Chapter 2 : Shell Cottage
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Chapter Two – Shell Cottage
After saying goodbye for a good ten minutes to our parents and Lily, James and I eventually managed to pry ourselves out of our mum’s arms and Apparate to Cornwall, where Shell Cottage was based. Although he had no problem with Apparation, I couldn’t stand it. As soon as my feet hit the sandy dunes next to the sea, I fell to my knees and doubled over, feeling the urge to vomit uncontrollably.
Instead of laughing like most people would do, James knew of my distaste for Apparation and dropped down next to me to rub my back. When the nauseous feeling had passed, I gave him a grateful smile and clambered to my feet, still a bit shaky from the sensation Apparation caused. Instead of even attempting to drag our suitcases across the sand, we charmed them to float along behind us as we made our way over to the cottage.
When Fleur had Victoire, she knew she wanted to have more children so the cottage was extended to accommodate more than three people. Every room in the cottage was based on the one floor but since the extension, it had a lot more space. Bill and Fleur really went all out when they said they wanted to modernize.
When James and I reached the door, we both flinched when the sound of smashing cutlery and Louis’ raised voice met our ears. Swallowing back his nerves, James slowly reached out and knocked twice on the blue wooden door. The shouting stopped and there was a scuffling that could be heard just on the other side of the door before it swung open and Louis was standing in the doorway.
“You could not have picked a worse time to show up,” he muttered, smoothing his hands back through his gelled blond hair. He moved out of the way so we could step into the house; my jaw dropped at the sight of smashed plates, a broken coffee table and an overturned chair.
“What the hell happened?” I asked, gazing around the room at the mess.
“Well, Vic and Teddy; they love kids and all but they’re just not ready for that so they got a –”
Before Louis could finish, a loud barking echoed and bounced off the walls which was shortly followed by the appearance of a rather large black Labrador.
“He’s still a puppy, believe or not,” Louis said, grabbing the dog by the collar and holding him at his feet. “My mum is going to go into cardiac arrest when she sees the mess he’s made.”
“That one dog did all this?” James exclaimed loudly. “We’ll help you clean up. When is she back?”
“In about twenty minutes,” Louis groaned, letting go of the pup’s collar and watching him disappear into one of the back rooms. He straightened up, clapped his hands together eagerly and turned to us with a grin. “Who’s ready to clean up?” He let out a tiny laugh and pulled his wand out of his back jean pocket. “You guys said you’d help me.”
“No,” I began, holding my hand up. “James said he’d help. I’ll be outside.” Before my brother could get a word in, I dashed out of the house and hurried back out onto the beach. I lowered myself down onto the sand and stared out to sea, smiling at the small waves breaking at the shore. I passed my fingers through the sand next to me and wondered what it would be like to live next to the sea.
I quickly turned around to see Dominique making her way across the beach towards me. I got to my feet and brushed the sand off my jeans before greeting her with a quick wave. “All set for the summer?”
“Definitely,” she responded with an enthusiastic grin. “I got word this morning that a few of my friends from last year are going to be in Bordeaux this summer too. They might drop over to the house every once in a while.”
I cringed at the thought of getting together with Dominique’s French friends; I wasn’t the most social person in the world and meeting new people wasn’t exactly my cup of tea. Or coffee. I’m not a big fan of tea. Before I knew it, Dominique swung her arm around my neck and steered me back towards the house.
“Don’t worry about it, Al. I’m sure they’ll love you,” she said confidently.
Man, I wish I was a lot more...self-assured. I hung my head and sighed heavily. “What if they don’t?”
“Why wouldn’t they?” she asked, making a face as if my question was completely absurd. “They should consider themselves lucky to be getting the chance to meet you.”
Despite being a bit vain and self-absorbed, Dominique was easily one of my favourite cousins, even if she was always trying to match me up with one of her friends. Apparently I shouldn’t waste my “pretty face” reading books and spending my summer holidays at the Ministry helping my dad. Those were her words anyway.
When we walked back into the cottage, the place was tidy and the pup was lying in his bed in the corner of the kitchen. He was chewing on a rubber bone which had teeth marks and drool all over it. I grimaced in disgust. I never did have a soft spot for dogs.
“What did your mum think of the dog?” James asked, walking over to the fridge and grabbing a can of orange soda. He cracked it open and took a sip, accidently spilling some on the floor.
“She said it was better than a grandchild,” Louis snorted, throwing himself down onto the couch and kicking his feet together to remove his shoes.
