A/N: This isn't a story (it has neither climax nor resolution, nor really a plot). I don't know what it is; it was just in my head, so I wrote it. It's just a little bit of rambling about my Next Gen kids as they appear in my other stories. Nothing very serious (or at all serious, in fact). You might enjoy it more if you've read my other stuff, but there's no need to really.
And it's total coincidence that the date is now - I only realised that when I was half way through it.
"Anyway, it was nice to hear from you. Although you really need to work on your spelling. And your handwriting. There were bits I could hardly understand. Like thebit about you and James last weekend. I thought it said you blew up Gringotts, but I'm pretty sure I'd have heard about it already if you'd done that..."
- Victoire Weasley, in a letter to her younger brother, Louis. March 2015. Extract from Owl Post, available on my profile.
The bank heist was well under way. The two desperate thieves, scarves tied over the lower halves of their faces (whether this served any purpose in making them less identifiable was dubious, but it certainly made them look the part) had evaded the staunch keepers of the law and made it to the bank of shrubs behind the elegant stronghold of Gringotts, where they peered out at the prospective scene of crime.
Gringotts was guarded; two armed personnel were positioned in front of it. The thieves had expected this, which was why they had sneaked around the back. However, they had also expected the guards to be facing outwards, away from them, and their plans were momentarily stalled by the discovery that this was not quite the case.
Inexplicably, one guard could be seen sitting on the grass in front of the bank, weapon laid to one side, apparently drawing or writing on a piece of paper. The other guard was watching this proceeding, and both were angled half towards Gringotts, putting the would-be bank robbers clearly in sight if they should try to leave the shelter of the bushes. The robbers, thwarted for the moment, waited for their chance.
"What are you doing?" Hugo Weasley asked his cousin curiously, looking down at the large piece of cardboard she was drawing on.
"Well, it doesn't look much like Gringotts like it is, does it?" Lily Potter said, without looking up. "So I'm drawing it."
Hugo moved round behind her so that he was looking at her picture the right way up. He was not entirely sure that it was going to look much like Gringotts even with Lily's drawing, but he did not risk saying this. Instead, he watched her as she printed 'GRINGOTS' in large letters across the top of the door. At least that way there could be no mistake about what it was meant to be.
"Is that spelt right?" he said doubtfully, tilting his head at it.
"Yes," Lily replied decidedly, and Hugo accepted this. After all, she was older than him; she had turned seven in November, and he would not until his birthday in April. She presumably knew best.
Lily picked up her finished drawing, which came nearly to her waist, and propped it against the large cardboard box that was substituting for Gringotts (the real thing being rather too big to fit in the Potters' garden). Then she picked up the stick that was her weapon (James had said the sticks were guns, since they were playing Muggles, and wands were not allowed) and took up her position again as guard. The box contained the precious 'treasure', in the form of a few knuts and quite a lot of chocolate, which was the prize of the game. Albus and Rose had wrapped copious amounts of spello-tape round it to make burgling it that bit more difficult.
"I'm cold," Hugo remarked. The sun was shining, but it was still only March, and they had been standing in one place for quite a long time, on Rose's orders.
"Me too," Lily agreed. "And I'm hungry. Where are they?"
Hugo looked around the garden, but nothing appeared to be moving.
"I bet they've given up and gone inside and left us," he said gloomily.
Lily said nothing. It would not be the first time such a thing had occurred. They stood there a few minutes longer.
(Neither of them looked behind them, and therefore neither saw a hand extend from the bushes and carefully push something underneath the spello-taped Gringotts, then retract quickly.)
"I bet they have gone inside," Hugo was beginning again, when Lily stopped him.
"Ssh. I heard something." She swung round, just in time for the box to explode upwards and outwards, with a loud pop, cardboard and spello-tape flying everywhere.
Both Lily and Hugo shrieked and dived for the ground in some attempt to cover themselves. It took only a moment, however, for them to realise that the explosion had not been very big, and that it had been accompanied by a spray of green and pink glitter. Lily sat up, and in the middle of the ruins of Gringotts were James and Louis, laughing uproariously and grabbing all the money and chocolate they could find amid the cardboard wreckage.
"Hey!" she shouted furiously, scrambling to her feet. "That's not fair! You said we were Muggles! Magic's not allowed!"
James glanced up briefly, and grinned. "It's not magic – it's dynamite! Muggles use it!" he said triumphantly
At that moment, there was a yell from up near the house, and Rose and Albus barrelled round the corner, also brandishing sticks.
"Thieves! Stop! You're under arrest!" Rose hollered.
Still laughing, James and Louis raced away, their loot stuffed in pockets and clutched in handfuls.
"It is magic!" Lily shouted after them. "You got that thing from Uncle George, I know you did! It isn't fair!"
"You were supposed to be on guard, stupids!" Rose snapped at Lily and Hugo as she ran past after James and Louis, Albus close behind her.
"What do we do now?" Hugo called plaintively from his seat on the ground.
Rose took no notice, but continued in her pursuit, shouting threats after the two older boys. Albus paused and turned back for a moment, looking apologetic.
