THE MAY FAIR – A HARRY POTTER FAN-FICTION STORY
Word Count: 3483
Rating: G (suitable for all audiences)
Summary: Arthur Weasley takes James and Albus Potter to buy a backpack. He’s fascinated by a muggle fair.
As Arthur and Molly Weasley approached the front door after apparating from the Burrow, they could hear a cacophony of noise through the open kitchen window. They looked at each other and smiled at the familiarity. After their knocking was ignored, no doubt lost in the din, Molly conjured up a patronus to let Harry and Ginny know they had arrived.
Ginny had Lily over her shoulder as she opened the door. Lily was crying inconsolably, her face red. Ginny looked frazzled, but smiled at seeing her parents. “Mum, Dad! Thank you so much for coming.” She jiggled Lily up and down, which quieted her for a few moments. “Harry’s in the kitchen with the boys – come on in.”
Harry, like Ginny, was dressed in formal robes, though his were splotched with what looked like carrots and peas. He was leaning over the table with a rag. James’ chair was lifted so that he was level with the top. Albus was just sliding to the floor from his chair, his own face splattered with orange and green. Both boys whooped with excitement when they saw the visitors.
“Grandma, Grandpa! Guess what! I’m going to a camp!” shouted James excitedly, slipping off his chair and running to greet his grandparents. As his did so, his elbow bumped his glass and milk spilled over the table and onto the floor. Albus ran to hug Arthur and Molly, but didn’t notice the milk he ran through. He slipped and fell down. When he tumbled, the back of his head hit the leg of the table and he started to cry.
Molly unclasped her cloak, sent it to a hook on the wall, and reached down to pick up James. Holding him in her left arm, she drew out her wand, vanished the milk from the floor and tabletop, cleaned off Albus’ face and shirt, knelt down, and hugged Albus to her side. Setting James down, she first turned to the younger boy. “That must have hurt, Albus! Can I see the back of your head?” Albus buried his face in her arm. Molly rubbed her hand over his hair. “You’ll be all right. Can you smile for me now? If you keep crying,
I’ll think you don’t want to see me.”
Albus sniffled and looked up. “Can I have a cookie to feel better?”
“If he gets one, I get one! I get two ‘cuz I’m bigger!” James broke in.
“James! Albus! Neither of you are getting a cookie! If you’re still hungry you can have more breakfast.” Ginny put her free hand on her hip.
Harry floated the rag to the sink and shook his head. “I don’t know how you manage, Molly. Thanks for watching the kids this morning. With Lily sick, we can’t bring her to her sitter, and James needs to get a backpack before he starts camp tomorrow, but we both need to go into work today.”
“It’s no problem, Harry, you know that,” responded Arthur. “Molly can watch Lily while I take James shopping. Is this the muggle camp you told us about?”
“Yes, so he’s going to need a muggle backpack. I know you like to visit muggle stores or I wouldn’t have asked.”
“It’s a pleasure! Now, Albus, do you want to come with me and James or stay with Grandma and Lily?”
“Go with you, Grandpa!”
“Then it’s all set.”
By that time, Molly had the dishes cleaned and put away and was removing the stains from Harry’s robe. She held out her arms for Lily, who stopped fussing and was reaching for her nose.
Ginny sighed and grabbed her cloak. “Thanks, Mum, Dad.”
“Thanks,” echoed Harry as he donned his own cloak. “Mayfair is the big department store down the street. It’ll have backpacks. Just let me know how much it is.”
“No problem, Harry. Be off, both of you, have a good day. The kids will be fine.”
Twenty minutes and a cup of coffee later, Arthur headed out the door with the two boys.
“Do you have your muggle money?” reminded Molly.
“Of course, love,” Arthur responded.
“Which way now, James?” the grandfather asked as he reached the street.
“This way, Grandpa! Can’t you hear the fair?” James tugged his grandfather’s arm.
“Hurry, they may close!”
At first Arthur could just barely hear a distant sound of tinny music and the low rumble of a large group of people, but as he and the boys walked down the road, the sound became more distinct. Rounding a bend in the road, he saw the circle of the Ferris wheel looming over the trees.
“There it is, Grandpa! There’s the fair Daddy was talking about!”
Arthur looked down at James and smiled. “Well, I don’t think he meant this fair, but as long as we’re here we might as well go in.” He was as eager as the boys. He’d heard about such fairs in his job, but had never had the opportunity to visit one. Stepping up to the ticket window, he purchased three tickets.
