A/N: Well, I'm back! I thought it would take a lot more time than this, but here - especially for you, my devoted readers - is chapter one of Albus Potter and the Sword of Godric Gryffindor. Its a bit overflowing with familial fluff, as you will see, but I really wanted to show a bit of Al's home life during the summer before he heads off back to Hogwarts. Now, this book will concentrate on the differences between Harry and Al and Draco and Scorpius - when the first book concentrated on the similarities. If you want some more clues about the plot, have a look at the Author's Note at the end of book one, 'cause I'm not saying no more here!
Anyway, I hope you enjoy this brand new first chappie - its fluffy, but I hope its fun too. Enjoy! xx
The Presence of Padfoot
It was the second week of the holidays, and for once, all three Potter children agreed on something. It was that time of year again when Albus, James, Lily and their parents would stay at Grimmauld Place for a week. They wouldn't have minded so much if staying at Grimmauld Place meant that the house needed another bout of intense spring (summer) cleaning. Harry still rented out the dilapidated building as Headquarters for the Order of the Phoenix, even though no one had lived in it for over twenty years.
Albus hated going there. He hated the stench of dust and rotting wood and old upholstery, the dark, narrow halls and the dark, wide rooms, the serpent-shaped chandeliers and candlesticks, the squeaky doorknobs and creaking hinges on the windows and doors. Most of all, he hated not knowing what ghastly magical creature may have made itself at home there. When he was younger, James would tell him elaborate tales of many a monstrous creature; giant spiders with a hundred legs and seven rows of pointy teeth; tiny little bugs that nestled in curtains and cushions and bed covers that would come out and bite you on the nose; and great whining ghouls which hid in the plumbing and played havoc with the sewage systems. Needless to say, Albus did not enjoy going to Grimmauld Place. And now the time had come to go back there again.
"Why do we have to go, anyway?" James moaned for the hundredth time on Tuesday morning, over the noise of the vacuum cleaner their Mum was hovering the living room with. "It's boring. All we do is clean. Can't we stay at grandma's? Mum?"
Ginny cut off the vacuum cleaner and frowned at her eldest child. Then her expression softened.
"I know it's boring, but Grimmauld Place...it means a lot to your father, okay?"
"But why? It's full of old stuff and rubbish no one is ever going to use" James complained.
"Look, your dad wants us to go there, so we're going there. We need to keep it clean, James, or it'll just fall apart."
Albus was too busy reading Quidditch Through the Ages to really concentrate on the conversation. He would be off to the Quidditch World Cup semi-finals in little over a week, and he couldn't contain his excitement. He was now spending the majority of his time reading every bit of information about everything to do with Quidditch that existed. He was all too used to James complaining about things to really care whether his brother won his arguments or not.
There was a sound of a car in the drive and then the clatter of the letterbox and the flop of letters onto the doormat.
"I'll get it!" came Lily's voice from out in the hallway and seconds later she skidded into the room, holding aloft two pieces of mail.
"Postcards" she said. "For you" And she threw them at Albus so fast that he almost fell off the armchair trying to catch them. He turned each one over in his hand and grinned. One was from Molly, who was on holiday in Greece with her stepfamily; the other was from Scorpius, who had gone to the Lake District to visit his grandparents. Both were Albus' best friends at Hogwarts, apart from Rose, of course, but she didn't really count because she was his cousin.
He was just about to read what they said when the doorbell rang, and his mother went to answer it. From the voices out in the hall, it sounded like Aunt Fleur, Victoire and Teddy. Didn't a day go by without any of the Weasley relatives coming to visit?
It was time to go to Grimmauld Place. They would be staying there for a week whilst the parents gave the house a deep clean and Albus, James and Lily were forced to help with whatever came up. Albus had just finished stuffing the last of his clothes into an old suitcase which he had found, miraculously, under his bed and spared him from sharing a case with James. He zipped the case shut and heaved it out of his bedroom door and onto the landing. He peered over the edge of the banisters. James and Lily were there already with their suitcases, both wearing their dislike of Grimmauld Place plainly on their faces.
He got his suitcase downstairs and jumped out of the way just in time to avoid James' case, which he had swung at his brother's feet in an attempt to pass the time. Their parents were still in the kitchen, making last-minute preparations with his mother checking, double-checking and triple-checking that they had everything they needed. Every year, one of them forgot at least one thing.
There was a pause in their voices, and then his mother threw an enormous blue bag out into the hall. This was the bag that held the cleaning supplies, Doxycide and Mrs. Skower's All Purpose Magical Mess Remover included amongst other things.
Ten minutes later, the five-strong family had managed to get themselves into the car without any problems, which was a first; Albus had put Jemima's cage in between his knees so that she wouldn't have to bounce around on the shelf in the boot and James was too busy checking his list of things he needed to buy from Weasley's Wizard Wheezes to notice much else. It wasn't that far to Grimmauld Place from the Potter's house, around forty-five minutes really, but when you had a very talkative sister, a brother who couldn't sit still for more than five seconds without causing trouble and an owl who hated travelling, the journey became a lot longer.
But Albus didn't really mind. He simply let his thoughts wander far and wide to the Quidditch World Cup semi-final he was going to in a couple of weeks time. England were playing Russia, and there was a lot of fuss about it because this was the first time England had qualified for the semi-finals in a very long time. Whoever won the game would go on to play reigning champions Finland in the finals in a few months' time. The Finnish were difficult to beat; they'd won the World Cup four times in a row and any other team who played them were flattened. Wonder what it would be like, playing Quidditch as a job Albus thought. I'd have to ask mum, she said it was brilliant. Being an International Quidditch Player was high up on Albus' list of Dream Jobs. Also on the list were being an Auror and the manager of a huge chocolate-making company, a fantasy that had rooted in his brain after watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when he was seven years old.
