Chapter 1 : The Summer Slumps
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I was walking up and down the roads that were near my house. I always did that when I was nervous. For some odd reason, the rhythmic “up and down” motion lulled my brain almost into a trance. Walking continuously and consistently, up and down the same road forced me to focus on the path in front of me, rather than the thoughts that were blistering in my head. But today was a very special walk, a walk that occurred every single year and approximately around the same time as well. Today was the day I had to pack for my fifth year at Hogwarts. However, it’s not the packing that makes me nervous; the packing actually puts me at ease. It’s what my parents will evidently discuss with me today that bother me.
You see, going into my fifth year at Hogwarts means a lot of things. I’m becoming older, more mature, and what my parents dread the most, an adolescent. And to my parents, becoming an adolescent means that I snog anything that has a heartbeat and that I no longer have any self control. So, what they feel they need to do to “steer me in the right direction” is give me a talk and not just any talk. My parents want to give me the talk… the one where we talk about snogging, puberty, “changes” and sex. Now my nervous walking habit seems a little more understandable.
In addition to walking on the road being calming, the whole area around my house was very serene. It’s always nice to just breathe in some fresh air and enjoy the nature. Watching the birds and insects fly by, the clouds move and change into shapes and sometimes, even a frog or grasshopper would join me on my little promenade. I assume I should be grateful my parents are such quidditch fanatics. They wanted a house that had an enormous amount of space around it. Pastures and fields to play a little game of quidditch. Relaxed, peaceful and quiet… until my mother showed up.
“James! You need to come in now because I think it’s going to rain!” my mother shouted from an open window. She was obviously lying about the rain because it was an oddly sunny day with few clouds. She wanted to “talk”.
I begrudgingly made my way back into my home. It wasn’t an extremely old house with mould covering the walls and creaky floor boards. It was rather large and I would say it had an authentic look about it. Nothing too fancy, nothing too tacky.
As soon as I walked in, I was greeted by a considerably large and smelly mess on the floor. This was most likely my younger brother Albus’s work. He was always up to some sort of mischief before the start of school. Let’s just say his “walking up and down the road”, was playing minor pranks around the house.
My father was to my right in the living room. He was sitting in an armchair reading the Sunday Prophet even though it was Tuesday. He rarely read the Daily Prophet and if he did, he would just do the “fiendishly difficult” (his words, not mine) crossword. Instead of reading the Prophet, he would opt out of that and choose to read The Quibbler. He always mentioned The Quibbler supporting him in the past and the Daily Prophet being a sham of a newspaper. I think my father was famous or a hero or something like that when he was younger. Meh, it doesn’t really matter.
I can only imagine my younger sister Lily was upstairs writing in her diary. She was always writing something no matter what. She would write in her diary, stories, poetry, songs and even a novel or two. Unlike the rest of the family, she kept to herself quite a bit. She stayed up there in her room, in her own little world and occasionally came downstairs to eat and/or drink and/or grab something to read.
And then my mother appeared from the kitchen. I have no idea why she was there because she is positively one of the worst cooks on the planet. But, she was carrying a piece of paper with her. I could feel the talk was closing in on me. My father put down the Sunday Prophet and stood up and my mother was steadily approaching to my left. So I did the only rational thing possible… I sprinted to my room upstairs!
I could see the anger on their faces as I dashed to my safe haven. “Get back down here this instant, James!” my mother shouted behind me.
“Never,” I yelled in retort, “I will not talk to you about snogging, and I most certainly will never talk to you about SEX!” and I slammed the door to my room behind me. The house went dead silent. What felt like 10 minutes passed by before my father spoke.
“James…” my father said with a firm tone before pausing, “Sirius…” he uttered before yet another pause, “Pott…”
“DO NOT use my full name against me,” I cautioned from inside my room, “I am NOT six years old anymore, and that does NOT work on me!” This time, my voice echoed. Again, the house fell silent. At this point, you could cut the tension with a butter knife, but a butcher knife felt more fitting to this situation.
