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A Lifetime of - What? NO! by TheDirigiblePlum

Format: Novella
Chapters: 14
Word Count: 34,164
Status: COMPLETED

Rating: 12+
Warnings: Mild Language, Scenes of a Mild Sexual Nature

Genres: Fluff, General, Humor
Characters: Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Albus, James (II), Lily (II), Hugo, Rose
Pairings: Harry/Ginny, Ron/Hermione

First Published: 09/23/2008
Last Chapter: 08/11/2009
Last Updated: 08/11/2009

Summary:



Gorgeous banner made by Arushi at thedarkarts. :)

It is the first Potter/ Weasley family holiday, and as imagined it will probably include its fair share of arguing. A pinch of disaster, a cup of calamity, a slither of explosive tempers and a slice of trouble. 

But of course, it will ultimately be a glorious time for all to reflect on the "joys" of having a family, and how much they love them all really. Ish. :-)


Chapter 1: Sleepy Children and Sneaky Spiders
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

“Harry, have you packed your speedos?” Ginny’s voice rang through the house as the indecent early morning hour found five Potters caught in a spate of last minute packing.

            Harry’s splutter answered her before he retorted:

            “I don’t wear speedos! I wear trunks!”

            It was four thirty in the morning and in two hours the Potter family would be meeting the Weasley family, and embark together on their first “family holiday”. Nobody wanted to go anywhere in England, as Ron said, “If it’s not abroad it’s not a holiday,” so they concluded the safest bet would be Ireland, but Ron said that was too wet and green, “a bit like England really,” so then they suggested Scotland, but Ron said that was on the same piece of land as England, “so it’s not technically abroad.”

            Hermione had been sitting down at the edge of her seat during this discussion with her face caught in an expression of rapture and exceptional keenness; she evidently wanted to say something, so Harry asked her what it was, to prevent the imminent danger of Hermione combusting.

            “France!” she’d beamed at the group, looking around at them all with delight, obviously expecting them to share her own enthusiasm. When nobody reacted but continued to look at Hermione as though she were mad she ploughed on.

            “I’ve been there on holiday, and it’s so lovely! Dijon is beautiful, and I know the children would love it!”

            “Yeah, but the thing is Hermione, it’s across sea. Can you imagine taking the children across sea?” Ron pointed out, as though trying to reason with someone who was particularly dim witted.

            “Ireland was across sea! Yet that suggestion was all right by the lot of you!” she said crossly, narrowing her eyes slightly.

            “Not with me! I said it was too-”

            “Yes yes we know about the green thing!”

            “England’s green! Why would you want to go on holiday to country just like England, but instead everyone just speaks like Seamus?” Ron answered.

            “Ireland is lovely Ron, and you can’t –”

            “I never said Ireland wasn’t lovely! I was just pointing out its exact… its exact likeness to England!”

            “It’s nothing like England! You’ve never been. How can you make such a judgement?”

            “I THINK FRANCE SOUNDS LOVELY!” Ginny had shouted just as Ron opened his mouth to answer back once again to Hermione.

            “France it is then.” Said Hermione shortly, “Is that all right Ronald? Or is it too foreign for you?”

            “France is fine.”

            “Good.”

            “Glad to hear it.”

 

*****

 

So the family of nine were all packing their suitcases for a trip to France, staying in the Brittany region, which was far away enough from home to count as a holiday but still close enough to home to ensure that no homesickness would ensue. Lily Potter was devastated at having to say goodbye to her bed.

            “I’ve just got my pillow in the perfect shape!” she complained to Harry, as he helped her fit her entire collection of summer dresses into her tiny pink suitcase, “And what if our hotel doesn’t have crinkly duvets?”

            “I’m sure you’ll manage Lily,” Harry tried to reassure her, knowing that she was nervous at going on holiday for the first time. She hadn’t really understood what a holiday was, and saw it first as an attempt for Harry and Ginny to deposit her, James and Albus somewhere safely out of the country.

            “But I won’t! None of the other duvets – even the crinkly ones – won’t be the same,” she paused, curling up in a ball on top of her own duvet patterned with daisies, and running her hands over it as though attempting to memorise its every texture and feature in the cotton, so that she could have it firmly in her mind at the moment of separation.

            “Why won’t they be the same Lily?” Harry asked, now trying to use his wand to make the suitcase cram shut over the multicoloured concoction of dresses that he had only just managed to fit in; sitting on it had not worked.

            “Because they won’t smell like… like home!”

            Harry concluded that he would have to enlarge the suitcase before he had any hope of ever shutting it. He pulled out his old holly wand and pointed it at the stubborn pink suitcase.

            “Engorgio.” The suitcase grew to a far more accommodating size and the dresses now fitted inside it comfortably.

            Harry went to sit on the bed next to Lily and she stared up at him beseechingly through big brown eyes.

            “Would you like to take it with you?” Harry asked softly, and Lily gave him a nod still not removing her eyes from his own, still not removing her beseeching expression; Harry couldn’t say no to her when she looked at him like that.

            “Would you like to take your pillow as well?”

            Lily gave him another nod, and she then crawled across the bed to sit in Harry’s lap, marking her current fondness for him, as he was allowing her to take her own little piece of home with her to a strange foreign land.

            The early hour meant that her eyelids started to droop as she rested her head against Harry’s chest. Harry put his arms around her little body so that she wouldn’t fall off and he noticed something comforting about her warm weight, and the sound of her deep slow breathing… he noticed that he too was very tired, and he felt himself slump onto the rumpled bed, his glasses pushed into a wonky angle as he gave into the temptation that was… sleepy.

 

*****

 

 

            “James?” Ginny pushed open his bedroom door, “Are you still –”

            James was still fast asleep in his pyjamas, tangled in his bed sheets and splayed over the bed with his mouth wide open, snoring softly.

            “- asleep?” she added gently.

            Normally Ginny would’ve shouted to wake him, or gone over to poke him, given the need to have him awake; she highly doubted that any of his packing was done. She had also asked all her children to set their alarm clocks, which two of them had done. One obviously had not.

            She suddenly felt herself caught in a momentary lapse of maternal warmth and instead of shouting she quietly approached her sleeping son, carefully avoiding the wooden floorboard that protruded slightly out of his floor (this creaked, a tell tale sign that told Harry and Ginny whether James was out of bed at an inappropriate hour).

            Ginny sat down on the bed lightly, so that the depression she made would not wake James. All she wanted to do was watch him for a while, and relish his presence, which was so much more agreeable when he was asleep. She regarded his thin face and his jet-black messy hair, and felt a stab of realisation that her son was growing up, and slowly starting to look more and more like his father. Except his eyes, which were a combination of the late James Potter’s and her own. But his eyes were closed, so his image could easily have passed for Harry’s when he too was eleven.

            This was the last summer before James went to Hogwarts; he had already received his letter and was insanely excited about finally going; he’d heard so much about it from her and Harry. She wasn’t about to let George talk about Hogwarts to James; that was asking for infinite amount of trouble, as she was sure that George would be a veritable mine of information on how to cause as much bedlam as possible, with that added extra bonus of just managing to avoid expulsion. James caused enough trouble at home. It didn’t bear thinking about the combination of a wand and inspiration from his Uncle George added to this could cause.

             Smiling softly she extended her hand so she could stroke a lock of hair away from his face, and enjoyed that he was letting her – well not hug him exactly, but close enough. James at first stirred, and his snoring stopped but his breathing remained slow and constant, showing that he was on the brink of consciousness. Ginny knew she had precious time left to continue the stroking of his face. He was sure to realise she was there any minute… he opened a bleary hazel eye, found Ginny with it and then closed it again, a small sleepy smile curled into his face. A second later he opened it again with a jolt -

            “ARGH!”

            He sprang back into his headboard pulling his duvet sharply to his chin, breathing heavily and sharply.

            “Why were you watching me?”

            “I was just watching you sleep, which you are not meant to be doing,” Ginny retorted back at him, standing up, “You’re so much more pleasant asleep than you are awake. But there’s no wearing you out…”

            “You would purposefully make me tired…” James shook his head, pretending to be disapproving of Ginny’s words.

            “Yes. Now get up!” Ginny pulled his duvet from him, ignoring his splutters and bleats of indignation, “Everyone else is up! I asked you to set your alarm!”

            “What’s the point? I knew you’d come barging in here to wake me up anyway…”

            “I didn’t come “barging in”!” Ginny said, equally as indignant as James, “I came in very quietly.”

            James muttered to himself mutinously, no doubt cursing his mother for her rude interruption into his beauty sleep and he tried to retrieve his duvet from the floor so he could resume his peaceful slumbering.

            “You are not going back to sleep! You have packing to do.” Ginny said to him firmly, folding her arms.

            “No I don’t.”

            “You don’t have packing to do?” Ginny said sceptically.

            “No…”

            “When did you do it?”

            “Erm- last week.”

            “Get up. If you had said “last night” I might’ve believed you,” Ginny pulled him by his arms onto the floor, so that he fell with a muffled thump onto his duvet, “But you, James Potter would never do anything a week in advance. That would be optimistic to the point of foolishness!”

            James groaned on the floor, trying to curl into his duvet so he could once again go back to sleep.

            “James…” Ginny ceased her sharp tone and developed one that was softer, yet tainted with a tantalising hint that she was about to give a threat that could not be ignored. She bent down and put her head right next to his so that her red hair brushed against his ear, his face buried within the squashy folds of duvet, “Do you want me to tickle you? Because I promise you I will if you don’t have your suitcase ready in an hour…”

            “Fine!” James sprang up nearly knocking Ginny out, “Fine I’ll do it!”

            “Good boy.”

            Ginny ruffled his hair and exited his room, with a very satisfied “my job is done” smile.

 

*****

 

Albus Potter was the only child who was sensible enough to pursue packing on his own without the need for a parent. Both his brother and his sister had a definite streak of independence that rendered them perfectly capable of such a feat but they simply did not possess the common sense that would allow them to finish it. He knew that Lily was planning to take her entire collection of dresses with her, and although he had tried to explain to her the silliness of this choice she had remained stubborn and insisted that “it is a holiday. And on holidays people look pretty. Do you want me to look ugly Albus? Is that what you want?”

            He had then given up, and allowed her to try and fit her wardrobe into a very undersized suitcase with the assumption that she would indeed ask for help at some point.

            She had, because he had heard Harry struggling with it about ten minutes earlier. The room next door was now quiet, and Albus wondered what they could be doing. Any activity that Lily partook in generally involved a great deal of noise.

            Closing the lid on his suitcase he spotted his reflection in his wardrobe mirror and realised a terrible revelation:

            “I look like James!”

            “There’s no need to sound so sad about that Al,” came James’ voice as he entered Albus’s room, “And you don’t look like me. You have green eyes and big round glasses like Dad. I don’t have either.”

            Albus breathed out a bit then, and pushed his glasses up his thin nose, as they had started to slip down.

            “What do you want?” he addressed James.

            “I need help.”

            “Doing what?” Albus asked suspiciously, “Because I’m not going to help you make potions in the bathroom sink again… Dad spent ages trying to get those bubbles off the ceiling.”

            “Relax little brother… relax,” James made pacifying motions with his arms, “I just need some help packing.”

            “Why can’t you do it?”

            “Because I’m not as clever as you, and haven’t the foggiest idea how to do it!”

            “Yes you do,” Albus retorted, “You’re just lazy and want me to do it.”

            “Hole in one!” James threw his arms above his head in triumph and grabbed Albus by the arm and marched him into his own bedroom, which was considerably messier.

            “Your bedroom’s a tip.”

            “It’s cleaner than it was yesterday,” James began picking up random t-shirts and throwing them in a suitcase on his unmade bed.

            “What do I have to do?” Albus asked, wondering why he’d been asked to help when James looked as though he was getting through the task admirably on his own.

            “You can find some shorts.”

            “All right…” Albus moved over to James’ open wardrobe and found just a rail of empty clothes hangers.

            “Where are – ” Albus started.

            “On the floor.”

            So Albus willingly bent down and surfed through the piles of clothes trying to find a pair of forgotten shorts or jeans.

            As he lifted up a t-shirt emblazoned with the band “The Cruciatus Curse” (James never was allowed to see them live) he gave a small “Oo!” of surprise.

            “What is it?” James asked him, his bottom protruding from beneath his bed.

            “Oh nothing…” Albus said airily, waiting for effect, “its just there’s a big spider here…”

            James bumped his head as he scrabbled from under his bed hastily.

            “What? Where?” he looked round frantically, and Albus saw his toes curl under his feet, reducing the surface area of his body that was touching the floor, where the spider was sure to be.

            “Oh! Oh dear… I think it’s run away,” Albus said, pretending to be shocked and surprised, and relishing the effect he was causing on James. There had been a spider but Albus had it safely clutched in one of his hands. He and Harry were the only people in the house who could tolerate spiders, whatever James and Ginny said to the contrary, neither of them could stand the little beasts. Lily was just openly petrified of them and always left the room with a shrill scream whenever she spotted one. The same went for Ron whenever he came to visit, his scream being correspondingly deeper… (or so he liked to think). Unfortunately living in a cottage full of nooks and crannies and beams and cupboards it was a thriving breeding ground for all manners of spiders; James didn’t like this one little bit. And neither did Ginny, although she at least put on a brave face about them and had learnt to accept their presence.

            “What?! Why didn’t you catch it Al?” James leapt onto his bed, still in his pyjamas, and turned his head around looking on the floor with a pair of pants in his hands raised above his head for protection.

            “I couldn’t. They move so quickly, what with their eight scuttly legs…”

            James shuddered.

            “Find it… please. I won’t get down until you find it.”

            “Oh it’s long gone now James… it’s completely disappeared amongst all the mess on your floor,” Albus shook his head, “Tut tut, Mum told you to tidy your room. I bet you wish you had now!”

            “Shut up! Just find it!” a note of panic in his voice.

            Albus bent down obligingly, still holding the spider in his hand, which was scuttling around madly trying to escape. It tickled and Albus giggled.

            “What? What is it?” came James’s nervous voice from above him.

            “I’ve just found another one!” Albus said, having the time of his life telling all this fibs to James. There was no other spider at all.

            “Is it a big one?”

            “Yeah… it’s one of those big brown ones with all the hair…”

            “DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

            James flew off his bed into the hall and thundered into their parents’ room, which was empty. Harry’s reply came from inside Lily’s room, and it sounded very groggy and tired… as though he had recently been asleep…

            “What do you want?”

            “Spider! Big! In my room!” James stormed into Lily’s room breathlessly, pointing frantically into his bedroom, showing his panic through his wide-open eyes. And just like a cartoon, his hair was also standing on end… but then it was always like that.

            Harry sighed and heaved himself off Lily’s comfy bed; Lily didn’t notice a thing, and kept on sleeping.

            But when Harry entered James’ room all he found was a grinning Albus, who showed him the spider in his outstretched hand.

            “You’re a mean brother Albus.”

            “No where near as mean as he is to me!” Albus complained, still grinning and tipping the spider out of James’ window.

            “The spider’s gone now James!” Harry called through, with a smile on his face.

            “Are you sure?” James’ head appeared around the door, though he was careful not to let his bare feet enter, as though he feared the spider suddenly aiming an attack and running over his feet in the menacing manner that only a spider can.

            “I promise,” he paused, debating with himself,  “Albus had it the whole time,” Harry couldn’t resist telling the truth, though he knew the fight that would ensue.

            He saw comprehension dawn on James’ face and it slowly turned red as it faced Albus’s, which was trying to conceal a grin.

            “I HATE YOU!”

            James leapt across the room and landed on his bed, and Albus quickly ran round the side, dodging James’s arms. Harry had to step aside as Albus sprinted into the hall, with James thundering closely at his tail.

            “Albus… James… what?” Ginny’s confusion came from the hall, and she entered James’s room carrying a pile of freshly laundered underwear.

            “Spiders again.” Harry explained.

            “Ahhh… Albus is so mean to him about them,” Ginny looked cross, though it was mingled with a trace of hilarity, as she knew how much Albus enjoyed getting one over James.

            “He is. But James deserves it. He did hang Albus on the back of the door only a week ago.” Harry recalled to Ginny, who remembered the incident with a grin.

            “Our family is insane,” she said, shaking her head, “Can’t think where those genes come from.”

            “I’d just say it’s a mixture of everyone’s,” Harry thought, “My dad’s, your older brothers… you…”

            “Me?” Ginny pointed at herself indignantly, “You think I’m insane?”

            “No… just a bit… I dunno…”

            He faltered at the look on Ginny’s face, and tried to recover himself.

            “I love you,” he hastily, “Please don’t hurt me.”

            “Have you packed yet?”

            “Nearly…” Harry answered tentatively, and made for the door as Ginny looked furious and amused at the same time.

            “Get out!” she said sharply, slapping him across the backside with one of her bras as he went.

            Harry slid round the corner and went into their bedroom, and finished his packing so that Ginny couldn’t find an excuse to hit him again.

            She reflected by herself in James’s room alone for a moment, staring down at all his mess.

            “Nutters… they’re complete nutters… the lot of them.”

            And she then bustled around James’s room, shoving t-shirts and things into his suitcase and wardrobe as she did so, muttering about “nutters” and things.

Chapter 2: A Traffic Jam and a Fat Lorry Driver
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Two grumpy, argument filled, suitcase exploding, eye poking, stressful hours later found the four Weasleys and the five Potters all crammed into one car in a unceasing traffic jam on the M25 on the way to Portsmouth; they were catching the ferry there to Calais, and the children were very excited about this.

            “It will just be like riding a broom, just on water! Right Mum?” Hugo asked his mother, who was sitting next to Ginny in the front, on the magically enlarged seat. The car had been enlarged so that all nine of them, including suitcases, sun hats, balls, a broomstick (for emergencies only as Harry had tried to explain to James), a duvet, a pillow, teddies, sandwiches, pumpkin juice, cauldron cakes, Firewhisky (for emergencies only as Hermione had tried to explain to Harry and Ron), buckets, spades and all other mannerisms of holiday like equipment could fit into the ordinary Muggle car without detection and without too much discomfort for the occupants.

            This was all well and good for Hermione, Ginny and Ron, as they were in the front, but Harry had had to sit in the back with all five children, and wasn’t finding the journey an altogether pleasurable experience; they kept stealing his glasses. 

            “Not quite like riding a broom… more like a Hippogriff,” Hermione explained, remembering the up and down motions that had come from riding Buckbeak. She had felt rather ill on that occasion, and feared that she would be in for a bout of seasickness; no spells she knew could counter-act seasickness, but that wasn’t for lack of trying. She had searched high and low through all her spell books for such a spell, but resigned herself to the fact that if there was one, she had not found it.  The lack of help from her beloved collection of books seemed to insult her readily, and Ron had reported that after this incident she had not picked up a book for a whole hour just to spite her book collection for being so useless.

            “I’ve never ridden on a Hippogriff,” said Rose, “Is it fun?”

            “No.” said Hermione.

            “Yes.” said Harry, clunking James over the head as he yet again forged another attempt to nick Harry’s spectacles off his nose.

            “I could attach them with a permanent sticking charm if you want Harry,” Ron called into the back, turning around to face them, “Then he couldn’t keep taking them.”

            “I’d never be able to take my glasses off again!” Harry said back to him, weighing out the good and the bad points that would come with having his glasses permanently attached to the bridge of his nose.

            “Ha ha! You’d have to sleep with them on!” laughed James, and the other four started laughing too, looking and pointing at Harry, no doubt imagining Harry sleeping with his glasses on.

            “It’s not that funny!”

            “Do it Uncle Ron! Stick them to his nose!”

            “Be quiet James!”

            “Make me!”

            “Oh I will…” Harry drew out his wand –

            “Don’t make me come back there!”

            Hermione turned her bushy head to face Harry and James sternly, narrowing her brown eyes.

            “Sorry Hermione,” said Harry, hiding a grin and stowing his wand away.

            “That’s better.” She replied, also smiling.

 

 

When are we going to get there?” whined Lily, staring out the window forlornly with her chin in her hand.

            “We’ll get there when we get there!” Ron replied through gritted teeth; the traffic jam had made him steadily grumpier, and he was clenching the steering wheel so hard his knuckles appeared white. He was staring out of the windscreen so intensely it looked as though he were trying to make flame shoot from his eyes in order to devour the volume of cars that were preventing him from driving anywhere.

            “Why are you grumpy Uncle Ron?” Lily asked him.

            “I’m not.” Ron replied stoutly.

            “You are…” Lily was very bored, and therefore was trying to provoke Ron as some form of entertainment; most families would have considered this rude, but Ron was near enough a second father, and this allowed her to tease him as much as she teased Harry.

            “I am not grumpy,” Ron was trying to avoid himself being provoked, but his ears were turning red… a danger sign.

            “Are…” Lily added quietly, but she finished arguing with him; she had met her goal, which was to goad Ron enough so that he didn’t explode, but to just near the brink of said explosion. Unfortunately, this meant that one more knock to his temper would result him getting rather cross…

            The traffic was now crawling along at a snail’s pace, after remaining completely stationary for the past ten minutes.

            “Finally!” said Ron, jerking handbrake off.

            Just then another car sped in front of him in the lane, causing him to have to stop suddenly, and receiving angry hoots from cars behind him.

            “OI!” He yelled at the car in front, and stuck up a rude hand gesture at the driver who had cut across him. He got one back in return, and a reproving “Ron!” from Hermione.

            Ron slammed his hand down on the horn, and it gave a resounding blast of sound that caused the man in front to look round in his car; the traffic had slowed down to a stop again.

            The man hooted back at Ron, and Ron hooted back again, the man hooted, and then other people were getting fed up with this so they hooted too. Soon there was a whole symphony of different horns going off all around the motorway.

            Ron’s ears were bright red, and Hermione grabbed his arms to stop him from punching out the steering wheel from over enthusiastic overuse of the car’s horn.

