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Chapter 37 : Kenzie's House
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Dad shut the door behind Norlam and turned to me. "Thank you, Amy. You were brilliant in there. I think Matt's really making progress."
I stared at him and raised my eyebrow. "What? He won't go near Norlam. And what in the name of Merlin did I do?"
"You had your back to Matt the whole time. You didn't see what he was doing when you were talking with Norlam. When the session started, Matt had his head buried in Mum's shoulder but by the time it was over, he was looking at us and paying attention to what was going on. That is a huge improvement."
I hadn't noticed that at all. That was amazing, but what had I done? "That's great," I smiled, "But how did I help?"
"You were comfortable around Norlam. You talked with him like you knew him, like he wasn't a stranger. You asked him questions that would help Matt understand that he was a nice person. He looks to you to judge situations. He looks up to you more than you think, Amy. By knowing you're comfortable with Norlam, he'll begin to be comfortable with him. And when that happens, we can start to work through the issues."
I nodded. Did Matt really pay that much attention to what I was doing? I wasn't even home all the time. He went months without seeing me when I was at school. And even though I'd been home the past few months, I had to admit that I hadn't really been nice to him. But apparently I was a huge influence on him.
Dad gave me a hug and put his arm around me as we walked back into the living room. Mum and Matt were still sitting on the couch, but Matt had moved away from Mum and was playing his DS. Mum got up when she saw us come in. She gave me a hug and whispered 'thank you' and then she and Dad left the room. I stared curiously at their backs as they left. I never would have thought that I'd have such an important roll in Matt's therapy. It was kind of strange.
The next few days passed in a kind of relaxed but tense pace. I really didn't have anything to do, but I wasn't bored. I read and worked on potions. Mum and Dad held hushed conversations in Dad's study and I listened in on a few of them. Most were about the full moon and started becoming repetitive after a while. Matt continued having nightmares every night but seemed to sleep fine when he napped during the day. His ankle was healing, slowly but surely. Dad had him try walking on it Friday before his next therapy session, but he said it hurt and didn't want to do it again. Dad looked worried after this and I had a feeling it had to do with the fact that the full moon was just over a week away. Sterling had said Matt's ankle needed to be mostly healed before the next full moon.
Friday's therapy session followed the same pattern the first one had. Matt still wasn't comfortable enough with Norlam and spent the hour on the couch with Mum. But this time I paid more attention to what Matt was doing and I noticed that he watched us the whole time with some sort of curiosity on his face. Norlam said he was making excellent progress and wouldn't be surprised if he joined in the Exploding Snap games the next session.
Mum had reluctantly called Cinda and told her about our plans to have dinner at Kenzie's house. We had to tell them that we'd be Apparating to their house. Mum and Cinda's relationship remained strained, but Mum said that she and Richard did want to see Matt. They hadn't seen him since before his hospital stay.
I was very excited about going to Kenzie's house. I hadn't been there in a while, despite the fact that I was at Cinda's house every month. Mum and Dad seemed relatively excited as well. As much excitement as either of them could show, that is. They had told Matt about the dinner and he didn't seem too afraid to go. He had known the Dawes since before he even became a werewolf, though, so they weren't exactly strangers.
"Are you ready to go, Amy?" Dad asked me early Friday evening.
"Yeah," I grinned, "This is going to be much better than Cinda and Richard's going away party."
"Ready, Jule?" Dad asked Mum.
Mum nodded. She was holding Matt and was ready to Apparate. Dad picked up Matt's crutches and then wrapped me in a hug. With two loud cracks, the four of us disappeared.
I opened my eyes and we were standing in the middle of Richard and Cinda's living room. I heard footsteps behind me and turned around to see both my grandparents standing in the doorway. Richard looked happy to see us and I couldn't tell what Cinda was feeling.
"Julietta," Richard hugged both Mum and Matt at the same time, "It's so good to see you."
"You, too, Dad," Mum smiled.
"And how are you, Matt?" Richard asked with a look of concern on his face.
