Chapter 1 : Chapter 1
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“Not today,” replied James, none too gently.
Lily again repeated her request, this time more stubbornly, “I wanna help, I wanna help, I WANNA HEEEELP!”
James quickly looked around, hoping that Lily’s outburst hadn’t drawn any attention to him, “Okay, you can be the lookout…just, shhhhh!”
“Okay,” she squealed, skipping away happily humming merrily to herself.
James turned around, hoping to get some headway before Lily came back. He stealthily made his way to his parents’ room, hoping that it was unlocked. Curiosity was alive and healthy in the Potter household and James was not one to hold back. His parents’ room had always been forbidden, a kind of sanctuary where he was never allowed. It annoyed him to an extent, for he always liked to feel included.
This, of course, was just another one of his games. How far could he push his way through before his parents cracked?
He approached the hall where his parents’ bedroom was located but had only moved three steps when Ginny called him downstairs for breakfast.
Denied access to the room, James slowly made his way downstairs. His stomach grumbled appreciatively at the site of one of his favorite breakfast choices: Pancakes topped with butter and a healthy helping of maple syrup. James had barely replenished his hunger when Lily cleared her throat ostentatiously, easily getting everyone’s attention.
With a side-glance at James, she relayed her question to Ginny, “Mama, what are you hiding in your room…?”
James stared pointedly at Lily, horrified at her sudden betrayal. He had thought that allowing her to participate in his illegal activities had certainly silenced her; he was obviously wrong.
“…because me and James are going on a mission, right James?”
James managed to grimace at her before quickly replying, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” He stared down at his now close-to-empty plate, avoiding Ginny’s eyes.
“Well, I have nothing to hide, but you have to ask permission first,” replied Ginny. Leaning in closer to James, she whispered, “but I would get a better lookout than Lily.”
James stared questioningly at Ginny. “How did…how… how did you know?” he asked.
Ginny smiled reminiscently, remembering all the evenings she had spent plotting with Fred and George. “Uncle Fred and Uncle George were always getting into heaps of trouble, only I used to be the lookout. Maybe I can give you some pointers, Lily.”
The kitchen door opened and Harry walked in. Ginny smiled at the sight of him. His hair was ruffled, his glasses were askew, and he was wearing red shorts.
“What’s going on?” he managed to say, stifling a yawn.
“Nothing,” replied Ginny casually, handing Harry his breakfast and winking at James as she passed by.
James rolled his eyes at his mother’s back and quickly finished up his breakfast. Then he left the table and took the steps to the stairs three at a time, eager to resume his morning activities. When he arrived at the landing he realized that an out-of-breath Albus was a flight below him. He smiled darkly; of course Albus would want to be included too.
Panting, Albus said, “James, I want to help too, how come Lily gets to – I want to.”
James looked away, pretending to weigh his options.
“This is not something that you or Lily can help with; you’ll just make everything harder.”
Albus looked down, clearly disappointed. James sighed and pretended to give it another thought.
“Oh okay, just promise to do whatever I say.”
Albus’ emerald eyes glinted with happiness and he gleefully jumped in the air singing, “We’re going on a mission, we’re going on a mission, we’re going on a mission.”
James glanced wearily at Albus. In mirth Albus looked so much like Harry, all he needed was a scar to match his emerald eyes. His hair was the exact texture and color of Harry’s hair, and his eyes held the same radiant glow. At that moment of happiness, his eyes shined most peculiarly, the emerald green standing out clearly next to the black of his pupil.
James sighed, “Albus, keep it down, it’s supposed to be a secret mission.”
It was agonizing. Agonizing…
The way the sun rose in the morning, slowly inching its way up toward his window, it would at one point break through with its rays so bright, planting a dull ache in the back of his head, not allowing him to sleep. And yet Harry was happy to see the sun rise every morning. It would remind him everyday of how fortunate he was. He had the ideal family: James, the roguish one, Lily, the sweet, clever one, and Albus, the spitting image of himself in actions as well as appearances.
