(1940-07-31) Belated Birthday Treat
Details for Belated Birthday Treat
Summary: Amber treats Sierra to a much belated birthday trip to the cinema in Muggle London. It's a new experience for the Rowle girls. Thank goodness Sierra is there!
Date: 1940/07/31
Location: Embassy Cinema

Birthdays are momentous occasions in any culture - especially when children reach their mid to late teens. Being on the brink of adulthood is often a mixture of frightening and exciting; but certainly a reason to celebrate. And what better way to celebrate (if terribly belated) than going out for a special treat to a grand Muggle cinema in London? Most Wizards would argue that the idea is mad, but…
"You'd better lead the way, Sierra," Amber says, looking up at the dauntingly strange theatre entry. She's got the money to pay for whatever they need - it's her treat - but she's darned if she quite knows what to do to avoid looking like a fool. Alicia is here, too! She's had the good fortune of being dragged along for the fun; but, also the misfortune of big sister feeling like a fish out of water. As a result, Amber is clutching Alicia's hand to ensure she doesn't get lost in the people coming and going around them.

Sierra had helped the other girls pick through their clothes, looking for the most Muggle acceptable clothing she could find, and so the trio don't look too badly out of place - though Sierra's clothes are more threadbare than most in the audience. She flashes Amber a confident smile, however, as she makes her way to the ticket booth, announcing in a confident voice, "Three for the two o'clock showing." She gestures for the money - changed from galleons into pounds before they left Diagon on an adventuring ride through 'the tube.' Leaning in close to her friends she adds, "I've got a bag of peanuts, but we can buy popcorn and sweets inside."

Alicia tried to pull her hand from Amber's. "Amber!" Alicia whined, but not loud enough to make a scene, "You're embarrassing me!" The young redhead was wearing a pretty blue dress with a white collar and her little saddle shoes and had brushed her hair real nice. In truth, she felt like a fish out of water too. She knew very, very little of muggle culture. If she were being perfectly honest, she didn't even know if she /really/ cared for muggles. But, in the end, her inquisitive nature got the best of her and she simply couldn't say no. "Gosh, you treat me like a child," Alicia said, possibly facetiously. Still, her mood changed at the mention of popcorn. "Popcorn /does/ sound lovely, though," Alicia conceded.

"Oh, marvelous!" Amber replies, brightening up at the mention of the sweets and popcorn they can purchase before the show. However, she is distracted by Alicia's insistent yanking of her hand. Finally, she releases her little sister with a faint scowl: "Good Godric," she exclaims, "Fiiine. Have it your own way." (Oh yes, there's the roll of the big-sisterly eyes in response.)
"So, Mug—people have to black out windows and not light up the lights anymore at night?" Amber asks of Sierra conversationally as they head into the grand foyer of the theatre, now. She still sounds and looks a bit nervous and uncertain about everything. However, she pauses and sniffs at the air curiously. A delicious, buttery smell wafts toward them. Everything else is forgotten: "What is that glorious smell?"

"They do," Sierra confirms quietly. "So the aeroplanes can't find the cities at night." As Amber asks about the smell she adds, "Oh, that's the popcorn. We'll have to get a large bag of that. And then there's the sweets - they might have KitKats and Aeros and Peace Babies and Fruit Gums," she continues to explain. "Every cinema has a different selection, it seems. Sugar's been rationed since January, you know, but sweets haven't been."

Alicia was very glad to be free. She was even more glad to hear that it was hard for the planes to find the city at night. "Kit Cat? Oh how quaint, is that 'the local's' chocolate frog?" Alicia asked Sierra, although her green eyes were constantly looking from person to person and place to place. Most would probably just assume she's a homebody tourist who doesn't get out much, which in /some/ ways is true. Alicia turned to Sierra once more to ask, "Will we see a News Reel?"

"It's your birthday, so we'll get absolutely everything we can. The film is long, isn't it?" Amber asks, heading over to the classy stand where one can purchase sweets and other wonders - if one has the money to pay. Fortunately for the little trio, she has lots of allowance money saved up and aching to be spent.
While Sierra and Alicia discuss newsreels, the elder of the Rowle sisters works out how to purchase their veritable pirate's booty of treats to munch on during the showing of the film.

"Oh, of course we will," Sierra answers Alicia. "They always show a few minutes before the film - which will be an hour and a half, or two hours or so," she adds towards Amber. "Just like a play would be." She tries to keep her voice down - but they're getting a few askance glances from folks who hear her explaining things for the two purebloods. She watches Amber fumbling with the money - before stepping forward. "Sorry. Her father always handles the money," she remarks, rolling her eyes broadly. "He's real old fashioned that way."

Alicia found herself folding her arms in front of herself lightly, not outright hugging herself but she was getting nervous when she found out that they were getting glances. Maybe this wasn't her /best/ idea. But, if push came to shove, they could always pretend to be out of towners or… something. Hopefully. "Will there be singing and dancing?" Alicia asked after a moment, her tone of voice a little hopeful. She liked plays that had a lot of singing and dancing.

