Chapter 50 : Chapter 50
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James - who had been flicking through a Charms textbook on Lily’s bed - got up and headed downstairs. ‘That would be great. Thank you,’ he said, walking into the kitchen. Mr Evans, who was rifling through a big white cupboard, jumped and dropping the lettuce he was holding.
‘Didn’t expect you to come down so quickly,’ Mr Evans said, putting a variety of vegetables on the kitchen bench. ‘Did you use magic?’
James laughed. ‘No, sir. Just quick. Do you need any help?’
‘No, no, I’m fine. Do you like pickles?’
James wrinkled his nose. ‘Erm, not really,’ he said.
‘Good, me either. Lettuce?’
‘Yes, sir.’ Mr Evans set about cutting the lettuce with a long knife. James watched curiously; his mother had used magic to cut vegetables, as had Noddy. Using knives seemed dangerous.
‘Tomato?’ James shook his head. ‘Cucumber?’
Mr Evans finished their sandwiches and sat down at the kitchen table across from James. They ate in a slightly awkward silence. When they were done, Mr Evans finally broke the silence. ‘Are you in Gryffindor too?’
‘I am,’ James said, relieved that Mr Evans hadn’t asked him a muggle question.
‘Good. Lils always swore she’d marry a Ravenclaw, but I know her too well to think she’d end up with anyone but a Gryffindor.’
‘You seem fairly familiar with the Houses.’
‘Lily misses Hogwarts over summer and I’m the only one she can talk to about it, especially since she had that falling-out with the Snape boy; Petunia won’t listen to her and Heather’s too awed by the whole thing. I think it makes Lily uncomfortable – having her mother in so fascinated by her and her world. To Heather, magic’s special – you heard her when Lily wanted to clean the carpet with magic -‘
‘You don’t think magic’s special?’ James asked, curiously.
‘Yes and no. I don’t have it and neither do Petunia or Heather, but Lily has it and that makes her special but it also made her an outcast growing up. Things... happened. I’m sure you were the same?’
‘Mum said I showed signs of magic earlier than most; apparently I turned our owl orange when I was a month old. Then again, my parents were both magical, so they were sort of expecting it.’ Mr Evans’ face had saddened at James’ past tense when he spoke about his parents but he didn’t comment.
‘Lily showed signs early too, but nothing quite that strange so we fabricated explanations and ignored the signs. When Petunia was six and Lily was four, they were playing a game – I forget what it was called – and Petunia had managed to climb up onto the refrigerator. Long story short, she slipped off. When I came inside to see what all the screaming was, I found Lily hiding under the table and Petunia hovering an inch off the ground, shaken, but completely unharmed.’
James smiled. He’d have to tell Sirius that story. ‘Sorry, sir, but what’s a “Frigegator”?’ he asked, addressing the one part of the story he couldn’t make sense of.
‘Refrigerator,’ Mr Evans said, chuckling. ‘The big white thing in the corner. It keeps food cold.’
‘Can I see?’ James asked. Still laughing, Mr Evans led him over to the refrigerator and opened it. Cold air washed over James. He grinned, delighted, closed the door and opened it again. ‘There’s a light in there!’
‘That’s so you can see what you’re getting out,’ Mr Evans said, clearly finding the whole thing hilarious.
‘Does it stay on when the door closes?’ James asked, peering through the almost closed door. ‘Oh! The light’s gone out!’ He opened it again.
‘I suppose this is magic to you, isn’t it?’ Mr Evans said, sitting back down.
James gave the refrigerator one last longing look, closed it and then sat down, nodding. ‘We use Freezing Charms on everything and just keep it in the cupboards.’
‘Do you have televisions?’ James shook his head, curious. ‘Telephones?’ he asked pointing to a white object on the bench. James shook his head again, staring at the object. ‘Not even in your houses? Do wizards just communicate with letters, then?’
‘Mostly,’ James said, nodding. ‘We also use the Floo Network.’ Mr Evans stared at him blankly. ‘Er, well, we can talk with fire. Just put powder in and say an address and then you can talk through it.’
‘Does it hurt?’
‘No. You get ash everywhere though. Mum hated it. What does a fellytone do?’