Harry thought that James reminded him of his own father, or at least how he imagined his father was in the past. Lily resembled Ginny; her air of compassion and her fiery confidence always brought an indulgent smile to his face.
Harry reflected quietly on the past, something he found himself during more and more often as his children grew older. He couldn’t wait for James to receive his letter from Hogwarts. It would feel like he was simply reliving the past through his children’s eyes, but they would hopefully have an easier, safer experience.
Harry would soon teach James the secrets of Hogwarts: The Room of Requirement, the Shrieking Shack, and perhaps a few secret passageways. It would be unnerving if James grew up ignorant of all the wonders of Hogwarts. And when the time came, Harry would pass down the third of the Deathly Hallows: the invisibility cloak. As of now, he believed that James was too young and immature to handle such a momentous article. Little did he know that James had ideas of his own.
Soft snores emanated from James’s room. The snores continued in a recurring pattern until they suddenly died away. They resumed their pattern for a while longer, and then they were muffled in the still silence of the morning air.
James woke up suddenly. There were two small figures at the foot of his bed. Without his glasses the figures went in and out of focus. James picked up his glasses and wasn’t surprised to see Albus and Lily looking up at him cheekily. They lingered staring profoundly at each other in an eye-to-eye combat for the span of thirty seconds in utter silence. Then suddenly in a swift movement, he attacked. They were already at the door: the chase had begun.
The chase usually went down to the kitchen, out to the back yard, down to the dark dungeon, and finally, when the prey grew tired, up to Harry and Ginny’s room. At which point Harry, now accustomed to the chase, would take out his wand and simply place an invisible barrier between the children. The children would futilely fight the barrier then revert to screaming out, accusing each other of near impossible feats. James would shout, “THEY TRIED TO SUFFOCATE ME AGAIN!” Albus would exclaim that he had done no such thing, and Lily would simply whine about being hungry, but all would be drowned out by Ginny’s voice exclaiming about the discomfort of being waken up too early in the morning. After the chase, the custom in the Potter household was to go back to sleep for a couple more hours.
On this particular morning, James woke up from his after-chase slumber with his mind set on one thing: he was to penetrate his parents’ room and hopefully find where his father had hidden all of his old school things. His intention was just to have a look around in his father’s secret drawer. Harry’s secret drawer had been occupying James’s thoughts for a while; his curiosity was a force to be reckoned with and often lead him to act rather recklessly. James had promised Albus and Lily that he would include them in his scheme and James was not one to break promises. Lily and Albus would be more than happy to oblige.
Three figures adorning great black cloaks walked in a single file line. The first figure had hair of a deep auburn, glinting in the light that managed to escape from the widow panes across the hall. The cloak seemed to engulf this figure, for it was clearly not made to fit her, nor made for her intents. The second figure would frequently tread over the cloak of the first figure, he would then slow down and consequently the third figure would run into him. The third figure was confident and walked with a swagger. He would huff loudly whenever the second figure happened to slow down and run into him.
The three figures walked on until they reached a small expanse of wall that stood out clearly because of its gleaming notoriousness. The hidden room beyond belonged to their parents and was strictly out of bounds without explicit permission. The door would appear during the night in case any of the Potter children had an emergency, and in the early morning so as to break up the chase once it had reached Harry and Ginny’s room.
It did not, however, appear at present. The entrance required the visitors to the room to declare their reason for entering, and the wall was smart enough to identify dishonesty. In most cases the entrance became impenetrable and would not even accept any visitors.
James knocked on the wall and whispered, “We’re on a secret mission, and we want to see some of my dad’s stuff.”
Perhaps it was the sheer honesty with which he spoke, or the innocence with which he presented himself, or maybe the wall was just having a good day, whatever the reason, a door appeared with a brass knob but no keyhole. James was surprised that the wall had yielded to him so easily. He moved forward and pushed open the door, any misgivings he could’ve had earlier disappeared, for he was now successfully in the vacancy and he wouldn’t leave until he achieved his heart’s desires.
Harry and Ginny’s room was very unique. It was fashioned after the Gryffindor common room. The door opened onto a little sitting room with large armchairs and a welcoming fire. Everything was lavished in the Gryffindor colors and the Gryffindor lion hung over a huge bed of the finest wood.
