Chapter 15 : Muggle Watching
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We got lost twice trying to find the security area. Mum wound up asking a Muggle who worked at a fast food place for directions and we finally got there. The line at the ticket counter was nothing compared to the line for security. This line was so long that I couldn't even see the security centre.
"Here we are," Dad said as we got into one of the lines, "We'll just have to wait for a while."
A while was an understatement. I think we stood in that line for nearly an hour. I had gotten so bored that I had started listening in on other people's conversations and counting the different number of accents and languages I'd heard. So far I'd heard about six different accents of English, and five different languages that I couldn't understand.
"Can we get something to eat now?" Matt asked for what must have been the tenth time.
"I told you, we'll eat after security," Dad said shortly.
"But I'm hungry now," Matt whined.
"I know. But we're almost to the front of the line and we're not going to wait in this again."
"And my feet hurt," Matt added.
"So do mine. Would you just shut up?" I snapped at him. I was thoroughly sick of his complaining. It was his fault we had to go to New York anyway.
"Amy, don't say 'shut up'. Matt, we'll be done soon. Want me to carry you?" Dad asked.
Matt nodded and Dad picked him up. I rolled my eyes. He was such a baby sometimes. Of course, Mum and Dad kind of enabled it.
After another fifteen minutes of complete boredom, in which I counted twenty sunburned and confused looking tourists, our turn at the security centre finally arrived.
"Put your bags up here," a bored looking woman, who was loudly chewing her gum, pointed to a conveyor belt that led to an x-ray machine. It looked pretty much the same way it did the last time we flew to New York.
Mum and I lifted all the suitcases and carry-on bags onto the belt and watched as they made their way down to the machine.
"Good, good," gum-chewing lady muttered after all our bags had gone through the machine. "Carry-on?" she pointed to the four smaller bags.
"Yes," Dad replied.
The woman nodded and picked up the four smaller bags. She set them down on the floor and then put the bigger suitcases onto the back of a nearby cart.
"All right," she said after she was done, "Take off any metal you've got on. Empty your pockets. Put them in this bucket." The woman put a bucket onto the conveyor belt.
I couldn't help but start to giggle at those instructions. Muggles were strange sometimes. I reached into my pockets and pulled out a few Bertie Bott's Beans, a hair tie, and to my horror, a few Knuts. Why were those still in there? I thought I'd taken them out. Great, now the Muggles were going to see wizard money. I groaned inwardly and tossed them into the bucket. Maybe the woman would just think they were some sort of novelty item.
Once we had all finished emptying our pockets, the woman gestured for us to go through the metal detector. Mum went through first, then Dad, and then Matt. The three of them went through fine, but when I went through, the machine emitted a loud beeping noise.
I shrieked and jumped over to where my family was standing. "What was that?"
"Step back through, please," the woman said.
I sighed and did what she told me to do. Why had it been me to set off the metal detector? I emptied my pockets. I didn't have anymore metal on me.
"Did you put all your metal in the bucket? Empty your pockets?" the woman asked. "Haven't got any jewelry on?"
"I took it all off," I muttered.
"Step through again," the woman said in a bored voice.
I went through the metal detector again and it started beeping. I stepped back over to where the woman was standing, but the beeping didn't stop. She sighed and started fiddling around with the machine.
People were starting to stare now. There were a few other lines of people waiting their turn at the security center and most of them were now looking in our direction.
"Figures," a large man wearing a horribly tacky Hawaiian T-shirt muttered, "Always get in the line with the dodgy metal detector."
"Is it going to take long to fix, mam?" the large man's wife shouted.
"I don't know," gum-chewing lady answered, not looking up from the machine.
"Can you at least turn off the beeping?" the wife asked.
"I'm trying!" gum-chewing lady replied shortly.
I edged away from the metal detector towards where my family was standing. Mum was staring at the machine and shaking her head. Dad had an amused look on his face and was trying not to laugh. He gave me a half-hearted smile and shrugged.
"Make it stop!" Matt screwed up his eyes and covered his ears. Dad picked him up again and he buried his face in Dad's shoulder.
"I'm sorry about this," the lady stopped messing with the machine and turned to my parents, "I don't know what's wrong with it. If you'll just hang on a second." She pulled out a phone and started muttering into it.
A few moments later, a man carrying a long black probe thing appeared and started talking to the lady. I couldn't hear what they were saying over the beeping, though.
"That your daughter?" the man shouted over the beeping.
"Yes," Dad replied.
"She empty her pockets?"
"Yes, we all did," Dad answered.
I could feel my cheeks burning. Why had I set the thing off? And why was it still beeping? Maybe it was broken.
