Chapter 2 : But He Knows That It's Going to Be All Right
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But he knows that it's going to be all right
Cause the love that he's got will keep him warm through the night
Life is good, life is good
~LIfe Is Good, Jared Campbell
Eleven-year-old Matthew Conan Eckerton was sitting below a large oak tree in his backyard. His eyes were closed and he was resting his head against its rough trunk. The sun was beating down on him through the branches above. For the past hour, the only sound had been the occasional bird chirping or cow mooing. Then a loud revving broke the silence.
Matt slowly opened his eyes and squinted in the bright sunlight. He glanced around to try and find out where the noise was coming from. In the distance, he saw the farmer riding his tractor through the fields that surrounded Matt's house.
Matt lived in the country, far from any towns. His house was on an acre of property that was surrounded by farmland on three sides and a forest on the other. The nearby farmer owned all of the surrounding farmland and was regularly seen plowing or performing other tasks. The farmer's house was quite far away, although Matt could see it from where he was sitting. Other than the farmer, Matt had no other neighbors.
Matt's parents, Walter and Julie, wanted it that way. Matt was not an ordinary eleven-year-old boy, even by wizarding standards. At the age of five, he was bitten by a werewolf and became one himself. For the past five and a half years, over half his life, he had been enduring painful transformations every month that left him exhausted and sick. As if he could be anymore unusual, the Wolfsbane Potion which normally enabled a werewolf to keep his mind during full moons, did not work for Matt.
That particular day happened to be the day of the full moon. In only a few short hours, Matt would be locked in a room in the basement and go through the painful transformation into the wolf.
As the full moon was only a short while away, Matt was already feeling the effects of it. A few days beforehand, he would tire quickly and get a lot of headaches. He also lost his appetite. At the moment, he had a splitting headache which was not helped by the tractor, but felt too exhausted to move. He closed his eyes and tried to ignore the pounding in his head and the tractor's roaring.
"Matt, are you out here?" someone shouted.
Matt opened his eyes again and saw his sister, Amy, walking towards him. "I'm over by the tree!" he shouted.
Amy ran the rest of the distance and sat down next to him. Her blond hair was thrown up into a messy ponytail and flying everywhere as she walked.
"Thank Merlin," Amy sighed, "I couldn't find you anywhere. You know Mum doesn't like it when you go outside the day of the full moon."
Matt groaned inwardly. His mother was extremely overprotective, in his opinion. He understood she had her reasons and after what had happened in the past, he couldn't really blame her. But he wasn't a baby anymore and he didn't think going outside was going to hurt. He liked going outside before full moons since he'd be cooped up inside for a few days afterwards.
"Is she back yet?" Matt asked. His mother had gone to Diagon Alley to pick up some groceries a little while ago, leaving Amy to 'babysit' him. Matt thought this was ridiculous since he was eleven and certainly did not need a babysitter, but didn't argue with her. Plus, Amy was home anyway.
"No," Amy replied, "But I had to find you because this just came by owl."
Amy grinned as she handed Matt a letter. Matt took it and turned it over. His breath caught in his chest as he saw the Hogwarts crest stamped on it. It was his Hogwarts letter.
Ever since Amy had begun her magical education, when Matt was four, he had been excited about going himself. Even after he had been bitten by a werewolf, he thought he'd get to go. His parents had never said otherwise. Until they received a letter telling them Matt couldn't attend, that is.
The Eckertons had not lived in England their whole lives. Up until three years ago, they had lived in Australia. Amy had attended the Australian School of Sorcery until she was fourteen. That was when their parents had asked the headmaster if Matt would be able to attend. He said he could not.
Everything got worse from there. Someone who held a grudge against Matt's dad at the Ministry announced to the entire country that Matt was a werewolf (something they had successfully hidden for over two years) and then his dad lost his job because of it. He had been the Head of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. After that, the man who had announced Matt's lycanthropy became the head and passed legislation restricting the rights of werewolves.
Matt's parents sent letters to numerous other schools asking if he could attend. Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in Scotland said yes. Matt's dad found a job at the British Ministry, in Werewolf Support Services, and they moved. Life had been better since then. Amy had a hard time adjusting, but eventually began to enjoy Hogwarts.
