Chapter 1 : Fit to Fly
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“Sure you can’t apparate?” Sirius asked his messy-haired friend. James raised an eyebrow as if questioning the basis for such a superfluous question. It had been two hours and they didn’t find the fun they had been looking for.
“I’m not sure all of me would make it,” James said with a smirk. “I happen to fancy my fingers and other bits.”
James and Sirius walked towards a map posted near a bus stop. “Not quite as useful as our map,” Sirius said walking past the faded information post. “Let’s go that way.”
“Padfoot, do you even know what there is over there?” James asked with a touch of exasperation to his voice. The last time Sirius chose their direction at random they ended up down a seedy alley where some guys were selling herbs in a plastic bag.
Sirius put two fingers to his forehead and screwed up his face in concentration. “My divination is a bit rusty, but I’m getting a strong cute muggles vibe,” Sirius finished with a laugh.
After walking several more blocks James stopped. “We’re lost, mate,” James said walking towards the curb of the sidewalk to peer down the street further.
A loud squeal of a revving engine caused both boys to stop and peer down the street. It difficult to see the vehicle through the rain but its roaring motor and gears were approaching their spot. Before either could step back from the curb, the motorcycle flew past splashing a wave of water onto James and Sirius.
Sirius, unlike James, wore a wide grin on his face. “Bugger it all. Why can’t I have one of those?”
“I don’t know if you’re quite mental enough for one of those, Padfoot,” James said pushing his soaked hair away from his face. “Besides, I don’t see the appeal, but we all need hobbies.”
“It’s a motorcycle, right? That’s what the muggles call it?” Sirius was still staring down the road where the motorcycle had disappeared from sight.
“Suppose it is,” James muttered taking his glasses off to wipe them on his sodden clothes. “Mind flagging the bus?”
Sirius shrugged, reaching in his jacket for the wand he was not allowed to use outside school. Within moments, the triple-decker purple bus came out of nowhere and created a wave of water that knocked James onto the curb. Sirius let out a sharp laugh and helped his friend up. Once onboard, Sirius gave the conductor silver for their ride and found seats toward the back where they debated the reasons to (or not to) get a motorcycle.
Stumbling off the Knight Bus some time later, Sirius and James were still soaked from their mis-adventure in London. As they walked up the path to the Potter house, Sirius tugged on James’ sleeve. “Shouldn’t we sneak in? They will want to know where we went,” Sirius asked with a touch of anxiety in his voice. Rule breaker he may be at Hogwarts but at the Potter’s he was a guest and did not want to overstep his boundaries.
James shrugged. “Never needed to before. Besides, they usually don’t ask where I’ve wandered off to,” he finished with a rogue smile.
“You could sneak in if you want, dears, but the garden fence is rather high and neither of you look up to the effort,” Mrs. Potter said from the flowerbed she was weeding.
James’ face fell. “Mum? We were just in Diagon Alley and, it rained, and –“
Mrs. Potter straightened up and smiled at her son. “And you were two teenage boys out for a bit of a romp in the rain?” James was mouthing words soundlessly. “You’re both 16 and full of energy. I’d be worried if you were holed up in Godric’s Hollow every day. Just, try not to get so wet next time.” Mrs. Potter waved her wand causing James and Sirius to dry off, all mud gone from their clothes. “Dinner is in an hour, you should both wash up.”
“Thanks, Mrs. Potter,” Sirius said hurrying inside. Once they reached James’ room Sirius sank onto the bed. “I cannot believe how cool your mum is. If we had got caught my mum… our heads would be on the same wall as the house elves.”
The next day, Sirius and James decided to walk to the next village for something to do. Settling in at a café for a biscuits and tea, Sirius pulled open a newspaper. “What are you, 80?” James asked critically. “Next you’ll be knitting me a scarf.”
Sirius ignored the remark while he flipped through the sections of the paper. “Here! Motorcycles. Muggles sell them here.” Laying out the paper on the table, Sirius pointed to the ads in the classified section.
James raised his eyebrow at the ads. “What are those numbers there? It can’t be the price.”
“Did you sleep through every Muggle Studies class you took? That’s a phone number, dolt.” Sirius had slept through most of those classes too but remembered what the bits of digits were after the professor explained muggles often exchanged them as part of a courting ritual. Evidentially the numbers were also useful for buying and selling.
“How do we use it?” James asked with a thoughtful expression. “Oh, I know this one. The telephone.” Pausing a moment, as if he spotted a problem with this scenario, he said, “Where do we get a telephone?”
Sirius and James sat back in their chairs to ponder their dilemma. The café was full of muggles but it would be suspicious to go ask them where they could find a telephone. What if they thought the two blokes were trying to start a courting ritual with them? When the waitress brought their tea and biscuits by, Sirius stopped her and asked with, what he hoped was a winning smile, “Excuse me miss, where could we find a telephone?”