James and Albus came to a halt as they entered the fairgrounds, both tightly holding their grandfather’s hands. The music from a dozen different rides, the smells from a variety of stands, and the colors from countless games of chance assaulted their senses. Shaking their heads and focusing on the nearest game, they pulled Arthur over to an open tent. Several dozen rubber ducks floated in a shallow pool. Arthur’s eyes lit up.
“Hi, mate!” a man in a striped shirt cheerily waved to them. “I can tell your young’uns are ready to win a fantastic prize!”
Arthur looked up from his study of the ducks. “And how does one win such a prize?”
“Easy, mate. Just toss a ring onto a duck. If you ring one, you get the prize that’s written on the bottom.” He pointed to a rack of stuffed animals in various sizes, as well as an assortment of other goods, including a blue backpack with a picture of a tyrannosaurus rex on it.
James’ eye lit up. “That’s what I want, Grandpa! I need that one for camp. I think the letter they sent us said our backpacks had to have a dinosaur on it.” He caught Arthur’s hesitation. “Please, Grandpa?” he pleaded. “I have to get a backpack and that one is perfect.”
Arthur smiled. “Well, you dad did send us out to get you a backpack.” He turned to the man behind the counter, now casually tossing the rings up in the air and catching them.
“I’ll give it a try.”
“That will be a pound for three rings.”
Arthur removed a pound from his wallet. The water began to gently lap against the sides of the pool, bobbing the ducks up and down. He threw the rings, but they missed.
“Too bad, mate. You were real close, though. Give it another try?”
Arthur looked down into James’ eyes. They silently asked him to try again. Albus, meanwhile, was studying the ducks with a fascinated look. “Again it is.”
“Let me try, Grandpa!” James pleaded. Arthur smiled at him and gave another pound to the man behind the counter. James tossed the three rings over the counter in one fell swoop.
Arthur motioned to the man. “Another set of rings, please.” He then turned to James.
“Toss them one at a time, James.”
James took one and tossed it as hard as he could. It landed short of the pool. The other two fared no better. “Again, please, Grandpa?”
The next three rings also landed short. At that point, Albus began to jump up and down.
“Me too, Grandpa!”
“Three rings for the young lad it is,” the man said as he collected another pound. This time the rings landed on just the other side of the counter. Arthur looked down at his grandchildren. “Well, another try won’t hurt. Another three for me, please.”
On the eleventh ring toss, he finally captured a duck. Dragging the duck to the side of the pool, the man looked underneath it. He reached up with a long pole to unhook a small stuffed tiger. “Congratulations, mate!”
Albus looked up from his contemplation of the ducks. “My tiger!” he exclaimed and held out his hand.
“Is not!” James pushed him slightly. “Grandpa is playing to get me a backpack, so it’s mine!”
Arthur looked down at the older boy. “James, give this one to your brother. I’ll get another one for you.” However, the final ring landed in the water. He sighed and motioned for three more rings.
By his forty-first ring toss, he was contemplating confounding the man in the striped shirt. By his seventy-eighth ring toss, his frazzled expression and the increasingly despondent looks of James and Albus garnered him the pity of the concessionaire. While Albus seemed happy with the increasing pile of toys—small stuff animals, a board with holes in it, a small metal ball, a board with a rubber ball attached by an elastic band, and a toy boat—James was keeping his eye on the backpack. The next time the ring went around a duck, the man exclaimed loudly, “Congratulations, mate! You’ve won the backpack!”
James beamed, but Albus looked up from a plastic recorder. “Grandpa, I want a backpack, too!”
Arthur shook his head. “When you go to camp, Albus, you’ll get one,” promising to himself that when that time came he’d transfigure something for the boy. He stuffed the various small prizes into the backpack, except for the tiger, which Albus insisted on holding. As they turned away from the stand, Arthur cheered up slightly. “At least now I know the purpose of rubber ducks!”
The fair had gotten even more crowded. Arthur let himself and the boys get caught up with the general flow, and saw a sign for bumper cars. His eyes lit up. “Cars! Come on boys, I’ll teach you to drive.”