“Ah, don’t get too comfortable,” Dominique scolded. “We’ll be leaving in about an hour.” She shoved James out of the way with a laugh and cleaned up the mess on the tiled floor. “You’re worse than the dog.”
“If you’re talking about James, I wholeheartedly agree,” a man’s voice drifted in through to the living room. I’d have noticed the cheeky grin and black hair flecked with blue a mile away. Teddy Lupin was sort of like a surrogate brother to me, James and Lily. As our dad’s godson, we saw him at least five times a week but nowadays, it was a bit less since he married Victoire.
The dog leapt out of its bed at the sight of him and began wagging his tail from side to side. He greeted the dog by scratching him under the chin and patting him on the head. “So, Louis, does he have a name yet?”
“You mean you haven’t named it yet?” I asked, raising my eyebrows in surprise.
“I said to Vic, ‘imagine if that were a baby instead of a dog’. We’d be fucked.”
My cousins and I spluttered with laughter and it took a while for us to regain our composures. I turned to Dominique and sighed. “Are we going yet? I hate waiting around.” I snagged James’ can as he passed by me and took a drink. “What time does our Portkey leave at anyway?”
Louis stole a glance at his watch and started counting on his fingers, his eyes pointed towards the ceiling. “It leaves in about three hours. We’re Flooing to the drop-off in Hampshire and we’ll just go from there.”
“We’re going to Hampshire?” I managed to say after getting over the overall shock of what Louis had said. “Which part?”
“Portsmouth,” he said slowly.
“It’s where the oldest and largest Portkey establishment is situated,” Teddy finished with a smile.
Being the total nerd that I am, I let out a tiny squeak and slopped the can of orange soda down the front of my shirt. “We’re going to Portsmouth? Really? That’s where Charles Dickens was born!”
“Who’s he? A Quidditch player?” Louis asked.
“He’s one of Albus’ favourite authors actually,” James slapped, shaking his head in dismay at his cousin. “And he died. A long time ago!”
“We’re going there to take our asses on holiday,” Dominique laughed, handing me a tissue to mop myself up. “Not to visit some dead guy’s birthplace.”
Despite my protests, I didn’t get my way and two hours later, we were saying goodbye and using the Floo Network to get to Hampshire. It was warm; maybe a bit too warm for the last week of June. We dragged our suitcases over to the front desk and checked in before trudging into the lobby and taking a seat while we waited for our Portkey.
“It’s just one stop, right?” James asked, looking around the area nervously. He hated Portkeys just as much as I hated Apparation. “From here to Bordeaux?”
Louis nodded from behind his copy of Quidditch, Quidditch, Quidditch, releasing a sigh of boredom as he carelessly flicked through the pages. “You’ll be fine, James. It’ll only take about thirty seconds to get from here to there.”
“How long has Teddy been planning this anyway?” I asked, taking a seat next to James and squeezing his shoulder in an attempt at calming his nerves. “Isn’t it really difficult to get a Portkey to a different country?”
“Well, sort of,” Dominique said with a shrug. “All Teddy had to do was go to the Ministry and Kingsley sorted the rest out. He got in touch with the French Minister and that was it. That was the Portkey stuff taken care of.” All the while Dominique was speaking, James was uttering low whimpers as if he was facing a death sentence.
“Couldn’t we just Floo?” he squeaked.
“Portkey is faster and more reliable,” Louis answered, setting his magazine down and rummaging around in his bag. “Albus, got any sugar quills with you?”
Normally I don’t share my sugar quills but Louis never took them without asking and even though he never admits it, the guilty look on James’ face always gives him away. No one messes with my sugar quills. Insert serious face here. I passed one of the spun-sugar sweets over to my cousin and pulled one out of the packet for myself.
“Albus?” Dominique spoke up, batting her eyelashes innocently. I let out a quiet laugh and passed her, as well as James, a sugar quill.
By the time the sugary floss was gone and I was left to chew on a plastic stick, our Portkey was set up and we were all set to go. I laughed at James rushing forward and gripping Dominique’s hand as we made our way outside where the ground was littered with random everyday objects such as hairbrushes, shoes and various pieces of cutlery.
We stopped walking and gathered around a large black tyre. I glanced over and spotted a pole driven into the ground next to it with a sign saying Weasley and Potter family tacked onto it.
“Right,” James drawled, glaring down at the tyre and kicking it with his foot. “So, how long will this take exactly?”
“About ten seconds,” Louis answered, dropping to his knees and placing a hand on the Portkey. Dominique and I did the same, having to persuade James seconds before there was a flash of light and we disappeared, along with the Portkey.
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