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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.

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