Chapter 13 : Stricter Legislation
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Matt's birthday dinner seemed to be the high point of the summer. The few weeks following it were much like the time before it. My parents went right back to their secretive meetings and as far as I could tell, things at Dad's work were only getting worse. He returned home later and later everyday and left early in the morning. Dad never talked much about work, but I walked in on him whispering to Mum a few times and they immediately stopped talking when they saw me.
I continued sending letters to both Olivia and Kenzie. Olivia was keeping me updated on all things to do with the Australian School of Sorcery. The new Transfiguration teacher was nice, although Olivia said she was a bit strange. Olivia didn't seem to care. She also told me that Carmen had given up on complaining that Olivia had her own room. In ever letter, she asked for updates about the move. This was the one thing Olivia and Kenzie's letters had in common. Kenzie also constantly wanted moving updates.
Unfortunately, I couldn't give either of them any moving updates. That was because there weren't any. It had been over a month since I found out we were moving and I still had no idea where we were moving to. I asked Mum and Dad about it once a day and they said the same thing every day 'we'll tell you when we know something'. Well, so far they hadn't.
The February full moon came and went, and with it another trip to Richard and Cinda's. This one had been on a Monday, so I had hardly any time with Kenzie at all. I went over to her house when she was done with school, but that was only for a couple hours. Mostly I just lounged by the pool and read. Cinda told me all about her party plans, but I wanted nothing to do with them. Apparently the party was going to be much like the New Year's party. I hoped Cinda wouldn't make me buy a new dress.
My house was very much the same when I returned two days after the full moon. Quiet and empty. Dad left for work as soon as he brought me home. I wasn't sure where Mum was, but she wasn't in the kitchen or the living room. Matt was probably still sleeping since it was incredibly early. Ellie wasn't around either and I figured she was cleaning some other room. She had been doing more and more work ever since Mum started holing up in Dad's study all day.
I poured myself a glass of juice and a bowl of Lucky Charms and sat down at the table to eat them. I hadn't had brekkie at Richard and Cinda's since I left so early. There was a pile of newspapers sitting on the table and I decided to look through them.
I rarely ever read the newspaper since it was usually rather boring. Occasionally there were exciting stories, like ones about escaped convicts and the like, but those were rare. I tossed aside the first paper since the most exciting story appeared to be some old witch out bush who thought she saw a Muggle UFO.
The next paper's headline made me spit out my juice all over the table. I quickly grabbed a napkin to wipe it up and then looked more closely at the front page article.
Werewolf Brutally Attacks and Kills Child
My stomach constricted and I pushed my bowl of cereal aside, pulling the article closer to me. That could have been my brother, two years ago, I thought. If Dad hadn't been able to get the werewolf off of him. Then I really felt sick as I realized that my brother could be the one doing the killing now, if Mum and Dad didn't lock him up every month.
A smaller headline underneath the big one read Wizards and Witches Everywhere Demand Tighter Restrictions and Laws. The article then went on to describe the attack, which had happened just outside some tiny town in the northern part of the country.
Wizards and witches all over the country are writing
to the Ministry, demanding they tighten the restrictions
on werewolves. 'They're dangerous creatures.' Says
Aromina Zander, mother of three young children. 'I
won't let the children outside on the full moon anymore.
I really think the Ministry ought to draft new laws to
increase restrictions on werewolves. They need to be
kept away from regular folk.'
However, not everyone in the Ministry agrees with
Ms. Zander's statement. To read what Walter Eckerton,
Head of the Department for the Regulation and Control
of Magical Creatures, has to say, turn to page six.
I put the paper down and stared into the now disgusting mixture of soggy cereal and milk. I had no appetite whatsoever now. I felt like I was going to chunder, and not just because of the attack. Aromina Zander's comment was almost as bad as that. The way she talked made it seem like werewolves weren't even people. But not all werewolves attacked people. There were plenty of werewolves who were good and made sure they were locked up on the full moon.
To read what Walter Eckerton has to say, turn to page six. I read again. Dad issued a statement about this. For the first time, I realized how hard a job he must have. I wondered how he could react rationally to people like Aromina Zander when they say such awful things. I quickly flipped to page six, where there was a picture of my dad. He looked knackered and he wasn't smiling.
Walter Eckerton has been known for his sympathy
towards werewolves during his three years as Head of
the Department for the Regulation and Control of
Magical Creatures. He has advocated on their behalf
and has rejected numerous amounts of legislation
that would restrict the rights of werewolves.
'What the public has to be aware of,' Eckerton said to
reporters the day after Monday night's attack, 'is that
not all werewolves are irresponsible like the man who
murdered the child last night. Plenty of werewolves
are responsible citizens who lock themselves up so as
to not attack anyone. It is not fair to punish all
werewolves for the faults of a couple. Punish those
who have attacked and try to prevent future attacks,
but we cannot restrict rights that we are all entitled
But are werewolves entitled to the same rights everyone
else is? That is what many wizards and witches are
wondering right now.
