Chapter 38 : One Step Closer
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I never told Matt or my parents about the possible success of the three new potions. It wasn't a conscious decision, just merely the result of my constantly busy life. First there was the September full moon, then my getting back together with Dillan, then I had to brew a new batch of Skele-Gro, and by the time I realized I hadn't told them, the timing just didn't seem right. Instead, I decided to wait until after they went through testing. It made sense. This way, no one would get their hopes up if these potions were duds, too. The only people who knew were Dillan, Liane, and the potions testers.
“I think I'm going to stop by the support group meeting this week,” Liane said as she watched me do my charts while we waited for my next appointment. “I actually don't have anything else going on.”
“That'd be great. Everyone would love to see you.”
“How is Kate doing?” Liane asked. “I always felt really bad for her. She hardly talked at the meetings.”
“She's actually opening up a bit this school year. Ever since she got back to Hogwarts,” I said. “She never talks about her brother, but she talks. Last meeting she said she wants to be a writer some day.”
“Wow,” Liane said. “Never would have guessed that.”
“Me either,” I said. Whatever Rose was doing for therapy was working. “Professor Kendrick told me she's only had three detentions so far.”
“That's got to be some sort of record.”
“I think it is,” I said as I set down my quill. “We have to get going. Appointment in five minutes.”
After the appointment Liane and I went to the basement to check on my potions in the testing facility, again. I tried to only check once a day, but I'd checked so early that morning that I figured it couldn't hurt to check once more.
“Any news for me?” I asked as we stepped up to the window.
Paul was working that day. He's an old man with white wispy hair on his head that gives him a very Albert Einstein look about him and he's sharp as anything. He used to brew, but got into potion testing after he “retired.”
“Actually,” Paul began as he turned around and rifled through a stack of parchment. “I do!” He handed me three pieces of parchment, one for each of the potions.
I glanced at the first one. It was the one for the anise and powdered root of asphodel. “Oh my God, it passed!”
“So did one other,” Paul said with a grin.
I flipped to the next sheet. The one with just asphodel had failed. That meant that the snake fangs, witch hazel, and garlic passed! “Merlin, this is amazing!”
“Congratulations,” Paul said.
“One step closer,” I said.
Liane and I went back to my study and poured over the results. After a half hour of deliberating I decided to brew the snake fangs, witch hazel, and garlic potion first.
“One of these is going to work,” Liane said. “I just have this weird feeling about it.”
“Me too,” I said. And I did. It was a feeling that I couldn't explain and it hadn't gone away. It stayed there, in my gut, in my heart, in my mind. The feeling was everywhere.
The new potion, like regular Wolfsbane, took four days to brew and could be stored for up to a week. I didn't like to risk week old potions, so I always brewed two batches of Wolfsbane. One for the first half of the week and one for the second. I always added a bit more aconite to the batch for the second half of the week because the full moon was closer. It was a slight tweak to the potion that not all brewers agreed upon, but it was one I felt was beneficial.
I kept the potion a surprise until a week before the full moon, when Matt was due to start taking it. It was the day of support group meetings, so I owled him and told him to meet me at my study before we went over to the meeting rooms. I had the steaming goblet ready when he arrived.
“What's that?” he asked, eyeing the goblet suspiciously.
I grinned. “New potion for you.”
Matt's jaw dropped. “But you didn't tell me you were making another one.”
“I know. I wanted to keep it a secret. I've got this one and then another recipe to try next month if this doesn't work. They're both based on the new strain of lycanthropy Rose and I discovered.”
“Merlin, I'm surprised you kept that secret,” Matt said as he grabbed the goblet. He drank it in one gulp. “Disgusting, as usual.”
“Sorry. Sugar still renders the aconite ineffective,” I said. “Three times a day for the next week and we'll see what happens.”
“Do Mum and Dad know?”
“Nope,” I said. “Only Kaden and Liane know. Plus the potion testers.”
Matt nodded. “Guess we better get going to the meetings.”
I agreed and we set off for the meeting rooms. Matt never said much about the potions I created for him, mostly because he didn't like to get his hopes up. It bothered me in the beginning but I was used to it by now. If and when I ever made one that worked, he'd get excited then.
Everyone was waiting for me when I arrived at the meeting room. To my surprise Kate was deep in conversation with Scarlett, a very unlikely pair. Izzy had her nose in a book and Vinny and Tyler were once again discussing Quidditch.
I walked in quietly, not announcing my presence, so that Kate and Scarlett would keep talking. Kate looked genuinely happy and I smiled to myself as I watched them out of the corner of my eye.
“Sorry I'm late!”
I looked over to the door and saw Liane rushing in, depositing a stack of books onto the table.
“My exam went later than I thought,” she said.
“Liane!” Izzy exclaimed as she jumped up from her seat and gave Liane a hug.
The rest of the group followed suit, even Kate, although she did not embrace Liane like Izzy and Scarlett did.
