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Chapter 27 : Fish and Chips
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Dad returned a short while later and told Matt and I to come back to to the room. I stood up and rubbed my eyes, trying to wipe away any evidence that I had been crying. Dad shut the door after we got into the room and motioned for us to sit down on the bed. I tried to feign ignorance, since Dad had no idea Matt and I had listened in on his conversation with Mum.
"Matt," Dad began, "Remember yesterday when we went to the hospital and got some more information about that study?"
Matt nodded, "Yeah."
"Well, your mother and I have decided to enroll you in it. So I'd like to tell you both about what's going to happen," Dad said.
We were going to move to England. That's what was going to happen, I thought.
"So, the general point of this study is to find out why the Wolfsbane potion doesn't work for all werewolves," Dad explained, "But it's also going to be used to test variations of the Wolfsbane as they come available. Hopefully, one of these will work, but there's no guarantee.
"The study will last at least four years. For the first two years, you're not given any potion. The next two years you're given regular Wolfsbane. Then, hopefully, there will be a new variety of it and you'll try that for two years. It will keep going as long as there are new varieties of the potion, or until one is found that will work. Does that sound all right?"
"I guess," Matt shrugged, "But what if one of them makes it worse?"
Dad sighed, "There is a possibility of that, but if that happens, you won't take that particular potion again."
"When does this study begin?" I asked. I wanted to know how much longer I had in Australia. If this study started next month, I had no doubt we would move next week.
"Not until January," Dad told me. "But we'll be moving here in time for you to start school in September."
"So it's official?" I asked, "We're moving here, to England?"
"Yes," Dad confirmed.
"But I don't want to move here," I groaned, "Why can't we just move to New York? At least Uncle Jack is there. Plus, their school has such a good Astronomy department."
"Amy, we want your brother in this study," Mum said, "Therefore, we're moving here. I'm sorry you're not happy, but there's nothing you can do to change it."
"Why can't we move to New York and have him be in the study?"
"It would be too difficult," Dad replied, "Seeing as how we're looking for some place to move to anyway, we might as well move to the country that the study is taking place in."
"It's still not fair," I turned away from them, "When are we going back home? I need to send an owl to Olivia."
"Not for another couple days," Dad said, "We're most likely going back to St. Mungo's tomorrow so Healer Sterling can perform the necessary tests for Matt to be in the study. And so your mother and I can sign the paperwork. Then the next day we'll have to start looking at houses."
Houses, wonderful. Probably another aspect of this move my parents wouldn't consider my opinion on. I only hoped that we'd have better luck looking at houses in England than in New York.
I didn't sleep much that night. I tossed and turned thinking about the fact that within a few months, I'd be living in England. It was so final now, so official. My parents had decided where we were moving. Things had been so up in the air for the past few months, but now my parents had decided everything. The only thing left to do was find a house.
Healer Sterling had sent an owl late the previous night telling my dad to bring Matt in at nine o'clock the next morning. Both Mum and Dad wanted to go and they refused to let me stay at the Three Broomsticks by myself. At least this time I thought to bring a book.
The waiting room was much emptier than it had been the day before. There were a few witches and wizards lazily flipping through the magazines and an old wizard who was sleeping. A smiling nurse woke him up a minute after we walked in the door and informed him that he had a granddaughter. He immediately got up and followed the nurse to the lifts.
Dad didn't bother to talk to the witch behind the desk this time. Instead he led us directly to the lifts. We followed the old wizard and the nurse into one of them.
"I've got a granddaughter!" the wizard announced as the doors shut.
"Congratulations," Mum smiled at him, "Do you know her name yet?"
"No idea," the wizard laughed, "Last I knew, my son and his wife still hadn't decided on names."
Mum and Dad nodded to the wizard as we got off on the first floor. The place was even more deserted than the waiting room had been. The only person wandering around was a nurse who headed into one of the rooms a few seconds after we got off the lift.
We walked down the corridor and found Healer Sterling's study. Natalie, the secretary, wasn't there when we walked in. The door leading to the healer's study was open and Dad stuck his head in.
"Healer Sterling?" Dad asked, "You told us to come at nine? Your secretary's not here, so I just thought I'd tell you we were here."
"Oh, yes!" I heard the healer respond, "Natalie doesn't come in until ten. Just come on in.
"Thanks," Dad said.
I followed my parents and Matt into the healer's office. It hadn't changed in appearance since the day before. I settled myself into the same chair and cracked open my book. Previous experience with Matt's healer appointments had taught me to always bring a book. They were always incredibly long. Although we usually had to wait a long time before he actually got seen by the healer.
"First, I'll have you sign the necessary paperwork," Healer Sterling said as he handed Dad a clipboard, "It basically states that you give permission for your son to be in the study and that you won't sue us if anything goes wrong."