"Just… just stay there," he said. "We'll come back." Then he tore after Rose again.
Lily trudged over to the ruins of their Gringotts. Her picture was in tatters on the ground. She poked her foot among the debris, but found none of the treasure; James and Louis had taken it all.
"We could build it again," Hugo suggested, coming to stand with her. "We could get the spello-tape."
"No we couldn't. It's all spoilt. Stupid James. He cheated." She set off up the garden towards the house.
Hugo hovered behind her. "Al said 'stay here'," he pointed out.
Lily turned back with a huff, her arms folded across her chest.
"Well, I don't care. I'm sick of being a guard. We never get to do anything good, so I'm not playing anymore."
The Burrow was very full of people for the family Sunday dinner, although not as full as it would be in two weeks, when the Hogwarts-age family members would all be home too. Grandma Weasley bustled around the kitchen, helped by anyone she could pressgang into work. The children had escaped. On the stairs, nicely blocking anyone who wanted to get up or down, James, Louis, Rose and Albus were gathered, the four of them never very far apart. Hugo was scrunched on a step just below them, listening as they laid plans, and Lily stood at the bottom of the stairs, her arms folded and her nose in the air as she pretended to be utterly uninterested.
The idea, as much of it as Lily could hear, seemed to be to make a pre-dinner raid on the kitchen, and elaborate preparations were being planned, involving a pair of extendible ears (acquired from Uncle George), a decoy explosion (to be detonated by Louis, who could always be trusted with explosions), and a getaway cart (an old wheelbarrow fetched from the garden).
"Are you helping, Lily?" Albus asked her as they prepared to split up and fetch the necessary equipment.
For a moment, she hesitated. Then she shook her head.
"I'm not keeping watch for you anymore."
"Al! Come on!" Rose had already started up the stairs with the extendible ears, to hang them out of an upper floor window so that they would dangle outside the kitchen.
James and Louis rushed past Lily, on their way to find wheelbarrows and prepare explosions. Hugo stayed where he was. His part was to wait on the stairs and warn Rose and Albus if anyone was coming up them. Albus waited a moment, as if he might be going to try to persuade her, but Rose called again, now out of sight, and he shrugged.
"Okay. If you don't want to." And he vanished after Rose.
"Are you still angry about last week, and them spoiling your picture?" Hugo asked, when the others had all gone.
Lily shrugged. "I don't care about the stupid picture. I'm just sick of playing with them when all they do is boss us around. I'm going to do something else."
Hugo looked at her sadly. Lily did not often get cross about things, but when she did, she dug her toes in and nothing could shift her.
"You can come too if you want," she offered.
He shook his head. "I promised I'd keep watch."
Lily sighed. "Okay. Fine."
She left him and wandered after James and Louis, who had gone through the kitchen and out of the front door. Lily slipped out after them. She could see them, far away over by the flower beds, pulling an old wheelbarrow out of the undergrowth. Unlike Albus, they had not even noticed that she was cross with them, or that she hadn't joined in, which only made her crosser. She hoped that Grandma caught them.
The door opened again behind her, and she turned to find Molly and Roxanne coming out of it. Molly and Roxanne were older than Lily, though Roxie was only a few months older, really. They were best friends with each other, though, and did their own thing instead of playing with the rest. They were always having secrets, and whispering and giggling in corners. Just now, they were carrying a strange collection of things. Molly had a bit of rope, and a cloth bag that clearly was not empty, and Roxy had what looked like an old blanket. Lily stared at them.
"What are those for?" she asked.
Her two cousins stopped and looked at her, then at each other.
"It's a secret," Molly said in mysterious tones. "But we could tell you. You'd have to promise not to tell the others."
"I won't tell them," Lily promised, her eyes wide, then added: "They don't tell me anything, so it serves them right."
Molly and Roxy looked at each other again.
"You can play, if you want," Molly said at last. "But you have to play properly. Rose found out once, and she said it was a stupid baby game."
"What is it?" Lily asked, fascinated.
"Ponies," Roxy broke in eagerly. "Me and Molly have wanted a pony for ages, but our mums and dads won't let us have one. We even said we'd share one, so we didn't need one each," she added sadly.
Molly took up the tale. "So now we just play we've got one," she explained. "Roxy's got the saddle." She indicated the blanket. "And this is the bridle. We found a picture of one in a book, and Roxy tied it up to look right, but it isn't quite the right shape for our pony's head, so we have to pretend." She held up the bit of rope, which Lily could see had knots in it, though it just looked like a tangle hanging from Molly's hand. Roxy was good at making things, though, so Lily believed them that it looked like a proper bridle, especially since she had no clear idea what a bridle was.
"I don't know how to play ponies," she said doubtfully. She had almost forgotten her annoyance with James and the others in her interest in this new game, but now she remembered it, and was wary of finding herself in the same trap. "Would I have to keep guard?"
Molly and Roxy looked at each other again, both seeming slightly puzzled.
"No, of course not," Molly said. "Guard on what?"
"What would I do then?" Lily persisted.
Molly shrugged. "Whatever you want. You could be a pony owner, like us."
