my messy bedroom as I threw robes haphazardly into the hamper. The walls of my room are purple, courtesy of my four-year-old self. I really dislike the color now and wish my parents would let me change it. I'd really like it to be a nice deep navy with white stars painted along the top. Dad saids I might be able to paint my walls if I keep my grades up next year. For now I've settled for charming twinkling stars onto the walls. I really love stars and the night sky in general. Astronomy is my favorite class. At least my bed is a nice color. It's a canopy bed with dark red hangings and matching sheets and blankets. That bed was my reward for decent grades last year. All my furniture is made out of some kind of dark wood that I don't remember the name of. What I like best about my room is the utter state of chaos that its always in. My stuff is strewn all over the floor and nothing is 'put away' as my mum likes to say.
Just as I was throwing the last few broken quills from my trunk into the trash, I heard a small pop and Ellie appeared into my room. "Mistress wants Ellie to tell you that dinner is ready."
"Thanks, Ellie," I grinned at our house elf. I like Ellie. She always helps me persuade Mum to let me keep my room a mess.
"Welcome home, by the way," Ellie smiled.
"Aw, thanks," I smiled back, "Nice to be back, even if Mum is yelling at me already."
"I will be telling Mistress to leave you alone."
"You don't have to, it's ok. I'll deal with her."
Ellie nodded and snapped her fingers. She disappeared into thin air as I got up from the floor. I wish I could Apparate like Ellie can. Then I could visit Olivia whenever I wanted to. Olivia is my best friend from school. Mum never lets her come visit, but I go to her house quite a bit.
I sauntered into the formal dining room and the rest of my family was already sitting down. We always eat in the formal dining room the day I come back from school. Mum also makes my favorite meal, spaghetti and meat balls. Today was no different and there was a large platter of pasta and a tossed salad sitting in the middle of the table. I took my seat next to Ellie and stared ravenously at the food. The snacks I had on the train seemed so long ago.
"Sorry I snapped at you earlier," Mum smiled at me as she served me up a large dish of spaghetti.
"That's all right." This was another part of our routine. Mum always apologized for yelling. "All my laundry is in the hamper."
"Thank you, dear."
"Are we doing anything fun this holiday?" I asked in between bites. My friend Kenzie's family always went away in January, but we rarely did.
"Hadn't really thought about it," Dad shrugged, "I didn't take any time off work. I have Christmas Eve through New Year's Day off, though."
"You know we can't do anything then," Mum replied quietly.
I did some quick counting in my head and figured out that this month's full moon was on the twenty-eighth. Of course. Dad only takes time off work around the full moon. "How about over the weekend or something in January?"
"I wanna go visit Uncle Jack," Matt announced with his mouth full of pasta.
"That's gross," I made a face and handed him a napkin.
"Sweetie, Uncle Jack lives too far away to visit him over the weekend," Mum told him.
I would like to go visit Uncle Jack, too. We haven't seen him in a year and a half. He lives in New York, in some town called Horseheads. That's got to be the craziest town name I've ever heard of, but Uncle Jack likes it there.
"I'm sure we'll think of something to do," Dad assured me. I wasn't so sure. We didn't do anything fun over last Christmas, so why should this one be any different? "If not this holiday then the next one. I'll try and book some time off."
"We're getting the tree on Christmas Eve, right?" I asked, changing the subject. "Like we usually do?"
"Of course. We'll decorate that day, too," Mum said.
"Good. I'm thinking we should go with a 12 foot tree this year."
"You say that every year," Dad laughed.
"And you never get one! I'm serious! The ceiling is so high in the living room so we should get a tall tree! It's not like it would be that much more work. All you have to do is flick your wand and it would be all set up. Then we'll decorate it and you can levitate the ornaments up to the high parts."
"I suppose we could," Dad grinned, "I have always wanted to try that."
"Where are you going to get such a large tree?" Mum asked, shaking her head. No doubt she was thinking about the large amount of needles that would fall off the tree. "They won't have one at the tree farm."
