Ron looked around. It was a quiet summer morning in Ottery St. Catchpole, and he was standing in a fellytone box, attempting to use the thing to call Harry Potter at the Dursley residence.
It was Harry's idea, because he lived with Muggles and this was apparently a standard method of communication for them. Last summer, sending letters by owl hadn't worked too well. Not only had Ron's letters not gotten through, but when somebody else managed to send a letter to Harry, it had really upset the Dursleys. So, the fone ... er, tone ... phone... thing.
Ron would've preferred to have a go by himself, but Fred and George had insisted on coming along, and their mother had been on the twins' side because she thought it was safer if all three of them were together. At least Ginny hadn't come with them. She was still home, probably asleep.
Their dad had given them detailed instructions on how to use the device. But using a fellytone was more complicated than it looked ...
How were you supposed to hold the phone and talk into it, look at a slip of paper with the number on it in your other hand, and punch the buttons, all at the same time? It took three hands! Finally Fred held the slip of paper with Harry's number on it and read off the digits, while Ron dialed and held the receiver. Fred and George leaned in to listen. A moment later, Ron shook his head. It didn't seem to be working.
"You have to put the money in first, Ron," whispered George. "Remember what Dad said? Go on!"
Ron put several Muggle coins into what looked like the right slot. Now the phone was emitting a small tone. "Try pushing the numbers again," Fred suggested.
A Muggle walked by with a small dog on a leash, looking curiously at the three red-haired boys crammed into the phone box, with their heads together near the receiver. No doubt they were making a prank call. He walked on, unconcerned.
Ron pressed the numbers again, still listening to the phone. There were several more beeps, which Dad had explained translated at the other end as "ringing." They heard a click. Then a man's voice said, "Vernon Dursley speaking."
Ron took a deep breath, and his brothers grinned and gave him encouraging looks. "Make sure to speak clearly," their dad had told them.
"HELLO? CAN YOU HEAR ME?" Ron bellowed. "I – WANT – TO – TALK – TO – HARRY – POTTER!"
The voice on the other end came through loud and clear, but it sounded angry. "WHO IS THIS?! WHO ARE YOU?" Fred and George both heard it too, and they started to laugh. This wasn't going the way Ron had expected. But he persevered.
"RON – WEASLEY!" he yelled. "I'M – A – FRIEND – OF – HARRY'S – FROM – SCHOOL –"
But he got no further. Mr. Dursley roared back at him, "THERE IS NO HARRY POTTER HERE! NEVER CONTACT ME AGAIN! DON'T YOU COME NEAR MY FAMILY!" And there was a click, and then silence on the other end of the line.
Ron realized the conversation was over, and hung the phone back on its little lever. He was crestfallen. The twins, on the other hand, were laughing uproariously.
"It's not that funny," said Ron, a little angrily.
"Merlin's pants," chortled Fred, "that Dursley bloke is mental, isn't he? He sounds like Filch does when he catches us at ... erm, never mind."
"Don't feel too bad about it, Ron," said George, giving his little brother a pat on the back. "You did a great job. I guess those Muggles are just a touchy lot."
"Hmmph," said Ron, as they started back to their house. "I suppose it's owl post again after all. Errol better be up to it."
"Hope Harry doesn't get in too much trouble," Fred commented. "We haven't got the car anymore, so we can't go and rescue him again. Anyways, Mum would probably kill us. Want to play some Quidditch pickup, Ron?"