Chapter 3 : Forming the Grand Plan
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But how was I going to sleep in this scary wood with nothing but leaves underneath me, when I was already sleepy? How was I going to make it?
If only I had known what was metres away!
Instead, I tried to make myself more comfortable on the slightly curved branch. It wasn’t very easy, of course – it never is very comfy when you’re thirty feet in the air.
As I was on the outside, the wind rushing through the branches was stinging me more than Hugo, but he didn’t complain as I shuffled us nearer and nearer to the trunk of the tree. I wanted to be as safe as possible, and on this cold night, as warm as I could be.
The breeze stirred next to me, and I huddled into Hugo until a hiss came from my shoulder.
I was temporarily confused, but Hugo yelped straight away, and scuttled backwards. A second later, he gave a heavy groan, which warned a retreating me that something was wrong.
I frantically whispered his name in the darkness. I could see almost nothing, and had no idea what had hissed, but I didn’t like the sound of it.
“Hugo? Hugo! Move, quick! HUGO! Please, move, we need to go!” He moaned, and muttered something about blockages, and his head.
However, even in dangerous and possibly dangerous situations, Lily Potter does NOT concede, or particularly pity people, if she is in a pitiable position herself.
“MOVE your fat arse, Hugo Colin Weasley! There is a small lion next to me, from what I can see in this blasted light, and I would like to not be eaten!” Yes, even at eight or nine grand years of age, I was extremely sarcastic and threatening – it all comes with the Weasley gene package deal, like ‘Buy into this family, and you’ll get sarcasm, sleepiness, swearing, anger, freckles, red hair, and love of food in just one child!’
They should seriously create warning signs about us.
Actually, I don’t swear, and neither does Hugo, because Aunt Hermione grounded both of us for a week last time we swore. Mum and Uncle Ron swear loads, and so do most of our Uncles, but we’re not allowed to, ‘or else’.
Of course, Hugo also has the Weasley genes, so he just replied with a cross “I am not a fat arse, nor do I have one, whichever one you said! And I hope you paid attention to our parents whenever they drone on about animals, then, because it’s you who’s dealing with it first!”
I would have shoved him, but that would not have had a very pleasant result, so swept the air above his head instead, and huffed at him. I was concentrating very hard on the small lion behind me – which, as far as I could see, was what it was – and was therefore so surprised when my hand hit hard wood that I almost fell off the branch we were precariously perched on.
“Sheesh! Ok, now I can see why you’re groaning like an old woman. I would be pretty annoyed if I hit my head on that too.”
“Oh shut up.”
“Whatever. What is this thing?” I ran my hand up and down the length of the wooden beam, and found that it was actually a corner.
Buildings had corners.
“Hugh! I think it’s a tree building of some kind!” I was ridiculously excited, probably partly because of the adrenaline, and because of sleep deprivation. But it was kind of cool.
Hugo moved slowly towards it. “I think the more commonly used term is treehouse, Lily. Oh, I think I just found the entrance!”
I could hear him slithering inside this ‘house’, and quickly followed. The mini lion had not made another sound during our short conversation, but there was still time.
I stuck out my arm as I shuffled along the branch inch by inch. I felt the corner, then the front as I got closer, then –
“Argh!” an arm shot out and pulled me in the entrance. Hugo!
“Merlin’s beard!” I yelped. “That really scared me, you bumhead!”
He laughed. “That’s a new one, you silly. Anyway, I got you in, didn’t I?”
I nodded slowly. He had, I supposed.
I really wanted to look around, but as I couldn’t see, it wouldn’t be all that easy. All I could feel was the scratchy wooden floorboards under my legs, and then my head as I cautiously lay down. I didn’t even know if there was a roof… I was too tired to find out.
Swinging my legs into the treehouse now, I stopped for a moment and inhaled.
In basics, our treehouse hadn’t changed a bit. It still had the same slightly musty, lush pine wood smell as you swept your hand along the wood. The same knots, scratches and layers were still detailed in the wood. The same structure, of course – the strong 3 x 3 metre floor, with walls 2 metres high and a pointy roof at the top. The same two windows and ‘door’. The same old carvings we could never make out.
