Chapter 29 : Confrontations
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Olivia and I sent each other more letters than usual over the next few weeks, but it was strange knowing that we probably wouldn't see each other anymore. She tried to talk her parents into letting her come to my house, but they wouldn't change their minds. I had no luck with my parents either. The two of them were very short with me and flat our refused to discuss the topic. I tried to avoid them as much as possible anyway, since I got the impression that they were still mad about me flipping out on Matt.
I hadn't really apologized to him yet. Mainly because I didn't want to. I did feel bad about scaring him and being so physical, but I wasn't sorry about what I said. It was the truth. The fact remained that if he wasn't a werewolf, we wouldn't move. It wouldn't matter what the headmaster thought if Matt wasn't a werewolf. Dad probably wouldn't have lost his job either.
The British Ministry had contacted Dad a few days after we got back and told him that he had gotten the job. Both he and Mum were ecstatic about this and we had a celebratory dinner in the fancy dining room. Mum and Ellie cooked steak, which was delicious. My parents seemed to be in even higher spirits after that.
As the full moon drew closer, I began to wonder if I would have to go to Richard and Cinda's for it. Mum still hadn't talked to Cinda since the party and I didn't think she wanted to. At the same time, I doubted my parents would actually let me stay at home.
Uncle Jack had decided to fly to Australia a few days prior to the estate sale. He wanted to pick out the stuff he wanted to keep and help Dad with the sale. He wound up arriving in Australia the day before the full moon.
Dad went to the airport to meet him and the rest of us stayed at home. We waited in the living room for them. Neither Mum or Matt were really paying much attention to me, though. I was used to it by then and just kept my nose in my book.
I looked up when I heard the sound of someone flooing. Uncle Jack stepped out of the fireplace with a large suitcase.
"Wow," he grinned and looked around the room, "Been a long time since I've been here. Kind of hard to believe it's being sold."
"Yeah," Dad said after he stepped out behind Uncle Jack, "But life changes."
"It certainly does," Uncle Jack mused, "So, how is everyone?"
"Better than I've been in months," Mum smiled, "Now that we've got an official move date."
"Tired," Matt mumbled.
Uncle Jack sat down on the couch next to him and gave him a hug. "You'll feel better in a couple days."
"I'll feel worse tomorrow," Matt muttered.
"But it'll get better after that," Uncle Jack said and then turned to me, "How about you, Amy?"
"Life sucks," I said flatly.
"Why's that?" he asked, looking at me curiously.
"Olivia's not allowed to visit me anymore, since her parents don't want her around Matt," I explained, "And Mum and Dad won't let me visit her because her parents are prejudiced gits. So we're never going to get to see each other again."
Uncle Jack let out a low whistle. "Wow. That is tough."
"Yeah, but I can't do anything about it," I muttered.
"So, Jack," Dad changed the subject, "Do you want to get started going through things or sleep?"
"Might as well just get started," Uncle Jack stood up, "I've got to adjust to Australian time anyway."
"Sounds good. Everything's been priced out already, but just take what you want. I'll tell you if it's something we're taking or not."
The two of them turned to leave the room, but as they did so, the fireplace lit up and someone stepped out of it. I jumped and turned towards it. Ralph Lubar was standing in front of the fireplace, glaring around the room.
Both Dad and Uncle Jack turned around. Dad stepped forward with a grim look on his face and Uncle Jack followed him, looking bewildered. Mum put her arm around Matt in a protective manner. I got up from my seat and went to stand farther away from Lubar.
"Lubar," Dad growled.
"Eckerton," Lubar growled back.
"Who the hell are you?" Uncle Jack asked.
"This delightful wizard is the one who now has my job," Dad said without turning away from Lubar.
"Oh," Uncle Jack stepped forward and drew his wand, "You're the one making life difficult for my nephew."
Lubar drew his wand as well. "I'm only passing the laws everyone else wants passed."
"I don't care what you call it," Uncle Jack took another step forward. The tip of his wand was almost touching Lubar's chest, "Anyone who messes with my family is going to have to answer to me."
"Is that a threat?"
"You honestly need me to clear that up for you?" Uncle Jack asked.
"Who in the name of Merlin are you anyway?"
"So you're the one from New York, eh?" Lubar sneered, "Well, I don't know how they do things over there, but here, it's frowned upon to threaten Ministry employees."