The man seemed to be thinking the same thing because he was now inspecting the metal detector. He pushed a few buttons and it started beeping even louder. People were now stopping to stare at us.
The man pulled out his own phone and muttered something into it. Then he did something else to the metal detector and it finally stopped beeping.
"It's broken," the man said to the gum-chewing lady. "I'll use the manual one."
The man gestured for me to go to him.. I turned around and looked at my parents. Dad nodded his head and I walked over to him. He had me hold my arms out and he waved the probe thing around my body. It didn't beep and I breathed a sigh of relief once he lowered it.
"Sorry about that," the man said once we had rejoined my family and were collecting our stuff, "I don't know why the machine broke."
"That's all right," Dad replied.
The man and the gum-chewing woman were now trying to explain to the people waiting behind us in line that the machine was broken and they'd have to join a different line. The large man and his wife were not taking the news very well and were yelling at the two workers and waving their arms around.
"Glad that's done with," I said once we started walking away from the security center. "Stupid bloody machine."
"Amy, it's actually the magic that was causing the machine to not work correctly," Dad told me, "All four of us emit a kind of magical impulse all the time and the machine kind of went haywire with so much magic around."
"Didn't happen last time," I pointed out.
"Different machine," Dad shrugged, "Anyway, we've got to go get our passports checked."
I followed my parents through the mass of people towards the passport area. I hoped there wouldn't be any metal detectors to go through.
As it turned out, the passport thing only involved standing in another boring line (surprise, surprise), and then Dad handing our passports to the lady behind the counter. She stamped something on them and then handed them back.
"Now can we eat?" Matt asked as we walked away from the passport counter.
"Yes," Dad smiled at him, "Now all we've got to do is go to Terminal 16 and wait for the plane. We've got about an hour. There'll be someplace to buy food at the terminal."
Terminal 16 was far away from the passport counter. We had to squeeze through loads of people to get there. When we got there, I saw that it was basically a huge waiting area surrounded by a few little shops and fast food places. There were couches and chairs and random newspapers and magazines laying around. There were also three or four televisions mounted on the walls, but they were all tuned to boring Muggle news stations.
Dad led us over to a few empty chairs and set his carry-on bag down onto one of them. He started looking around the terminal and said, "Well, what should we have to eat? I see McDonald's and what appears to be some kind of sandwich shop."
"Why don't you just go get a few sandwiches?" Mum suggested, "We'll wait here."
"Sounds good," Dad replied and set off to get food.
I dropped my bag onto the ground and sat down on one of the chairs. A whole hour until the plane was supposed to arrive. An hour of boredom in an airport. And then over twenty hours of boredom on a plane. I leafed through the Muggle magazines that were on the table next to me. 'Preventative Health', 'Star Watch' (which, to my dismay, did not have anything to do with stars in the sky), 'Cars & Trucks', 'Surfer's Weekly', and numerous newspapers. I sighed and tossed them all back down onto the table. Why didn't they put anything interesting to read down on the tables?
Dad returned a little while later with sandwiches, drinks, and biscuits. I practically inhaled mine. It was amazing how you could get so hungry just by waiting in a bunch of lines all morning. I was just happy that that part of the trip was over. Of course, we'd have to wait in more lines when we got to New York, but that was still hours away.
After I finished my food, I resorted to 'Muggle Watching', which I really had been doing all morning and hadn't had a good name for. The large man in the ugly shirt and his wife showed up shortly after I finished eating. They took seats opposite us and started looking through the pathetic assortment of magazines. The man picked up 'Cars and Trucks', while his wife (who was almost as large as her husband) chose 'Preventative Health'. The two of them quickly became absorbed into their reading material and I gave up on watching them.
Behind me, a couple were in the midst of an argument about what they would do first when they reached New York.
"I think we ought to just go to the hotel. We're going to be completely exhausted," the man was saying.
"I told my parents we'd go to their flat first," the woman said, "You'll have plenty of time to sleep after."
"I don't want to go to your parents' on practically no sleep," the man insisted.
"Fine, you get your beauty sleep. And after we'll go see my parents. Maybe we'll spend the entire week with them."
"Oh, no. This was supposed to be our holiday. We're not spending the whole time with them."
"We'll see," the woman muttered.
In the middle of the waiting area, a husband and wife were chasing four little kids around. None of the kids looked above the age of eight. How they were going to keep the kids still on the plane was a mystery to me.
"Charlie! Get back here!" the wife shouted at the oldest, who was climbing all over the empty chairs.
