Chapter 15 : Blue Moon
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Myra spent almost the entire Sunday in the back garden. The house suffocated her; she needed fresh air, needed to feel the sun burning on her face. She had brought some text books from Care of Magical Creatures with her to cheer herself up, but it didn't help. Even when Marie asked her to come to the lake for a swim, she declined. Myra always went with her sister to swim in the lake or the down town pool, but for once she just didn't feel up to it.
For the entire week following the werewolf discussion with her mother, Myra kept mostly to herself. She went about her day uncharacteristically quiet, trying to make sense of this new information, and how it changed even what she had previously thought she'd known about the treatment of creatures in the Wizarding World. Her love of Care of Magical Creatures from an appreciation for all sorts of animals, but she was beginning to realize that creatures just didn't mean fuzzy kneazles and nifflers. Goblins, vampires, werewolves, centaurs, merpeople, house elves – lots of people called them creatures too, didn't they? At least in the legal sense. Muggles didn't believe in them, so they didn't exist at all for most people. But they did for her. They had their own history, their own wars and revolutions. They were just as real as everyone else, and, as Myra was beginning to realise, didn't have nearly as much protection as they deserved.
Of course, the creatures that took up most of Myra's thoughts were werewolves. She compared her mother's stories to how they were described in the curriculum, and the image of a rampaging, unfeeling monster just couldn't match up with the Remus Lupin she knew. This hatred for werewolves and other 'half humans' came mostly from the fear of the abnormal and the unknown – but it wasn't 'unknown' anymore! The prejudice had evolved out of deep roots in the history of magical society. Her mother hadn't been raised with these outdated prejudices as a Muggleborn. Because of her profession, she had also learned to deal with many different creatures, and seen and entirely different side of society. She learned to accept those who were different, and passed on those same ideals of tolerance and fairness to her children.
Werewolves were fascinating – in theory. Being one was something else entirely. Sirius, James, Peter and Dumbledore – they were right to be so protective of him. Myra planned to be too.
Myra's new attitude didn't go unnoticed; Robert and Chelsie both realised that Myra wasn't entirely herself. They asked her if something was wrong on a daily basis, but she denied it every time. Chelsie pulled Myra aside one day, asking if she was still upset about the story of the werewolf experiments. But she denied this too, although it wasn't entirely true. She was upset about it, how could she not be? It had upset her, but it was mostly upset for Remus' sake. She hopped he would never have to get involved in experiments like that.
On Monday, some good news took Myra's mind off werewolves, at least for a while. She was joining her dad and Marie at the kitchen table for a late breakfast, when a Hogwarts owl landed on the sill of the open window. Myra thought she knew what it was and jumped eagerly up to take the envelope it brought. Before the bird flew off, her dad passed it a treat while she eagerly tore open the letter and began to read:
Exceeds Expectations (E)
MYRA KINNEY HAS ACHIEVED:
Care of Magical Creatures: O
Defence Against the Dark Arts: A
History of Magic: O
Magical Living: E
Wizarding Culture Studies: E
O.W.L.s ACHIEVED: 11
Wizarding Examinations Authority
July 18th, 1977
It was a lot more than she had hoped for – O.W.L.s in all her classes! Of course, she owed everything to Remus for her Defence mark.
"Well done, Myra! This needs to be celebrated!" Robert announced once he had read the report too. "How about we have chicken casserole for dinner tonight, with a huge chocolate fudge cake for dessert? And Butterbeer, of course. It will be a surprise for your mother to get home to. You can have your pick of snacks that we can munch away at until your mother gets home too. No telling her!"
The two sisters agreed excitedly, and Myra felt excited for the first time in days. It was her favourite meal.
After a quick cleanup, Robert and the girls Flooed into Diagon Alley and got everything they needed at the market there, including some snacks. Myra picked up pumpkin seeds and Chocolate Frogs, as well as some Sugar Quills because she knew Marie liked them. Back home they munched on the snacks as they prepared for the celebratory supper. Eating enough that it was a wonder how they would manage to have room for the meal as well.
When Chelsie got home from work, she was very surprised to see what her husband and daughters had cooked up. "It's to celebrate Myra's O.W.L. results!" Robert announced, ceremonially handing over the letter.
