The Sugar Quill
Author: Hallie (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Spiritus Aduro  Chapter: Chapter Two: Part II
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Part II


"CHARLES!!" Charlie stirred in his sleep. "CHARLES JOHN WEASLEY, YOU GET OUT HERE NOW!!!"

"Mum?!" he moaned. "Leave me alone, I'm trying to sleep!" He pulled the duvet over his head in an effort to block out the sound.

"Charles Weasley, you'll get up now, or something very heavy and very wet will descend on you from a great height!" That wasn't his mother. That was Ariadne, and she didn't sound too happy. In fact, she sounded the reverse of happy.

"Ria? Go back to sleep! It's too early!"

"Charlie, dear, its half past eleven in the morning! That, in my book, is not early!"

"Go away!" Charlie complained. However, instead of leaving, Ria pulled the curtains open, and light flooded the room. Even with his eyes closed, Charlie could detect the change, and he winced.

"What?" he asked, grumpily, burying his head under the pillow, and regretting the copious amount of alcohol he had consumed the previous night, in honour of his friends leaving Romania.

"What do you mean, 'what'!" Ria demanded. "Drinking yourself into liver failure is one thing. Drinking yourself into liver failure and leaving the bottles lying around for all to see is quite another!"

With that, Ria stomped out of the room.

"Is it just me, or was that Ria doing her best to emanate a human whirlwind?" he asked himself softly.

"No, that was Ria threatening to subject you to all three Unforgivables so slowly that by the time I've finished with you, you'll be begging for death." Clearly Charlie hadn't spoken softly enough.

Dear Lord, she was turning into his mother! As if one Molly Weasley wasn't enough for the world! Charlie loved his mother dearly, but that didn't alter the fact that he had given up answering to anyone when he left home - although Molly still had the power to make him shake in his shoes. Sighing, he left the comfort of his bed for the shower.

Half an hour later, he joined Ria in the kitchen. The flat that Ria and Charlie occupied had six rooms – the kitchen, dining room, bathroom, living room and two bedrooms – but Charlie's favourite was the kitchen. It reminded him of the kitchen at The Burrow – organised but cluttered. Ria had stuck various paintings, letters and photographs sent to her by her nieces and nephews on to the cupboards. When Ria had offered him cupboard space, Charlie had retorted that Ron and Ginny were a bit beyond sending him paintings, and as Bill hadn't made it as far as marrying yet, much less having children, he assumed it would be a while before he was needing it.

Ria had carelessly tossed brochures of holiday resorts on to the table by the door. She had been studying them in an effort to decide where to take Claire and Olivia in the summer, but so far, none had caught her fancy. In a glass coaster, both Charlie and Ria had dumped their house keys, and a pot containing Floo powder was perched precariously on the edge of the table.

"Have you finished?" Ria demanded.

"Yes, your holiness," Charlie replied.

"Good – Uncle Adam wrote yesterday, he and Georgia – you know, my cousin – well, they're visiting Romania at the moment, and Uncle Adam is coming to visit us."

"Why?" Charlie asked, curiously.

"Why not?" Ria shrugged. "Look at it this way – it's better for Uncle Adam to come than it is for my parents – they don't know about you."

"Charming!" Charlie complained.

"People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones," Ria replied. "It's not like you mentioned me to your mother, either!"

"And what, may I ask, am I supposed to call Uncle Adam and Cousin Georgie?" Charlie demanded.

"Uncle Adam would be Sir Rutherford," Ria began. Charlie's jaw dropped.

"Nice of you to mention that – three years, and I don't think baronets came into it!" Ria shrugged.

"The subject's never arisen. And for goodness' sake, don't call Georgia 'Georgie' if you want to last the evening out. She hates it."


"Georgie Porgie pudding and pie, Kissed the girls and made them cry!" Ria recited.

"It'll have to be Georgie now!" Charlie grinned, wickedly.

"You dare!" Ria glared at him.

"It's all right, Oh Holy One, her father is a Sir – I'm not going to put a toe out of line," Charlie reassured her, innocently. But there was an evil glint in his eye as he said it.


For Charlie and Ria, work didn't have regular hours, per se, they were expected to work as and when they were needed. So, when Charlie arrived home at 6:30, after leaving a content Common Welsh Green and her mate in the enclosure, he was unsurprised to find Ria already at the flat. What did surprise him was the scene that met him when he entered the kitchen. Ria, a smudge of butter on her nose and flour in her hair, was pouring over a cookbook, whilst beating something that looked distinctly inedible in a bowl.

