Chapter 43 : First Class
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Dad did manage to finish the safe room by the time the weekend was over. However, he didn't finish my potions room. I was kind of disappointed since I hadn't brewed anything in over a week. But I wasn't really expecting him to finish it before he started work anyway. I knew his primary focus was on the safe room.
Everyone got up early on Monday, Dad's first day of work. Mum and Ellie cooked brekkie and we all sat down together like we do for dinner.
"Well, I'd better go," Dad said once we had finished.
"Good luck, Walt," Mum kissed him as he stood up.
"Thanks," Dad replied, "Bye Amy, Matt."
"Bye, Dad," I smiled, "Hope you like this job better.
"Bye, Dad," Matt gave him a hug.
"Thanks Amy," Dad said, "I hope this job is better, too."
"Good luck, Master," Ellie said.
"Thanks," Dad grabbed his briefcase off a chair, "See you later."
It was strange to not have Dad home during the day anymore. I had gotten so used to him being home all the time. The house seemed quiet and empty with one less person there. I also didn't know what to do with myself. My room was completely set up, Mum didn't have any chores for me to do (which was good), I obviously had no homework, I had sent a letter to Olivia a few days ago and she hadn't gotten back to me, and my potions room was not set up.
Eventually, I decided to go explore the bush that was behind the house. I had liked doing that in Australia, so I figured it might be fun in England, too. It was, I suppose, but it was odd. There were different plants and animals and it just seemed so odd.
I stayed in the bush for the entire morning. After lunch, I played a few rounds of Gobstones with Matt. He had wanted to go explore the bush with me, but Mum hadn't let him. His ankle was better, but she didn't want him walking very far on it. Then I found another book to read and read it while Matt played his DS.
"Do you like it here?" Matt asked suddenly.
"I dunno," I shrugged. It was kind of too soon to tell. "I like my room."
"I like the stars on your ceiling. But your light looks like the moon," Matt said.
"That's the point," I sighed, "So it'll look like the sky."
"I like it here," Matt continued, "I don't ever want to go back to Australia."
"Well, we're going to go back to see Richard and Cinda sometime," I told him.
"I don't want to," Matt said quietly.
"Let's just not talk about it now," I said.
"Good. When do you start school?"
"September." I heard the front door open and sat up. "I think Dad's home."
"Yay!" Matt shouted and ran out of the den.
I followed him and found Dad setting his briefcase down on the kitchen table. Mum and Ellie were in the process of cooking dinner. Matt and I sat down at the island.
"So how did it go?" Mum asked.
"Great," Dad smiled, "It's so different than what I did in Australia. I feel like I'm actually going to help people here."
"That's wonderful," Mum replied, "What did you do today?"
"Met everyone in the department and then jumped right into the actual work. Right now we're compiling a list of companies and businesses that are willing to hire werewolves. Then we'll help set up interviews with those companies."
"Now that sounds like something you'd enjoy doing," Mum said.
"It is, so far. And the best part is, nobody objects to the fact that I'm pro-werewolf rights. In fact, they expect it. Plus, the two people I work with don't care one bit that Matt is a werewolf. The head of the entire department doesn't care either."
"That is great, Walt," Mum grinned, "I can tell already that this is the start of something better."
"It is, Julie. It really is," Dad said as he put one arm around me and the other around Matt.
It was kind of odd to see Dad so happy after returning from a day's work. It had been nearly a year since I'd seen him happy when he came home from work. Even before that fateful day when I found out we were moving, he seemed stressed with his job. Now, he came home with a smile on his face and ready to actually talk about work. He never used to do that. He was also working more normal hours. He'd be home in time for dinner and didn't work weekends.
As the days passed, we seemed to be settling into life in England. Dad would leave for work and Mum would clean or re-organize the house or go shopping. Occasionally Matt or I or both of us would go with her, especially if she was going someplace new. The magical grocery store quickly got boring and Matt and I preferred to let her grocery shop alone or with Ellie. If the shopping trip included a trip to Gringotts, Matt and I would always decline to go. Neither of us wanted to ride in those carts again. But if Mum offered to take us to the Weasleys' joke shop in Diagon Alley, we would always go.
However, we still couldn't put life in Australia behind us. The second estate sale loomed ever nearer and with it came mixed feelings. I was by no means used to England and still missed Australia immensely, and because of this I was sort of excited about going and seeing our old house again. At the same time, I didn't want to. The house wasn't ours anymore; it was Clarence's. It was going to be very weird to go there and not stay.