I just sat there on my bed, waiting for something to happen. Whether it be my parents making another attempt to converse with me, or Albus or Lily making a sarcastic comment about what just happened or even a pin dropping… I just sat there, waiting. Eventually, I could hear my parents sit down… my father first and then my mum. I could tell my father sat down first because when he plopped into an armchair he made more of a thud. He had gained some weight since his “glory days”. I gave out a sigh and lay down… until the silence had to be broken.
“I guess that emotional walk of yours did nothing for you,” Albus exclaimed from downstairs intentionally trying to anger me, “maybe you want me to get you some tissues and a romance novel?” And he began to cackle uncontrollably. I quickly stood up from my bed ready to get back at him; however Lily interrupted.
“What do you have against romance novels Albus?” Lily shrieked as she opened the door to her room.
“Sod off Lily,” Albus responded, “this doesn’t concern you!”
This was completely out of Lily’s character, but romance novels and novels in general are something that she is passionate about so I can only assume she was trying to defend something close to her. I gave up on those two at that point and sat back down on my bed. I scanned my room, looking for something to do to pass the time. I decided on throwing some darts at my dart board. Thankfully, throwing sharp things at a board helped me get rid of my aggression.
What in the world was I supposed to do? My parents were downstairs just waiting to talk and my two siblings were having at it… something had to be done. Dart after dart nothing came to mind. I was good at playing tricks on my family, but why couldn’t I think of any pranks? I had pulled so many tricks in the past and I was not about to end my record now. All of a sudden, it hit me like a ton of bricks.
I dropped the darts that were still in my hand and I ran to my desk. I grabbed a piece of lined paper from the shelf above me and a pencil from the case in front of me. The ideas from my brain just flowed from my brain, to the pencil and finally to the paper. I sat there, feverishly writing for what I can only assume to have been hours and hours. (I checked the clock after I finished and about five minutes had passed, but details, details.)
There it was, in my aching and partially shaking hands, the master prank plan to end all master prank plans. A prank for my brother, for my sister, for my mother and for my father… it was all there and it was full proof. Unfortunately for my family, there was no way of getting around these tricks, and dare I say, I’m in for a treat. The Potter pre-school slump was over… and the real James was back!
Consequently, my plan had to wait and sit on the back-burner for a while. For it to go into full effect, my family would have to vacate the house completely. But, what was I to do? It’s not like I could just throw them out the window and command them to take a walk for an hour or two. So just as fast as my return had begun, it had come to a screeching halt. I took my plan with me to my bed as I lay down again.
I looked over the sheet for the fifth time just to make sure nothing could go wrong. It was positively flawless and I was more than ready to make it happen. While waiting on the bed, I could hear the continuous ruckus going on downstairs. I know Albus had just said something offensive because mum had just let out an “I have never!” and Lily had slammed her door shut. Such a typical occurrence, it barely fazed me… on the other hand this could be my chance!
Returning to my desk, I got another sheet of paper and with my pencil, wrote a little note to Lily asking her to unlock the door to her room. It read:
Do not worry about Albus. He is an immature and selfish jerk that makes fun of others for his own entertainment. I hope you can let me into your room so that we can discuss your feelings on this situation.
Your loving brother,
James Sirius Potter
If this note didn’t get to her, then nothing would. Lily was going to be the first participant in my master prank plan, whether she liked it or not.
Latching onto the door handle of the door to my room, I turned it ever so slowly. I needed to make sure no one heard me as I left my room and entered Lily’s. Thankfully, the door barely made a sound as I opened it and it made a minor clicking noise as I shut it. It was utterly silent, so I tip-toed my way to Lily’s door. As I had expected, she had locked the door after she shut it so it was time for the note. Slowly, I slipped the note I had written underneath the small gap between her door and the floor. The only thing I could do from there was to wait for her to read the note and decide whether or not to let me in.
Spontaneously, the door opened and I was welcomed to pitch-darkness. I quickly jumped to my feet, ran in and shut the door behind me, locking it so that no one could enter. Before she could say anything loudly, I put one of my hands on her mouth and the other on my mouth as I whispered an audible “Shhhhhhhh.” Lily nodded to signal her understanding of the situation and so I led her to her bed where we sat down.