"In New York, it's frowned upon to threaten kids," Uncle Jack growled, "So I suggest you quit making things difficult for my family."
"What are you doing here anyway, Lubar?" Dad interrupted, "And put your wands down, both of you."
Neither Uncle Jack or Lubar withdrew their wands, but Dad didn't say anything else about it.
"Another inspection, Eckerton. Have you acquired a shed for your son to transform in?"
"I have not," Dad answered, "Nor do I plan on it."
"Then you'll face the consequences," Lubar smirked.
"Another fine?" Dad raised his eyebrow, "Fine me as much as you want. I won't have him transform in a shed."
"Hmph," Lubar muttered, "I guess we need more legislation. I'll be back with your fine in a few days."
"Good," Dad said, "Now get out."
Lubar slowly put his wand back in his robes, turned around, and stepped into the floo. A few seconds later, he was gone.
"He's the bloke who took your place?" Uncle Jack asked, pocketing his wand.
"Sadly, yes," Dad ran a hand through his hair.
"Blimey, the Ministry is losing it."
"Sure is," Dad agreed. He turned to leave the room and Uncle Jack followed. I heard them whispering about Lubar as they left.
"Amy," Mum said once they left, "I'm taking you to Richard and Cinda's in an hour or so."
I groaned. There wasn't anything that would get me out of going there. Even when Mum wasn't on speaking terms with Cinda, I still had to go to their house.
"Fine," I muttered and left the room to pack my bag. I just didn't feel like arguing with her anymore.
Mum was waiting for me in the living room when I came back an hour later. She didn't say a word as she motioned for me to Apparate with her. We left the room with a crack and appeared in the bush near Richard and Cinda's house.
I wondered if Mum had told Richard and Cinda that I was coming over. Lately we had been Apparating directly into their house and I thought it was odd that Mum chose to take us to the bush instead.
We walked silently down the street and to Richard and Cinda's driveway. Mum paused for a moment and then pushed the intercom button. She leaned close to it and I couldn't hear what she was saying. A few seconds later, the gates opened and I followed Mum up the driveway.
Cinda was waiting for us in the doorway, her face completely unreadable. She said nothing and walked back into the house. Mum and I followed her into the kitchen.
"Julietta," Cinda said quietly.
"I don't want to hear it, Mother," Mum replied, holding up her hand, "I'm forever grateful that you're letting Amy stay here for the full moons, but I can't talk about it now. Not until you understand why we have to move and why you shouldn't have thrown us that party. You've been putting your reputation before your family my whole life and I just can't take it anymore."
"No," Mum shook her head, "I'm sick of it. I've explained numerous times and you just don't get it. Either Walter or I will be back Saturday morning to pick up Amy."
"I don't want us to be angry with each other when you move," Cinda said quickly.
Mum looked Cinda in the eye. "Then apologize, Mum, that's all you've got to do. Tell me you understand why we're doing this. Tell me you'll stop putting your reputation first."
Mum turned away and left the room without waiting for Cinda to answer. Cinda sank down onto one of the stools as soon as Mum disappeared from the room. I stood awkwardly in the doorway and stared at Cinda, unsure whether to say something or not.
"Cinda?" I asked tentatively, "Are you ok?"
"Don't worry about me, Amy," she replied, "I'll be fine once your mother stops fighting with me."
I didn't bother mentioning that all Mum wanted was an apology. Instead I nodded and left the room.
The next few days were some of the most boring ones I'd ever spent at Richard and Cinda's. Kenzie's family was on holiday, so I didn't get to see her at all. I did write her a letter and stick it in her mailbox, though. Cinda was very quiet the entire time, which was odd. I guessed it was due to the fact that Mum wasn't talking to her. Richard was his usual self, but it's not like he really did much fun stuff to begin with.
Half of me was happy when Saturday arrived and I finally got to go home. The other half was dreading it. The estate sale was that day and I was not entirely sure I wanted to be home for it. Mum and Dad had let me help choose what furniture we'd be saving, but it's not like they let me save it all. They let me keep everything in my bedroom, though. In fact, my entire bedroom was off limits to anyone attending the estate sale. Potential buyers of the house, on the other hand, were a different story. A real estate agent was going to be at the sale to give people tours of the house if they were interested in buying it. They would get to go in my room. Mum even made me clean it, along with my potions room, the day before I went to Richard and Cinda's.