Due to all of this, Matt knew he would get a letter from Hogwarts this summer. He had been waiting for it for weeks since he had no idea when it would arrive, but had momentarily forgotten about it that day. Despite knowing it was going to come, there was something very exciting about it actually arriving.
Matt slowly peeled back the seal and opened the envelop. He pulled the letter out and carefully unfolded it.
"Merlin, you're slow with that!" Amy exclaimed, "I think I nearly ripped my letter from Australia when I got it."
"That's why I opened mine slowly," Matt smirked. He looked at the letter and read it aloud. There was a post script at the end, one that Matt knew the rest of his fellow students would not have received.
P.S. Please have your parents contact
us so we can set up a time for you to
come to the school so we can discuss
the precautions we have set up for
Matt folded the letter and then looked up at Amy. He still couldn't believe that it was finally his turn to go to Hogwarts. He had been secretly jealous of Amy for years. Every time she got to go shopping for supplies and then speed away on the Hogwarts Express, he watched with envious eyes.
"It'll be both of us going this year," Amy grinned.
Matt nodded. "I just hope I'm in Gryffindor."
"You will be," Amy assured him, "Siblings usually get sorted into the same house. Victoire's sister and brother are in Gryffindor like she is. All their cousins are there, too."
"I got my supply list, too," Matt said as he pulled out another piece of parchment, "You get yours?" Amy was entering her seventh and final year at Hogwarts.
"Yup," Amy nodded, "We can go to Diagon Alley once you're recovered from tonight."
"Yeah," Matt said, wishing he didn't have to wait, "Says I can't get a bring a broom, though."
"Like Mum would let you bring one anyway," Amy laughed, "Speaking of Mum, she'll probably be back anytime. We should go back inside."
"You won't tell her I was out here, will you?" Matt asked as he stuffed his letter back in the envelop.
"Nah," Amy grinned, "Since when have I been one to do what Mum says anyway?"
Matt stood up and felt dizzy as soon as he did so. He stumbled and Amy grabbed his arm. She let him lean on her as they walked slowly back to the house. The thing Matt hated even more than the actual transformation into the wolf was how sick he felt the days leading up to it. It was like getting the flu once a month.
To Matt's relief, his mother was not back from Diagon Alley when they got back to the house. Amy helped him to the couch and he laid down on it.
"I am going to miss so many classes during the full moons," Matt groaned.
"Yeah, you probably will," Amy agreed, "But the teachers are nice so you'll be able to catch up. Well, most of them are nice. Washburn's a nasty piece of work, but the rest are nice. And it's not necessarily a bad thing to miss History of Magic. There's usually about a quarter of the people in my class using Puking Pastilles or Nosebleed Nougats before that class. You'll have a built in excuse once a month. All the rest of the kids in your class will be jealous."
"I doubt that," Matt said darkly. Ever since he had first seen the sweets in a Skiving Snackbox, he was bewildered that people would actually eat sweets that would make you ill. He just couldn't wrap his mind around actually wanting to be ill, even to miss a boring class. He'd rather sit through the class.
"Just keep an open mind," Amy shrugged, "There have been quite a few times where I would rather be in the Hospital Wing than in class."
Matt groaned and closed his eyes. He wished he could go all seven years at Hogwarts without ever setting foot in the Hospital Wing, but that wasn't going to happen.
"Amy, could you get me some of that headache potion?" he asked.
"When did you last have it?" Amy asked.
"When I woke up this morning."
"Sure," Amy replied and got up.
Matt heard the door open a moment later and his mum walked in, her arms laden with grocery bags.
"Amy!" she shouted, "Can you come help me with these bags?"
"Hang on!" Amy shouted from the kitchen.
The bags dropped to the floor with a thump and Matt heard footsteps coming closer. He felt his mother kiss his forehead and ruffle his blonde hair.
"How are you?" she asked softly.
"Tired and I've got a headache," Matt mumbled.
"I'll get you some headache potion."
"Amy's already getting it," Matt replied.
His mum kissed his forehead once more and sat down next to him on the couch. "Amy, could you bring the fever reducer, too?"
Matt squeezed his eyes shut tighter. No wonder he felt awful; he had a fever. Now he was sort of glad he came inside when he did.