"Um, Ri?" Charlie looked at her inquisitively.

"Well, they have to eat something, don't they!" she told him. "Somehow Georgia can always tell the difference between something made by hand and something made using magic. She reckons the hand made stuff has a better flavour." Charlie merely raised his eyebrows at the mess the kitchen was in and the contents of the bowl.

"Ria, my dear, do you actually know how to cook? Only the one time I let you near the oven you nearly burnt the house down!"
"Weelll, vaguely," Ria replied sheepishly. "Mums taught us all the rudiments of Muggle cookery when we were tots - before we could actually use magic, but I was never really all that good at it, and after Hogwarts I just bought a cookbook at Flourish and Blotts, and let my wand do the rest."

"Rather badly, I hasten to add. What exactly are you trying to make?" Charlie asked.

"Carrot and artichoke soup for a starter," Ria gestured towards a saucepan full of lumpy orange liquid that was closer to the colour of the Chudley Cannons robes than anything Charlie had seen in his life.

"Right," Charlie looked doubtful, "and…?"

"Coq au Vin for a main course," Ria looked rather worried herself. "It's supposed to be really easy – I've got this," she held up the cookbook.

"Delia Smith's Complete Cookery Course," Charlie read.

"Yes, It's very interesting. The problem is, this whole Coq au Vin thing is more complicated than I thought – you have to boil the wine for about an hour, and I'm a bit worried – it seems to be sticking to the bottom of the pan…" Ria shrugged helplessly. Charlie snatched the cookbook from her.

"Ri, it says to simmer the wine for an hour, not burn the bottom out of the pan!" he exclaimed, peering into a pan full of red wine. "Honestly, why couldn't you have gone with something simple like an omelette?!"

"Oh, can you cook properly then?" Ria looked hopeful.

"Can I cook properly? Darlin', you ain't seen nothin' until you've seen Charlie Weasley in a Muggle kitchen," Charlie informed her, roguishly.

"Don't call me darlin'," she said, distractedly. "Aidan used to call me darlin'."

"What was that?" Charlie asked.

"Nothing," Ria replied. "You'll see to the Coq au Vin then?"

"Ri, dear, I'd actually like to live to see the end of this meal," Charlie informed her. "At the rate you're going, we'll all have food poisoning by the end of it. I'm taking charge. Just do as you're told, and you'll be fine."

"What about pudding?" Ria asked timidly.

"What did you have in mind?"

"Cardinal Peaches with Cream," Ria informed him.

"We can probably manage that," Charlie told her. "Now, for goodness sake, sieve your soup before it turns into… I don't even want to think about what it will turn into!"

Mutely, Ria did as she was told. Charlie concentrated on cooking. Honestly, she was twenty-one years old and couldn't cook without the aid of magic. At Hogwarts, Charlie had taken Muggle Studies in an effort to understand his father's fascination with their culture. During this time, he had learnt all about Muggle cooking techniques, and, if he was brutally honest, he actually enjoyed being King of the Kitchen.

By seven o'clock, everything was going smoothly – the soup was keeping warm on the stove, and the Coq au Vin was simmering in the oven. Ria had disappeared to change out of her very Muggle shorts and shirt, and Charlie supposed he ought to follow her example.

The doorbell rang at dead on half past seven. Ria hurried to the door, throwing it open to reveal a man of anything between forty and fifty years of age, and a young woman not much older than Ria herself. Before she had a chance to say anything, the girl had flung herself on to her.

"Ria!" she exclaimed, "you look so well! And you've lost weight! It's been ages since I've seen you!"

"Georgia, Uncle Adam, how lovely to see you!" Ria replied. "This is my friend, Charlie Weasley. Charlie, Uncle Adam and Georgia."

"Pleased to meet you," Charlie said, formally.

"So, you're the live-in lover," Georgia gave him the once over. Charlie spluttered, and Ria coughed. "Come on Ri, you didn't think you could keep it secret, did you? Why else would you be living in the wilds of Romania?"

"I like dragons," Ria pointed out.

"Yes, you always were more interested in that stupid Kneazle you found in the woods than you were in normal girly things. I don't know why Uncle Alex let you keep it – it was always nasty to me!"

"Kelsie was lovely!" Ria told her cousin. "She was also mine. Not mine and Gemma's or mine and Becca's, but mine! And I've always been perfectly normal, thank you very much!"