The sale was scheduled to take place on Saturday the 20th, two days before the full moon. Dad and I were going to fly down to Australia for the sale and then I would stay at Richard and Cinda's while Dad flew back to England. Then, he was going to fly back and get me. I thought it was a lot of unnecessary flying, but my parents insisted that I not be home during the full moon.
"Amy!" Mum shouted up the stairs on Wednesday, the day before Dad and I were scheduled to fly to Australia, "Can you come down here?"
I left my room and headed down the stairs. Mum and Dad (who had just returned home from work) were sitting in the living room. I flopped down onto a chair and looked at them.
"There's been a change of plans," Dad began, "About this weekend."
"You mean I get to come back here with you, instead of staying with Richard and Cinda?" I asked hopefully.
"No," Dad said, "That's not going to change. Instead of me flying down to get you after the full moon, Richard and Cinda are going to fly with you back here."
I stared at him. "What?"
"Your grandparents have decided to visit us," Dad explained.
"They want to see the house," Mum elaborated, "And they want to spend some time with all of us."
Richard and Cinda? Coming here? For some reason, the thought of my grandparents visiting us in England never crossed my mind. "Wait, so I have to spend twenty hours on a plane with Richard and Cinda?"
Dad laughed. "Yes, but the good news is that they're flying first class and so will you."
First class? I had never even seen the first class section of a plane, let alone flown on it.
"You'll like it better, Amy," Mum assured me, "My parents have always flown first class. In fact, the first time I flew coach was after I was married."
Dad grinned. "Yep. You married a cheapskate."
"So when am I flying back here, then?" I asked before my parents started reminiscing about their younger years.
"Your flight is scheduled to leave at seven on Tuesday morning," Mum told me, "If all goes as scheduled, which it never does, you'll get here at five in the afternoon our time on Tuesday. I would have preferred you not get here until Wednesday, but those were the only tickets my parents could get."
I nodded and once it became clear that my parents had nothing else to say on the subject, I returned to my room. Flying first class with Richard and Cinda, now that was certainly going to be an experience.
The next day I was en route to Australia, sitting in between my dad and some lady who continually yakked away on the in-plane telephone. The flight had been delayed a couple hours and I was already bored by having to sit around in the airport terminal.
The flight seemed to drag on forever. Neither Dad or I talked much. I spent most of the time thinking about how this was going to be my last time seeing my house, and I think Dad was thinking the same thing. The flight seemed rather quiet without Mum and Matt there. I didn't have any private conversation between my parents to listen in on or Matt's irritating commentary about the flight.
After what seemed like forever, we finally landed in Australia. We went through airport security for what seemed like the ten thousandth time that year. I was tired and achy from the trip and had no idea what time it was.
We walked to a dark alley and Dad Apparated us to the house. I felt my stomach lurch when we appeared in the middle of the kitchen and it had nothing to do with the Apparition.
"Well," Dad said quietly, "It's past midnight, so we'd better get to sleep. The sale is starting at nine in the morning."
I nodded without saying anything.
"Oh, and here's a sleeping bag," Dad pulled out his wand and conjured two squashy blue sleeping bags.
I put the sleeping bag under my arm and started to leave the room. "Er, Dad? Where's Clarence?"
"I owled him a few weeks ago and told him to make himself scarce during the sale. He knows I own all the contents of the house, so he actually listened."
"Ok," I said, "Good night, Dad."
"'Night, Amy," Dad gave me a hug, "I love you."
"Love you, too."
I trudged tiredly up the stairs and to my empty room. I tossed the sleeping bag on the floor and sat down on it. I stared into space and tried not to think about the fact that it was my last night there. I felt empty, just like my room. I realized that it had been a mistake to come back, that I should have just stayed in England. But I hadn't even had that choice. I wished I could just sleep outside, but I knew Dad wouldn't want me to and I didn't feel like making him angry. I knew this was just as hard, if not harder, for him than it was for me.
Dad woke me up after what seemed like only a few minutes of sleep. He shouted that the sale was starting in fifteen minutes. I hurriedly changed my clothes and located something to eat for brekkie.
People started trickling into the house at nine o'clock on the dot. Dad and the person running the sale immediately began showing them around. I just wandered around like I had during the last sale.