The wood held small engraved leaves of a becoming golden hue. Large stone lions stood on either side of the bed, each one hid a flight of stairs that led to their respective studies. At the moment, the room appeared to be deserted. Lily, James, and Albus walked in, all caution dropped for the time being.
“Okay, remember your code names,” James reminded them.
“Flower, you’re stationed at the door, if you see anyone coming you must warn us.”
James was addressing Lily; Lily however was looking curiously around apparently unaware that James was addressing her.
“Lily, that’s you,” whispered Albus. Lily looked around. James hit his head with his palm. “This is what I have to deal with!”
Lily stationed herself by the door, and Albus was instructed to be second lookout in case Lily grew distracted, which occurred often.
In the span of minutes, James had found the drawer he was looking for. He had hoped it wouldn’t be up in his father’s study, which he had never entered before. The hidden objects he was seeking were in fact in the sitting room portion of the room, in a drawer by the fireplace.
“Twinkle…twinkle little star…” Lily was singing, horribly off tune.
Albus glanced at Lily with worried eyes, and then retreated to the interior of the room for fear of being chided by his older brother.
“James…I mean, uh, Papa Lion, Lily isn’t doing her job.”
James turned around, clearly annoyed by this distraction. Albus was waiting, for he plainly wanted to see Lily rebuked. James however was too preoccupied. A smile was planted on his inquisitive face.
The golden snitch glinted dully from the back of the drawer, a shard of a mirror gleamed red, reflecting the sun’s rays, a destroyed golden locket was stashed in the corner of the drawer, and a broom bearing the legend “Firebolt” stood among other old possessions. James reached in, groping for anything within reach. His hand closed on an extremely old parchment. He was about to throw it back into the drawer when he heard something that made his heart skip a beat.
Lily had stopped singing, and Albus stood over him in stony silence, listening. A door in the back of the room slowly opened. James tucked whatever was in his hands down the pocket of his big black robes.
A figure, hard to discern because of the sun’s rays illuminating only certain parts of it, backed out of the room. The figure was humming to itself. James and Albus slowly began to back out of the room, but not before the figure turned around.
Harry was only wearing a white towel, precariously knotted over his hip. He froze and looked from one figure to the other. Lily was the first to break out of the reverie. She screamed and ran for the door. Albus hurriedly followed her.
James froze. It was to his advantage that Harry was only wearing a towel, which clearly extinguished his chances of winning a chase in any case. Fear mingled with amusement, and James ran out of the room before he could burst out laughing.
James made it to his room and found Lily already there, running around continuing her unfinished song. He dragged her out of the room and sat on his bed. James suddenly let out a howling fit of laughter, he couldn’t help remembering his father’s facial expression and the way he clutched the fluffy white towel to his body, that image was certainly going to stick.
His laughter subsided into silence as he was faced with the overwhelming possibility of being cursed by Ginny, whose temper was wondrous to behold. He frowned, shrugged to himself and put his hands into his pocket. There was a moment of confusion before he recalled the old piece of parchment that he had hastily stowed into his pockets in his haste to leave the room.
He took out the parchment and gazed at it thoughtfully. There had to be a purpose to it, his father wouldn’t keep a simple old piece of parchment in his special keepsakes drawer without a legitimate reason.
James ran into the hall and toward the door at the end of the corridor. It led off to a rickety flight of stairs that tilted off into the back yard. At the bottom landing, near the door, there was a light switch, and near it there had always been a spare wand. Harry had placed it there in case the family was attacked and he was unable to procure his wand in his haste. The children of the Potter household were instructed not to play with the wand, but they were also instructed to stay out of their parents’ room, not much good that rule did them.
James pocketed the wand, glided back to his room, and took up his place on the bed again. He cautiously took out the wand. Fingering it thoughtfully, he pointed it at the yellowing piece of parchment.
Then James whispered, as if by stroke of inspiration, “I solemnly swear I am up to no good,” for in all honestly, he was.
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