She smiled as she read, and ended up giving Myra a very big hug. "You've done very well, sweetie! I'm so proud of you!" As much as Myra appreciated the compliment, she knew that as a former Ravenclaw, her mother had probably hoped for more O's. Certainly not any A's.
"Thanks, mum," Myra replied timidly. "Can we eat now? I'm hungry."
"Yes, let's eat!" Marie chimed in.
Motioning for them all to sit, Robert began serving out large portions of chicken casserole. In spite of the amount of snacks consumed earlier that day (which it was agreed Chelsie would never find out about) all four of them managed to eat every crumb.
After dinner, Robert suggested they play games. Since the evening was in Myra's honour, it was decided that there would be an impromptu Gobstones tournament. Myra easily beat Marie, and Robert beat out Chelsie, the latter not wanting to be coated in foul-smelling liquid and allowing a win by default. The finals between Robert and Myra was a truly fierce fight; two very stubborn Gryffindors with equal playing skills. In the end, Myra was victorious, and the sitting room was in desperate need of airing out.
It had been a nice family evening, giving Myra a temporary break from her busy mind.
Just a few days later, Myra was back to her thoughtful stupor – much to her parent's dismay. Someone needed to take action. Finally, on Saturday morning, Robert announced that Hestia would be coming over to spend the day. Myra knew nothing about this, and was suddenly very suspicious about the motivation behind her friend's unexpected visit.
"Not that I mind, but why?" she asked.
"We're taking Marie to get some new robes. She's growing so quickly. I thought you would have more fun at home with a friend," Chelsie said, ushering Marie and Robert out the back door. "Am I right?"
"I suppose so..." Myra agreed reluctantly, unconvinced that this was an innocent visit.
She was right. Not three minutes after her parents and sister had Apparated away, Hestia came through the Floo – and Myra immediately started interrogating her. Robert had ended up Flooing her parents the evening before, asking if Hestia knew if something was wrong with Myra, or if something had happened at school. Of course, Hestia had no clue. Robert kept insisting that something was wrong, and eventually asked her to talk to Myra, 'as her friend' to find out what was going on.
"He just wants to help, Myra," Hestia placated, when Myra started muttering angrily under her breath about her parents' unknown scheming skills. "But ulterior motives aside, we have almost an entire day to ourselves!"
The girls got comfortable out in the garden, laying in the sun. They struck up a relatively innocent conversation about the summer so far. Hestia shared some stories from when she babysat her cousin Gwenog for a week, and Myra shared the news of her O.W.L.s and the celebration afterwards. Everything was going smoothly, and she was even enjoying the company, until Hestia asked her about Remus. Had she written to him? Hear anything from him? Myra's mile immediately vanished, which Hestia noticed right away.
"Nothing," Myra insisted, struggling to act like 'nothing' was indeed wrong. "I'm fine."
"You're not fine, Myra. I've been sent here to brighten your mood. I at least have to take a crack at it! Talk to me!"
"There's nothing to tell! It just hasn't... been a good summer." Myra closed her eyes and leaned back, soaking up the sun, hoping Hestia would take the hint and leave off. She didn't.
"I'll tell you what I think is wrong." Hestia shifted in her chair, straightening up as much as she could. "You're depressed. And it's all because of Remus bloody Lupin. You care about him and now you're all bent out of shape because he ignored you since the end of school. I bet it's something to do with whatever you found out about him, isn't it? You haven't a clue what to do, but if you could just stop being so stroppy and just tell me what it is?!"
Myra opened her eyes to look at her best friend. Hestia was spot on; not that she would ever admit it. "You know I can't tell you. It's not my secret, anyways. I'll get over it."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes. Things will work out, or... I'll get over it."
Hestia didn't seem convinced, but, after a tense moment, gave up and moved on to happier, safer topics of conversation. She knew that if Myra wasn't ready to talk about the goings on in her head, she wouldn't – especially if she couldn't be honest without giving up a secret that wasn't hers to tell.