In fact, this sale was progressing much like the first one had. A few people had shown up for the sole purpose of trying to find out 'the scoop' about my family, just like last time. And just like last time, they were thrown out.
After seeing quite a bit of our stuff sold, I got sick of it and decided to just go wander around the bush until it was over. I spent a few hours out there and went back to the house when I figured the sale would be over.
When I returned, I found Dad and the salesman talking quietly at the kitchen table. Dad looked up when he saw me come in, but then went back to talking. I left the kitchen and wandered around the entire house. It was practically empty. There were a few things that hadn't been sold, but most everything was gone.
I loitered in the corridor outside the kitchen until the salesman left. I walked slowly into the kitchen after. Dad was standing there and I walked straight towards him. He embraced me in a hug as tears started to roll down my cheeks. I hadn't even realized that I was going to cry; it just sort of happened. We stayed that way for a while, before Dad pulled away.
"We're going to have to go," he said quietly, "I have a six o'clock flight."
I nodded. "Ok."
"I'll just go collect the furniture that didn't sell."
Dad returned a few minutes later with shrunken furniture that had not been sold. "So, this is it," he said quietly.
"Yeah," I whispered, "We're never coming back."
"No, Amy, we're not," Dad replied, "This part of our lives is over. But we need to look forward, not back."
That was easier said than done. "Let's just go," I said.
Dad wrapped me in a hug and we Disapparated from our house for the last time.
Dad didn't linger at Richard and Cinda's. With the estate sale behind him, I knew that his mind was now focusing on the full moon and the fact that it would be Matt's first transformation in England. His transformations were always worse when anything was different, and this one was definitely going to be different.
Richard and Cinda seemed rather excited about traveling to England and they had endless questions about the country for me. I hardly knew any of the answers, but I tried my best to answer them.
The weekend dragged on forever and I was counting down the time until I'd get to go back to England. I couldn't really call it home yet, but it was where my family was and it was better than staying at Richard and Cinda's. I stayed up practically all night on Monday, worrying about my brother. I realized halfway through the night that with the time change, the full moon hadn't even happened yet in England. This didn't cause my worry to wane, though. It merely prolonged it into Tuesday morning. I had always worried about Matt during full moons, but since he nearly died a few months ago, my worrying seemed to increase tenfold.
Richard and Cinda hadn't slept much either on Monday night, but this was due to the fact that we were going to the airport at four in the morning on Tuesday. They either completely ignored my obvious worrying or didn't notice it.
We piled into the car and drove to the airport. Richard dropped Cinda and I off with the luggage and then went to park in the long-term parking lot. He met us inside and then we went through security and then to wait at the terminal. The flight was only delayed thirty minutes, which was surprising.
After an hour or so of sitting in the waiting area and watching boring programs on the television, they announced that our flight was boarding. I collected my carry-on bag and followed Richard and Cinda to the queue of people waiting to get on the plane.
Once we gave our tickets to the lady at the counter, I followed Richard and Cinda through the little passageway to the plane. Instead of heading to the coach section like I usually did, I followed them into what couldn't possibly have been an actual airplane.
I stopped short when we entered the first class section. My jaw dropped as I saw the huge, comfortable looking seats. They practically looked like armchairs instead of airplane seats. There were two seats in each row next to each window and three seats in each row in the middle. Richard quickly found our seats, which were in the middle.
I claimed one of the outside ones and stowed my carry-on bag in the compartment above my head. I looked at the seat and saw that there was a fluffy pillow, a pair of slippers, a sleep mask, and a couple bottles of water sitting on it. I picked them up and threw myself into the seat, only to realize how comfortable it was. I might actually not be stiff and achy after this flight.
Not only were the seats more comfortable, but the atmosphere was more peaceful. There wasn't a single little kid in first class. As a matter of fact, I appeared to be the youngest one there. Most of the people appeared to be businessmen and women, judging by the amount of laptops I had seen so far.
Flight attendants were already walking up and down the aisles, bringing people drinks. Richard and Cinda each ordered a cocktail and they ordered me a soda.
The flight certainly started out more peaceful than the past flights I'd taken. Take-off was still terrifying, but after that, I read one of the books I'd brought and talked with my grandparents. Neither of them had seemed bothered in the slightest by the bumpy take-off. I still had no idea where I got my fear of heights from. Nobody else in my family had it.
