Chapter 35 : Back Home
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The next few days droned on much like the past few had. Matt continued to get better, although he was still having problems with his ankle. Besides that, he was almost completely physically better.
He was still having nightmares, so the nurses kept giving him dreamless sleep. He flat out refused to go to sleep without it. Norlam had worked out a therapy schedule that would start the following Monday.
Healer Sterling decided that Matt would be ready to be discharged on Saturday, which was two weeks after the full moon. It was hard to believe it had been that long since I had been home. It was even harder to believe that we only had three more weeks in Australia.
"Ready to go home, Matt?" Sterling said as he entered the room Saturday morning.
Matt nodded. "Yup. It's boring here."
Sterling laughed. "That's good to hear." He pulled out his wand and began to perform various spells on Matt.
"Everything look good?" Dad asked once Sterling put his wand away.
"For the most part. His ankle isn't completely healed, so he'll have to use crutches for a couple weeks, but otherwise he's fine. I expect his ankle will be better by the next full moon, but he could possibly reinjure it that night."
Dad nodded. "All right."
"There are a few potions he'll have to take for a couple days to help with the healing. Plus the dreamless sleep, which he'll take until Norlam decides he's ready to stop.
"I'd like to see him as soon as you move here. Sooner if something happens during the next full moon."
"That's fine," Dad replied, "We'll let you know how he's doing."
"Thanks," Sterling said, "We've set up a portkey for you. The last thing Matt needs is to have to travel twenty hours on a Muggle airplane."
"Thank you," Mum looked at him gratefully.
"It's in my study. There are some forms you'll need to fill out at the nurse's station, and then you can take the portkey from my study. Jack, I've set you up a portkey back to New York as well."
"Thanks," Uncle Jack said.
"I'll meet you at the nurse's station," Sterling picked up the chart that was sitting on the bedside table and left the room.
"Ready to go, Matt?" Dad went over to the bed and lifted Matt up. He nodded and put his arms around Dad's neck.
Uncle Jack grabbed the crutches and Mum grabbed Matt's overnight bag. I collected the various books I had acquired over the past two weeks and followed them out of the room. I was so relieved to finally be going home. I was sick of the hospital. Matt was mostly better, which I was very happy about. But ever since he had started to get better, I had been thinking more about the move. We only had three weeks left in Australia. And then we'd be in England permanently. The weird part was, it sort of felt like we already lived there.
Dad signed the discharge papers at the nurse's station and we said goodbye to the nurses that were working that day. We knew pretty much all of them by then and they were happy that Matt was finally better to go home. I'd found that the nurses were much friendlier towards him in England than in Australia.
We went to Sterling's study after Dad finished signing the papers. There was an old broken Muggle telephone and a cracked plastic mixing bowl sitting on his desk, which I assumed were the portkeys.
"I'll see you in a few weeks," Sterling shook Dad's hand, "I wish you luck with the move."
"Thanks," Dad replied.
"Thank you for everything," Mum said.
"You're welcome," Sterling smiled, "The telephone goes to Australia and the mixing bowl will go to New York."
Dad nodded and turned to Uncle Jack. "Well, Jack, I really appreciate you spending all this time here with us."
"I wanted to, Walt," Uncle Jack replied, "I'll try to visit once you've moved here."
"Ok, we'll see you then. Goodbye," Dad said.
"Bye, Walt," Uncle Jack clapped him on the shoulder and then turned to Matt, "Bye, kid. I'm glad you're feeling better. See you in a few weeks, ok?"
Matt nodded and held out his arms. Uncle Jack gave him a hug and ruffled his hair. Then he turned to me.
"See you in a couple weeks, Amy," he gave me a hug.
"Bye, Uncle Jack," I smiled.
"See you soon, Julie," he said to Mum.
"Thanks, Jack," Mum smiled gratefully at him, "We'll see you soon."
Uncle Jack handed her Matt's crutches and then picked the mixing bowl up off the table. Sterling tapped it with his wand and Uncle Jack disappeared.
Dad picked the telephone up and held it out. Mum and I each placed a hand on it. Sterling tapped it with his wand and I felt the familiar jerk behind my navel as England disappeared in front of me.
We landed in the kitchen a little while later. Mum and Dad both landed on their feet, but I landed on my arse as usual. I shakily stood up and gazed around the kitchen. It looked exactly the same. I smiled as I realized how happy I was to be home.
"Well, here we are. Home again," Dad said.
