Chapter 3 : Bordeaux
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Chapter Three – Bordeaux
We arrived in Bordeaux just after lunchtime when the sun was at its brightest. We stayed behind at the Portkey administration office for a few minutes extra while we waited for James to stop puking his guts out. Louis and I stepped outside, leaving Dominique to look after the boy with the weak stomach. I can’t say much; I hate Apparation just as much as James hates Portkeys.
I held my hand up to my brow as the sun caught my eyes, momentarily blinding me. “I didn’t think it was going to be this sunny,” I said, gazing around the vicinity with fascination. “I hope I don’t get lost.”
“You won’t get lost,” Louis laughed, lowering himself down onto the ground and leaning back against the wall. He patted the ground beside him and slipped a pair of sunglasses over his eyes. “Just don’t wander off on your own. Not until you get used to the place at least. We’ll be here for the next two and a half months; might as well enjoy it.”
Before I could respond, Dominique walked out, holding up a pale-faced James. “Let’s get going,” she said quietly. “James could use some sleep right about now.” We walked the ten-minute journey to the nearby railway station, Gare de Bordeaux-Saint-Jean. We bought our tickets and hopped onto the train, holding James up during the entire train ride.
After about thirty minutes, we began passing through the countryside and another fifteen minutes later, we finally reached our stop. The fresh air brought some colour back to James’ cheeks and he had perked up a bit as soon as we stepped off the train. I stared over at the luscious green fields and vineyards, smiling to myself as I thought of doing nothing but sleeping and, as Louis said, making the most of my time away from the parents.
“Shall we get a move on then? I’m starving,” Louis announced, picking up his suitcase and leading the way. From what I saw, Bordeaux was just a region of vineyards and a couple of spread-out ancient châteaux surrounded by green valleys. I exhaled loudly through my nose when we reached the Delacour’s summer home, widening my eyes at the sight of it.
The house was made of white marble and positively huge. I would have passed it off as a manor if Louis hadn’t said a while back that it was just a house. It was located right next to the Delacour’s own vineyard and had a private garden with a terrace and a swimming pool.
“I could get used to this,” James muttered from beside me. We made our way up the gravel pathway and gawped up at the porch’s colossal size. Dominique quickly unlocked the front door and ushered everyone inside. The sound of our footsteps bounced off the walls and echoed in the silent hallway. We left our cases against the wall and walked into the kitchen, smirking as Louis hurried forward and dived into the fridge as soon as he saw it.
“Alright lads,” Dominique cried, sweeping her bag off her shoulder and throwing it onto the kitchen floor. “This house is yours for the summer. You can do whatever the hell you like. Just...respect the fact that I’m a girl and don’t you dare walk around the house naked.”
“Sorry James,” I laughed, nudging my brother in the ribs.
“Hey, I don’t walk around the house naked!” James yelled.
“I do,” Louis said with a huge grin on his face. Dominique scoffed in disgust and shuddered at the reminder. “Well, it serves you right for telling me you wouldn’t be home until Sunday but then you actually came home on Saturday!”
James and I clutched our sides from laughing so hard. After we had settled down, while Louis and Dominique fought over rooms, I decided to check around. James caught up with me upstairs and we went to choose our rooms.
“This house is huge,” I said breathlessly, stepping into the nearest bedroom and gazing around. The walls were the lightest shade of baby blue I’d ever seen whereas everything else was white. For a second, I thought I had died and gone to Heaven. I don’t normally go for bright rooms like this one but the view was enough to make up for it. The vineyard seemed to stretch on for miles. I pushed the window open and stuck my head out, smiling at the sight of Louis preparing a barbecue on the terrace.
“Pick a room then?” he called up to me.
I turned around, eager to get started on unpacking, when a small pointy-faced creature with huge ears hurried into the room with my suitcase floating along behind it. I fell backwards onto the bed, quickly scooting over when the elf made to drop my case onto my lap. “Uh...thanks,” I muttered, staring down at the floor and admiring my shoes.
I don’t like house elves and no matter how many times Aunt Hermione tries to make me think different, I will always see them as creepy little buggers who haven’t got an ounce of independence. The elf walked back out of the room without saying a word, leaving me to unpack in piece. The sound of two arguing siblings met my ears and I rushed back over to the window to see what was going on.
“Remember last time you cooked?” Louis yelled, waving a spatula in front of Dominique’s face. “You gave us all food poisoning!”
“I was fourteen!” Dominique shouted back. “I’m better at cooking now and if you wave that thing at me one more time, I’ll shove it up your –”
“You really don’t want to finish that sentence,” Louis snarled, narrowing his eyes at his sister.
“Or what? Eh, Blondie?”
