A/N. I am not sure about London's currency but as far as I know (and thanks to Jackie for the help) it's pounds. So if there's any mistake in that area, please bear with me. Thank you.
“What happened? What happened, then?” Hermione asked frantically when Remus paused, remembering their anxiety that day. The bushy haired girl had been so absorbed in the story, that one little break drove her beyond anxiety.
Meanwhile, Harry was unusually quiet. No doubt wondering whether he was a mere fictional character or lived in a parallel universe. Unlike Hermione, who was either trying to ignore that fact or else was really good at hiding her shock, Harry felt stunned at the revelation that anything could be possible. However, Salma was right. Thinking that they were in a parallel universe helped ease down the pain.
Forcing a smile on his thin face, Harry repeated Hermione’s question, because he, too, was curious to know what happened then. Remus looked at the two teenagers and continued his story.
“It’s them, isn’t it?” whispered Lily nervously.
Nobody answered her. They watched as the loud footsteps grew closer and a second later, Salma’s parents and an old woman, who they assumed to be her grandmother, entered the room. All of them looked cautious and determined at the same time, as if they didn’t believe anything but didn’t want to break their daughter’s heart. Salma’s father spoke first.
“So, you are the charac -” He stopped when Salma glared at him. “I mean, Salma’s friends.”
The boys and Lily nodded. “We really are sorry for the trouble, sir,” Remus began. “But Salma is right. We don’t have anywhere to go.”
“Because we are from a parallel universe and don’t know anyone here,” added Sirius while Remus rolled his eyes at him.
Mr. Shekh hesitated and then nodded. “Yes, you four can stay with us,” he said. “Salma has told us everything and although it’s hard to believe, we trust our daughter.” He looked pointedly at Salma with an expression that said ‘this better not be a lie, or else…’
“Thank you so much, sir,” Lily said, smiling gratefully at Salma’s family. “Salma is telling the truth. It’s the only possible explanation as to why we are here. We promise that we won’t cause any trouble.” She looked at James and Sirius and narrowed her eyes. They jumped and nodded as well.
Mrs. Shekh whispered something to her husband and he looked back at them. “Good, good. But there are a few rules in this house that are to be obeyed.”
They spent the rest of the afternoon talking with Salma’s family, getting to know them and trying to remember and learn their ways. They had a late lunch, during which Lily observed the four of them. She couldn’t help but notice how different they were from each other. Salma’s mother was a kind and gullible woman and Lily already liked her. Her name was Farida and she was little weak on the English language. She asked the boys and Lily to call her Aunt, instead of Mrs. Shekh.
Salma’s father, on the other hand, was smart, quick-tongued and firm in his ways. He sternly told them all to behave in his house and obey whatever his wife said. No smoking, no drinking…
“Not even fire-whiskey?” Sirius blurted out, without thinking.
Mr. Shekh frowned in confusion. He had no idea what a fire-whiskey was. But he shook his head. “No. Nothing that is even close enough to whiskey,” he said.
“What about our clothes, Mr. Shekh?” Remus asked. “We can’t roam around in robes everywhere and we don’t know how much time we are going to stay here.”
“I don’t have…I’ll ask for a loan from my boss, then we can go shopping tonight after I am back from work,” replied Mr. Shekh. He looked slightly disturbed and Lily could very well understand how it would feel. She would have been surprised and disturbed as well if her daughter brought home four strangers without any money.
“We understand, sir,” said Remus politely, looking guilty. He didn’t like to be dependant on others. “I -”
“Hey, what’s this?” Sirius said, cutting him off. Everybody looked at him curiously.
“What?” asked James.
“Hear the jingling sound?” Sirius said excited, shaking his robes vigorously. And sure enough, they could hear the jingling sounds, which could only mean one thing. “It’s money!” he exclaimed, digging his hands into the insides of his robes and extracting a handful of bills and pennies.
“Oh Merlin!” muttered Lily, staring at the pounds with awe.
“Where did you get them, Sirius?” Remus asked, touching the bills to see if they were truly real or not. When he found nothing wrong with them, he looked back up at Sirius, who shrugged.
“I swear I don’t know where they came from,” he said. “They were just there.”
“How can they be just there?” asked Remus, not believing his friend. It was not the first time Sirius had played a joke on them. “Did you steal them from your parents’ vault before –”
“Moony!” hissed Sirius, cutting off his werewolf friend who immediately fell silent realizing his slip up. “I did no such thing. Why don’t you check your own pockets?”
Salma’s family glanced at each other, thoroughly confused and not knowing what to say. While James and Lily obediently plunged their hands into their own robes, Remus looked skeptical. “I know I don’t have -” Poor boy was cut off again by Lily’s exclamation of surprise. “Now what is it, Lily?” he asked exasperated.
“Look!” she said, extracting bills from within her pockets at the same time James did.
“Wow,” murmured James, awed. He knew he didn’t have muggle money in his pocket. “Where do they come from?”
“Are we supposed to follow this?” intervened Mr. Shekh in a constricted voice as if he didn’t know what to feel – unsure or happy.
“Remus,” cried Salma, excitedly, following the pattern. “Do it. Check your robes!”
This time, Remus didn’t hesitate. He did as he was told and sure enough, within a minute of thorough searching, he pulled out the bills and coins from his robes. “But I didn’t put them there!” he stated, shocked.
“Neither did we,” Sirius told him, putting the money on the table before them all. “Let’s not waste time wondering where we got it, let’s just count it and see how much we all got.”
All four of them set about counting their possessions while Salma and her family watched them. Since it was muggle money, Mr. Shekh helped James and Sirius in counting theirs. Eventually, it turned out that all four of them had equal amount of money – an approximate value of fifty pounds.
“Not much,” sighed Lily sadly. “But it’s better than nothing.” Of course, she was grateful.
“Are you mad?” said Mr. Shekh, he was laughing now. “Indian currency is the Rupee. One pound is equal is eighty rupees! Imagine that.” He paused, looking up at the ceiling in deep thought, as if doing some kind of a calculation in his head. “That means, each of you have four thousand rupees right now. Add them up and we have a total of sixteen thousand rupees!”
“Woah,” said Salma while the others beamed at each other. This was turning out to be not that bad of a day for the Marauders and Lily.
“We are rich!” cried Sirius happily and everybody laughed. Indeed, they were rich. Now, Mr. Shekh wouldn’t have to take a loan from his boss. He left after a while, a smile on his face. Having Salma’s friends stay with them wouldn’t be such a bad thing after all.
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