I dropped my bag on the floor and tried to figure out what time it was in Australia. It had been just after ten o'clock when we left England and it was dark in Australia. So, what time would that make it here? The time conversion thing was even more confusing when you traveled by portkey than Muggle airplanes.
I sat down at the table and saw the clock out of the corner of my eye. The clock, I thought. Why hadn't I just looked at it first? Probably because I was incredibly tired. It was after nine o'clock at night.
"Dad, I'm tired," Matt mumbled. He had still been sleeping more than normal. Plus, he woke up a few times every night when the dreamless sleep wore off.
"We all are," Dad replied, "But it's night here, so that's a good thing. Let's go upstairs and go to bed."
Mum and I followed them upstairs. We met Ellie halfway up the stairs and she was thrilled that we were back and that Matt was doing better.
Dad gently tucked Matt into his bed and gave him the dreamless sleep while Mum and I stood next to his bed. We all said good night to him and started to leave the room.
"Mummy?" Matt whispered.
"What is it, honey?" Mum asked, turning around.
"Can I sleep in your bed?" he asked quietly.
Mum and Dad glanced at each other. "What's wrong, honey?" Mum asked.
"I'm scared," he mumbled almost incoherently.
"Oh, Matt, no one is going to do anything to you here. There's nothing to be afraid of."
"Wh-what about L-lubar?" Matt croaked, "H-he m-might floo h-here."
"I'm getting us disconnected from the floo network," Dad muttered, "Tomorrow, first thing. And I'll put up some anti-apparition wards on the entire property."
"He won't come here again," Mum assured him, "You're safe here."
"I st-still w-want to s-sleep in your b-bed," Matt cried.
"Ok, that's fine," Mum said. She picked him up and he rested his head on her shoulder.
I followed my parents and Matt out of the room and watched them go into their bedroom. It looked like Matt fell asleep in Mum's arms a few moments later. The dreamless sleep must have kicked in.
I walked slowly back to my room and shut the door behind me. I dropped my bag on the floor and didn't bother emptying it. I gazed around my room and sighed. It felt good to be back, but I really didn't want to get used to it. In a few short weeks we'd be in England for good.
Before I went to bed, I scribbled out a quick letter to Olivia. I hadn't written to her in over two weeks. Our letters were becoming more and more infrequent, which kind of bothered me. She also talked more about the other girls in our year. I kind of thought she was becoming friends with them. I knew it was selfish of me to not want her to befriend them, but for the past three years it had always been the two of us against those other girls. But I couldn't really expect Olivia not to make new friends, could I?
I crawled into bed once I was done. Despite the fact that I was accustomed to England time, I was tired. I hadn't really had a good night's sleep the entire time we were there. The first few nights I was plagued with nightmares. Then when they stopped, I couldn't sleep because Mum or Dad (whoever was staying at the Leaky Cauldron that night) would toss and turn the whole night.
I woke up early the next morning. Earlier than I usually do. I squinted at the clock and saw that it was five in the morning. However, I was wide awake and starving so I got dressed and left the room. I paused by Matt's room on my way down the corridor, but he wasn't in there. He must've spent the entire night in my parents' room. It didn't surprise me in the least. He slept in there for a few months following the night he was bitten.
My parents' bedroom door was closed, so I guessed I was the only one up. It reminded me of school holidays when I'd get up early and hurry downstairs to get a bowl of Fruit Loops. It all seemed so trivial now. Just a few months ago, I hardly had a care in the world. My worries consisted of whether I'd pass the next Transfiguration test and what Olivia and I would spend Friday night doing. I suppose it was possible that once I adjusted to Hogwarts, life might return to a semblance of that, but I kind of doubted it. When I went to school in Australia, I paid zero attention to the outside world. The matters of the government didn't concern me in the slightest. I couldn't imagine going back to that. Now, I wanted to know what was going on. The past few months had taught me to find out the news for myself, not wait for my parents to tell me what was going on weeks after it actually happened.
Walking through the quiet house at that hour, I could almost pretend the past few months hadn't happened. Almost. The lack of furniture in a lot of the rooms and the empty places on the walls where the portraits had been told me otherwise. The past few months had happened. How many more times would I walk through the house at this hour?
The quiet was replaced by hushed whispers. I stepped as quietly as I could down the stairs and paused to hear where they were coming from. Kitchen, I thought. I tiptoed down the corridor and peeked into the kitchen. Mum and Dad were both sitting at the counter hunched over steaming mugs of coffee. I pulled my head back and leaned against the wall, listening in on what they were saying.
