Cedric had come back with me to the real world. I was surprised it worked at all. When I had asked him to come with me I hadn’t thought about the logistics of bringing a character from a book into the real world, but it had all worked out. The good thing about books is that people look like you’ve imagined them, but no one would recognize them in real life. Not having images and the unbelievable act of characters coming into the real world had some advantages. We were free to do whatever we wanted.
‘What do you want to do now you’re in the real world?’
‘I would like to see what’s so different about the real world.’
‘Well, it’s mostly your world, just without the magic. It’s not very interesting actually… I think you made the wrong decision.’
Cedric started laughing. He didn’t seem to mind the boringness of real life that much.
‘I think it will be fine. Now, show me the wonders of real life.’
I thought about where to go. I could take him to see the big cities or the seven world wonders, every history book would do. But it all seemed unreal. It might exist in the world, but it wasn’t what life in the real world was about. But I knew a book that covered nice places and real experiences. A book about a great pleasure, a book about being idle. So I picked up How to be idle by Tom Hodgkinson and looked for our starting place. I looked at my watch and noticed we were running late. We would have to skip the hangover and go straight to lunch.
‘Come, I’ll teach you how to live!’ I grabbed his hand and a bit more clumsy than usual we arrived in chapter 6, the death of lunch.
‘What are we doing here?’
We had arrived at a restaurant and I sat down at a table.
‘We’re having lunch!’
Cedric sat down across from me and we both ordered some coffee and something to eat. After we got our coffee he looked at me surprised.
‘This is one of the wonders of real life? Having lunch?’
‘It is! But you’ll only notice after an hour or so. I’ll explain. We’re in a book called How to be idle. It’s written for people like me, who like to be lazy. The book consists of 24 chapters and they all explain how we can be idle. Life can be very interesting, but most of the time it’s pretty boring or in any case, pretty ordinary.’
‘So when I said show me the wonders of real life you decided to show me lunch…’
‘Yes. Just trust me on this. Living an idle life is great.’
So we had lunch and I told him about the previous chapters. We lingered a while on sleeping in, something he wasn’t quite used to. He still had a lot to learn.
‘It’s time to move on to the next chapter. I think we should skip the one about being ill. It can be nice, but I don’t think we’re up for it. What do you think about a nap?’
‘A nap? Why would we do that? Are you tired?’
I sighed. This was harder than I thought. I liked Cedric a lot, but I had no idea he was this productive.
‘Ok, we’ll skip the nap and go straight to Time for Tea.’ I ordered some tea and waited for the waitress to bring it.
‘What do we do now?’ Cedric asked.
‘We drink tea. Tea is relaxing. Just sip your tea and think about nothing. You should stare ahead of you. It’s a nice feeling!’ I picked up my cup and pulled my feet on my chair. I slowly took a sip of tea and looked at people walking by. It took me almost five minutes to notice Cedric staring at me.
‘What are you doing?’ He asked.
‘I’m taking my time for tea. You’re not very good at being idle are you?’
‘I’m sorry. I’m used to being busy. But I’ll try.’ He smiled and took a sip of tea and started staring at people. He did this a bit too intense and it made me laugh. It was very sweet he was making such an effort for me.
We had drunk our tea and I noticed Cedric was getting a little bored.
‘I think it’s time to move on. Let’s ramble!’
‘Where are we going?’
‘Nowhere. We’re just going to walk around. That’s what rambling is about.’
Cedric followed me and we strolled around town. Luckily he started to enjoy it and we talked all the way through town. He told me about his life at Hogwarts and how he sometimes visited London and walked around muggles.
‘It does feel kind of weird to be out here. You’re sure no one’s a wizard around here?’
‘I think you’re the only one. But there’s always things going in the world I can’t know about. Maybe there are vampires and werewolves. There might be a zombie outbreak tomorrow, or ghosts might be real. It can all be, but I have no knowledge of it being real.’
‘A zombie outbreak? It sounds bad.’
That’s your biggest worry? What about ghosts? Oh god, let it not be ghosts.’
He laughed and we walked past a river. Cedric slowly reached for my hand. I smiled at him and we walked hand-in-hand into the next chapters.
We had skipped Smoking because we didn’t and had a lot of fun during a Riot. Now we found ourselves a bit tired at midnight lying in a field gazing at the moon and the stars.
‘Are you finally enjoying the idle lifestyle?’ I asked.
‘I think I’m starting to. It feels nice to just do nothing. I had fun today.’
‘It’s not over. An idler doesn’t go to bed early. You just don’t get up before noon.’
I made him laugh again. We were silent for a while and just stared at the sky.
‘Is this what you do on a daily basis, Polly? Being idle?’
‘Not really. I go to school as well, have a job. Things like that. But it’s all very normal. I like to spend as much time as I can in books. It’s very exciting to be in fiction. Everything is possible.’
‘I guess that’s true. But you still choose to return to real life every time. Why don’t you pick a book and stay there?’
‘Because I can’t pick a book. I like them all. And what if there’s a new book that’s even better than the one I’ve picked. That decision is just too hard to make.’
‘I’ve been thinking about something today. You could have showed me real life without going into books, but you didn’t. Why didn’t we just walk out your front door?
‘I like books. And besides, if you could fly, would you really walk?’ We laughed and I turned on my side, resting my head on his chest.
‘Do you know how you do it? The book thing?’
‘No idea. I just do it.’
‘When did you find out that you could do this? Or were you always able to?’
‘I was pretty young when I found out. But I don’t think I could always do this. I don’t really know much about it though. There’s no one to answer my questions about any of this so I just try not to think about it too much.’
‘That doesn’t sound like you at all. You’ve been asking me questions all day about everything.’
‘I know. But I don’t know who to ask about this.’
‘I wouldn’t know either. We’ll find someone.’ He had his hands in my hair and kissed me. Later we fell asleep under the clear sky, skipping the other chapters and going straight to end. And it was in A Waking Dream where I found an answer to my questions.