‘Telephone.’ James cursed himself for getting the name wrong again.
‘Basically, every phone has a number associated with it, so you put the number in and then you can talk to people.’
‘I have a mirror that does that,’ James said.
‘Yeah.’ James pulled his mirror out of his pocket and passed it to Mr Evans.
‘You can call anyone with this?’
‘No, just its pair. Pad- My friend Sirius has the other one.’
‘The same Sirius that’s coming tonight?’ Mr Evans asked, returning the mirror.
‘Sirius... is it Blue? Sirius Blue?’
‘Sirius Black,’ James said, stifling a laugh. Mr Evans nodded. ‘Sir,’ James asked suddenly. ‘Why did you laugh when your wife asked if Lily was forcing me to marry her?’ It had been bothering him all afternoon.
Mr Evans laughed. ‘Because I’ve heard quite a bit about you, James. I know that you’ve pestered Lils for years, and you’d tried almost everything to get her attention. I also know that until a few months ago, the affection was completely one-sided.’ James wasn’t sure what to say to that. Mr Evans smiled. ‘I don’t know what you did to win her over but - unless you put a spell on her – I’m glad you did it. I don’t think I’ve seen her this happy since she got her Hogwarts letter.’
James beamed. ‘It was actually Peter – one of my friends – who did it. He accidentally glued her hand to Sirius’ so she was forced to spend time with me because of it.’ Mr Evans laughed. ‘Sir,’ James asked before he lost his nerve, ‘does it bother you that she used to hate me?’
‘I don’t think she’s ever hated you. I think it was more that she didn’t know how to respond to the constant attention you were giving her.’
‘If it wasn’t hate it was very strong dislike,’ James pressed, his hand flying up to play with his hair.
‘James, I trust my daughter. If she thinks you’re worth it, then you are.’
‘It’s that simple?’ James asked, feeling relieved.
‘It’s that simple,’ Mr Evans said with a smile. ‘Now, would you like me to show you how to use the television?’
‘I’d like that, but could you wait until Sirius gets here?’ James asked.
‘What time is he coming?’
James checked the clock on the kitchen wall. ‘Anytime now.’ There was a loud knocking on the door and then a loud ringing noise. James jumped. ‘What was that?’
‘That’s a doorbell,’ Mr Evans said, smiling as the sound rang out again. ‘You press a button to let the people inside know you’re there.’
‘Sorry,’ James said.
‘What for?’ Mr Evans asked, getting up.
‘Having to explain everything to me.’
‘It is strange. People- muggles just know these things. I’ve never stopped to consider why we use them and then here you are with no idea what it even is.’ The bell rang again. ‘Coming!’
‘Did it work?’ Sirius asked, pressing the button again as Mr Evans opened the door. ‘We’ve learnt about these in Muggle Studies.’
‘Hey, Pads,’ James called from over Mr Evans’ shoulder. ‘This is Lily’s dad.’
‘Harold,’ Mr Evans said, sticking out his hand. ‘Yes, it did work.’
‘Brilliant,’ Sirius said, shaking it. ‘Do you mind if I come in? It’s cold out here.’
‘Of course, come in, come in.’ Mr Evans shepherded Sirius inside and closed the door. ‘Can I get you anything to eat or drink?’
‘No, thank you,’ Sirius said, looking around. He spied a picture of Petunia’s first day of school hanging in the corridor. ‘It’s not moving!’ he cried, jabbing a finger at it.
‘Muggle pictures don’t move,’ James informed him, feeling knowledgeable.
‘How odd. Why didn’t they teach us this in Muggle Studies? Would you like me to fix it?’ he asked Mr Evans. ‘I can get her moving.’
‘Really?’ Mr Evans looked quite excited to see some magic. In response, Sirius pulled his wand out and tapped the picture frame. The Petunia in there smiled and waved at her father and looked curiously at the boys.
‘Incredible! It’s like a miniature television.’
‘What’s a television?’ James asked. ‘You mentioned it before but-’
‘It’s a screen that people move around inside.’
‘You have miniature people!?’ Sirius demanded, eyes bright. ‘Where?!’
