"Merlin's beard!" exclaimed Narcissa Black. She spun both of her arms in windmills to check her balance as she struggled to stand still atop the narrow, rust-colored, cylinder.
"Oh, stop making such a fuss," chided her older sister Andromeda. "Last time I Apparated with you, you threw up, so we had to use Floo powder. At least I managed to land us on the outside of these seven chimneys, and not inside one of them."
"It's bloody cold!" Narcissa whined. "I can't believe the biggest band in the whole Muggle world is going to give a concert outside on such a cold, windy afternoon in January."
Andromeda pointed her wand at the microphones, amplifiers, guitars, electric piano, drum kit and jumble of wires strung across the makeshift wooden stage in the center of the rooftop. "So why do you suppose their roadies set up all this equipment, then?"
Narcissa carefully maneuvered herself into a sitting position atop one of the chimneys and surveyed her surroundings. "There are four empty chairs right underneath us. Why can't I sit in one of those?"
"I'm sure those are for the band members' wives and girlfriends," Andromeda said with a noticeable trace of resentment in her voice.
Narcissa eyed her sister suspiciously. "You don't like John Lennon's new girlfriend, do you?"
Andromeda shrugged. "It's not for me to say. Muggles have peculiar tastes in women. And their marriages often don't last very long."
Narcissa wrapped her woolen shawl around her shoulders more tightly. "But she doesn't really matter, does she? That Japanese one? It's Paul McCartney's new girlfriend that you're jealous of, isn't it?"
"Oh stop it!" Andromeda protested. "Half the girls in England are in love with Paul McCartney. I'm hardly the only teenager in London to have a crush on him."
"But you're the only Slytherin who has a crush on him," Narcissa replied with a mocking gleam in her eye. "A few other girls in the house have admitted to me that they like the Beatles, but at least they have the sense to fancy John Lennon. With his biting wit and rude attitude, he would have been sorted into our house for sure. But Paul would have been a Hufflepuff."
Andromeda rolled her eyes. "Honestly, Sissy, you're talking nonsense. They're Muggles, the lot of them. Not one of those four was invited to Hogwarts, so none of the Beatles would have been sorted into any houses."
"I've heard that George Harrison was invited," Narcissa challenged, cocking her head and assuming a smug tone. "I heard he received an invitation when he was eleven, but his parents refused to send him to a school of witchcraft and wizardry, because they were Catholics. They called their parish priest and had their house exorcised after the owl dropped the invitation down their chimney."
"Stuff and nonsense," Andromeda replied. "Who told you that bit of Hippogriff poo?"
"Mephisto Goyle," Narcissa stated proudly.
Andromeda buckled over with laugher. "Oh, Sissy! Don't be such a Dorcus!" she said when she managed to calm down. "The Goyles are the stupidest family in all of Hogwarts. They always have been, and they always will be. You can't believe a word any of them say."
"Well, at least they don't hang around with Muggles, like you do," Narcissa taunted.
"I didn't force you to come to this Muggle concert with me, now, did I, Sissy?" Andromeda replied snarkily. "You practically begged me to take you along."
Narcissa repositioned herself on her chimney top in a futile attempt to find a more comfortable spot to sit. "I'm just curious, that's all," she insisted. "I mean, just because I'm a witch, that doesn't mean I want to live my whole life in a vacuum. I'd like to see the world, and know what's going on around me. See what other English girls see. Hear what other English girls hear."
"And listen to my collection of Beatles records when Mum and Dad leave you alone in our house," Andromeda teased.
Narcissa blushed, then ventured a guilty-looking smile. "Okay, so I like their songs. And I'll agree – Paul McCartney is a very cute boy. Though I still prefer John."
"Fine," Andromeda giggled. She pointed her wand at a plank of wood at the very back of the stage and exclaimed, "Accio!" The board floated up to them and landed gently on top of the four chimneys to their right. Andromeda slipped off the chimney top on which she was sitting and shimmied over to claim a seat on her new make-shift bleacher.
Narcissa laughed and scooted over to sit beside her sister. "Thanks for letting me come with you," she whispered.
"You're welcome," Andromeda whispered back. "Just promise you won't tell Mum and Dad where we went today."
