This was, James felt, frankly ridiculous.
Lily was not offering to help. He might not have accepted her help, anyway, and it had nothing to do with that Muggle cliche of men refusing to ask for directions. It was just that no amateur cartographer should need help to decipher an atlas. Lily obviously knew this. Still, he wished she wouldn't sit so politely behind her mug of tea, watching him and waiting for him to figure out where they were going.
He flipped another page in the atlas to stare blankly at the expanded street view.
When he and his friends had put together the Marauder's Map, they had carefully lain it out so it was simple to figure out where anyone was at any time. The careful lines had taken hours to draw, and it had been fitted in places with handy expander spells so particularly crowded areas could be blown up for easier viewing.
Muggle maps had apparently had a similar idea about expanding crowded areas, only they didn't have magnifying spells. Instead, they had handily provided other maps of the areas they wished to show in greater detail, color coded and marked in boxes on the big map. This only made things more confusing. While he could find their destination on the larger map, this did him no good when he attempted to better pinpoint it on the small map.
He had never realized how handily they had set up the Marauder's Map to do most of the work for them, before.
He unfolded another map and gave it a suspicious look. It did not appear to be any more helpful.
"Lily?" he asked.
She put the mug of tea down. "Decided you need help after all?" she asked.
"No, it's just. . . ." He shook his head. "Are we in any hurry to leave?"
"We need to be there by tomorrow morning, James. Whether you read the map on your own or not."
James nodded. "This'll only take me an hour or so. Mind waiting that long?"
Lily cocked her head slightly and stared at her husband for a moment or two, pursing her lips slightly. James recognized it as a look that, while not precisely displeased, held a certain warning to it. "What are you going to do to the poor map?"
James put on his most innocent expression. Lily's raised eyebrow told him she was having none of it. "Are your parents going to demand it back?" James asked finally.
"James," Lily repeated, "what are you going to do to the atlas?"
"Turn these four maps into one. Just making sure no one was going to mind if I chopped it up." When Lily's expression didn't change, he added, "I've done it before."
"Are you sure just asking me to read the map isn't easier?"
James sighed and ran a hand through his already messy hair. "I can read a map, Lil. When it's actually a map." Besides, if he did it now, he wouldn't have to rearrange the thing at some point when he was in a hurry.
Lily shook her head, but there was a ghost of a smile on her face as she got to her feet. "All right, then. I'm sure I can amuse myself for an hour."