            He refrained, but he was breathing heavily and nobody in the car dared say a word to him; the tension inside was tangible. Ron’s hands were in danger of snapping the steering wheel in half.

            “Bloody… Muggles!” he seethed, “Can’t… drive … stupid … CARS!”

            A lone horn sounded right behind him, after all the other horns had ceased.

            Ron turned around in his seat suddenly, so that his angry red face suddenly appeared in the back of the car, causing everyone to sit back slightly.

            “SHUT UP!”

            “We weren’t saying anything!” Hugo piped up crossly.

            “Not you,” Ron growled at Hugo, “HIM!” he pointed accusingly at the car behind. The driver waved at Ron with a vacant happy expression; evidently the traffic jam had driven this driver ever so slightly loopy.

            He pressed his horn again at Ron.

            Ron turned to face the front again, boiling in anger. Everyone was silent. The tension was almost tangible… you could’ve cut it with a knife…

 

            Five minutes later… traffic still stationary

 

            Hermione twiddled with the radio, but only got the WWN, which wasn’t much use in explaining traffic jams on Muggle motorways. Celestina Warbeck’s voice was now punctuating the tense silence that filled the car.

            When Hermione saw Ron’s eye twitching and his hands tighten (surely impossible) around the steering wheel she hastily turned Celestina off. An echoing silence lay in her wake.

 

            Two minutes later… traffic still very much not moving. Ronald reaching mental breakdown.

 

            “I don’t like you.” James said to Hugo.

            “Why?” Hugo sounded shocked.

            “Meh,” replied James with a shrug, “Just thought this journey would be more fun if I had an enemy.”

            “Well… make enemies with him them,” Hugo pointed up through the window at a fat, bald sunburnt lorry driver who bore a striking similarity to Ron in the way he was regarding the surrounding cars; as though he wanted nothing more for them all to suffer extremely painful deaths.

            “I don’t think I’d want to be his enemy,” James said, regarding the male, “I couldn’t beat him in a fight. He’s far too fat. At least I could beat you easily.”

            “You could not!”

            “I could!”

            “Oh really?”

            “Oh yes. I’m older and bigger. Four years older in fact.”

            Hugo tried to poke James in the eye, but James batted him off and attempted to grab his hair.

            “ARGH!” said Hugo, trying to pinch James  and kick him simultaneously.

            “Oi!” James pushed Hugo, who went into Lily who was holding a bottle of pumpkin juice.

            “ARGH!” Orange juice splattered down her white t-shirt, and she turned her furious gaze to Hugo and James. James was still holding onto Hugo’s hair, and both were waiting for the onslaught.

            “You... you ROTTON BOYS!”

            “What have they done Lily?” Ginny asked, in a very bored voice, tapping her fingers absent-mindedly on her window, earning her frequent, mutinous glances from Ron.

            “They split juice on me because they were fighting!”

            “We had to fight otherwise I’d have had to fight the big fat man!”

            “What big fat man?”

            “That big fat man!” James said louder, now with a very pointed point.

            “James your window is open!” Ginny hissed at him. The big fat man had been staring down at James very crossly after this insult towards his physical state but when he spotted Ginny he gave a leer and a wave. Ginny didn’t think much of this. She narrowed her eyes at him and gave him a taste of how inappropriate she found his behaviour. Her language could’ve rivalled Ron’s. This only caused the lorry driver to smile even harder. Sparks flew from Ginny’s eyes. She turned around.

            “Kick your father Albus.”

            Harry was asleep with his mouth open, and had not noticed the fight, and had not noticed that some of Lily’s juice had gotten on his jeans.

            Albus had been quietly behaving in the back with Rose. He aimed a well-judged kick onto Harry’s kneecap.

            “Ouch!” He jerked awake.

            “You’re meant to be supervising Harry!” Ginny scolded him, “James and Hugo have been fighting and Lily’s spilt juice all down herself because of the fighting and it’s now on you as well!”

            He saw the orange splashes on his jeans.

            “Oh Lily!” he moaned.

            “It wasn’t my fault! It was Hugo’s!”

            “James pushed me!”

            “Because you tried to kick him!” said Lily sternly.

            “Because he said he didn’t like me!”

            Lily leant across Hugo and grabbed James by the ear and started to twist it.

            “ARGH!”

            “Lily no!”

            Harry pulled Lily back and James nursed his ear; both of them stared daggers at each other.

            “Now, let’s all behave,” Harry was trying to make up for his lack of discipline that he had just shown over the fighting etc. Though he had been asleep and he wasn’t sure how you’re meant to exercise discipline when you’re asleep.

            “Harry…” Ginny hissed at him out of the corner of her mouth, whilst Harry was in the middle of a speech about how important it was to behave, “Harry!” she hissed again and Harry stopped mid flow.

            “What?”

            “That man is looking at me…” She pointed towards the lorry driver, who was still looking at Ginny in rather compromising manner.

            Harry waited.

            “Hey Ginger!” The driver – unwisely - now thought the time was ripe for him to speak to Ginny, even though she had made it perfectly clear what she thought of him earlier. She turned to face him with fire burning in her brown eyes.

            “Hello.” She said coldly.

            “Ditch the family and come have a little ride with me!” He patted the seat next to him.

            “I’d rather not thank you very much,” Ginny glared at him, speaking in clipped tones, “Now please leave me alone!”

            “Ooo!” He shouted down mockingly, “I hope you don’t always behave like this! I like my girls to be obedient…”

            Both Harry and Ron launched themselves to opposite windows, much to the distaste of the passengers that they had thrown themselves across.

            “THAT’S MY WIFE/ SISTER YOU’RE TALKING TO!” Harry and Ron both yelled simultaneously, with the correct word that described their relation to Ginny included in it.

            The lorry driver looked down stunned at the angry heads that had appeared in the two side windows of their car. Both looked very angry and red. To an outsider this image would’ve looked very funny. The driver gave a hearty guffaw.

            “Oh I’m so sorry,” he said sarcastically, “I’m sure there are plenty more birds on this motorway to pick up!”

            “Oh you – you …” Ron spluttered, “wan –” but in the middle of his rude exclamation Hermione extracted an arm with difficulty and flung it over Ron’s mouth to prevent the children from hearing such profanity. They all giggled, knowing perfectly well what Ron was about to say.

            “I wouldn’t go calling me names like that,” the driver said threateningly to Ron, “I’ve got a much bigger vehicle than you!”

            “THAT COULD EASILY CHANGE!” Harry yelled, completely forgetting that enlarging the car to rival the lorry could perhaps cause a bit of a stir.

            “You tell him Dad!” James shouted whilst Ginny and Hermione winced.

            The lorry driver looked stunned for a moment and then realised the (what he thought) ridiculousness of what Harry had just said.

            “You’re completely mad!”

            “AM I? AM I REALLY?” Harry drew out his wand with difficulty and nearly elbowed Hugo in the head.

            “Dad you’re crushing us!” moaned Lily, trying to poke Harry hard to get him to move. He did not notice.

            The driver shook his head at the piece of wood that Harry was brandishing at him (the driver clearly thought Harry mad), but luckily just then the traffic started to move. Unfortunately, Ron was still lying across Ginny and Hermione, and had great trouble returning to the steering wheel. Harry was still lying flat across all the children with his head and arm poking out the window when the car started to move.

            “Are you all right Ginny?” Harry asked her.

            “Yes,” she said, rubbing her arm that had been hit during Ron’s launch across her lap, “It’s good to know that I’m protected.”

            Hermione snorted.

            “You don’t need protecting!” she said scathingly.

            “Oh but Hermione I do! If Harry and Ron hadn’t been here…” she paused, seemingly anticipating horrific scenarios, “who knows what that nasty man may have done to me?!”

            Harry noticed the sarcasm.

            “If you didn’t need protecting then why did you tell me he was looking at you?” he said hotly, a bit annoyed.

            Ginny turned around to smile and him fondly, and then she grabbed his cheek as though she thought him cute.

            “I just love seeing you care.”

            A fairly disgruntled Harry saw Ginny turn away still laughing at him and he tried to resume his snooze, in an attempt to hide his embarrassment, as signs for Portsmouth finally started to appear.

Chapter 3: A Toilet Related Antic that funnily enough... Involves Toilets
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“Why is it so windy?” Lily asked, bemused by the near gale that certainly had not been present when they left home, “It’s sunny but it is windy, that makes no sense.”

            “It’s the sea breeze!” Ron shouted over the rushing wind, “Bracing and character building.”

            Lily didn’t think her character needed building, and neither did anyone else. She had quite enough character without sea wind being added to the mix.

            “I need a wee!” shouted Rose.

            “Rose! You say, “Please may I use the toilet,”” said Hermione crossly, “You don’t pronounce exactly what you want to use it for!”

            “Please may I use the toilet,” Rose asked obligingly.

            “I need a wee too!” Lily suddenly said.

            “Yes, so do I,” said Albus.

            “Well as you’re all going…” said James.

            Hermione tutted, refusing to believe that they all simultaneously needed the toilet at the same time.

            “I’ll go with them,” Ginny said, as she too needed to use the facilities, “Harry?”

            “Yes, yes I’ll come along,” Harry replied, thinking that this would be wise as it was another hour before they could board the ferry; yet another line of cars was in front of theirs awaiting the ferry’s arrival. Harry could tell that by the end of this holiday he would never want to lay his eyes on a car ever again.

            “Maybe I should go too,” Ron said, contemplating whether he needed to, and then concluding that he did.

            “Am I the only one who went before we left?” Hermione asked exasperatedly, rolling her eyes at everyone.

            “Probably,” replied Ron, chivvying everyone along towards the dingy building that served coffee for travellers desperately seeking caffeine.

            Just as they were half way there Hugo ran after them:

            “Don’t leave me behind!”

            Hermione stood alone, not needing the toilet at all. But then, very annoyed, she realised that she did, even though she did go before she left. She blamed this on all the talk of toilets that everyone had been having minutes before. So she left the car in the queue and stomped off after them.


 


 

“Oh come on Lily!” Rose complained, doing a small dance outside the dingy cubicle, “I needed to go first!”

            “But I got here first!” Lily explained from inside the cubicle, “And I needed it too!”

            Just then, the door to the ladies opened, and Rose gave a little gasp; it was a boy.

            Rose was stunned; the little lady with the no arms and sticky out dress on the door made it perfectly plain that this toilet was only for girls. She made to confront this non-female.

            “Excuse me,” she started but he had already quickly disappeared into the cubicle, in a blur; it was impossible to distinguish who his non-female was. Rose was mortified. Her mother would not be happy with this, but unfortunately Hermione was not here.

            Rose was desperate for the loo by now but was still so shocked that a boy was using the ladies that she couldn’t resist exiting in order to tell her father what was going on.

            “Dad!” she came out of the door, where she found Ron and Harry standing in the queue for the men’s. She inspected the little man sign on the door and she found it perfectly easy to distinguish the two signs (and also the line of men going into one door but not the other made the contrast easier too.)

            “What’s wrong Rosie?”

            “There is a boy!” She exclaimed, opening her arms wide to just show what a huge scandal it really was, “There is a boy in the ladies!”

            “Maybe he really needed it… badly,” Ron tried to reason, because he saw no real problem with using the ladies room if needs must; he had been considering it himself because the queue for the men’s was so bloody long. 

            “Rosie… sometimes you just can’t hold it in,” Ron explained, realising how silly he must sound explaining such a thing to his daughter; Harry was trying not laugh at him, “And sometimes a boy may need to use the ladies in an… in an – ”

            “- extreme situation,” finished Harry for him.

            “That is disgusting,” Rose said, in a disdainful disgusted manner and stalked back into the ladies with her nose in the air. It was only when she put her nose down that she realised that this certain naughty boy was –

            “HUGO!”

            Hugo jerked around to see his sister, who’s bushy red hair seemed to quiver indignantly.

            “Rose!”

            She spluttered for a while and then pointed at him with a shaking finger.

            “You’re a boy!”

            “That’s not what James has been saying,” Lily exited her cubicle suddenly, and went to join Hugo at the sinks to wash her hands with the pink soap. Pink is a lady colour.

            “You were in their ages!” Rose said, distracted, “What on earth were you doing?”

            Hermione arrived in the ladies, and saw her daughter, niece and her son. She smiled at them, and then did a double take when she saw Hugo.

            “Aunty Hermione, Rose is being rude!” Lily pointed at Rose.

            Rose spluttered.

            “What was she doing Lily?” Hermione asked.

            “She asked me what I was doing in the toilet. That’s rude,” Lily nodded knowledgably at Rose.

            Hermione tutted at Rose.

            “You don’t ask people things like that Rose!”

            But Rose wasn’t to be distracted by seeming observations upon her vacant rudeness.

            “Hugo is using the lady’s room!” Rose said, pointing an accusing finger at Hugo, who was now drying his hands with pink tissue paper, “Boys shouldn’t use lady’s rooms. Now that’s rude.”

            “But Hugo’s only a little boy Rosie,” Hermione explained, “He’s only seven! If your father were to use – ”

            Just then the door to ladies burst open yet again and a faint, tall red tipped blur went by.

            “Can’t wait anymore. Bloody bursting.” It said.

            Hermione rolled her eyes. Everyone paused for a second. 

            “I thought you needed the toilet Rose,” Lily said faintly.

            Rose took her sulky face off and remembered that she indeed did. She disappeared behind a door; so did Hermione.

            “Eeew!” came a voice.

            “What is it Rosie?” Lily asked the closed door.

            “Someone has peed all over the seat!”

            Lily looked around, but Hugo had gone.

 

           

The family of nine were now back in the car with fully empty bladders, and the resulting calmness from this was still in progress.

            “Should be allowed to go on soon,” said Ron, tapping the steering wheel with his fingers whilst bobbing his head to some unknown beat. Maybe he was making up for his mistreatment of the steering wheel earlier; it had aimed a punch at him when they arrived, causing Ron to mutter darkly about “evil demonised Muggle cars.” Hermione explained that it was the air bag.

            “The fairy is here!” Lily threw her arms up in exultation and nearly hit Harry in the ear.

            “It’s a ferry Lily,” Hermione corrected her absent-mindedly.

            “Will there be ice cream?” Hugo asked hopefully, looking uncommonly like his father as he anticipated food with only the delight that Ron could convey.

            “Maybe,” said Hermione, “But I most certainly will not be eating any.”

            “Why not?” asked Albus in surprise; who could pass up the opportunity to eat ice cream?

            “Your Aunty Hermione gets a bit travel sick,” Ron told him delicately, speaking quietly but emphasizing every word, just to make sure Hermione heard him.

            “That’s not the case Ron!” Hermione retorted, “I just don’t like it much.”

            Ron gave a cough, that sounded oddly like: “Devon!”

            “What happened in Devon?” James leant through into the front of the car, looking eagerly between Ron and Hermione. He saw Hermione shake her head a millimetre to each side to Ron, and Ron seemed to debate with himself internally for a moment. He then looked forward and remained silent, knowing better than to disobey her wishes.

            James sat back, defeated.

            “I’ll just have to make up my own version of what happened then,” he said, “And I can tell you now it will be much more embarrassing!”

            Ron gave a hollow laugh.

            “Oh I doubt it,” Ron said, “There are some things in life that you haven’t seen yet young Potter, and I doubt you could ever imagine anything more embarrassing that the story of Hermione, the ice cream and the dinosaur.”

            “Dinosaur?” Albus said disbelievingly, “Aren’t they extinct?”

            Hermione sighed.

            “Supposedly.”

            “Come on Aunty Hermione!” James pleaded, “Please tell us!”

            “No!”

            “Please?”

            “No!”

            “Pl –”

            “Shut up James! Leave Aunty Hermione alone!” Ginny turned back to reprimand him.

            “Tell us Mum!” cried Hugo, whilst Rose nodded enthusiastically, “How come we haven’t heard this story before?”

            And then he realised something.

            “How come we weren’t there?” he said crossly, “You went on holiday without us!”

            Ron rolled his eyes and turned around to face the five children and Harry in the back row; Harry had been enjoying the argument, and very much wanted to hear this story about Hermione, the ice cream and the dinosaur. He wasn’t about to ask to hear it, and he wondered if Ron would tell him on a one-to-one basis. Unless this story about Hermione was so embarrassing that Ron would let his loyalty to her bail her out of this one.

            “Because Master Weasley your mother and I wanted to go on holiday after we got married you see,” he explained, “It’s known as a honeymoon! It would’ve been most inappropriate if you had been born then!” said Ron, pretending to be posh.

            “I thought that you thought that anywhere in England didn’t count as a holiday?” Rose pointed out shrewdly.

            “Ahh but Rosie, anywhere that was with your mother was quite fine by me,” Ron paused to gaze at Hermione with misty eyes, showing his true adoration for her. Harry knew that he was using this parody of admiration to hide the fact that he really meant every word. Ron wouldn’t ever talk about his real feelings to large groups of people, and if he ever did experience a real feeling (apart from general grumpiness and outbursts of temper) he would tend to hide it behind a joke or make his expression so exaggerated that no one would take him seriously.

            Hermione gave him a small smile in return and then turned away, pointing out to Ron that the cars were starting to board the ferry.

            “This is very exciting!” said Rose, craning her neck to see out the window.

            “It doesn’t look big enough to fit all of us on,” Lily said, “and look! There’s some lorries over there! I really don’t think that this fairy will be big enough to carry us all. I believe it will sink!” she added seriously and knowledgably.

            Harry patted her on the head.

            “Don’t worry Lily, I’ll make sure it won’t sink for you,” he gave her a vacant smile, but Lily wasn’t reassured.

            “No Dad! We can’t get on, it is not big enough! We shall sink and we’ll all get soaked!”

            “And cold,” added Albus.

            “Shut up you numptys!” James turned to face them, “God, you can tell you’re young! Naïve…”         

            “What’s your point James?” Hugo asked him, annoyed.

            “Oh come on! It’s so obvious it has an undetectable extension charm on it!” he rolled his eyes at the ferry, indicating that he all thought they were stupid. When they didn’t nod their heads in approval at his magnificent observation he turned to Hermione for clarification upon the validity of his idea.

            “It will do though won’t it?” he asked, “How else would it work?”

            “But James,” Lily explained, “The people who drive the boats are Muggles! They can’t do charms and things!”

            “Who said they’re Muggles?” James asked enigmatically, “They could be wizards!”

            “They could be…” Lily agreed, as though she thought James was being reasonable.

            Hermione shook her head at them with a smile. She knew better than to explain to them about how the air on the ferry will make it buoyant enough to enable it to carry vast numbers of vehicles. It would also involve an explanation of up thrust and all loads of other gubbins that she knew that none of them would care about nor understand. It was just so much easier this way.

            “Bet it’ll still sink though,” Lily said quietly.

            “If it does it’s because you’re too fat!” James said to her.

            Lily reached across and slapped him across the face.

            “MUM! Lily hit me!”

            “Lily don’t hit your brother!” she replied in a bored monotonous voice.

            “He called me fat!”

            “James don’t call your sister fat!”

            There was a moody silence in the back of the car for a while, whilst Lily shot daggers at James through her brown eyes. He pointedly ignored her. Albus pointed out a seagull to Harry.

            “It’s a mouette!” he said proudly.

            “No Al, that’s a seagull,” Harry contradicted lightly.

            Albus frowned at him.

            “It’s French Dad!”

            Harry looked at him blankly.

            “You haven’t learnt any French to speak on our holiday to France?” Albus asked incredulously.

            “No…” Harry said, feeling a bit guilty.

            “Has anybody?” he asked the car at large.

            A simultaneous murmur of dissent crossed through the car.

            “I know a bit!” revealed Hermione.

            “From this,” said James with a finger in the air, “I can tell this holiday is going to be fun…”

            And then drove up onto the metal ramp, and entered the ferry, without sinking at all.

Chapter 4: "I'm always good humoured!"
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“Right…so we’re on…” Ron looked to his left to read the sign, “Car deck 2!”

            The smell of petrol was almost overwhelming as they exited the car deck to proceed upstairs. Rows and rows of cars stood around them, all with their corresponding families trying to remove suitcases and bags, without opening their car doors into anyone else’s head, or expensive cars etc. This meant a great deal of care had ensued whilst unpacking the boot. Unfortunately, even the greatest deal of care in the world could not have foreseen that Harry would bring the boot door down upon Ron’s head. This had hurt Ron, and he had spluttered a number of splendid swear words as he clutched the top of his head, gasping in pain. A mother of two had looked at him most disapprovingly, and had hurried her children away before they heard such a dreadful demonstration of language.

            But after many hurried apologies from Harry and a quick kiss on the head by Hermione (which had been difficult, as Ron was considerably taller than her) Ron seemed to be quite all right again, and had willingly accepted the task of taking three suitcases, Lily’s duvet and pillow into the cabin for her. She was very grateful for this, and would’ve held his hand if it had not been clutching onto Hugo’s small blue suitcase at the time. Instead she trotted along beside him, giving him a constant flow of encouragement as she went; Ron was struggling with the combined weight and bulkiness of his load, and kept accidentally walking into people. Although this could’ve just been due to his recent knock on the head. No one was quite sure.

            The family of nine squeezed up four narrow flights of stairs, all four adults laden with the luggage and gasping for breath whilst their merciless children barged ahead, desperate to get on deck and see the sea. They disappeared after two flights, and everyone assumed that they had just simply been very quick at getting to the top.

            Although when a panting Harry, Ron, Ginny and Hermione reached the top, they saw that this was not the case.

            “Didn’t you see the lift?”

            Ginny looked at Hugo suspiciously.

            “What lift?” she gasped.

            “The lift lift.” He said, unhelpfully.

            “Well, where was it?” asked Harry.

            “Downstairs.” Replied Lily.

            No one questioned them further; they evidently were not in a “helpful information giving” mood. Instead, they found it better use of their time to find their cabins, which were on the same deck. The only problem now was finding them…

            They passed numerous bright corridors, lined with advertisements for perfume and alcohol, which were undoubtedly sold on the ferry. Ron found all these very funny.