‘No, no, it’s a screen that shows moving pictures, like this photograph.’ Mr Evans said, eyes shining with laughter. ‘You can watch channels, or you can put in a video.’
‘A video?’ James asked. ‘I have a video!’
Sirius nodded excitedly. ‘I bought him one!’
‘Have you got it with you?’ Mr Evans asked. James suspected anyone else would have sounded condescending as they said it, but Mr Evans managed to say it with amused curiosity.
James nodded. ‘Lily said we’d be able to watch it.’
‘What’s it called? The video, I mean.’
‘“Bambi”,’ James told him happily.
Mr Evans chuckled. ‘As in the one about the deer? A children’s film?’
James rounded on Sirius. ‘You bought me a children’s video?!’
‘I didn’t know it was for children,’ Sirius said defensively. Then he laughed. ‘I suppose the cartoon of the deer in bright colours should have been a bit of a give-away.’
‘Probably,’ James agreed, laughing as well.
‘Why don’t you wait for Lils before you play your video,’ Mr Evans said. James nodded.
‘Where is Lily?’ Sirius asked, glancing at the refrigerator as if she might jump out of it.
‘Shopping with her Mum and Petunia,’ James answered.
‘Petunia?’ Sirius said, his tone sharpening ever so slightly. ‘As in,’ his eyes flicked to Mr Evans, ‘her... sister?’
‘That’s her,’ James agreed, knowing Sirius had just omitted several adjectives. The telephone rang. ‘Is someone calling? Can I answer?’ James begged.
‘If you'd like to,’ Mr Evans said.
James dashed over to the phone and picked it up. ‘HELLO!’
'Just talk. You don't need to shout.'
‘Hello.’ a grumpy voice said on the other end. ‘Who is this?’
‘James Potter. Who’s this?’ Sirius beamed and gave him a thumbs up. James couldn’t actually see Mr Evans but he could hear him laughing from the next room.
‘Vernon. Is Petunia there?’
‘No, she’s out shopping with Lily and Mrs Evans.’
‘Is Harold there?’ Vernon sighed.
‘I’d like to talk to him.’
‘Oh, all right.’ James walked toward the kitchen door. Behind him, the rest of the telephone clattered to the floor. He picked it up hastily and set it back in its place. ‘Hello?’ he asked to check if it was working.
‘I thought you were getting Harold.’
‘Sorry, I didn’t realise I couldn’t carry the telephone.’
‘Mmph,’ Vernon said.
‘Wait there and I’ll get him.’ James put the telephone back on its holder. ‘Mr Evans? Sir? Someone called Vernon wants to talk to you.’
‘Coming,’ Mr Evans called. He picked the telephone up. ‘Hello? Hello?’ Mr Evans glanced at James for a second and then smiled. He spun the dial on the telephone and then held it up to his ear. James and Sirius watched, baffled. ‘Hello, Vernon.’ Vernon shouted unintelligibly on the other end. ‘Yes, yes, sorry about that... He doesn’t use phones very often... No, I assure you he didn’t hang up on purpose...’ James and Sirius shared a confused look. ‘Was there a reason you called before? Petunia’s out... Oh? She hadn’t told me she’d invited you...No, it shouldn’t be too much trouble – there are six of us already so another shouldn’t matter... Well you spoke to James, then there’s his friend Sirius, Lily, Heather, myself and Petunia... Mmmhmm... Yes.... All right, come any time. We’ll be here... Yes, good bye, Vernon.’
‘Did I do something wrong?’ James asked.
‘When you put the phone down, you ended the call. Vernon was a little... miffed.’
‘Sorry,’ James said.
‘Not a problem. Would the two of you mind helping me with a salad?’
‘Not at all,’ Sirius said. ‘We can even speed things up a bit.’ He waved his wand to prove his point.
Mr Evans smiled. ‘Could one of you get carrots out of the fridge? Bottom drawer.’
‘Fridge?’ Sirius asked.
‘The refrigerator, Mr I-Do-Muggle-Studies,’ James said, dragging his best friend across the room. ‘Look. It keeps things cold.’
‘There’s a light!’ Sirius exclaimed, poking it.
‘Brilliant, huh?’ James asked, grinning. ‘And you’ll never guess what happens to the light when you close the door...’
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