But Hugo and I had improved our second home immensely. We had polished up the wooden floor so that it didn’t give you splinters any more. We had put shutters on the windows so that the rain didn’t come in and spoil our work. We had put storage boxes in here, and kept more than our parents imagined, and made a storage space in a special knothole in the tree, just above the treehouse. We had pasted two large maps onto the left-hand wall: one detailed one of this wood, one of the surrounding area, including Godric’s Hollow (where we lived) and all the copses we could see.
We had even put those blasted planks in on the tree – which were extremely hard to climb up, but easier than going up the rope each time. At least you could grab on to nearby branches to help you, this way.
Last but not least…. Our latest addition: a giant corkboard on the one windowless wall (the right-hand one). This was where our Great Plans would be laid, and recorded.
Hugo shoved me from behind, and I obligingly crawled into our fantastic hidey-hole. Once he was in, he unpacked the supplies from the rucksack into the three different storage units – perishables, cold food, and last long – while I retrieved a large piece of paper and the pack of felt tips we kept up here. Like I said, we are extremely well-prepared.
While Hugo unpacked the last crisp packets, I thought back to the dreadful first morning in this treehouse. We had been amazed, looking around excitedly at the carvings and few papers left behind, but then our stomachs growled and we were desperate to get back.
It was quite early in the morning, but Hugo still wanted to wait for them to find us.
I refused, point-blank.
And so, eventually, we slowly made it back down the tree, marking in our heads where on the map it was (North-ish) and slowly walking through the damp woods. We traipsed through the wet corn, and eventually made it back to the houses.
But the best part? The adults had been at a party last night and got drunk, so not only did they not create a search party for us last night, they barely told us off when we admitted to them what had happened; all their heads, even Dad’s and Aunt Hermione’s, were hurting too much for them to think straight.
And so, we went back plenty.
“So, Lily. What are the main points of this Grand Plan?” Hugo said, pulling me out of my thoughts. I shook my head to clear it, and moved to the huge corkboard with the paper.
“Well, all in all, this Grand Plan involves preparing and improving ourselves for the next great chapter of our lives: Hogwarts!” I finished with a flourish.
“I like the sound of that… expand?”
“Well,” I started, “we choose a few points that we are going to work on this year, and reach those goals before next September – it’s pretty simple really.”
Hugo nodded thoughtfully. “’kay. So, what are these points that you have come up with so far? And not breeding kneazles again!”
“Erm, well, I’ll need your help on some others, but, I propose… Quidditch, Pets, and Supplies, to start with.”
“Weasley Wizard Wheezes Supplies? And what do you mean by ‘pets’?” Hugo was a bit worried. He always was – it’s the Aunt Hermione in him.
“Yeah! You see, if we place a massive order with Uncle George, our parents will notice. But if we gather a few more things each week, we can have such a huge pile by this time next year!
And, when I say pets, this had multiple sub-headings, if we want to do it textbook-style. This concerns: Owls – when we will get them, and research on which types are best, Pygmy Puffs – like Bertie, who of course lives with me, but will we have to file an appeal to be able to have them at Hogwarts, and Ned – who is going to look after her when we’re gone!”
Hugo frowned thoughtfully. “Yeah, poor Ned. She’s going to be so lonely by herself, and who will put food out for her? Also, I think that we should finish our Home Plans for the wood, and have a list of things we need to get, apart from WWW supplies, this year. Have you got all that?”
I had been scribbling down each of our points in different colours onto a piece of paper, but now I paused. “I feel like there’s something missing. Something that should go in our Home Plans section, you know?” I chewed the pen lid, and Hugo stared out the window.
“Well…” he started slowly. I looked at him, until he carried on. “I feel kind of… bad, for just using this treehouse, and not caring whose it was before. I mean, I know we care and are really grateful and everything,” he hurried on, seeing my face, “but I want to know exactly whose it was. It has always felt special, right? So who’s to say it wasn’t special because of the person who owned it?”
