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Chapter 2: Windy Wellington
I peer through the windscreen in the direction Henry’s looking. “Shit.”
“Did you bring Sealegs?”
“Well, neither did I.” I stare apprehensively at the rolling sea of Picton Harbour, reflecting the dark grey of the sky. Rain pelts the windscreen, faster than the wipers can clear it away, and the rows of boats in the harbour are bobbing violently up and down. “How the heck did this come up overnight?”
When Georgia took us back to Picton in the boat at midnight last night, it had been dead calm save for a light breeze. Now, the sea resembles one of my dad’s cauldrons when he takes “freedom brewing” a bit too far.
“Windy Wellington,” Henry says resignedly.
“Windy Wellington is fine. Windy Picton is not. Cook Strait trying to impersonate a trampoline is definitely not. Is it even sailing?”
“Yes,” Henry confirms, gesturing to the ‘Vehicle Check-In OPEN’ sign for the 10.05am sailing.
“Bugger. Bugger bugger shit fuck.”
“Look on the bright side,” Henry says bracingly. “At least we’re not flying out of Wellington, like a certain pair of suckers we know.”
I have no sympathy for Georgia and Scorpius at the moment. “I’d rather have five minutes of turbulence than three hours of…that.”
“It’ll be far worse once we get out of the Sounds,” Henry says cheerfully.
“Remind me again why I date you.”
“Because you love me.”
I grunt in response, turning off the engine and letting the rain spatter the windscreen. “I don’t get why we have to get here so early. It’s barely 9am, for goodness’ sake.”
“Muggles,” Henry says with a shake of his head. “Where are we picking up Sophie?”
“Here. Somewhere. Sometime. Let me know if you see her.” I recline my seat and close my eyes. If you forget about the fact we have to catch the ferry in this weather, the sound of the rain on the roof is actually quite relaxing.
Ten minutes later, there’s a tap on my window and I look up to see a drowned blonde rat peering through the rain into the car. I reluctantly open my door a smidge.
“Get in the back,” I tell Sophie. “What did you do, walk here?”
“Mum dropped me off by the terminal,” she replies, following her bags into the car and peering at her reflection in the rear-view mirror. “How long have you guys been here?”
“Eternity,” Henry replies.
“I can’t wait for this!” Sophie declares, bouncing a little in her seat. “University. Wellington. Everything!”
“Woot,” I say flatly.
“You guys don’t seem very enthusiastic.”
“Have you seen the weather out there?” Henry asks pointedly.
“It’ll be fun!”
“You and I have very different definitions of fun, Sophie Moorhouse.”
The long, stationary line of cars in front of us slowly begins to move and I yank my seat upright again, putting the car into gear. “Okay. Let’s do this.”
Though I’ve been driving for a couple of years and have had plenty of experience pootling around Nelson and the occasional trip to Motueka/Picton/Blenheim, this is going to be entirely new territory for me and I’m more than a little bit worried. First is getting onto the ferry, which involves crawling up a very narrow, very rickety bridge over the sea, and manoeuvering the car into place on deck. Because my parking skills are abysmal and I’m scared of heights, I’m really not looking forward to this. And it’s going to be worse if the ferry’s bobbing up and down and lurching all over the place.
We’re all going to die.
“Tickets?” the gruff middle-aged guy asks when we pull up to the check-in thing.
I hand them over and he peers through the foggy windows, ensuring that there are actually three people in the car and we’re not trying to smuggle anyone on board. He nods and waves us through. “Have a good trip.”
I wonder if that’s even possible considering the circumstances, but decide I have more important things to focus on right now – namely, the car thing. I glance over at the glovebox, where my wand is sitting, and wonder if there’s any way I could use magic.
Probably not. I’d make things worse, knowing me.
“Have your knuckles always been that white?” Henry asks suddenly, fascinated.
“Go home.” I inch the car towards the bridge, nails digging into the steering wheel and eyes focused on the rear bumper of the car in front of me. Don’t look down, Adelaide. Don’t even look out the window. You’re in your happy place.
Where is my happy place anyway?
I don’t know, but it’s not here.
We crawl across the bridge onto the ferry, and I allow myself to relax a bit now that we’re on board and I haven’t managed to drive into the sea. I can feel the ferry rolling even as the car is moving, and hope it’ll still be in one piece when we get to Wellington. It doesn’t seem likely.
I park, yanking the handbrake so hard I swear it almost came off in my hand, before trailing the others up the stairs. Sophie finds the onboard shop, buys some Sealegs and hands them out to us. I decide she’s a pretty useful person to have around.
It takes us nearly six hours to cross the Strait, as opposed to the usual three, accounting for the weather and the swells. Henry has an iron stomach, Sophie and I don’t. I’m beginning to seriously wish I’d failed NCEA last year and resigned myself to a lifetime working in the apothecary in Kororareka.
To my immense surprise and relief, there’s no damage to the car when we get down to the vehicle deck. Feeling like all I want to do is crawl into bed, I reluctantly get behind the wheel, staring apprehensively out at the city I don’t know my way around. Luckily Henry’s sitting in the passenger seat with a printout of Google Maps, directing me where to go. I stall three times on the way to our flat (I blame the hill starts) and eventually arrive at the flat, which Sophie found on the Internet over the holidays and which I haven’t actually seen yet. It’s tucked away off a little side street, a typical Wellington villa – old fashioned, wooden, on the side of a hill. Everything in Wellington is on the side of a hill. It’s just the rule.
There’s even room on the side of the road for the car. I was expecting to have to shrink it magically and keep it in the kitchen, so this is a bonus. We take our stuff out of the car – one bag each – and Sophie pulls out the front door key with a flourish, unlocking the door and stepping inside.
I shotgun my room, the larger one at the front of the house, before roaming around and helping set up. We’ve used reducio on all our furniture, and there’s a couch the size of a toaster sitting along one wall where Sophie’s abandoned it.
“D’you think we might have damaged the fridge by shrinking it?” she asks worriedly, poking the plug into the socket. “It doesn’t seem to be working.”
“Did you turn on the power?” Henry asks.
“The mains? We have to do that?”
“Oh.” Sophie gets to her feet and trots outside. I take the liberty of charming the couch to the right size and sprawl out on it.
“Pretty keen for this uni thing,” I decide.
“Same. You’re not jealous of the others?”
“Nah. Not in the slightest. This is Wellington, nothing gets cooler than Wellington.”
NB: All graphics in this story are mine unless stated otherwise.