"Ok," he shrugged.
"Good," Richard smiled.
"Julietta," Cinda said quietly, "I know you have to get to the Dawes house now, but I'd like to talk to you after."
"I think that would be a good idea," Mum replied.
Dad nodded to both my grandparents as we left the room. I hurried after him and Mum and Matt brought up the rear. Whatever conversation Mum and Cinda were going to have later, it was definitely going to be interesting.
We left the house and started the walk to Kenzie's. Kenzie's house wasn't really that far away. It was right past my grandparents' property, but there was a large clump of trees in between so you couldn't see Kenzie's house from Richard and Cinda's. It was a warm night with a slight crisp wind. It was starting to get chillier. Winter was coming, although Australian winter wasn't nearly as cold as New York's or England's. We'd move before it really hit, though, so we'd be getting two summers in a row.
I could smell the barbecue as we walked up the steps to Kenzie's house. It smelled great. Kenzie's dad was an excellent barbecuer. Dad rang the bell and we waited to be let in. I could hear the thundering of footsteps and the door was thrown open a moment later.
"Amy!" Kenzie shouted and threw her arms around me.
"Kenzie!" I grinned and hugged her back.
"Julie! Walter!" Mrs. Dawe came bustling through the crowd of Dawe children and greeted my parents. "How are you holding up?"
"Surviving," Mum said, "Never a dull moment."
"Life sure would be boring if it weren't that way," Mrs. Dawe replied. She smiled at Matt and then noticed his ankle and the crutches Dad was holding. "Oh, dear, what happened?"
Mum and Dad had constructed the cover-up story earlier, making sure both Matt and I knew all the details.
"He passed out and fell down some stairs," Mum sighed, "But it's healing."
Mrs. Dawe looked at Matt sympathetically. "I'm sorry to hear that. Such rotten luck. Glad it's healing, though. How is he otherwise?"
"The usual," Mum said.
"Well, I'm sure the doctors will come up with something and he'll be cured."
Mum nodded and we continued walking through Kenzie's house. Mrs. Dawe led us outside, where a few tables had been set up and the food was set out. Mum put Matt down on a chair and Dad handed him the crutches. My parents sat down nearby and continued their conversation with Mrs. Dawe. Mr. Dawe joined them as soon as he had the burgers on the grill.
Kenzie and I sat down at one of the picnic tables and were followed by all of her siblings, including little Michael. I told Kenzie more about the move and she told me about school.
Mari and Maddie soon grew bored of listening to our conversation and started running around the yard. They stopped in front of Matt and noticed his crutches.
"Can I try those?" Mari asked.
"Sure," Matt shrugged.
Mari picked them up and bent low over them and began to awkwardly walk around the yard. Despite the fact that Mari is only a few months older than Matt, she's a head taller than him and the crutches were much too small.
"Those are kind of fun," Mari grinned and set the crutches back down.
"Not really," Matt replied, "I always fall down with them."
"I didn't," Mari said.
"I wanna try!" Maddie shouted and picked up the crutches. They were slightly too big for her and she fell over as soon as she stood up with them. "You're right. They're not fun," she huffed.
"Are to," Mari disagreed.
"No they're not! And they're Matt's. He says they're no fun, so there!"
"He only says that because he sprained his ankle and has to use them!"
I rolled my eyes at Kenzie and we stifled laughs as we listened to the little kids fight. Kenzie's sisters always fought over the stupidest things.
"Girls!" Mrs. Dawe shouted, "Enough of that fighting. And nobody touches the crutches. I don't want either of you to hurt yourselves enough to actually need them."
Mari and Maddie stuck their tongues out at each other and then sat down on either side of Matt. Maddie started to poke his ankle and Mari smacked her arm away.
"Don't do that, Maddie," Mari scolded, "You'll hurt it more."
"Marianna Lily and Madison Rose!" Mrs. Dawe got up from her chair, walked over to the girls, and put her hands on her hips. "Stop this fighting right now! And Maddie, don't touch Matt's ankle."