            “Ha ha! Look at this Harry,” he squinted at a poster, “Vod-ka!”

            He then laughed disbelievingly.

            “Mad these Muggles, the things they dream up…” and he shook his head.

            They also saw many people wearing uniforms, whom Harry was sure would be of great help. But Hermione was adamant that they find the cabins on their own.

            “They can’t be that far!” she kept insisting, “Next corridor surely…”

            But many corridors came and went, and by the time they had passed the same uniform clad man three times, he brought it upon himself to ask if they needed help.

            “Can I ‘elp you?” he asked, with a pleasant smile at the bright red and panting faces, nearly hidden beneath the piles of luggage they were carrying; their oh-so-very helpful children had long since disappeared.

            “Oh God… he’s French,” Ron whispered to Harry, “I can’t speak a bloody word of it!”

            Harry was about to add that the man seemed to speak perfect English before Hermione took control of the situation, which gave Ron a distraction.

            “Well, we’re nearly there actually…” she tried to reassure him, forgetting that this man had seen them pass at least three times in the past ten minutes. Her miserable attempts at explaining they knew where they were going dissipated into nothing as the man pointed them in the right direction.

            “You take ze next stairs on ze right, and zen you pass two doors. Ze next two are your cabines,” he nodded at them after this helpfulness, smiling. He then put his hands back behind his back, looking vacantly happy again.

            After saying fervent “thank yous” to the man they all trooped on their way, whilst Hermione angrily whispered that they didn’t need help, that they were perfectly able to find their way.

            “Probably thought we were tourists or something…”

            “Well… we are,” pointed out Ron.

            After climbing their last flights of stairs they entered a corridor, and who was standing in it?

            “How they hell do you find everything better than we can?” asked Ron indignantly, dropping his load with a sigh onto the floor.

            “We’re obviously just cleverer than you,” Rose said, with a smug smile.

            Ron opened his mouth to retort when Hermione hissed at him, shoving him and Harry keys.

            “Looks like we’re right next door!” Harry pointed out, “Wish we could put this lot in a different room…”

            “I heard that!” James said loudly.

            “Good, you were meant to hear it,” Harry smiled wryly, “I didn’t lower my voice did I?”

            James narrowed his eyes at him, and aimed a kick at the back of Harry’s knee. This meant that Harry’s knee buckled, bringing him to the ground, a torrent of luggage falling on top of him.

            “Oof!” said Harry was making a whole harmony of “I’m very squashed noises”, whilst Rose, Hugo, Albus, Lily and James all hooted with laughter at him. Ron, Hermione and Ginny tried very hard not to, but it was with a trembling mouth that Ginny pulled Harry to his feet, removing him from the debris of suitcases that had fallen on his head.

            “Are you all right?” Ginny asked him, her voice shaking as she unnecessarily brushed him down, straightening his glasses.

            “I’m fine,” Harry said stiffly, feeling quite embarrassed. Though he was pretty certain that only his family had witnessed it; they had seen plenty of things that warranted this incident to be quite an insignificant one.

            He turned to unlock his door, when he heard a noise that sounded very suspicious behind him –

            Hermione was now laughing at him, tears running down her face.

            “Bit of a delayed reaction,” Ron pointed out, “and a very bizarre laugh.”

            “It sounded like a fart!” Hugo said rapturously, relishing the fact that Hermione was laughing too hard to notice what he had just said.

            “I was – trying – to hold – my – laugh – in,” Hermione explained, with difficulty, “and – it all – came – out – through – my – my – mouth – and made a – rude noise! You – were – just – so – ha ha – suitcases…”

            She then collapsed against the wall, tears leaking beneath her eyelids, in such an epitome of hilarity that rendered her incapable of standing.

            “Shall we go in Hermione?” Ron asked her, holding the door to their cabin open, with an expression of shock and amusement on his face.

            She staggered in, still laughing, and Ron had to grab her by her arm to stop her falling inside headfirst.

            “It’s like she’s been drinking or something…” he hissed to Harry in the door, “Is that bottle of Firewhisky still full and in the car? I think we ought to check.”

            Harry grinned as the Weasleys disappeared next door to unpack.

            Ginny and their three children were already deciding what beds they wanted. Lily wanted the double bed, but Ginny explained that that wouldn’t be fair on Harry; he was far too big to sleep in a single bed meant for little flowers like Lilys.

            She giggled at this, and then went to place her duvet over a bed proudly. Albus and James were already making some sort of fort or den (it was hard to tell) out of their mattresses and pillows.

            “We’ve been here literally two minutes and the place is already a tip,” Ginny sighed, “Ah well never mind. I got us the best bed!” she added brightly, pointing the bed in the corner.

            “Well done!” Harry praised her, and she grinned at him. Her grin soon faded as she regarded the suitcases.

            “I can’t be bothered to unpack,” she moaned, “I’m going to cheat.”

            She drew out her wand and swished it in a fluid motion –

            “Unpack!”

            All the overnight clothes that were needed flew into respective drawers and cupboards.

            “Learnt it from Tonks,” Ginny added. Then she sighed. 

            Albus noticed that their toothbrushes had all gone into another little room off the bigger one.

            “Wow! We’ve got another room!”

            “That’d be the bathroom.” James explained to him.

            “Wow, let me see,” Lily ran over to join them.

            Harry rolled his eyes; they had a bathroom at home. But then he assumed that everything was more exciting when it was on holiday. He couldn’t wait to see his children’s faces when they saw what shape they made bread in France.

            “I am going to christen the toilet,” Lily announced proudly, “Don’t you dare come in!” she added menacingly to her brothers.

            “Like we’d want to!” James scoffed at her.

            They all waited for several moments, and during this time they shifted their bed sheets around to their own personal liking, and just generally pottered, before they met up with Ron and Hermione again, to explore the rest of the ferry.

            A weird sound emitted from the shut door to the bathroom, it sounded like a powerful plughole being pulled from sink, and then all the water being sucked through it as quickly as possible.

            “ARGHHHHH!”

            Lily flew out from the bathroom, her red her flying, and she flew straight into Harry, knocking him onto the floor. Again.

            “What is it Lily?” he muttered grumpily, rubbing his head and sitting up.

            “The toilet has a sucker!” she announced, wide eyed, explaining her terrifying tale, “It almost got me!”

            “What do mean a sucker?” Albus asked, curiously.

            “It doesn’t flush! It… sucks.”

            “Like this?” Ginny demonstrated a hoovering noise.

            “Yes yes!” Lily pointed excitedly at Ginny, “Just like that!”

            “How very strange…”

            “Wacky.”

            “Weird.”

            “Freaky…”

            “MUTANT TOILET!”

            “No … Blast – Ended – Skrewt toilet!” Harry said, remembering the strange scorpion type creatures that Hagrid had bred for them in fourth year.

            “Ye- what?” James asked, confused.

            “Oh, they have suckers.” Harry explained.

            “And stings,” added Ginny.

            “And fire type blasters,” Harry added again.

            “But we have a Muggle toilet Mum!” Albus asked, bypassing this bizarre interlude into the conversation that was previously on a much more serious topic, “But ours doesn’t do crazy stuff!”

            “It does sometimes,” Ginny smiled.

            “Only after James mucks about with it!”

            James looked scandalised.

            “I have never touched our toilet! You have no evidence!”

            “I have plenty!” Lily retorted, “I’m just biding my time…”

            “Oh really?” James scoffed at her, “What sort of evidence?”

            “Like that fact that somehow… just somehow… you always have toilet paper hanging off your doorknob on Saturdays!” Lily said, mysteriously, trying to create the air that comes from a murder mystery party; who did manage to freeze all the water inside the toilet…? Was it Miss Scarlet? Or Colonel Mustard? … who would ever know… (It was James, for reference.)

            “That’s because I use to –” James started, and then broke off, looking embarrassed.

            “What do you use it for?” Albus probed.

            Harry and Ginny both knew, but they weren’t going to embarrass their son like that; if he wanted to say then he could say it himself. They both moved away, and tried to distract the children by opening the cabin door into the corridor outside, in an attempt to symbolise that they wanted to leave. None of them noticed.

            “Go on James!” Albus asked again, “Come on, we won’t laugh.”

            James scowled.

            “You will.”

            “Please James!” Lily pleaded, “I love you…!” she added coaxingly, trying to persuade him.

            He shuddered and made a retching noise.

            “Yuck! That is gross,” he retorted, “I’ll only tell you if you promise never to say that again!”

            “OK,” said Lily sweetly, as she had gotten exactly the reaction and result she wanted.

            “I have a little silver train,” James said to his knees, “I like to polish it on Saturdays so that it’s nice and clean for me to look at on Sundays.”

            Harry and Ginny both looked at each other, indulging in besotted smiles for their son, as they heard him admit to his little secret that explained where all the toilet paper went on Saturdays. Ginny had offered him some silver polish, and even offered for her to polish it to a mirror-like quality with her wand, so that it would never dirty again, but James wouldn’t allow it. He thrived in the Muggle activity, and he probably felt much greater satisfaction after it was done.

            “Awww! James!” Lily clapped her hands together, “You’re so much lovelier than I give you credit for!”

            James grimaced at the floor, his face bright red. He knew that this embarrassment was nothing to what he would be experiencing should Lily have invented her own methods as to what he did with the toilet paper.

            Speaking of his little train, he had it right in this room, hidden in a sock in his suitcase. This item meant to him what a cuddly toy usually means to a baby, and he would never go away for long periods of time without it. He had an unfortunate tendency to lose things, but he knew that he could never lose his little silver train. It was a steam train, and fitted into his hand. It looked curiously like the Hogwarts Express, the train that would take him to Hogwarts, in a mere months time…

            He would be alone in going to Hogwarts, as all his siblings and closer cousins were younger than him. But, he thought more cheerfully, Teddy would also be there, though he was quite a bit older. And his cousin Victoire, who had always been a bit … girly? No, not quite the word. Just too Fleur- like for his taste. However, he had never had any problems in talking to people he didn’t know, so he didn’t have many worries about that. It would just be nice to have a friendly, familiar face when he was so far away from home.

            “What you thinking about James?” Lily asked him, her head cocked on one side.

            “Wha -?” he said surprised, “Oh, erm. Hogwarts. About how I’m going in less that a month.”

            “Oh yes! You are aren’t you!” Lily said gleefully, “That means that Albus will be the oldest one, and then, when he goes to Hogwarts with Rose, and I… I shall be the oldest!” she said triumphantly, with the air of a notorious villain who had just announced his grand plans to take over the world.

            “That’s a long time yet Lily,” called Harry from the door, “Now do you want to explore this ferry or what?”

            They all scrambled up off the floor to join their parents, who had been standing by the door all this time.

            “Were you eavesdropping?” Lily asked them suspiciously.

            “Of course,” replied Ginny, “What else would we be doing?”

            Lily nodded, feeling that this was a good reply as any.

            “I’m going to see if Rose wants to come and see the mouettes with me!” Albus bounded out into the corridor beyond their cabin, and knocked on the door to Ron and Hermione’s room.

            “Yes, because we never see those,” said James sarcastically, “Living right on a cliff next to the sea and all…”

            Albus rolled his eyes.

            “Yes James, but these seagulls are different ones!” Albus said enthusiastically, “They could be different colours!”

            “Yes Al, they could be…” Harry replied.

            Harry heard someone approaching the door, and Ron’s grinning freckled face opened it.

            “Hello, we would come out, but we’re having a bit of fun with the toilet!” he said, going back inside and gesturing for them to join him.

            Indeed, excited squeals were coming from inside the bathroom, and repeating hoovering noises were emitting from the room.

            Lily shivered.

            James then realised something.

            “Hey! Your room is exactly the same size as ours!” he said, crestfallen, “I thought ours would be bigger, because we have an extra person!”

            “Yes, but because Ron is so tall, they thought that they should give us a room for five instead of four,” Hermione explained, “Just to make sure that he fitted.”

            Ron turned around to face her indignantly, but all he found was Hermione giggling slightly, and he couldn’t find it in his heart to be annoyed.

            “She’s still having aftershocks about you falling over Harry,” Ron explained, “That’s why she’s being so good humoured.”

            Hermione laughed at him.     

            “I’m always good humoured!”

            Some hollow laughs came from the bathroom, and Hermione rounded on them.

            “What? I am!”

            “Yes, of course you are dear.” Ron said meekly.

            “Don’t you “dear” me!” she said, prodding him in the chest.

            “Ouch!” Ron complained, rubbing it, “Yes, of course you’re good natured all the time! That’s why you go prodding people so painfully!”

            “Because you were being silly Ron,” Hermione reasoned, “You never call me “dear”, it’s a silly term.”

            “I was only joking –”

            “My prod was a joke too!”

            “Ha! A very painful joke –”

            “Oh don’t be a wuss Ron, it can’t have hurt that much.”

            Ginny cleared her throat loudly just as Ron opened his mouth to retort about how much it did hurt.

            “Hate to break this up but I think we’re leaving in a couple of minutes,” she explained, “I thought we’d all like to say goodbye to England.”

            “Oh God, don’t make it sound so permanent…” Ron muttered.

            So, abandoning the amusing distraction that was the sucking toilet (Lily kept well away) the children all trooped out into the corridor, closely followed by their parents, they all walked up on deck into the rushing sea wind, to wave England goodbye, as seagulls soared above their heads, and flecks of sea water hit Hugo in the eye. The sun was bright and round right above them, and the family turned away from the twisted English coastline to regard the infinite expanse of sea in front of them.

            “Goodbye Merry Old England!” Ron called, waving with his arms in the air, grinning.

            “See you in two weeks!”

            “TWO WEEKS?” Ron shouted in surprise, frightening off a few seagulls and children as he did so.

            “Yes, two,” Hermione said apprehensively.

            “You said we were only going for one…” Ron said accusingly, pointing his finger at her furiously.

            Hermione seemed to deliberate with herself and then sighed.

            “All right. I lied. It’s two weeks, what are you going to do about it?”

            Ron opened his mouth, but realised there was nothing he could do, for the ferry had already covered a distance of a hundred metres; he certainly wasn’t about to swim that!

            “Bye England,” he said gloomily, and waving a bit more half heartedly that he did before.

            “Oh, cheer up Ron,” Hermione said, slipping an arm around his waist, “You won’t miss it that much.”

            “Oh Hermione,” he replied, putting an arm around her and resting his chin on the top of her head, staring back to England with sadness in his heart, “You have no idea…”

 

~*~*~*~

 

“That is surely the only way to travel,” James said, as he sprawled in the back of the car when they had just left the ferry, “Sun, sea! Plenty of places to get lost, lose people in… Perfect.”

            “And!” said Ginny brightly from the front, “There was plenty of lovely perfume to sniff! Wasn’t there girls?”

            She turned round to face Lily and Rose, both of whom absolutely stunk of what seemed to be every single type of perfume that the ferry shop sold. They nodded to her question fervently. Ginny had also bought her own bottle of perfume, and kept spraying herself with it, much to the dislike of the other not so feminine members of the car (Harry and Ron had complained loudly that it was interfering with their previously healthy lungs). Or, the maybe slightly ill ones…

            “Stop spraying that Ginny please!” Hermione pleaded, holding a paper bag under her chin, and looking distinctly green. Bounce seemed to have gone from her hair; though her hair was so bouncy to start with this did not make much of a difference.

            “Oops! Sorry Hermione,” Ginny said, “Forget you were feeling under the weather.”

            “’Under the weather’ is an understatement,” Ron said, who had taken Harry’s seat in the back with the children, so that Harry could continue the car journey in France, “You should’ve seen the state – ”

            “Oh shut up Ron!” Hermione squealed, “Do you want me to be sick again?”

            Ron deliberated, and then decided that no, he did not want Hermione to be sick again.

            They checked out in France; Harry handed all their Muggle passports and things to a sleepy looking French man out of the car window. When the man returned them to Harry, he tested out his new French skills with a hasty “Merci”.

            “BIENVENUE A FRANCE!” yelled Albus from the back, throwing his arms in the arm to symbolise his pleased reception to France.

            “Now remember what I told you Harry,” said a slightly less-green looking Hermione, “Remember to drive on the –”

            “OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD!” yelled the car in unison, as Harry did a huge swerve that would have sent them all spinning across the road to their deaths if Harry weren’t so… magical…

            Harry heard some angry horns in the distance, as he pelted up the motorway to Brittany…

 

            After several games of exploding snap in the back of the car Ron decided that it was time to cease this activity, due to the fact that his eyebrows had caught fire. He started to yell, going:

            “MY EYEBROWS! MY EYEBROWS! GET MY WAND! PUT THEM OUT!” squirming as he did so. None of the children helped him, as they were momentarily stunned, and after starting at him in disbelief for about a minute they started to laugh. Rose did try to help him, but she had no water, and blowing on Ron’s flaming eyebrows did not make much difference.

            “AGUAMENTI!” yelled Hermione from the front, pointing her wand straight into Ron’s face, so that he was engulfed in a jet of water. It put out the fire, but it left everyone in the back completely soaked and spluttering, until Ron located his wand and managed to dry everyone off again.

            “Wow,” exclaimed Hugo, “That was fun.”

Chapter 5: Arriving at a place "a little bit" like home
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“This is pretty!” Lily said rapturously, clapping her hands together, “It’s just like home! Only a little bit different.”

         Harry chuckled.

         “It’s not quite like home Lily,” he said, dropping suitcases to the floor, so that they all fell onto their sides.

         “I know, that’s why I said it’s a little bit different,” she explained to Harry seriously, “It’s warmer here. And the sea is a bit bluer.”

         “Like a painting!” Hugo said, looking very pleased.

         “That was very poetic Hugo,” Ron said looking surprised, “You’re taking after Harry…”

         “What?” said Harry, very confused at the mention of his name, and the sentence that it was teamed with.

         “Oh nothing, I’m just trying to be chirpy.”

         The place where they were staying was situated right on the coast of Brittany, so that they could stare out into the vast stretch of cerulean sea, which was barely moving in the afternoon sun. Hardly a cloud crossed the sky, and the place where the sky met the sea was indistinct, as though someone had drawn it with chalk and smudged it; there was no telling where the other started, and the other finished.

         “It smells like salt,” James pondered, inhaling deeply through his nostrils, making a loud sniffing noise.

         “Please don’t do that James,” Ginny requested, “You know, I’m surprised at you all. I thought the first thing you would do would be to run inside, and grab every single bedroom you could find.”

         “We would have done,” Rose agreed, “But we couldn’t get in.”

         “Maybe we ought to rectify this problem…” Ginny said, with a wry smile at Hermione.

         “Yes. We should.”

         Hermione reached inside her t-shirt to pull out a large silver key, slightly tarnished and tied with a green ribbon hung around her neck, so that it could be attached to things in order to make sure that it wouldn’t be misplaced.

         She dangled it above the children’s heads tauntingly, and they tried to grab it, but she pulled it higher. They complained.

         “Is she ticklish?” asked James, hoping to tickle Hermione under the arm and force her to drop the key.

         “No,” said Ron, “She’s not ticklish. And if she were, do you really think that I would tell you?”

         “No…” replied James, defeated.

         “Just drop the key Hermione,” Ginny urged, “Before they all wet themselves.”

         Hermione dropped the key and the children scrambled to the ground to get it first.

         After a scurrying of bickering and scuffling Rose won the fight for the key, which surprised many people. She had evidently tried to bite anyone who came near her, and after Hugo backed away, rubbing a red nose everyone had thought it wise to let Rose do the honours of opening the door.

         She made the family follow her in procession down a windy, gravely path lined by delicate rose bushes, sporting pure white and yellow flowers. The smell of honeysuckle stole through the air, creating a pleasant fusion with the sea air. Harry thought the effect was of overall freshness, that was somehow more present than that of their own home on the English coast. But then he felt like he was being unfair to his house, and he thought that maybe he was just enjoying the change of surroundings and scenery.

         Rose inserted the key into the door and lifted the iron catch to pull it open. The blue painted door swung open with a slight creak, which only increased the endearing charm of the house. She waited for everyone to enter before her, as she opened the door to let her family through; good manners weren’t quite beyond the children, but they did come more readily to Rose than the others. Despite accusations from her father.

         Everyone entered slightly tentatively, as though if they moved with sudden haste or noise it might disrupt the subtle calm that seemed to float around in the air. Hugo gave a big sniff, as though trying to absorb this floating calmness from his surroundings.

         “Please don’t do that Hugo,” Hermione complained at him, as they stepped into the hall, that was floored with a grey wood, which looked very much like the driftwood that served as decorations on the bumpy white walls.

         “I was smelling the sea air, Mum,” Hugo explained, “It is meant to be healthy.”

         “Bracing,” Ron agreed, also inhaling very deeply, earning him tutting disapproval from Hermione, “Leaves you full of life!”

         “It smells just like home! Only a bit saltier,” Lily mused, narrowing her eyes at the surrounding air, as though there would be extra grains of salt wafting around in it.

         “Does it Lily?” Ginny asked, with a little laugh as she watched her daughter look around the hall suspiciously, looking for the reason for the extra saltiness that wasn’t present at home.

         “Yes,” Lily replied, looking at Ginny suddenly like she was rather stupid, “That’s why I said it.”

         Harry rolled his eyes.

         “You’ve got an answer for everything haven’t you?” he said to her, shaking his head.

         Lily thought for a moment.

         “No, actually. If you asked me a question about plants, I wouldn’t be able to answer you. I know nothing about plants,” she said, opening her eyes widely and lifting her arms up from her sides, showing her non-existent knowledge of plants, “So I can’t have an answer for everything. But I do know a lot about chocolate frogs…”

         “That’s nice,” Harry agreed, privately thinking that Lily had just proved his point about having an answer to everything, rather than doing the opposite.