I nodded. Hugo had hit the metaphorical nail on the head with his word-hammer.
“Yeah. Do you think they were magical, whoever they were?”
Hugo looked pretty surprised that I asked this. “Does it matter?”
“It matters to me!” I said, surprising myself with the anger I showed. “I don’t know why. I don’t mind if it’s a muggle’s – not at all. But if they’re magical, it makes me feel all nice inside that we could feel the magic when we got here, you know?” I smiled. I practically made myself melt with that cute ‘magic inside’ talk, that was how unexpected it was.
Hugo nodded. “Yep, I know what you mean. And, as a last thing, I think we need to try to find out what is happening to the… feel of our woods. It felt like someone had been here, didn’t it? That’s not right!” He was surprisingly agitated, and I was kind of taken aback.
“Chill, Hughie.” He glared at me for using that nickname.
Actually, I did have a few theories about what was happening. But more on those later.
And so, we stuck up our list right in the middle of the corkboard, with plenty of space around it to add extra items in – no doubt we would need the space. So, to start, we would need to know our timings (according to Hugo), and therefore a school timetable, and probably the monthly timetable for The Jarvey and The Wood-Nymph (our local pub), so that the monthly Karaoke Nights could be used to our full advantage – for some reason, our parents loved to go and embarrass themselves by singing Celestina Warbeck each month. Joy. Needless to say, Hugo and I kept well away from these events, but found great usefulness in the fact that our parents were drunk and occupied for a night.
But for those timetables, we needed to go back to the house… where Auntie Boring Audrey lay in wait (possibly). AND it took us a good fifteen minutes running either way, so it was probably best if we stayed here for a while, at least.
“Hey Hugo… fancy catching fresh-water plimpies in the stream?” I asked, and he agreed. It would please Mum, anyway, and we could talk while we did that. The stream ran from the north-east to the south-south-west of the copse, but was really narrow most of the way down, including where it ran just a little in front of our tree: you could just step over it at that point. But as the edge of the wood, it started to widen, and at the very edge of the woods, just before it ran into the corn, it was a good five metres wide, and very good for paddling in during hot weather. It was the perfect September activity, and it would keep our parents happy for when we started asking for requests from them.
“Right, where are the rods?”
That evening, we were in Hugo’s back garden attempting to work the muggle Barbeque to cook the plimpies, when a thought occurred to me.
“Hugo?” He was trying to set up the grill while I was supposed to hack the legs of the plimpies.
I was suddenly torn. Hugo and I told each other everything, but I didn’t know whether he should be included in this particular problem I had (if you could call it that). It was kind of a Potter issue.
I decided to leave it. “Oh, noth – WHAT THE HECK?!”
I was so chocked that I jerked the knife and cut my finger, managing to splatter plimpie guts over myself in the process. Lovely.
There was a giant CRASH as Hugo leaped up at my shout and hit his head on the bottom of the barbeque. “Shoot!”
He crawled out and sat rubbing his head, while I bolted for the back fence. It was in times like these that my lack of wand really, really annoyed me. Why did you have to be in secondary school to get a wand and learn magic?!
“What is it, Lils?” Hugo shouted as I pushed myself on top of the fence to see better.
“THE FINNIGANS ARE IN OUR WOOD!!”
There was a giant CRASH from behind me again as Hugo fell over in shock and took the barbeque with him.
“What?! Those little - ”
He sprinted after me, vaulting the fence, and we shot into the cornfield. Vaguely behind me I could hear Aunt Hermione and Dad come out of the house and shout for us; they had evidently been ‘keeping an eye on us’ from the house. We’re not little kids any more!
We were about 200 metres in when Mum’s voice rang out loudly. “LILY LUNA POTTER!”
“Oh, crap,” Hugo whispered, and I pulled a face in recognition, but kept on running. This was a serious issue.