"I got my Hogwarts letter, Mum," he whispered.
"That's wonderful, honey," she replied, "We'll go shopping in a few days."
"Here's the potions," Amy said.
Matt cracked open his eyes and took one of the goblets Amy was holding. He drank it quickly and then grabbed the other one. He swallowed that one as fast as he could as well and gagged at the disgusting taste.
"Can I get an owl?" he yawned.
"Of course, honey," his mum said as she rubbed his back, "Just go to sleep now. We'll talk more about it tomorrow."
Matt nodded and closed his eyes. He fell asleep quickly, feeling the happiest he had ever been the day of a full moon.
"Matt," someone whispered as they shook him.
Matt opened his eyes and saw his dad bent down in front of the couch. "Hey, Dad."
"I just heard you got your Hogwarts letter," his dad smiled, "Congratulations."
"Thanks," Matt whispered.
"Well, I'll let you get some more sleep. There's still an hour or so until you have to go downstairs," his dad said as he gave him a hug.
Matt watched his dad walk into the kitchen and closed his eyes once more. He drifted off to sleep again, trying not to think about what would happen in an hour.
After what seemed like only a few minutes later, Matt woke up in a cold sweat with an awful headache that no potion could ever help with. He sat up and looked out the window. It was dark, but he didn't need to see the sky to know that the moon would rise soon.
"Mum!" his voice cracked. He swallowed hard. The pain always started before the transformation did. It was awful. He always tried not to cry, but it never worked. He squeezed his eyes shut and tried to keep the tears from leaking out.
He heard three sets of footsteps run into the room and felt his mother's arms wrap around him. He leaned into her and rested his head on her shoulder.
"It's time," his dad said quietly.
Matt shakily stood up and his parents helped him stumble towards the basement door. He could hear Amy's footsteps behind them. Nobody said a word as they walked down the stairs and towards his transformation room.
Matt sat down on the padded floor as soon as he got into the room. His head was spinning and he didn't think he'd be able to stand up much longer anyway. His parents and Amy each gave him a hug and then left the room. They didn't say anything, but there was nothing to say. He'd done this so many times there wasn't really any point in his parents saying anything. He knew they'd be there in the morning.
The door locked as his parents and Amy left, and Matt let out a loud sigh as he sat down. This was it. Another full moon. There was nothing he could do now but wait.
For years, he fought the change. He'd clench his hands and jaw and try to prevent the transformation, even though he knew it wouldn't work. The only time he hadn't fought it was the first one, where he had no idea what was going to happen. For the second one, he knew what was going to happen. He was only six, but he understood and he fought it with every part of his being. Now, five and a half years later, with five and a half years of proof that it wouldn't work, he still fought it.
Matt didn't have to wait long for the transformation to begin. His headache became unbearable and he felt his stomach lurch. He learned early on to not try and eat anything beforehand, because it always came back up during the first part of the transformation.
He curled up into a ball and let out a soft moan. He could feel his heart beating a mile a minute. His breathing was short and labored. It felt like he couldn't breathe. He always tried not to scream, but that never worked either. He felt his bones breaking and elongating and hair sprouting everywhere.
He let out a loud scream and clenched his eyes as pain coerced through his body. No amount of previous full moons would ever prepare him for the painful transformation. Nothing helped with it either. His parents had given him so many different potions, but nothing decreased the pain.
His mind was always the last thing to go. Matt hated that. He wished his mind would go first. Then he wouldn't have to remember the actual transformation. He always wished he'd pass out before the transformation began, but that never happened.
Matt took a few more ragged breaths and cried out in pain. He sat up and looked at his hands, which were quickly turning into paws of the wolf. He felt dizzy. The world was spinning around him and it felt like fog was clouding his mind. He let out one more scream and the world disappeared.
The wolf slowly stood up and took in his surroundings. It was dark and there was a faint smell of blood and humans lingering in the air. He was also trapped, again. The wolf was always trapped. He began to pace around the room and look for an escape route. It wasn't there. There was never an escape route.
The wolf stood up on his hind legs and pointed his snout towards the ceiling. He let out a long howl and then glared at the opposite wall. He got back down on all fours and charged at it, slamming his head into the abnormally soft wall. He stepped back and repeated the process again and again.