"Come off it, Ri! Your parents found you abandoned on the doorstep! You're scarcely normal!"

Charlie looked at Georgia, amazed that she could say such a thing. He knew Ria worshipped the ground her family walked on, adopted or not. And her family clearly returned the adoration with interest if the frequent letters from them were anything to go by. He glanced at his friend. Ria was clearly trying to control her temper.

"Yes, well… Why don't we all have dinner?" she asked, attempting to change the subject.

"Good idea!" Adam Rutherford was enthusiastic.

Ria and Charlie's dining room was rarely used – both of them preferred to eat at the pine table in front of the kitchen window. However, when guests visited it was very practical. The small room was decorated with dark red walls and mahogany furniture. On the walls were various paintings, and a vase of flowers was arranged on the windowsill.

Sir Rutherford and Georgia sat down at the table, and Ria and Charlie nipped into the kitchen. Ria smiled affectionately in Charlie's direction as she ladled soup into the bowls.

"You're an angel and I love you," she told him.

"I know, but what can I do?" he replied, returning her grin. "Take the food in, woman, before it gets cold."

"Aye aye, sir," she replied, mischievously, and ducked as he flicked a tea towel in her direction.

"Carrot and artichoke soup?" Georgia looked at her cousin incredulously. "How very quaint. I was expecting something more…downmarket,"

"Oh, we know how to entertain guests, don't we Charlie," Ria replied, but her smile was forced.

"Its very good, Ariadne dear. Did you cook?" Ria looked to Charlie for help.

"More of a joint effort, sir," he told Sir Rutherford, tactfully.

"Oh, are you one of these 'new age' men? Never could see the appeal of being at a woman's beck and call, myself, but I suppose times change."

"I expect Charlie was being charitable, Daddy. You know what Ria's like in the kitchen – do you remember my eighth birthday? She tried to bake me a cake and used salt instead of sugar. Honestly, Ri, you were terribly haphazard!"

"I think Ria's culinary expertise has improved with age," Charlie replied, gallantly.

"You mean her culinary skills were much augmented by the addition of a wand," Georgia replied disdainfully. "Now, my mamma, she cooked properly – a very hands-on experience. For the flavour, you know. Using magic, it's just not the same."

Conversation continued in this vein throughout the evening, Georgia taking every opportunity to snipe at her cousin. Charlie was amazed that Ria stood for it – had anybody else said anything of the nature Georgia was to Ria, they would have ended up in hospital with a broken nose.


When, at last, they had gone, Ria collapsed in to a chair, and helped herself to a large glass of wine. Charlie watched her with interest.

"You don't normally hit the bottle," he said, concerned.

"I don't normally have Georgia ramming my 'unrelated' state down my throat either," Ria pointed out. "Do we have anything stronger?"

Calmly, Charlie removed the now empty glass from her hand.

"No, Ri, we don't, and even if we did, I wouldn't give it to you."

"And why bloody not?" Ria demanded.

"Because getting yourself falling over drunk is not going to do you any good."
"Oh, genius!" Ria replied, sarcastically. "I'm well aware of that, but it might help."

"Ri, ignore her," Charlie was only too aware that Georgia's snide remarks about being unwanted had hit Ria hard.

"She was bloody right though, wasn't she!" Ria replied, and Charlie realised that she was fighting tears. "I wasn't wanted, was I. My parents thought so much of me that they left me on the doorstep! Every damned body hates me!"

"Stop it!" Charlie exclaimed. This wasn't the Ria he knew, full of bubbly pride and optimism. "Your whole family loves you, so don't give me that codswallop about everyone hating you!"

"How could you possibly understand?" Ria asked him.

"I have lived with you for three damn years, Ria, how could I not understand you?"

"You don't know the half of it," Ria told him, morosely.

"So tell me," Charlie replied. But Ria just sat there, silently, watching the fire as the embers glowed orange. "Ariadne, listen to me. I'd never force you to do anything, and I'm certainly not going to pressure you to tell me. But remember this. If ever you need a shoulder to cry on, a sympathetic ear to listen to, or whatever, I'm always here for you."

"I think I'll go to bed now," Ria told him. "Leave the dishes and everything. We can do them in the morning." As she walked past him, Charlie stood up and hugged her.

"Night, Ri," he said, quietly.




"Morning!" Ria greeted Charlie, happily. It was a week since Adam and Georgia had visited, and neither Charlie nor Ria had broached the subject of their calling since that night.