He paid the fee and sat the boys in a red car. “Now, the first thing to remember is to always wear your seat belt.” He felt around for one. “Hmm, we must have picked a broken one.” As he started to rise, however, someone came around and pulled back a metal bar to hold them in place. “Of course,” Arthur mused. “This is a much smaller car than I’m accustomed to, so instead of seat belts we use the bar. Now, when you drive you have to be careful and keep an eye on other drivers …”
Suddenly the car jerked. Arthur spun around, just in time to see a blue car with two laughing teenagers back away, only to bump into another car. To Arthur’s confusion, the people in that car laughed, as well. His car jerked again as it received another hit. He gave the driver a nasty look before turning his attention back to his own car. “Let’s see, this pedal should make us go forward.” He jolted ahead and hit a green car crossing his path. “Oh, I’m so sorry,” he called out and tried to push the bar up so he could get out. It seemed stuck, though.
Before he could do anything further, the driver in the green car shook her head and laughed. “Good one!” she shouted, and pulled forward to hit another car.
Arthur nodded back, and finally understood. He happily spent the next few minutes bumping and being bumped. When the buzzer sounded to end the session, he looked down to see the boys shining with excitement.
“Wow, Grandpa!” James exclaimed, “I can’t wait to drive!” Albus nodded in agreement.
“I’m going to drive just like you, Grandpa!”
Next to the bumper car concession was a teacup ride. “Well, this one looks fun. Do you want to try it?” The boys nodded in agreement. After paying for their ticket, they were motioned towards one of the teacups, though it looked like a bite had been taken out of it. “Little ‘uns on the outside,” Arthur was told. Arthur sat down, putting James in the middle and Albus on the other side of James. He then surreptitiously used a sticking charm on the brothers, not liking the sound of the directions.
The ride started up. The cup began to spin around in a circle, with the teacup as a whole spinning around a center pole. James laughed, but Albus began to turn green. His bottom stuck to the seat, and he was bent at the waist as the centrifugal force shoved his upper body toward Arthur. He started to yell, but his panic was lost in the shouts of people in the other cups. As the ride finally came to a halt and the cup stopped turning, Albus held his hands to his stomach and threw up over his grandfather and brother.
Arthur took a quick look around and cleaned up the mess before cancelling the sticking charm.
As they walked away from the ride, James smiled broadly. “That was great, Grandpa! Can we go again?”
“Perhaps later, James. Let’s just walk around for a bit for now.”
“Grandpa, what’s cotton candy?” asked James as his eyes were caught by a bright pink sign.
Arthur scratched his head. “Well, clothes are made out of cotton, but I know muggles don’t eat their clothes. Let’s see.” They strolled closer to the booth.
“Step right up, folks! Step this way to the best treat. You, there, sir, surely your lads want some delicious cotton candy?”
Arthur looked around to be sure he was the one being addressed. “Er, yes, one for each of the boys.”
“One pound each, it is.”
Arthur was handed what looked to be two big pink fluffy wigs on cones of rolled up paper. He wasn’t sure if he should put them on the boys or let the boys eat them. Fortunately, a woman in an orange t-shirt bought one and started to eat it. Arthur gave the cones to the boys. They experimentally put their tongues to the pink concoction and smiled in delight. They stuck their faces into the pink wisps and giggled. Arthur silently reviewed the cleansing charms that Molly always used.
Strolling up the midway, Arthur’s eye was caught by a sign advertising “Madame LeVoyant – Your Fortune Told.” He stopped. “That’s strange, I wouldn’t think that would be allowed. Seers usually keep quiet about their skill, and it’s certainly nothing that can be called up at will, as far as I know. Hold on a moment, boys; I just want to make sure everything’s on the up-and-up.” He saw a small deserted alley between the fortuneteller’s trailer and the one next door, and set up a containment and notice-me-not field around the boys. “I’ll be right back. Why don’t you play with your new toys?”
The boys, focused on the cotton candy, nodded.
Arthur knocked on the door of the trailer and entered after he heard a dreamy voice.
“Come in. I’ve been expecting you. You, of course, want to know what you can do to improve your future. I’ll be happy to help for only a modest fee.”
“Madame LeVoyant, I’m here from the Ministry…”
“I’ve got my license in order.” The fortuneteller’s voice had lost its languid delivery and became sharp. She reached into a drawer of the table behind her and pulled out an entertainment license.
“Entertainment?” Arthur looked at her sharply. The paper she had shown Arthur was from the muggle government. Perhaps she was a muggle-born who was never contacted and didn’t realize where her skills come from. “Your skill should not be denigrated.”