He was alone. Alone and trapped. Every single full moon, the wolf was alone and stuck in the small padded room. He wanted to get out. He wanted to get out and find the people he could faintly smell beyond the walls.
However, there was no way out. No matter how many times the wolf rammed his head into the wall, he could not break it. Eventually, he sat down in the middle of the room and howled once more. He then proceeded to bite at his own body to relieve the urge to attack something.
Matt cracked his eyes open and tried to lift his head. A stabbing pain fled through his head and he dropped it back down onto the padded floor. He closed his eyes and tried to concentrate on breathing. Each short, labored breath hurt. He couldn't even figure out which parts of his body hurt the worse. Everything hurt. From the top of his head to his toes.
"Mum?" he said hoarsely. His voice was little more than a whisper. He knew there was no way his mother could hear him, but he called her name anyway.
The door clicked a short while later, but for Matt it felt like an eternity. Whoever came in the room made no sound as they walked across the mattress covered floor. They put a cloak over him and then picked him up. A wave of dizziness come over him as he was lifted up.
"It's ok, I've got you," his dad whispered.
Matt was hardly aware of being carried up to his room and he passed out on the way.
The next thing he knew, he was laying in his soft bed with layers of blankets on top of him. He could feel the warm sun shining through the window. He opened his eyes slowly and blinked as they adjusted to the brightness.
His body still ached despite the potions he knew his parents had given him. His head was throbbing dully as well. Worse yet, he was exhausted. He knew he had already slept for hours, but it felt like he hadn't slept in days.
Who was he kidding? How was he going to go to Hogwarts? How would he manage full moons when he was by himself? He couldn't even get up when he transformed back the next morning. His parents always had to carry him back to his room.
His parents. Matt felt a jolt in his stomach as he realized that they wouldn't be there every full moon when he was in school. They had been there for every full moon he had ever endured. They took care of him the day of and the days following. They got him his potions and healed all his injuries.
He hated to admit it, but he was scared about doing it by himself. He knew he shouldn't be; he was eleven years old for Merlin's sake. Eleven-year-olds should not be afraid of going to school and being away from their parents.
It was a practical issue, he assured himself. That was all. He couldn't physically deal with full moons by himself. That was why he was worried about going to school. It wasn't like he couldn't deal with being away from home.
Then there was the issue of his classmates. What if they found out? It wasn't like he could sneak away for the full moon and be back in his dormitory the next morning before his roommates woke up. He'd be in the Hospital Wing for at least two days. He doubted he'd be able to go to classes the day of the full moon and he usually needed two days to recover. That was three days of missed classes, but more importantly, it was three days of disappearances to explain. What was he going to say? People didn't normally get sick that much.
It was a stupid idea, he thought, going to school. He bit his lip and tried to stop the tears from welling in his eyes. Why didn't his parents just home school him? It would be easier. They were both knowledgeable in most aspects of magic. If his parents had just decided to home school him, they could have stayed in Australia. Then Amy would have been happier.
No, they couldn't have stayed. He sighed. Not after his dad lost his job and all the laws restricting the rights of werewolves had been passed. They were originally going to move so he could go to school. But then his dad lost his job. It wasn't entirely Matt's fault that they moved, was it? Not if his dad needed another job....
It was his fault his dad lost his job, though. If he hadn't gotten bitten, his dad wouldn't have lost his job. So, for all intents and purposes, his family had moved because of him. He couldn't not go to school after all they'd done for him. He'd just have to suck it up and deal with it, no matter how terrifying the prospect was.
"Matt, are you awake?" Amy peeked her head into his room.
Matt quickly rubbed his eyes and turned to look at her. "Yeah."
Amy gave a small smile and walked into the room. She set a goblet down on the bedside table and then sat on the foot of the bed.
"How are you?" she asked quietly.
"All-" he cut himself off and looked at Amy's concerned expression. Ever since she had first seen him after a transformation, she had this uncanny way of knowing when something was bothering him. He wasn't sure how she did it, but somehow she managed to get him to tell her what was wrong.
It was kind of strange since Amy normally had quite the temper and was very impatient. Their mum had once told Matt that she took after his grandmother, but Amy would never admit to it. The two of them did what they wanted and often disregarded other people's emotions.
