Chapter 7 : Careers
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“What? Did Longbottom tell you you ought to run for Minister?” John asked as Amanda set down her bag.
“No,” Amanda said, still grinning. “He told me there’s no reason why I can’t work for the Ministry and go to university.”
“You want to go to university?” John asked. “But you’re a witch, and I thought it was just something your parents wanted.”
“That doesn’t mean continuing my education is useless,” Amanda said. “Especially since I want to work in Muggle relations. Professor Longbottom said it would be useful.”
“What part of the Ministry?” Rose asked.
“Department of International Magical Cooperation, most likely,” Amanda said. “Or that’s what I’m hoping. A lot will depend on whether there is an opening. I could work for the International Confederation of Wizards, too.
“How are you going to get into university with a Hogwarts degree?” Kaden asked, looking skeptical. “You haven’t done any A-levels or GCSEs.”
“Professor Longbottom said Professor Kendrick will make up a fake diploma and fake A-levels and GCSEs based on my O.W.L. and N.E.W.T. scores. It’s been done before.”
Kaden shook his head. “You’re mad. I don’t ever want to go back to the Muggle world.”
“I’m not going back, exactly. Think of it as research for my job at the Ministry, assuming I get one,” Amanda explained.
“I get it,” Albus said. “I’d never do it, but I get it.”
“Well,” Matt said as he got up from the couch. “I guess it’s my turn now.”
“You’re going to be fine,” Rose assured him. “All Professor Longbottom wants to do is help. He might have ideas you haven’t thought of before.”
Matt nodded. He looked like he had after he found out he had to testify at Boone’s hearing. His face was gaunt, as if he hadn’t slept in days, and his hands were shaking. Part of that was due to the fact that the full moon was the following night, but the hand shaking was nerves.
“I’ll walk with you,” Albus said. “I need to send an owl to Dawlish anyway.”
In actuality, Albus had sent an owl to Dawlish two days ago, but he wanted to make sure Matt was okay and didn’t want him to think that’s the only reason Albus was going with him.
The corridor was quiet as Albus and Matt walked toward the stairs. The last class of the day was still in session, although none of the seventh years had class at that time. They passed the Bloody Baron on the staircase, but other than that, it was just them and the portraits on the walls.
“Have you thought about what you’re going to tell Longbottom?” Albus asked quietly.
Matt shook his head. “Not really.”
“What would you want to do, I mean, if you could do anything?” Albus asked.
“You mean if I wasn’t a werewolf?” Matt whispered.
“Yeah,” Albus said.
Matt nodded, but didn’t say anything for a few minutes. “I haven’t thought about that, either, because I’ve been a werewolf since I was five. When I was five I wanted to be a dragon tamer.”
“That you might be able to do,” Albus said. “My uncle Charlie is one and so is my aunt Katherine. And Stanley. Dragon tamers aren’t regulated by the Ministry and they’re all a little out there.”
“Al,” Matt said. “I don’t want to be a dragon tamer. Could you really see me as one?”
Albus sighed. “I suppose not. I bet my uncle George would hire you.”
“I don’t want to work in a shop,” Matt said. “At least, not a shop that’s as busy as Weasley’s.”
“Right,” Albus said, nodding. “Well, you’re great at nonverbal spells. Maybe there’s something with that.” As he said it, Albus realized being an auror was something that would benefit from nonverbal spells.
“Other than being an auror?” Matt said, clearly realizing the same thing. “Even if the Department didn’t have a ban on werewolves I’d never pass the mental health tests.”
That was true, Albus thought, but he didn’t want to say it.
“Look, no one is going to hire someone who’s out sick at least three days a month. And until lycanthropy is seen as a disease in the eyes of the law, nothing is going to change that.”
Albus tried to think of something reassuring to say, but they reached Neville’s study before he managed to do it. The door was open, since Amanda’s meeting had been the most recent one.
Matt paused in the doorway and Albus wasn’t sure whether he was going to go in or turn around and run. “Do you…do you want me to go in with you?” Albus asked.
“No,” Matt said, shaking his head. “Go send your owl. I’ll meet you at dinner.”
Albus nodded, but didn’t leave until Matt worked up the courage to go inside, shutting the door behind him.
Matt didn’t meet them at dinner. Albus spent half of the meal turning around and glancing at the door, unable to keep his mind on his food or on his friends who were there. They were all discussing their own meetings with Longbottom. John, whose meeting had been the previous evening, hadn’t had a chance to talk about his yet, as they’d had Quidditch practice immediately following dinner.
“Al!” John shouted.
Albus startled and turned away from the door. “What?”
“I said Puddlemere is going to have a strategist opening in August,” John said.
“That’s great,” Albus said, unable to work up the enthusiasm.