Mum and Dad had told me that I would get to decorate my new bedroom entirely myself. Well, I would plan it and they would do the spells. But I got to choose everything. I was very excited about this because I would finally get to paint stars on my walls and ceiling. I was planning on painting the Southern hemisphere's night sky on the ceiling so it would almost feel like I was still in Australia. Dad said he could charm them to twinkle and disappear when the sun rose.
I got up early on Saturday and packed my stuff. I was eating a bowl of cereal when Dad announced he was at the gate on the intercom. I buzzed him in and a few minutes later he was at the door.
"Can you please tell Julietta to call me, Walter?" Cinda hurried down the stairs clad in a dressing gown as Dad and I were about to leave the house.
Dad turned around and sighed. "Cinda. I agree with Julie. I'm not getting in the middle of this. But I will tell her that you want her to call you. I highly doubt she will, though. Just apologize, Cinda."
Cinda said nothing as we left and Dad shut the door after us. Dad was very quiet as we walked down the driveway, so I decided not to speak either. I was curious about the fine Lubar had said he would give him, though. Was it a bigger fine than before?
My house already seemed busier than usual when we Apparated into the kitchen. I noticed a few people from the estate sale office milling about as well as the real estate agent. I immediately went up to my room and stowed my overnight bag in my closet. I noticed that everything in the house had been polished and cleaned. The old portraits were sparkling and their occupants were whispering to each other, obviously wondering what was going on. As far as I knew, Dad was selling most of the pictures and portraits that adorned the walls. There were a select few that we would be taking with us and another couple that Uncle Jack wanted. But most would be sold.
A few hours later, people started to arrive. They gathered in bunches on the front lawn and were greeted by the salesmen. I suspected the majority of them just wanted to see the inside of the house and gossip about it. There had been a very long article in the paper the previous week detailing the estate sale as well as the sale of the house.
I had no idea what to do with myself during the sale. I spent a half hour in the living room, but felt awkward when a salesman led a group of gawking witches in, explaining about every object that was up for sale. I went up to my room after that, but left after the real estate agent brought in a couple interested in purchasing the house.
Dad and Uncle Jack seemed to spend their time answering questions people had about various objects. I still hadn't even seen Mum or Matt since I returned home and suspected they were in Matt's room. My brother probably hadn't fully recovered from the full moon and Mum surely wanted to keep him away from all the curious people.
Eventually I decided to tag along on one of the tours. I was kind of curious as to what the real estate agent was telling everyone about it. Real estate agents always made houses sound better than they really were. I wondered what this one would say about our house.
The tour group I followed consisted of a middle-aged couple, two old witches, and a young wizard. The real estate agent first led them into the kitchen, where Ellie had set out a plate of fresh cookies to make it smell nice. (It makes the house feel more inviting, the real estate agent had told us earlier.)
"We'll start with the kitchen," the real estate agent said, "As you can see, it is state of the art, but still reminiscent of the age it was built in."
"When was it built?" the middle-aged man asked.
"1859," she replied, "The kitchen is also equipped with a few Muggle appliances, which were put in when Walter and Julietta moved in. A few electrical sockets were installed as well."
I stood in the doorway as everyone inspected the kitchen. It was kind of strange, knowing that possibly one of these people would soon own my house. A few minutes later, they finished with the kitchen and moved on to the living room. Next was Dad's study, then the formal dining and living rooms, and eventually, we had made our way around the entire first floor.
The real estate agent then led us up to the second floor. She pointed out various aspects of the architecture that even I hadn't really known. Everyone in the tour seemed interested, especially the middle-aged couple.
"There are ten bedrooms," the real estate agent announced, "Not all of them are on this floor, though."
I noticed that the two old ladies were hanging back and whispering together. One of them then pushed the other to the front of the group and she looked nervously at the real estate agent.
"So," the old lady began, "We were wondering...Where's the werewolf?"
The old lady immediately retreated back to her friend and the two of them waited anxiously for the real estate agent's answer.
"Uh, er," the real estate agent stuttered.
"Why do you want to know?" I asked, suddenly stepping forward into the midst of the tour group. Despite the fact that I was angry with my brother, I still felt the need to defend him.