"We'll go find one in the bush," Dad told her, "No big deal."
"Yes!" I shouted, "Finally, the big tree!"
"Are your parents coming this year?" Dad asked.
"Yes, they're coming on Christmas Eve and they'll stay until the full moon," Mum explained.
My grandparents always come to our house on Christmas. It's generally a very quiet affair because I don't have any cousins.
I woke up bright and early on Christmas Eve morning. The house was dead quiet as I ran down the stairs and into the kitchen. Nobody else was up that early. My parents are both late sleepers, which is always funny on Christmas morning because Matt and I have to practically drag them out of bed to open presents. Today, however, I was going to have to wait until they got up to go get the tree. Dad said we wouldn't get it until the afternoon, since he and Mum were going to get my grandparents this morning. My grandparents live near Sydney and we live near Brisbane, so my parents always just Apparate them to our house. I sighed loudly. Patience was not one of my virtues. I really didn't want to wait until the afternoon to get the tree.
Getting the tree has always been my favorite part of Christmas. We usually make a whole day of it. We go to the tree farm and spend a few hours picking out the perfect tree. Then we'd sneak off some place away from all the Muggles and Apparate home with it. The decorating itself would take the rest of the day. Dad always does the charm work to get the tree to light up and then Mum does the tinsel. After that Matt and I get to hang all the ornaments.
This year would be different, though, since they were just going to get a tree from the nearby bush. I think it will be more fun. We won't have to worry about any Muggles seeing us Apparate and Dad can just chop the tree down with his wand. Of course, I'll miss seeing him trying to use the Muggle ax.
I decided to rifle through the cupboards to see what there was to eat. My all-time favorite breakfast is this Muggle cereal called Fruit Loops. Mum only buys it when I'm home because she doesn't want Matt to eat sugar for breakfast. She really would prefer that I not eat it either, but she figures I get healthy breakfasts at school, so it's ok to eat sugar while I'm home. Sadly, Mum has not bought this holiday's supply of Fruit Loops and the only cereal I see is healthy stuff. I shut the cupboard and just decide to have some toast. I grab a few slices of bread and shove them in the toaster. Yes, our house does have Muggle appliances because Mum likes them for cooking.
Once I finished making the toast I settled down and waited for everyone else to get up. By the time I was done eating, the house was still completely quiet. I love being at home, but sometimes it's just too quiet. The common room at school is always loud and there's never a dull moment. I supposed I could start my homework, but there's so much time left to do that. Eventually I just decided to wander into the living room and start a new book until everyone woke up.
I must have fallen asleep because before I knew it someone was shaking my shoulder and whispering, "Amy, Amy...."
I jumped, "What?!"
"Sorry, didn't mean to scare you." It was Dad. "What time did you get up?"
"Erm, maybe around five?"
"No wonder you were asleep," Dad laughed, "It's nearly eleven now. Mum and I have to go get your grandparents. We should be back soon. I need you to keep an eye on Matt for us."
"All right," I yawned and got up. "Where is he?"
"Still sleeping. He hasn't gotten up yet."
"Ok, see you soon," I gave him a hug goodbye. "Bye, Mum!"
"Bye, Amy," Mum shouted from the kitchen, "We'll be back in a half hour."
Dad went into the kitchen and a few seconds later I heard a loud crack and the two of them were gone. Quiet again. I always get used to the quiet that is my house during the holiday, but it's a bit unnerving at first. I suppose if I listened close enough, there is some noise. I could hear Ellie doing something in the kitchen, probably cooking lunch. But it's still too quiet. I picked up my book that had fallen on the ground and flipped through the pages to find my spot. I hadn't read half a page before I heard a loud scream come from upstairs followed quickly by a loud bang from the kitchen.
I jumped up and ran into the kitchen on my way to the stairs. "You all right?" I asked Ellie as I passed through.
