"No one ever believes me," Cat said mournfully. "I shall miss hot baths."
Rather than ask why Cat intended to give up bathing, Tonino addressed his complaint. "It was not a bad idea," he said judiciously, "but I believe that a devil needs longer to take over one's life properly."
"Oh. Wish I'd known that." Cat eyed the table before them. "D'you want platters or tureens next?"
"Platters," Tonino decided. He scooped the pile of shards across the table. "Still, I am happy that we went. It was very pleasant, was it not?"
Cat went red, and began to mutter desperately to his bits of soup tureen, trying to persuade it that, really truly, it did wish to reassemble.
Unfortunately, no one seemed to find Cat terribly persuasive that day. His second explanation had proved only marginally more successful.
"Actually we were, er, plucking flowers," Cat had said. "For Janet and the twins. For, er, get-well purposes."
"Oh indeed," Chrestomanci had said stonily. "Do share with us the rationale for plucking those particular flowers, in that particular garden."
Tonino, who for his own reasons had been feeling a bit stunned just then, had tried the best he could to help. "But the more effort to obtain them, the more they would mean," he'd said.
Although Lady Millie and the other the women had found the idea endearing, it had prompted the discussion among the men of whether meting out mutual punishment would only be encouraging Tonino's further descent into some sort of Cat-inspired delinquency.
Tonino shrugged. Either way, he had suspected they would both end up in the kitchen, and he'd been right. It was not nearly as chaotic and noisy as Aunt Gina's, so Tonino didn't mind overmuch. As Tonino pieced his first jigsaw of platter together, he glanced at Cat's current project, which seemed artistic to him but not very tureen-like. "I can hold this in place," he offered, reaching over.
As his hand brushed Cat's hand, both froze at the slight shock, like static.
"I, er, I've got it," Cat said, jerking away. "Thanks."
Tonino blinked, startled. He now realised why that sensation had felt so familiar to him in the garden. 'Felix' had often dragged 'Tony' about by the hand, in the cellar and later over the roofs, when they'd both had their memories taken away. Tonino rubbed his fingers together thoughtfully, finding the tingle quite agreeable.
Well, hadn't Old Niccolo warned him that nine-lived enchanters did not work in normal ways?
Cat inadvertently provided him with answers, not only to Tonino's most recent puzzle but to his outstanding one as well.
For Tonino had been about to travel to England, and, in English, flour was used for baking, a flower was plucked from a garden. In the end, it had been as simple as that. Tonino smiled to himself, satisfied.
"You should not concern yourself overmuch," Tonino said to Cat. "They will find this is good preparation for next year, I think."
Cat looked at him inquiringly. "What's next year?"
"You did not know?" Tonino smiled. "Next year Angelica is invited to visit you."
Cat's thunderous expression did not faze Tonino at all. As Cat continued to grump at his recalcitrant soup tureen, Tonino translated the other boy's magic into a pleasant canzone for his platters, who clicked their pieces together rapidly, flawlessly for him in appreciation.
In just the same way, Tonino knew that Cat and Angelica would come to like each other very much indeed, for they both had such powerful magic. He had yet to begin arranging their notes, but, in the end, he would ensure they liked each other as much as he did.
For even as Tonino had been studied by the inhabitants of the Castle during his visit, he had been studying them in turn. He found the English admirably discreet. He saw no reason why a similar arrangement could not work for them as well when they were grown.
For now, they were all three, as Benvenuto had pointed out, still young. Tonino could take his time over persuading them to see things in the proper way, and he was confident that everyone would enjoy the results.
For Benvenuto believed Tonino had a talent for working out such puzzles. Benvenuto was never wrong.