"Barry, wake up!" screamed Winny but he just groaned and pulled up the old comforter over his head. It was his first day off from the magical ministry and the last thing he wanted was some witch yelling at him.
"Wake UP!" Winny bellowed again as she flicked her wand, making clothes fly into the hamper and pulling the curtains open, letting the grey December morning flood the room. Barry didn't move.
"Aflappio," she said while flicking her wand and the covers flew from the bed, revealing the undergarment-clad body of her husband and father of three. Barry curled up into a ball, trying to stay warm in the cold room because the wizarding community had never bothered to figure out the advantages of mumble central heating… but neither had most of England, to be fair.
"The entire family will be here in a few hours and we've got lots to do," insisted Winny in an agitated tone. "Get your arse out of that bed!"
Barry rubbed his eyes and felt the "W" scar on his forehead, wondering if his headache was a sign that his arch enemy, Moldymort had returned or he had just married a harpy. "I'm up," he mumbled as he sat up. "Hey, Winny!" he said with a smile. "Look! I have 'morning wand.' Care to cast a quick spell?"
She rolled her eyes and walked from the room, saying, "bring your wand downstairs for breakfast."
He slouched on the end of the bed and slowly got up and walked into the bathroom for a quick shower. After half an hour, he appeared in the kitchen where Winny was feeding the children, who were chatting excitedly about Christmas and guessing what presents they would get.
"Morning, kids!" he said.
"Morning, dad," they replied, almost in unison.
"Don sent an owl for you," said Winny and she handed him the rolled parchment. Barry unrolled it and read the message.
"He wants to meet me for lunch at the Freaky Caldron."
"Well," said Winny, "take Bulbus with you. Sili and Thames have to stay here and help me get ready for dinner."
"Yay!" said little Bulbus while Sili and Thames groaned.
"Why do I have to stay?" demanded Thames. "I'm the oldest. I should go with dad and help him."
"Because I said so," insisted Winny.
"But I… "
"Don't make me use the crushio curse on you," she yelled, glaring at him.
Thames looked down at his plate and kept eating. Bulbus was smiling because he'd get to go out with his father. Sili knew better than to argue with her mother and smiled at the thought of her brother being tortured with one of the unforgettable curses.
Barry was busy writing a reply to Don and asked Winny what they needed at Bygone Alley.
Winny thought for a moment and started relating the list of items needed for that evening. "Pumpkin-toad tarts, bewitching buns, elf butter, dragon balls and… oh, what else? Ah! Presents for everyone."
"Why don't you just give me a list of what we DON'T need," snarked Barry. "It will be shorter!" He rolled up the parchment message and held it up for their owl to fly by and grab. As the owl flew by, it pooped right on Barry's plate. He looked down and the ruined breakfast and quipped, "well… I'm full!"
Bulbus was already standing by the door with his cloak and cap on, holding Barry's jacket. "Let's go dad!" He was jumping up and down with excitement. "Are we going to meet Uncle Don at the Caldron?"
"Depends if he gets the owl in time," said Barry and he called back to the kitchen, "we'll be back soon. If you need anything else, send an owl to the alley."
Once outside the front door, Bulbus took his father's hand. "Ready?" said Barry.
"Ready!" replied Bulbus. With that, they zaporated to the front of the Freaky Caldron.
Barry held the heavy wooden door open and Bulbus ran inside, stripping off layers of outerwear in the fire-warmed main room. Barry looked around until he saw Don waving at him.
"Barry!" yelled Don as he waved him over to the table where he was sitting with his son, Little Ed.
The Blotters walked over and Barry gave Don a quick hug and tousled Little Ed's hair
"Hi, Uncle Barry!" Little Ed went back to reading his copy of the Wizard WOW-ZAM! comic book. Bulbus sat next to him and started reading it as well.
"So, you got my owl?" asked Barry, assuming Don's presence assured that the message arrived in time.
"No. We've been in the alley all morning but I figured I'd see you. We needed to get some last minute gifts and the Wizard's Whazing is the only place open, except for Olivesander's and Broken and Burps but obviously we're not going in there."
"What's your pleasure, gents?" asked the waiter who had silently appeared at the table.
"Let's start with two pints and a couple of Snape-a-colas for the kids," said Don.
"You're Barry Blotter?" said the waiter, pointing his quill at Barry. "I recognize you from the Bi-Wizarding Tournament. Me band played at the ball!"
"Um," said Barry, "Sure, great band!"
"Yeah," mumbled the waiter. "We're the best wizarding band around. Still, even with the gigs here every other Saturday and big dates like the tournament ball and that Malfly barmitzphah, I wish we could reach a bigger audience so I di'n't 'ave to clean tables or wait on bloody sot wizards and witches."
Barry and Don looked at him. "Er… not you two fine gentlemen, of course!"