         “Wow! Look at the view!” came a delighted voice from the next room; Harry and Lily were the only ones left in the hall now. They left and went through a door to the left, which opened into a room similar to the hall in decoration, but many times larger, with huge windows that stretched to the ceiling. A tiled fireplace was in the centre of the opposite wall, flanked by two of these windows that gave the illusion that the room was outside. A blue rug lay on the grey wood floor in front of the fire. Three sofas were clustered around the fireplace, and two squashy armchairs say in between four white bookcases that Hermione’s eyes kept darting to.

         “Books?” said Rose, moving closer, reaching out to touch the bindings. She stroked her finger along a row, just as her mother joined her. “I want to reeeaaaaddddd…”

         She ran her finger along the row again and again whilst she continued to say the word read.

         “… this one,” she pulled out a book bound in red, and sat promptly on the floor, and commenced reading immediately.

         After a moment however, she realised that there was something wrong…

         “Mum, I think this book’s in runes, I don’t know enough of those yet,” she said, handing the book to Hermione, and going to find a different one. Hermione however chuckled.

         “This isn’t runes Rosie! It’s written in French…” she said, putting it back, “Bless you sweetheart! You know what runes look like!”

         Rose went a bit red, and defended herself immediately saying that how was she supposed to know what French looked like? All those apostrophes and funny lines and strangely spelt words… Goodness knows what it would be like to speak. However Hermione suddenly started sprouting reams of perfectly pronounced French, speaking in particular to Ron, who looked at her, slightly suspicious and nervous; he had no idea what she was saying, which scared him slightly…

         “Hermione,” he said, “What are you saying?”

         Hermione carried on chirpily.

         “You’re…” Ron paused, swallowed “sexy.”

         “ARGGH!!!” said Lily, “THAT’S GROSS!”

         Harry went to pick Lily up and hide her in a cupboard whilst everyone laughed at her, and Hermione went to whisper what she was saying into Ron’s ear.

         “I do not!” Ron said back quietly, “No that’s not – no, oh I see. Ah yes, well that’s a different matter.”

         No one asked.

         “Do you know what I’d like to do?” said Harry, after safely depositing Lily in a cupboard; she walked in about a minute later looking a bit disgruntled and went to hide behind James.

         “Play chess?” Ron said hopefully.

         “No,” said Harry, patiently; Ron loved chess, it wasn’t his fault he was obsessed with it, “I was thinking more along the lines of going to the beach maybe?”

         “ARGGHGHHHHHHGGGHHH!!!!!” screamed all the children, running around in circles and bashing into things, “THAT’S GREAT YES YES! I WANT TO SWIM AND MAKE A CASTLE AND DIG A BIG HOLE SO I CAN BURY HUGO AND LILY AND ROSE AND JAMES!”

         “No Albus no!” said Ginny, “This holiday’s made you very naughty! Well, by your standards anyway!”

         They all ran out the room yelling, and sprinted into the soft heat of the outside; the adults were left standing in a room that hummed with departed noise. Dust swirled in the sunlight pouring in; tumbleweed seemed to blow across the floor.

         “They haven’t got their swimming things…” Ginny protested weakly; she knew it would make no difference, but she felt obliged to mention it.

         “Do you think we should get ours?” Harry asked, “Or should we just get wet too?”

         Hermione murmured that she wanted to find her new swimming costume, apparently it was blue; she liked blue. Ron went to follow her, hoping that he could see it too, even though he would on the beach anyway. They bewitched the suitcases to fly up the yet unexplored upstairs, so they could locate it.

         Harry and Ginny were left standing alone.

         “You sure you don’t want to wear your Speedos Harry?” Ginny asked him.

         Harry gave her a push, and she pushed him back. He pushed her harder, and she gave him an almighty shove that had him on the floor again.

         “Oh Harry…” Ginny sighed.

Chapter 6: "You can see his bott- !"
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The sun was hot and rendered the sand impossible to walk on, which meant that Harry and Ron had to do a ridiculous skipping-hopping type walk as they arrived on the beach, walking to the place where the children had already set up camp; a sandcastle was in the making and James and Albus seemed to be digging a huge hole; Harry never understood why digging holes was so fun, it made him think of graves. Hermione and Ginny walked normally beside them, wearing sensible new sandals and looking rather smug.

         “You could put an Imperturble charm on your feet?” Ginny sniggered, readjusting a large beach ball under her arm, watching her husband doing a very un-masculine dance on his toes.

         “You know Harry, you could try out for Ballet,” Ron snorted.

         “Says you,” Harry shot back, indicating that Ron also looked pretty silly too.

         “This is why we wear sandals you see,” Hermione said, casting a superior look at Ron.

         They had had an argument prior to the holiday about whether “Ronald should wear sandals”. Ronald insisted that he shouldn’t, that only old men wore sandals, and if he couldn’t even wear socks with them… well, there’d be no point. Hermione had screamed that she’d rather die than be seen with him wearing socks and sandals. Ron had made Hermione feel guilty by implying that she was embarrassed to be seen with him, and that surely Hermione didn’t care at all about outward appearances did she?? Hermione insisted she didn’t, but some things were simply too awful for her not to care about. Like people wearing socks with sandals.

         In the end Ron forgot his sandals, and Harry simply hadn’t bought any. He felt that was Ginny’s responsibility, which resulted in him being called a “sexist pig.”

         Finally, their feet managed to accustom to the sand, and they were walking normally again. The sun reflected off the soft waves that were lapping onto the beach with a “shushing” sound, which reminded Harry of when Ginny used to “shh” him when James was falling asleep as a baby. Bright white light was pierced into Harry’s eyes from the blue waves, and the sun was huge and yellow in the cobalt sky, not a cloud to be seen.

         “DAAAAAAAAD!” yelled Hugo and James simultaneously, directing the word to their corresponding father, “WEE’VE MADDEE SUCH A BIIIG HOOLLLLEEEE!”

         They were yelling much longer and louder than was necessary, considering that Harry and Ron were now ten feet away from where the hole (and the children) were, but children rarely needed good excuses to make a lot of noise. Sometimes they didn’t need an excuse at all.

         “That’s great Hugo!” Ron said enthusiastically, “Fantastic. Not a waste of energy at all.”

         “Shut up,” said Hugo, detecting the sarcasm, “You could never build a hole this big…”

         Ron drew himself up.

         “I, don’t think that’s true,” he said, “I bet I could build one twice as deep as yours.”

         “Without a wand?” Hugo asked sceptically.

         “Without a wand.”

         “Right…” said Hugo, disbelievingly, “Go for it then. Whoever wins, gets to bury the other in it.”

         “You’re on my son,” said Ron, doing a weird finger snap with Hugo; apparently it was their secret handshake.

         And both began digging, Ron having to start from scratch, but moving three times as fast as Hugo. He seemed to sink deeper into the ground before their very eyes.

         “Daddy,” said Lily, taking Harry’s hand and trying to pull him along; she was clad in the same shorts and t-shirt that she’d been wearing earlier, evidently swimming things had not made it to the beach. None of the children were wearing them. Harry felt a bit underdressed, “Take me for a swim, Mummy says I’m not allowed on my own.”

         “Ok, let me take off my glasses,” said Harry, placing them “safely” on a nearby towel. Everything went blurry and hazy, like an impressionist painting. He could see yellow sand blending into blue, and a dash of red which was his daughter’s hair. There was no hope that he would see stones or sharp shells in the sand; he hoped he wouldn’t come across one, or a least expect his daughter to warn him, though he thought this may be a trifle optimistic.

         Lily still had hold of his hand and was guiding him towards the beach; she went slower than she would’ve liked, but she knew that Harry couldn’t see very well without this glasses, so she decided to be nice. Being nice to Harry wasn’t something she did a lot, but it actually made her feel like a good person, rather than a mean nasty one. To add to her niceness, she gave him a running commentary on things he should avoid in the sand.

         “Careful Dad, there’s a little pebble…. Oops, there’s a crab, don’t step on him! Don’t! Oh too late…” Harry hobbled around for a bit rubbing his foot, “There’s a sharp looking shell… etc.”

         Harry was rather touched by this, and scolded himself for thinking that Lily wouldn’t do this for him. But then, he thought, who could blame him? Lily spent half her time being horrible to Harry, why should now be any different?

         His feet found the edge of the sea, and it felt pleasantly cool, contrasting with the heat from the sun. The water lapped around his ankles and Lily had splashed in further, and being considerably smaller than Harry, it wasn’t a long time before her entire body was immersed in water.

         “DAD IT’S COLD!!” she complained, her teeth chattering above the surface, “OH IT’S LOVELY!”

         Harry went in further, aiming for the red blob floating in the sea which he assumed was his daughter’s head, and not a buoy or something weird like that. It was a bit chilly, and it didn’t help when Lily flicked water onto his bare chest so that he shuddered and made an involuntary squeaking sound. Lily laughed, and did it again.

         “No Lily! Let Dad get in on his own… I need to get used to it…”

         Lily paid no attention, and splashed him again.

         “Please Lily!”

         He tried to shuffle in further, so his thighs were covered. Lily then gave him a look of pure evil and chucked handfuls of water all over his body and face, so that it felt like he was being pierced by shards of ice.

         “ARGGHHH! LILY NO!”

         “You wuss Harry!” came an amused voice behind him. Harry span around, and saw another red haired person, which he gathered must be his wife, and not Rose, who was maybe a little too small to be this person.

         “YOU – YOU GET IN THEN!” Harry spluttered, indignant at being called a wuss, when once before he had jumped into a small pool of water, that was at least zero degrees.

         Lily chuckled behind him. Harry turned around and lobbed a huge amount of water onto his daughter’s head. She screamed and then disappeared.

         “Harry!” Ginny, ran into the sea, “How could you do that?”

         She started wading in frantically, pushing the water apart with her hands, desperately searching for her daughter.

         “She started it…” Harry said sullenly, starting to search too; now he was so wet the water didn’t feel so cold, so he managed to get in entirely, and even swim around, sticking his head under the water, hoping to find a dash of red.

         Suddenly he felt a pain in his knee; he wondered what it was, so he stuck his head under and a cloud of red hair was billowing around underwater, its head firmly attached to his knee.

         “Ginny! I’ve found her!” Harry called out, “Ouch! She’s biting me!”

         Ginny swam over saying “Don’t be silly, why would she do that?” and then Lily had to finally emerge, gasping for breath.

         “Haha!” she said, “That’ll serve you right for splashing me!”

         “Lily!” Ginny scolded, “Biting people isn’t very nice, apologise to Daddy.”

         “No!” Lily answered straight back, “He splashed me! A little girl like me…”

         “You’re not making anyone feel sorry for you Lily,” Harry said, wondering if his knee was bleeding; it hurt rather a lot…

         “Fine,” she said, defeated, “Daddy, I’m so so sorry, I truly am. Please can you find it in your heart to forgive me.”

         She was being stupid, and didn’t really feel sorry at all.

         “You suck at fake apologies Lily,” Harry said, “You should ask your mother for lessons.”

         Ginny squawked and spluttered behind him, making a series of “how dare you!” noises. Lily, sensing the threat of an imminent argument, swam back to the beach, to join James and Albus who were watching the two holes containing Ron and Hugo with great interest; Hermione and Rose were reading together on the beach, looking quite disapproving under large sunhats.

         “I don’t do fake apologies!” Ginny said, “I always mean them, or I don’t say them at all!”

         “You do!” Harry retorted, “Do you remember the time my favourite hat was “accidentally” put in the fireplace?”

         “That wasn’t your favourite hat! It was horrible and old,” Ginny said, bobbing up and down as tiny waves pushed against her, “And I meant that apology, you made such a fuss I did actually feel bad!”

         “You didn’t, you hated that hat ever since I bought it,” Harry replied.

         “Harry, it was green with a brown rim,” Ginny said exasperatedly, “It was vile!”

         “It went with my dress robes!”

         “It didn’t! The shade was completely different.”

         “Ron said it matched.”

         “You went to Ron for fashion advice?? And anyway, the hat wasn’t even pointy, it was all floppy and weird!”

 

         Back at the beach, Ron stopped for a small break and popped his head out his hole; his hole was a lot bigger than Hugo’s owing to the fact that he had stolen Hermione’s wand and was using “Defodio” to scour out the sand. Who cares? Thought Ron, He wasn’t a Hufflepuff, he didn’t value fair play…

         “HUGO DAD’S CHEATING!” Rose suddenly yelled, leaping up from her book and pointing down the hole at Ron.

         “What? Oh thanks Rosie,” Ron said, poking his head out to survey his daughter with distaste, “You’ve just ruined my fun.”

         “You were cheating Dad?” Hugo said, “Well, that means I automatically win!”

         “Well I guess it does…” Ron said grumpily, sneering at Rose as he hoisted himself out the hole.

         “Don’t look at your daughter like that Ron,” Hermione said, not looking up from her book; her face hidden underneath her huge straw hat.

         “How do you know I looked at her like anything?” Ron asked her, aware that Hermione hadn’t even looked up.

         “Because I know you Ron. And I want my wand back.”

         “Fair enough.”

         He settled himself in the sand next to Hermione, gave her back her wand, and stole her hat.

         “Ron – no give it back.”

         She sat up and tried to grab it, but Ron had it held far above his head. His arms were very long, and Hermione’s attempts to reach it were futile.

         “Roooonnnnn…” she moaned at him, “Return it please.”

         “Nope,” Ron said playfully, waving it in the air.

         “My head will burn!” Hermione implored.

         “With all that hair? I don’t think so,” Ron said, quickly standing up so Hermione couldn’t slap him.

         Hermione stood up too and lunged at him, causing Ron to run away down the beach waving the hat above his head. His lanky frame bounded away, and Hermione knew she could never catch him, but she tried anyway; it might be fun, she thought.

         Hugo and Rose watched as their parents run away, feeling slightly bemused by their mother’s behaviour. They thought Hermione would just sit still, ignoring Ron until he got bored and returned it himself. But no, there she was, about a hundred metres away, grabbing at her hat flying around in the hair on Ron’s hand. He was dancing around in a circle, around Hermione; they both looked very silly.

         James, Albus and Lily watched them too, wondering whether any adults in their family were sane. They had originally thought Aunty Hermione was sane… but this episode was seriously making them question their beliefs.

         “Look,” said Lily, pointing into the sea, “Mum and Dad are still arguing.”

         Indeed they were, their arms flying above their heads, looking very immature.

         “They’ll start splashing each other soon,” Albus predicted. Right on cue, Ginny chucked some water right in Harry’s eyes. They could see him chuck some back, and soon their parents were involved in a full-scale water fight.

         The children rolled their eyes. How childish, they all thought.

         Then all their eyes went back to the main source of entertainment: Hermione’s quest to get the hat from Ron.

         They saw him leap in the air as Hermione pushed him, and then laugh. He took hold of a bit of her hair, so she was a bit trapped. She flung her arms around, hoping to hit him; she did. He ran away some more, and Hermione tried to leap on his back, but she missed, and grabbed onto his trunks instead. As she fell over, having misjudged her leap, her hands stayed holding onto said article of clothing…

 “Oh my!” said Rose.

         “That’s gross!” said Albus.

         “ARRGH MY EYES!” said James.

         “You can see his bott - ” Lily started rapturously, before Rose clapped a hand around Lily’s mouth.

         “So that’s what evil must look like…” Hugo groaned.

         Harry and Ginny had noticed nothing; there water fight carried on as normal. The children felt scarred, honestly quite scarred.

         They saw Hermione clap her hands around her mouth and silently laugh, whilst going bright red.

         “I HATE YOU HERMIONE!” Ron yelled, trying to pull up his trunks, whilst he heard his loving wife collapse into the ground behind him. He tripped over, and looked so silly that Hermione couldn’t breathe for laughing. She felt so embarrassed for him, but couldn’t bring herself to help him. This holiday she’d found herself laughing at the most silly things!

         Whilst face down in the sand he managed to struggle with his trunks and pull up into dignity again. He stood and drew himself up, striding past Hermione twitching in the sand, with what he obviously thought was indifference. He wasn’t to be humiliated… No, not him. He would be proud and not care... But then he remembered – his children were only a hundred metres away – along with his nephews and niece. Oh dear… he though, please let them not have seen -

-         he saw five small figures in the distance, staring at him agog.

A seagull did a poo on Ron’s head. Ron couldn’t help but cry.  

Chapter 7: The Duvet
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No one could convince Ron to leave his room; not even Hermione, though admittedly her bursting into fits of the giggles did not do well to earn her favour back with Ron. He still believed that she was to blame for his dreadful humiliation, and he was adamant that he would never ever forgive her. In fact, he was certain that he didn’t want to be married to her anymore; he never wanted to see her again. This was where Hermione burst into the room, blasting the door open with her wand and sending pieces of splintered wood everywhere, and poking Ron hard in the chest screaming something about “AT OUR WEDDING YOU SWORE YOU’D STAY WITH ME FOREVER!” or something like that anyway; Harry and Ginny were trying to have a conversation in their bedroom but unfortunately the noisiness of their neighbours rendered this impossible.

         They only stopped arguing about “swimming trunks” and “wedding vows” when Rose stormed out of her room to kick what remained of the door and tell her parents to “SHUT THE BLOODY HELL UP!” This shocked the whole house enough to make everyone shut up, and silence followed, broken only by Ron muttering, “Dear God… she is a bit like me after all…”

         (Admittedly, Rose did have red hair too.)

         Albus had stolen a bed near the window and James insisted that he wanted it. There was another bed by the window, but Hugo had stolen it whilst James wasn’t looking. Lily and Rose had decided that they would share a single bed, sleeping at either end despite there being quite enough beds for everyone. Ginny had thought it unwise to put the children all in one room; can you imagine the mess?? But they insisted they wanted to be together, that it would be fun, that they could learn to appreciate how important they were to each other a lot more… No one believed this rubbish. The responsible adults perfectly understood that they just wanted to tease each other, and make lots of noise and mess and then destroy the room so they’d have to move in with their parents… it was going to be awful. Who had suggested this holiday??

         “Allllllllll!” James whined, “I want this bed! I was aiming for it when I walked in; everyone could see that!”      

         “How were you aiming for it?” Albus asked sceptically.

         “I was…” James struggled to answer, “I was looking at it! With my eyes.”

         He opened them very wide and pointed at them, trying to creep Albus out. Albus had been frightened of eyes ever since his first visit to the opticians in Diagon Alley, and the wizard had put a huge, thick pair of spectacles on Albus’s nose, so that his eyes grew about five times in size and looked bigger than his actual head. The three-year-old Albus had been most disturbed by this. 

         “But I got here first,” Albus reasoned, “So it’s mine. Go find another bed.”

         “NO!” James said, and he whipped the duvet off it, so Albus tumbled onto the floor, “HAHA I have your duvet! You can’t sleep here now!”

         Albus slapped out at James, but James took a neat step back so Albus fell onto the floor.

         “Oof!” said Albus, getting up and securing his glasses back on his nose.

         “You’re such a big fat bully James,” said Lily, ignoring a steaming Rose storm in having just screamed at her parents, “Give Al his covers back!”

         “Or what?” James taunted her, “What you going to do about it?”

         “I’ll…” Lily cast her eyes around for inspiration, “… steal yours!”

         Her eyes met James’ and they both simultaneously glanced sideways at the bed that James had temporarily dumped his stuff on. Quick as a flash Lily was underneath the duvet and had then stolen it.

         “But I still have a duvet…” James said, holding Albus’s in his hands, “You fail smelly Lily!”

         “Not anymore!” Albus took advantage of James’ distraction and stole it straight back. He then sat on it, and licked it, so James wouldn’t take it back; James hated saliva.

         Lily giggled.

         “Good one Al! Now I still have James’ duvet… what shall I do with it?” she pondered, in a mock thoughtful voice.

         “You could give it back,” James suggested shrugging and putting his hands in his pockets, acting like he didn’t care. He knew Lily would get bored if he acted like he didn’t care; he thought he was being very clever. “Reverse psychology”, was what it was called. He was so clever…

         “No… no that’s a boring idea,” Lily said, hugging the duvet tightly. It was a lot bigger than her, so it trailed along the floor and she had to grip it very firmly in her little arms. Her malevolent face was still poking over the top, brown eyes glinting.

         “You could flush it down the loo?” said Hugo, sitting proudly on his un-attacked bed, in optimum position next to the window, with perfect scenic views and its own blue blind.

         “Oh Hugo! You genius!” Lily praised him, and hurried away to the toilet as fast as she could, which wasn’t very as the duvet was rather large and lumpy.

         James, thinking that Lily wouldn’t even try, didn’t react quick enough to stop her. He had only removed his hands from his pockets as Lily shuffled out the room, at a close to lightning pace, but not quite.

         Then… the toilet flushed.

         “NO!” shouted James.

         “What’s going on?” Harry had poked his head out his bedroom door, to see James thunder past down the hall, and stop outside the bathroom, and then open his lung into a full scale – “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”       

         Harry rushed to his side, and there he saw Lily flushing the toilet, which had been filled with – Harry could only assume here – a duvet. It hadn’t fitted, and Lily was flushing away, getting it soaked in one section. James was trying to pull it out, but Lily was holding on with all her might, laughing like mad.

         “That’ll teach you James Potter - stealing people’s bed things!” she told him, now hooking her feet behind the toilet cistern so that she would win the tug of war.

         “Relashio!” Harry pointed his wand at the duvet, and both children simultaneously let go. James flew backwards into the opposite wall, and Lily fell down the toilet, but this was so full of wet duvet that this didn’t matter.

         “What were you doing?” Harry demanded of them both, just as Ginny eventually arrived, wearing a new floaty white dress.

         “What do you think?” she asked Harry coyly, swishing her skirt around, completely oblivious to the scene in the bathroom. The dress was new, and she was very proud of it.

         “Not now Lily,” Harry dismissed her, before turning back to James and Lily – wait… that was wrong…

         “I’m Ginny! Not Lily!” Ginny told him, slapping his arm.

         “What? I know you’re not!” Harry told her, looking at her in surprise, unaware that he had just addressed his wife with his daughter’s name. Ginny rolled her eyes, and grabbed his ear demanding again, “Do you like my dress?”

