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Chapter 18 : Lycanthropy and All
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There are very few things in the world that irritate the hell out of Rose, which I imagine is in the job description for a psychiatrist, but barging into her study without knocking is one of them. Doing so while she has a patient is even worse. She kicked me out and told me to return at lunch with food, or else she wouldn't let me in at all.
I returned a few hours later, armed with take-out from Rose's favorite diner as well as a few slices of cake. If that didn't appease her, I didn't know what would.
“Hello, Lily,” Rose muttered as she let me in. “You better have brought something good.”
“Burgers,” I said, handing her the bag, “and chips and cake from Don's Diner.”
Rose smiled. “Okay. That earns you points.” She sat down at her desk and pulled the food out of the bag. “But what the hell was so important that you felt the need to barge in on me while I was with a patient? Never do that again, by the way. I'm not above calling security on family. I did it to James once.”
I nodded. The incident of James's unceremonious ejection from St. Mungo's was a bit of a dark spot on the family history. None of us mention it.
“But he was drunk,” I pointed out. “And emotional. I am neither.”
Rose raised her eyebrows as she took a bite of her burger. “I'd wager you're a bit emotional,” she said after swallowing.
“Okay, I'll give you that,” I consented, shoving a few chips into my mouth. “But I am sober.”
“I'd hope so; it's Monday morning,” Rose said. “Really, though, what is it?”
“I was right,” I replied, grinning. “About Matt.”
“Why are you so happy about it?”
I sighed. “I'm just happy that I figured it out. I'm not saying it's good he's a werewolf.”
“Are you two...still together?” she asked hesitantly.
“Yes, of course we are. I wouldn't let that come between us, and it's nothing compared to some of the secrets my past boyfriends have kept. I have to admit I was a bit scared before I figured it out. I was so sure you and Al wouldn't let me get involved with another crazy bloke-”
“We'd try to stop you, but I doubt it would help,” Rose said wryly. She took another bite and swallowed. “I did warn you about Sean, after all.”
I blushed. Rose had informed me that Sean hadn't been a Healer at St. Mungo's back when we first started dating, but I insisted she must've just never met him.
“Sean's the past. Matt's the future.”
Rose smiled. “You've changed so much over the past few months. You two are exactly who each other needed. Did he tell you...everything?” She looked uncertain.
“Oh, yes,” I said. “He told me how it happened and about Australia and why he and his family moved here.”
Rose relaxed. “Good. So do you understand now? Why I was so hesitant for the two of you to get involved?”
I nodded. “I thought it was just because he had some awful relationships in the past, but it's clearly more than that. I don't think he lets anyone in very easily.”
“Exactly,” Rose said. “But Lily, do you understand what all of this means?”
“Lycanthropy?” I asked. “It means he turns into a werewolf every full moon.”
Rose sighed and shook her head. “Yes, but the effects beyond just that, both from the lycanthropy and what happened to him in Australia. First, the actual lycanthropy. How much do you know about werewolves?”
I took a bite of my sandwich and thought. “Not much, I guess,” I said after swallowing. “Just what I learned at Hogwarts, and a bit from Sophie.”
“I thought so.” Rose spun around in her chair and pulled a book off one of the shelves behind her. “Here. Read this.”
I took the book. The cover displayed a full moon partially behind a few clouds. “The Myths and Facts of Lycanthropy by Walter Eckerton. Wait. Matt's dad wrote this?”
Rose nodded. “A few years after Amy and I discovered the Australian strain. It's the best book on lycanthropy I've ever read, although nothing in it would make you think his own son is a werewolf. He either took everything from work or hid it very well.”
“I'll read it,” I said.
“Good. It doesn't gloss over anything.”
“What would it have to gloss over?” I inquired.
Rose looked hesitant. “It describes the transformations in great detail, and transforming once a month for someone's whole life takes its toll on their body. It can bring a host of other problems as a person gets older.”
“Oh.” I hadn't thought about that before. I just assumed that the only effect was turning into a wolf once a month, but I never thought about the effects the transformations themselves would have on someone's body. It made sense that they would wear a person down after a while.
“I'm not trying to convince you to break up with him,” Rose said quietly. “I just want you to have the facts.”
“Good, because I won't break up with him,” I insisted. And I wouldn't. I'd already made that clear, and nothing else I could learn about lycanthropy would make me break up with Matt. I was in love with him, all of him, and nothing could change that.
“Also, the effects of what happened in Australia aren't going to go away,” Rose informed me.
“I know. I've seen it. I've been there when he has nightmares.”
Rose smiled. “I just can't get over how mature you've gotten.”
“Maybe I just had to wait for the right bloke to come along.”