Something was very odd about her room. It was very dark and certain objects were difficult to even see. Everything looked like a shadowy outline and I had never seen something so creepy in the house. Generally all the rooms were illuminated by the sunlight that would shine through the windows. But, Lily had covered her windows with a thick black fabric. I had to say something before I started to discuss Albus.
“What on earth have you done to your room Lily?” I questioned while looking around the room in awe.
“Oh, I always do this to my room whenever someone upsets me. It makes me feel like it is night time so that way I can fall asleep and forget about whatever happened.” She said softly with a slight grin on her face.
“Right, so about Albus,” I paused slightly to nod slowly and flutter my eyelashes dramatically, “I don’t want you to worry about him. He’s just an immature little boy who wants to mess with your hea—”
“Wait, since when do you care about how or what I feel?” She blurted out, interrupting me mid-speech.
“Well, I, um…” I made sure to be as dramatic and convincing as possible, “this is very hard for me to say, but I care about you.” As I said this I made sure to lightly pat her shoulder. “And, I know you might not think it, but when things like this happen to you, I hurt inside.” I explained while pounding on my heart.
This event, took Lily for a little loop. Her eyes got very big and she moved back slightly. She held onto the bed as if something had pushed her. This was it; I had got her hook, line and sinker. She inhaled awkwardly for a little while before responding.
“So… um… Albus… you…” she stuttered for a bit trying to find her words, “what do you think… what are your thoughts… on what I should do with Albus?” She muttered while her voice cracked.
“In my honest, trustworthy, brotherly and wise opinion, you should just go for a walk with mum. You two can talk over what happened today with Albus and mum can figure out his punishment.” I exclaimed optimistically.
“But mum would never leave Albus alone with you and dad, right?” She said raising one eyebrow.
“Oh of course, you’re 100 percent correct as usual,” I paused to give her a nudge and a smile, “but you could convince dad to do something with Albus while you and mum are gone! So, do we have a deal?” I said while gesturing my hand forward.
At the point, I could tell Lily completely believed my sob story because her eyes became slightly watery. She stuck out her hand and shook mine, and that was that. We both stood up and I went for the door, but she decided to get rid of the thick curtain first. The room was illuminated extremely quickly and it hurt my eyes. Finally, Lily walked up to the door beside me and opened it. We carefully made out way to the stairwell that was down the hall. The carpet beneath us helped to dull the sound of our steps. However, the wooden floor boards had a mind of their own. Lily and I were approaching the stairs when one of the boards creaked horrifically.
Out of fear, we both stopped dead in our tracks. I had no idea what to do, but I knew my room was near so I grabbed Lily and threw her into my room, locking the door behind me.
“Listen, when you go down there, make sure to be very firm with mum and stand your ground. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.” I clarified one last time before she went down.
At that moment, we could hear someone downstairs shifting. The person was moving out of a chair and it could only be one of our parents.
My father began to speak, “Lily? James? Could one of you come down here plea—”
“Lily, go!” I exclaimed all the while interjecting my father’s plea.
And with that, I shoved Lily out of my room and into the hallway. I made sure to keep a look out by keeping my door ajar enough that I could see fairly well, but that no one could see me. Cautiously, Lily went down the stairs and Albus’ voice was audible. There was some chatting going on; however due to my distance from the living room, I couldn’t hear clearly. Unfortunately, I just had to wait this one out and hope for the best.
There was truly nothing left for me to do so I got to my feet, closed the door and went looking for my plan. I moved the blanket and pillows off my bed and it was nowhere to be seen. This was probably the worst case scenario. I picked up the blanket and pillows individually to make sure they weren’t lost somewhere in them. I even removed the pillow cases from the pillows and still nothing. At the end of my bed search, my room was a mess. I checked in my trunk, on my desk, in my shelves and I came up with nothing. My heart was racing at this point and my room looked like a hurricane and/or tsunami and/or tornado and/or volcano and/or earthquake had hit it.