Dad nodded and he and Mum read over the packet of parchment. After a few minutes, I heard the sound of a quill scratching and I glanced up to see Dad signing in various places.
"All set," Dad said and handed back the clipboard.
"Excellent," Sterling leafed through the packet and then set it down on his desk. "Now we'll go to one of the exam rooms and get started. Follow me."
Sterling stood up and grabbed another clipboard off his desk. One thing I've noticed about healers is that they always have at least one clipboard with them. For all the healers I've seen in my life, I don't think I've ever seen one without a clipboard.
I closed my book and got up out of my chair to follow everyone out of the room. I wish we could've just stayed in one place so I could get absorbed into my book properly.
Sterling led us down the corridor a little ways, past a nurse's station and the main Dai Lewellyn Ward. We stopped in front of a door that was right next to the ward. A sign adorned to it stated that it was 'Dai Lewellyn Ward: Exam Room 1'. Sterling waved his wand and the word 'Vacant' appeared in bright green letters on the door. With another wave, the word changed to 'Occupied' and Sterling opened the door.
The room was tiny, just like every other exam room I've been in, and did not have enough chairs for everyone. There was a bed, a swivel chair, and a plastic chair. I always envied the fact that the healers got to sit on the swivel chairs. Those things were so much fun. Mum used to yell at me when I was little and spin on them.
We squeezed into the minuscule room and I got pushed up against one of the walls. Dad lifted Matt onto the table and then stood next to me. Mum took the plastic chair while Sterling sat down on the swivel chair. He looked up at Dad and I and then conjured two more plastic chairs.
"Thanks," Dad said as he sat down on one of them.
I took the other one and opened my book as soon as I sat down. I started reading about cauldron thickness and its affects on various potions, but half-listened to what was going on in the room as well.
"I'm going to have to start with the family and personal history first," Sterling began, "Because he's not currently one of my patients."
"That's fine," Dad said. He was probably used to this, I thought, since every healer we'd been to began the examinations like this.
"All right," Sterling continued, "Paternal grandparents?"
"Conan and Nancy Eckerton," Dad replied, "Both deceased, died in a car accident years ago. No chronic illnesses for either of them."
Sterling nodded and scratched the information down on his clipboard. "Maternal grandparents?"
"Richard and Lacinda Bailey," Dad said, "Both living. Richard has high blood pressure. No other chronic issues for either of them."
Sterling gave a small shake of his head and smiled a little. "You've got this down, haven't you? I've hardly had to ask you anything."
"We've done this dozens of times, unfortunately," Dad sighed.
"I'm hoping that this will be the last," Sterling replied, "I'll venture a guess and say that you know the next question?"
Dad nodded, "Parents, right?"
"Walter and Julietta Eckerton," Dad answered, "No chronic illnesses for either of us."
"Amy Eckerton," Dad said, "No chronic illnesses."
"That's it for family history," Sterling said, "Now onto personal. Full name and birthday first."
"Matthew Conan Eckerton. February 6, 2005."
"Any birth complications?"
"He was two months premature."
"Interesting," Sterling said as he wrote on the clipboard.
"Do you think that's relevant?" Mum asked.
"Anything's relevant at this point. Can you go into more detail about the birth and first few weeks?"
"He was in an incubator for a month, breathing support for a month and a half. Then he got to come home. He was fine after that, although he's always been prone to getting sick and small for his age, even before he was bitten," Mum explained.
Sterling nodded and continued writing. "Any chronic illnesses? Besides the obvious, I mean."
"No," Dad said.
"All right," Sterling replied and put his quill down, "That's it for history. I do have a questionnaire for you to fill about that asks about his lycanthropy any other remedies you've tried for it, but it's quite lengthy so I'll ask that you fill it out another time and owl it to me."
"Sure," Mum said.
"Excellent," Sterling handed Mum a stack of parchment. He picked up his wand and turned to Matt, "All right. I'm going to have to do a few tests now, but hopefully they're going to eventually make the full moons better. Can I first have you hop on that scale over there?"
Matt nodded and climbed down from the table. Sterling weighed him and measured his height, which he then recorded on the clipboard. Dad lifted Matt back up onto the examination table and Sterling turned back to him.
"Now time for the tests," Sterling said, "I'm going to listen to your heart first."
Sterling reached around to place his hand on Matt's back, but he squirmed away and looked at Mum. He looked kind of scared.
"Honey, you've got to let him do this," Mum whispered and gave him a gentle squeeze. "This might help make the full moons better."
"He's kind of shy around strangers," Dad said to Sterling, "Especially lately, in light of recent events."
"Understandable," Sterling replied and then turned back to Matt, "I promise this one isn't going to hurt a bit."
