It took them fifteen minutes to reach Salma’s house which was situated in between a variety of buildings. The place looked very old and they couldn’t see the main road from there but Salma’s building seemed neat enough.
“Is this where you live?” Lily asked, looking around the surrounding in awe.
“Yup,” smiled Salma. She opened a side-gate in the building and parked her bike.
This time, Sirius couldn’t resist and finally blurted out, “I have never seen this kind of a bike before. Where did you get it?”
Remus and James, who had been staring at a little store that sold colourful sweets and chips while trying very hard to ignore the stares of the children in the street, turned to look at Salma too when Sirius asked that.
“It’s not exactly a bike,” replied Salma, ushering them inside her building. It had a weird name starting with R, which they couldn’t pronounce, and ended with ‘Complex’. “It’s a scooterette. Honda Activa.”
“It looks awesome,” praised James and Sirius nodded vigorously.
“Why haven’t I seen it before?” Lily muttered to herself as they ascended the stairs. “Maybe it’s just an Indian model.”
“Maybe,” Salma said. “But it has been very popular since 2005 or something.”
The Marauders thought 2005 was another type of bike but Salma told them that she had meant ‘year 2005’. At that revelation, they all did a double-take.
“2005? What year is this?” Remus asked sharply.
“2006,” came the reply.
Remus stared. “Why didn’t you tell us before?”
“Does it seem important in this situation?” retorted Salma. “Besides, it’s obvious. The first Harry Potter book was published in the late 90’s. Ah, here we are.” They didn’t argue with her. She was probably right. After the shock they had gotten a while ago, nothing could surprise them now.
They waited patiently after Salma rang the doorbell and a moment later, the door to her apartment opened to reveal a beautiful woman, who seemed to be in her late thirties of early forties. She had a short, plump figure and a rosy complexion.
Currently, her face did nothing to enhance her beauty…because it was contorted into an angry expression which was directed right at Salma. The woman didn’t seem to notice the Marauders and Lily.
“Kahan thi tum? You are late!” she scolded Salma.
“Mum!” Salma hissed in embarrassment and pointed to her guests. Salma’s mother immediately sobered up as she looked the boys and Lily up and down. She smiled kindly at them and sent Salma a questioning look.
“Later,” Salma said quietly into her ear. “You guys, come on in. Make yourselves at home.” Silently, the Marauders and Lily obliged. They found themselves in a medium sized room with a huge table at one side and adjacent to it stood two steel cupboards. As Salma talked quietly with her mother, the four Gryffindors observed the room they were in. It was an odd little room with peeling white paint and various books strewn here and there. There was also a sort of calendar hanging on a small hook but it was in a different language and even Lily couldn’t understand it. She wondered how many languages Salma’s family knew.
The huge wooden table was a complete mess. It disgusted Lily to see hundreds of books piled on top of it along with a compass box which seemed to have toppled over because its contents were everywhere. The table also held a few old newspapers, a pile of clothes and an empty water bottle, which looked like it had not been moved from its place for quite some time. Yet, including all this mess, the room looked pretty clean. Lily could see not one speck of dirt or cobwebs. They could easily deduce that Salma’s family was a decent one.
“I presume the table belongs to you?” James asked when Salma came over. She grinned and nodded. “Impressive.” The others, even Lily, laughed at this.
“What did you tell your mother? What did she say?” Lily asked, sobering up quickly.
Salma shook her head. “I haven’t told her anything yet. My dad will be home in an hour or so and then, I’ll talk to all of them together,” she responded, and shrugged when Remus asked her how many members did she have in her family. “Well, there’s my dad, my mum, my grandma and my stupid sister.”
“Stupid sister?” Sirius snorted. “That sounds promising.”
“Oh, you’ll see,” Salma said darkly, telling them that right now her sister was at her friend’s house.
“Right.” Trying not to look at Salma weirdly, Sirius looked down and rubbed his palms together. “So, care to tell us more about this fictionalHarry Potter? I am really curious to know how we are connected to him.” Remus could hear the bitterness in his voice but Sirius hid it well, because Salma made no indication that she noticed his sarcasm.
Actually, she looked a little awkward. “I don’t think I should tell you that,” she muttered, looking down, her expression guilty. The four friends looked at each other, puzzled.
“Why the hell not?” asked Sirius, his voice rising slightly.
“Because it will spoil your future,” came the small reply.
“What future are you talking about, Salma?” Lily asked gently, while Sirius shouted angrily, “What are you talking about? You already told us quite bluntly that we are not real. That we don’t exist.”
James nodded. “Yeah, and it kind of screams that we are not destined to have a future.”
