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A/N: 'Ello! I'm thoroughly not J.K. Rowling, I promise. Alas, I am merely sneaking her toys from the toy box when she's sitting in time out for pushing Jimmy off the swingset. This story has, as of the end of January, five chapters. My writer's block is still obnoxiously present, but it's getting better, and I decided to give you a (hopefully) treat. I'll try to update regularly, but you never know when I'll next get grounded for failing a math test. How, I ask you, was I supposed to know what a cosecant was?
“Are you ready, Brigitte?” I question my younger sister, who looks terrified but nods anyway, pushing her long blonde hair from her face.
“Now or never, Lottie,” she says faintly. I smile at her, trying to be reassuring, and close the front door of our childhood home behind me.
Together we step off the porch and grip hands. Our eyes, as one, wander up to the house, questioning when, if ever, we’ll see it again. I wonder if its new owners will water my mother’s prized flowers. She loved flowers, one of the things I’d inherited from her. Physically, the only traits we had shared were our height and pianist’s fingers, but the two of us had always been similar in our personalities, both loving, for example, gardening, enjoying the quiet, preferring the sidelines to the spotlight, and being petrified of men with goatees. Brigitte looks just like our mother did: tall, willowy, blonde, blue-eyed, and tan; the two had not always gotten along, however, as Brigitte has my father’s character, being more prone to stealing the show. But for sisters who are nearly as different as we could be, we get along beautifully most of the time.
Our father has always had a highly demanding job as a Dark Wizard catcher (apparently called an Auror in England, our destination) and isn’t home much. Mère was often sick and prone to headaches, frequently retreating to her room for hours on end. Brigitte and I spent our entire youth together basically raising ourselves. We haven’t ever been neglected, never been abused, never been ignored—we’ve just always had to be slightly more independent because our mother was ill so much. Apparently her death has made my father realize that we need to spend more time with others, which is why we have to head to England.
After my mother died in the spring, Père began to hate work, something he’d previously always loved. He said that people looked at him with such pity in their eyes that he couldn’t stand it. The house, which I found to be a comfort, an easy way to remember my mother, began to torment him. He hated walking down the hall and remembering my mother standing in it. Finally he announced to my sister and me that he’d found a new job as an Auror in England, and we’d be moving there prior to the start of the new term at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Brigitte and I were horrified by this news—I was, after all, in my last year at Beauxbatons, and Brigitte would be starting her fourth. We’d screamed, we’d cried, we’d puppy-dog-eyed ourselves into the next century, we’d done everything possible, and yet he had not given in. We were going, he said, and that was the end of it.
The Auror office’s head in England had invited us to stay with his family during my father’s first days at the British Ministry and until Brigitte and I had left for school, and my father had accepted the offer happily—he hated shopping of any sort, whether it was for shoes or for a new house. Today is his first day, and he told us that the rest of Harry Potter’s family would be expecting us at noon. Brigitte, as easily star struck as she is, is not displeased by this arrangement, but I could not be any less excited. I’ve never had much time for stars, personally, and I fear that they’ll be arrogant .
“On three, Brigitte,” I say now, holding out my arm. She grips it tightly and counts down with me before we Disapparate.
When my eyes reopen, we’re standing in a large front garden looking up at a spacious white country house. It’s clearly well-maintained—the paint is fresh, the windows are clean, the plants are trimmed—but it appears comfortable. Just looking at it makes my tensed muscles relax a bit.
“Oh, my hamburger
,” whispers Brigitte. “It’s Ginny Potter
That’s when I notice the woman standing up in the midst of a flower bed, dusting off her blue jeans and pushing some stray red hair from her face. As she makes her way toward us, smiling a stunning smile, I remember hearing stories of how beautiful she is. Up close, in real life, it’s even more amazing. She seems so full of life, so spunky, that it enhances every appealing feature.
“Hello!” she calls happily as the two of us stand on her front lawn in complete awkwardness (me) and awe (Brigitte). Then she turns over her shoulder and shouts in the direction of the house, “Oi! Slave labor! Aqui, por favor
“Hi,” Brigitte practically shouts.