“Look here. I follow the rules. I give the people what they want to hear, wrapped up in a pretty bow.”
Arthur looked around the tent but did not see any ribbon, not that he understood how any fortune could be wrapped up. Perhaps it was placed into an orb like those in the Department of Mysteries. “You are required to send any orbs you create to the Ministry.”
Madame LeVoyant looked puzzled. “Orbs? Like my crystal ball?” She pointed to a round clear stone sitting on a table. “I buy one from a gem shop whenever I need it.”
Arthur began to realize that the fortuneteller was not a muggle-born seer, but rather a pure muggle. “I think I misunderstood. I’m so sorry to have bothered you…”
Madame LeVoyant calculatingly looked at him. “Misunderstanding or not, you’ve kept me from my customers. You owe me ten pounds.”
Arthur, embarrassed, decided not to point out that there had been no one else outside her door. He opened his wallet.
When he walked around the corner of the trailer to retrieve the boys, he saw that they had opened James’ new backpack and had taken out the toys, now abandoned on the ground. Their faces, sticky with the residue from cotton candy, were staring at a curved mirror. The foot of the mirror had broken off and it was listing, undoubtedly the reason it had been discarded. On the remaining leg was a tag with the words, “Mirror Fun House.”
James giggled. “Look, Grandpa! I’m funny looking!” Indeed, his reflection in the mirror had an elongated head, but stumpy legs below the knees.
As for Albus, his reflection was perfectly normal, but his actual head looked like someone had flattened it, and his lower legs were stretched out so he was now taller than his brother.
Arthur groaned. “James, did you do something to Albus?”
James shook his head. Albus looked up and said, “Grandpa, I’m good! I look fine in the mirror.”
Arthur sighed. It would have been much easier to finite James’ magic than to reverse Albus’ accidental magic. It would have to wear off, which if Arthur remembered correctly from experience with his own children, shouldn’t take more than an hour. “It’s time to head home anyway. Gather up your things.”
The notice-me-not was still on the boys, so he took their hands and began to walk to the exit. On their way, however, they passed the Ferris wheel. “Grandpa, please, can we go up? It would be like flying!” James begged.
Arthur looked up. “Well, I don’t see how that can hurt.”
Arthur gave the ticket seller nine pounds. “It’s only three pounds for a ticket, sir,” he was told, and six pounds were pushed back. Arthur removed the notice-me-not from the boys and pushed back the money.
“Oh, I see them now. They must have been hiding behind you.” He motioned the three to get into a car.
After his experience on the teacup ride, Arthur did not want to use a sticking charm.
“Stay seated now, boys,” he told them firmly.
As the Ferris wheel began to go around, James and Arthur leaned forward to look down. They began to wiggle around as the sugar from the cotton candy hit their system. The wheel stopped periodically to let on more people. Finally they were at the peak.
Albus squealed in excitement “Look, Grandpa, there’s a bird flying below us!”
To his horror, Arthur noticed that Albus’ accidental magic transported him out of the seat and onto the restraining bar. Unbalanced by his unfamiliar proportions, his grandson began to fall. Arthur accio’d Albus and pulled him back. However, the screams of the people below made him realize that Albus had been seen. Thinking quickly, he cast featherweight and inflating charms on Albus and transfigured his belt into a string. To his delight, Albus found himself floating upwards. The panicked voices from below turned to laughter. He could hear one voice louder than the rest proclaiming, “I knew it was a balloon all along. No need to worry.”
James, however, looked jealous. “Grandpa, I want to be a balloon!”
Arthur shook his head. “Not here, James. Maybe on the way home.”
As the ride ended, the ticket seller looked at Arthur in confusion. “Didn’t you have two boys with you?”
Arthur cast a confundus and smiled. “No, just the one.”
“Of course – I must have been thinking about another family.”
By the time they got back to the house, Arthur had a blue backpack with a dinosaur on it slung over his shoulder, and was holding onto both boys with strings as they floated above him. He pulled them down to get through the door, and then let them go again as they entered the house. They bumped against the ceiling.
Molly heard them come into the house and walked into the foyer. “Lily’s asleep and – Arthur! Why are James and Albus balloons?”
Arthur gave his wife a kiss. “It’s a long story, love. For now, all I want to say is that backpacks are much more expensive than I thought. Is dinner ready? While the boys have already had dessert, I think we all built up an appetite!”
*Full Image Credit: http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/top-lists/bay-area-county-fair-guide/