Amber's cheeks tinge slightly red as Sierra steps in to help her with the money. One never feels self-conscious about these things until they realize they know absolutely nothing about a situation. However, she pulls it together and plays along.
"Heh, yes - s-sorry. First time I've ever done anything like this." She offers, with a nervous laugh. The seller gives her a quizzical look. "I mean, I've always come to the cinema with family before!" Good save, Amber. Good save.
All their treats purchased, Amber decides to divide the various things among the three of them for the sake of carrying everything evenly. Then, the girls are ushered into the theatre to find their seats. "This place is absolutely huge…" Amber murmurs as they move along, looking around with big eyes.

"You know," Sierra tells Alicia, "I'm not sure about this one - I haven't seen it yet. But I think so. This one's a bit different than the ones I told you about - just as a warning. Instead of a really long moving picture - it's more like a really big and intricate painting. But - well, you'll see."
Her attention shifts to Amber as she murmurs, "This is one of the nicest cinemas in all of London. I usually go to little ramshackle cinemas in the country as we travel. I've… never been in this one before." Or one like it. She's also looking around in awe at all the trappings and beautiful furniture - including the electric sconces on the wall. "It's best to sit near the middle. Too close, you'll strain your neck staring up. But you want the screen to just fill your vision," she explains, gesturing towards one of the rows.

Alicia blinked wildly. A painting? This whole thing just gets more and more peculiar as time goes on! Alicia found it all a touch overwhelming, although it wasn't totally a surprise. She was warned ahead of time of the screen, otherwise she would have found that particularly queer. "You don't think they suspected us did they?" Alicia asked in a little voice as she followed the older girls to the preferred seats.

Amber nods solemnly to the suggestion about seating, still wildly casting about with her gaze to take in everything. "Like I said - it's your birthday. We had to make it smashing!" She adds with a grin, glancing at Sierra briefly as they find a good spot to sit.
Dropping down into the plush chair, the teenager remarks: "I half wish we had something like this over on the other side in the Alley. Why don't we have films?" It's an interesting question, that. One that shall probably never be answered.
"Nah, I think we're fine. Nobody said anything. Just looked at me funny when I was acting like a fool with the money. Sierra to the rescue!" Amber says to her sister.

"Oh, I'm sure they think we're odd," Sierra answers with a quiet laugh. "But nothing that breaks the Statute. Don't worry." She seems perfectly at home - and seems to think very little of the Muggles around them thinking them odd. "I've said the same thing loads of times - but there's too many folks that just get too worked up whenever you mention Muggle things. As if we don't ride a train to school every year."

Alicia was quick to answer Amber's question. "Well, our pictures /always/ move," Alicia pointed out as she already started to eat some of the food. Popcorn was too delicious to say no to, after all. "Sierra to the rescue is right," Alicia was quick to agree as she looked over at Sierra, "I still do believe that if it weren't for you we would not be here. In more ways than one!"

Of course they wouldn't be there. Amber's never been to a cinema either!
The older girl gives her sister a sidelong look that says: Don't sound so high and mighty. You've never been to one EITHER.
The theatre finishes packing in the crowd and everyone takes their respective seats. The lights dim and fade into inky darkness before a gigantic moving newsreel appears on the screen before them. The picture seems to startle Amber - not perhaps because of the suddenness - but because the subject is about the RAF. She drops a few pieces of popcorn on her lap without realizing, locking her eyes on the screen as the narrator happily talks about Hurricanes and Spitfires, and how they're about to give the German planes the thrashing of their lives. "Here they come, Jerry! You rotten Swa-stinker, you!" The narrator says, glibly.

"Oh, not that again. I didn't do a single thing, Alicia!" Sierra protests - giving the girl a light nudge. As the lights dim and the screen lights up, though, she leans in to whisper to the other girls, "See, see? What did I tell you? Better than anything we have! Colton 'n I love this stuff!" She seems to think nothing of seeing the RAF projected on the screen, though. After all - that's typical fare for the news reels. She does reach over and claim some of the popcorn, though.

Alicia opened her mouth to say something when Sierra implied it was better than anything the magical world had, but decided not to. Alicia wasn't the smoothest conversationalist, but even she could figure that now wasn't the time. After giving Amber this 'why are you looking at me I didn't do nothin!' look, she sits back and starts to watch the screen. After a few minutes of watching in silence, Alicia turns to the other two girls and asks, "How come no one is talking back to the picture?"

Big sister can't answer Alicia's question, it seems. Slowly, Amber raises some of her popcorn to her mouth; and, just as slowly, she crunches and chews it while the film runs through. In her mind's eye, she's remembering the dogfight skirmish that they witnessed above the channel, only a short time ago. A little shiver runs through her body. Thank goodness the film changes.

Or not…

The next film is all about how to prepare one's house against the advent of bombs being dropped from a great height. People nailing boards across windows and filling the gap with soil; setting up rooms inside of dreary coal cellars to keep safe from the bombs as they might have to stay there a while. "Sierra - what about the wagon?" Amber asks, suddenly terribly concerned. You don't have a coal cellar to hide in!" It's required, right?