"Exactly the same as you?" Lily asked, her face beginning to brighten.
"Yes. You don't have to play though. Only if you want to."
Lily made up her mind.
"I do want to. Where is your pony?"
Molly giggled, and grabbed her hand. "Come on, we'll show you."
They led her down the garden, past James and Louis, who were now hauling the wheelbarrow round towards the kitchen window, and who barely gave the three girls a glance. At the bottom of the garden stood Grandad's shed, which Lily had not often been in. She knew that it was where he did what he called 'my tinkering' and Grandma called 'that nonsense'. Just now, though, Grandad was up at the house – Lily had just seen him in the kitchen, peeling potatoes whilst discussing aeroplanes with Aunt Hermione. He did not keep the door locked – Lily wondered whether James knew that – and Molly pushed it open.
"Come on," she whispered, and they tiptoed inside, then Molly shut the door behind them. The shed was rather dark, all the light coming from one small window.
"Stables are dark too," Roxy pointed out. "It makes it real."
"But what do you use for a pony?" Lily asked again, looking round. There was Grandad's workbench and his chair and a whole lot of random things scattered about that looked like Muggle stuff Grandad had taken to pieces.
"This," said Molly proudly, walking over to a long dark shape parked in one corner. It had a sheet draped over it, and Molly took hold of this and pulled. It slid off to reveal a large machine that Lily could not immediately put a name to. She had seen them before, though, driving on the road like the cars, except you rode it like a bike or a broom. Or a pony, she realised, with sudden delight.
"What is it?" she asked. "Really, I mean. Is it Grandad's?"
"It's a motorbike," Molly said. "And it must be his – it's in his shed. I don't know where he got it from though."
"I never saw him use it," Lily remarked.
Molly giggled. "Well, he wouldn't, would he? Think about what Grandma would say."
"Hello, Moonlight," Roxy said seriously, patting the front mudguard. "Would you like a biscuit?"
Molly reached into her cloth bag, pulled out a chocolate biscuit and held it out to the thing. After a pause, she offered it to Lily.
"You have to pretend she ate it," she whispered. "But you can have it really. We've got more"
Lily took the biscuit and bit into it happily.
"How did you get them?" she asked through a mouthful, thinking of James and Louis and the rest, planning their elaborate raid on the kitchen. She couldn't imagine Molly or Roxy letting off decoy explosions.
"We told Grandma we wanted to have a picnic and play ponies, and she said dinner was going to be a long time yet, and gave us those. We've got apples too," Roxy replied.
"Come on, let's saddle her up," Molly said importantly. Lily watched as the other two slung the blanket across the motorbike, smoothed it out, then set about fitting the 'bridle' on the handlebars. Molly had been right; it was not really the right shape, but it went on in a squint kind of way.
"D'you want a go then?" Roxy asked Lily.
Lily swallowed the last of the biscuit and beamed. "Okay!"
With a bit of help from Molly, she managed to scramble up without dislodging the blanket and found herself astride the thing that Roxy insisted on calling Moonlight. Molly and Roxy fussed round her, handing her a loop of the rope to hold, and then busying about, feeding the motorbike biscuits, and talking about grooming and mucking out. Lily ignored them. She didn't think she was quite as good at pretending as they were. Although it was fun to call it a pony, she couldn't really see it as a pony, and it was obvious that, once they were into the game, Molly and Roxy did.
But it was also quite fun to think of it as a motorbike. She made a faint 'vrooom' noise, imagining it racing along a road. Molly looked reproachfully at her.
"She's a pony. She doesn't go vroom."
After that, Lily kept her vrooming in her head; she was grateful to Molly and Roxy for letting her play, and they had said she had to do it properly. So she obediently trundled round pretending to brush the thing, and entered into it when they had a pretend jumping competition, going one after the other. The game was fun, and she almost did begin to think of it as a pony for a while. However, she could not help wondering whether it actually went, and if so, how you made it.
Eventually, they heard Molly's mum's voice calling them, so they gathered their things together, slung the sheet back over the bike, and slipped out of the shed, pretending that that they'd been beyond it, by the hedge.
As they walked up the path, Molly turned to Lily with a smile.
"You can play with us again next time, if you want."
At the house, the table was being set for dinner, and they were sent to wash their hands, which were indeed fairly filthy. They found Albus, Rose and Hugo in the bathroom, finishing washing their own hands.
"Where did you go?" Rose demanded, when she saw Lily.
"She was playing with us," Molly answered for her, and swept on before they could ask any more questions. "What were you doing?"
"Did you get anything out of the kitchen?" Lily asked.
"No," Albus answered. "Louis's decoy didn't work, and him and James both got caught."
"And then Grandma shouted at all of us," Rose added, "And made us wash up all the pans she'd been using."
"So we didn't get any food at all," Hugo finished. "And now I'm starving."
"Well, so's everyone else. It's not just you," Rose told him, pushing him towards the bathroom door. "Come on."
The three of them left the bathroom, leaving the sink vacant for Molly, Roxy and Lily. The three small girls said nothing, simply looked at each other and smiled faintly.