"How would you like it if someone went into your house and asked where you were?" I asked loudly.
"That's what I thought," I shouted, "So why did you ask?"
"Excuse me, miss," the middle-aged man tapped me on the arm, "She was just curious. In fact, I was wondering the same thing. You're being rather rude. Why are you on this tour anyway? I daresay you wouldn't be able to afford a house, especially one as grand as this."
I stared at him, completely bewildered. "What am I doing here? I live here!" I shouted at him, "Thanks for calling the house grand, though. I'll certainly let my parents know what you think. I'll let them know what you all think, especially what you think of my brother."
"No, no, wait!" the middle-aged man said, "I'm sorry. You're right. None of us should be asking questions like that."
"Too late," I replied, "You've already asked them."
"I wonder where he transforms," I heard the other old lady whisper.
"Shut up!" I shouted at her, "He's a kid, not an animal!"
"The Ministry disagrees," the man muttered.
"Who the hell cares about the Ministry?" I asked, "The Ministry is horrible!"
"Amy, could you please just let us continue the tour?" the real estate agent interrupted.
"Fine," I huffed, "But I'll be telling my dad about these gits. I guarantee none of them will be buying the house."
I turned and left, completely ignoring the stuttering and pleading of the middle-aged man. If he really wanted to buy the house, he shouldn't have insulted my brother.
Dad was showing a man our formal dining room table when I finally found him. I waited patiently (ok, maybe not so patiently) for him to be done and then told him about the old ladies and the couple. The next thing I knew, all four of them were being escorted off the premises by Dad. The man appeared to practically be begging to stay. I smirked and waved at them as they passed me on their way out the door.
The house was starting to empty out a bit. It was emptying of furniture and other items, that is, not of people. There were still plenty of people milling about. It was kind of odd to watch strangers paw through your stuff and buy it. I passed a few men wearing neat and pristine robes muttering amongst themselves about the quality of our family silver. I hadn't actually seen the stuff in years, but the idea of people not in our family owning it gave me a weird feeling in my stomach. We weren't selling all of it, though. Uncle Jack took about half of it and my parents took half of what was left. It's not like they'd actually do anything with it. They'd probably just pack it up and store it in some closet in our new house. But it's got sentimental value.
I still had no idea what to do with myself. Tagging along on another tour would be a bad idea. The real estate agent looked like she wanted to kill me by the end of that last one. She'd most likely hex my mouth shut if I decided to follow another tour.
I wandered into the formal living room and stood in a corner as Uncle Jack and a salesman completed the sale of one of the couches. That didn't bother me in the least. I always hated that couch. It was the ugliest thing to every cross the threshold of the house. The thing was cream colored with pink and purple flowers all over it. Then there were the gold-trimmed arms, which were tacky in my opinion. Dad told me his mother had picked it out shortly after she got married. Why my grandfather agreed to it is beyond me.
"Mum will be happy that that's gone," I whispered to Uncle Jack after he completed the sale.
"I think we're all happy that it's gone," Uncle Jack grinned. "So I hear you got a bunch of people kicked out."
I grinned, "Sure did. Dad made them leave. They weren't too happy, especially the bloke who wanted to buy the house."
"I'll bet not," Uncle Jack smirked, "Well, I'd better get back to the selling."
"Ok, see you later."
I spent a bit more time in the formal living room and then went back to the regular living room, which was thankfully empty. My parents had decided to keep all the furniture that was in that room, which I was happy about. That furniture was what made our house seem like our home, not the fancy furniture in the other rooms.
I picked up a book I had left on the coffee table and settled onto the couch to read. I had read a few pages when I noticed green light in the corner of my eye. I looked up and saw that someone was flooing into the room.
That was odd, I thought. My parents had arranged for everyone to Apparate into a selected area of the yard. They didn't want a whole bunch of people flooing in and out of the house. It would have been too chaotic and messy. But I guess whoever was flooing now didn't get the message.
The flames subsided and a man stepped into the room. Another man, much younger, stepped out behind him. I let out a gasp as I recognized them. It was my dad's cousin and his son.
"Hello, Amy," the older one said gravely, "Long time, no see."
A/N: Thanks to my betas, Dancer_of_Starlight and Joanne K! Thanks as well to Moonylupin for the review!
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