         “I’d go out with you,” Harry answered, looking at her up and down, “Yeah, do you want to get a drink sometime?”

         “Oh Harry…” Ginny said, giggling and going red, “I’d like that drink though…”

         She bit her lip and looked up at him through her eyelashes, whilst twirling her skirt; she was trying to seduce him in a comedic way, but Harry had been seduced a long time ago… she didn’t need to resort to this, he thought…      

         “Erm… I’m trying to tell Lily off… right now,” Harry said, trying not to laugh, “She’s been naughty…”

         Just then James let out a yelp; he’d been distracted by Ginny’s arrival, and hadn’t been paying attention to Lily. Lily, taking advantage of her distracted Dad and brother had eased open the bathroom window, and put the duvet through it with a –

         “Wooooo!” she said, “There it goes!”

         It flapped down into the garden outside, landing in a large bush that looked rather spiky. It clung onto the bush like an overweight ghost. Harry put his face in his hands, saying “Oh Lily, oh Lily no…”

         James tried to grab onto his little sister’s hair, but she dived under his lunge with agility inherited from her father, and rolled into the hall, before diving into the safety of the bedroom, where she was protected by Hugo.

         “LILY!” shouted Ginny, marching off after her, storming into their bedroom.

         “Dad what will I do?” James despaired, leaning out the window, mourning for the loss of his duvet; it was twitching up at him, due to a light wind that was rustling the bush… it almost like the lost duvet was waving at him mournfully, as though understanding that it would never see James again…

         “Don’t worry,” Harry said, moving James to one side and pointing his wand out the window:

         “Wingardium Leviosa,” Harry said, and the duvet joyously rose into the air, blocking out the sun and causing its ray to flare out either side of it… it could’ve been an angel…

         “Oh wow!” James said breathlessly, “Thanks Dad!”

         He pulled his duvet close, hugging it, telling it that it was safe now. No more Lily’s would hurt it… Nothing would get it now.

         “James… that’s been down the toilet,” Harry reminded him. James did not care… he didn’t think he’d care about anything anymore.

         “Just goes to show what he thinks about personal hygiene,” Ginny said, wrinkling her nose.

         “People have done poos in there,” said Lily, absolutely delighted. She had crept back and was now peeking into the bathroom, using her small height to remain underneath the eye line of her parents.

         “You’re a poo Lily,” James said, walking past her, and determined to put his duvet in its rightful position: on the bed.

         “You’re a poobum James,” Lily said, following her brother back into the bedroom, and standing on the trailing duvet that he was pulling behind him.

         “You’re a stinky pooey smell bum,” James said, “And get off!”

         He gave the duvet a yank and Lily flew off and landed with a thump on the floor. She looked at Harry beseechingly, willing him to tell James off.

         “I’m sorry Lily,” Harry said, pulling her to her feet, “But you really did ask for that.”

         “Hmph,” said Lily and she stalked off, back into the bedroom where she struck up a very “serious” conversation about how evil Harry was.

         The rest of the afternoon was fairly uneventful, with everyone just wanting to settle in before embarking on more adventurous things the next day. Ron finally emerged from his room at about five o-clock, due to issues involving food… in that he wanted some. He skulked around, trying to avoid everyone. Harry, Ginny and Hermione tried to save his dignity by not laughing at him, but unfortunately the children were going completely the wrong way about cheering him up; they kept laughing, and their laughter sent Ginny off, which sent Hermione off, which sent Harry off. Harry tried to remind Ron, that he had laughed last out of everybody, which must surely mean that he’s the nicest one. Ron didn’t agree.

         After a round of hot chocolate and quiet conversation and book reading, everyone deduced that after all the hard travelling an early night was surely called for. James tried to make a reasoned argument as to why this was not a good idea, but he this potentially good argument was ruined by a yawn. His yawn then made everyone else yawn, so there was a moment where everyone was inhaling air very heavily. This sounded and looked so stupid that everyone got the giggles, until Rose looked up from her book with a very Hermione-ish look upon her face, which then made everyone laugh even more. Altogether, it was a very giggly evening, and it was at least another hour before anyone went to bed.

            And whilst they were in bed, they all laughed again, so chuckling could be heard through all the walls in the house, although by this time, no one was sure what was funny, and the giggling was soon replaced by snores.

Chapter 8: The Swimming Pool and Some Lemons
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“The view is stunning… stunning,” Ron stood facing the sea, the wind rushing past him and ruffling his festive hair. He stood with his hands on his hips, and was positioned precariously on the edge of the cliff, with an anxious Hermione urging him to get away from the edge.

         “Come on, Ron,” she pleaded, “Please don’t get so close.”

         “I won’t fall,” he scoffed, “My feet are far too long… they give me quite enough balance.”

         “Yes but… if you fall, I won’t be able to catch you,” Hermione tried to reason, unwilling to get any closer to the coastal edge herself; heights were not her thing, “Harry isn’t here, and I won’t be able to catch you if you fall!”

         Ron gave a hollow laugh.

         “You think Harry is strong enough to catch me,” Ron laughed, “To be honest, I reckon Ginny would be better.”

         “Don’t be stupid Ron,” Hermione scolded, “Just get away from there, and let’s finish the walk; they should be done with the barbeque by now.”

         Ron and Hermione had crept off the following morning to go for a walk along the cliff’s edge; Harry and Ginny had awoken to find nothing but a note on the kitchen table that told them where they had both gone. This meant that they were lumbered with five children, and the task of making lunch for them all. They were not impressed, and were planning a similar sort of revenge for later in the evening, hopefully aimed around the time that the children needed to be in bed; Ginny would like to see Ron and Hermione cope with that on their own. They were going to go for a nighttime swim… That would show ‘em.

         “I bet they’re really annoyed…” Ron laughed, turning at last away from the steep cliff edge to face Hermione, “Ginny’s going to hit me… I can tell.”

         “Look Ron now you’ve made it worse!” Hermione said, holding out her hand to him and beckoning furiously, “Now you’re facing away from the edge, and you won’t be able to see if you fall!”

         “Oh! Oh Hermione I think – I think I’m falling!” Ron starting waving his arms around, “Oh! Woh! Argh! Help me Hermione help me!”

         Hermione narrowed her eyes and him and crossed her arms, watching her lanky husband wave his limbs around in a highly irresponsible manner. He was not amusing her at all. Not a little it.

         “If you die, you’ll leave your children without a father,” she told him, “Could you really do that to them?”

         “No,” said Ron shortly, ceasing his arm and leg waving immediately, “Fine. We’ll go back then. Maybe we can find your sense of humour on the way…”

         “Oh shut up Ron,” she said, “You know I have a sense of humour, just not when it could result in your death.”

         “Aww…” Ron said, putting an arm around Hermione’s rigid shoulders; she still wouldn’t uncross her arms, “You’d actually care if I died!”

         They made their way along the narrow cliff top path, which was made by a combination of white sand, small grey stones and dusty brown mud. Heather lined the edge of the path, and a small ridge of green grass stood to the right of them, and after than was a fifty-foot drop, which Ron had been standing right next to. The sun burned down through a perfectly clear blue sky, not a cloud in sight. The air was hot and dry, so Hermione extricated a small flask of pumpkin juice which she had taken from the kitchen before they left. She drank some before answering Ron.

         “Yes, your death would put a damper on my life… for a little while anyway,” she said, not looking at him and sounding quite indifferent. She put the flask back into the small shoulder bag she’d bought, and then crossed her arms firmly together again, ignoring Ron’s continued squeeze around her shoulders.

         “You’re so rude sometimes Hermione,” Ron said.

         “That’s rich.”

         “I’m only rude to people who deserve it!”

         “Like the postman?”

         “He wasn’t our postman though…”

         “Does that make any difference?”

         “Yeah!”

         Hermione shook her head; sometimes Ron was simply beyond help, despite his slight growth in emotional maturity that had happened since their teenage years. Perhaps he now had the emotional range of a cup, rather than a teaspoon.

         “You know,” Ron said loudly, looking out to the sea, facing away from Hermione, “Some couples who argue all the time are old.”

         “Old married couples you mean?”

         “Exactly,” Ron said, “We’re not old, so why do we argue so much?”

         “I prefer to think of it as bickering,” Hermione said, “Arguing is more serious, and people tend to fall out more over it.”

         “Arguing is disagreeing though, and then making a fuss about it,” Ron replied, “You do that all the time!”

         “But we don’t fall out Ron, and it’s quite light hearted,” Hermione pointed out, finally releasing her arms to make some hand gestures to aid her argument – no, bickerment.

         They bickered/ argued about whether they bickered or argued right the way back to the cottage, where a stream of black smoke was emitting from the garden. Hermione’s arm finally managed to creep its way around Ron’s waist, and by the time they arrived they were being quite friendly again. They concluded that they bickered, as it sounded much nicer than arguing. And they also concluded that it was good to be nice, and that their continued bickering could give their children a misleading impression as to what a “good relationship” was.

         Upon seeing the smoke, they hastened their pace and strode around the back of the house to a garden, enclosed within a white fence. The garden had a main lawn area, with a grey slate patio, surrounded by shrubbery and white flowers – this shrubbery included the prickly bush in which the duvet had almost met its untimely demise. Another large patio had a swimming pool sunken into it, bright blue in the midday sun; this was where the children were playing.  Harry was wearing an apron, and was trying to bewitch some kebabs to turn of their own accord; he had been burnt three times trying to do it with his hands.

         “And they’ve finally come back!” Ginny cried in a sarcastic and annoyed voice, waving her arms in the air in mock joy, “Well this is great!”

         “We’re sorry!” said Hermione, rushing forward to help Harry before he set his wand on fire, “We didn’t intend to be away for so long! Ron wanted to go rock pooling and got into a small tussle with a crab and then we got distracted; the view is so nice that we had to sit down and look at it and we lost track of time… we’re so sorry!”

         “Hermione you’re babbling,” Ron said, walking forward; the closer he got to Ginny, the narrower her eyes become. He wondered if there was a correlation, so he took a step back, wondering if they’d open again, but no. Her eyes still got narrower.

         “You,” she said, pointing a finger at Ron, “can help Harry!”

         “Yes,” said Ron, walking over to Harry and standing next to him, as though this would be classified as “helping.”

         “And you have to do something!” said Ginny, “I am going to get some lemonade, and I can see you through the kitchen window… so don’t try anything funny.”

         She then stormed off.

         “Why are we married to such bossy women Harry?” he said in and undertone out the side of his mouth.

         “In general, Ginny’s not that bossy,” Harry said, poking some sausages with his wand so that they started rolling around on the grill, “No! That’s not what you’re meant to do! You’re meant to be turning on your side!”

         “What?” said Ron, very confused, “Why?!”

         “He’s not talking to you you idiot!” Hermione said, who had settling in a deck chair, and was watching Harry and Ron appraisingly, “You’re not very good at this Harry, here let me show you…”

         Ten minutes later Hermione had taken full charge of the barbeque, and was seemingly relishing it. Harry and Ron were left standing, feeling quite useless, just as Ginny came out with a tray with a jug, some glasses and a bowl full of lemons.

         “Why is Hermione doing – oh,” Ginny said, “Well, that means you two can help me with this then. I was planning to do it with Hermione, but you’ll do.”

         “What are we doing?” Harry asked.

         “We’re making lemonade!” Ginny said brightly, “Harry you can peel the lemons, Ron you can squeeze them, and I’ll – I’ll make sure you’re doing it right.”

         “In other words then, you’ll do nothing,” Ron said scathingly, plonking himself down at the wrought iron garden table, “This is such a girly job!”

         “Well you failed at the man job so…” Ginny said sweetly, sitting next to him, “You get the “womanly” jobs. Sexist arse…”

         Ron grunted and grumbled through his task, as he squeezed the lemons that Harry was passing, having skinned them with his wand using the same spell that Mrs Weasley used to peel potatoes with. Several times he squirted lemon juice in his eye, which resulted in an onslaught of swearing and cursing. Twice he managed to get Ginny in the eye, but she didn’t make as much fuss, she just blinked rapidly for about a minute and then sat silent. Harry’s eyes however, were protected by his glasses; he couldn’t help but feel smug.

         Despite Ginny not seeming to care when citric acid landed in her eyes, she stood up after several times that this had happened and remarked she was going to play with the children for it a bit. She promptly marched across the garden, stripping her clothes off as she went, and Harry was momentarily spellbound before he realised she was wearing a blue bikini underneath. His slightly open mouth and gormless stare earned him a kick from Ron.

         “Stop looking at my sister like that.”

         “Sorry…” Harry said, not really listening. Ginny’s long red hair contrasted with her pale skin, and it glinted in the light, revealing many other colours that lay in her hair besides red; light red, dark red, auburn… he watched her walked swiftly across the lawn, her discarded clothes in her wake and she walked without stopping and did a bomb into the pool, sloshing water everywhere and causing Rose to squeal on the side and scream and cover herself with her hands and leg.

         Ginny emerged and after flicking a dark sheet of sopping red hair out of her face, she spat out a stream of pool water right into James’ face, who was clinging on for dear life at the side of the pool, petrified by his mother’s sudden entrance into it.

         “Urgh!” she complained, inhaling a mouthful himself and aiming it at Ginny, who neatly dodged and the water went into Albus’s face instead.

         “Oh James! You know I don’t like getting my head wet!” Albus complained, now unable to see because his glasses had been splattered with water droplets… one of his pet hates. He tried to swim his way back to the steps that led into the pool, but accidentally crossed across the slide, just as Hugo went speeding down it.

         Albus’s glasses span off and landed with a “plop” into the pool, and Hugo’s body soon trapped him underwater, as it flew through the air and landed straight on top of him.

         Both boys gave screams that turned into gurgly “arghhs!” as they went underwater. Bubbles emerged from the spot and nobody knew what to do. They knew that Albus was a surprisingly good swimmer, despite his stubborn beliefs that his head shouldn’t get wet. Today seemed to be testing these beliefs, now that he had been fully immersed for the first time. How would he react?

         A few seconds passed, whilst everyone stared at the bubbles bubbling in the surface above where Albus and Hugo had vanished. Suddenly, there was a big hissing noise and Hugo shot out of the pool –

         “ARGHHHH!!!!” before landing with a sloshy thud on the side of the pool.

         “Hugo!” came Hermione’s voice, as she ran over to see the disaster, “Are you all right?  What happened?”

         Albus had emerged, and looked most confused. Admittedly he couldn’t see, which only aggravated the confusion, but Ginny suspected the confusion ran deeper than that.

         “He must’ve used magic without intending too…” Hermione mused, whilst checking her son for any bruises; Hugo looked a bit shocked, but otherwise unhurt.

         Ron and Harry had sneaked away from the lemons to find out what was going on, all they had seen was Hugo shooting out the water, like a cork from a bottle. Bearing this in mind, Ron thought it would be funny to make his wand shoot bubbles in Harry’s face.

         “Bleargh!” Harry said, as a bubble went into his open mouth, “What are you doing?!”

         Ron laughed, but stopped. The moment of spontaneous fun was over. There were only some things you could do whilst in a foreign country, and firing bubbles in your best friend’s face and getting away with it is one of them.

         As is pushing your best friend into a swimming pool whilst they’re fully dressed.

            Which is what Harry just did to Ron.

Chapter 9: Advantage
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“We are so naughty!” Ginny giggled in a manic whisper, putting her hands over her mouth in a very child like way.

         “Shhh!” Harry whispered back, putting his finger over his mouth, “You’ll get us caught!”

         They were embarking on their mission to go for a nighttime swim, in order to get their revenge for being lumbered with all five children earlier. It was payback time: Potter Style. They’d get those Weasleys… Yes they would, oh yes they would.

         The early evening found Ginny and Harry climbing out their bedroom window, in order to sneak out the house. It was quite unnecessary. A simple Muffliato charm would’ve worked quite well on the living room door, which was were Ron and Hermione were now located, allowing Harry and Ginny to use the perfectly fine front door, but there was just something about climbing out of windows that was so much more… thrilling. Also, there were five children wondering around the house, five chances to get caught… and they were all so unpredictable. One could decide to go to the toilet, but then… but then change their mind, and come back the opposite direction and – and it didn’t bear thinking about.

         Harry was climbing out first, hoping that if and when he reached the bottom, it would then be possible for Ginny to leap into his arms and then they would run away to the beach and bathe in the ceasing light of the day and will away blissful hours of frolicky fun in the beautifully small waves…

         He was on the windowsill, sitting down on it, with his legs dangling out the window, trying to grab onto some nearby ivy in the hope that it would support his weight during the treacherous descent. Magic would’ve aided him here, maybe a precautionary cushioning charm here and there, but common sense had deserted both of them. That was what exciting endeavours did to people unfortunately.

         “Be careful Harry!” Ginny whispered, as Harry gritted his teeth and swung off the windowsill to hang off the ivy growing up the wall next to it. When he realised all was safe, he relaxed, and gave a small sigh of relief.

         However, despite many films and novels depicted their characters escaping out of bedroom windows via the ivy, ivy is not a particularly strong plant, and its hold on walls is not as strong as many of these films and novels make it out to be. Misleading, you could call it. Older, more resilient ivy could hold more of a chance, but this ivy was young and green, and Harry’s weight on it caused it to peel right off the wall, taking him with it.

         “Ouch!” he said, as he landed on the flat of his back in the garden.

         “Are you all right!” Ginny asked in an anguished whisper, “Wait there! I’ll come down – ”

         “No! Don’t worry, I’ll be fine,” Harry winced, “Just – just hang off the windowsill by your fingers, the drop isn’t that far!”

         Ginny contemplated the distance for a moment… it seemed fairly high up. But maybe once she hung from the window ledge, her height would be taken away from that high distance… making it a shorter way to the ground. She was fairly tall after all… and since when had she been known to back down from a challenging task?

         “Ok, Ok I’ll give it a go.”

         She swung out the window, her yellow summer skirt swishing out behind her, as she managed to agilely let herself down off her window ledge, but gripping onto it firmly all the while. It gave Harry a rather good view up her skirt, but he wasn’t interested in that, he was concerned she’d meet the same fate that he did: he still hadn’t brought it upon himself to get up… he swore something had clicked in his back that wasn’t meant to click…

         “Harry! What do I do?” Ginny asked, in a slightly scared whisper, still hanging out the window.

         “Don’t worry! The gap isn’t that far, just let go,” Harry said, in what he thought was a reassuring voice.

         “Can you catch me?” she asked beseechingly, craning her head around to ask him.

         “Erm – sure,” Harry grimaced as he got up, very cautiously, but nothing seemed to hurt. Actually, he felt perfectly fine!

         “Are you underneath me?” Ginny asked him, fearfully.

         “Yes!” Harry said, holding his arms out, “I’ve got you!”

         “Are you ready?”

         “Yes!”

         “Sure?”

         “Positive.”

         “OK… I’m letting go!”

         “Wait –  ! ”

         But it was too late. Harry had just had an itch on his nose, that he had just scratched, meaning his hands hand not been extended to catch Ginny from her fall. She had fallen through the air and landed right on top of Harry’s head. Luckily, he’d managed to catch her before she’d hit the ground, but she’d still hurt herself from the landing on Harry’s head. Harry also felt a bit dishevelled. His glasses were completely bent out of shape, and the glass in one of the lenses had smashed.

         “Reparo,” he muttered, before placing them back on.

         “YOU DIDN’T CATCH ME! YOU SAID YOU WOULD!” Ginny yelled at him, having patted her hair back into place and twisting her skirt round so it faced the right way again.

         “I did! And be quiet… otherwise all of this would’ve been unnecessary!”

         “You didn’t!” Ginny hissed now, quietly, “I asked you to hold out your arms and you didn’t!”

         “I told you to wait! I had an itchy nose…”

         Ginny glared at him, and then immediately softened.

         “Well, neither of us are dead, so I guess it’s mission success…”

         “Not yet, we haven’t gotten away yet.”

         “Let’s run then!”

         “Let’s run.”

         And so Harry grabbed Ginny’s hand and they sprinted out the garden and onto the path, zooming around the edge of the cliff shaking with sudden suppressed mirth and adrenaline. They only slowed down when they were hidden behind some shrubs, and had reached the rickety staircase that led to the beach.

         They made their way down it, the light fading fast in the orange gloom that had appeared as the sun made it’s final appearance of the day, it’s massive orange face peering out over the horizon, rendering the sea black with streaks of its own light painted into it.

         Their feet found the soft sand and Ginny started jumping up and down, holding onto Harry’s hands.

         “We did it! We got away!” She sang, and then tore off towards the sea, leaving deep-toed footprints in her wake. She got so far, before tripping over; it is never wise to run in flip-flops.

         Harry ran after her, as she picked herself up out the sand, spitting some of it out, rubbing some out her eyes.

         “Wow,” Harry said, crouching down next to her, “Only time I’ve seen you run that fast was that night after our wedding… and that was along a beach too.”

         “Yeah, they bring it out in me. Also the prospect of the spending the night with you aided the fast running as well…”

         Harry gave her a shove, but as she was already lying flat on the ground, she didn’t fall over.

         “You’re rude…”

         “You dropped me! You owe me one, Harry.”

         “I always seem to owe you one,” Harry complained, sitting down next to her, “But I don’t mind. I like owing you things.”

         Ginny turned over so that she was on her back facing him, sitting next to her. Her hair was now full of sand, and she looked up at Harry contentedly.

         “You don’t really owe me anything,” she said softly, putting her hands behind her head, “You’ve given me everything I’ve ever wanted…”

         Harry didn’t really know what to say… “You’re welcome” seemed a little strange, so he just looked down at her, and smiled vacantly as he regarded her pretty face with an innate happiness. Lines were starting to appear around her eyes and corners of her mouth, but that was all. Her brown eyes, freckles and nose and mouth and hair and neck and face shape were all the same. She’d never really change in his eyes. She’d always been the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen.