“Rumor is, two of their strategists are going to go work for England,” John continued.
Albus tuned out John and let his gaze wander around the room. It fell on the Ravenclaw table, where he suddenly found himself looking for Emily Rhodes. He’d seen her in class a few times since the first day, but they hadn’t done more than exchange smiles. Still, every time he met her eyes, his stomach gave a flip-flop. There she was, sitting with two of her friends. She was too far away to notice Albus looking at her.
“You ought to just ask her to Hogsmeade,” Rose said, interrupting Albus’s thoughts.
“Who?” Albus asked.
Rose groaned. “Emily. She knows you like her.”
“Of course she does. You stare at her like a lovesick puppy every time you have a class together,” Rose said.
Albus felt his cheeks redden. He hadn’t meant to stare at her. He only meant to glance at her every so often.
“Oh, lay off him,” John said.
Albus stuffed one more biscuit into his mouth, then stood up. “I’m going to see if I can find Matt before dueling practice.”
“He’s only leaving because he wants us to stop mentioning Emily,” Amanda said with a wicked grin.
“No,” Albus said quickly. “No. I want to make sure Matt’s okay.”
“Yes, but that’s only part of it,” Rose said, smiling. “But seriously, Al, I think you and Emily would make a cute couple.”
Albus didn’t want to discuss it further. Without so much as a nod at Rose, he turned around and left, hoping his cheeks would return to their normal color by the time dueling practice started. The last thing he needed was to be flushed for his first practice as co-captain.
Albus set off up the stairs in search of Matt. Wanting to check on him wasn’t just an excuse to leave dinner early; Albus was worried. With the full moon the following night, whatever anxiety Matt was feeling over his meeting with Neville would be magnified. Albus had about 45 minutes until practice and hoped that would be enough time to find Matt and calm him down.
The first place Albus checked was the Marauders’ Den, but Matt wasn’t there. Nor was he in the common room or dormitory. Groaning as he checked his watch, Albus took off down the corridor toward the Room of Requirement. It was either there or the hospital wing.
Albus reached the room and paced quickly in front of it, hoping whatever magic kept the room hidden would allow him to enter. A few moments later, the door appeared. Albus hesitated briefly before opening it, then walked in.
The room was small and contained a fireplace and a few squashy armchairs. It resembled a miniature version of a den or parlor room. Matt was curled up in one of the armchairs, staring into the crackling fire, which was the only light in the place.
Quietly, Albus tiptoed in and took a seat in the chair next to Matt. He said nothing for a few minutes and Matt didn’t even seem to notice his presence.
“I’ve got dueling in twenty minutes, but wanted to make sure you’re okay,” Albus finally said.
Matt still said nothing, but did glance at Albus before returning his gaze to the fire.
“What did Professor Longbottom say?” Albus asked.
“Nothing I didn’t already know,” Matt muttered.
Albus picked at a loose thread on the arm of the chair. He’d been hoping Professor Longbottom would have some idea Matt hadn’t thought of, but now that he thought about it, would Neville really have a better idea of what life was like for a werewolf than Matt himself?
“I can ask my grandpa Arthur if there’s any chance he can hire an assistant,” Albus suggested.
“Won’t matter. The Ministry doesn’t hire werewolves,” Matt said, sighing. He sat up. “I guess it was a bit of a miracle I even got to go to school in the first place.”
“There’s got to be something,” Albus said. “We’ll keep looking.”
“That’s what Professor Longbottom said,” Matt replied. “Look, Al, I’m exhausted. I’ve got a splitting headache. I don’t really want to talk. That’s…that’s why I came here instead of the Den.”
“Right,” Albus said, nodding. “I’ve got to get to dueling anyway.”
Matt didn’t respond. Instead he resumed his curled up position and went back to staring at the fire. Without saying anything else, Albus got up and left the room, closing the door quietly behind him.
Albus thought about it the entire way to dueling practice, and he refused to believe there was nothing Matt could do after Hogwarts. There were other werwolves in the country and they all must be doing something. Matt and Boone weren’t the only ones. It was just a matter of figuring out what they were doing.
Albus realized halfway through the first dueling practice of the year that he enjoyed being co-captain of the dueling team much more than he enjoyed being Quidditch captain. There was significantly less pressure since dueling wasn’t as big of a deal at Hogwarts as Quidditch was. It also wasn’t a team sport per-se. Each house had a team, but everyone competed as individuals and earned points for the team. Each player had to hone their own skills without worrying about the rest of the team, which meant Albus felt like he was coaching five individuals rather than a team. It was much easier.
Having Marina Jordan-Bell as his co-captain certainly didn’t hurt either. Whereas Albus was more likely to take a soft approach with his teammates, Marina had no problem telling people what they were doing wrong. She wasn’t harsh or mean, but she got the point across.