James averted his eyes from the situation. He couldn’t bear the idea of Sirius making them look like fools. Unfazed by the question, the young waitress pointed at a glass box across the street. “Over there,” she said before going to another table.
Neither wizard understood why the telephone was in a giant glass box but decided to go there after their tea. When they got their check, there were also numbers on the back. “She gave us her number,” Sirius said grinning. “This courting ritual does work.” James rolled his eyes before getting up from his seat.
They had read through the ads and decided to call one that was selling a World War II era motorcycle with a passenger car attached. “How does this work?” Sirius asked standing outside the glass box. He could see the telephone but wasn’t sure how to get at it. “Do we have to break the glass? That doesn’t seem practical.”
“I think this is a door,” James said pushing on a bit of the glass that had a hinge on it. The door slid open. Sirius stepped inside as did James. It was a tight fit. “Is this meant for two people? Ouch! You’re stepping on my foot.”
“Oh, it’ll just take a second for me to do this. Don’t fidget, you’ll get in the way.” Sirius closed his eyes to recall the diagram they had for using a telephone. Picking up the receiver with one hand, Sirius pressed the numbers from the phone. The phone began to ring which surprised Sirius so much he almost dropped the phone. A short and awkward conversation later, Sirius found out that the motorcycle was still for sale and that the bloke selling it lived a few blocks off Main Street.
“D’you think he’ll take galleons for it?” James asked as they walked over to the seller’s house.
“Dunno, I guess we’ll find out,” Sirius said with a shrug.
The motorcycle was a dark, military green and looked like it had been well taken care of by the owner. “This bike and me saw some good times,” the man said fondly. “Would still be riding it but my hip went bad this spring and the doctor says I can’t keep riding.”
James and Sirius exchanged looks of awkward nervousness. What were they supposed to say to that? Sirius decided to stick to business. “Can I take her for a ride?” he asked while running his hand over the handles.
The old muggle nodded and went to his porch for a moment to grab the keys. “Do you know how to ride this, Padfoot?” James asked with an askance look to his friend.
Sirius shook his head, causing his chin-length hair to whip around his face. “I can fly a broomstick and I once rode a bicycle. This shouldn’t be much harder than that.”
Oh how he was mistaken.
The muggle didn’t ask about Sirius’ motorcycle riding experience before putting the key in the ignition, which Sirius didn’t notice before. He straddled the motorcycle, kicking down and rotating part of the handle. The engine revved and the entire bike came to life. Stepping off the bike, the aged muggle said, “Let me show you how this works, son. Get on the bike.”
Sirius swept his leg over the motorcycle feeling the bike’s engine purr underneath him. Suddenly he was grateful that he would get at least brief instructions on how to work this contraption. After being shown the throttle, brake, gear, and clutch Sirius put on his most winning grin hoping to hide his apprehension.
“Okay, Black, just don’t crash,” Sirius muttered to himself. Checking that James and the muggle were a safe distance away, which happened to be on the porch of the muggle’s small house, Sirius rotated his wrist and let off the brake with his other hand and he was off.
A gush of wind hit his face, causing his hair to brush back. Without caring if others could hear, Sirius let out a shout of glee. Then came the shed. It had been so far away when he first started but it was approaching fast. The shout of glee turned into a scream of panic as Sirius jerked the handles to one side causing the bike to swerve.
Flying instincts came in handy as he leaned into the turn and managed to stay upright on the bike. Hugging the curve around the shed was magnificent. A rush of ecstatic freedom hit Sirius with the speed and intensity of a well-aimed jinx. Feeling all of his worries slip away, Sirius forgot about the war, his rocky relationship with his family, and… STEERING!
With a thud and a yell Sirius hit a chicken coop, knocking the small dwelling off the blocks it had been placed on. Sirius could hear the James loudly assuring the muggle that he had misheard the shriek and bang from behind his house. Deciding that it was worth a bit of underage magic, Sirius pulled out his wand and fixed the minor damage to the henhouse. He could not, however, think of a spell to calm chickens down.
“Everything alright?” the muggle asked panting. “I guess the engine startled those clucking nuisances.” The muggle was looking around as if expecting to see evidence of a crash. His eyes did not detect anything out of place so he decided he had indeed imagined the crashing noise. “How did you like her?” he asked returning his attention to the young man standing next to his bike and wearing a grin that told him his bike was as good as sold.
Sirius and James snuck the bike to the Potter residence but knew that it would eventually be found by James’ parents. While they were generally hip and understanding about rule breaking, neither James nor Sirius thought they’d see the wisdom of this muggle vehicle. They managed to hide the motorcycle for a few days at the Potter household but decided Sirius might need to find a place of his own to tinker on his bike. Telling Mr. and Mrs. Potter that he didn’t want to overstay his welcome and promising to visit often, Sirius found a small house close to a wizard community where he could live as to not disrupt the Potters with his new motorcycle obsession.