Mari and Maddie both glared at their mother and then turned back to Matt. They began asking him questions and yelled at each other whenever the other one interrupted. Matt looked a little confused by this, but went along with it.
"They are so immature," Morgan muttered. She was currently looking at her face in a compact.
"She could use with being a little more immature," Kenzie whispered to me. I covered my mouth with my hand and stifled a giggle.
"What?" Morgan asked.
"Nothing," Kenzie smirked. She and Morgan used to fight like Mari and Maddie do. Well, I kind of think they still do, but neither of them admit it. Morgan is just a very irritating twelve-year-old.
Kenzie and I continued talking until dinner was ready. Every once and a while I would glance over at my parents and it looked like they were really enjoying themselves. It made me wonder why we didn't spend more time with Kenzie's family. We hadn't done something like this in months. This might even be the last time we get together. I shook the thought from my mind. It wasn't the time to dwell on the move. It was time to just live in the moment and have fun.
"Burgers are ready!" Mr. Dawe shouted a little while later.
Kenzie and I turned around and faced the table while her sisters sat down across from us. Mum, Dad, and Mrs. Dawe sat down at the other table. Matt glanced at the kids' table before deciding to sit in between our parents at the other table. Mr. Dawe set a platter of burgers down on both tables and then sat down next to his wife.
"Your dad always makes the best burgers," I told Kenzie as I helped myself to one.
"Yeah. But they're only good when he barbecues them. When he cooks them in the oven, they're not nearly as good," Kenzie explained.
"Why's Matt sitting over there?" Maddie whined as she squirted a huge amount of Ketchup onto her burger.
"Er-" I stammered, trying to come up with a reasonable excuse.
"Probably cause he didn't want to sit with all the girls," Mari interrupted.
I nodded my head in agreement. Leave it to an eight year old girl to come up with a reason like that.
"But I thought he liked us," Maddie said.
"He does," Morgan sighed, "But the two of you were driving him mad all afternoon!"
"Were not," Maddie huffed.
Morgan rolled her eyes. I went back to eating, happy that the conversation had been dropped. Mari and Maddie argued about pointless stuff throughout the entire meal, but Kenzie and I were able to ignore it. They didn't eat for very long anyway. The two of them shoveled down their burgers and then started playing a game of two-person tag. It seemed kind of pointless to me, but at least they weren't arguing.
After we all finished eating, the adults settled down on the patio furniture again and started discussing the move. Mrs. Dawe brought out a bottle of wine and they all had a drink while talking about houses and jobs and other moving related stuff. Matt, who looked tired, laid down on one of the lounge chairs nearby.
Kenzie and I climbed up onto a huge branch on one of the trees in her backyard. We talked and watched her sisters chasing each other around the yard. Well, Morgan wasn't participating. She had began painting her toenails at the picnic table. Michael was toddling around the yard trying to play tag with Mari and Maddie, which had all three of them in hysterics.
Sitting in that tree watching Kenzie's family made me wonder what my life would have been like if my parents had had more kids. I always got the feeling they wanted more, but they just weren't able to. Mum often talked about how she had been kind of lonely as a child because she had no siblings and how lucky I was to have a brother. Dad had Uncle Jack, but he occasionally talked about how fun it would be to have a chaotic household with lots of kids. In comparison with Kenzie's family, my family was relatively quiet. Our house never had the energy that Kenzie's seemed to have.
Kenzie and I jumped out of the tree after a while, since it was starting to hurt to sit on a branch. We wandered over to the patio, where everyone else seemed to have congregated.
Michael had tired of the tag game and was falling asleep in his mum's lap. Morgan had moved on to painting her fingernails. Mari and Maddie had given up on the game as well and were once again sitting on either side of Matt, who looked to be falling asleep.
"What's your school like?" Maddie asked Matt, "Mine's fun. We played Duck Duck Goose yesterday."
"I'm home schooled," Matt muttered without opening his eyes.
