Note: This extremely short and basically plotless piece takes place a
considerable amount of time after "If at First You Don't Succeed".
It is unnecessary to know the specifics of what has happened in between
that story and this little scene. (Which is a good thing, since I'm not
sure, myself.) Also, as you well know, Bill is not mine, nor is anything
relating to J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter universe. Alice is not
Alice was curious.
She and Bill were in her kitchen; she was preparing dinner while questioning
him at length about wizardry. They'd already briefly covered a wide range
of topics- money, school, transportation, and the necessity for secrecy
about the Wizarding world. This last subject was particularly interesting
to Alice, as Bill had developed a slightly guilty expression while explaining
the concept of "Memory Charms" to her. She fully intended to
question him at length about that look. However, as she turned away from
the tomato sauce on the stove, meaning to move on to her next question,
she was met with an image of Bill sitting with his hands behind his head
and his boot-clad feet resting on her clean kitchen table. He looked
immensely relaxed and entertained by both her (non-Magic) manner of cooking
and her questions. This struck her as patently unfair.
"It strikes me as patently unfair," she said, "that I
am working alone while you are looking so completely pleased with life
in general." She brandished her wooden spoon. "You are going
to make the salad."
Bill looked at her in surprise. "Am I?" he asked, one eyebrow
raised. But he removed his feet from the table and accepted the vegetables
and the salad bowl with good humor. He reached for his wand, but Alice
stopped him and handed him a knife and a cutting board. "OK,"
he said, "I'll do it your way."
Once Alice saw how much concentration and zeal he was able to put into
the simple task of chopping an onion (it was absolutely endearing), she
found herself unable to continue her intended line of inquiry into the
subject that had seemed to make him uncomfortable. She moved on.
"So," she said, turning back to her sauce, "supposing
that this wooden spoon is a magic wand, and I wave it around a bit . .
"Nothing would happen," interrupted Bill. "Wands only
work for witches or wizards. And, as you are neither, you would be able
to accomplish about as much magic with a wand as you would with a half-eaten
sandwich . . . or that wooden spoon." He smiled as he said this,
but never removed his gaze from the vegetable in front of him. He finished
chopping the onion with a triumphant flourish, and moved on to the head
of lettuce, which he began tearing apart with gusto.
Alice glanced over her shoulder at him. "Well, that's very interesting,
but I didn't get a chance to finish my question. Now I am going to start
over, and you are not going to interrupt." She paused. Bill chuckled,
but did not interrupt. "So, supposing- hypothetically- that
I am a witch, and that this wooden spoon is a magic wand . . .
" She turned around to make sure that he was paying attention. "What
would happen if I wave it around a bit . . . " She waved the spoon
around a bit to illustrate her point (splattering a few drops of tomato
sauce on the wall as she did so), "and say the magic word . . . 'Abracadabra'?"
This last word was accompanied by a further flourish of the spoon/wand
and a further few drops of tomato sauce on the wall.
Bill gazed at her in surprise. "How do you know an actual spell?"
he asked, lettuce momentarily neglected.
Alice was equally amazed. She paused on her way to drain the pasta.
"You mean that's a real spell? I mean . . . really? I figured that
it was just a nonsense word that was created for carnival magicians and
people who do card tricks! It's just . . . that's the standby magic word!"
Bill just shook his head in disbelief. "Of all the spells to know
. . . "
Now Alice was even more intrigued than before. "What does it do?
You are going to tell me, right?"
Bill laughed at her eagerness. "It's an extermination spell. It
kills head lice! Not a spell that you want to require very often."
He smiled crookedly as he returned his attention to the lettuce. After
a moment's thought, he added, "Some wizard way back when must have
had a pretty weird sense of humor to feed that particular spell to the
Muggle population." He threw the lettuce in the salad bowl and started
on the green pepper.
Alice returned to the pasta, and silence remained for a few moments while
she poured it into the colander and both young people reflected with amusement
on what they had just learned. Then she had another thought. "All
right," she mused, "If that's a real spell, how about 'Hocus
Pocus'?" She turned and looked at Bill expectantly.
Bill chuckled quietly. "Transfiguration," he said, "It's
used to turn a handkerchief into a dove." He dumped the remaining
vegetables into the salad bowl and set it in the middle of the table.
"Do you know any more of these 'magic words'?"
Alice thought about it as she placed the rest of the food on the table
and arranged the plates and silverware. "Well," she replied,
This proved too much for Bill. He rested his head on the table and shook
with silent laughter. "Seriously," he finally managed to say,
"Really. Please don't let my mother hear you using spells like that.
She'd be appalled . . . she'd . . . Are you telling me that all
Muggles know that one? Children? Oh my . . . " He continued to shake
his head and chuckle.
This began to seriously unnerve Alice. "Are you going to tell me
what it does?" she asked, concerned.
"Not right now," was the reply. "I'll tell you later.
We'll eat dinner first. Is it ready? It smells great."
Alice sighed. She was still curious, but she allowed his subject-changing
tactic to work, at least temporarily. She pulled the rolls out of the
oven, arranged them in a basket, and set them on the table. "All
ready." she said, and sat down across from Bill.
Bill surveyed the meal. "Tell you what," he said, "Next
time I'll make something for dinner. It's only fair."
Alice was impressed. Based on the amount of concentration he'd needed
to put together a salad, she would not have guessed that he was able to
cook. "What are you going to make?" she asked.
Bill looked up at her and grinned mischievously. "A restaurant
reservation," he said.
Alice threw a roll at him.