“Maybe. But I think you've grown up a lot.”
Well, that was as good an opening as anything to bring up the second reason I barged into Rose's office. “So, keeping that in mind, what do you think of me asking Bradley if I can take on a few investigative cases?”
Rose's eyes grew large. “Really? What brought that on?”
“You don't think it's a good idea?” I was suddenly nervous. Maybe Matt was wrong.
Rose shook her head. “No, I think it's a great idea. You've just never mentioned it before.”
“Matt suggested it. He was impressed that I figured out his lycanthropy so fast.”
“I'm impressed by that. It took me nearly six months to be sure.”
“To be fair, you were eleven,” I pointed out.
“Ask Bradley,” Rose told me. “I bet he'll let you. Your parents might not be thrilled. They'll be forced to accept that working for Bradley isn't a temporary thing.”
I laughed. “If they haven't realized that now, they're never going to realize it.”
Telling Matt and Rose I would ask Bradley if I could take on cases was easier than actually asking him. It took me a few days to work up the courage and even then, it was more Matt constantly bugging me about that prompted me to do it, rather than actual courage. Given the fact that Matt and I rarely spent a night apart ever since our talk about his lycanthropy, he had many opportunities to tell me to ask Bradley.
Practically living with Matt was wonderful. Usually we spent the night at my place because of Sir Thumbs, but every so often we spent the night at his flat, especially if Becca needed to update me on wedding things. One thing I knew was that as soon as Al and Becca did get married, Matt would probably move in with me, officially. Living with two married people was awkward. Then, we'd probably get a new flat because with two people, we'd be able to afford something much nicer. Cassie would be quite happy about me not living there anymore.
But now my musings about living with Matt were distracting me from asking Bradley. I knew I had to do it that day, because it had been two weeks and I was starting to drag it out. I wasn't so much nervous about the asking as I was about actually doing the cases, since I was pretty sure Bradley would let me. We'd been working together for years and I knew what he did and how he did it. I knew all the ins and outs of the business, without actually working cases.
Bradley had been in his study all morning and it was just a matter of me getting up and asking. I sighed and decided to make some tea to bring with me. That gave me another five minutes to stall, but after the tea was prepared, I had to do it.
I knocked on the door and then entered without waiting for an answer. Bradley looked up from a stack of parchment and grinned when he saw me.
“Tea! You're brilliant, Lily,” he said, reaching for a cup.
I smiled and sat down with the second cup. “How's the case?”
“Coming along,” Bradley said. “This bloke wants me to find information on his great-aunt, who disappeared in the first war. Apparently his grandmother insists that she's alive somewhere, that if she'd died she would've felt something. I've found a few bits of inconclusive information, but I still have loads more material to go through.”
“And you could ask people for interviews,” I suggested. “Maybe McGonagall or someone who knew Dumbledore. Hell, you could probably go talk to Dumbledore's portrait.”
Bradley nodded. “That's why he came to me, because I'm related to Harry Potter.”
I laughed. “Hey, whatever works.”
“How are things out front?”
“Good,” I said as I set down my tea. “I want to ask you something, though.”
“Go ahead,” Bradley replied, leaning back in his chair.
“Do...do you think I could take on some cases?” I asked hesitantly.
Bradley said nothing for a few minutes. He sat up straight again and drummed his fingers on the table, staring up at the ceiling, then he turned to me and smiled. “I don't see why not. I don't have any sort of degree; I just started doing this, so I think you could, too. Why, though? You've been working here for years and never seemed to show any interest in doing any investigating.”
“Matt suggested it,” I said with a shrug.
“You haven't had me investigate him yet,” Bradley said, smirking.
“And I'm not going to have you investigate him,” I said adamantly, leaving out the fact that I investigated him myself. “I've only done that twice.”
Bradley laughed. “Found anything fishy about Matt yet? Any reasons to break it off?”
“Nope. None at all.”
“Okay, I'll let you have a go. Next easy case that comes in is yours. If you do all right, you can have something harder. But you can't take on so many that you can't keep the business organized. You know I'm awful with the books.”
Now it was my turn to laugh. “Yes, I know.”
“But who knows? Maybe if we get enough business for both of us, I'll hire on another secretary.”
I smiled and took a sip of my tea. Maybe my career wasn't stalled, after all. Maybe I'd just needed a few years to figure it out.
It took me two weeks to get through The Myths and Facts of Lycanthropy, which is much shorter than it would normally take me to get through a non-fiction book, but Walter Eckerton's take on lycanthropy was riveting. I read it every evening before Matt finished work and would've read it at work, except Bradley would've wondered why I was reading it. I didn't tell Matt, but after I finished it I left it out on the coffee table to see if he'd notice.