"And risk getting in trouble myself?" Narcissa replied. "What do you take me for, a Gryffindor? Excessive honesty has never been my weak point."
Andromeda smiled at her little sister, then sighed. "I just wish I could have brought Sheila with me. She's an even bigger Beatles fan than I am. She's the one who discovered they were giving this concert today, and told me about it. I feel guilty coming here without her."
"You mean Ted Tonks' sister?" Narcissa asked in a wary voice.
"You really fancy him, don't you? Ted?"
Andromeda blushed and nodded once more.
"You know Mum and Dad don't want you carrying on with a Mudblood."
Andromeda's eyes flashed. "Don't call him that! That's a terrible thing to call a wizard!"
"But Ted's parents are Muggles," Narcissa protested.
"That doesn't make any difference. It doesn't excuse your using a slur like that! Ted's a proper wizard, through and through. It doesn't matter if he was born to Muggle parents. And his family is very…" She hesitated a long moment before finishing her thought. "They're all very kind to me."
"Right," Narcissa said. She reached for her sister's hand and clasped it. "Sorry. I didn't mean to hurt your feelings. Ted's nice. It's just that…"
The door to the rooftop entrance started to open.
"Galloping gargoyles!" Andromeda exclaimed. "I almost forgot to perform a disillusionment charm!" She lifted her wand, tapped her sister and herself on the head, and whispered the proper incantation. In an instant, the two girls' exterior selves changed color and blended into their surroundings as if they were a pair of camouflaged chameleons. Andromeda then tapped the middle of the board they were sitting on and repeated the incantation, masking their bench as well.
Narcissa leaned closer to her sister and whispered in her ear. "I hate how that spell always makes me feel like someone is cracking an egg on my head."
Andromeda nodded and pointed her wand at the door. A large crew of technicians, sound engineers and camera men emerged onto the rooftop. They swarmed around the stage like a colony of ants, testing microphones and switches, and adjusting their camera lenses for the light provided by the semi-overcast sky. Then more people started trickling out the door and settling into the empty chairs and spaces.
"That's Mal Evans," Andromeda whispered, pointing to a large man in a tweed jacket and grey turtleneck sweater. "He used to be their roadie back before they were famous. Now he's kind of their all-around dogsbody. And that's – Salazar's Locket! That's Paul!"
Andromeda brought her hands to her mouth to stop herself from screaming as Paul McCartney walked onto the makeshift stage, dressed in a perfectly tailored black suit and striped shirt. Narcissa cast her sister a sidelong glance, then turned her gaze back to the doorway and watched the other musicians enter the rooftop. Ringo Starr came immediately after Paul, wearing a bright red rain slicker. He was escorting a dark-haired woman who quickly took a seat in one of the chairs beneath the seven chimneys. George Harrison followed, dressed in a black fur coat, neon green trousers, and white tennis shoes. A short, dark-skinned man in a black leather jacket came out after George and took a seat behind the electric keyboard. John Lennon walked onto the rooftop last, wearing in a light brown fur coat over a black turtleneck sweater and tight black trousers. A small Asian woman walked in beside him. She settled into a chair beside the woman who had come with Ringo, and immediately lit a cigarette.
"Who's the black fellow?" Narcissa asked her sister.
Andromeda offered no reply. Her eyes were tearing up and her hands were trembling with joy. She met Narcissa's gaze briefly and offered her a small shrug, then turned her head back to look at the band.
John, Paul and George adjusted their guitars around their necks and tuned their instruments while Ringo settled into his chair behind the drum kit and ran his fingers over the cymbals. The four men exchanged a few words, then started playing a song.
Narcissa leaned closer to Andromeda. "I don't know this song, do you?"
Andromeda shook her head without taking her eyes off Paul.
When the song came to an end, Narcissa glanced around in all directions. "People are starting to gather on the next rooftop behind us," she whispered in Andromeda's ear. "And in the windows of the building across the way."
Andromeda nodded, flashed a brief, beatific glance at her sister, then stared back at Paul.
The band members spoke briefly to some of the technicians, then started playing again.
Narcissa leaned towards Andromeda once more. "This is the same song that they just played. I think it's called, 'Get Back.' I wonder why they're playing it twice?"