“Hello, Mrs. Potter,” I greet more calmly, though I’m slowly starting to panic a bit—I really hate meeting new people.
“Ginny, honey, call me Ginny,” she instructs, still smiling. “And you must be Charlotte.” Her eyes find my sister, who will soon be doing the conga, I fear. “And Brigitte, yeah?”
!” she squeaks. “Oh my hamburger, you know my name!”
I’m more impressed at her French pronunciation of them; all the other Brits I’ve talked to have said our names differently.
Ginny laughs. “I do. I love French names. My sister-in-law is from France. The Paris area, I believe. And where are you girls from?’
“Strasbourg,” I answer.
“Oh, Harry and I visited Strasbourg a few autumns back. What a beautiful place. Oi! Get a move on, slugs!” The last part she directs at the teenagers meandering down the wide front steps and in our direction. “Boys,” Ginny sighs.
“Hey, now!” calls the redheaded girl.
“Charlotte, Brigitte,” Ginny says as her children approach. “This is James; he’ll be a seventh year like you, Charlotte.” She indicates the tall, muscular boy with the messy black hair and bright chocolate eyes who gives a wave in a style that can only be described as cheeky. “This is Al, and he’ll be a sixth year.” The younger of the two boys is slightly shorter and has emerald eyes but is otherwise identical to his brother. “And this is Lily, who’s your age, Brigitte, a fourth year.” The pretty redhead waves, her brown eyes glittering.
“You have beautiful hair,” Lily says to me. “I wish mine were so dark. I look like a carrot.”
“You’re a gorgeous carrot, Lilykins,” James tells her.
“Don’t talk,” she tells him. “No one wants to hear you talk.”
“Thank you,” I reply to her flattery, though I’m blushing at being complimented by such a beautiful girl.
Ginny claps her hands briskly, and her children’s eyes all fall on her. “Okay, here’s the plan,” she announces. I have a feeling Ginny Potter is a woman of structure. I like that. I like structure. “James, Al, you make yourselves useful and carry the suitcases upstairs and into Lily’s room.” She turns back to Brigitte and me. “You’ll be sharing with Lily, I’m afraid, as your father has my office, and Harry’s really isn’t sufficient for guests. If you’d rather, you could stay in the basement—it’s finished, not concrete or anything of the sort—but we tend to use it often, and it might get old having to keep your things constantly in order.”
“That’s fine,” I assure her, as it looks like the idea of sleeping five feet from Harry Potter’s daughter has rendered my sister speechless. “Lily’s room is fine.”
“Okay,” Ginny says. “Wonderful. Then while the boys do that, I’ll finish lunch—I got distracted by the plants, so it’s not quite done. Lily can give you a tour.”
“Yay,” Brigitte says. Oh, she’s cool.
“Seven sickles says you can’t beat me upstairs,” James wagers with his younger brother as Ginny retreats toward the house.
“You’re on,” Albus accepts. In the blink of an eye, they have one suitcase each and are sprinting for the porch, hollering what seem to be profanities at each other. My suspicions are confirmed by a reproach from their mother loud enough for us to hear.
Lily rolls her eyes wearily. “Ignore both of them,” she says. “And feel free to tell them to shut up. They won’t listen, but it’ll make you feel better.”
Brigitte laughs, but I only give a slight smile, not completely sure if she’s kidding or serious.
“How about a tour?” Lily offers brightly as the sounds of her brothers’ race dies out.
“That would be great,” I say.
I internally sigh at Brigitte’s eagerness.
“Okay,” Lily begins cheerfully. She adapts a very realistic tour-guide voice as she speaks. “Here we have what is commonly referred to as the house
.” She gestures to, obviously, the house. “And here are some plants that are green and yellow and pink and blue and purple and red and a rather purply-red.” She leads us to the flower beds, motioning to each one in turn. “And the accent is annoying me,” she announces, dropping it and returning to her normal British one. “Around back, then.”