Hestia stayed for dinner, to Marie's delight, but went home shortly after. Without the distraction of her best friend, Myra couldn't help but wander back to the topic that was keeping her so edgy. How was Remus doing now that another full moon was fast approaching? She checked the calendar and noticed that July had two of them this year; a blue moon. That would make it much worse, wouldn't it? Myra wanted desperately to talk to him. What if she could visit him? If she could just see for herself how he was doing...
No. She cast that thought away quickly. Even if she could convince him to not throw her out or make silly excuses not to see her, she couldn't bear being treated with the same indifference he had showed her at the end of the year. Maybe she could send him a letter. Let him know she was still his friend, if he wanted her to be, and that she would think about him during the blue moon. That she wished there was something she could do to help. Godric had not granted her the bravery to send a letter like that. It would be better than being denied to her face, but she would most likely spend the rest of the summer wondering if he would reply, and if he didn't, why.
That didn't mean she couldn't write someone else, though. There were the Marauders. One of the boys would surely understand that she wanted to make sure he was okay. It wouldn't be as traumatic if they didn't write her back. She decided to write to Sirius Black, because despite his hotheadedness, he was the one who seemed to be the most protective of Remus, and the most adamant about his well-being. Something about that made her feel a bit safer about turning to him for advice.
She brought a fresh piece of parchment and her quill out into the bright sun of the garden to compose her letter to Sirius. It took her a few tries to find the right words; after all, this was something she thought she would never do. Myra didn't want to sound childish – it needed to be perfect.
Dear Sirius Black
I never thought I would write to you, but here I am. I won't beat around the bush.
Here's the thing; I suppose by now Remus knows that I know about him. I haven't had the opportunity to talk to him since I found out, but you're his friends, so I guess you told him. I figure that's why he ignored be the last month at school, right? I know it's not you guys' fault, but it kind of hurts. He's been a great friend to me, and I'd rather not lose him over something as silly as... you know.
Don't get me wrong, I know it's not silly; but in the grand scheme of things, it hardly matters at all. At least not to me.
I wanted to ask if you know about anything I can do to salvage our friendship before it's completely lost. I don't understand why he avoids me, and I don't want to push him farther away. You and James and Peter have been friends with him for a long time, after all. If anyone would know, it's you.
PS: I haven't told Hestia or Marie or anyone about what I know. And I won't say anything, at all. Unless he'd want me to.
Looking back over what she had written, she hoped it conveyed how much she cared about Remus, but also how much she respected the secret that had to be kept. As if sensing that she was needed, Myra's owl Meadow flew in from the nearby woods, hooting joyfully. Myra folded the letter and looked around to see if anyone was looking. No one was, so she pulled out her wand to put a Sealing Charm on the letter. Then she wrote Sirius Black on the outside. No one but him would be able to open it now. Meadow opened her beak obediently.
"Take this to Sirius Black, will you?" Myra requested kindly, giving Meadow the letter. "I have no idea where he lives, but I know you can find him." Meadow hooted something that sounded frighteningly like 'of course' and took off.
The morning of the blue moon, all Myra wanted to do was get out of the house. She decided to take Marie out into the Hope Woodlands for a hike. They packed a small basket with food and blankets, and went out to the Pineapple Farm bus stop to catch the Muggle bus.
Thankfully, the bus was practically empty, because Marie talked excitedly the entire ride about how she wanted to try out for the Hufflepuff Quidditch team. At the stop in Hope Woodlands there were many Muggles; summer tourists and village locals. Myra had to remind Marie to keep quiet about anything magical, to which Marie childishly replied that she wasn't bloody stupid. They began walking up the rugged moorland that was Hope Woodlands.
Myra hadn't frequented Bakewell town more than once or twice since she started Hogwarts. She hadn't been to Hope Woodlands since then either. She would rather go to her friends' houses or Diagon Alley. Now and then she recognized some of her old friends from before school, as she and her sister trudged up the steep hills in the warm July sun. They seemed to recognize her too, looking curiously at her, but they didn't greet or acknowledge her. Maybe they thought she was too snobby to continue being friends, going off to a 'fancy' boarding school and all.
"Why are you so quiet?" Marie asked suddenly.
"Oh, no reason," Myra answered. "I'm just in a thoughtful mood today. Let's find somewhere to have our lunch."