"What's that?" Maddie asked.
"School at home. My mum teaches me."
"Maddie!" Mari shouted, "Don't ask that." She lowered her voice, but not low enough not to hear what she was saying. "It's because he's sick."
"Oh," Maddie nodded, "When I'm sick, Mummy lets me stay home."
"That's not the kind of sick he is," Mari sighed, "You're too little to understand."
Mari groaned and put her arms across her chest. She turned back to Matt. "Does your mum teach you the same stuff I'm learning? What year are you in? I'm in third."
"I dunno. My mum doesn't mention years," Matt replied, "She teaches me maths and reading and other stuff."
Other stuff like magic, I thought.
"Oh," Mari said, "Are you going to be home schooled in England?"
"For a couple years. Then I'm going to the school Amy's going to."
"What's that one like?" Mari turned to me.
"Er, it's just your average school," I said. Well, if a school in a castle was normal. "Maths, reading, science, history, that sort of stuff."
"Sounds boring," Mari said and turned back to Matt, "Can I use your crutches again?"
"Mmm-hmm," Matt yawned.
"I want to try again, too!" Maddie shouted.
Mari picked up the crutches before Maddie could and started hobbling across the yard with them. Maddie shrieked and chased her. Mari was pretty slow on the crutches and Maddie soon caught up, tackling her to the ground.
Kenzie groaned and stormed over to her sisters. I followed. Kenzie bent down and ripped the crutches out of Mari's hands.
"Ok, neither of you are playing with these anymore! They're not toys!" she handed me the crutches and we went back over to the patio. Mari and Maddie grudgingly followed.
Maddie climbed onto the same chair Matt was on. "Are you tired?" she poked his arm.
Matt turned over and groaned. "Yeah," he mumbled.
"But it's early," Maddie whined.
"Maddie, leave him alone, please," Mrs. Dawe walked over to us and picked Maddie up off the chair.
The rest of the adults were behind her. They had finished their wine and were laughing about something. Mum looked at Matt and then glanced at Dad.
"We should probably get going," Mum said to Kenzie's parents, "It's getting late."
Mrs. Dawe set Maddie down and turned back to Mum. "Yes, I suppose it is. Well, thank you so much for coming."
"Thanks for having us," Mum smiled.
"Keep in touch," Mrs. Dawe embraced Mum in a hug, "Good luck with everything."
"Are you going to your grandparents' at all before you move?" Kenzie asked me.
"Yeah," I nodded, "In about a week, actually."
"Good," Kenzie smiled, "Then we won't say goodbye now."
"Right," I agreed, "So I'll see you in a week."
"See you then!" Kenzie grinned.
Mum and Dad said their goodbyes to everyone and promised to send letters. Mum even gave Mrs. Dawe her mobile phone number. The only other people who have that are my grandparents. Dad shook hands with Mr. Dawe and then gathered Matt, who was now fully asleep, in his arms. Mum grabbed the crutches and we began the walk back to Richard and Cinda's. I turned around when we were halfway down the yard and saw Kenzie and her family standing in the doorway, waving at us. I waved back and then continued walking.
"I'm going to miss them," Mum sighed as we walked up Richard and Cinda's driveway.
"Me, too," Dad agreed, "They are a very kind family. If half of wizarding Australia were as caring as they were, the country would be a much better place."
"That's for sure," Mum said.
Dad opened the door to the house and we walked inside. It was quiet, but I knew both of my grandparents were waiting for us to come back. We walked slowly down the corridor and into the living room. Richard was reading a newspaper and Cinda was flipping through the channels on the television. Both of them looked up when we came in.
"Mother," Mum nodded to Cinda.
"Julietta," Cinda replied.
I followed Dad into the room. He sat down on the couch next to Richard and held Matt, who was still sleeping, on his lap. Richard made no move to get up. He seemed to sense that this was something that was between Cinda and Mum. I sat down in a nearby chair and waited for the shouting to begin.