Behind the house is a large open expanse of grass, surrounded, as the whole property is, by tall trees. Tucked in one corner is a little white gazebo with ivy snaking around its posts and potted hydrangeas on either side of its entrance.
“You can’t see it from here,” Lily continues, “but there’s a creek over there. Come on.”
We cross the lawn quickly and follow her into the gazebo, where she kneels on the bench and waves to the trees. It’s obvious that the gazebo is placed on a bank, because it is nestled enough in the trees that you can easily see their leaves looking out. Brigitte and I join her and glance down to see a wide, clear creek down at the bottom of a small ravine.
“You can’t see from here,” says Lily, “but when I was little Daddy placed a log across the creek so that we could climb over more safely and less wetly. I can take you down to see it.” She glances up to gauge our interest. “If you’d like.”
“Definitely,” agrees Brigitte eagerly.
Lily slides off the bench and leads us to a small opening between two trees that turns out to be a narrow path. She leads the way down expertly, warning us of any upturned roots or low-hanging branches without looking for them herself.
“Ta-da!” she announces, spreading her arms wide. We stand at the bottom of the little ravine and admire the water and the log and the trees surrounding it. It’s clearly a beautiful spot, and one Lily seems to enjoy a lot.
“This is so pretty,” Brigitte admires, glancing around.
“I love it down here,” Lily tells us, smiling. She allows us to enjoy the scene for a few more moments before suggesting we head back up.
I would not have gone down if I had known how hard going back up would be—I would just like to make that clear. Lily and Brigitte skip easily up the steep incline, and I stagger out after them several minutes later, panting. Brigitte is snickering, so I slap her arm. “Shut up
,” I gasp, clutching my side.
“Your face is all red,” she giggles.
I open my mouth to threaten her when Lily interjects, “Let’s move inside, shall we?”
“Yes,” I wheeze. “Good idea.”
We enter through the back door into a spacious kitchen. Ginny is leaning against the counter supervising several different dishes preparing themselves. “Hi, girls,” she welcomes, smiling. “I see you’ve been to see the creek.”
“It was spectacular,” Brigitte gushes. “Simply spectacular.”
“I’m spectacular,” declares James, wandering into the room and pulling the milk jug from the refrigerator.
“Don’t even try it, mister,” Ginny tells him, arching an eyebrow. I don’t know what he was going to try, but whatever he had planned he doesn’t do. He pours himself a glass instead. His mother shakes her head like it’s a common occurrence and returns her gaze to the salad.
Lily mutters something that sounds like “freak” and guides us toward a doorway and into a two-story foyer. She gestures toward the dining room, a large family room filled with tall windows that looks perfect for naps (a personal passion of mine), and the back of the house, indicating a lavatory and her father’s office, before leading us up the staircase.
“There’s Mum and Daddy’s room,” she says, pointing to the room at the front of the house on one side of the staircase. “That’s Mum’s office; your father will be staying there. There’s James’s room—stay out; it smells. Al’s room is next to his, and I would again suggest avoiding it. They both also have a tendency to walk around in their boxers an alarming amount in their rooms, so watch out. Here’s mine, where we’ll be.”
Her room faces the front as well with a window seat overlooking the garden below. It’s obviously a big room, but it feels slightly cramped with two extra beds squeezed in. The white wood and the green walls make it feel even brighter than it is, and her purple, pink and blue accents give the room an energy that reminds me of her already.
“That is the cutest fabric ever
,” comments Brigitte, running her fingers over the polka dot bedspread and gesturing to the window seat’s cushion and opened curtains.
“Thank you,” Lily says, moving toward a door. “And here’s my bathroom.”
It’s another large room with very plum walls, a white sink, tub, and shower (which looks amazingly
relaxing), and fluffy towels laid out.
“You like color, don’t you?” I ask.
“Love it.” She grins.
A shout from somewhere below us makes my sister and me jump, but Lily merely translates, “Lunch is ready.”