Charlie jumped off the chair and ran in the opposite direction that his mother was standing. His sister, who looked about five or six, had picked up a pile of magazines and newspapers and was throwing them into the air. They floated slowly down, a few landing on the people sitting nearby.
"Tara!" her mother shouted and started to pick up the fallen magazines. She set them back on the table, muttering apologies to the people sitting nearby.
The husband had caught up with the other two kids, who I thought were twins. They had been picking up newspapers as well and throwing them all over the floor. One of the twins started screaming when his dad took away the newspapers.
He picked up both kids at once and carried them over to where he and his wife had dumped their carry-on bags. The wife met him over there a few minutes later, with Charlie and Tara's hands clamped firmly in her own. Other people were peering at them over their reading material, probably grateful that they didn't have to travel with four young children.
Once the kids settled down, I continued to take count of who else would be traveling on the plane with us. A bloke who looked to be in his late teens was sleeping in a chair next to the one Charlie had been climbing on. He was dressed in all black and had ear buds in his ears. A few chairs down from him was a businesswoman typing on a laptop. It was definitely an interesting group of people to be traveling on a plane together.
I turned away from the businesswoman and looked to see what my own family was up to. Dad had picked up one of the Muggle newspapers and was reading it, shaking his head and smirking every so often. Mum was reading a novel that she had brought. Matt was sitting in between them, completely absorbed in his Nintendo DS. They weren't nearly as interesting as the Muggles who were in the waiting area. Of course, if the Muggles knew we were witches and wizards, they would probably think we were the most interesting people in the entire airport.
As the time wore on, more and more people began to congregate in the waiting area for Terminal 16. I soon lost track of the young family, black-clad teenager, businesswoman, arguing couple, and the couple from the security centre.
"Should be boarding anytime now," Dad mentioned as he glanced at his watch. He had put down his Muggle newspaper and was watching the television that was displaying the weather. "Looks like we'll have good weather for at least part of the flight."
The last time we flew to New York, there had been a huge thunderstorm during the flight. It was pretty scary. Lightning is much scarier when you're up close and personal with it. I had been hoping this flight would be storm free.
"Jack said there's about three inches of snow on the ground right now," Dad continued, "And they're expecting a storm a couple days from now. You kids will be able to see a real blizzard."
"Excellent," I grinned. I had never seen snow in real life and couldn't wait to experience it. That was one good thing about this trip.
"Flight 531, Sydney to New York, is now boarding at Terminal 16," someone announced over the loudspeaker.
People all around us started getting up and collecting their things. Parents were shouting their kids names, trying to find them. I got up and swung my bag over my shoulder. Dad fished the tickets out of his pocket and we followed him to the back of the boarding line.
I peeked out from the line and saw that there was another metal detector at the front of it. Great, I thought, another one. I only hoped the magic wouldn't interfere with this one.
The line to board the plane moved relatively fast, compared to all the other lines we had waited in that day. Dad handed the ticket lady our tickets and she gestured for us to step through the metal detector.
I held my breath as I followed Dad through it. Then I breathed a big sigh of relief when it didn't make a sound. Mum and Matt walked through after us and neither of them set it off either.
We walked towards the plane, following the businesswoman, and finally emerged into the coach section. It was already crowded with people settling in for the long flight ahead.
Dad looked at our ticket stubs and gestured to us to follow him. Our seats were about halfway down the plane on the right side. Mum and Dad got the two seats closest to the front of the plane, and Matt and I sat behind them. I gladly let Matt have the window seat. I didn't want to look out the window at all during the entire flight. Then I could just pretend that we were still on the ground, even though I obviously knew we weren't.
"We're lucky we got seats together," Dad commented, "Considering how last minute I bought these."
"I like this seat," Matt said, "Look how tiny the people are." He peered out the window.
If they were tiny now, they would be impossible to see after we took off.
I put my bag under my seat and sat back in it. It was relatively comfortable, but I knew I would think otherwise in a few hours. There was a light above me, along with a set of headphones. On the side of the plane, just below the window, was a phone. Maybe I could call Kenzie if I got bored.
Matt had started fiddling with everything. He was turning the light on and off, messing with the headphones, and pulling the tray up and down. This was going to be a long flight. The last time we flew to New York, he had been hyper the first half and then slept the entire second half.
After what seemed like forever, one of the flight attendants finally announced that we were going to prepare for take-off. The seat belt lights came on and everyone made their way to their seats. The plane was packed with people and I couldn't see any empty seats.