Why don't people- Sierra fights hard to stifle a giggle. "It's not like our stuff," she murmurs quietly to the girl. "There's no life to the image. It can't hear you. Every time you watch it it'll be the exact same," she explains. At the question about the wagon, though, a small laugh does manage to sneak out. "They're not going to bomb the country or traveler camps. They'll go after the cities. We're safer than any of these London folk - believe me."

Alicia hmmed. "How different," Alicia said, regarding the fact that the pictures don't talk back. Alicia became very quiet as she listened to the instructions on screens. "It's a good thing we have charms. I don't know how well soil and nails are going to protect one's house," Alicia said, just loud enough for her present company to hear.

Amber appears to be somewhat reassured, and she sinks back into her seat with a sigh. It's all very troubling, though… This Muggle war is scary - and decidedly strange to an outsider looking in.
Finally, the newsreels come to an end, and there is a tiny sound of people shifting in their seats to settle in for the main event. A charming sound of harps is followed by flutes, and a painted picture of quaintly carved wood appears on screen. "Walt Disney Presents: Pinocchio" it reads, followed by other credits in beautiful "Technicolor" - whatever that must be. Then, it's rather like magic when this voice begins to sing: "When you wish upon a star - Makes no difference who you are. Anything your heart desires will come to you. If your heart is in your dream - No request is too extreme. When you wish upon a star as dreamers do…"

Not having seen this movie yet - Sierra nestles back into her seat, munching on some fruit gums as she watches the film unfold. She's rather pleased with herself for having dragged the two other witches along to see the film - not only do they get to see how great the cinema is, but they also get to try Muggle sweets! Plus - as it turns out - there is some magic in the film. What could be better?

Alicia was glad that the news reels were over with. Alicia was beginning to think going to the cinema was quite a dreadful experience until Pinocchio came on. Aw, now /this/ was more like it. Every now and then, where was magic on screen, Alicia could be heard murmuring to herself; her murmurs were usually something along the lines of, "I think we have to do this in Transfiguration this year!"

"Well… not quite. Amber remarks uncertainly. Nothing taught in Hogwarts can create real, honest-to-goodness life. Just like love potions cannot create real love. But, then again, the Blue fairy does tell Pinnochio he WILL become real if he is brave, truthful and unselfish… Hrm. Muggles have interesting ideas about magic.
"Gosh, I'm glad there isn't a real spell to make ones nose grow longer if one lies." Amber remarks, rather appalled at poor Pinnochio's predicament as his nose turns into a branch with a nest on the end. "Or am I…" Actually, that could be a rather amazing spell, couldn't it?

"What are you talking about?" Sierra whispers back. "It'd be brilliant! Just think how many students we could use that one! I'd have a grand time with it. Maybe we could just come up with a way to make someone think that's what was happening - but we'd have to know when he was lying!"

Alicia folded her hands over her lap as she thought about a nose-growing spell. "Maybe you could sell the idea to the joke shop. Maybe they'll let you have a cut of the profit," Alicia said after a while. She liked to be practical, after all. Watching the movie, Alicia did confess after a while, "It is a very novel idea to have a moving and talking painting, I must say."

Amber is somewhat amused by the idea of selling the idea of a nose-growing, truth-detecting spell to the joke shop. It's a bad thing to get her mind started in that direction, as she might just consider it…
Speaking of jokes and fun, there is something sinister, and yet wonderful about this "Pleasure Island" place that Honest John convinces Pinnochio to visit. Amber, for her part, almost shouts: Hah! I knew it! When everything falls apart and the boys begin to turn into donkeys. However, she wasn't quite prepared for the horror of the idea that the dreadful man would then sell the donkey boys to work in the salt mines. Judging by her reactions, she's really wrapped up in the film.

The fruit gummies are gone, and Sierra's idly sucking on a hard candy as she watches the donkies getting rounded up. She starts booing and hissing loudly at the screen, getting her some annoyed reactions from others sitting nearby. The booing turns into a laugh as they attempt to shush her - but she does quiet down again afterwards.

Alicia was into the movie as well. The idea of Pleasure Island was oddly intriguing to her. Although she was not as vocal in her appreciation as, say, Sierra, the youngest girl was enjoying herself. "This is quite a tale," Alicia observes aloud.

And what an adventure the rest of the tale is to behold! Pinnochio and Jimminy Cricket dive into the ocean and wander through the wonders of the deep in search of the poor toy maker. They find him - alive - but living in the belly of a whale named Monstro. Through Pinnochio's bravery and unselfishness, they are all saved. And best of all, he does turn into a real boy in the end.
Amber does a decent job of dashing away the tears that began to well in her eyes during the last scene when everyone thought Pinnochio was dead. She is still trying to do away with the annoying, stinging things when the lights rise.
"Sorry - film must've been hard on my eyes." She mutters as an excuse. Then, managing a smile, she adds as an aside to Sierra: "Happy Birthday."

NOTE: The newsreel footage referenced in this scene came from actual archival British newsreels released in 1940.

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