This time, Matt didn't shy away from Sterling and he was able to listen to his heart. I didn't pay much attention to the next few tests, but Matt seemed to cooperate for them as well.
"Almost done," Sterling said as he placed his wand on the counter and wrote something else on the chart, "I'm just going to have to take a blood sample."
Matt shook his head furiously. I couldn't blame him. It hurt to have blood taken. I'd only had it done once and I never wanted to go through it again. Matt had had it done a lot, but that didn't make him like it any more.
"I know it hurts," Mum got up from her chair and gave Matt a hug, "But you've got to let him do it."
"I don't want to," Matt whispered.
"It'll be over in a few seconds," Mum said as she lifted Matt up and sat down on the table. She set him down in her lap and wrapped her arms around him.
Matt nodded. "Ok."
"It'll be over before you know it," Sterling said as he lifted up Matt's sleeve and wiped an alcohol swab over one of his veins. He took his wand and pressed it to the vein.
"Ow!" Matt shrieked and started crying, "Stop!"
"All done," Sterling said and lifted his wand away. He grabbed a vial from the counter and pointed his wand at it. Blood appeared in the vial and Sterling stoppered it with a cork.
Sterling pointed his wand at Matt's arm and the cut magically healed. "Do you want a Chocolate Frog?" Sterling asked.
Matt sniffled and nodded. Sterling reached into his robes and pulled one out, handing it to Matt.
"One more thing," Sterling turned to my parents, "I am going to have to observe him right before and right after a full moon before the study actually begins. I understand that it would be difficult to do that before you move. Could you owl me after you're all settled and we'll figure out which month will work?"
"That sounds great," Dad said.
"Excellent," Sterling smiled and stood up, "Good luck with the job and house hunting. As I said yesterday, just pop into the Ministry and I'm sure you'll find something. I'll owl you if anything comes up with the study. Keep in touch."
"Thanks. We will," Dad got up and shook the healer's hand. "Bye."
"Bye," Sterling smiled.
"Thanks for everything," Mum said.
I got up and followed my parents out of the room. Dad was carrying Matt and he was opening his Chocolate Frog, looking much happier than he had two minutes ago.
"I got Dumbledore!" he broke out into a huge grin.
"Awesome," I smiled, remembering back to the days when a simple Chocolate Frog would momentarily make all your problems go away.
Dad decided to go to the British Ministry once we'd all returned to the Three Broomsticks. He had no idea what time he'd return, so Mum said we should wait to look for houses until the following day. Dad figured he could ask at the Ministry about a good real estate place as well.
"Mum, can we go do something?" I asked after staring at the ceiling above my bed for twenty minutes.
"Not now," Mum replied without looking up from the table, "I'd like to get this questionnaire done."
I sighed loudly. How long could that thing take? She had been working on it ever since we got back.
"Then could I go do something?"
"No," Mum said shortly, "I don't want you wandering the village by yourself."
Too late for that, I thought. It's a good thing she or Dad didn't catch us when we went to the joke shop. What I wanted to do was go to the joke shop again. That place was awesome and I hardly got to look at any of the stuff in it.
"I'm bored," I said. "Why can't you finish that later?"
"Because I want to get it back to Healer Sterling as soon as possible," Mum snapped, "Now go find something to do."
"There's nothing to do," I replied.
"Read. Do your homework," Mum said.
The last thing I wanted to do was homework. Mum had given me some 'homework' shortly before we left, but I hadn't started it. I turned my head and watched Matt play his DS on the other side of the bed. I almost wished I had one.
Eventually, I got so bored that I decided to do just the potions and astronomy stuff Mum had assigned me. The potions part was a joke, since it was all stuff I'd learned in first year. Astronomy wasn't bad, but it was mostly busy work as well.
I was about to take a peek at the Transfiguration work when I heard the door open. Dad walked inside looking happier than I'd seen him in weeks.
Mum looked up from the packet of parchment when she noticed him. "How did it go?"
"Wonderful," Dad grinned and sat down on the end of my bed.
"Well, tell me all about it!" Mum smiled.
"I spoke with their Head of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. I've spoken with him before and he shares most of my opinions. We talked about what it's like here, regulation-wise. He explained that although it's better than Australia, most of the average witches and wizards are wary of werewolves. So, we'll be keeping it a secret again."
"That's what we expected," Mum commented.
"I know. So that's not bad. They don't have any laws up here like the ones that are currently being passed in Australia, which is good. I think it will be much easier up here."
"That's a relief," Mum said, "What about your job?"
"That's the best part," Dad smiled, "I've got an interview on Monday."
Mum grinned, "What position? Something in the Werewolf Control Unit?"
"No," Dad said, "Something a bit different. There's an opening in Werewolf Support Services."
"That's great!" Mum exclaimed.