"I've hardly heard a word from you the past few weeks," Cinda said quietly, "I can't begin to tell you how much that worried me."
Mum sighed. "I'm sorry for that. I really am. But you knew we were at the hospital in London. I couldn't contact you everyday. It was hard enough to find a pay phone nearby. There really aren't many of those left. And then I had to figure out how to do an overseas call on one."
"You have a mobile," Cinda pointed out.
"I did not think to bring it. We left in an emergency."
Cinda nodded. "I know, but it still worried me."
"We're moving in three weeks," Mum said, "I'd rather not have us be on such bad terms."
"I haven't enjoyed it either," Cinda replied, "But I still do not approve of this move."
"And I don't think you ever will," Mum said shortly, "Because you truly do not understand what we're going through."
"I still see this as you running away from your problems instead of facing them," Cinda shot back, "Which doesn't seem to me as something unique to the wizarding world."
"The situation is unique to the wizarding world," Mum replied, "There is no Muggle disease that is viewed the way lycanthropy is."
"You have a point there," Cinda said, "I can't think of any Muggles who have to move to a different country because their son is sick."
"And that's because lycanthropy is not viewed as a disease here. The Ministry does not see Matt as a kid with a disease. They see him as an animal. And because of that, he's denied rights. Rights that every human being should have. He'll have those rights in England. He'll have a better life there."
"And what if those rights are taken away in England? Then what? Will you move again?"
"If it's necessary, yes," Mum answered.
"See? Running away from your problems. That's always the solution, isn't it? We raised you different than that!"
"When 'running away' as you call it, is the only way to keep my son alive, I sure will do it," Mum took a step closer to Cinda and lowered her voice, "I will not stubbornly stay here and put his life at risk. One more full moon like last month's could do just that. He can't go through that again."
"I just don't see how your Ministry can take him like that and get away with it."
"Because of the laws!" Mum groaned, "That is what you don't understand! Werewolves are not seen as people in the eyes of the law!"
"Fine," Cinda crossed her arms, "Fine. I don't understand. But I don't want you to move while we're fighting like this."
Mum sighed. "I don't either."
"Then let's just put this whole thing behind us," Cinda said, "I don't want us to go months without speaking again."
"Again, that's not something I want either," Mum replied.
"I will always support whatever decisions you make, Julie," Cinda said, "I may not agree, but I will support you."
"Thank you, Mum," Mum said.
"I do love you, Julietta," Cinda hugged Mum, "I always will."
Mum hugged her back. "I love you, too."
I stared at them curiously. They hadn't really shouted at each other much. With the way they had been ignoring each other lately, I would have expected an all out shouting match that would last at least an hour. I guess the time spent not talking to each other had helped both of them to calm down.
Richard and Dad looked at each other and shrugged. Neither of them were ones to hold grudges or shout at people. Well, there were exceptions of course. But the only people I had ever seen Dad really shout at were his cousin, Clarence, and Lubar. I had never seen Richard blow up at anyone. Mum must have inherited her temper from Cinda. Dad has told me a few times that I've got it, too, but I didn't think so.
Mum and Cinda sat down and began talking about everything that had been going on since their big row. Mum told Cinda more details about the move and explained about Matt's hospital stay. Cinda listened intently and then talked about the latest gossip in her group of friends. Mum paid attention, but I doubted she was actually interested in it.
I listened to the two of them talk and eventually drifted off to a half sleep. I wasn't sure how much time had actually passed, but Mum and Cinda were still talking by the time I woke up. Matt was stirring as well and was sort of crying.
"M-my ankle h-hurts," he cried.
"We'll go home soon," Dad told him.
Mum and Cinda looked up and stopped talking. They gave each other one more hug and Mum promised to call Cinda soon. Dad and I got up and I went over to Mum to Apparate. She looked happier than I'd seen her in months as we disappeared from Richard and Cinda's living room.
A/N: Thanks to my beta, Dancer_of_Starlight! Thanks as well to Moonylupin and Luke for their reviews!
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