Chapter 22 : Suspended
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I stared open mouthed at Mum for a few seconds. I had thought that the names of underage werewolves were protected by the law and they wouldn't be released until the werewolf in question became of age.
"What do you mean?" I asked, hoping Mum would actually answer my questions, "How? When?"
"This afternoon," Mum said, her voice still wobbly, "He was angry that Dad wouldn't allow Matt to go to the approved Ministry center. Dad lodged a complaint about the law with the Wizengamot. Apparently Lubar 'let it slip' that Matt was a werewolf while he was getting a cup of coffee. The information quickly made its rounds and now the entire Ministry knows, as opposed to just the Werewolf Control Unit."
"But, but, isn't that illegal for him to do that?"
"Technically, yes," Mum growled, "But seeing as nobody will actually say who they received the information from, the only proof is Dad's testimony. Which of course will not hold up in court since he is biased."
"What's going to happen now?" I asked quietly.
"I'm not entirely sure," Mum replied, "But this is not going to be easy. Amy, I'm explaining all about this now, because within the next few days we are surely to be on the receiving end of many owls from the general public. Not to mention the newspaper articles."
I nodded. "Where's Dad?"
"Upstairs with your brother," Mum answered, "Which reminds me, I don't want you to go in his room for the rest of the night. He needs to rest."
"Ok," I mumbled, "I think I'll go to bed."
I walked slowly up to my room. I paused outside Matt's door, which was open. Dad was sitting on a chair next to his bed and absentmindedly messing with Matt's hair while staring off into space. He didn't notice as I walked quietly by. Matt was sound asleep.
As soon as I'd changed into my pajamas, I went out onto the balcony. I stared up into the sky and thought about what was going to happen now that the entirety of wizarding Australia knew that my brother was a werewolf. There were reasons why Mum and Dad never told anyone. Reasons why I was forbidden to mention it to anyone at school. As much as I hated not being able to be truthful with my friends, I knew the reasons behind it.
My parents tried to make our lives as normal as they could, and part of that was keeping Matt's condition a secret. People would not only look at him differently if the knew, but they'd look at our entire family differently. Of course, the effects of it on me were minuscule compared to what it would be like for Matt. Because we had been so secretive about it, nobody looked at him differently as we walked around amongst wizards, nobody shunned him, nobody refused to let their children play with him, nobody looked at him with fear. All that would change now. Before they just saw a small, quiet boy. Now they would look at him and only see the raging monster he became on one night out of twenty-eight. It was really quite unfair.
The second reason why my parents kept it a secret was Dad's job. The implications of the Head of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures having a werewolf son could be disastrous. Any bit of pro-werewolf legislation that he tried to pass would be seen as him trying to make life easier for his son. People would consider him incredibly biased.
Dad had been the Head of the Werewolf Control Unit when Matt got bitten. He was promoted to Head of the entire magical creatures department just six months afterwards. Dad had always been sympathetic towards werewolves, even before Matt was bitten, and many people were against his promotion. But, there wasn't anything they could do about it. Now, there would be grounds for him to be fired.
And all because of some stupid law. A stupid law that required an eight year old boy to be alone in a large building filled with adults. What kind of idiots would pass such a law? The idiots who believe werewolves to be less than human. I was sure that was how Lubar had rationalized the entire thing.
My mind was racing about what was going to happen. Mum had mentioned us getting nasty letters by owl. I decided I just wouldn't read any. They'd go straight to the bin. Despite all that I had on my mind, I fell asleep out of sheer exhaustion only a few hours after I had gone up to my room.
I woke up the next morning with an awful ache in my back and crick in my neck. I groggily opened my eyes and glanced around. I remembered that I had fallen asleep on the balcony, without any pillows or blankets.
I groaned and got up, remembering the past night's events. I changed quickly and then went downstairs to find a potion for my aching back. The kitchen was deserted when I went downstairs. There were signs of life, though. Empty bowls in the sink, and the newspaper lying on the table.
I grabbed the paper as soon as I'd taken a potion to ease the ache in my back. I waited a few moments before looking at it, though. Did I really want to read the article that I knew would be there? Of course I did. Curiosity always got me in the end. I took a deep breath, looked down at the page, and prepared myself for the worst. There it was, right on the front page.
HEAD OF THE DEPARTMENT FOR THE CONTROL AND
REGULATION OF MAGICAL CREATURES'S SON IS A WEREWOLF
Well, nobody will every be able to say that
Walter Eckerton doesn't bring his work home
with him. Yesterday, an unknown Ministry
employee leaked the information that Walter
Eckerton's 8-year-old son is a werewolf.