"Yes, Ellie is fine. Just dropped this platter," Ellie gestured to a plastic platter on the floor. At least it was plastic, I thought.
"Good," I smiled at her as I ran out of the kitchen. Once I reached the stairs the screaming had stopped but as I started climbing I could hear faint sobbing. I really wasn't too worried. Matt always had nightmares a few days before the full moon. He usually woke up screaming and couldn't remember what his nightmare had been about.
I took a left at the top of the stairs and headed down the long hallway towards Matt's room. His room was closer to my parents', which was also on the left side of the main staircase. My room was on the right side. I pushed the door to his room open and my eyes rested on his bed. He was curled up in the middle of the bed, covered completely by a few blankets, and was shaking. I sighed and walked over to the bed.
"What's wrong?" I asked as I sat down. No answer. "C'mon, Matt." I pulled the blankets off of him and saw tears streaked on his red face. "You can't bury yourself in all these blankets when it's this hot," I said. "You're red."
He nodded and looked at me. "Where's Mum?"
"Went to go get Cinda and Richard with Dad," I explained as I pulled him into my lap. "Are you all right?"
"Yeah, I just had a bad dream again," he mumbled.
"Want to go downstairs? Mum and Dad should be home soon."
"Can I have some Fruit Loops?"
"Sorry, Mum hasn't bought any yet," I laughed, "And Ellie's making lunch right now. After that we're going to get the tree."
Matt's face brightened, "Oh yeah! Christmas is tomorrow!" He jumped off the bed and ran out the door.
I laughed to myself as I chased after him. Nothing cheers him up like thoughts of Christmas. I found him in the kitchen watching Ellie prepare lunch. I sat down next to him and talked to Ellie about school. Ten minutes later I heard the door open and Matt jumped off his stool and ran into the foyer. I followed more slowly.
"Hi Cinda, hi Richard," I greeted my grandparents. A long time ago my grandmother told me not to call her Grandma because it makes her feel old. She insisted that I call both her and my grandfather by their first names.
"Amy, darling!" Cinda kissed both of my cheeks, "How was school?"
"Great," I grinned. My grandmother was definitely strange enough to fit in with the rest of the family. She has this obsession with looking young, despite her real age. She has probably had more Botox than any of the American celebrities I've heard about. Her hair is dyed light brown and is always curled perfectly. She wears stylish (well, stylish for an old lady) pants suits that probably cost more than the latest broomstick.
Richard on the other hand, couldn't care less about his appearance. That's probably a good thing since most of their money is spent on Cinda's clothes, hair, and various Botox and plastic surgeries. Richard is shorter than Cinda by about a head and he looks about ten years older. This makes them quite the interesting couple.
"Matt, you're up!" Mum picked him up and kissed his forehead.
"He had another nightmare," I told them.
"Oh, dear," Mum gave Dad a significant glance and then looked at Matt again, "Are you all better now?"
"Uh-huh! And we're getting the tree today!"
"Oh, honey, I'm not sure-"
"Let him go, Julie. He'll be fine. We're not going far," Dad insisted.
I had a feeling this was going to happen. Mum is always over-protective of Matt especially around the full moon. Dad thinks she needs to loosen up. I agree with Dad. She can't baby him forever. It's not like the full moon was tonight, it was still four days away.
"Oh, all right," Mum sighed, "Let's go get some lunch for now."
"Amy, darling," Cinda said as we went into the regular dining room, "I saw the most adorable dress the other day! I'm sure it would look striking on you."
I groaned inwardly. Cinda was always trying to get me to wear fancy clothing. "Cinda, you know I don't like getting dressed up."
"You did when you were little."
"I know," I sighed as I sat down at the table, "When would I wear it anyway? I wear robes at school."
"You can wear it to our New Year's party!" Cinda announced.
I blinked at her. New Year's party? I hadn't heard about any New Year's party. I turned to my parents who were looking just as clueless as I was. "What New Year's party?"