Louis slapped the spatula back onto the barbecue grill and grabbed his sister around the waist, throwing her over his shoulder.
“Louis William Weasley, put me down this instant!” Dominique screeched, pounding her fists against the boy’s back and kicking his front. “Don’t you dare throw me in that pool.”
A wicked grin crossed Louis’ innocent face and in a split second, he turned on his heel and headed towards the swimming pool. “I was actually going to put you back inside and lock you in but throwing you in the pool sounds like a much better idea.”
Despite Dominique’s shrieking protests, Louis pushed his sister away from his shoulder and threw her, fully-clothed, into the freezing cold water. She resurfaced seconds later, spluttering and shivering and calling Louis every single bad name she could think of.
“Enjoy your swim,” Louis sang before hurrying back onto the terrace and getting back to preparing the barbecue.
“’e got you good, Domi,” a voice with a strong French accent said from the side entrance to the garden. I poked my head further out the window and glimpsed a dark-haired girl walking onto the grass and heading towards Dominique, who was climbing out of the pool. “I wasn’t expecting to see you zis soon,” she added.
Before my cousin could answer, she glimpsed me hanging out of my bedroom window and smirked. “Al, be a gent and go get me a towel?”
Dominique’s French friend turned around just as I managed to make a fool of myself by banging the back of my head off the window. She giggled quietly and glanced around the garden when I disappeared back into my room. “Who was zat?” she asked Dominique, raising an eyebrow quizzically.
“Oh, that was Albus. My cousin. He and his brother, James, decided to come along with us.”
“Ems!” Louis bounded off the porch and ran towards the girl, gathering her up in a tight, bone-crushing hug. “Look at you, ey? Still as gorgeous as ever.”
“Charmer,” she responded, giving him a cheeky grin. “You’ve gotten taller.”
While she and Louis were talking, I grabbed a towel from one of the bathrooms and raced downstairs before Dominique could develop frostbite. I crossed the patio and leapt down the steps leading into the garden, the towel held to my chest. I hurried over to Dominique and passed it to her. She gave me a smile of thanks and threw the towel around her shoulders.
“Oh, right, yeah,” Louis said, looking up and spotting me over his friend’s shoulder. “Come and meet Albus.” He pulled the girl over towards me and dropped onto a deck chair. “Albus, this is Emmeline.”
“Louis and I have known her since we were kids,” Dominique said, taking a seat at the pools’ edge and dipping her feet into the water after she had removed her wet socks and shoes.
I caught Emmeline smiling at me out of the corner of my eye and turned around to introduce myself properly.
“Bienvenue en France, Albus,” she said, taking my outstretched hand and shaking it. “Is zis your first time to Bordeaux?”
I nodded my head, giving her a weak smile. “I’ve been to Paris though.”
“We should journey up to Paris while you’re all ‘ere,” Emmeline said, turning to face Louis and Dominique. “It will not take zat long. ‘ow about it?”
“Sounds good to me,” Louis said cheerfully.
“Louis, what happened to that barbecue?” I asked in a stiff tone.
He leapt out of his seat and raced back up onto the terrace, bursting into song as he heated up the grill. “Who wants a burger?” he shouted to no one in particular.
Dominique glanced back at me and Emmeline and smirked. “I’m just gonna go get changed? Where’s James?”
“He’s unpacking,” I said, taking Louis’ abandoned seat. “Or most likely sleeping.”
“I’ll just go...wake him up.” Dominique raised both eyebrows at me before hurrying across the garden and rushing back into the house, leaving Louis to deal with the barbecue and me to deal with Emmeline. I know I’ve told you I’m rubbish when it comes to girls. I’m not confident...not like Louis and James. I caught the girl eyeing me again which made me feel uncomfortable. I stared down at my lap and began twiddling my fingers.
“So, Albus,” she started, taking a seat on the deck chair next to mine and reaching into her pocket. “What do you like to do, huh?” She held a packet of cigarettes out towards me which I declined with a vigorous shake of my head. “...désolé,” she whispered.
“You do not like smoking,” she said quietly.
“N-no, no...I mean...no, I d-don’t mind it,” I stammered, feeling my cheeks heat up. Curse my ability to blush so easily. “My brother smokes.”
Emmeline raised her eyebrows at me and smiled. “Let’s start over then, shall we?”
She slipped her cigarettes back into the pocket of her shorts and held her hand out. “Forget you ever saw them.”
I gave her a small smile before offering my hand as well. “Albus Potter.”
“Emmeline Perrot,” she whispered, shaking my hand and giving it a gentle squeeze. I tore my glance away from our clasped hands and stared up at her, surprised to see her eyes boring into mine. She has a beauty mark just below her left eye....
Pretend you didn’t hear that.
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