No one is sure who leaked the information,
and it is widely known that the names of
underage werewolves are normally kept secret
until they become of age. This is why Walter
Eckerton's son has been kept under wraps for
so long. (continued on page 4D)
I hurriedly turned to page 4D and began to read the rest of the lengthy article.
Long since known as a supporter of werewolf
rights, Walter Eckerton has been Head of the
Department for the Regulation and Control of
Magical Creatures for nearly two years.
Before that, he was Head of the Werewolf
Control Unit, and worked in that department
prior to becoming the Head.
Wizards and witches alike are now positive
that most of Eckerton's pro-werewolf laws
are due to his son's condition, despite the
fact that Eckerton was known for his sympathy
prior to the attack on his son.
Details about the attack, that occurred just
over two years ago, are slowly coming to light.
Matthew Eckerton, 8, was attacked at a Muggle
campground between Christmas and NewYears in
2010. He was five years old at the time. We
have not yet been informed of the attacker's
There have been murmurings throughout the
Ministry since yesterday afternoon about
whether or not Eckerton will keep his job.
Many people have shared that they do not feel
that Eckerton is able to do his job properly
with a werewolf for a son. A few are horrified
that he was even selected for the position in
the first place.
I set the paper down and glared at it. How could they write that? Just because Lubar had outed that Matt was a werewolf at work yesterday didn't give the paper the right to write an entire article on it. Wasn't that law about keeping the names of underage werewolves secret supposed to prevent this type of article? And why should Matt's being a werewolf get Dad fired? He had done a plenty good job for the past two years, so why should he get fired now?
I turned back to the front page to check if there were any other articles that I ought to read. Dad had said the werewolf attacks were increasing, so there may have been one this month as well. Sure enough, there was a very small article about a man who was attacked. I imagined that article would have been the front page article of Lubar hadn't have announced that Matt was a werewolf.
Below the article about Dad was yet another article about him. I quickly started reading it.
MINISTRY EMPLOYEE BREAKS WEREWOLF CONTROL LAW
Less than twenty-four hours before the
announcement that Walter Eckerton's
son is a werewolf, the man knowingly broke
the newest law regarding werewolf control.
The law, known as Werewolf Control Law 56,
requires all places of transformation pass
an inspection by an employee of the Werewolf
Control Unit. The law was signed by the
Minister five days ago. If a place of
transformation fails inspection, the werewolf
in question is required to transform at a
Ministry approved facility. (Werewolves
using the Wolfsbane potion are exempt,
providing that they can give the Werewolf
Control Unit the proper documentation).
Eckerton has long since been sympathetic
towards werewolves and rejected this law
only a few short weeks ago. His department
overruled his rejection and presented the
law to the Minister, who immediately approved
it. Eckerton was mysteriously absent from
work while that took place. Ralph Lubar,
Head of the Werewolf Control Unit says,
'We're not really sure where Eckerton
went. I mean, he said he was going to
visit his brother in the States, but who
knows? He's been awfully secretive lately.'
Wherever Eckerton was, he was not at work
to voice his disapproval of the law. In
fact, Eckerton had no knowledge that the
law had passed until Lubar showed up to
do his inspection on Monday.
To the shock of many people, Eckerton
failed his inspection. 'His safe room was
in his basement,' Lubar told us, 'It had
proper spells around it, but under the new
law, all safe rooms must be self contained
buildings, not a room in another building or
home. It's for the safety of everyone.'
Eckerton was told his son would have to
transform at one of the Ministry centers, but
he flat out refused to comply. Evening came,
and Eckerton's son never showed up at any of
What can be said when the Head of the Department
for the Regulation and Control of Magical
Creatures doesn't follow the laws set by his
department? Eckerton is still employed by the
Australian Ministry, but is facing charges for
breaking this law.
I swallowed hard as I set the paper back down on the table. Dad was facing charges. Was he going to go to jail? I shook the thought from my head and turned away from the paper. I didn't care if there were any other articles in it about Dad. I didn't want to read them. They were painting Dad in such a horrible light.
The house remained quiet for much of the day. I didn't see Mum until the early afternoon, when she emerged from Matt's room. Apparently she had been in there the entire morning. I asked her how he was doing and she said he was better, but definitely not back to normal. She told me not to bother him and I certainly wasn't going to argue. Mum still looked extremely stressed out and knackered. I asked her about the articles and she told me it was only the beginning.
"What about the charges?" I asked quietly as she and Ellie prepared dinner.
Mum put down her wand and met my gaze. "What about them?"
"Well, what's going to happen? Is Dad going to have to go to jail?"