"Because they're trying to tell you to get back to where you once belonged, little sisters!" hissed a menacing woman's voice.
Narcissa felt a cold rip in her gut. She cringed, then looked over her shoulder and saw the familiar face of her oldest sister Bellatrix. Bellatrix rested her broom beside the stack of chimneys and snarled at her two younger sisters. Her long, dark, curly hair blew wildly in the wind. The gossamer fabric of her ankle-length black gown flapped and snapped as it caught in the breeze. Narcissa gasped in horror and tugged at Andromeda's arm.
Andromeda's shoulders tensed. She reluctantly turned her head away from the band and gazed squarely at her older sister's face. She locked eyes with Bellatrix for a brief moment, then turned back towards Paul. "Make yourself invisible before I do," she commanded Bellatrix.
Bellatrix threw back her head and cackled, then squeezed herself between her sisters on the translucent wooden board. "Is that a threat, Andie, or are you just offering to mask my appearance with that silly disillusionment charm of yours?" she asked in a loud voice that nearly drowned out the amplified songs. "Because if it's the latter, you needed bother. I can just pretend I'm a fan who snuck onto the roof to hear my favorite singers. What is this group called again? The Cockroaches?"
Andromeda lifted her wand towards her older sister's head, but Bellatrix grabbed her wrist. "We'll have none of that, Andie. You've had your fun, slumming with the Muggles. Now it's time for you and Sissy to come home."
Andromeda sat up straighter and steeled her resolve. "No. I came here to listen to a concert. It's time for you to go home now."
Bellatrix made no effort to move. She gazed down at the women sitting beneath the chimneys. "That Japanese one," she said, pointing to Yoko Ono. "Nobody likes her, do they?"
Andromeda shrugged and tried to keep her attention focused on Paul.
"So if I did her in with an Unforgivable Curse, nobody would really mind now, would they?" Bellatrix speculated. "But that other woman, the drummer's wife, if I used a Killing Curse on her, fans might notice. Newpapers might notice too."
Andromeda slowly turned her head towards her oldest sister. "What are you talking about?" she whispered in a dead-calm voice.
"The Dark Lord is rising!" Bellatrix hissed. "His Reign of Terror is about to begin. And important people are going to start disappearing!"
Bellatrix pulled her wand out of the pocket of her dress and started pointing it at the Beatles. "Perhaps I shouldn't start small, though. Why bother messing with the wife of a Beatle, when I could take down one of the actual band members themselves? Tell me, Andie, which one is the leader? Is it that long-haired man in the brown fur coat, or that bearded bloke in the trim black suit?"
Andromeda started shaking. "This isn't funny, Belle. You shouldn't even joke about messing with the Muggle world. Mum and Dad have told you, time and again, to leave Muggles alone."
"But the Dark Lord thinks differently," Bellatrix replied. She flashed an icy snarl at her sister, then threw her hands in the air and reached towards the stage.
"Bellatrix, no!" shouted Narcissa and Andromeda together. They grabbed at the sleeves and hem of their sister's dress and held onto her with all the strength they could muster.
Bellatrix hissed at them. "You can't stop me, you stupid, bloody teenagers!"
"But I can!" shouted another woman's voice.
Andromeda's eyes grew wide as a ginger-haired woman in a sensible tweed suit jacket and skirt Apparated out of the sky and landed gracefully on the stage in front of the Beatles.
John, Paul, George and Ringo immediately noticed the uninvited guest and stopped playing their instruments. A handsome young man in a bespoke navy blue suit, who had been standing behind one of the movie cameras, cleared his throat and approached the stranger.
"Um, miss, I'm going to have to ask you to leave, please," he said in a posh, clipped accent.
"Who are you?" shouted Bellatrix from her awkward position on high, seemingly dangling from the middle of the seven chimneys while her mostly invisible sisters held her back.
"I'm Michael Lindsay-Hogg, the director of this film," answered the young man. "And I…"
"I meant her!" screamed Bellatrix, pointing her wand at the woman in tweed.
"I'm Mrs. Arthur Weasley, and nobody messes with my husband's favorite Muggle band!" the woman shouted back.