Amy used to be a lot like that with Matt, too. When they were younger, their parents insisted on keeping Amy away from the house during full moons. She hated it and resented their parents for keeping her out of the loop. She really had no idea what went on during full moons.
Then life as they knew it fell apart in Australia and Amy began to realize what went on. She did resent Matt for months about having to move, but eventually got used to Hogwarts. Then, the first full moon after her fourth year, she stayed at home during the full moon and saw Matt afterwards.
Amy never told Matt what she had thought of seeing him after a transformation, but her actions spoke more than words would have. She stayed by his side after every full moon that summer. A few weeks after that first full moon of the summer, she announced that she was going to become a healer and hoped to discover a version of the Wolfsbane Potion that would work for Matt.
Matt had been a little shocked when he heard this, but not incredibly surprised. As far back as he could remember, Amy had enjoyed experimenting with potions. She was also an avid star gazer and loved Astronomy. If anyone could come up with a better version about that potion, it was Amy. She had the skills, interests, and motivation to do it.
"Actually," his voice caught in his throat, "I'm not that great."
Amy crawled up the bed and laid down next to him, her mouth turning down in a frown. She grabbed the potion off the table and handed it to him. "What hurts? You should take this potion, it'll help."
"It's not that," Matt swallowed the potion in one gulp, "I mean, my head hurts but no worse than usual. It's," he paused, "It's Hogwarts. I'm just not sure if I should go..." his voice trailed off.
Amy put her arm around Matt's shoulders and looked at him sadly. "Why not?"
"This," he muttered, "This probably sounds stupid, but I don't think I can do it without Mum and Dad."
"It's not stupid," Amy said quietly, "They've always been there for every full moon. But I think you're wrong. You can do it without them."
"How?" Matt's voice wavered, "I can't even get back up to my room without them? How in the name of Merlin will I get from that shack in Hogsmeade back to the castle?"
"The nurse," Amy sighed, "You're forgetting about the nurse. Madam Pomfrey. You've met her, haven't you?"
"I think so," Matt nodded, "But I hardly know her."
"Well, I do," Amy said, "And she's one of the nicest adults at Hogwarts. She'll help. And I'll be there too. I'll be there for your entire first year."
"And you'll be there? Can you go to the shack with Madam Pomfrey?"
"Of course," Amy nodded, "And I'll stay at the Hospital Wing with you except when I'm in class."
Matt nodded. He felt a little better knowing that Amy would be there with him. She could practically do everything in order to heal his injuries after the full moon. Their parents had been teaching her ever since she was fifteen and she had actually been performing them ever since she turned seventeen. But he still felt uneasy about the whole thing.
"I know you'll still miss them," Amy said quietly, "And there's nothing wrong with that. I was so homesick during first year and I didn't have to deal with turning into a wolf once a month. I imagine that'll make it even worse."
Matt turned to his sister and laughed. He sort of liked how she just stated what was true and never tried to soften it.
"Yeah, probably," he replied.
"But you'll get used to it," Amy assured him, "Soon you'll make friends and get into mischief like half of Victoire's cousins do."
Matt shrugged. Making friends was another thing he was worried about. He didn't really have many friends. He occasionally spent time with some of his dad's coworkers' kids, but didn't know them very well.
"If I make any friends," he said.
"You will," Amy said.
"But they won't like me if they find out who I am," Matt replied.
"They won't find out," Amy said adamantly, "You'll make plenty of friends. Victoire said a few of her cousins are starting this year and they're certainly to be in Gryffindor like you will be."
Matt had only met Victoire a few times, but from what he could tell, she was really nice. Matt only hoped her cousins were as well.
"I guess that would be good," he yawned, "What time is it?"
Amy glanced at her watch. "Just after one. I should let you sleep."
Matt nodded. "Ok. Thanks." He was pretty tired. He didn't normally have such long discussions with Amy so soon after the full moon. He usually slept until dinner time.
"I'll be back later," Amy gave him a gentle hug, grabbed the empty potion bottle, and quietly left the room.
Matt rolled over in bed and huddled under the many blankets. He closed his eyes feeling a bit better about going to Hogwarts, but still worried.
A/N: Thanks to Luke, Moonylupin, and XDNLxtlz99 for the reviews!
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