"We know what you mean," said Barry with a smile as Breako Malfly and his mentally challenged son walked into the caldron and passed the table without so much of a nod or word.
"What a grand git," said Don, shaking his head. "Inbreeding among pure bloods is becoming a problem."
"England's hillbillies," murmured Barry.
"Right-o!" said the smiling waiter and he left to get the drinks.
"His band should release their songs on MP3s or something," said Bulbus, without looking up from the comic book.
"What?" Asked Barry.
"I heard you," said Barry. "What are they?"
"Music files you can play on your mobile or tablet or such."
Barry and Don looked at each other and turned back to Bulbus. "Where did you hear about this magic?"
"It's not magic," replied Bulbus. My mumble friend, Rupret showed me on his mobile when mum took us to the park.
Don laughed. "You have a friend named Rupret?"
"He's nice!" insisted Bulbus with a frown. " We play games on his mobile and he shows me things on the internet."
"The interwhat?" asked Barry. Working at the ministry tended to shield even someone as fond of wandering the mumble streets as Barry was and he realized it had been years since he was among mumbles.
"It's like books but all on the internet so you can find it really fast. He has a tablet and laptop, too!"
"So, a mobile is a little device for looking at the intent for information?" asked Barry.
"Oh, it does other things, too" said Bulbus. "He calls his dad on it and we like to call Indian restaurants and ask if they serve monkey brains for afters."
"Where does one find these devices?" Asked Don.
"He said his dad got it on Regent Street."
Barry sat up and downed his pint. "Bulbus, are you finished with your drink?"
"I've had enough, dad. It's not very good. I'd rather have a Happy Meal and Coke!"
"Rupret again, I suppose?" asked Don.
"Yep!" exclaimed Bulbus.
"Stay here. I'll be right back!" said Barry as he got up from the table. "Don't order lunch. Our lunch will be a meal of happiness!"
"Happy Meal, dad!"
Barry ran to Greengits and exchanged some coins for mumble money, much to the dismay of the trolls who staffed the bank. They hated the Christmas rush and were eager to get home to their hollow logs, take off their clothes and search the woods for hikers they could drain of blood for their evening meal.
"Let's go!" he yelled as he burst through the alleyway exit and dropped a couple of wizard gold coins on the table to pay for their drinks.
"Nothing to eat today?" yelled the waiter.
"We're getting mumble food!" squealed Bulbus and Little Ed as they threw on their cloaks and ran out the door.
"Well," said Don. "I guess we should zaporate to this store?"
"No offense, Don," answered Barry, "but the last time you tried to zaporate us anywhere, we ended up in the ladies' loo at Harrod's."
"Yeah, I ended up standing in an unflushed toilet."
"Well, I ended up in a stall with a very surprised lady trying to push one out," Scowled Barry. "Let's take the TUBE!"
"The TUBE! The TUBE!" yelled the two youngsters, jumping up and down with excitement at the thought of a new adventure.
Barry still remembered his days at Hogguts and traveling via the TUBE. He knew how to get to Regent street and they all walked to the Underground entrance and zaporated to the other side of the turnstiles.
They boarded the next train and the boys held onto a pole, twisting around it as if they were performing strippers while Barry and Don sat on the bench. "What are you thinking, Barry?" asked Don.
"Why are we trapped by the wizarding world?" asked Barry. "Bad food, no comforts, odd clothing and now this 'mobile' stuff. I'm tired of owl dung everywhere and missed messages. Why can't we have phones? Why do we have to go to the library for information? We're not breaking any rules or practicing magic in front of mumbles. I just want to use some of THEIR magic for once!"
Don started ranting on about how life with magic wasn't so bad and elves being forced to cook food for them at school and so on. He had put on a tremendous amount of weight since they were at Hogguts and he complained about Herirony not wanting to have sex anymore. Barry knew Don was having a problem as he had been talking to Herirony between sexual liaisons they had every Thursday at the Freaky Caldron. Even Winny had changed after Bulbus was born, wearing a lot of plaid shirts and work boots and spending an inordinate amount of time playing rugby with a group of girls from Hoofelpoof.
While Don went on talking, Barry looked around the car and noticed all of the mumble passengers were fidgeting with small devices and tablets and he felt as if he was missing even more in life. He couldn't wait to get to the store and see what all this was about. Then he picked up his head and noticed they were pulling into their stop. "Come on, boys. We're here!"
"YAY!" shouted the children and Don and they all walked towards the exit and into the heart of the mumble world.
Do you want chips with that?
No sooner than they exited the TUBE, they were standing right in front of the home of Happy Meals… next to the home of Whoppers, and fried chicken. Bulbus and Little Ed pulled at their father's hands and they were soon queueing in one of the brightest, plastic-filled places they had ever seen. Perhaps it was spending too many years in a thousand year-old castle or the usual dark and dank homes wizards inhabited but they were truly mesmerized by their surroundings.