Matt and I hadn't discussed his lycanthropy since the day I confronted him about it and he told me the whole story. But I still had questions, questions that weren't answered in the book, and more than that, I wanted him to know that I was absolutely committed to our relationship, despite his wolfish side.
I heard the door open and I pulled myself out of my thoughts. Matt walked into the room and his eyes narrowed on the book, before looking up at me.
“You read my dad's book?” he asked as he picked it up.
I nodded. “Rose recommended it a few weeks ago. I just finished it.”
He set the book down and sat next to me. “And?”
“It was fascinating and sad,” I said quietly. “All the details-”
“The details are because of me,” Matt said, staring at the floor. “He wouldn't know them otherwise.”
“I know. But he never let it slip that his own son is a werewolf.”
“Mum read it ten times before she'd let him publish it, just because of that.” Matt took a deep breath and turned to look at me. “Doesn't it scare you? Now that you know what I go through? What I'm capable of doing when I turn?”
I stared into his golden eyes and the deep sadness in them made me want to hug him and never let go. There was sadness, hurt, and most of all, fear. “You know what scares me?”
“What?” he asked quietly.
I put my arm around his shoulders. “The thought that you'll go through the rest of your life afraid of how other people will treat you if they know about your lycanthropy. It scares me and makes me very sad.”
I pulled him into a tight hug and didn't let go for a few minutes. When I did, his eyes were rimmed with tears, tears that matched the ones in my own eyes.
“But Lily, do you realize what my having lycanthropy means?” he asked, his voice cracking.
“Yes,” I said, squeezing his arm. “I read the book. I know the transformations have an effect on your overall health-”
“Lily,” Matt interrupted. “I probably won't live as long as the average wizard. No werewolf in recorded history ever has.”
I squeezed my eyes shut. I didn't want to think about this again. I'd already thought about it after I read it in the book. “I know, Matt, I know. But neither of us knows what the future will bring. We could both die in a freak accident tomorrow. Or Amy could cure lycanthropy in ten years. Don't you understand? I don't care about any of this. All that matters is I love you.”
Matt groaned. “We can't count on Amy curing it. There's still so little known about lycanthropy and even less is known about the strain I have. Amy and Rose only discovered it seven years ago.”
“But they're still researching and they're not going to give up. We can't count on it, but we can't say it won't ever happen, either.”
“It's in my genes, Lily. The disease actually changes your genetics; that's how invasive it is. There won't be a simple potion cure, and even if someone does discover a way to keep all the symptoms at bay, it'll still be in my genes. And that means there's a chance I'll pass this onto my future children. What about having kids?” Matt asked, the anguish obvious in his eyes.
I chuckled through my tears. “Matt, we've been going out for a few months. I'm not thinking about kids yet.”
Matt sighed. “I know that, Lily, but I love you, and I just want you to be aware of what could happen-”
“Matt, have you seen Hugo and Cassie's kids? As of right now, I have no desire to have any of my own.”
Now it was Matt's turn to laugh. “All right, fine. But what if that changes?”
“Again, you're talking about the future that none of us can predict,” I pointed out. “Can't we just live in the present?”
“Okay,” Matt said quietly, pulling me closer. “I just want you to understand.”
“I do understand. But none of that can change the fact that I love you, and I'm not going anywhere, lycanthropy or not.”
“Lily, you have no idea how much that means to me,” Matt said. He kissed me on the cheek. “I love you, too.”
I smiled and gazed into his golden eyes. “Now, what do you say we head to the pub? Rose promised me she'd leave work early and take the night off. Hugo and Cassie managed to get a babysitter and will be there, too.”
Matt raised his eyebrows. “Who'd they bribe to watch the kids?”
“Uncle Ron and Aunt Hermione,” I said. “They never require much bribing.”
Matt and I headed out the door, shutting it as quickly as possible as Sir Thumbs attempted to escape for the millionth time. We held hands as we walked down Diagon Alley, toward the Rusty Bludger. I grinned and met his gaze, and he smiled back.
Neither of us knew what the future would bring, but for now, that didn't matter. Lycanthropy or no lycanthropy, the future was up in the air and all we could do was make the most of the present. Matt was my boyfriend, and I loved him, lycanthropy and all.
A/N: Thanks for all the reviews! Only the epilogue is left and I'll post that on Thursday, assuming I'm not too busy. Sorry this update was late, but it's been a very busy week in terms of work.
If you haven't read Blue Moon, please do! It delves into Matt's feelings on his relationship with Lily, especially about telling her about his lycanthropy.
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