"I don't think so," Mum replied, "But I'm sure there will be a hearing. I'm not entirely sure of the details."
I nodded and didn't ask anything else. Dinner was very quiet and subdued, especially since it was only Mum, Ellie, and I who were eating. I didn't even bother to ask when Dad was coming home. Who knew what was going on at the Ministry that day.
Mum went back to Matt's room after we'd finished eating and I went up to mine. I immediately noticed Olivia's owl sitting on my desk as I entered the room. She had probably seen the paper that morning. I hoped she wasn't too mad at me for never telling her about Matt.
I took the letter from the owl, gave her some treats, and sat down on my bed to read it.
I'm not even sure what to say, honestly.
I was thoroughly shocked when I read the
paper this morning. The whole school saw
it, too. They all looked to me for answers
since I'm friends with you, but I had no
answers for them.
Part of me is angry at you for not telling
me, but I know it wasn't really your decision
not to tell me. But, really, how could you
keep that from me? Is this the real reason
why your parents wouldn't let me go to your
house? Were they afraid that I'd find out
and tell everyone I knew? I wouldn't have,
Amy, I really wouldn't have. Is this why
your parents are so protective of your
Is this also why your parents had that row
with Killigan? I kind of think the two are
connected. Why in the name of Merlin would
your parents pull you out of school and move
across the world just because of an argument?
The argument was about your brother. Was it
because Killigan wouldn't let him go to
school with us? Is that why you're moving so
far away? So your brother can go to school?
I got your letter about New York. The school
there sounds nice. Let me know if you go to
visit any others. Write back really soon. I
want to know what's going on.
I set down Olivia's letter and stared out the window. At least it didn't seem like Olivia was too angry with me. It honestly wouldn't have surprised me if she totally flipped out, in letter form of course. This was a secret I'd been keeping from her for over two years. Ever since Matt had become a werewolf in the first place. I still remember when I went back to school after it had happened. I was still upset about it, but I couldn't tell Olivia. She asked me about it for weeks, but I never told her what was wrong. Eventually she just gave up and forgot about it.
I sighed and went to my desk. I pulled out a piece of parchment, a quill, and a pot of ink. I was going to tell Olivia the entire story now. She knew Matt was a werewolf now, so what could the harm be? I wanted her to understand the whole thing. I was sick of lying to her. And most of all, I wanted to tell someone about it. I had never once talked to anyone about Matt being a werewolf, outside of my family.
First, I'm really sorry for not telling you
about my brother. My parents made me promise
never to tell anyone about it. Remember back
in the beginning of second year when I was so
upset and wouldn't tell you why? Matt got bit
over the summer before that year.
I continued and told Olivia all about the camping trip and how Matt got attacked there. I told her about how the Wolfsbane potion wouldn't work for him and how Mum and Dad made me stay with my grandparents every full moon. I told her everything I could possibly think of.
Next I told her everything about the move and the issues going on at Dad's work. My letter was practically two feet long by the time I'd finished it. I stuffed it in an envelope and sent it off with Olivia's owl, who had conveniently stuck around while I wrote it.
I stepped out onto the balcony and watched the owl fly away. Somehow I felt much better after writing that letter. I was still incredibly worried about what was going to happen, but I also felt sort of calm. It was a bit strange.
I decided to go downstairs and see if Dad was home yet. I went into the living room and found both him and Mum sitting in silence on the couch. They both looked tense.
"Hey, Dad," I said as I walked into the room.
"Oh, hi, Amy," Dad replied tiredly.
"Um, how was work?" I asked tentatively.
Mum and Dad glanced at each other before Dad replied. "I've been suspended without pay."
I stared at him in shock as I sat down on a nearby chair. "What does that mean?" I asked quietly.
"Technically, I'm not fired, yet," Dad said flatly, "I won't be working for the next week, until the hearing. Hearing's a week from today. Then they'll decide if I'm fired or not."
"So, you might not get fired?"
"Oh, I'm sure I'll be fired. The Minister's got the Wizengamot in his pocket. This is just a formality."
"But we're moving anyway," I pointed out.
"I know," Dad said, "But if I'm fired here, it'll make it harder to get a job elsewhere."
Dad didn't elaborate on what else went on at work that day, but judging by his hardened expression, it wasn't anything good. I went back up to my room a short while later and read my book until I fell asleep.
Despite the fact that Dad didn't go to work the next day, I hardly saw him. He and Mum went back to their routine of spending hours at a time in Dad's study. I still had no idea what they did in there. Every once in a while one of them would come out and go up to Matt's room, but they never told me what they were doing. Matt still hadn't completely recovered from the full moon and was spending the day in bed again.