James came by almost every day with food from his mum and an eagerness play around on Sirius’ bike. The small house had one bedroom which didn’t quite fit a bed in it, a kitchen that was just big enough for one person to stand in, and a sitting room that held was just big enough for three or four guests to comfortably sit. Sirius was laid out on the floor using pillows to prop up the book he was reading. James sat on the couch while his friend read. It was unusual to see him so studious.
“Is there an exam I don’t know about?” James asked picking up the book next to him on the couch. “Why do you have a book on flying charms?”
Sirius had purchased some tools for his motorcycle and bought every book Flourish and Blotts had on flying charms. There were only two so it wasn’t exactly an excessive order. The sales clerk advised Sirius against trying to make his own broomstick as “such experiments rarely turn out well.”
Sirius wasn’t sure where he got the idea for making his motorcycle fly. He supposed it was from the way it turned and how the rush of air in his face reminded him of being on his broomstick. The only thing was that his broomstick did not vroom impressively when he sped up. Instead of trying to vocalize the mix of emotions he felt at flying, Sirius just said, “Seems like a cool idea.”
“Let me get this straight,” James said with his head cocked to one side. “You’ve just figured out how to ride this without screaming like Evans when I left that engorged spider in her bag… and now you want to make it fly?” Sirius nodded not looking up from Flying Charms – A Beginner’s Guide. “Do you have a death wish?” James was smirking at his friend.
Sirius looked up from his book and glanced out his front window where he could see his shiny bike. Signing deeply he tried to express what made a flying motorcycle better than a regular motorcycle. “I feel a certain exhilaration when I fly, Prongs. Nothing else makes me feel like I do when I’m zooming through the air. Then there’s the absolute freedom I feel when I ride my bike. It’s one of the best sensations I’ve experienced.” Sirius rolled onto his back and stretched. “I want to be freeeee.”
“So… you have a death wish?” James concluded rolling his eyes. Despite his misgivings about magic and the muggle vehicle, James said, “I can help you but won’t we get hauled in for doing these charms? We’re not 17.” Sure, rules were quite often discarded at school where the worse punishment was detention. Magic outside of school could lead to nasty letters from the Ministry and expulsion.
“I don’t think they really track underage magic,” Sirius said taking his wand out. “I had to fix the coop I crashed into when I bought the motorcycle and I’ve been,” Sirius waved his wand causing the books to levitate, “doing magic since I moved here.” Looking around and catching James’ eye he said, “Haven’t been hauled in yet.”
The two friends, who had experience manipulating charms after the creation of their personal school map, found a handful of useful flying and protection spells to use on the bike. It took the better part of two weeks to get the charms to a point where they felt safe enough to take it for a test flight. While neither were sure if it would work, they wanted to take the motorcycle’s inaugural flight together. They rode out to the country after dinner to avoid attracting muggle attention. Sirius was reluctant to let James drive while he was on the bike. Instead, James crammed into the sidecar as he was too macho to hug his friend from behind.
“This is as good a spot as any,” Sirius shouted over the engine as he pulled off the road. “Ready, Prongs?”
James was full of anxiety and exhilaration about their imminent flight. Trying to sound cool and nonchalant he said, “Seems like as good a place as any. Ground looks soft at least.”
Grinning at his friend’s words, Sirius revved the engine and pushed a button at the end of the handle. They put the flying button in a place that wouldn’t accidentally get pushed. As he accelerated, the bike lifted off the ground and left the bit of road behind. Neither wanted to say it, but they were a bit surprised to not be on the cement with bits of metal scattered on the road. Both rode with just the sound of the engine in their ears.
“Put the silencer on!” James shouted poking his friend in the side. “Muggles might see us.”
Sirius who was laughing with reckless abandon hit the silencing button. “There, now we won’t be heard.” Realizing they didn’t have a destination, Sirius asked, “Where to?”
“How about Evans’ house?”
“You don’t know where she lives,” Sirius pointed out. “Let’s go to Moony’s place. He’s a few days out from the full moon. I’m sure he could use some entertainment.”
“Do you think he’ll take points off Gryffindor for this?” James asked laughing. Their friend was always at odds with their rambunctious behavior and his duty as prefect to uphold school rules. “Hey, Padfoot, can I fly the bike?”
“Can I use it on a date?”
“Because I want it back in one piece.”
“What if I promise to be safe?”
After a few moments of silence James began to laugh. He was laughing at nothing in particular just the thrill of flying. Sirius glanced at him and started a grin that turned into a raucous laugh. It was going to be a fun night.
A/N: I’ve never tried to just be funny before. Let me know if this made you laugh!