"I just can't stand it," Dad muttered, "He got away with it. There's nothing we can do. Absolutely nothing!"
"It's awful," Mum agreed and took a sip of her mug.
"I can't sit here and do nothing," Dad continued, "It's all I can do from stopping myself from going down to the Ministry and dueling him, Muggle style."
"That won't accomplish anything," Mum replied.
"I know. But when we were in England all I could concentrate on was getting Matt better. Now we're back in Australia and he is mostly better. I could be at the Ministry in two seconds. Hell, I'm going to the Ministry today to have them disconnect us from the Floo network!"
"Walt, it's Sunday. You'll have to wait until tomorrow," Mum sighed, "And you can't duel Lubar. He'll press charges and we'll be stuck here while you go on trial!"
"That's what's driving me mad! He kidnapped our son, harmed him, and we can't do a thing about it! There's something seriously wrong with that."
"I hate it as much as you do, Walt, but we have to put it behind us. Matt's better now. We just have to move on."
"But he's not entirely better. Who knows how long he'll be traumatized from this? That's what really gets me. Matt is the one who suffered from this. I know Lubar couldn't care less about Matt. He did this to get me. To get me back for getting promoted before he did. Why couldn't he just duel me like a normal wizard? Or pull a few office pranks? Why did he have to get to me through my son?" Dad sighed and put his head in his hands.
"Because he knew it would hurt you more to see Matt hurt than to actually be hurt yourself," Mum replied, "I've told you that."
"I know," Dad groaned, "But he hasn't stopped. He just keeps going. There's nothing he won't do."
"He's not going to stop," Mum said quietly, "But we only have one more full moon here. Then we'll be gone. He can't get to us in England."
"But it's this one last full moon that worries me," Dad said darkly, "He does something worse each month. First it was that place of transformation law. Then it was just the threats and the fines. But last month, last month he went too far. I can't even think of anything worse he could do, save for kidnapping him again. I don't doubt that he'll try that again, too. The law hasn't changed."
"We'll just won't let him," Mum replied.
Dad let out another loud sigh. "Which is why this is just driving me mad. I could have stopped him last month. It was my fault. I shouldn't have left him alone."
"He wasn't alone. We were both in the house. No one should have to feel that they're not safe in their own house. We could not have expected that, Walter. You have to come to terms with that."
"That may be," Dad muttered, "But this month, I'm not leaving his side until the moon rises."
"Me, too," Mum agreed.
I wish I could do that, I thought. But I knew I'd be going to Richard and Cinda's again. The only good thing about that was that I'd get to see Kenzie, and this was the last time I'd get to see her for quite a while. Kenzie! I suddenly remembered that I'd told her we'd go to her house for that barbecue. When was that supposed to be? I racked my brain and remembered that it was this coming Saturday. I still hadn't even told my parents about it. It had completely escaped me.
Dad slammed his hands on the counter and shook his head. "I just hate that I can't protect him anymore!"
Mum put her arm around Dad and leaned her head on his shoulder. "I know. I hate it too. We just have to do all we can to protect him the other twenty-seven days of the month."
"But it's that one other day that he really needs protecting," Dad muttered.
"And we're doing all we can to make sure that one day is as good as it can be," Mum pointed out, "That's why we're moving, Walt."
"We should've moved sooner."
"No one could have predicted this. We have to remember that."
"A father should be able to stand up for and protect his children, Julie," Dad said quietly. "I can't do that anymore. I haven't been able to for the past two and a half years."
"But you do protect him, Walter. For the past two years you have been stopping the legislation that would ruin his life. That's protecting him."
"Until I got fired."
"You were fired because you were protecting him," Mum pointed out, "There's only so much we can do. He has an illness. Parents can't protect their children from chronic diseases."
"If I had been protecting him that night, he never would have been bitten," Dad whispered.
"We did all we could save for putting a charm on the tent to keep him from leaving it in the middle of the night."
"Maybe we should have done that. Or we shouldn't have gone camping that night. I knew it was going to be a full moon. I knew the dangers. But we still went. If I could just go back in time and change one thing, that would be it."
"You and me both," Mum sighed, "But we can't."
I watched them sit there leaning their heads on each other's shoulders. Every once in a while they would have this same conversation, but it had never before included Dad wanting to curse someone. I could understand it, though. I bet if I saw Lubar ever again I'd have a hard time keeping myself from hexing him.