But the biggest difference between dueling this year and the previous years was that Lily was now on the team. Albus had had no idea she was a decent dueler, but after seeing her at practice, he realized she was. He wasn’t sure how she’d managed to hide it over the past few years, but she was good.
“I told you and James I’m not a little kid anymore,” Lily pointed out after her shield charm held up more jinxes than everyone else’s.
“B-but,” Albus stammered. “Where did you learn to do that?”
“You realize we both have the same father,” Lily said, giving him a withering look. “I learned it the same way you did.”
“You didn’t have private lessons from Balladanis,” Albus reminded her.
“True,” Lily said. “But Dad taught me. It’s easy to fly under the radar when your eldest brother is a Quidditch star and your other brother is poised to become an auror.”
“Sorry,” Albus muttered. “I didn’t mean- and I’m sure James didn’t either-“
“It’s fine, Al,” Lily interrupted. “I like it this way. With Mum and Dad so focused on James they’ve got no idea I haven’t got anymore of a clue as to what I want to do with my life than James does. You’re the only one with any direction, Al.”
Albus hated when Lily reminded him of this. His parents were always stressing there was no pressure about the Auror Academy, but how could there not be when James’s Quidditch career had ended before it even started? Mum’s Quidditch legacy wouldn’t continue and Albus was the only one who could continue Dad’s auror legacy. But if Lily was a good dueler…
“Lily…you know you could be an auror,” Albus suggested.
Lily burst out laughing. “I might do a good shield charm, but I have no desire to be an auror. All Dad does is work. I want a life, thanks. Plus, I’m likely to fail my potions O.W.L.”
“Have Kaden tutor you,” Albus suggested.
Lily groaned. “That would require me to spend more time on potions.”
“Yes, yes it would,” Albus said. “That’s sort of the point.” He turned to the group. “All right, good work tonight. It’s about time to wrap it up.”
“Good job tonight!” Marina called out. “We’ll meet again this time next week.”
The following day was unseasonably warm for the middle of September, so Albus took advantage of it and headed outside to train for his fitness test for the Auror Academy. Even though he’d slept in until ten-thirty, both Matt and John had been asleep when he left. Albus assumed he wouldn’t see much of Matt that day, due to the full moon, but hoped John would eventually rouse himself and come outside.
In additional to the physical health and mental health exams Albus had to pass for admission to the Academy, he also had to pass a physical test. It wasn’t a complicated test. All he had to do was run two miles in under sixteen minutes, do 35 push ups in two minutes, and do 47 sit ups in two minutes. Assuming he got into the Academy, he would then be put through intense physical training along with magical training.
Albus knew he wasn’t in poor shape, but Quidditch didn’t provide cardio training unless the team captain required it. James did some, but when Albus became captain they hadn’t done much. Albus had been too focused on trying to keep the team together without James. He wasn’t worried much about the sit ups or push ups, but he wasn’t sure if he was fast enough to run two miles in less than 16 minutes.
Figuring he’d start out slow, he jogged a lap around the grounds before picking up the pace for his two mile run. He’d found a handy spell that kept track of his distance and shot yellow smoke rings out of his wand once he’d done two miles.
The grounds were were crowded for a Saturday morning and Albus figured everyone else was taking advantage of the weather as well. Halfway through his first lap he noticed a game of pick-up Quidditch had begun on the pitch and quite a few other students sat in the stands, watching. Small groups of kids sat around the grounds, doing homework or messing around. He saw Lily, Hugo, and Ashtyn sitting under the beech tree by the lake, as well as Rose and Amanda, who were both reading a few yards away from the greenhouses.
The first mile had been easy, but by the time Albus was partway through the second he had a stitch in his side and he was breathing hard. Still, he pushed through and tried to run even faster. He noticed both John and Matt emerge from the castle and watched as they made their way to the lake, where they sat beneath a tree a few yards away from Lily, Hugo, and Ashtyn.
Albus’s gaze then fell upon someone else. Emily Rhodes sat alone on a large rock just outside the Whomping Willow’s reach. She looked up at the same time Albus did and their eyes met. Albus felt his heart speed up and turned toward her. Partway there, smoke rings signaled the end of his two miles. He slowed and checked his watch. Eighteen minutes. That was better than he’d been expecting.
Emily, who had been writing in some sort of diary, closed it when Albus neared. She smiled and waved. Albus suddenly realized how sweaty he was. Was there any way for him to turn around and not have it be rude or noticeable? Probably not.
“Hi, Albus,” Emily said.
“Hey,” Albus replied. Hey? That was the best he could come up with?
“What are you running for?” she asked.
“Auror Academy,” Albus answered, trying to catch his breath. “I have to run two miles in less than sixteen minutes.”