I spent the day brewing potions and thinking about everything that was going on. I couldn't believe that Dad was actually going to get fired just because Matt was a werewolf. It didn't seem fair at all.
Right before dinner, Mum and Dad finally emerged from Dad's study. Mum told me she was going to Apparate to Richard and Cinda's to tell them about what was going on. Dad and I waited silently in the living room for her to return. I got the impression that Dad didn't really feel like talking.
Mum appeared with a crack about a half hour later and she sat down on the couch next to Dad.
"What do they think?" Dad asked.
"They don't really quite understand," Mum replied, "Which makes sense since they're Muggles. But they can see why we're so stressed out."
Dad nodded, but didn't say anything.
"But they think it's awful that you might get fired over this," Mum said, "They don't see how you could get fired just because Matt's a werewolf."
"Technically, I won't be fired because of that," Dad muttered, "On the record, I'll be fired for breaking the bloody law that they passed while we were gone."
"Right," Mum sighed.
"But everyone knows the real reason is because Matt's a werewolf," Dad said.
Neither Mum nor Dad said anything after that. The two of them just stared off into space and I turned back to my book. None of us moved or talked much until we heard Matt come in a half hour later.
Both Mum and Dad looked up quickly when he came in. Then they shared one of those parental looks that drove me mad. Although I was pretty sure I knew what this one meant. They hadn't told Matt about any of this yet.
Matt walked into the room and I saw that this month he had his arm in a sling, and there was a partially healed deep gash on his forehead. He went over to Mum and climbed into her lap.
"Hi, honey, how are you?" Mum asked gently.
"Hungry," Matt replied.
"Well, that's a good sign," Mum gave him a smile that didn't quite reach her eyes. "But before we eat, Dad and I have to talk to you about something."
"Okay," Matt said.
This was it. They were going to tell him about everything that had happened the past few days. I kept my eyes on my book, but I didn't actually read it. Instead I listened to everything they said.
"Remember when Dad and I told you that we can't tell anyone about what happens once a month?" Mum asked quietly. Matt nodded. "Well, some people Dad works with have always known and they had to promise never to tell anyone." Mum turned to look at Dad.
"Do you remember the man who came to the house the night we got back from New York?" Dad asked.
"No," Matt replied.
"Right," Dad said, "You were kind of asleep then. Anyway, that man kind of told everybody what happens once a month?"
Matt stared at Dad and then turned back to Mum. "But, but, you said that if people know about that, then they might not be nice to me," his voice wobbled.
Mum glanced at Dad and sighed. "Yes, I did tell you that. And, it's true. People might not be nice to you now that they know."
"But why?" Matt's voice cracked.
"It's just the way things are," Mum said and I could see tears starting to form in her eyes. "I know it's not fair."
"Why'd that man tell everyone?" Matt cried. "You said they all promised not to tell."
"Because he was mad at me," Dad answered quietly.
"When that man came to the house that night, he came to tell me about a new law that passed while we were visiting Uncle Jack. Because of that law, you were supposed to go to a special place to turn into the wolf. With other people who turn into wolves, too."
Matt's eyes got big and he stared at Dad in shock. "But I don't want to do that! I want to stay here and go to the basement. Don't make me go somewhere else!" He threw his arms around Mum and started crying into her shirt.
"We'll never make you go there," Mum soothed, "Never. You'll stay here to turn into the wolf. Don't worry."
"B-but D-Dad said I h-had to."
"I chose not to obey that law, Matt," Dad said quietly, "I couldn't make you go to that place. And I never will."
"But it's the l-law," Matt wailed, "W-won't you g-go to j-jail now?"
"No, not jail," Dad said, "I have to go to a hearing."
"Wh-what will they d-do at th-that?"
"Decide what my punishment will be," Dad replied, "But it will not be jail time. It will most likely be a fine. And I might lose my job."
Matt picked his head up and stared at Dad. "You'll g-get f-fired. B-because of m-me?"
Dad pulled Matt onto his own lap and looked him in they eye. "No. Not because of you. Never think that this is your fault. It's the Ministry's fault. They're passing laws that are outrageous. This was my decision not to follow an unjust law. None of it is your fault."
Matt nodded and continued sobbing. He buried his head in Dad's shoulder and Dad hugged him for a while. Mum rubbed Matt's back as tears streamed down her face. I watched and couldn't help but feel like I was intruding on something.
A/N: Thanks to my betas, Dancer_of_Starlight and Joanne K! Thanks as well to Ms_Krum, XDNLxtlz99, and JKRowlingFan22 for their reviews!
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