Number 12 Grimmauld Place is no longer hidden. It sits neatly between Number 11 and Number 13, its wrought iron polished and shiny, its windows clean of dust and grime. Muggles can see it, though they rarely give it more than a moment’s glance; wizards and witches will occasionally approach cautiously to lay down a wreath of flowers, or a handwritten note addressed to The Boy Who Lives Still. Their wary respect is well-intentioned but unnecessary- Number 12 is second only to Hogwarts in the number of protective spells and wards place around it.
It is empty most of the year.
Fall winds blow and disturb no one’s slumber inside. In winter, snow gathers on the steps and railings; the windows remain dark and the curtains drawn. No flowers peek out from the windowsills to celebrate the arrival of spring.
In the summer, they arrive.
From the outside, there is nothing to unite them. There are loud, boisterous teenagers and shy, quiet children no older than twelve; there are some dressed in the latest Muggle fashions and some whose jeans are patched and worn. They are of all races and ethnicities, all shapes and sizes, from all parts of the British Isles; they can be heard chattering in accents that clash and meld and somehow become harmonious. From the outside, they have nothing in common. But since when has someone’s outside reflected who they really are?
Molly Weasley was the first person Harry told about his idea. She and Arthur help him expand Number 12′s interior, adding bathrooms and reading nooks and bedrooms. Ginny chooses the squashiest armchairs and sturdiest furniture, tracking down bargains with a fierce glint in her eyes. When he realizes he needs an outdoor space, Hermione helps him to link his back door to an empty field. Ron helps Bill put up Quidditch hoops while Neville transplants trees and Hannah stations benches beneath their shady branches. Parvati paints the rooms in swirls of bright colors- green and red and blue and yellow mingle on the walls.
In the summer, Number 12 Grimmauld Place becomes a refuge for lost children. They are the ones with no home to go to when the term ends, the ones who don’t have someone waiting to pick them up when the Hogwarts Express pulls into Platform 9 ¾. They are the ones whose homes are not safe, who grow anxious as June approaches and spring turns to summer. They are the ones who are no longer welcomed by those who share their blood, who have had to make family out of friends.
Harry Potter greets these students at Kings Cross and he takes them in.
In the summer, former DA members stream in and out of Number 12′s brightly polished door. Luna brings suitcases packed with odd creatures she’s discovered on her travels; the students sit in the sunny field as she pulls them out one by one and tells of hiking up mountains and wading through marshes. Ginny gives flying lessons and organizes Quidditch matches; the Harpies donate their old brooms when they switch sponsors (something that happens far more often than any other team in the league). There is a greenhouse where students with a green thumb can tend their own plots and assist Neville with his herbology experiments. Justin and Hermione drill them on Muggle subjects; Justin teaches algebra, geometry, and basic sciences while Hermione covers history and literature. George always spends a memorable week showing off his newest inventions while Ron drops by almost every evening to play chess. Students entering their fifth year can spend the summer shadowing people in careers that pique their interest; the Trio rarely use their fame for their own gain, but they wield it with fierce determination in the service of others.
In the summer, these children are fed by Molly Weasley, hugged by Hannah Abbott, told bedtime stories by Luna Lovegood. They can spend all day reading under a tree or playing Exploding Snap in the kitchen or arguing about how best to make a phone work at Hogwarts. They can wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat and make their way down to the kitchen, where Harry will meet them with a mug of hot tea and a listening ear. They can stay in bed on days when the world is too cruel and lonely, when the emptiness in their body is too heavy to bear. They can see others who struggle with it too and realize that family is not limited by blood, that being lonely doesn’t always mean being alone.
In the summer, Number 12 Grimmauld Place opens its doors wide and vibrates with life. It becomes a place where Sirius Black would be welcomed along with Severus Snape, where Harry Potter and Tom Riddle could spend their summers side by side.
In the summer, Number 12 Grimmauld Place becomes a home.
After many months of being squashed by the stresses of my last year of graduate school, my muse has come roaring back with a vengeance. No promises on when the next update will be, but I hope you enjoy this piece