Emily’s eyes widened. “Wow. I’m glad I’m not applying.”
“You’d just have to practice,” Albus said. “So…what are you up to?”
“Just waiting for my friends,” Emily said.
As if on cue, three other Ravenclaw girls walked up, giggling to each other. Albus felt his cheeks redden, which was impressive considering they were already red from running.
“I’d, er, better go,” Albus said, gesturing to nothing in particular.
“Okay. I’ll see you tomorrow, Albus,” Emily said.
“We’re patrolling together tomorrow night,” Emily said.
“Oh. Right,” Albus mumbled. “See you then.”
Albus nodded, then walked off toward the lake. He looked over his shoulder once and saw Emily and the three other Ravenclaw girls were all whispering about something. Albus realized they were probably whispering about him and groaned to himself. Why couldn’t he have thought of something better to say?
Once he reached the lake, Albus set off on the path toward where Matt and John were sitting, hoping they’d be able to take his mind off Emily. Matt appeared to be asleep, however, and John had a large piece of parchment spread out on the ground and was frowning at it.
“What’s that?” Albus asked as he sat down next to John.
“Map of the pitch,” John answered. He pointed his wand at the map and it prodded a few roughly drawn Quidditch players toward one of the goal posts. “I’m coming up with strategy for this year. Why do you look like you’ve been running for your life?”
“I’m training for the Academy,” Albus answered. “I’ve got to get faster if I have any hope of passing the fitness test. Any chance you could work running into Quidditch practice?”
“I was going to anyway,” John said. “The whole team needs to be in better shape. Professional Quidditch players work out everyday. We need to be running every practice.”
“Good,” Albus said. Now he at least wouldn’t have to find extra time to run. “How’s Matt?”
John glanced at Matt, who was in fact fast asleep on the ground next to him. “Bit cranky, really. I’m glad he fell asleep.”
“I don’t think his meeting with Professor Longbottom went well, although he didn’t say much,” Albus said.
“I’m not actually asleep, you know,” Matt mumbled.
“Sorry,” Albus said.
“Yeah, sorry,” John echoed. “But you are a bit cranky.”
“You would be too if you were turning into a wolf in eight hours,” Matt said.
“Fair point,” John said.
“And I’ll tell you about my meeting with Longbottom if it’ll make you shut up about it,” Matt added.
“Go on, then,” Albus said. “I’ll shut up about it.”
“Good,” Matt said. “Anyway, it went horribly, if you must know. I think Professor Longbottom has moved beyond his ‘always look on the bright side’ bit and has become a realist.”
“What do you mean?” John asked.
“He told me he’s not going to sugarcoat anything because that isn’t going to help me,” Matt continued. “He told me I can try applying to anything I’m qualified for since the law doesn’t prevent me from applying, but the chances of me actually being hired are small. And then the chances of me keeping the job are even smaller.”
“I don’t see why you can’t just not tell employers you’ve got lycanthropy,” John said.
Matt sighed. “You know about the Werewolf Registry, right?”
“Yeah,” John said.
“That list is public,” Matt said. “Anyone can request the names of overage werewolves anytime. My dad wrote a law last year to change that to overage wizards who are out of school, mostly because of me. So once I’m out of Hogwarts, that’s it. Anyone can find out, including employers. If I don’t disclose it myself and they find out themselves, that’s grounds for getting sacked.”
“That is insane,” John said.
“It’s reality,” Matt muttered. “Point being, I have to tell anywhere I apply to and well…you know how that goes.”
Albus nodded. He knew Matt’s greatest fear was telling people about his lycanthropy and the mere idea of it was one of his biggest triggers for panic attacks.
“But if people can know anyway, once you’re out of school…” John began, his voice drifting off. “Shouldn’t that make telling people easier?”
“You’d think, wouldn’t you?” Matt said. “But not really.”
“Okay, so you can’t tell anyone,” Albus said. “So you’ve got to work for someone who already knows and who doesn’t care.”
“So, basically us?” John said. “Or one of the professors? Madam Pomfrey? I don’t think you can be a professor right out of Hogwarts.”
Matt smiled. “No, I don’t think so.”
“Well, you could work for any of Al’s family,” John said. “Even if they don’t already know they wouldn’t care. And a bunch of them already know, right?”
“Just my parents and grandfather. And Victoire and Teddy,” Albus said. “And I already suggested Weasley’s.”
“I can’t work for Weasley’s,” Matt said. “I need to work somewhere quiet.”
Neither Albus or John said anything. Albus thought to himself, trying to figure out somewhere quiet that was somehow connected with somebody who already knew about Matt’s lycanthropy.
A/N: Thank you for all the reviews! Sorry I haven't been responding to them quickly. The school year has started and I'm quite busy. But I read and appreciate all of them!
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