Now, I had to retrace my steps to find that key sheet of paper! If it wasn’t in my room, where could it be? If I was an amazing, and awesome sheet of paper where would I be? The questions popped in my head one after the other. Suddenly, the realization of where I left the paper hit me like a ton of bricks. The only room I had been in other than mine was Lily’s room. I jolted for the door but had to stop myself abruptly before even touching the door knob. I could quite clearly hear Lily walking up the stairs. She was probably getting her coat before leaving for the walk.
“Shit!” I whispered to myself as I stood there biting my nails.
There was not much else for me to do… I had to prevent Lily from seeing that sheet no matter the consequences. I sprinted to her room quicker than one of those muggle runners. Inside her room however, I could see her with the paper in her hand. I had no choice; I had to stop her from looking at that paper.
“LILY, DON’T TOUCH THAT PAPER! YOU DON’T WANT A PAPER CUT BEFORE YOUR WALK!” I yelled so loud it echoed in the room. The rest of family either heard me yelling about paper cuts or they were outside waiting for Lily, I wasn’t sure.
“Merlin’s beard James, why on earth are you yelling so loud and what are you yelling about? Paper cuts? And what is this paper about?” She asked firmly while standing up and holding the paper to my face.
“DO NOT HOLD PAPER LIKE THAT LILY, YOU WILL HURT YOURSELF!” I screamed and with that, I took the paper right from her hands. She was so bewildered and confused she didn’t know what to do. And before she could do anything, I grabbed her and her coat.
“Lily you know better than to not play with paper. Do you like paper cuts? Do you like paper? Paper comes from trees, do you like trees? Trees have leaves, do you like leaves? Or do you prefer branches? Birds make nests in trees, do you like nests? Or do you like birds? Oh look, there’s the door. Out you go. Enjoy yourself and stay safe.” I bombarded her with questions to get her out of the house.
“Dad wanted to know if you would like to go with us.” Lily uttered trying to get a word in.
“No bye!” I said firmly and pushed her outside. I shut the door and locked it.
I slowly fell to the floor panting in fear. My breathing was nowhere near consistent and I was so lost over what had just happened. All I know is I just made up the worst cover in history. Did I seriously just try to catch my mistake by yelling at her about paper cuts? On top of that, I literally kicked her out of the house. What just went down was the definition of an overreaction. Lily probably thinks I’m some freak and/or knows I’m planning to prank her and the rest of the family. I was hoping she didn’t and maybe she had just picked up the sheet when I walked into the room. I was going with that and sticking with it, whether she thought I was crazy or not.
I picked myself up off of the ground and got back to my plan. If I went through all the trouble of making this plan, I wasn’t about to let it all fail because of my sister’s suspicion. First, I was going to get to work on Lily’s prank, then Albus’s and then my parents’ last. My master prank plan was going to come to fruition.
Knowing what Lily valued most in her life, it was pretty easy to pull a prank on her. My idea for her was to take all her books and journals and hide them under Albus’s bed. Then, I would leave a trail of scraps of paper to Albus’s room, and finally a large pile of ripped up papers in the middle of his room. Lily is left thinking that her dearest books are no more, but Albus gets blamed for all of it and I pull off an amazing prank.
I ran to Lily’s room and slowly, took out each and every book out and placed it neatly and orderly under Albus’s bed. I didn’t want her books to actually get damaged because if they did, I wouldn’t be alive. However, carrying these books was not as simple as I had planned. She had dozens upon dozens of books and I had to take about six at a time if I was ever going to finish. For some odd reason, her books were incredibly heavy and felt like they weighed a lot more than they were supposed to. By the time I had transferred all the books, I was exhausted and laid on my bed. Sadly, this was not one of the best ideas because I ended up asleep.
I woke up to the sound of voices outside. My family was already back and I hadn’t finished my parents’ prank. Thankfully, I had planned for this type of a situation. I had “Plan B”s for every prank on my master prank plan. So I quickly grabbed some muggle fishing wire and placed across the door to my parents’ room. It was stretched out to make it the tightest possible and that way if anyone tried to get into the room (my parents) they would trip and fall flat on their faces. Also, muggle fishing wire made for the best trip wire because it was clear and made it seem like there was nothing there.