Albus watched the busy streets of London pass by as they drove further away from their small part of the city. People were on the way to work, doing a days' shopping, meeting up with friends and family. Watching them made him think of Diagon Alley, and how he would soon be going back there to buy his things for his second year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. He missed the castle very much; he missed getting to sleep in a four-poster bed, having snowball fights at Christmas with his many cousins in the castle grounds, the lessons, and the mouth-watering feasts in the Great Hall that the house-elves of Hogwarts prepared for them. He couldn't wait to go back.
He must have dozed off for a little while, because the next time Albus opened his eyes they were pulling onto the street at Grimmauld Place. It was a square block of houses that consisted of four streets, one on each side, and each house looked as dilapidated as the next. People still lived there, of course, but the street on which they had just parked was different. Number eleven sat directly beside number thirteen, with no number twelve to be seen anywhere. The occupants of the houses on the street simply took it to be a simple mistake. But Albus knew that number twelve was there; it was just hidden, out of view from passing commuters.
They got out of the car and left standing on the side of the pavement whilst Harry and Ginny went to unpack the boot. Albus turned to look carefully at the join between the houses of number eleven and number thirteen. He knew what he had to do; his father had taught him years ago, when they first started coming here. The headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix may be found at Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place, London.
No sooner had he reached 'Number twelve, Grimmauld Place' than the houses each side started to move; and a third appeared between them. It only took a matter of seconds for two grimy windows, a peeling door and lopsided chimney to materialise in front of the three Potter children. Meanwhile, their parents had finished getting the bags out of the car and Ginny was now making for the front door. The front door, with its peeling black paint and silver serpent-headed knocker, was stiff and it took a few pushes to get it open. When it did, Albus was greeted by the smell of dust, musty fabric, and mothballs. It wasn't a pleasant smell.
As usual, the hallway was dark, with no lights on or candles burning in any of the candelabras or the great chandelier suspended from the ceiling, both shaped like serpents. Creepy looking tapestries hung on the walls to hide the cracks in the walls and the peeling wallpaper. When their father came in behind them and shut the door, it was pitch black inside. Anyone who liked living in a place like this must have been crazy.
"We'd better have some light, Harry, or the kids will break their necks" came their mother's voice from somewhere up ahead. Seconds later, the whole hallway was filled with yellow light which no doubt came from Harry's wand. Now that they could see, it was clear to anyone that Grimmauld Place had not changed at all since their last visit, the Easter before Albus started Hogwarts. The only difference, perhaps, was that there was a thickening coat of dust over everything.
"It's not very nice, this house" James said, wrinkling his nose in distaste. "Why would anyone want to live here?"
"Good question" answered their father. "Mind you, it looked a lot worse than this when I first came here". He paused for effect. "There were dead elf heads on the walls". Lily's mouth dropped open. James looked positively disgusted. "It was an old tradition in the family who owned the house. When an elf got too old, they'd cut its head off and stick it on the wall. Thank God I managed to convince Kreacher to take them down years ago."
None of them really knew what to say to that. The idea that someone would stick the heads of dead elves on the walls of their house was...well, a little strange.
Over the next few days, Albus, James and Lily were roped into helping with everything from changing the bedsheets in all the bedrooms to dusting and polishing the furniture, doorknobs and ornaments and scrubbing the grime off walls and doorframes. These were not pleasant tasks, and Albus longed to be at home, watching television or playing on the computer.
On the fourth day, Albus had agreed – reluctantly – to help his father clear out and dust the two main bedrooms in the house. These were the biggest and grandest rooms, and unfortunately, the ones that needed the most cleaning. He had only agreed to help so that he could get away from James and Lily, who were beginning to get on his nerves; Lily kept asking him questions about everything under the sun and James entertained himself by trying to squirt Albus with Doxycide. He was also glad to have some time alone with his dad.
The first room was slightly larger than the second, which was much more noticeable as the room had been stripped bare of everything except the bed, the furniture and the peeling grey wallpaper. Cobwebs hung in the corners of the ceiling, the carpet was thick with dust, and the headboard on the bed needed replacing. The window frames were soft with rot and the curtains were old and moth-eaten. Albus couldn't imagine anyone sleeping in here.
"Who did this room belong to?" he asked his father. He didn't answer at first.
"My godfather's brother" he said finally. "This was their parents' house." It was quiet for a moment. Albus rubbed at a stain on the window, sensing his father's discomfort.
"Do you still miss him?" Albus blurted out in the silence. He eyed his father carefully. His deceased friends weren't Harry Potter's favourite subject of conversation. For a while, Albus thought his dad wasn't going to answer. But then, he said –
"Yes. Yes, I do. It's probably why I still keep this house as Headquarters. I don't think I would be able to sell it."
"I don't think mum would let you sell it" Albus said. He remembered what his mother had said just a few days ago. Grimmauld Place means a lot to your father.
"I don't think anyone would let me sell it, even if I wanted to. They know me too well by now to understand I could never get rid of this place" his father laughed. Albus followed his gaze around the bare, dusty, empty room. "It might not be a holiday villa in Italy, Al" he said. "But it's all I've got left of Sirius".
Suddenly, Albus saw a whole new reason why his father insisted they visit Grimmauld Place very few months. It was his only connection to his late godfather.
A/N: I told you it would be fluffy, didn't I? Was it too much? Did you hate the chapter altogether? Did you love it? Whatever your thoughts, you know the drill = just review it so I can see where I'm going wrong (or right!). Muchos gracias,
PS. Plot background infor for you which will be important in the coming books - Harry is now the Head of the Order of the Phoenix. Just something you'll want to keep in mind later on.