         Suddenly she sat up, and she kissed him, a quick peck on the lips, but something had shifted in her gaze. Harry pulled her closer to him and kissed her back, cradled her mouth in his own, savouring every second, holding her back and stroking the soft skin around her neck and face, filling his fingers with rich strands of her hair.

         The sun went in, casting everything into indigo, and it was impossible to see anything more than ten metres around them… so Harry and Ginny took their advantage.

        

****

“Where are they?” grumbled Ron, “This is getting back at us for earlier… I know it is!”

         “Conniving…” Hermione sought for a strong enough word to convey Harry and Ginny’s crimes, “… TOERAGS!”

         “Disloyal… DOXY DROPPINGS!”

         “Terrible… TWOSOME!”

         And so it went on, until eventually Lily came in to ask what the fuss was about.

         “Your parents have vanished Lily,” Hermione said, breathing like an angry bear, “Gone.”

         “What… forever?” Lily said, flabbergasted, “But – but they will come back! They will… they wouldn’t leave us!”

         “Well they have…” Hermione said furiously, “And now we have to put you all to bed by ourselves, and we won’t win… they could’ve told us they were leaving!”

         Lily was petrified; Hermione hadn’t really been thinking about the damage she had done by what she’d said.

         Lily scuttled off to relay to her brothers the news she had heard. She found them all in the bedroom, playing exploding snap.

         “James! Albus!” she said, holding out her arms, “I have terrible news!”

         “What is it Lily?” Albus asked, concerned by the tears appearing in Lily’s eyes.

         “Mum and Dad have – have – THEY’VE GONE ALBUS THEY’VE GONE!”

         She dissolved into sobs, and flung herself into her brothers arms, scattering the cards everywhere. James patted her on the back, Albus patted her on the head, both completely unaware of what to do; Lily didn’t usually ever cry… this must be serious.

         Suddenly, a card exploded. It’s sound brought Lily to her senses, and she hiccoughed herself back to her usual bossy self again.

         “Right,” she started, wiping her eyes, “We must go and find them.”

         Albus and James were agog.

         “But it’s nighttime!” Albus said, “Too dark, we’d never find them!”

         “There might be… Lethifolds…” James said to Albus in a whisper, “Ready to creep into your room and…”

         “NO NO NO JAMES SHUT UP NO!!!! LALALALALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU!”

         Albus had stuck his fingers in his ears and was screwing his eyes shut and started to walk around in circles, repeating his “LALALALALALA” mantra.

         “James,” Lily said, “You’ll come with me won’t you?”

         “Sure I will,” James knew Harry and Ginny couldn’t really have left, but he liked an adventure, and he didn’t want his little sister setting off on her own, “Coming Al?”

         “Both of you are going?” He said, “Well of course I’ll come! I want to find Mum and Dad! Shall we bring Hugo and Rosie?”

         “No,” James said seriously, “This only concerns us three… Right we need a plan…”

         “Too late for plans!” Lily said, throwing her arms in the air dramatically, “Too late!”

         “Me and Al will search the beach, Lily, you’ll search the bushes in the cliff top bit, don’t stray too far away from the house.”

         “No! I’m not being by myself. I want to be with you!”

         “Ok,” James consented, knowing that she shouldn’t be on her own, “Off we go then!”

         And so they left, taking a much more sensible route than their parents: the front door. They knew Ron, Hermione, Hugo and Rose were in the living room, undoubtedly muttering about Ginny and Harry… so the three Potters took their advantage.

Chapter 10: A Lethifold?
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Sorry this has taken so long to update! It's unfortunately my OWL year and the exams have finally come around! Just one left to go and then I can start producing some better chapters again. Enjoy! :-D



Convinced as Ginny and Harry were of their complete solitude they continued to take their advantage on the pitch-black beach, unaware that all three of their offspring were rummaging around the hedgerows and greenery looking for them a mere half mile aware. It was only a matter of time before the children would descend onto the beach and come across their parents, but Harry and Ginny remained happily oblivious to this, thinking that Ron and Hermione would still be struggling to get all five kids to bed. How wrong were they…  

**

         “Albus! James!” came Lily’s triumphant voice, “I have found a clue…”

         “What is it?” they both said, as they walked over to the patch of hedge where their sister was squatting next too.

         They crouched next to her, their eyes searching the undergrowth for specimens that could dictate where their parents had vanished.

         Lily stood up slowly, holding something between pinched fingers, and then moved it slowly, impressively, into the moonlight so everyone could see white light bounce off a single red hair. They all gasped, before James realised something.

         “Pfft,” he said, “Mum’s hair is longer than that. That hair, is blatantly yours.”

         Lily looked scandalized.

         “No! It’s not mine! I found it here! And Mum’s hair has layers, so this could be one of the shorter layers!”

         “Mum doesn’t have layers…” James said scathingly, crossing his arms.

         “She does!” Lily said, furiously, drawing herself up to her full – but very small – height, “She has more layers than a Gurdyroot!”

         Whilst this bickering continued, Albus continued to scour the undergrowth for proper clues, because in all honesty, he knew that hair was Lily’s – her hair fell out everywhere, it was quite worrying actually, but he concluded that she had quite enough of it to keep her going for at least another seventy years.

         He poked around with a longish stick, shifting foliage delicately, so as not to destroy evidence. If only he could use magic, it would make their job so much easier. But he had another two years until that time came, so he had to make do with what he had: uncontrolled bursts of magic, which poor Hugo experienced in that event in the pool. That water had gone all over the sides! Looking back it had been quite funny…

         Standing up to chuckle, Albus turned to face the sea, and realised that the beach would surely be a prime location to run away to – a lone and beautiful place, with many rock fissures and indeed the sea to hide oneself in. It was the perfect crime.

         But was it? It seemed so simple… too simple… but it would be foolish not to check. He walked back to his bickering siblings, determined to make his views heard.

         Albus had quite a quiet voice in relation to his brother and sister’s, so he had to yell a bit, but still he was not heard. They were now arguing about whether Harry’s hair had layers, because it was so messy they were convinced he used Dr. Scruncheasy’s Messed-Up Gellage Potion. The general consensus was that he didn’t, but yet they still needed to argue about it. Albus thought this was ridiculous, so he strode off into the night by himself, ignoring continued shouts of “You just wish that you had red hair!” “I do not you stupid PIECE OF TOILET PAPER!!”.

**

 

“Harry!” giggled Ginny, as Harry continued to work his magic over her as they lay on the beach (admittedly, not right in the middle anymore; they had moved to a more secluded alcove, scooped out of a cliff), unaware of how close their children were, “This is so naughty what we’re doing! In public!”

         “Yes,” said Harry, feeling very rebellious, “But we’ve done worse – do you remember?”

         Ginny sighed in reminiscence, smiling widely, and stretching her arms above her head.

         “I do remember,” she said, laughing at the memories only she and Harry could see, “So terrible we were!”

         Such events had become scarce since children came onto the scene, so reliving such antics now was a grand way of bringing back more pleasant aspects of their past. Indeed, so much that they forgot that children were still on the scene, and were very naïve to believe that the children of Harry and Ginny Potter were likely to remain in the house, like good little mites. To be honest, the concept was just plain silly.

**

 

Albus continued his search, carefully moving back tree braches and hedges in order to stumble across more clues, but so far, nada. The night was incredibly dark, and no wind rustled the cliff top hedgerow upon which Albus walked. This, along with his infallible sense of direction, aided him to decipher whether it was purely a night breeze shifting the leaves, or something more sinister like… like Lethifolds. Albus gave an involuntary shiver, as he imagined the dark, sheet of their form slithering over undergrowth…

         He froze in his path, suddenly feeling the night close in on him. Panic rose in his chest and his heart leapt up into his throat. He felt numb, unable to move, or even to whimper. He was unable to tell whether it was just his over-active imagination inspiring all this fear, after his foolish thoughts of Lethifolds, or whether there was actually one in his presence. He couldn’t tell – why couldn’t he tell? This was ridiculous… but one thing he did know was that his father wasn’t here… there was not Patronus to protect him… how could he fight off a Lethifold, he was just a little boy without a wand! Spiders he could handle, but this…

         “James?” he managed to scrape a whisper from the back of his throat, “Lily?

         No answer came… they were far behind him; he couldn’t even hear their bickers anymore. Something was telling him that they were safe, but he couldn’t be sure. What if the Lethifold had got them? He was suddenly torn between an urge to run and find his siblings and save them, or just stay still in the hope that everything was OK. His head was telling him it was all OK, his frantically thudding heart was telling him to “Run! Damnit Albus RUN!”

         But no child of Harry Potter would ever be accused of showing cowardice, so Albus heaved a deep steadying breath, and tore off in the opposite direction, desperately shouting for his siblings.

         “JAMES LILY JAMES JAMES LILY! LILY JAMES JAMES HELP!”

         He ran full pelt, not looking at all where he was going, until an obstacle stopped him in his path, knocking the wind straight out of him.

         “Oof!”

         “What the Hell are you doing out here?” came a voice, a wonderful voice, that carried a wand to protect him.

         “Uncle Ron!”

         Albus looked up from the ground, and could see some starlight reflecting off some red hair, but that was all. However, he knew it was Uncle Ron, no other relative would ever say the word “Hell” in the presence of a child so young. They were naïve, those relatives… thought Albus suddenly, I even know the F-word!

         Ron helped Albus up, and explained that his other two siblings had been rounded up, tethered, and held hostage in separate rooms, due to the issue that they had been trying to kill each other by trying to push the other off the cliff. Hermione had thought it best to separate them, before unexpected injury occurred, and she and Ron were banned from ever looking after Harry and Ginny’s children again.

         “Why did you wander off from them?” Ron demanded of him, “If you ever feel the urge to go wandering off at night I’d seriously recommend doing it with someone else.”

         “But they were being useless!” Albus implored, “We were looking for Mum and Dad because Aunty Hermione said they were missing and James and Lily were meant to help but they’re crap at solving clues – ”

         Ron held up his hands, trying to stem the flow of Albus’s rant.

         “Wo wo wo!” he said, that stupid phrase that people say when they can’t keep up with someone is telling them, “Hermione told you they were missing? And did you just say crap?”

         “I do know some swear words! I’m not as innocent as people think,” Albus said grumpily, scuffing the dirt in the path with his trainer, “And yes, she did.”

         “And you were looking for them?”

         “Yes.”

         “Ahhh,” said Ron, understanding at last, “I don’t think it’s a good idea that that search continues. Let’s go back home, see if your brother and sister are still alive…”

         They walked in companionable silence, until the house was in view, and Albus suddenly asked a question that should’ve been asked straight away!

         “You didn’t see any Lethifolds on the way did you?”

         Ron looked behind him, and then all around.

         “Please be to Merlin, I hope not.”

         Albus breathed a sigh of relief. Not only had Ron cleared the fear that there was a Lethifold around, but he also had just shown Albus that he wasn’t the only one who was scared of them.

Chapter 11: The Tussle with the Cupboard
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The Tussle with the Cupboard

 

The morning broke in the next day, sending a sudden burst of cool, bright sunlight through the panes of glass and blinds that separated the family from the outside world. Everyone had eventually ended up in bed, though as Hermione would say, it was at an “incredibly ridiculous hour”, and now she suspected that the majority of them would now be suffering from sleep deprivation, and would therefore ruin a whole day of their time together.

         Indeed, Harry and Ginny were very worn out after their excursion and then the following endeavours in the sand, but as of yet had no idea that their children had gone looking for them. Ron and Hermione had stayed up pretty late after realising that three of the children under their care – the ones not belonging to them – had vanished, and the said three children had also stayed up far too late because their parents had vanished. The only two people who had had a good night sleep were Hugo and Rose.

         So, inevitably, the following morning, most of the house woke up at around noon, and were not in good form. Ron, who made a terrible sleep-deprived morning person, yelled at anyone who annoyed him, until he realised that yelling gave him a headache, and he settled for growling at them instead. Hermione who was meant to be making tea, kept pointing her wand at the kettle in a little more of a haphazard manner than was probably safe when dealing with a vessel containing boiling water, but luckily none of it was spilt, and nine mugs were made without much fuss.

         Children however, always seem to have an indecent amount of energy, no matter how much – or little – sleep they get. This did not go down well with the dopey grown-ups who were stumbling around the house, all making similar groaning noises like something out of James’ favourite film: “Night of the Living Inferi.”

         “Wheerresmyzztroussers?” Harry asked Ginny as they stumbled back upstairs after a hastily gulped cup of tea, “I’velosssttem.”

         “I dunno, you probably left them in the – in the –” huge yawn “- sand.”

         “But I never took ‘em off,” Harry groaned, rubbing his eyes, as they somehow managed to find their bedroom “I can’t see anything…” he complained.

         “Glasses Harry! You wear glasses!” Ginny scolded him, throwing them at him from the dresser, “How many times do I need to tell you in the morning? The- reason- you -can’t- see- anything- when- you- wake- up- is- because- you- always- bloody- forget- that- YOU- WEAR- GLASSES!

         Harry backed away into the wardrobe, and closed the door, hiding amongst the crumpled robes and varied Muggle clothing. He was too tired to deal with anything today; he’d just curl up and sleep in here...

         “HARRY!” Ginny yelled, yanking the door open and sending light pouring into Harry’s nice, cosy place of secluded darkness, “Get out! We need to get dressed.”

         “Why?” Harry demanded, suddenly feeling stubborn and surly, “I am fine here. I have had no sleep, which I primarily blame on you.”

         “You shouldn’t be so quick to blame,” Ginny complained, “get out!”

         “Make me.”

         “Oh I will…”

         She grabbed onto Harry’s arm, and tugged, but he made it go limp and floppy so that she couldn’t pull it properly.

         “Come on Harry!” she whined, unable to bring herself to pull any longer, “This is too hard. I just want to go to sleep…”

         Harry stared up into her tired face, her eyes looking weary and her hair looking amazingly messy.

         “Come in here then,” he suggested, “We can go to sleep together, and we can lock the door from the inside and we’ll never be found!”

         Ginny contemplated for a minute, and then noticed that the wardrobe was small and poky; not big enough for two grown adults to sleep in.

         “It’ll be alright!” Harry persuaded, “It’s comfy actually…”

         He patted the wood floor.

         Ginny so badly wanted to sleep…

         “Oh go on then…”

         And in she clambered, and they both curled up together like cats, limbs all scrunched up due to the limited space. Harry pointed his wand at the lock and it gave a small click, letting them know that they were safe, and that they could sleep all day now.

         Harry and Ginny should’ve known that their “clever schemes” inevitably ended up in some minor form of chaos.

         Indeed, they realised this too late, when Harry realised they couldn’t get out again.

 

***

“We are exploring France today!” declared Lily, already wearing her yellow t-shirt and red skirt with blue spots; as Ginny wasn’t awake, she had had no help in the process of getting dressed, and her mind was not yet so mature that she could define which colours matched, and which did not…

         “The whole country?” James said, with open eyes and mouth, “Bloody hell…”

         He too, was relishing being able to swear as his parents where not here. Rose was though.

         “No James! Don’t say that word!” she scolded, putting her hands on her hips and glaring at him through a mane of bushy red hair.

         “You look like a fire place,” James said, laughing, pointing at her head “And I’ll say what I bloody well want.”

         Rose rolled her eyes; there was no point arguing with him. He was honestly the most annoying out of her cousins, even that pesky Victoire who kept flicking her long sheet of blonde hair in Rose’s face whenever they saw each other, just to remind Rose that her hair was much more manageable and gorgeous that hers would ever be. Hermione’s kept telling Rose how gorgeous her hair was, indeed it was like hers but in a brilliant shade of red, just like her Daddy’s.

         Back to the point, James was the most annoying, irksome, irritating, stubborn, rude, obnoxious, disgusting, terrible cousin ever. Even worse than her brother, and she had to live with him all the time. James sucked, but he was still her best friend. They were the unlikely combo: the troublemaking James, constantly up to mischief. The bookworm Rose, constantly trying to stop James from partaking in his mischief. On a more intellectual level, she probably got on with Albus best, and Lily was good for “girly” talks, though Rose wasn’t really into those, and neither was Lily. However, they’d both discuss the pros and cons of red hair, and which bows and ribbons best matched such a frivolous hair colour.

         “So we explore France today, yes?” Albus said, reminding them why they were there.

         “The stinky grown-ups aren’t ready yet,” James said, looking up at the ceiling to where these stinky grown ups must surely be, “Talk about bloody slow.”

         “James,” said Rose, in a very firm “I have a point to make” voice, “Just because your parents are not here, it does not mean that you can just bandy that word around like nobody’s business. It’s immature, and quite unnecessary.”

         “Well, I’ll be damned!” James said, pretending to be shocked into submission, “I won’t then! Rose, I won’t. But just because you are my cousin, I will put my entire efforts into not saying that word again.”

         “Cross your heart and hope to die?” Rose asked.

         “I swear across Merlin’s pants,” James said seriously, pinging his own from behind.

         “Right…” Rose said, clearly unnerved that James did as he was told, “That’s good.”

         Hugo hurtled into the room, pointing up the stairs, and looking slightly amused.

         “Your parents are stuck in a wardrobe upstairs,” he explained to James, his mouth twitching, “They called out for me to help them but I couldn’t get the door open.”

         “Wait… what?” James asked, flabbergasted, “But… they must be able to. They have wands for Merlin’s sake.”

         Hugo shrugged.

         “They said something about an “irreversible charm,” Hugo said, “Apparently Uncle Harry cast it because he’s had no sleep so now can’t work out what spells to use so they’re now stuck and Aunty Ginny’s now really angry.”

         James shook his head; parents could be so stupid.

         “I thought my Dad was always pretty clever,” James said to himself, still rather confused, “He’s not acting it…”

         “Sleep-deprivation does that to people,” Hugo explained sagely, raising his arms in an “there are some things that can’t be explained” gesture, “My Dad set fire to an ice-cube tray once when he was very tired.”

         “The actual ice caught fire?” James asked sceptically, raising his eyebrows, “No one’s that stupid… or clever, depending how you look at it.”

         “Oh he did.”

         “I imagine it was a “Imflammio” charm,” Rose said aloud, for she hadn’t witnessed this incident.

         “No, he managed it with matches,” Hugo explained, “Dunno how he got hold of those. Weird things they are…”

         “They are weird aren’t they?” Albus agreed, “Most strange things.”

         “Oh for Goodness sake, they are not so amazing,” Rose snapped, putting her hands on her hips, “You are all so easily entertained, it’s honestly quite stupid – my god… so easily distracted…”

         She suddenly stopped.

         “…can you see what that seagull’s doing?”

         She hurried to the window to watch the seagull do its thing. Everyone rolled their eyes at her. Talk about hypocrisy.

         “I think Mum’s the only one who can sort this out,” Hugo said, beckoning his arm at his counterparts, indicating they should follow him to wherever Hermione may be, “Follow me lads!”

         “And girl!” Lily said, trotting along obligingly behind them.

         They all found Hermione in the kitchen sipping coffee, and staring straight ahead, dark circles under her eyes.

         “Mum,” Hugo declared importantly, “There has been an incident, a terrible incident –”

         “Dad’s sorting it out,” she interrupted, not looking at him but continuing to stare straight ahead.

         “How do you know –”

         “Harry spent most of his childhood locked inside a cupboard,” Hermione explained, “I know this is the type of thing he’d do.”

         Hugo was quite abashed; his mother was very perceptive and clever, even when she was very sleep deprived. How strange. Why couldn’t he be that clever? Rose constantly outdid him in everything. It was awful. He suddenly felt quite sad…

         “Don’t worry Hugo – Wugo,” Lily said, patting him on the head, “It’ll be alright.”

****

 

“How the bloody hell did you manage this Harry?” Ron asked furiously, as he paced in front of the wardrobe door angrily, his wand held tightly in his hand. It was early in the morning, his best friend and sister were locked in a cupboard together, he had to think of a way to get them out, his much cleverer wife was too despondent to help him. This. Was. Not. His. Cup. Of. Tea.

         “It wasn’t my fault!”

         “WHOSE WAS IT THEN?” came Ginny’s yell.

         “OW GINNY THAT WAS RIGHT IN MY EAR!” replied Harry.

         “SERVES YOU RIGHT! LOOK AT THE SCRAP YOU’VE GOT US IN!”

         “YOU DIDN’T HAVE TO COME IN WITH ME! YOU COULD’VE STAYED OUTSIDE!”

         This muffled, yelled argument did nothing to help Ron’s mood. He started to growl at the door.

         “IF YOU DON’T SHUT UP I’LL MAKE THIS WARDROBE EXPLODE!” Ron bellowed at the door, he then paused, wondering if he’d made himself clear enough, “WITH YOU STILL INSIDE!”

         Harry and Ginny shut up, fearing for their lives, placed so unwisely in Ron’s care.

         Ron paced muttering, thinking of how he could get the door open. He could not think of anything. It was useless. Why were his family such idiots? With a pang, he suddenly realised that Harry was his brother-in-law. How strange…

         “Hey Harry,” he laughed, forgetting to be angry, “I’ve just thought of something: you’re my brother-in-law!”

         “Haha!” Harry replied, “I am as well! This is cool!”

         Ron heard some mutinous muttering come from Ginny, and then a sinister outburst:
         “You won’t be if you carry on like this!” she seethed, “I’ll divorce both of you, and then you’ll just be bog-standard friends again! HAHAHA!”

         “You can’t divorce me! I’m your brother!”

         “Watch me Ronald! YOU JUST WATCH ME! GET US THE HELL OUT OF THIS CUPBOARD AND YOU JUST BLOODY WATCH ME!”

         “Wo…” said Ron, backing away, “Cranky.”

         Considering he had just growled and yelled at them moments before, Harry thought this was a bit rich.

         “Are you not done yet?” a new voice appeared, equally annoyed. Hermione was here. Harry and Ginny could’ve cheered and wept with joy.