When it became clear that neither of them were going to say anything else, I casually walked into the room pretending I hadn't heard a word they just said.
"Morning," I yawned as I opened one of the cabinets. I pulled out a box of Fruit Loops and then rummaged around for a bowl.
"Hi, Amy," Dad said wearily.
"Morning," Mum replied, "Did you sleep better?"
"Much," I said. I poured a bowl of cereal and sat down next to Mum. I ate half the bowl and neither of my parents had anything else. I decided it was a good a time as any to bring up the barbecue at Kenzie's house.
"Hey, Mum, Dad?" I asked in between bites.
"What is it, Amy?" Mum sighed.
"When I was at Richard and Cinda's, Kenzie said her mum invited us to their house for a barbecue this Saturday. I told her we could go and I'd let her know if we couldn't. But that was, you know, before the full moon, so...." I let my voice trail off. I wasn't really sure if Mum and Dad would want to go to Kenzie's house. I knew I wanted to, but doubted I had any say in the matter.
Mum looked at Dad before replying. "Just us? Or is this a party type thing?"
"Just us," I answered.
"I suppose we could go," Mum said slowly, "That's an entire week before the full moon."
"His ankle won't be healed by then, at least Sterling doesn't think so," Dad reminded her. "And what about the fact that he's afraid of everyone?"
"The Dawes aren't strangers. He knows them. But we'll see what he thinks about it to be sure. As far as his ankle goes, Muggles sprain their ankles all the time. They won't think a thing of it. It'll be nice to do something fun for a change," Mum replied. "We'll just have to Apparate and tell them we parked our car at my parents' house and then walk to theirs."
I hadn't really thought of that. It would seem kind of suspicious if we appeared at Kenzie's doorstep without a car parked in the street.
"That'll work," Dad said, "We can tell them your parents had other plans, as they're surely to invite them if we mention parking our car at their house."
Mum nodded. "Good point. Did Kenzie mention that we should bring anything?"
"Nope," I said.
"Well, I'll bring a desert or something," Mum decided.
I smiled as I ate the rest of my Fruit Loops. It would be nice to see Kenzie when it wasn't the full moon. When I didn't have to spend the night at Richard and Cinda's. Plus, I thought it would be good for my family to get out of the house. We hadn't really done anything like that since Richard and Cinda's 'going away' party. We hadn't done anything fun like that in who knows how long.
Mum and Dad continued drinking their coffee as I finished up my cereal. Judging by the lack of used dishes in the sink, neither of them had had any actual brekkie. Just coffee. Both of them looked extremely exhausted as well.
I got up from the table and went to dump my own dirty dishes in the sink. A loud scream broke the silence and I dropped my bowl in surprise. I jumped as my heart started beating a mile a minute.
Mum and Dad jumped up from their seats and completely ignored my dropped dish. I quickly picked it up (luckily it was plastic and had not broken), tossed in the sink, and followed my parents out of the room.
The screaming got louder as we raced up the stairs and into my parents' room. Dad grabbed the doorknob and threw the door open. Mum and I followed him in.
Matt was sitting in the middle of their bed with tears running down his face. He was shaking uncontrollably and looked scared out of his mind. Mum practically flew over to the bed and put her arms around my brother, pulling him into her lap.
"It was just a dream," she soothed, "Mummy's here."
Dad sat down next to them and put his arm around the both of them. I sat down on the edge of the bed, not sure whether to stay or leave. Matt began to calm down after twenty minutes of my parents soothing him and eventually stopped crying all together. I had a feeling that this was going to become an everyday thing. I was beginning to doubt that Healer Norlam would be able to do anything about Matt's nightmares. They seemed so horrible.
"Are you hungry?" Mum asked after Matt had been quiet for a few minutes.
He nodded. Dad picked him up off of Mum's lap and carried him out of the room. Mum and I followed and the four of us went down to the kitchen. Ellie was there had started cooking eggs and toast. Dad set Matt down on one of the kitchen chairs and sat down next to him. Mum began helping Ellie with the cooking. I sat down and stared at the flowery tablecloth covering the table. Nobody said anything as we waited for the food to be ready.
A/N: Thanks to my beta, Dancer_of_Starlight! Thanks as well to LLL_live_laugh_love, Luke, Moonylupin, Miguel, and Dancer_of_Starlight for their reviews!
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