My mother was never much of a cook; her idea of cuisine was a bowl of corn flakes with too much milk poured over them. I can already tell the case is not such with Ginny. Even her sandwiches are delicious.
As the six of us sit around the table, Lily asks me, “What’s Beauxbatons like?”
“It’s magnificent,” I say. “The whole thing is white marble, and there are these massive windows everywhere that let in light. The grounds are kept perfectly neat, everything is precisely structured, and the teachers are very knowledgeable about their respective subjects.”
“Charlotte likes structure,” Brigitte adds (rather unnecessarily, I feel). “I’m not one for it, really. They hand out detentions for silly things.”
“You’re just bitter because of the sock incident,” I interject, rolling my eyes.
“I am not
Lily arches one eyebrow curiously as James inquires, “What conclusion are we supposed to draw from that?”
Brigitte and I both turn pink. Actually, she turns pink. I turn red. I always turn red, which has got to be the most embarrassing habit known to man.
“One sock was lower than the other one,” Brigitte explains, “so I got detention.”
Lily laughs. “At Hogwarts the dress code is hardly enforced. I always take off my shoes, and my friend Jacob usually forgoes his robes all together and rolls up the sleeves on his shirt.”
“‘Friend’,” snorts Al. “Right.”
She glares at him while James begins to hum a song.
“They think I’m in love with my best friend,” Lily clarifies. “Which, you know, I’m not. Just because no girls can stand to be around them
“Lilykins,” Al says as James’s humming crescendos, “you know you love him.”
Her reply is drowned out by James bursting into song, and I finally recognize the tune.
“If we were a movie
!” he cries; for such a purposefully obnoxious singer, he has a nice undertone, and I have a strange feeling that he might actually be a good vocalist.
“You’d be the right guy
!” his brother adds, clearly not wanting to miss a good old hoe-down.
“And I’d be the best friend
!” Ginny shouts, gathering the dishes and grinning at the annoyed look on her daughter’s face.
“That you’d fall in love with
!” all three sing together.
“I hate them,” Lily grumbles, crumpling her napkin forcefully and throwing it at James, who ducks, smirking.
“Would you like to unpack, girls?” Ginny calls over the war cry emitting from Lily. “Feel free to; Lily can show you where to put things once she’s done beating up her brother.”
Lily has James in a headlock and is demanding for him to retract his song.
it,” she commands.
“I won’t disobey my heart!” he cries dramatically, trying to shake her off.
“I’ll tell Mum about the—”
He gasps loudly, eyes widening. “No
She leers, triumphant. “Then say
He holds up his hands. “Lily is not
in love with Jacob.”
“Damn right,” she snaps, letting him go and then slugging his arm painfully.
He pulls away. “She just wants to shag him.”
“James, don’t be crude,” Ginny reprimands mildly while Lily knocks him to the floor.
“You little git!” she screams. “I hate you!”
“Hey,” Al interrupts from the window. “Lily, Jacob’s here.”
“What?” She stands up quickly and rushes to the window.
Her brothers burst into laughter as she turns away, eyes narrowed dangerously. “I’m going to kill you,” she tells them icily, advancing toward them with menace.
“Babe, why don’t you take Charlotte and Brigitte upstairs so they can unpack?” Ginny suggests. “You can repay your brothers for that highly amusing little stunt later, okay?”
“Okay,” Lily agrees brightly, skipping out of the kitchen.
“PMS,” James stage-whispers to me as Brigitte and I walk past. My cheeks turn a bright red as Ginny throws a dishcloth at his head.
Lily shows us the room she’s cleaned out for our things and which towels are ours and then drops onto her bed.
“Tell me more about this Jacob character,” Brigitte pries.
“Bridge,” I sigh, “don’t snoop.” My eyes land on a photo on her nightstand. “Is that him?”
“Yes,” Lily says. “That’s Jacob. We’ve been best friends for seven years.”
“I’d date him,” Brigitte says.
“You’d date anyone,” I remind her.
She laughs. “Yeah, but I might date him for more than a week or two. He’s got great eyes.”