Over the course of the day Myra had managed to forget school, forget Remus, forget blue moons, and best of all, the horrible tale her mother had told at the beginning of the month. But as the sun set and the moon rose, she couldn't help but listen for howls. There were none, but she heard them anyways, echoing in her head.
She was in the sitting room, trying to read one of her schoolbooks, while her mother worked on inventory for the Apothecary. Her dad was putting Marie to bed, reading a book to tire her out.
After a while Chelsie put down her stack of parchment, looking up at her daughter. "You look like you could use a distraction. Do you want to help me in the garden?"
"Sure," Myra answered, abandoning her book without a second thought. She followed her mother down the familiar path into the backyard, to the fenced part of the garden that Chelsie had sectioned off especially for growing herbs and plants. Half of her patch grew in the sun and the fresh air, while the other half took up a small greenhouse.
"Some of these herbs will be more potent if picked under a full moon, and even more so if picked today, on the blue moon," Chelsie explained when they reached the greenhouse. She cast a Lumos and placed her wand in one of many poles she had erected around the place. Some of the plants didn't thrive under magical lighting, Muggle lighting, or candle light; she had strategically placed poles around the garden at set distances so that they didn't bother the plants, but gave enough wand light to work by at night.
"Fluxweed," Myra recognized the plant her mother had begun harvesting.
"Yes. When picked during a full moon, it's very good for-"
"Polyjuice Potion." Chelsie looked up in surprise, so she hurried to explain. "I read about it when studying for my O.W.L.s. We weren't actually taught how to make it, but we talked about it in class." Her mum nodded, and went back to work. The greenhouse was silent for a few minutes, while they worked to gather the stringy green plants.
"Mum," Myra began hesitantly, a thought coming to her.
When she didn't continue, Chelsie urged her on. "Yes, Myra?"
"About the full moon. The blue moon more specifically. Other than making these plants more potent when harvested, do you know if it has a similar effect on werewolves? Like making them more vicious, or bloodthirsty, or something?"
Chelsie stopped what she was doing and looked up at her daughter from her kneeling position. "What is it with this sudden interest in werewolves, Myra?"
"I've always been interested in animals and magical creatures, mum," Myra defended herself. "I just want to know more. That's all."
Chelsie didn't look like she believed her, but knowing her daughter could be horribly stubborn, she didn't push the subject. "I'm not sure; it's not something I've looked into much, but it wouldn't surprise me if it did have an accelerated effect on werewolves. It's been said that certain spells will be more powerful if performed during the full moon, but I've also heard somewhere that magic is less powerful during that time. I don't know. Maybe, maybe not. Why don't you ask Professor Kettleburn when you go back to school? Or your Defence teacher. What was his name? Biggar? Professor Something Biggar?"
"Patrick Biggar," Myra offered automatically. "But mum, he's not coming back. The Defence teachers never do, remember?"
"Right, you're right. The supposed curse. I had Merrythought my first year, but when he retired we got Professor Stukley. He was there for at least ten years, I think. I never remember that curse. Why is Professor Biggar leaving? Marie always spoke so fondly of him."
"He was offered a better position at Durmstrang. I think he'll fit in perfectly there." Myra said the last part sourly.
"There is no need to be rude about him even if you don't like him."
"He wasn't a very sympathetic teacher."
Myra didn't agree.
"Back to what we were talking about. Why don't you ask Professor Kettleburn or the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher about the blue moon's effect on werewolves, or other creatures?"
"I guess I can do that," Myra agreed. She bent down and continued helping her mother with the Fluxweed.
The morning after dawned wet and warm, black clouds crowded the sky and threatened to unleash their fury at any moment. But at least another full moon had come and gone for all the werewolves of the world. Myra was sure she would have heard back from Sirius by now, which was why she kept looking up at the sky to see any approaching owls. Meadow hadn't returned either, but were there really any owls in their right mind that would be out flying in this miserable weather?
It was still raining on Monday, but the clouds weren't as threatening. Robert had to go back to work, and Chelsie would begin her holiday next week. Today, the girls were home alone. Marie was drawing in the sitting room instead of doing the rest of her summer homework. Myra was by the kitchen counter reading Transfiguration, being not at all happy with the Exceeds Expectations on her O.W.L. But a tap at the window soon drew her attention. Meadow stood there, shaking water from her feathers as Myra let her in.