"Yes, I think it'll be a good change. I won't be dealing with passing legislation anymore. I'll just be working to make life better for people with lycanthropy."
"Honestly, I've always thought you'd be good in a position like that," Mum commented.
"I've thought that, too," Dad mused, "But in Australia, I was the only one keeping all the awful legislation from passing. I couldn't quit."
"Of course not," Mum agreed, "But now you've got the opportunity to do what you really want."
"Exactly," Dad smiled, "I think this is going to be good for all of us."
"I completely agree," Mum got up and sat down next to Dad. Dad put his arm around Mum and she leaned her head on his shoulder.
Except me, I thought. I really didn't see how I would benefit from moving to England.
"If they hire you, when would you start?" Mum asked after a few moments.
"They're going to be flexible. They said I could start whenever it's convenient."
"Let's move soon," Mum said.
"We've got to find a house first," Dad pointed out, "And sell ours. Once we get back, I'm going to owl around to find someone to run an estate sale. We'll put the house on the market once we get back. I'll owl the real estate agency."
"Sounds good to me."
"I'll owl Jack and see if he can fly down when we do the sale," Dad said.
"Uncle Jack's going to visit us?" Matt tossed his DS onto the bed and crawled over to my parents.
"Yes," Mum smiled and ruffled his hair, "Sometime after we get back."
"Yay!" Matt shouted.
"Julie," Dad said quietly.
"What is it?"
"There is one thing about this job that I've got to tell you," Dad began, "I'll be making much less money."
Mum turned and looked at him. "We'll be fine. You inherited so much from your parents. I don't think we've got to worry about money."
"You know we've spent most of that," Dad said quietly.
I've always wondered how much money my parents actually have. I know Dad inherited a lot, but for the year after Matt got bitten, he and Mum spent a lot trying to find cures. I had no idea how much they actually spent. I guess it must have been a lot.
"Yes, but after we sell the house, we'll have more," Mum pointed out. "We're buying a much smaller house. Don't worry about the money. Your happiness is what matters."
"I know," Dad sighed, "I just worry, you know, if we ever have to pay for anymore long hospital stays. You know it's possible."
"I know," Mum said, "I don't like to think about that possibility, but I know it's there. I still think you should just do what makes you happy. Matt will be going to school in three years. I can get a job once he's there."
"All right," Dad replied, "I'll try not to worry about it."
"Good," Mum smiled, "Now let's go do something fun. Amy's been complaining the whole time you were gone."
My parents decided to take us on a Muggle tour of England. It was really fun. For a few hours, I nearly forgot about moving and pretended we were just on holiday. I noticed that my parents were much happier than they had been in weeks. They laughed and smiled and even joked around. Dad pushed Mum into a fountain and she actually laughed and pulled him in, too. All the Muggles were staring, but it was fun.
"How can they just stand still?" Matt asked as we were looking at Buckingham Palace, "What if they have to go to the bathroom or something?"
"They switch off every so often," Dad told him.
"But still, it'd be hard not to move."
"It's their job," I said, "If they can't stand still, they find a new job."
"Sounds like an awfully boring job."
"But an important one," Dad said.
We stood in front of Buckingham Palace and watched as they changed guards. It was interesting, but I don't think I'd want to watch it again. Once was enough. It wasn't particularly exciting.
After they'd finished changing the guards, we walked for a few more blocks until we reached a pub. Dad decided that we should eat there as long as we were there. He said everyone who visits England ought to visit a Muggle pub.
"I think we should all order fish and chips," Dad announced after we sat down.
"Sure," Mum agreed.
"Fish and chips?" I asked.
"Classic British Muggle food," Dad explained, "Fish and chips all wrapped in newspaper."
"Newspaper?" I said skeptically. Why would anyone wrap food in newspaper?
"They don't use real newspaper anymore. Turns out the ink was poisonous. But the stuff they use now is all non-toxic," Dad assured me.
"All right, I'll try it."
A little while later, we were all served fish and chips wrapped in fake newspaper. Mum and Dad each had some kind of frothy British beer, too. I started to peel the paper away from the food and stared at it.
Mum and Dad were already digging in. "It's good, Amy," Dad said.
I shrugged and tried a very tiny piece. It wasn't bad. Certainly not the best food in the world, but better than the sushi I had with Cinda.
"Not bad," I said.
"I think it's awesome!" Matt grinned.
"Well, you eat airplane food, so...."
"It's good," Matt said.
I was hungry, so I did eat all of my fish and chips. It seemed to taste better as I ate it, so by the time I finished, I thought it was pretty good. Once we were all done eating, we went back out into London and walked around for a while before Apparating back to the Three Broomsticks.
A/N: Thanks to my betas, Dancer_of_Starlight and Joanne K! Thanks as well to Moonylupin for the reviews!
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