“How is healing school?” Izzy asked.
“Gotten covered in blood yet?” Tyler added.
“Is it really busy?” Scarlett asked.
“Good, no, and yes.” Liane laughed.
The entire meeting was spent with everyone catching up with Liane. She talked in great detail about her classes and how she'd been observing me. Everyone seemed very impressed with that last part, although I honestly had no idea why. My life didn't seem that exciting to me.
At the end of the meeting Liane promised to come back and Izzy insisted if she didn't she would tell her owl to peck Liane incessantly until she did. I had Liane walk them to the Floo room so that I could talk with Kate privately.
“What's up?” Kate asked after everyone left. That was an improvement. Usually she would just sulk.
“I wanted to ask how Hogwarts is going this year, and how therapy is going.”
“Rose is actually really cool,” Kate said with a smile. “She lets me call her Rose. Over the summer we always had our sessions at the Leaky Cauldron or some other restaurant. Or we'd go for walks. Never in her office or my house.”
“That must have been nice, getting out of the house,” I commented.
“It was. My parents...they just don't get it. I know every teenager says that, but they really don't. They're so wrapped up in Thomas that they just don't pay attention to me. No matter what I do.”
“They'll realize their mistake eventually. Mine did,” I said quietly.
“I know. Rose keeps telling me that. She also said that I should do something to make them notice me, but not anything bad like setting Kendrick's study on fire.”
I had to stifle a laugh. “She's right. My parents started respecting me right around the time I stopped resenting my brother for us having to move and around the time I decided to become a healer.”
“Well, I'm not becoming a healer,” Kate insisted.
“I never said it had to be that,” I replied. “Not everyone can be a healer, and the world needs people to choose other careers.”
“But should I want to be a healer?” Kate asked quietly. “Shouldn't I want to try and make the world better for Thomas? You're a healer, Liane's studying to be a healer....”
“No,” I said. “It's perfectly normal for you not to want to be a healer. Look at your parents, neither one of them went out and became a healer, did they?”
“Well, no, but-”
“No buts,” I said. “If you want to be a healer, fine, but if not, that's fine, too.”
Kate nodded. “I've actually started a book. I haven't told anyone about it, not even Rose.”
“That's wonderful,” I said.
“I told Rose I like to write, but I didn't mention the book...it's about me. Kind of an autobiography type thing. It's about Thomas, too.”
“That would be a great way to get your parents to respect you,” I said. “Don't tell them about it until you're ready, but when you are, they'd love to know.”
“I was actually thinking of trying to get it published. I'd change all the names of course, to keep Thomas's lycanthropy secret, but I think I could do it.”
“That is a wonderful idea,” I told her. “I bet you would open a lot of people's eyes with a book like that.”
“That's what I thought.”
“And that would be helping your brother just as much as becoming a healer would,” I said.
Kate smiled. “You think so?”
“I know so,” I said, smiling back. “Ready to get back to Hogwarts?”
Kate nodded. “Thanks, Amy.”
We walked quietly to the Floo room, but neither of us needed to say anything. Somehow, whether it was due to me and the support group or more likely, due to Rose, Kate was coming around.
I didn't tell Mum and Dad about the new potion until Sunday night dinner, which was the night before the full moon. Matt spent the evening on the couch, not eating a thing. Dillan joined us as well.
“I just don't understand why you didn't tell us you were working on a new potion,” Mum said over dessert. “We're your parents for Merlin's sake!”
Dillan snorted into his glass of water and I kicked him under the table. “I just don't see the point in getting everyone's hopes up. I'm nearly always working on a new potion and Matt tests at least five of them a year.”
“Yes, but this is the first one since you discovered the new strain of lycanthropy. Has that been recognized officially yet?” Mum asked.
“No,” I said. “It's going to take a while. My results have to be confirmed by other researchers in multiple countries. Then the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures has to get involved.”
“But you and Rose will be credited with the discovery, right?” Mum replied.
“Yeah,” I said.
“Which means you'll get to name it,” Mum said.
“We're probably just going to call it the Australian strain,” I said. “All the strains are named after where they were discovered.”
“I suppose that makes sense. Do you have anything else you've been hiding?”
“I've got another potion to try next month if this one doesn't work,” I said.
“Merlin, Amy! Two potions you've been hiding?”
Dillan burst out laughing again, earning him another kick. Mum dropped the subject and Dillan told a few amusing stories about inebriated customers at work. Matt wound up staying at Mum and Dad's since he'd just have to go back the following evening for the full moon.
I found it very difficult to concentrate on anything the next day. In twenty-four hours I would know whether the potion was successful or not. It was a nerve-wracking feeling, one that was very familiar to me and foreign at the same time. For the first time I could see an end to this part of my career.
