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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.”

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