"Fun and aggravation indeed," said Maura, lifting her glass. "To a world well made."
"Here, here," answered the rest of the company.
"So, what're we doing next?" asked Paul, looking down the table at Anne. "I mean, I know you. You're not happy unless you've got something going..."
Anne looked at Godric. "There was a reason I asked if there could be a children's table," she said in a long-suffering tone.
"Hoy! I'm at least 975 years older than you are!"
"And about a thousand times less mature," said Margaret repressively.
"Really, Paul dear, you need to learn what is and isn't appropriate at table," said Helga, buttering a roll. "Picking your nose, for instance."
Paul turned beet red. "I only did that once!"
"Once a week, more like," said Brenna.
"Or once a day," Sophia chimed in.
"Or once an hour..."
"Or once a minute..."
"Girls, that's enough," said Rowena. "You're going to give the Weasley twins ideas."
"Which set?" asked Brenna sweetly.
Adam cleared his throat. "The lady would like to speak," he said, indicating Anne, who smiled at him gratefully.
Paul and the Ravenclaws immediately assumed poses of great dignity.
"You're not fooling anybody," said Alex under his breath.
"Oh yes, before I forget, I have something for you." Anne fumbled in her pocket and extracted a scrap of paper. "From a young lady of my acquaintance."
Alex accepted the paper and opened it. "J-A-N... is this someone's e-mail address?"
"I didn't have her phone number."
Alex's eyes lit up. "I see." He carefully tucked the paper away inside his robes.
"Now, then, to business," said Anne. "I have several ideas for what we can do next, since the main story's on hold until after a certain event..."
"You're going to love it," said Paul in a stage whisper.
"I'm sure I will. Why are we whispering?"
Paul dropped his fork and disappeared under the table as everyone laughed.
"Anyway, here they are," said Anne.
"That's a neat twist on that second one," said Alex a while later. "I like it."
"You would." Anne looked around the table. "Anyone else?"
"I really think you ought to continue Roman a Clef," said Adam. "It's been on hold for so long, and you know where it's going to go. So why not just type it up?"
"Don't you dare answer," Anne warned Alex, who was looking smug. "I'll certainly consider that."
"My personal favorite, of course, is the first one you mentioned," said Helga. "A sequel to this story. But we all know how my tastes run. And it may not be interesting to you, dear. Now the second one... that would be very interesting. A trifle distasteful, mind you, and out of your usual line, but you've done things of that sort before."
"Very true. But do you think I could pull it off?"
"Absolutely," said Rowena. "I believe you have all the necessary tools and skills. As Helga said, it is out of your usual line, but that only means you need practice in it all the more. So yes, I'd say the second one as well."
"Second one's getting more and more approval here... all right, I'll put that as a definite maybe. Now. Last item of business. What do I need to tell people to wrap up our Little Slice of Heaven?"
"Well, everyone seems confused about the Malfoys," said Alex. "You should probably specify that Lucius and Narcissa were both captured at the Great Battle, and haven't seen each other since, so it's highly unlikely any such person as Draco Malfoy will ever exist."
"Therefore, when Lucius dies, the Malfoy bloodline will be extinct," said Margaret. "And good riddance to it, too."
"And I do think you owe everyone an apology," added Brenna. "For leading them astray with one comment in your Prologue. You didn't send that one back to type after all."
"True enough. I thought it over and decided it would be easier for her to be allowed to enter school a year early than to have her grow up with them being nearly a year older than everyone. She's bossy enough as it is."
"But everything else you mentioned in the Prologue was done," said Sophia. "And nicely done too, I think."
"Thank you. Any other little tidbits?"
"Yes," said Helga. "You might remind people that werewolves cannot legally adopt children, and tell them that yes, of course more children may come. But they will not know about it. Not if you go through with your second plan..."
"And that makes things complicated," said Paul. "I mean, how many levels of alternity will we be on then? Three?"
"At least." Anne chuckled. "I do love confusing people."
"But you're so good at it."
"Is alternity even a word?" asked Maura.
"Now it is."
"And one other thing," said Alex. "I'd just like to thank Remus and Danger for naming that kid after me."
"Who said he was named after you?" demanded Anne.
Alex stared at her. "You mean he's not?"
Everyone cracked up laughing. "You look so wrong when you do the puppy-dog eyes," choked out Sophia.
Alex took exactly three seconds to realize he'd been had. His chair and Anne's both went flying, and the Founders were entertained by a high-speed chase around the Great Hall which lasted nearly a quarter of an hour and ended when Alex tried to teleport Anne into the lake, and Anne latched onto him and brought him with her.
"So, what, if anything, have you decided?" asked Godric, chuckling, as he conjured towels for both of them.
"Well, I'm almost definitely going through with the second one," said Anne, shaking her head and sending water everywhere. "Although I don't know when, because there's not enough time to finish before the, er, 'Blessed Event', and afterwards people are going to want more 'Living without...'"
"May I make a suggestion?" said Adam. "Why not run a poll?"
"Hey, great idea!" Anne beamed. "And people say Hufflepuffs never come up with anything."
(A/N: And so, if you want to have a say in what I write next, head on over to the Yahoo group and cast your vote today! Ask any questions that didn't get answered there, and yes, I will see about updating Roman a Clef – possibly tomorrow, but no promises! TTFN!)