For the first time, I was starting to think about what would happen after I created a potion that worked for Matt, for all of the potions with the new strain of lycanthropy. I'd never allowed myself to think about that before because it was such an abstract concept, one that a little part of me never thought would happen. But now it was within reach.
The obvious thing was that Matt would never again attack himself during full moons. He would obviously transform and that in itself was exhausting, but he most likely wouldn't wake up with injuries. It would change his life forever, but it would also change mine. My name was already becoming easily recognized amongst the general public, for the discovery of the new strain of lycanthropy, but creating a new Wolfsbane would seal that fate. I wouldn't be Harry Potter famous, but I'd be famous enough.
I thought about this all day. I honestly wasn't sure I wanted the fame that would come with creating a new Wolfsbane potion, but I didn't have much choice in the matter. I'd deal with it if and when it came.
I left work a little after six and arrived home to an owl from Dillan. He wasn't going to be able to sit with me at Mum and Dad's during the full moon because his bartender had come down with the flu and he had to fill in. I wasn't angry about it and Dillan assured me he'd sit with me for next month's.
Matt was asleep when I arrived at my parents' house. Mum and Dad were eating sandwiches and I joined them. We didn't talk. Just before moonrise, Matt woke up and Dad took him downstairs, putting up the appropriate wards after he was shut in.
This was it. My heart was pounding fast and I couldn't sit still. Mum and Dad sat at the table, but I paced around the kitchen, waiting. The seconds ticked by and the moon peeked its way above the horizon. Then I heard it. The unmistakable howling and growling of the wolf.
My heart sank. After all that build-up, mostly on my part, the potion had failed. Why had I thought it would? My potions never work. Why should this one have been any different?
“You don't know that it didn't work,” Dad said quietly. “We won't know until morning.”
“Sophie doesn't howl or growl on Wolfsbane,” I said. “No one does.”
“Maybe this one's different-”
“No, Dad, it just means the potion didn't work. It's okay. I have another one to try next month.”
We sat our full moon vigil in silence like usual. Dad didn't bring up the idea that maybe the potion did work again and Mum, who hadn't said a word about it after the moon rose, didn't bring it up to begin with.
Dad went down to the basement after the moon set and brought Matt up to his room. I followed and healed his injuries without a single word to Dad. “I'll try again next month,” I said to Dad, more to comfort myself than him.
I left the house and Apparated to Shell Cottage, but I didn't go inside right away. Instead I walked to the sea and stood there, letting the water soak into my shoes, feeling the cold seep into my feet and course through my whole body.
I wasn't sure why this one was hitting me so hard. Usually it didn't affect me when a potion didn't work, unless it went so far as to harm Matt, like the one last December. But this one hadn't hurt him. I guess I just thought that the new strain of lycanthropy really had been the answer, but it wasn't. Second potion. I kept reminding myself of the second potion, but it wasn't helping.
The waves crashed against the shore and I let the mist from the sea hit me. It felt good. I'm not sure how long I stood there watching wave after wave come crashing into the sand and into my feet. But then there was a shadow coming closer to me. I turned around and saw Victoire walking toward me without a baby in her arms. It was a rare sight these days.
“Amy, you've been standing here for nearly an hour,” she said as she reached me. “Aren't you cold?”
“I don't really feel it anymore,” I said quietly.
“What's wrong?” she asked. “Is Matt okay?”
“He's fine. The potion didn't work.”
“Oh.” She gave me a hug and then cast a drying spell on me.
I felt the warmth from the spell engulf me, which made me realize just how cold it was. “I really thought this one was going to work. I always tell my parents and Matt not to get their hopes up which is why I didn't tell anyone about this particular potion for so long, but this time, I got my hopes up. Guess I'm bad at taking my own advice.”
“You're going to get it,” she told me. “Ever since you first told me about wanting to fix the Wolfsbane potion I knew you were going to do it.”
“It's been years, Victoire,” I said. “I'm not sure what else I can do. I've researched. I've tried everything.”
“Hey, don't get discouraged,” Victoire said. “The answer is out there. And you still have that second potion. If that one doesn't work I'll give you the right to mope, but you can't mope now.”
I giggled. “Oh, and you're in charge of moping rights?”
“I have a six-year-old smarter than me and twin five and a half month old boys who are well on their way to following in their prankster great-uncles' footsteps. I haven't slept properly in months. So, yes, I have the right to tell you you can't mope.”
I laughed. “Okay, I suppose you're right.”
“Of course I'm right. Now come inside and have some breakfast. Mum's done a whole fry-up and if you don't have some Teddy's going to eat all of it. And if he does that I'm going to have to let out his Auror robes and I just don't have the time.” Victoire grabbed my arm and started pulling me toward the house.
I smiled as I followed her. Victoire was right. There was still a whole other potion that had the same possibilities as this one. I could mope about if that one didn't work, but I wouldn't know that for another month.
A/N: Only two more chapters left. Thanks for all the lovely reviews!
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