The food was only slightly better in first class. I still found it rather unappetizing, but picked at it because I was hungry.
As the flight wore on and we came upon some turbulence that happened to fall shortly after they served the meal, I discovered that first-class barf bags are no better than coach ones. However, I was offered multiple Muggle antacids by the flight attendants, which I declined.
I managed to fall asleep after that and only woke up when they served the next, only slightly less disgusting, meal. It was easier to sleep in first class than coach. I was able to recline my seat back and pretend it was an actual bed. I fell asleep again after I finished the second meal.
I didn't wake up again until the pilot announced that we'd be landing. I pulled my seat up, buckled my seat belt, and braced for the landing.
I wasn't nearly as achy after this flight, but I was groggy. It was odd that I was still tired after sleeping for so much of the flight, but I was.
The plane had landed an hour or so later than scheduled, so by the time we made it through security, it was already getting dark in London. I didn't have a clue as to what day it was there, let alone what time it was.
We found Dad leafing through one of the Muggle magazines in the waiting area. Mum and Matt weren't anywhere to be seen, so I assumed they had stayed home.
"Dad!" I shouted as we drew nearer to him.
Dad looked up and set down his magazine. He stood up and embraced me. "Amy! I missed you. How was your flight?"
"Long. But comfortable. I like those first class seats," I grinned.
Dad laughed, "Now you've spoiled her, Richard."
Richard shrugged, "It's good to be spoiled every once in a while. How are you, Walter?"
"Exhausted," Dad sighed, "Haven't slept in over a day. How about you?"
"Good," Richard replied, "Sorry you're so tired."
Dad shrugged, "I'm used to it. How about you, Cinda?"
"I'm fine, Walter. Although I am eager to see this new house of yours."
"Dad, what time is it?" I asked, "Er, and what day is it?"
"Tuesday, and it's around 7:30," Dad answered.
I nodded. So, really, the full moon had only been last night. I supposed it had risen while I was on the plane, although I must have slept through it.
"Er, how's Matt?" I asked quietly.
"I'll tell you once we're home," Dad said, "Right now, I just want to get home as soon as possible."
That wasn't really a good sign. But I did want to get back to the house soon as well.
We left the airport and walked to the nearest Apparition point. Since Dad was the only one who could actually Apparate, and he couldn't side-along Apparate three people, we had to go in shifts. Dad took me first, along with all the luggage, and we Disapparated with a loud crack.
We appeared in the middle of the backyard and hurried towards the house. Once I was inside, Dad turned around to go get my grandparents.
"Amy?" I heard Mum shout from the kitchen.
I left my suitcase and carry-on bag next to the door and ran into the kitchen. "Hi, Mum!"
"Amy," Mum smiled and gave me a hug, "How was your flight?"
"Long," I replied, "But I like first class."
"Well, I'm glad you're back," Mum said as she turned back to her cooking.
"Me, too," I said as I climbed onto one of the stools. It was odd that I was so happy to be back in England. I hadn't enjoyed that trip to Australia at all. It just hadn't seemed real somehow. The house had been empty and didn't seem like ours anymore.
"Are you hungry?" Mum asked, "We're going to eat as soon as Dad, Richard, and Cinda get here."
"Yeah, I didn't eat much on the plane."
"How's Matt?" I asked.
Mum stopped slicing bread and turned back to me. "He's ok," she sighed, "It was just a bad one because it was in a new place. Dad tried to make the room exactly like the old one, but the wolf knew it was different.
"I gave him potions for the pain and dreamless sleep and he's been sleeping most of the day. I think he'll be better tomorrow. We took him to Healer Sterling this afternoon for a check-up and he said Matt didn't really re-injure anything, so that's good. He just needs to sleep it off."
I nodded. It could have been much, much worse. I wasn't sure what I had been expecting, but it had been worse than what had actually happened. What I was surprised about was how quickly Mum had told me about the transformation. I was half expecting to have to pry it out of her like I usually did. Not to mention the fact that I was home and it was the day after a full moon. That never happened. I would have thought that Mum would make me stay in Australia longer. Richard and Cinda could have gotten tickets for much later in the week, but Mum actually wanted me home before then. Was she actually softening about me being home during the full moon? I was hesitant to believe it, but that did seem like where it was going.
A/N: Thanks to my beta, Dancer_of_Starlight! Thanks as well to Erin, Roxz80, and Moonylupin for their reviews!
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