Many are also wondering if it is enough to trust
werewolves to set up their own places to spend
full moons. Protections, spells, charms, and the
like are not always foolproof.
'Spells werewolves use on their safe rooms have
been known to fail,' Ralph Lubar, Head of the Werewolf
Control Unit said on Tuesday, 'There have been
attacks that occur because of charms that do not
hold. I myself am in favor of more strict regulations
on safe rooms and werewolf rights in general.'
There are others in the Werewolf Control Unit who
agree with Lubar. In fact, 70% of them polled on
Tuesday agreed that tighter restrictions are needed.
Eckerton does not agree. In the wake of the recent
attacks, much of wizarding Australia is becoming
concerned with his sympathy towards werewolves
and might soon demand stricter legislation.
I continued to stare at the paper long after I finished reading it. Words kept popping out at me. Tighter restrictions, 70%, charms that do not hold, stricter legislation.... Was this the stress at work that Dad had mentioned? Was this what him and Mum were so worried about? It seemed like Dad was the only one in his office who cared at all about werewolf rights. He was clearly trying to keep the tight laws from going through. What kind of laws was the article talking about anyway? The article never mentioned what the tighter restrictions were.
I heard footsteps coming into the room, but I didn't look up from the paper. The fridge opened and then closed. The footsteps began again and started coming closer to me.
"Hi Amy." It was Mum. She said as she walked over to the table. "How was Richard and Cinda's?"
I ignored her question and continued staring at the paper. "What's going on?" I asked in a shaky voice.
"What do you mean?" Mum asked as she sat down across from me. She glanced from me and then to the paper. "Oh, you saw the article. I-I meant to put that away before you came home."
"Why?" I demanded, glaring at her, "So you could hide something else from me?"
"No, so your father and I could explain properly, without you getting one-sided facts from this paper!" Mum replied.
"Really? Because it sounds like this has been going on for a while. Is this what Dad's so stressed about? He's been stressed for an awful long time. I asked him why and he said I didn't need to know."
"You didn't. You still don't," Mum said, "We don't know what's going to happen with this. We didn't want you to worry about it."
"Well, I've worried about other stuff!" I shouted, all my shock from the article turning into anger, "I worried about the two of you! Dad constantly being home late, completely knackered! The two of you always in Dad's study doing who knows what! I want to know what's going on!"
"Oh, Amy, I had no idea that you'd been paying that much attention to us," Mum sighed.
"How could I not notice Dad coming home later and later every night? Not notice that he's always worn out? Not notice that you haven't been cleaning all the time? It's not like you, Mum, to not help Ellie with the cleaning. She's been doing all of it lately. Not to mention the fact that you don't pay nearly as much attention to Matt as you used to. You used to watch him like a hawk and now you let him go off and do whatever he wants. That's why he tried to climb the wall last month, because you weren't watching him. I can't stop him from doing stuff when he wants to."
"I'm so sorry," Mum whispered, "We didn't mean to make you worry that much."
"It's all right," I mumbled, "Just tell me what's going on. I want to know. I hate not knowing. I hate being the only one in the family who's clueless about everything."
"Matt doesn't know about this either," Mum replied and then looked at me sharply, "And you won't tell him about it."
"I know. I won't." I could only imagine what he would think if he read that article. It would be worse than when he found out he couldn't go to school in Australia. "Now can you please tell me what's going on?"
"I will when your father gets home. We'll tell you about it together. Can you wait that long?"
I nodded, "Yeah."
"Good," Mum wrapped me into a hug, "And again, I am very sorry about making you worry."
"It's ok," I told her.
"All right. I've got stuff to do. Will you be ok?"
I nodded again. Mum kissed my forehead and then got up from the table. "Would it make you feel better if I went and helped Ellie with the cleaning?"
I smiled a little, "Maybe. But I think you ought to go help Ellie anyway."
"I will. Now go put your laundry in the hamper and put your bag away," Mum eyed my bag that I had thrown onto the kitchen floor.
I smiled to myself as I picked up the bag. Mum may be irritating at times with her obsessive neatness, but that was just Mum. I was used to her constantly telling me to pick up after myself and it had been strange not to have her do that. Too strange. She was my mum, and I loved her no matter how neat and obsessive she was.
After I put all my clothes in the hamper and put my stuff away, I went to my potions room. I spent the next few hours brewing, until I got hungry.
Mum and Matt were in the kitchen when I wandered down to find something to eat. Mum was looking more like herself than she had in weeks. Maybe things were finally looking up. She had cleared away all the newspapers and had set down a plate of sandwiches and grapes. Matt was already chowing down on a sandwich.
