“This is pretty!” Lily said rapturously, clapping her hands together, “It’s just like home! Only a little bit different.”
“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.
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