Salma stared at the four of them, her anger rising as Sirius and James continued to fume. “Well, I am sorry but it’s not my fault you landed out of your bloody book!” Her voice was hard and loud and Lily winced visibly when she registered what Salma had said. Tears stung her eyes and she gulped hard to fight the lump down her throat. “I…I am sorry,” apologized Salma, when she realized what she had said had sounded very rude. “Oh, I am really sorry.” She leaned forward and hugged Lily. “I promise I will never say such a thing again.”
Lily nodded and smiled a watery smile. “But that doesn’t mean you won’t tell us about Harry Potter, who might very well be Potter’s son.” She glanced at James, who grinned.
“That doesn’t mean anything,” Salma corrected. “I will only tell you what you need to know. Now, come on, I’ll show you everything on the internet.” She turned around and bounded into a smaller room which was separated by the room they were standing in with a thin curtain.
“What’s an internet?” Remus asked, following her along with the others, who were just as confused.
“But I want to know everything!” protested Sirius, ignoring the bit about ‘internet’. “Who knows if we are even going back into the story book. What if we have to stay here for the rest of our lives?”
“Sirius, don’t say that,” Lily said, scowling slightly. “That’s not going to happen. Well, at least, I think it’s not.” She looked highly unconvinced but that effectively shut Sirius up. He merely nodded.
Salma settled down in front of an odd box like object and motioned for the four of them to kneel around her since there were no other chairs available in the small room. She pressed a couple of buttons and the box like object suddenly came alive. Salma grinned at their expressions. “This is a computer,” she answered before anyone could question her. “It’s highly advanced and can do everything that humans can do.”
“Honestly?” Sirius asked, impressed, poking the computer to see if his hand passed through or not. It didn’t. So, it was pretty solid. “Where’s its brain?” he asked, watching as weird things began to appear on the computer screen.
Salma laughed and pointed to another rectangular box, situated beside the computer screen. “That’s the CPU, the brain of the computer. This whole thing, along with this typing machine and this black mouse-like object is called a computer. Separately, they are termed as – monitor,” she jerked her thumb towards the square screen. “CPU, keyboard,” she pointed to the apparatus with loads on buttons. “And the mouse,” she finished, putting her right hand on the mouse and dragging it from side to side.
“Look! That tiny arrow moves along with it,” James exclaimed, awed.
“Yes, that’s how it works,” nodded Salma. And before they could ask any more questions, she said, “This isn’t important right now. I’ll show you how this thing works later. Let’s see what we can find about Harry Potter.”
“How are you going to find Harry Potter in this thing…er, computer?” Remus asked curiously. His knees were hurting him from kneeling since more than five minutes. He wished they had more chairs to sit on. But then again, it wouldn’t help much since it was such a small room. It only held the computer and a couple of wardrobes with vertical mirrors. Five chairs certainly wouldn’t fit in there.
“Via internet,” Salma replied absently absentmindedly, punching some buttons on the keyboard and after a moment, a beautiful picture of a setting sun appeared on the screen.
“What’s an internet?” Remus asked again, resting his elbow on the armrest of Salma’s chair. She explained to them that internet was a global computer network providing a variety of information and communication facilities, consisting of interconnected networks using standardized communication protocols.
“Whoa!” Sirius muttered, looking at Salma as if she had grown four more hands. “Could you shorten that down, please? I didn’t understand a thing.” James nodded his agreement but Lily and Remus remained quiet. It was a hard concept to digest. James and Sirius were purebloods. They didn’t even know about television.
“Basically, you just have to understand that internet knows everything. The world at the tip of your fingers,” she winked, smiling at their impressed faces. The four Gryffindors couldn’t believe the world had progressed so much since their time. They had never even thought that something like a computer could even be invented. “Okay, so I will type Harry Potter and we will see what information we get. He’s pretty famous.”
Salma punched a few more keys on the keyboard and waited. They were all staring intently at the monitor when suddenly she let out a surprised cry. She was staring at the screen in shock. “What? What happened?” James asked, sitting up straight.
“Wha…where?” Salma stuttered, seeming to be at a loss for words. She typed ‘Harry Potter books’ in the search bar. The page remained blank. Panicking, she quickly typed ‘Harry Potter wallpapers’ in there. But still, it remained blank. “Alright, Draco Malfoy should be here,” she muttered, more to herself and typed the name. The Malfoy named seemed familiar to the four Gryffindors but now was not the time to mention that. Salma was getting more and more panicked and frustrated. “One last time. Let’s try the harrypotterfanfiction site.”
She pressed ‘enter’. A second later, they were all staring at the same words on the otherwise blank screen – ‘Your search did not match any documents.’
Dun da da daaaaaaa! Guess what that means :D
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