It came a second later… the whooshing sound, and then the feeling of ropes around your feet that tighten and send you tumbling to the ground. We were then dragged backwards, and you have to try to send yourself along with your hands to keep your body off the ground. This is pretty tricky though – those invisible ropes move fast.
At the fence, we managed to bat them away and slowly climbed back over, battered and bruised. I hate it when Mum does that, she has no right to treat us like that!
I stumped up to face her, fuming.
“WHAT WAS THAT FOR?!”
“WHY DID YOU HAVE TO DO THAT?!”
We screamed at the same time. However, Mum just stood with her hands on her hips, while I carried on shouting. “THE FINNIGANS ARE INVADING OUR WOODS, AND YOU JUST LET THEM INVADE OUR WOODS!” I shouted, red in the face. Mum’s eyes narrowed, but I carried on anyway… even if it was a Death Sentence. “YOU KNOW HOW MUCH WE HATE THEM, AND WHAT THEY’VE DONE TO US!”
“I ALSO KNOW THAT I AM SICK OF HAVING TO APOLOGISE TO SEAMUS WHENEVER HE COMES AROUND TO FIND OUT WHY HIS KIDS HAVE COME HOME COVERED IN COW SHIT!”
Mum swears extra when she’s angry, but this was pretty mild.
“Our treehouse will be ruined! Ned will be killed! All the trees will be chopped down!” I wailed, going for the upset-child approach. Please, Merlin, let Dad feel sorry for me. Mum will never give in to it.
“Remind me why you hate the Finnigans so much…?”
This is why I love Uncle Ron. (A really stupid memory that causes him to interrupt at the worst of times? It’s all good.)
Hugo turned to him. “They hate us. They knock us over, they throw mud at us, they kick us off our brooms, they steal our pets, they set Lily’s hair on fire, and they cut my shoes open,” he listed.
Ah, yes. Last year Sean Finnigan set my hair on fire by accident, and Hugo managed to put it out by also accidentally conjuring a torrent of water onto my head. I wasn’t sure who to be angrier at when I had been forced into bed with pneumonia for a week after I arrived back from St. Mungo’s with minor burns.
I mean, I should have been out there getting revenge, not sniffling away into tissues!
Mum still had narrowed eyes, though. “I realise that this is a bad event - ” Hugo and I snorted, because this is the worst thing, “ – but you should come back when we call you! Did you realise that the barbeque set on fire when Hugo knocked it over? No. We knew best but you didn’t come back to us!”
Uh-oh. Mum was getting pretty worked up now, and Dad shot me now-look-what-you’ve-done look. I sheepishly looked at the smoking remains of the barbeque as Dad crossed over to Mum and put his arms around her before saying, “Now, come on, it’s ok. Lily and Hugo were just really worried about their wood, and they didn’t know what had happened.”
Dad glanced at me, and I nodded meekly.
Secretly, though, I was signing to Hugo behind my back. We would have war on the Finnigans before the week was out!
Five days later, however, nothing had happened. We had gone to the woods the next day to check everything was ok – which it was, apart from a few trampled patches, and one of the branch teepees had been knocked down.
That didn’t stop me moaning to Hugo, though.
“It’s so annoying! They’ve found our wood and picked right through it, and they won’t even show their faces. Argh! All we want is war. But noooo, they have to hide like the cowards they are!”
Hugo sighed. I had been moaning to him for the last few days, and he had been good in putting up with it. Now, however, I suspected would be a different story.
“Lily. I know they are annoying us – I’m here too! But right now, we’ve got to be the better people and just get on with it, ok? There are plenty more people to annoy.”
I sighed and nodded. It was time to focus on other aspects of the Plan.
“Well then, Hugo,” I said determinedly, tying my hair into a high ponytail, “it’s time to go play quidditch.”
He grinned. “Sounds like a plan, Lily-bear,” and I punched him before running to the broom shed.
*A/N: Hey everyone! I’m so sorry for not posting on this for ages. You know how it is… getting caught up in a hundred other things and letting your WIPs down :(
But is anyone else reeeeally excited for the next chapter? I am!
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