"Hello, lovely," she cooed, and filled a bowl of water for the owl. "Was it a long journey? I really have no idea where Sirius lives."
Meadow answered her with a tired hoot, before taking great gulps of water. Myra took her letter back to the counter and opened it.
It was from Sirius.
I was quite surprised to receive a letter from you. I was hoping it was a love letter from a lovely lady, but alas...
For a moment Myra stared in surprise at the beautiful, curly cursive. It didn't fit his personality, this curly writing. Though, he came from an old pure-blood family, and it must be compulsory for pure-blood children to learn calligraphy and many other skills at a young age. So maybe it did make sense.
You're right; we did tell Remus you know about his 'furry little problem'. That's the reason behind his behaviour. It's not something he talks about a lot. Just be patient. Let him be. He'll come around if he wants to be your friend. Just don't bother him about it.
We appreciate you keeping your mouth shut.
It was short, and a little blunt, but that was Sirius for you. You could force skills and smarts on a person, but you couldn't beat the git out of them. No matter how rude Sirius was, Myra knew it made sense. Remus seemed like a very private person, for obvious reasons. When he was ready to approach her again, Myra would be prepared. Of course, if they happened to be partnered as prefects again or thrown together for some other reasons, she wouldn't not take advantage of the situation. She was too curious and stubborn not to.
"Merlin's beard, I hope I pick him for my next prefect partner," she muttered as she banished the letter to her safe-drawer in her room.
"I met Nicholas Jones today," Chelsie announced at the dinner table later that day. "He was at the meeting at St. Mungo's discussing the terms of a new delivery schedule for blood-replenishing potions."
"How are they?" Robert asked.
"They're fine. Mr Jones hasn't had any time off yet this summer. Mrs Jones has been spending time around the house, working on her new book."
"Good! Can't wait to read it. Her last one was hilarious!"
"It was." There was a pause, as her mother reached across the table for the butter dish. She turned her attention to Myra. "Mr Jones asked me if you were still planning on going to Hestia's for her birthday."
"Well, he knew the two of you have talked about visiting each other this summer. Hestia's apparently been nagging at them to have you over for a while now. He said you could come over a few days before her birthday celebration. If you want to, you're welcome to Floo over Wednesday morning and stay until Sunday."
"Yes, please!" Myra answered immediately. Determined to push all thoughts of Remus and werewolves out of her mind, it would be much easier to do so around Hestia. She was sure to keep them both so busy that she would have time to think about anything else.
"And," her mother continued. "Since I will be starting my holiday next Monday, why don't you invite Hestia with you when you leave on Sunday. She can stay here for a few days?"
"Yes," Myra and Marie said together.
"Then it's decided," Chelsie concluded. "Finish packing by tomorrow evening and I'll Floo over there with you on Wednesday morning."
Myra couldn't wait, and nearly bolted from the dinner table right then to pack her bags in preparation for her stay at the Jones'. She was more than ready to make the best of what was left of the summer. Nothing was going to stop her.
 Fun fact: Mrs Jones is an author of fantasy novels. Which for witches and wizards means novels about Muggles.
I'm so terribly sorry this has taken so long! But I've had to reinstall my laptop twice, I've gotten out of unemployment and that's taking its toll on my energy levels, and the original chapter 15 was a real struggle to get through for me and my beta. To make it work, we've rearranged everything and split it into two. So my treat to you for having to way so long, is to have this and the next chapter out in quick succession. Unfortunately my beta is having technical difficulties, so chapter 16 may take a few days, but it will not take 2 weeks. Once chapter 16 is out, regular posting should resume.
Hope you haven't given up on me! Please review if you have any thoughts on the chapter!
Coming: Chapter 16 – Visits and Firewhiskey
"Hey, look here," Ashley said. She reached into the top of her bra and pulled something out. "There's a Cooling Charm on this. It was starting to hurt. Can I risk a spot of magic?" Ashley pulled her wand from her robe pocket and pointed it to the item in her hand. "Engorgio."
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