"You're chirpy today," Charlie told her. "What do you want for breakfast?"

"Full English?" Ria asked, hopefully.

"So demanding," Charlie sighed. "If you want a cooked breakfast, you'll have to do the washing up."

"Deal. And don't skimp on the mushrooms!" Laughing, Ria left the room, and presently the sound of running water and singing indicated that she was in the shower.

"Go on now, go! Walk out the door! Just turn around now, 'cause you're not welcome anymore…"

Smiling to himself Charlie stuck some toast under the grill. Ria was clearly in high spirits this morning. He recognised the song she was singing as a Muggle one – something about surviving without men. Well, Ria could certainly do that, although Charlie wondered what she'd do about feeding herself if he wasn't there.

When Ria reappeared, fully clothed, and still humming, breakfast was ready.

"Cheers, chum," Ria smiled at Charlie. "What would I do without you?"

"Starve," Charlie replied.

"You know, you're probably right," Ria told him. "Are you doing anything interesting today?"

"Looking after dragons, same as every day," Charlie replied. "The Hebridean Black's got some kind of infection, and I promised Joe I'd help him with her today."

"Poor thing," Ria was sympathetic.

"Who, me or the dragon?" Charlie asked.

"The dragon, dear. Although, I wouldn't want to be you, not for all the tea in China."

"Why not?"

"You mean excepting or including the fact that you're male?" Ria smirked. Charlie raised his eyebrows at her, and she relented. "Because its breeding time for good old Dolly, and I doubt she's going to be too impressed with you lot poking her."


"The Hebridean Black, dear. Just because you don't name your animals…!"

"I do too – and what kind of name is Dolly?"

"Ask Joe – he called her it. Great breakfast, ta. I'd better go, or I'll be late. Au revoir!" And with that, Ria was gone.

"But what about the dish- Oh, what's the point? Ria, I'm going to kill you!" Charlie sighed, and set to washing up.



Charlie was perched on the fence of the dragon enclosure that was housing Dolly, the Hebridean Black, watching the beast with interest. Dolly was anything but docile, her purple eyes were flaring wildly as she realised that there was no escape. The fence had nothing to do with Dolly's enclosed state – what use would a flimsy wooden structure be against twenty-four feet of raging dragon? No, the fence was a visible reminder of the whereabouts of a force field that prevented Dolly from leaving the treatment zone. Dolly's long tail thrashed around angrily, the arrow shaped spike on the end tearing up the ground, ruthlessly efficient. Charlie was glad that he wasn't going anywhere near the beautifully wild creature until she had been well and truly Stunned.

Half an hour later, Dolly was finally submersed in a blissful sleep, and Charlie felt safe in approaching her. He was joined by Joe MacFusty, the man in the know when it came to Hebridean Blacks. Joe had descended from the MacFusty wizard clan. For centuries the MacFustys had dwelt in the Hebrides, and it was traditional for them to take responsibility for their native dragons. When Joe had been offered a position at the Romanian reserve, he had jumped at the chance of widening his expertise, but he remained first and foremost, a Hebridean specialist.

"Do you have any idea what might be wrong with her?" Charlie asked his stocky companion. Joe shrugged.

"I cannae tell, Weasley. It could be nothin' for all I know, but it's best to be safe."

"You've got that right!" Charlie agreed. He had been working with dragons for long enough to know that a sick dragon was a murderous dragon.

"You have to be careful with this wee lassie," Joe muttered to himself, as much as to Charlie. "She'll be bein' a bit tender I reckon, what with it bein' matin' season an' all." Cautiously he approached Dolly. "I reckon its probably something to do with her left wing – she's not been flyin' properly," gently Joe eased Dolly's wing open. Her wing span was huge, but it was evident to both Charlie and Joe that they had found the source of the problem.

"Fungus," Charlie said, grimacing. "A pretty bad bout of it, too!" Dragons were very susceptible to fungi, their wings were particularly vulnerable, thanks to the multiple creases. "Poor thing – no wonder she was a bit touchy!"

"Aye, its fungus," Joe agreed. "We should be thankful its nothing worse - it could have been anything. That's the Unigolu fungus, it'll be a matter of giving her an infusion to sort that out. I'll get Sam or someone to see to it that Dolly gets a large enclosure, and give them some stuff to put in her water, and within a week she'll be as right as rain, won't you lass?" Joe smiled down at the dragon, and then made for the gate. "You stay here and keep an eye on her Charlie – I'll be back soon," and with that, he was gone.