Going back to my room, I closed my door and made it seem like nothing had happened at all. But, I kept my ear against my door so that I could hear everything that was going on. I could hear the door opening and the voices of my family flooded the house. However, I could hear other voices that weren’t my family’s. There was the voice of a boy and an older man that weren’t Albus or my dad. The boy’s voice sounded like Fred, my best friend and cousin. The man’s voice sounded just like Fred’s except deeper. I opened the door to see that Fred and his father were downstairs. Why on earth were they here? As long as they stayed out of my plans, I was fine with them being here.
Everything appeared to be going normally. They were chatting in the lobby and I could hear my parents and Uncle George moving into the living room. My parents had sat down and I had a third noise that sounded like someone sitting on the sofa. Unfortunately, I couldn’t hear Albus or Lily. They seemingly disappeared from the lobby so they were either in the kitchen or walking very slowly up the stairs. I tried to peek out of my room again, but I fell out instead. On the floor, I could see that no one was in the hallway so I made my way to Lily’s room. Her room was empty, but the scraps of paper that I left that led to Albus’s room were gone. My only option left was to go to Albus’s room and see if anything was going on there.
I opened the door to his room ever so slightly and was welcomed by someone pushing the door in my face. I gave out an “Ow!” and the door opened fully this time. Inside, Lily and Albus were taking the books from underneath his bed.
“What… what are you guys doing?” I questioned cautiously and was welcomed by vicious glares.
“I read your plan James, I’m not stupid. I thought something was wrong when you were being unexpectedly nice to me, and seeing that list only reaffirmed my suspicions.” She said in a monotone manner. At this point, the room was silent and you could hear a pin-drop. I specifically remember something shifting behind me, but when I turned around nothing was there.
“So, um… you know, we can forget about all of this and move along, right?” I asked hoping for a kind response.
Oh sure James, we’d just like you pick up all of these books for us though, seeing as you did put them here in the first place.” Albus uttered while picking another book out from under his bed.
“I can do that for you guys, I mean, we are family!” I said with a chipper tone to my voice.
“But first, dad wanted to see you in his and mum’s room. Something about trip wire?” Albus exclaimed while shrugging.
At that exact moment, my palms got very sweaty and I started to shake slightly. I exited from the room and looked down the hall to see Fred on my father and mother’s bed. It was a very odd sight and I turned my head slightly in confusion. Fred began to signal me to come forward by moving his hand. I slowly approached the room, but saw that Fred became more and more frantic so I ran. And stupid me forgot about the trip wire and I landed flat on my face in my parents’ room.
“Fuck Fred, you could have at least warned me.” I barked while rubbing my elbows from the pain. However, Fred’s grin turned into a frown when I finished speaking.
Turning around I saw my own father and Uncle George standing in front of the now closed and locked door. Uncle George and my dad were good friends, but I had never seen them quite like this. I backed away slowly and eventually fell onto the bed beside Fred.
“You see boys, when a witch and a wizard love each other very much…” my father began.
After about 30 minutes, the door to my parents’ bedroom opened up again and Fred and I were left shocked. It was the most awkward situation I had ever been and to add on top of that, my best friend had to be there as well.
“I’ll see you at school James.” Fred said while getting up and walking away. He was even too shocked for words.
“Yeah, see… you… there, Fred.” I stuttered and barely got my words out.
I quickly got up off the bed and left the room which was only left occupied by my laughing father and Uncle George. I slowly opened the door to my room and was welcomed by an enormous amount of scrap papers on my head. They were from the pile I had left in Albus’s room and a note was left on the floor that read:
Don’t mess with us.
Your caring siblings.
My master prank plan had been a bust. I tried so hard to get out of my pre-school rut, but failed so badly. Now I was just covered with papers and more than likely grounded for a month. I had never been so excited for school and so scarred mentally, in my life.
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