I sat down across from him and picked up a sandwich of my own. He still looked tired, despite the fact that he only just got up. He had a yellowish bruise on his left cheek and a large scab on his forehead. Other than this, he looked fine. Just looking at him reminded me of the article and made me wonder what kind of restrictions Aromina Zander and Ralph Lubar wanted to put on Matt and all the other werewolves in the country. I doubted that Zander had ever really personally known a werewolf, or she probably would have had a different opinion about the whole thing.
I wasn't even sure how I felt about it. I mean, I obviously didn't want my brother's rights taken away because of a few idiots who didn't lock themselves up on the full moon. But on the other hand, it was one of those idiots who turned Matt into a werewolf in the first place. If there had been tighter restrictions a few years ago, Matt may not have ever gotten bitten. Which meant that we wouldn't have to move, that I wouldn't have to switch schools.
Dad didn't get home until nearly eight o'clock that night. Mum, Matt, Ellie, and I had already eaten dinner and I was patiently waiting for Dad to come home so he could explain about the article in the paper. Well, ok, maybe not so patiently.
When Dad finally stepped out of the fireplace, I had to wait even longer. Mum told me that she and Dad wouldn't explain until Matt had gone to bed, since they had no plans on telling him about what was going on. Luckily he went to bed around 8:30, so I didn't have to wait long.
"Are you going to explain now?" I asked Mum when she stepped into the living room after putting Matt to bed.
"Yes, Amy, we'll explain now," Mum sat down next to Dad on the couch.
"Explain about what?" Dad asked as he ate his dinner.
"Amy saw the article that was in the paper yesterday," Mum explained.
Dad put down his fork, "Oh. I thought you were going to move those papers."
"I was, but it honestly wasn't the first thing on my mind this morning. I had been giving Matt his potions when Amy got back home," Mum sighed.
"Right. But we weren't planning on telling her about this," Dad pointed out. "I thought we agreed on that."
"She's read the article, Walter," Mum raised her voice a bit, "We have to explain."
Great, I thought, now my parents were going to get into a huge row and not tell me anything. Plus, they were talking about me like I wasn't there. I hated when they did that.
Dad shook his head, "It'll just worry her."
"She's already worried!" Mum snapped, "Ever since she got back from school! She's noticed that you're always at work and I'm always in your study."
Dad sighed, "All right. I see your point. It's just been a hard day."
"I'm sure it has. But you need to concentrate on our family now. And Amy needs an explanation."
"Does Matt know?" Dad asked quietly.
"No. He still hasn't got a clue," Mum told him.
"Good. It'll stay that way," Dad said sternly.
I nodded, "I won't tell him a thing."
"All right," Dad took a deep breath and then turned to me, "You know there has been an increase in werewolf attacks over the past few months?"
"Yeah, that's what it said in the article."
"Well, the article didn't really specify what's going on. The increase has taken place over the past six months. Before that, there would be one, maybe two attacks every couple of months. There were plenty of months without any attacks. Then, six months ago, there were four attacks all on the same night."
I stared at him in shock. I had had no idea about that. Maybe I should start reading the paper more often. Dad never elaborated on what went on at work, but I was amazed he hadn't mentioned that at all.
"Yes, four attacks. Two were on children, only one survived. The other two were on adults, both survived. Next month, two attacks. Then three. Then one. Then three. Then three more. Last week, there was just one. But there has been at least one every month since August. In September, one attack was on a Muggle. He survived, and is now coping with not only that he is a werewolf, but that magic exists.
"The paper has been reporting all of these attacks and hyping them up. Yes, it is something to worry about, but the paper seems to want to create mass hysteria."
I really had been living in the dark. I could only remember really hearing about a couple of those attacks. I had no idea there had been so many.
"Um, were the werewolves caught?" I asked tentatively.
"Most of them. The thing is, we often cannot tell who did the attacking. The only way we can know for sure is if someone catches the werewolf in the middle of the attack," Dad lowered his voice, "Like what happened with your brother."
"What about Wolfsbane Potion, though. Aren't the werewolves taking that?" I asked, thinking of the potion that wouldn't work for my brother. "Or are these werewolves like Matt and it just won't work?"
"Mostly they just can't afford it," Dad answered, "The stuff is expensive since there is only one Potions Master in Australia who can brew it. Most of it is imported from other countries. And a lot of werewolves just can't afford it since it's hard for them to get jobs."
"Oh. That stinks," I replied. It really did. If they could afford the Wolfsbane, they could probably get better jobs.
"Anyway, ever since September or so, more and more people have been demanding stricter laws regarding werewolves. Plenty of legislation has been suggested and presented, and most of it I have turned down. People have not been happy about this, but I've felt that most of the legislation has been too strict and is taking away too many rights."
"What kind of laws?" I asked quietly.