When he returned, he was accompanied by a tall woman whose blonde hair was pulled back in an untidy ponytail, and whose eyes were hidden behind a pair of dark glasses.

"Watcher Sammy!" Charlie greeted the newcomer, "how're you doing?"

"Fine, thank you very much, how's Ri?"

"Her holiness is very well, and observing Norbert the Norwegian Ridgeback, who is in fact, Norbertina. She's actually very attached to her, for some strange reason."

"Hark at the pot calling the kettle black!" Samantha Kingston was twenty-seven, and had known Charlie ever since he had begun working at the Romanian Reserve. "I seem to recall a certain Percy the Peruvian Vipertooth took your fancy a few years back."

"He reminded me of my brother!" Charlie complained.

"Whatever you say, sweetie. Now, much as I'd love to stay and chat, Dolly needs to be moved before she recovers from whatever spell it is that you used on her. So I'd better get a move on."

"All right Sam, I'll talk to you later."

"That you will, Charlie-boy, that you will. Come on, Joe, lets get Dolly to her temporary home."

As the two of them left, a large dragon suspended in the air between them, someone dug Charlie in the ribs. He swung around to see a smiling red head sporting a fang earing and ponytail.

"Bill! What are you doing here?" Charlie looked at his brother incredulously. William Weasley, the eldest of the Weasley clan, and academically the most successful – although Percy could give his brother a run for his money – smirked at Charlie happily, and clapped him on the shoulder.

"The higher ups at Gringotts sent me to negotiate with a Romanian noble about the money she owes them. Heaven only knows why they sent me – I'm a curse breaker, not a diplomat, but they did, and as I was in the area, I thought that I'd visit you, and veto this Ariadne of yours."

"She's not mine!" Charlie protested, "we just live together."

"Well if there's nothing going on, why haven't you told our darling mother of your current situation?" Bill looked at his brother questioningly, blue eyes sparkling mischievously.

"Come off it, Bill! You know what Mum's like – I can just see it now. 'Mum, I've shacked up with my best friend, who just so happens to be female.' 'Oh, Charlie, how wonderful – when's the wedding?'" Charlie did a perfect imitation of his mother, and Bill guffawed with laughter.

"You have a point there – she's been agitating at me to get married and have children for ages. 'By the time I was your age I was married with two children!'"

"Good old Mum," Charlie smiled. "She's going to be even worse next year, when Ginny goes to Hogwarts, she'll be desperate for more babies in the family!"

"Looks like you and young Ariadne may have to hook up after all, mate."

"The day Ri and I get together is the day that we all wake up and realise that this whole caboodle has been a pleasant dream, and in fact Harry Potter never did defeat Voldemort,"

"Talking of Harry Potter, did you know that he, Ron and some kid called Hermione Granger are all best friends?"

"Of course," Charlie grinned, "Ria's even met them."

"Ria's met who?" Another voice joined the conversation.

"Harry and Hermione," Charlie explained. "Bill, this is Ariadne Rutherford, flatmate extraordinaire. Your holiness, my brother, Bill, curse-breaker and general good-for-nothing."

"You can call me Ria, or Ri," Ariadne told Bill, smiling. "Most people do," she glared pointedly at Charlie as she said this, and he smirked at her, innocently, if such a thing were possible.

"Come on, Oh great high holy one, you know you love me really," Charlie grinned. Ria noticed Bill's confused look, and hastened to explain.

"Ariadne was the ancient Greek goddess of holiness," she explained. "Charlie thinks its funny to utilise that meaning." Bill merely grinned.

"I'm beginning to feel sorry for poor Ginny," Ria told the two men. "I'm surprised she hasn't had a nervous break-down by now. And I thought Becca's Jeremy was bad!"

"Who's Becca?" Bill asked.

"My sister. Jeremy is her husband. You'd get on well with him," Ria told him. "Incidentally, Chas, my dear, are you staying here all day, or coming home for dinner? Oh, and Beth wants to know if you plan on visiting Percy the Peruvian Vipertooth this evening? Apparently its about time you paid a visit."

"Percy the Peruvian Vipertooth?" Bill raised his eyebrows at his brother.

"What?! He reminded me of Perce – full of hot air!" Charlie replied. Bill looked at him, and the two of them started laughing.

"Have I missed something?" Ria asked. "And are you coming home, or not?"

"Yes, Ria, we're coming," Charlie replied. "Lead the way, fair maiden."