         “Help us Hermione! Please!” called Ginny, “Being this close to Harry is really annoying me.”

         Hermione rolled her eyes, and demanded of Ron:

         “Why haven’t you opened the door yet?”

         “I haven’t found a way to!”

         “I sent you up with a key! You stupid, useless baboon!”

         Ron went red, and felt in his pocket, feeling the forgotten key there.

         “Don’t call me a baboon! You – you – chipmunk!”

         Hermione swelled with fury, just as Ginny said:

         “Enough with the pet names! Open the door.”        

So Ron did.

The pointless tussle with the cupboard was over.

Chapter 12: "Oh the people we're related to..."
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“You got stuck in a cupboard, you got stuck in a cupboard!” James jeered and laughed at his parents as they strolled out into the bright sunlight of the garden where the children had retreated to, having realised that adult supervision for the day was going to be scarce and probably non-existent, so may as well take advantage of it.

         “Ha ha ha,” said Harry very slowly, rubbing his neck. It had started to hurt after being scrunched up against a wardrobe wall all that time, “And it wasn’t a cupboard, it was a wardrobe.”

         “That’s just even stupider,” insisted James.

         “You’re stupid,” said Ginny, feeling too tired to think of clever insults.

         “If Aunty Hermione hadn’t of been here you would still be stuck,” Albus pointed out, “Me and Lily would’ve been useless.”        

         “What about me? Why aren’t I useless?” James demanded of him, for some reason, he was annoyed.

         “You’re just beyond use at all James,” Lily cackled, “Even more useless than Mum and Dad and me and Albus all put together! You have more uselessness than a torch on a sunny day!”

         She nodded cleverly at her statement. She believed it was clever. Very clever. She liked being clever.

         “We’re going to a lovely little market today,” Hermione said, striding out the house holding a large map, that flapped in the breeze and made it difficult to hold.

         “You look like a kite!” laughed James.

         Harry snorted as he realised it was true, and then quickly rearranged his features into a sombre expression as Hermione glared at him.

         “You hold it then!” she shot at him, trying to shove the map in his face but failing miserably. It crackled and flipped over and then blew out her grip.

         “Oh no!” cried Hermione as she tore after it, the ungainly map crackling and fluttering annoyingly out of her reach.

         Suddenly it zoomed backwards, completely ignorant that the wind was blowing in the opposite direction –

         Ron had arrived in the garden, and was holding the map smugly, having used a Summoning charm. Hermione blushed; why hadn’t she thought of that?

         “So,” said Ron, shaking the map open expertly, and indeed having far better control over it than Hermione did, “Market day? I’m thinking we should go to Kwimper.”

         “That’s not how you pronounce it Ron!” Hermione said crossly.

         “How do you say it then?” Ron asked, “You say it then if you’re so clever, go on, go on.”

         “Never mind,” Hermione said hastily, “Are we all ready to go? Breakfasted? Out of cupboards? Dressed?”

         “Yes Hermione!” everyone chorused. But they were lying. They weren’t ready. And it was at least another hour before they left.

        

***

 

“Bus – stop?” Ron repeated after Harry had declared they were looking for one, “What the bloody hell is that?”

         “It’s a place where buses stop Ron,” Ginny said in a slow and heavy voice, trying to sound stupid, oddly Goylesque. She rapped Ron sharply on the head with her knuckles.

         “Ouch!”

         “THERE’S ONE!” Lily cried, pointing wildly.

         “That’s a bench Lily,” Ginny said patiently.

         “No! No they always have benches at bus stops!” Lily reasoned, “So if there is a bench there will be a bus stop!”

         “That’s not necessarily true,” Hermione said to her, “I’ve seen lots of benches that don’t have bus stops next to them.”

         “Bugger!” Lily exclaimed, causing everyone to stare.

         “Lily!” Albus said, with his eyes wide open, “Where did you learn that word?”

         “I think we know the answer,” said Ginny, giving James a long, hard stare that made him cower, “You will restrict your vocabulary to respectable words when in front of your little sister!”

         “Does that mean I can swear away in front of you and Dad then?” James asked, quickly recovering from his fear.

         “Sure you can,” Harry agreed, “We’ll make it like a club.”

         “Can Uncle Ron join?” James asked, “He’d be our top member.”

         “What?” said Ron, not really paying attention, but looking up at the sound of his name.

          “A swearing club, Uncle Ron,” James explained with a sweet smile, “We think you’d be our top member.”        

         “I do not swear young Potter,” Ron said, sticking his nose in the air.

         “Sod off!” James said, with a sceptical chuckle, “You swear all the time.”

         “I do not!”

         “Hell!” piped up Hugo, who had been passing the time by chasing Rose around in large circles during the “bus stop” discussion.

         “You do!”

         “Shut the hell up.”

         “STOP IT!” Hermione shrieked, “FOR GOD’S SAKE! A SWEARING CLUB IS THE MOST STUPID THING I’VE EVER HEARD, AND YOU RONALD WEASLEY SHOULD NOT FORGET THAT YOU HAVE TWO YOUNG CHILDREN WHO DO NOT NEED TO LEARN SUCH PROFANITY!”

         A long echoing silence ensued, and everyone took an involuntary step away from Hermione who’s hair had expanded to twice its natural size (huge, in other words) and who’s eyes had been reduced to evil slits. She was possessed.

         “How could anyone cope being married to her?” thought Ron, staring at her in horror, before realising, “By Merlin! That’s ME!”

         And carrying this unpleasant revelation with him, they family finally managed to find a bus stop, and navigate their way to the market town without too much difficulty. Ron was oddly silent.

 

***

 

“Oh this is very pretty,” Lily gushed upon arrival. She clapped her hands together, and began tugging at her mother’s hand, “Look at all those necklaces! They’re so pretty!”

         “Wait a minute Lils,” Ginny said, “We’ll obviously need to split up. I don’t think the men of the group will want to look at jewellery.”

         She looked sideways at Harry with a wry smile, because she had seen a flicker of panic pass across his face at the mention of necklaces, and looking at said necklaces.

         “No way,” James said, backing away with his hands in front of him, “We want to go looking at – power tools? Is that right Herm? That’s what Muggle men like isn’t it?”

         Hermione nodded wearily, not bothering to point out that power tools were unlikely to be found here.

         “So me, Al, Hugo, Dad and Uncle Ron will all go looking for – ” he paused, and then said, “power tools!” in a very proud voice, having remembered their name.

         “Are power tools like wands?” Albus asked.

         “That would depend,” Hermione answered, and for some reason she looked at Ron with an oddly suppressed smile, who went bright red. Harry noticed this.

         “Oh my God…” he said, putting his face in his hands, “We’ll go.”

         He pulled his two sons away by the hands, desperate to get away from Ron and Hermione and their inappropriate jokes. Hugo trotted after them, looking back at his father, imploring him to come too. Ron did, making some excuse about power tools and wands being entirely different, even though he didn’t even really know what power tools were.

         “What is a power tool Harry?” Ron asked his best friend, falling into step beside him.

         Harry winced, and then laughed.

         “You would know!”

         “No I don’t!” Ron said, frustrated that he didn’t understand.

         “We’ll drop it after this,” Harry promised, “A power tool are used to build things like houses, and they run off electricity.”

         “Right,” Ron said knowledgably, nodding.

         They strode around, trying to avoid tripping on the twisting cobbled streets, surrounded by shops with awnings, upon which were two more stories where the shop owners would live. The hotness of the day meant that most windows were thrown open, curtains fluttering out of them. They cast rippling shadows over the streets, and the buzz of people suddenly reminded Harry of Diagon Alley. Small tables with chairs sat outside many shops, where people sipped great cups of coffee, and were chatting rapidly in French to their friends. Harry baffled at the rapidity of which they spoke, or maybe it only sounded fast because he had no idea what they were saying. The language seemed to blend into one huge word, so he couldn’t distinguish separate words, or indeed separate sentences. He realised that if any of them needed directions, or anything, they wouldn’t be able to ask for it.

         “Ron,” Harry said, “You don’t know any French do you?”

         “Voo-lay voo coo-shay avec moi?” Ron sniggered, and then added, “No I don’t.”

         “But you just said some then,” Harry frowned, confused.

         “Yeah, but when I said it to Fleur once, she slapped me,” Ron said, wincing at the memory, “And then Hermione told me I wasn’t allowed to say that to people. She didn’t tell me what it meant though.”

         “Oh,” Harry said, feeling his heart sink a few inches. What if they got lost? They hadn’t even arranged a place to meet up with the rest of the group… oh dear.

         “Never mind!” Ron said bracingly, “We’ll have fun, just us men!”

         “Sure we will,” nodded Hugo. He was tall for his age, and despite being four years younger than James, he was nearly the same height. James had a strange complex about it. Hugo had inherited his mother’s brown hair, but his father’s blue eyes. Rose thought this was distinctly unfair, because she had inherited her mother’s hairstyle, and her father’s hair colour. This made for a very flamboyant head of hair that everybody loved, except herself. It was near impossible to tame, but as it was coupled with a pair of twinkling brown eyes and a sweet heart shaped face it didn’t look so bad. In fact, it made her look very cute. She didn’t see it that way. She got angry when people suggested it, making them quickly withdraw their thoughts that Rose Weasley was sweet.

         “Let’s…” James looked around for something to do, “Let’s get an ice-cream, and then go and find a – a boat!”    

         He pointed ahead excitedly, having spotted some boats that were tied up beside the river that ran alongside the town. Sunlight flashed off the rippling water.

         “I think they belong to other people James,” Harry explained, “I don’t think we could just borrow them.”

         “Oh,” said James, forlorn.

         They walked further ahead, having left the cool shade of the narrow streets, and emerged onto a wide paved area that was surrounded with benches overlooking the river. The sun beat down, and suddenly the concept of having an ice cream was quite appealing.

         “Couldn’t you – confund – someone into giving us their boat?” James whispered, so that Harry had to bend down to hear him.

         “What? No!” Harry said, quickly standing up and looking at his son sternly, “That’s not very nice James. It’s called taking advantage of people.”

         “But – ” James looked around desperately, “LOOK! That boat has people on it.”

         “Why are you so desperate to go in a boat James?” Harry asked, exasperated “Last time you went in a boat you got so scared that you – ”

         “SHHH!” James hissed at his Dad, “Don’t tell everyone!”

         “Why, what happened?” Ron asked, with an evil grin, which had also appeared on Hugo’s face. They looked uncommonly alike.

         “We can’t tell you,” Albus said to them, not out of loyalty, but out of fear of what James would do to him.

         “Harry?” asked Ron. Harry hesitated, wanting to repeat the funny story, but it caused James so much embarrassment that he simply couldn’t, especially as James was looking at him beseechingly, willing him not to tell. Loyalty to his child meant that he couldn’t tell the story. Everyone was very disappointed, except James.

         “And anyway,” said James, looking at his shoes, “that was a dodgy old boat that belonged to that horrible old man down the road… it wasn’t fit for human use.”

         “That’s fair enough James,” Harry said, ruffling his son’s hair, so it became even messier. It looked like Harry’s messy hair would be carried down many generations… he just hoped that a girl never got it, because girls were funny about things like hair.

         “No boats then?” Ron asked James gently, still looking slightly amused.

         “No boats,” James agreed quietly.

         They all walked around in silence for a while, drinking in the warm summer air and relishing the feeling of the sun. It was incredibly peaceful, and Harry encountered another lapse of consciousness, during which he would look back at his teenage years and wonder how any of this became possible. He never thought he could feel this happy, although maybe that wasn’t the right word… content, was probably better. He had always felt slightly separate back then, seeing as he had no relatives (that cared about him anyway) and no other Potters at all.  He’d felt strangely alone, out of place, and always marked, physically by his scar and also by things which he had accomplished and done. Even now people would stare at him, despite all the events of the past having happened many years ago.

         He suspected that the reason he was so happy now, was that he had family. Real, proper, Potter family. Four of them. Three of them shared his blood, and he finally felt as though he were connected in some way to other people on the earth, with a proper blood tie. Of course, Ron and Hermione was as good as siblings to him, but they didn’t share his name or blood, so they weren’t true family, even though they were as good as. He also had nieces and nephews too… thoughts like this struck him at odd moments, and each time he never failed to understand how lucky he was.

         “Harry?” Ron shook his shoulder, “Away with Doxies again…”

         “What?” said Harry, coming out of his reverie.

         “Whenever we’re all together, like being quiet…” Ron mused, “You go into this weird trance thing…”

         “Do I?” Harry asked, unaware that people ever noticed.

         “Why?” Ron asked. Harry realised it was just them walking along, James, Albus and Hugo all having run off ahead to run through large patches of seagulls and pigeons, screaming really loudly.

         “You’ll think I’m mental…” Harry shook his head, with a small smile, “I couldn’t tell you.”

         “Oh go on!” Ron gave him a friendly punch on the shoulder, “It’s me! You can tell me anything.”

         “Oh OK…” Harry gave in, and then tried to work out how to phrase his answer, “Well I guess – sometimes, I can’t really believe, how – how well how good it all turned out. In the end.”

         He shrugged and gave Ron a small smile, as though daring him to laugh, even though he knew he never would. Ron gave Harry a hasty pat on the back, and a quiet “I know,” and they quickened their pace to catch up with their rowdy children, who were now earning disapproving glances from seagulls and pedestrians alike.

 

***

        

“I wish I had enough money to buy this,” Hermione was lusting over a sparkling silver necklace, feeling exceptionally guilty. It was wrong to lust over things you couldn’t have, not to mention unhealthy, but sometimes… it was just impossible to control.

         “I’ll get it for you, if you’d like,” Ginny offered, “I have some money from my birthday that I changed into Euros.”

         “No, no I couldn’t,” Hermione shook her head and closed her eyes, so she didn’t have to look at the gorgeous piece of jewellery any longer, “I don’t need it, I only want it.”

         “Ok,” Ginny nodded as Hermione strode away, still muttering to herself in a self-motivating type way. She waited until Hermione was far enough away, until she hissed to the market vender.

         “Um – c’est combien?”

         “It is forty six euros,” smiled the man.

         “Oh! You’re English,” said Ginny, feeling a bit silly, having embarrassed herself with her ridiculous French accent, “I’ll take it, but be quick.”

         She looked over her shoulder so much she looked as though she had a nervous twitch, as the man wrapped it up and gave it to her. Ginny felt very pleased, Hermione rarely got treated to things like this, as they didn’t really have much money, and she worked so hard that Ginny felt she deserved it. And in all honesty, most of Hermione’s spare galleons and sickles and things were spent on books.

         Ginny ran to catch up with Hermione, followed by Lily and Rose who had stayed with her during the purchase. They had both clamoured to be bought a necklace too, so Ginny had to oblige and bought them two identical necklaces. One in blue, the other in green, each with a flower pendant, owing to them both having “flowery names.”

         They sported them proudly, not even arguing over the colours. Lily had the potential to get on very well with most people, but she could be a tad argumentative, purely because she liked winding people up. She tended to avoid arguing with Rose, because they both believed they were something of kindred spirits, as they both had red hair and brown eyes. The two browns were slightly different, but they didn’t let this deter them!

         “I wonder how the boys are doing,” Lily mused, thrusting her chest out so her new necklace could be shown to its best advantage.

         “I shudder to think,” said Hermione, “Oh look! I like your necklace Lily!”

         “And mine!” Rose said.

         “You’ve got one too?” Hermione lifted it gently so she could see the pendant, “It’s very pretty. I hope you said thank you to Aunty Ginny.”

         “I did!” Rose said proudly.

         “Thanks Ginny,” Hermione said.

         “Ah it was no probs at all!” Ginny grinned, “They’re being well behaved… they deserve a treat.”

         “We are very well behaved aren’t we?” Lily said, “The best.”

         “Don’t push it!” Ginny laughed, “You can still be pretty evil when you want to be.”

         They all walked around, stopping at separate market stalls to admire apples, clothing, more jewellery, handbags, and even some rather sinister looking leather bracelets with metal spikes coming out of them.

         “COOL!” said Rose, “Mum please – ”

         “Good God no!” Hermione said, “Those are foul.”

         “But think! I could hit Hugo so much better if I had – “”

         “Oh Rosie!” Hermione said, “Don’t do this to me! Next think you’ll be – you’ll be dying your hair black and wearing black nail varnish and – “”

         Rose’s eyes widened as she contemplated this new image… it sounded amazing. Hermione spotted this and blanched. Ginny chuckled.

         “Good luck Hermione,” she said, patting Hermione on the back with a laugh.

         “Good luck yourself!” she said back, looking delighted as they rounded a corner into an open area away from the market that ran alongside the river.

         “Oh God – ” Ginny said quietly.

         Harry was running after James and Albus, who were also sprinting through flocks of pigeons and seagulls, yelling at the tops of their voices –

         “HAHA!” Ginny said, pointing at Hermione right in her face, “But there’s Ron and Hugo as well!”

         Ron and Hugo were involved in a similar activity.

         “They are naughty,” said Lily, shaking her head and putting her hands on her hips so she looked like a mini replica of Ginny.

         “Oh the people we’re related to,” Rose said, putting her forehead in her hand, and shaking her head in shame.

         “Ahh…” said Ginny, dreamily, “But it’s times like this where we realise how much we love them… if we didn’t love them, we’d never be bothered by them doing things like this.”

         Smiling to herself blissfully, Ginny strode forward and walked towards her running husband and sons, determined to grab at least one of them by the ear.

Chapter 13: Ron's Slippers and Merlin's Trousers
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

“Yesterday was really fun!” Lily said chirpily, throwing her breakfast spoon into the air, where it then landed with a clatter on the floor, spraying flecks of milk all over Ron’s new slippers; he had bought them at the market yesterday.

         “It sure was,” Hugo agreed, grinning in an idiotic way as attempted a little “triumphant punch” gesture that sent his bowl of cereal to the floor with a crash. The cornflakes inside it all slopped out in a horrible sludge mixture (Hugo didn’t like them, so hadn’t been eating them so the cornflakes/ cereal combo had made a nasty sort of yellow gloop in his bowl.) The gloop stole across the floor until it reached the porous surface of Ron’s new slippers. Ron was standing next to the sink, drinking tea and was blissfully unaware of all the breakfast food ruining his slippers.

         “I want to do something equally as fun today!” James cried, leaping up from the table and throwing down his spoon in triumph. The spoon hit Ron’s toe, and it was only then that he looked down and realised all the milk and cornflakes that were making a puddle around his new slippers.

         “Argh! Oh look – oh that’s disgusting!” Ron stared down at his feet in horror, lifting his feet in and out of the milky puddle. Albus noticed that people always did this when they stepped in unpleasant things; they stepped in and out of it on the spot, making “Urgh! How gross! My shoes are ruined!” sort of noises, when they would minimise the damage so much by just leaping out the puddle straight away.

         Albus had finished his cereal and was already putting his bowl in the sink, where a scrubbing brush immediately attacked it, and was now making for the kitchen door, hoping to find Harry and maybe tip him off about the “fun day” that James wanted. It only sounded like trouble.

         “Albus! Where are you going?” James demanded, striding over to his little brother and putting his arm around Albus’s neck, “You have to help us decide what to do today! You’re the clever one!”

         “Actually,” Rose piped up, having sat quite quietly at the table during all the milk throwing ruckus, “I’m the clever one.”

         “Oh yeah…” James realised, releasing Albus and walking around to the back of Rose’s chair, “So Rose, what will we do today?”

         “Why do I have to come up with suggestions?” Rose asked indignantly, even though she had really bought this upon herself.

         “Because,” James sighed wearily, “You’re the clever one!” He imitated Rose’s voice by making it high pitched and squeaky. Rose didn’t think much of this and shoved her chair back from the table so that it went onto James’s foot.

         “OUCH!” James yelled, leaping around on one leg rubbing his foot. Rose glared at him and flounced over to the sink where she put her bowl. Albus and Rose were always so tidy.

         “We have to go shopping today,” Ron suddenly said, having restored his slippers to their former glory; they were blue and fluffy again.

         All the children groaned; they hated shopping. They hated it. It was an awful thing, food shopping. Terrible. Almost as bad as shopping for clothes. It was nasty, it was exhausting, and they could never reach the things on the top shelves… which surely implied that that’s where the interesting things were.  Maybe that’s why adults enjoy food shopping and children don’t; adults can reach the “interesting” things that get put on the top shelves, and children can’t.

         “WE ARE NOT GOING SHOPPING!” Lily yelled in horror, backing away from the breakfast table, from everyone, from Ron… “NO! No! Not!”

         “You will go shopping!” Ron said, advancing on her with a malicious glint in his eye.

         “NOOOOO! ARRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHH!”

         Lily ran out the room, with her arms in the air, and they heard her thunder upstairs, along the landing and then slam a door. James followed the sounds with his head, looking faintly amused.

         “Does she know nothing?” James asked the room at large, “When running away from people you never, ever go upstairs. There’s nowhere to go! She’d have been better off running outside…”

         “You sound far too experienced, Harry Junior,” Ron said seriously.

         “Harry Junior!” James repeated, evidently disgusted, “What the hell is that?”

         “I’m tired, Harry Junior,” Ron stretched his arms above his head, “I can’t remember your name; I just know you look like Harry.”

         “Not as much as Albus!” James said, pointing a finger heavily at Albus, who was just standing innocently by the door, “Call him your stupid name!”

         “Nah,” said Ron, “He’s James Junior.”

         “But that – that proves that you do remember my name!” James cried, outraged, “You’re just winding me up!”

         Ron nodded wearily.

         “Well done Harry Junior,” Ron said sarcastically, “Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go and get dressed.”

         James scowled as he left the room.

         “I hate Mum’s brothers,” James said to Albus sullenly, “All they do is tease people.”

         “Uncle Percy doesn’t,” Albus said reasonably, “Or Uncle Bill or Charlie…”

         “Oh shut up,” James said, annoyed, “For just once, could you not be so reasonable!”

         “One of us has to be,” Albus said.