I closed my eyes and squeezed the arm rests as the plane started up. I knew it wouldn't be taking off for a little while, since we had to get in line behind other planes and wait for our turn. That's pretty much all we'd been doing all day, was waiting in lines. But I was freaked out anyway. Take-off was my least favorite part of flying, well, that and landing. I wished I could just sleep through those parts. That was impossible, though, since they were also the noisiest.
The plane started moving forward and I opened my eyes a bit. Matt had closed his eyes and put his hands over his ears. Ever since he became a werewolf, he's hated loud noises. Dad told me that his ears are more sensitive now and every noise is a lot louder than normal for him.
A little while later, the flight attendant announced that we were going to begin take-off. I shut my eyes again and listened the engine rumble louder and louder. The plane vibrated and I could feel it tipping up and up into the air. My stomach churned and I swallowed, trying to keep my sandwich where it belonged. That was another thing I hated about flying, it always made me sick.
"How are you two doing?" I heard Dad ask.
"I feel sick," I muttered, my eyes still closed and hands still firmly holding onto the arm rests.
"My ears hurt," Matt's voice cracked, "It's too loud."
"It'll be quieter once we're fully in the air," Dad assured him, "You need a barf bag, Amy?"
"I've got one," I replied, hoping I wouldn't have to use it.
I opened my eyes and loosened my grip on the arm rests when the plane was finally fully in the air.
"You are now free to move about the cabin," the flight attendant announced.
Mum turned around in her seat and looked at us, "Better now?" she asked.
I nodded, not wanting to open my mouth. My stomach still felt uneasy, but it was starting to settle down.
"My ears still hurt," Matt said as he rubbed his ears.
"It's the air pressure changes," Mum explained, "Here, chew a piece of gum and they'll feel better." Mum handed Matt a pack of Muggle gum.
"Ta," Matt took the gum and started chewing a piece, "Hey, this stuff is good!"
Mum laughed, "Dad bought it where he bought the sandwiches."
"Want any, Amy?" Matt offered.
I shook my head and stared directly at the tray in front of me, trying not to think about the fact that we were hundreds of metres in the air.
"Welcome everybody," a voice announced, "This is your pilot speaking. I would like to welcome you to Air Australia Flight 531, Sydney to New York. There will be a brief layover in Los Angeles in order to re-fuel. Please see one of the flight attendants if you are in need of anything."
I was in need of being back on the ground, but I doubted the flight attendants would be able to give me that.
The noise of the engines quieted down to a low roar and the plane started flying a bit more steadily. Around me, the other passengers were settling in for a long flight. A few of them had already started leaning their heads back on pillows and closed their eyes. A fair amount of them had ear buds shoved into their ears. Others had pulled out various books, magazines, and newspapers. The business woman I had seen earlier had her laptop out again and was typing away. A few other people had laptops out as well. There were also some kids running up and down the aisles, followed quickly by their stressed out parents.
I dug around in my bag until I found one of my potions books. Of course, to the Muggle eye, it merely looked like a regular old novel. Mum had put charms on all the books I brought before we left so I could read them on the plane. She had even transfigured all of our wands to look like everyday objects. Mine looked like a Muggle pencil and was currently in my pocket. Not that I could really use it or anything, since I was underage. But if anything really bad happened, I'd be able to do something.
Mum and Dad had started talking to each other in low whispers. No doubt it was something not for the Muggles to hear. Matt was staring out the window and shouting out in delight at how small everything looked. It was becoming increasingly annoying.
"Amy, look! The houses look like someone put a shrinking charm on them!"
"Uh-huh," I muttered as I tried to focus on a chapter about the effects of clockwise stirring versus counterclockwise stirring on various potions. "I'd really rather not look."
"It's not that scary," Matt replied.
"I don't like heights."
"But you climb the wall into the bush," Matt pointed out, "And trees."
"That wall's not that high. And trees are different. I can climb down whenever I like and you can't even compare a tree's height to how high we are now."
"Yeah, but it's not like we're going to crash or anything," Matt said.
Great, now I was thinking about the plane hurtling to the ground and all of us dying a horribly slow fiery death. Clockwise and counterclockwise stirring, I thought, think about potions. Think about anything other than the plane crashing.
"And even if it did start to crash," Matt continued, "Mum and Dad would just Apparate us out of the plane."
Unless I was in the bathroom when it happened, I thought. Why did I always have to think the worst when we were flying? Breathe, I told myself, breathe.
I continued reading my book and ignored everything my brother said. He finally stopped talking and started playing his DS.
A/N: Thanks to Dancer_of_Starlight and Joanne K for betaing for me! Thanks as well to XDNLxtlz99 and Joanne K for their reviews!
Once again, I don't know much about security and stuff in airports, so I hope I didn't mess it up too badly!
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