Bellatrix broke free of her sisters' grasp and jumped down to the front of the stage. She lifted her wand and cast a stinging jinx at Molly Weasley. But before the enchantment could reach its intended target, Molly flicked her own wand and shouted "Protego!" The hex flew off in a cloud of crackling red sparks.
Bellatrix howled in protest, then started circling Molly like a panther, flicking her wand back and forth in bold strokes like a Wimbledon champion. But Molly anticipated her every move and fought off each hex with a well-placed spell of her own.
The cinematographers stationed on the rooftop lifted their cameras to their shoulders and started circling the two women, struggling not to trip over the exposed cords and wires as they filmed the bedazzling duel.
"Well, this scene should make a nice little finale to our film," George spoke into his microphone.
Paul scratched his beard. "Right. Though I don't know what these birds are going to charge for their services. Do you suppose they came from Central Casting?"
"I'm putting my money on the one in tweed," said John, gazing at Molly with a fond twinkle in his eye as she nimbly fought off a barrage of sparks from Bellatrix's wand. "How about you, Ritchie?"
"I'm with you, Johnny," Ringo answered. "That black-haired tart doesn't stand a chance against the ginger."
Bellatrix turned towards Ringo. "How dare you insult me, you…you…you big-nosed Bowtruckle!" She aimed her wand at the drummer and started to flick her wrist, but Molly beat her to the punch once again, waiving her wand and shouting, "Expelliarmus!"
Bellatrix's wand went sailing out of her hand and over the edge of the building. She turned back towards Molly and glowered. "I'll be back!" she shouted. "The Dark Lord is rising, and I will fight for him to the death!" Then she leapt to the chimneys, grabbed her broomstick and flew away into the London skyline.
The crowd of Muggles and witches on the rooftop fell silent for a long, dazed moment. But then George leaned into his microphone. "Well, that's something you don't see every day now, isn't it?"
John smiled at George and nodded.
"Did you get all of that on film?" Michael Lindsay-Hogg asked the cameramen.
"Film? Oh, Sword of Gryffindor!" Molly cursed. "You Muggles filmed our…our…oh, blasted!" She turned towards the chimneys, squinted at the disillusioned shapes poking out of the background, and let loose a sigh of release. "Andromeda Black, is that you?"
Andromeda waved her wand and made herself visible. "Yes it is. Is that you, Molly Prewett?"
"It's Molly Weasley now. Arthur and I got married last year," Molly called back. "I could sure use some help. How good are you at erasing memories?"
Andromeda cast a quick look at her mostly invisible sister, then turned back towards Molly. "It's never been my strong suit. But if you could manage to wipe out the film in the cameras, my little sister and I could probably throw a few Confundus charms around to muddy up the Muggles' minds."
"Oh, Narcissa is there with you, Andie?" Molly called back. "I'm so sorry, I didn't see her," She waved at the younger Black sister and smiled.
Narcissa tugged at her sister's coat. "But I'll get in trouble if I do magic outside of Hogwarts!"
"Ssshh," Andromeda whispered. "I'll ask Uncle Asmodeus to cover for you. He's got friends in the Improper Use of Magic Office, and he owes me a favor."
Molly straightened her back and turned towards the first cameraman. "Now, don't worry, young man. This won't hurt a bit." She raised her arm and shouted, "Obliviate!" as she flicked her wand at his camera. Then she walked around the circumference of the rooftop and repeated the spell, wiping clean all of the film and sound recording devices.
As she worked, Andromeda and Narcissa pointed their wands at each of the Muggles gathered around the Beatles and shouted, "Confundo!" to cloud their memories. Molly lent them a hand when she was done with her erasing work. Then she raised her arm alongside theirs to connect their wands and form an enormous Confundus spell, which the three women then cast down from the rooftop to confuse the crowd of Muggles gathered below, who were listening to the concert.
When they were done confusing all of the technicians and fans, Andromeda summoned her courage and walked towards the band. She cast a Confundus spell on John, George and Ringo, then stepped up to Paul and kissed his cheek before clouding his memory as well.
Then she returned to her sister's side, blushing as red as a Phoenix.