         “Shut up.”

         “You shut up.”

         This argument continued in some vein, until Hermione came in and put a stop to it, and then sent Ron out by himself to do the food shopping after she had heard the story from Lily (an exaggerate one) about how he had teased her about having to go shopping.

         Ron wasn’t impressed. And it was with ill grace that he stumped off into town by himself.

        

***

 

After striding through a busy high street, that was lined with very commercial Muggle shops, Ron realised that he was out of his depth; all these shops were Muggle ones, and he had no idea how to behave in these… or how they worked. They also had great big “SOLDES” signs outside, which surely meant that all their stock was sold… how would he buy anything if it was all sold already?

         He felt exceedingly out of place… and he cursed their choice of holiday destination. Why was this area so busy, when their house was so secluded? It made no sense… and he felt very uneasy. He was an English man stuck in France, with only one sentence of French that earned him very violent responses when he said it… and he was a wizard in a very Muggle district. It all spelled (no pun intended) for trouble… nothing good could come out of this…

 

***

 

Harry and Hermione were playing catch in the back garden, with an old ball that they had found lodged behind a bush. It was a bit old and flat, but they were bored, and it provided entertainment. And also a chance to “catch up” with each other. Of course, they saw each other nearly everyday, but it had been a long time when they could just talk together, and they both welcomed the opportunity. After all, they were best friends, and the closest things to siblings they both had, as they were both only children.

         “I’m so happy that we could all get together like this…” Hermione mused, throwing the ball to Harry, “It’ll be a while before we can do it again… what with James going to Hogwarts next year.”

         “Yeah,” said Harry, not throwing the ball back, but turning it between his index fingers and staring at it.

         “I guess it’ll be … um … quieter around the house, with him gone,” Hermione asked, trying to phrase “I guess they’ll be a lot less trouble around here with James out the way,” in a somewhat nicer way.

         “Yeah,” Harry said again, with a laugh, “A lot quieter. Lily’ll have her work cut out trying to fill the gap.”

         Hermione smiled.

         “It’s weird,” Harry mused, “I never really thought about how parents miss their kids when they went to Hogwarts… because no one ever missed me…”

         Hermione’s eyebrows contracted with sympathy, even though she knew that wasn’t the effect that Harry had wanted.

         “My parents missed me… but we never really,” Hermione seemed to struggle, searching for words, “I mean I loved them, and they loved me, but I always felt like they were … bemused and maybe intimidated by me.”

         She sounded a bit forlorn at this, and Harry found himself looking up from his ball to give Hermione a look of sympathy of his own.

         “You must’ve been a scary child,” Harry said, trying to keep his sympathetic face, but he couldn’t help a grin ruining it. Hermione glared at him.

         “I was not a scary child,” she retorted, “I was a lot like Rose actually…”

         “Yeah… a scary child,” Harry said, but in an undertone. Unfortunately, Hermione had infallible hearing, especially when it came to things murmured in “undertones.”

         She strode forward before Harry had a chance to back away, and she grabbed the ball from him. With a sudden movement she threw the ball into Harry’s head, so that it bounced off into her own hands again.

         “That’s a fine way to talk about your niece!” she scolded him.

         “I’m sorry,” Harry laughed, rubbing his head, “You’ve probably given me another scar you know…”

         “It’d serve you right!” Hermione tried to be stern, but couldn’t help giggling, “Oh dear… I think I have! I’ve made a bruise!”

         “What?” Harry yelped, prodding his forehead for signs of pain or bruising.

         “The Boy Who Was Bruised,” Hermione giggled, “Now there’s a good name.”

         “The Chosen Bruise,” Harry joined in, also laughing.

         “We should sell these ideas to the Prophet!” said Hermione eagerly, “Make our fortune!”

         “You’d make money out of my pain?” Harry shook his head in disappointment, “What sort of friend are you?”

         “Oh shut up…” Hermione backed away again, holding the ball so that she commence their game of catch once more.

         They threw it to each other for a while, wondering when they’d ever get bored. They didn’t feel the need to speak to each other all the time, such was the strength of their friendship. Throwing this ball to and fro was quite enough to keep them amused and bonded…

         Such was their enjoyment, that they didn’t even notice that Ron had been gone an hour. He should’ve been back by now… and he was not.

 

***

 

“Bloody hell…” muttered Ron as he walked through the aisles of the supermarket that he’d finally managed to find, by using a combination of guesswork, chance, and a rather good sense of smell.

         Everything was in French… which was no problem when it came to locating things like bread, eggs and milk, but with things that can in tubs or boxes and cannot be identified so easily… it caused real problems.

          “This is ridiculous… why couldn’t Hermione do this?” Ron muttered, causing people nearby to stare at him, “At least she can speak this stupid language… stupid.”

         He prowled around, trying to make himself look aggressive so people around him didn’t think he was lost and therefore stupid… for who gets lost in supermarkets? But Ron had never been in a supermarket before… and he again started thinking about how foolish it was for Hermione to send him on this shopping excursion.

 

***

 

“Harry…” Ginny strolled out into the garden, looking slightly concerned, “Have you seen Ron?”

         “Nope,” said Harry, not looking at her, for he had just had to dive for a very violent throw from Hermione; they had been playing catch for about two hours now, and had progressed to some pretty impressive throws and catches. Mainly on Harry’s part… Hermione’s had mainly been “drops.”

         “He should’ve been back ages ago,” Ginny said, frowning, “We only sent him out for a few things.”

         “He’s probably lost,” Hermione said, trying to put “spin” on a throw, but failing miserably. Ginny was disturbed by how unconcerned Hermione sounded.      

         “Shouldn’t we go look for him?” she asked pointedly, putting her hands on her hips. Finally Harry and Hermione looked at her, then at each other, and nodded.

         “Yes, me and Hermione will look for him,” Harry nodded fervently, striding over to Ginny and placing a kiss on her angry lips, “We’ll be back soon.”

         Hermione also walked towards Ginny, but instead of kissing her she shoved the ball into Ginny’s hands with a grin. Well this wasn’t unexpected; Hermione wasn’t about to go around kissing her best friend’s wife, and besides, she wasn’t that way inclined anyway.

         It was only after a few seconds that Ginny suddenly realised something terrible –

         “You’re leaving me with the children on my own!”

         Harry gave her a grin, and started to disappear beyond the gate so that she couldn’t chase him.

         “NO! Don’t!” Ginny threw the ball down and chased after Hermione, who was halfway across the garden.

         “Run Hermione!” Harry yelled, watching his angry wife run after Hermione, waving her hands in the air, her red hair flailing wildly.

         Hermione ran, and only made it because Harry grabbed her hand and pulled her across to the other side of the gate. Admittedly, it was a very small garden gate, that barely came up to Harry’s waist, but it seemed to symbolise an unspoken boundary that Ginny could not cross…

         Harry and Hermione started to run, in case Ginny chased them. But she did not. Instead she stopped at the gate and yelled: “I HAVE NO HUSBAND!”

         “I LOVE YOU TOO! HAVE FUN!” Harry yelled back, waving over his shoulder.

         Harry and Hermione were in a very good mood. You could almost call it a mischievous mood…

         And with this, they strode off into town to start “Ron Hunting.”

 

***

 

“I haven’t been to a Muggle town for ages!” Hermione said with glee, clutching Harry’s arm and staring around at the shops around her with a look of excitement.

         “Are you feeling all right?” Harry asked her, starting to feel worried about her somewhat exuberant mood.

         “Yes! Yes I am!” Hermione nodded at him, her eyes very big, “Now… what shall we do first?”

         “We’re meant to be looking for Ron?” Harry reminded her.

         “Oh he’s a big boy… he can take care of himself,” Hermione waved aside the issue of her lost husband with her hand, “Let’s go into…”

         She looked around, staring at gadget shops, music shops, clothes shops and then spotted a grotty looking shop at the end of the façade where a group of young teenagers were lurking outside, hiding in giant black hoodies. They reminded Harry of Death Eaters.

         “Let’s go in there!” she said, pulling Harry along through the crowds of shoppers. Harry tried to stop her, but it was impossible.

         Harry almost coughed as an extreme herby smell scratched his nostrils. The shop was very small and cramped, with posters of tortured looking Gothic singing souls on the walls. Small sculptures of skulls, spiders, demons and Muggle fairies sat on glass shelves. Heavy looking notebooks with iron locks also seemed to feature heavily. The girl behind the tiny counter in the corner had bright pink hair, and Harry had a momentary urge to ask her is she was a Metamorphagus, but then remembered that she was a Muggle.

         “Wow…” Hermione stared around, “It’s like a non-magical version of Borgin and Burkes!”

         “Yeah…” Harry said, frowning as he saw the similarities, “It is as well…”

         There was also a messy clothes rail that stood in the middle of the floor, which hosted an array of shiny black, lace and leather clothing, interspersed with metal spikes and purple velvet. Curious by an article that seemed to be covered in string, Harry pulled it out.

         He had no idea what it was, but it looked very sinister. It looked very tight and was covered in laces that reminded Harry of ones you’d find on a shoe…

         “Harry!” hissed Hermione, returning to her normal state once more, instead of the manic form she’d been previously, “Put that down! It’s a corset! Not for men.”

         “I know it’s not for men,” Harry hissed back, shoving it back on the rail blushing furiously, “I was only curious! And what’s a corset?”

         Hermione shook her head, and told him to ask Ginny (providing she was still talking to him.)

         Harry kept right behind Hermione as she moved her way around the shop, taking small replica cauldrons and spell books from the shelves and laughing at them lightly.

         “As if you’d be able to make anything in this…” she scoffed at a tiny cauldron that Harry could barely fit his hand in.

         The pink-haired girl was watching them avidly, obviously having detected that there was something different about these two people. They looked very ordinary, but they had an air about them that suggested they were something different… and they seemed to paying a disproportionate amount of interest in all her witchcraft items…  and she had believed that she was the only witch around here!

         “Do you speak English?” she asked them suddenly, causing Hermione to yelp in shock; the shop had been very quiet, and the girl’s voice had made her jump.

         “Yes,” Hermione said, “We’re English.”

         “I moved here a few years ago,” said the girl, “England did nothing for me. I didn’t feel the vibe of magic around there.”

         Harry and Hermione were struck dumb. Their faces amused the girl.

         “Don’t worry,” she laughed, “I’m just like you.”

         “What?” Harry asked hastily.

         “I’m a witch,” she said in a hushed voice, “Like you.”

         “You are?” Harry said, raising his eyebrows in shock.

         “Yes, I’ve practised it for a year now,” the girl said, “Like chanting, and rituals.”

         Harry’s confusion must’ve shown on his face, because they girl smiled at him sympathetically.

         “You don’t have to be scared of me…”

         Harry wasn’t scared; he was curious. She was evidently speaking of a whole new type of witchcraft that was completely new to him… and it didn’t sound right. It sounded Dark. His nature as an Auror was tingling, and as he noticed a white face on a poster to his left he jerked his head to stare at it and saw a picture of –

         “Voldemort,” Harry breathed.

         “Oh Harry, don’t be silly,” Hermione scolded him, “It’s Marilyn Manson! It says so underneath.”

         “What? Oh…” he said feeling foolish. Trying to cover up his mistake he said: “She looks like a man though…”

         “That’s because it is a man Harry!” Hermione said, her face turning red. She was obviously regretting going into this shop. It had been a whim, and she didn’t often get whims, so when she did she liked to act on them. Now she realised, it had been a mistake.

         “But he’s wearing make-up!”

         Now Harry was very confused, and thought it best that he and Hermione left the shop immediately, and went looking for Ron, which was of course, what they were meant to be doing.

          

 

***

 

“MERLIN’S TROUSERS!”

         “MERLIN’S TROUSERS!”

Ginny had all five children running around in circles, playing a game they’d devised themselves and had dubbed “Merlin’s Trousers.” It involved running around with your eyes closed and shouting the phrase out, trying to catch a person that was decided at the beginning. It was a stupid, pointless, confusing game that resulted in a lot of bashing in to things (and people) so Ginny had shooed them all out into the garden, where it wouldn’t matter if they bashed into things.

She was trying to supervise, but she just couldn’t understand the game and thought it might be best if she left them to it. It was pointless trying to control them, and the more she tried, the more naughty they became. So she was trying a different tactic: ignore them, and they won’t be naughty. It seemed to be working. She couldn’t help but smile at her victory.

“MERLIN’S TROUSERS.”

 

***

 

“Right,” thought Ron, “This is stupid now. I have bread, eggs and milk. That’ll be enough to feed us. I am not walking around this stupid shop for a minute longer. I’ll pay, and then I’ll leave.”

         So Ron did just that. He paid. But – but he could not leave. A manic looking lady had just grabbed his arm, and pulled him aside, bombarding him with French questions and holding a clipboard. She was part of a group of similar looking people, and Ron realised with horror that they were doing a… survey.

         He hated English surveys, and ones that were conducted in languages that he couldn’t even understand would surely be worse.

         Luckily, he was rescued, by the timely arrival of Harry and Hermione.

 

***

 

“That was the most ridiculous and pointless day,” Ron stormed, throwing his single bag of shopping on the kitchen table, “Don’t ever make me do it again!”

         “You – you only have one bag Ron,” Hermione said blankly, “Did you buy everything?”

         “NO I DIDN’T BLOODY BUY EVERYTHING!” Ron suddenly yelled, turning a prestigious shade of maroon, “I DIDN’T KNOW WHAT ANYTHING WAS IN THAT STUPID SHOP BECAUSE I – DON’T – SPEAK – FRENCH!”

         “Calm down, mate,” Harry said, “We’re sorry. We didn’t know it’d be so traumatic for you…”

         “Oh ha ha…” scowled Ron, sensing Harry’s sarcasm.

         “And we still have no food…” Hermione said.

         “That’s not true,” Ron shot at her, stuffing his fist into his single bag of food that he’d thought would feed all nine of them, “We have milk!”

         He took a bottle out and shook it in their faces.

         “Milk?” Harry asked.

         “Yes, milk,” Ron said firmly, “And I spent ages getting milk out my slippers this morning so you should feel very grateful.”

         “How did you get milk in your slippers?” Hermione asked through narrowed eyes.

         “Ron has slippers?” Harry asked, equally curious.

         “Yes I have slippers!” Ron defended.

         Harry stared at him for a moment and then started sifting through the bag, pulling out bread and eggs. There was only one conclusion that could come of this: they’d have to eat out tonight, and go shopping again tomorrow.

         “Oh,” Ginny’s voice entered the kitchen, “You’re back.”

         She didn’t sound pleased. Harry marched over to her and pulled her into a hug.

         “What are you doing?” she demanded.

         “Ginny, this day has been ridiculous,” Harry explained, “I need to feel something sane.”

         “MERLIN’S TROUSERS!” Ginny suddenly yelled in Harry’s ear, destroying all of Harry’s hopes that Ginny was sane.

         It was true. They were a nutty family. And they were having a great holiday.

         “Just think,” Hermione suddenly sounded blissfully happy, “We have a whole lifetime of holidays to France to look forward to!”

         “A lifetime of – “” Ron comprehended, “What? NO! No, not a lifetime… no.”

         And so the day came to an end, the most random and strange day that they had all encountered for quite a while. It had been fun, but nobody ever wanted to do it again. And that was probably the first thing they had ever all agreed on.

 

~*~*~*~

Chapter 14: Going Home
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Unfortunately, that sad day had come: the end of the holiday. There were many tears, many wet eyes, many wet cheeks… It was a tragic time, and nobody was sure if they could live through it. How could they return to England? How could they return to work? And how could James cope with being made to go to school… to Hogwarts.

         “I D-D-DON’T WANT TO – TO LEAAAVEEEEE!” Lily wailed as her suitcase was flung unceremoniously at her by her mother. She contemplated trying to get inside it and taping herself to it so she couldn’t be removed. Then they could never leave…

         “This sucks Dad!” James sulked, as he watched his hat be stuffed down into bag, moodily clutching his little train for comfort.

         Albus and Rose were the only two who were being remotely cooperative regarding the fact that they had to leave tomorrow. Their suitcases were packed, and their sections of the bedroom were all neat and tidy. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for everyone…

         “Ron!” Hermione scolded him, with her hands on her hips, “This is ridiculous. You have to pack!”

         “Shan’t,” said Ron, standing tall and also folding his arms.

         “Don’t be childish,” Hermione said, “It doesn’t bode well with me.”

         “ARE YOU DONE YET?” they heard Harry call up from downstairs.

         “NO!” Hermione called back before Ron could, “RON’S BEING SILLY!”

         At this, Ron gave Hermione a look of pure evil, and pulled his old battered suitcase from the bottom of the wardrobe, and started yanking his clothes off shelves and hangers, so they all landed in a crumpled heap on the floor. Hermione did not look pleased, but couldn’t be bothered to comment. Instead she turned on her heel, and went to badger Hugo and James instead, who thought that their time would be best spent drawing moustaches and monobrows on each other with Lily’s felt tip pens.

         “Haha!” James chortled, “You look like Dad when he hasn’t shaved!”

         “Your Dad shaves?” Hugo giggled, “I didn’t know he had a monobrow!”

         “He doesn’t!” James said, exasperated, “He shaves his face. Not his eyebrows!”

         “Oh…” said Hugo, disappointed, “I thought he had a middle section that joined his two eyebrows that we didn’t know about.”

         “Sadly no my chum,” James said, drawing a beard on Hugo with a brown felt tip. James was receiving a spectacular moustache with a black felt tip from Hugo.

         They thought they were being very clever, for they had locked themselves in the bathroom, and hung a note on the door that said, “Ron is in here.” This would surely mean that no one would disturb them, because Ron was an adult, and people trusted grown ups. Also, there was a higher chance of being interrupted if they had left the note off the door; for some reason, people think it’s OK to barge in on children using the bathroom (especially if you’re related) but not grown ups. So, on the whole, they thought they had a very watertight plan going…

         What they had not noticed though, was that if Ron was spotted somewhere else in the house… then their sign would be useless. Because it would be abundantly clear that Ron wasn’t in the bathroom. Hermione thought it was abundantly clear anyway.

         “JAMES!” she said, hammering on the door, “I know you’re in there!”

         “Shh…” said James, sniggering to Hugo.

         Hermione heard the giggles.

         “Rose, I know you’re in there too…” Hermione said, “I could hear your voice.”

         This was too much for Hugo.

         “I’m Hugo!” he cried, to James’ upset.

         “HAHA Hugo sounds like a girl!” James said, by means of revenge because Hugo had confirmed they were in there.

         “Come on,” Hermione said, trying not to laugh because she’d thought her son was a girl, “Get out.”

         “No,” said Hugo, “You’ll make us pack if we do…”

         “Yeah…” agreed James, “We’re not stupid you know.”

         “Alohamora,” Hermione simply said, and so the bathroom door opened. The boys were flabbergasted by Hermione’s rash action.

         “How dare you!” said James, “We could’ve been using the loo for all you knew!”

         “What, together?” Hermione said, raising her eyebrows. And then realising that something wasn’t quite right with their faces… they seemed to have grown a lot of facial hair. Was that meant to happen this early?

         Her mind catching up with her senses she noticed the felt tips littering the floor… and then she understood.

 

***

 

“Lily – Lily come on,” Harry wheedled, trying to persuade Lily to do something she didn’t want to, “You can’t stay in there forever…”

         “Can,” came Lily’s muffled voice.

         “What’s going on?”

         Ginny had walked into the children’s bedroom, for she had heard Harry’s attempts to persuade Lily to do something, and she was curious as to what it was. Persuading Lily to do something she didn’t want to do was like trying to convince a Blast-Ended Skrewt that it wasn’t nice to burn people.

         “Lily’s locked herself inside her suitcase,” Harry said, turning to face Ginny with a sad facial expression.

         “How?” Ginny asked, kneeling beside Harry.

         “I have no idea…” Harry said, fingering the padlock on the zip with a futility that suggested he had reached the end of his tether when it came to bizarre antics regarding his children.

         “Rosie helped me,” Lily’s voice said triumphantly.

         “Oh for God’s sake…” Ginny said, putting her face in her hands, “I know it’s sad the holiday’s over, but I didn’t think it’d be this sad for them…”

         “ALOHAMORA!” Hermione’s voice suddenly shouted from behind the kneeling couple.

         “You idiot Harry!” Ginny thumped him, “Why didn’t you think of that?”

         Lily changed tactics at top speed; she clambered out of her suitcase and pegged it out the room, down the hall, and was only halted when she ran straight into two hairy men who she recognised as her brother and cousin.

         “WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR FACES?” she screamed.

        

***

 

“Well, that went quite smoothly,” Ron said, looking up at the house. Everything was finally packed, and the children had finally been convinced that it was a good thing that they were going home, a good thing.

         “What? The holiday?” Harry asked him.

         “Yeah…” Ron said surprised, “I thought it’d be far, far worse.”

         “Same actually…” agreed Harry, “It was fun.”

         “Mmm,” said Ron, nodding.

         “We’d best be going,” Hermione said consulting her watch.

         “OK,” said Harry.

         So they all climbed into the car, feeling slightly subdued that their holiday had ended, but deep down very pleased that they were returning home. After all, home’s important.

         This holiday had proven to James how much he loved being at home, and he suddenly thought about leaving in September to go to Hogwarts. For the first time, a sense of sadness penetrated his excitement. He wouldn’t see his parents and siblings everyday, and despite how much he complained about the lot of them, he would really miss them.

         And so with that thought in his head, James remained suspiciously quiet for the rest of the journey, pausing only to help Lily tie a pink ribbon into the napping Ron’s hair.

         Nobody told him about the ribbon until he arrived home. Ron wasn’t happy.

         But then he looked back at all the happy memories that the holiday had given him, and he then felt happy again. Very very happy.

         It was good to be happy, and it’s good to remember the things that make you happy, and for the whole Potter/ Weasley family, this holiday would always be one of them.

 

~*~*~*~

 

THE END

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