"Oh, that's right! I haven't told you yet. I'm sorry. I always forget that I can't mail invitations to you. Unless I want to use one of those birds! Anyway, I've decided that it's been too long since I hosted a good party. You don't have plans already, do you? It starts at seven."
"Cinda..." Mum sighed, "New Year's isn't really a good time for us. The full moon's on the 28th."
"He'll be better by then!" Cinda assured her.
"You don't know that."
"Just try and come, ok?" Cinda asked, "Amy will already be there if the full moon is on the 28th."
I groaned again. Great, just great. I was being swindled into going to some fancy party at my grandparents house. There was no way out of it. I always stayed with them on the full moon and the days following it. Mum says it's easier that way. I have never been at home during a full moon. My parents never really talk about it either, so I don't even know exactly what happens those nights. All I know is that Matt turns into a wolf and Mum and Dad lock him up in the basement. Then he hurts himself and it takes a few days for him to recover.
"I guess we could try," Mum said slowly.
"Good. It's been so long since you went to one of these parties. Everyone is wondering what happened to you!"
"I know, Cinda, I know. We've just had a lot on our plate."
"It will be fun for all of you!" Cinda replied excitedly, "And I'll take Amy to look at that dress once we're back at my house."
"Great. I can't wait," I said flatly.
"Oh, cheer up Amy. You'll love it."
I highly doubted that, but I just smiled and nodded to keep Cinda from saying anything else. The remainder of the meal was spent with Cinda telling my parents who was going to be at the party and what they were all up to. I found this all dreadfully boring and tuned out most of the conversation. I wound up watching Matt make a tower out of his peas until it collapsed and they all rolled onto the floor. It was pretty funny, especially when Mum made him pick all of them up.
"Can we go get the tree now?" I asked loudly once Cinda stopped gossiping.
"Er, yes, good idea!" Richard, who had been sleeping, woke up suddenly and stood up. "Let's get the tree!"
I laughed to myself. Richard never liked listening to Cinda's gossip and never pretended to either. Cinda didn't really care because Mum was at least pretending to listen and she was the one Cinda was talking to in the first place. Well, Mum and I, because towards the end she had started talking about all the kids and what they were up to lately. I really didn't care whose parents had gotten whom a sports car for their birthday or who got in trouble for going skinny dipping in the neighbor's pool.
"Who's coming?" Dad asked as he stood up.
"Me!" Matt shouted and knocked over his newest pea tower. Luckily for him, this one stayed on his plate.
"Do you even have to ask?" I grinned.
"Stay here with me, Julie," Cinda said to Mum, "I didn't wear the right shoes."
I looked at Cinda's shoes and had to agree with her. She was wearing four inch stiletto heels, and I'm not sure why. She knows we get the tree every Christmas Eve.
"I could transfigure those into sneakers, Cinda," Mum commented.
Cinda looked appalled, "My favorite heels? I think not!"
"I suppose I could stay and get started on the buscuits," Mum sighed. "But next year you're either wearing the right shoes or I'll transfigure them against your will!"
"All right," Cinda laughed, "Next year..."
"Have fun, kids," Mum gave Matt and I each a hug and then she kissed Dad. "Come back if he's not feeling good," she warned.
"Don't worry," Dad rolled his eyes, "I think I can take care of my own son."
"I know you can. I just worry."
A/N: There it is! The first chapter! I'll explain a little bit about how this story came about. It is sort of a prequel for Albus Potter and the Secrets Within. Although it is not necessary to read that to understand this story, I recommend it. Amy and Matt are two of the OCs in Secrets Within and I came up with a bunch of back story, which I made into this story. I have 30 chapters done so far and it's about halfway done.
Also, just to let you know, there aren't any canon characters in this until the 26th chapter. It also takes place in Australia, in case you hadn't picked up on that. So I'm trying to use some Australian lingo, but since I'm American I'm sure I've messed up.
Thanks to my sister and beta, Dancer_of_Starlight! Please read and review!