Molly winked at her. "You know, if I weren't already married to Arthur, I would have kissed Ringo too," she confessed. "What do you say we three sit down together to hear the rest of the show?" She pointed her wand at a tarp lying on the edge of the rooftop and shouted, "Cellasortia!" The tarp lifted off the ground, folded into itself, rolled around in the air a few times, then stretched out into the shape of a comfortable chintz sofa.
Andromeda cast Molly a curious glance. "That's a charm I've never seen before."
"Arthur just learned it from a furniture maker from Koldovstoretz," Molly explained. "He's been making a lot of useful connections ever since he joined the Ministry of Magic."
Andromeda motioned for her sister to take a seat on the couch, then sat down next to Molly and tapped all three of their heads with her wand for a fresh round of disillusionment spells. Then she tapped the sofa for good measure, and settled back into the couch's comfy cushions and watched the extremely discombobulated Beatles attempt to regroup.
"Something just happened now, didn't it?" John asked Ringo.
"What do you mean by 'something'?" Ringo replied.
"I've written a song called 'Something'," George interrupted.
"Really?" asked Paul. "How's it go?"
George scratched his head. "I can't remember."
"C'mon, lads, let's resume the concert," suggested Michael Lindsay-Hogg.
"Concert? We're giving a concert?" John asked.
"I thought we stopped touring," Ringo pointed out.
"And it's bloody cold and windy up here!" George exclaimed. "Why would we be so damned stupid as to give a concert on a rooftop on a freezing afternoon in January?"
Michael put his hands to his hips and made an obvious show of inspecting the equipment strewn about the rooftop. "You three are each holding guitars and Ringo's sitting at his kit. And we have a whole crew of people filming and recording you lot. I'm pretty damn sure you're giving a concert."
"I think he's right," called Billy Preston from his seat behind the electric keyboard. "Otherwise, what would I be doing here at this piano?"
Paul looked over his shoulder and smiled at Billy. "Good point, Mr. P," he replied. "So, we're giving a concert then! Let's see now, what songs have we played so far?"
"I can't remember," Michael replied. "How about you just start playing the new songs you've been working on lately."
"Good idea," said John. He formed a chord on the neck of his guitar and screamed out the line, "Don't let me down!"
"Ooh, this is a new one!" Andromeda noted with a smile. "So far, they've just played that 'Get Back' song twice."
Andromeda, Narcissa and Molly each sat up a little straighter on their disillusioned sofa and listened with rapt attention to the rooftop concert, trying not to laugh when John messed up the words in the second verse of his song, and nudging each other silently when the band repeated several of the songs.
"I do hope the lyrics and music will come back to them later," Narcissa said to her sister. "Confundus charms aren't as usually strong as Obliviate spells."
"I'm sure they'll all be fine," Andromeda replied. "And anyway, I've read in a Muggle magazine that the Beatles have all been smoking a lot of marijuana lately. So they'll probably just blame their foggy memories on that."
"Marijuana?" Narcissa asked. "Isn't that a magical plant?"
Andromeda nodded. "It is. And a lot of Muggles have become infatuated by it recently."
"Did you study it in Herbology class?" Narcissa continued. "Do you think I might get to try it?"
Molly forced a cough to redirect the conversation. "Do you still have those Muggle magazines, Andie? My husband Arthur might like to see them. He's just started a job in the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office of the Ministry of Magic, and he's building up quite a collection of periodicals and books. I was just on my way to see him for lunch when I heard the Beatles music drifting down from the rooftop, but then I heard your sister…" Her voice trailed off.
Andromeda lowered her head in embarrassment. But Narcissa looked up and met Molly's eyes. "You told Bellatrix that the Beatles are your husband's favorite Muggle band," she recalled.
Molly nodded. "He'll be so jealous when I tell him I saw them perform today!"
The Beatles started playing "Don't Let Me Down" again. Molly listened with rapt attention until John sang the second verse correctly, then shared a sly smile with the Black girls. "Arthur collects records as well as magazines," she admitted.
"I do too," Andromeda confessed.
"I've heard that George Harrison is a wizard, but his parents wouldn't let him go to Hogwarts," Narcissa chimed in.
Molly patted her knee. "I've heard that too, dear," she said. "Wouldn't it be nice if it were true?"
Inspired by J. K. Rowling's series of Harry Potter novels (1997 through 2007).