"What can I get for you?" asked the uniformed young girl behind the counter.
"A Happy Meal!" shouted the boys and Don.
"Four of those, I suppose," said Barry and he started flipping through the pound notes he had in his pocket. The cashier's eyes opened wide at the sight of so many pound notes.
"Blimey, Barry!" said Don. "Did you rob Greengits?"
They took their trays with their meals and sat at a table in the corner. "I had to take out enough to buy all the presents. I have no idea what they cost, so I took out five thousand pounds."
"Bloody hell!" exclaimed Don and they all started digging into their Happy Meals. None of them had ever sampled this type of mumble cuisine and the moans of amorous enjoyment bothered customers around them.
"What's that is the plastic bag?" Barry asked Bulbus.
"It's the toy. Rupret said you get a toy with your meal." Don had already unwrapped his toy.
"It's a mouse dressed as a wizard," said Don. "What the bloody hell does that mean?"
"I have no idea," answered Barry. "Let's get going to the store.
As they walked out, sipping from their drink cups the wonderful, fizzy drinks that came with their meals, Barry noticed several boys playing a game on a box and screen on the wall. The mumble world was fascinating.
A short walk down the block and they found the store with the electronic secrets of the mumble world. As soon as they walked in, they were met by a smiling young man who asked if he could help them find anything.
"Mobile things with internet?" asked Barry. Don and the boys had made a bee line for the video games and were out of sight.
"Well," said the salesperson, "how about an iPhone or iPad?"
"But I want one for me," responded a confused Barry. "I gathered there would be a you phone." He wondered what kind of mumble language the lad was using. The salesperson was just as confused.
"Sir," asked the salesperson, "are you familiar with the Apple iProduct line?"
"No," answered Barry, "but I need some presents for my wife, in-laws, kids and myself and this mumble stuff is what I really want! I have five-thousand pounds to spend. Will that cover everything?"
The salesperson smiled and put his arm around Barry. "Sir, allow me to get you up to speed with 'mumble' stuff."
An hour later, Barry had a trolley filled with iPhones with service agreements, iPads and wifi devices, three types of video games, a contract for internet service and a store credit card. He looked around for Don and the boys and saw them waiting in front of the store. He wheeled the trolley outside where Don waited with a trolley of his own, also filled with video games, CD and DVD players and several flat screen tellys.
"H-how did you afford all that?" asked Barry.
"I just used a confounding charm on the cashier to make her think I had paid already. She even gave me 60 pounds change!"
Barry promised himself he would meet Herirony TWICE a week for sex after Christmas.
"Well," said Don, "I have to get this all home and I guess we'll see you all tonight." With that, he held Little Ed's hand and put the other hand on the trolley and zaporated home.
"He even took the trolley," Barry murmured out loud. "Taxi!" he yelled and he and Bulbus packed their purchases into the taxi and with one stop at a mumble bake shop, they rode home with everything on their shopping list.
Home and hearth
After a sumptuous dinner, everyone retired to the living room to open presents and have dessert. There were the usual scarves and sweaters knitted by grandmother Weaselby and small tricks and jokes from the Weaselby's Wizard's Whazing but this year, everybody was very quiet, reading instructional materials and learning how to text each other, make phone calls and surf the web.
Winny was on her new iPhone, talking to members of her rugby team. Sili was sitting on her grandmother's lap and using an iPad to find knitting patterns. Gorge, Thames, and Don were busy setting up a Facebok profile for Breako Malfly, listing his occupation as a gay-for-pay porn actor in Costa Rican snuff films while Grandfather Weaselby snorted every now and then and murmured, "Malfly gits, and Herirony was texting Barry all the sexual things she wanted to do to him on their next Thursday meeting. Little Ed and Bulbus were busy playing their Nintendo 3D games with each other.
Harry looked up at one point and caught a glimpse of the photo of his parents, dancing together but looking displeased with him. Next to their photo was a framed picture of Dumbledork, also looking rather displeased. He didn't care. He had his own family and his own life and it was now going to be better, faster and more efficient with mumble technology, less owl dung and no one could tell him it was wrong.
He picked up one of the iPads and wondered if he could find the Wizarding Woo-Woo on the internet. He had heard Looney Loveglove had posed nude for the December issue. Naturally, he found more than he had bargained for. His wand was feeling the magic in his pants.
What magical gifts will you be giving this year? Let us know in the comments below!
A special "flick of the wand" to American ex-pat and Yorkshire resident, Kendra Keller, beautiful expert on all things magical and wondrous for translating American into English. A tip of the pointy hat to author JK Rowling and her imagination that made this spoof possible.
Image ©GL Stock Images