“I know, right?” Lily agrees. A moment later, her face turns pink. “I mean—”
“So you do fancy him then?” Brigitte asks.
I probably should scold her again, but I want to know too.
Lily looks down so her long hair falls over her face. “Um, well, a bit, yeah.”
“A bit?” I say skeptically before I can stop myself.
She looks up, and then she laughs. “Okay, a lot
“So,” Brigitte continues matter-of-factly, “what’re you doing about it?”
“Nothing,” Lily replies. “He doesn’t like me like that. He’s got the whole over-protective older brother thing going on. It’s so embarrassing. Ugh.”
“You should kiss him,” advises Brigitte, tossing her jeans into her drawer haphazardly.
“You should not
kiss him,” I contradict, tucking my stuffed bunny into my bed. “Definitely not. That would be a huge mistake. It would destroy your relationship.”
“You guy are helpful,” Lily comments sardonically, flopping back onto her bed. “I wish I had a sister.”
“No, you don’t,” Brigitte and I both joke in unison. Lily props herself up and raises an eyebrow. She looks like she’s about to say something when her mother’s voice calls from below. With a sigh, she rolls off the bed and leaps over my own and out into the hall, closing the door behind her.
“So,” Brigitte begins after a few moments of silence.
“So,” I repeat.
“What do you think?”
“About anything. About everything.”
I sit down on my cot, which is surprisingly soft and comfortable. “I think they’re a nice family, and they seem fun.”
“Yeah,” Brigitte agrees.
“Way more down to earth than I expected. I thought they’d be all snobby-they-put-me-in-newspapers-for-going-shopping-ish, but they’re not. They’re cool.”
Brigitte nods. “I love them.” She wiggles her eyebrows. “Hamburger, those boys are even more gorgeous in person. And we’ll be sleeping in the room next to them. Did you hear Lily talking about them walking around near-naked? Oh, hamburgers.”
I roll my green eyes. “You’re so superficial, Brigitte.”
“James was eyeing you.”
“Oh, my milkshake. He was not
She grins, loving when she gets me to use that phrase. “Yes, he was. Totally. I hear he’s the ‘It Boy’ at Hogwarts.”
“Well, obviously, you moron. His parents are famous, and he could be considered attractive, I suppose.”
Brigitte’s smile widens. “You have the hots for him.”
“I do not.”
“Yes, you do.”
“Well,” I say defensively, not enjoying this one bit, “you fancy Lily Potter’s best friend slash secret lover.”
There’s a knock at the door before I can continue to mock my sister.
“Come in,” I call, feeling strange about giving someone permission to enter someone else’s room.
I feel even stranger when Lily walks in, followed by two other people. One is Jacob, easily recognized from his height and deep green eyes. The other boy is also tall but has crazy auburn hair and blue eyes, clearly Hugo Weasley.
“Charlotte, Brigitte,” Lily says, “I have, for your entertainment, brought Jacob Wood and Hugo Weasley to amuse you. Dance, monkeys, dance.”
“Definitely going to do that,” Jacob snorts. He gives Lily a weary look but smiles at us.
“James and Al are going shopping,” Lily announces, grinning. “We’re going as well.”
“That includes you,” Hugo informs us.
Brigitte looks curiously from him to Jacob. “And we’re bringing boys?”
“You’ve clearly never been on a shopping trip with Lily,” Jacob tells us. “Trust me, you won’t want to miss it. Hugo and I don’t.” He smirks. “You’ll love it.”
“I love adventures,” Brigitte says.
“Get ready, then,” Lily says. “I’m pretty sure France doesn’t have anything quite like Diagon Alley.”
A/N: Of course I know it's clichéd and overdone, but I'm hopefully going to give you a few twists, which you'll begin to see in the next chapter. i also know there's really no interaction between Charlotte and James, but, again, wait for (as my friend, Julia, says) chopta dos. Okay, so please, please, please review, as I really want feedback on this one to motivate me to work on it and to kill the damnded writer's block!