"If music be the food of love, play on,

Give me excess of it, that surfeiting

The appetite may sicken and so die

That strain again, it has a dying fall…"

"You see, if you'd told me you were going to shack up with a lunatic, I'd never have believed you," Bill told Charlie. "Sadly, I have been proved wrong. What is that she's wittering, anyway?"

"Don't be nasty," Charlie chastised him, grinning. "Apparently, it's the opening scene from Shakespeare's 'Twelfth Night'. And you should be thankful – the other day she did the death scene from 'A Midsummer Nights Dream' – actually, no, that was quite funny. According to Ri, Muggle art is undervalued – she'd get on very well with Dad."

"Enough, no more,

'Tis not so sweet now as it was before… I can hear every word you're saying, you know that? And I am not deranged. Muggle literature is just interesting. So there."

"We never thought you were deranged, your holiness, just eccentric. What's wrong with Celestina Warbeck, and her cronies?" Ria entered the room.

"Shakespeare," she began, with dignity, "was a genius. Celestina Warbeck, and her like, are tarts of little talent, and even less beauty."

"Ria!" Charlie was scandalised. "You're talking about the best group to have graced the Wizard Wireless Network for years!"

"That, Charlie, sweetie, is my point. Celestina Warbeck versus the Beatles – there just isn't any comparison. He's a real nowhere man, sitting in his nowhere land, making all his nowhere plans for nobody. Doesn't have a point of view, knows not where he's going to, isn't he a bit like you and me? Nowhere man, please listen, you don't know what you're missing, nowhere man, the world is at your command…" Ria left the room, singing softly to herself. Charlie watched her leave, smiling to himself.

"It could be worse," he informed Bill, "at least she can sing!"

"The girl's out of her mind!" Bill replied.

"No," Charlie said, seriously, "she's not. But she has issues to deal with, and she hasn't dealt with them yet. Believe me, Bill, after last week, I don't care if Ri starts pretending she's dancing to Cliff Richard on the moon, as long as she's happy while she's doing it."

"Who's Cliff Richard?" Bill asked, innocently. Charlie sighed, what with Bill and Ariadne, it was going to be a long week!


"Help! I need somebody, Help, not just anybody, Help, you know I need someone, Help!

When I was younger so much younger than today, I never needed anybody's help in any way, And now these days are gone I'm not so self assured, Now I find, I've changed my mind, I've opened up the door…" Bill's singing filled the flat. Charlie looked at Ria, and raised an eyebrow.

"Corrupting my brother, your holiness?"

"Not at all. I just introduced him to some rather choice works by the Beatles," Ria replied, smiling. "It seems I've converted him."

"The sad thing is, I think you have," Charlie admitted.

"Two Weasleys down, seven to go," Ria grinned.

"What do you mean, two down? I'll have you know that I still prefer Celestina Warbeck," Charlie complained.

"No, Charlie, dear, you prefer Celestina's blonde hair and figure. That's different. And I was actually referring to Bill and your dad. He's into all things Muggle, is he not?"

"Oh. Okay then," Charlie had no witty come back for that.

"And you know you like my music better really," Ria teased. "Don't think I didn't hear you that time that Jess abandoned you for some other guy. I seem to recall, I'll survive with a little help from my friends creeping into the sound system."

"I thought it was particularly fitting," Charlie told her. "Incidentally Ri, that sound system was a stroke of genius."

"One of the perks of living in Romania, my dear Mr Weasley, is that there are far fewer Muggle baiting laws, and enchanting a sound system to work without electricity isn't among them."

"A fact that you are only too happy to exploit, Lady Rutherford,"

"That's my aunt, Charlie. She also happens to be dead. So, as when Uncle Adam dies, it will pass to young Giles' wife, if he ever gets one, it will pass right over my branch of Rutherfords. It would have done anyway – what with Mums and Dad having only girls."

"Nice change of subject there. I still want to know how you tinkered with that," Charlie nodded towards the tape deck, "so that you could play your precious Beatles."

"Well, then want will have to be your master, 'cause I'm not telling you."

"Thanks Ri," Charlie said wryly.

"Ask your father, I'm sure he'd be only too happy to oblige," Ria retorted. At that point, Bill entered the room.

"I thought Ria singing in the shower was bad," Charlie complained, "then you took it up, and I'm starting to wonder if I've gone completely mad!"

"I think," Bill began, "that at time like this the best strategy is-"

"If you can't beat 'em, join 'em," Ria finished.

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