Dad sighed, "Awful laws. The paper never elaborates on what kind of laws. It just calls it 'stricter legislation' and people immediately think that's a good thing. The fact is, that they aren't good laws.
"Laws have been presented that would have a building built with extremely powerful spells on it for werewolves to spend the full moon. This in itself would probably be a good idea, since many werewolves aren't able to create their own safe places. But the law would require all werewolves to spend full moons there."
I shuddered. All the werewolves in one building? Were there any spells that were powerful enough to keep that many of them in? What if they all ganged up on each other and wound up killing one of them? I couldn't imagine Matt in a place like that.
"I had to reject that law. It would take away too many rights. It wouldn't be fair at all to require werewolves that already had safe places to go to one of these buildings. Plus, I could never allow Matt to go to one. Many of my colleagues were upset that I rejected the law, but they didn't have enough support to override my decision.
"Another law would have prevented werewolves from acquiring wands-"
"What?!" I shouted, "That's horrible."
"Indeed. That had a surprisingly large amount of support, especially from other departments, but I rejected it as well. I have rejected numerous others since September.
"The people in my department are starting to get fed up with my rejecting their legislation. They think I'm too soft on werewolves and it's causing innocent people to be harmed.
"I say otherwise. We have to remember that the more rights we take away from werewolves, the more angry and upset they'll become. I think this will cause more attacks.
"Only the people in the Werewolf Control Unit know that Matt is a werewolf. After he was bitten and we had to register him, they found out. They are sworn to secrecy and are not allowed to tell anyone, due to the fact that he is underage. They think that the only reason I am rejecting the laws is because of Matt, because I don't want my son to be forced to live by these awful rules. I have to admit that that is partly the reason, but not all of it. I know that stricter legislation is only going to breed more contempt and cause more attacks."
I nodded. So this was why Dad was so stressed lately. His colleagues were putting pressure on him to pass these horrible laws.
"Today," Dad began and turned to Mum, "You don't know about this yet, Julie. Today, they managed to override my rejection of a law."
Mum's face paled, "Which one?" she whispered.
"This one isn't that bad," Dad assured her, "If the Minister signs it, then all werewolves will have to have their places of transformation inspected by the Werewolf Control Unit. Unless they're on Wolfsbane, of course."
"Oh, all right," Mum said, "That's not too bad, then. Do you think the Minister will sign it?"
"Most likely. However, the Minister is very busy and it could be weeks before it reaches his desk. It's got to go through the Magical Legislation Department anyway. It'll go through no problem there, I'm sure of it. They've just been very busy lately as well so it might take a while," Dad replied, "But it's only one small step away from the law requiring werewolves to transform in a Ministry built facility. If a werewolf's place of transformation doesn't pass inspection, then they have to transform in a Ministry facility."
Mum nodded, "Ok, we can deal with that. The basement will surely pass inspection."
"It will," Dad replied and then turned to me, "Does that answer your questions, Amy?"
"Yeah," I nodded. I couldn't believe that they'd been hiding all of this from me. If these laws passed, it could drastically alter our lives. Of course, our lives were being drastically altered already since we were moving. The laws would only affect us if we stayed here, which we weren't. So, it wasn't that bad. I mean, how many laws could get passed between now and when we moved? "Anything else you care to tell me that you've been hiding?" I asked, thinking of how Mum and Dad had been spending so much time in Dad's study.
Mum and Dad glanced at each other. "No, that's about it," Mum replied.
I sighed. I really didn't think they'd tell me what they were doing in Dad's study, but it was worth a shot. I guess that was one mystery I'd have to solve on my own.
"Well, I'm going to go upstairs," Dad picked up his empty dinner plate and got up. "I'm positively knackered."
"I'll join you," Mum replied, "'Night, Amy."
"'Night, Mum. 'Night, Dad," I said.
"Good night, Amy," Dad said and the two of them left the room, whispering to themselves.
I sat in the living room thinking about what Dad had told me for a long time. It still amazed me that I hadn't heard much about these attacks. I really was secluded at school. Nobody at my school really read the paper. Occasionally if something big happened, we would find out, but most of the time we were clueless as to what went on in the outside world. I was definitely going to read the paper from now on, that was for sure. I wouldn't be left in the dark at my new school. Even if I was the only kid who read the paper at my new school, I would read it. I was sick of being clueless, sick of not knowing what was going on.
What was going to happen with these new laws anyway? How many would pass before we moved? My parents seemed extremely worried about it. I wondered if this issue with the legislation may have contributed to their decision to move. Would they still have decided to move even if Matt could have gone to school in Australia? Maybe the whole moving thing hadn't been so sudden. Maybe my parents had been thinking about it for months and Matt not being able to attend the Australian School of Sorcery was just the last straw.
A/N: Thanks to my sister and beta, Dancer_of_Starlight!
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