This is most definitely book-verse, as it's about Wales (ie. you should probably know who Megan is before reading this). It was a Christmas request in 2007 for Silver Wind.

The Welsh Connection

For Silver Wind:


"Howl," she hissed, angrily. "Howl, I'm wearing trousers."

He glanced over at her. "Jeans, by the looks of things," he said. "You look good in them."

She looked down at herself again. "And this - this blouse!" It left entirely too little to the imagination, in her opinion.

"Goodness, Sophie, you sound like an old woman," he said, distractedly.

She put her hands on her hips and planted herself firmly on the ground. "Howl, I am not going to meet your family dressed like this!"

Howl turned so quickly his hair whipped him in the nose. He looked at her for a moment before reaching over and taking her hands into his. "Sophie, Sophie, Sophie. You look beautiful. Nobody is going to even notice your clothes, let alone mind them."

She felt a blush start on her cheeks.

He kissed her hand, then turned and led her towards the house again.

Sophie felt anger start up again at being so easily manipulated. Really, why did he have to be so accursedly charming!

Howl knocked on the door briskly.

"Howell!" said Megan, folding her arms. "Well, really!"

Howl smiled at her warmly. "Megan, I'd like to introduce you to my fiancee, Sophie Hatter. Sophie, this is my dear sister Megan."

Sophie's breath caught a little, thinking Megan would remember the other Sophie Hatter she'd been introduced to, but the other woman didn't seem to notice. "Pleased to meet you," she said, smiling politely.

Megan's eyes narrowed at her suspiciously. "Fiancee, you say?"

Howl nodded. "May we come in?" he said, plaintively.

Megan looked them over for a moment more, then nodded.


Howl greeted his niece and nephew in the musical language she now knew was Welsh. The little girl, Mari, grabbed him by the hand and dragged him upstairs to show him something, leaving Sophie alone in the sitting room with Megan.

Megan tapped a spoon against her teacup with a look of faint irritation. "Tell me, Sophie, he's not making you lie for him by pretending to be his fiancee, is he? It's just it's just the kind of thing he would do."

Sophie wanted to puff up in righteous indignation, but she knew Howl, and it was just the sort of thing he would do. "Of course not," she said, briskly.

"How did you meet?"

Sophie hesitated, suspecting this was a test. She felt that 'I came to work as his cleaning lady' would not go down well with Megan. "We were at a festival," she began. "I was... I had reason to feel I was under threat, and he came to my rescue." There. Not exactly the truth, not entirely a lie.

"Howell did?" she said, incredulously.

"He was quite the gentleman about it," said Sophie, primly. Megan's attitude towards her brother was starting to become rather grating, even when she was inclined to agree with her. It was quite one thing to be be critical of one's fiancé, she thought, but entirely another to be openly critical of one's brother to all and sundry.

"I see. What do you do, Miss Hatter?"

"I beg your pardon?" asked Sophie, wondering if people in Wales said "what do you do" instead of "how do you do", although it was surely too late in the conversation for that.

"Do you work, Miss Hatter?"

"Oh," she said. "Yes, I run a flower shop over in Market Chipping." She thought that the Sophie Hatter impression she must be leaving on Megan would be rather different to the Sophie Hatter she knew.

"A flower shop?" said Megan.

"Yes, I," Sophie began, but just then Howl came back into the room.

"So is Megan telling you all about what a horrible person I am?" he asked, cheerfully.

"Howell, can I have a word for a moment," said Megan, stiffly.

Sophie was tempted to follow and listen in, but Howl's nephew, Neil, walked into the room.

"So you've managed to tame my itinerant uncle, have you?" said Neil. "That's no good. Who am I supposed to have as a role model now?"

"I'm sure your mother would much prefer you pick somebody else, anyway," said Sophie.

"Oh, I didn't actually use him as a role model," said Neil, seriously. "I just said I was. That way when I did act like him I'd have someone to blame, and if I didn't I'd get extra attention."

Sophie took a moment to parse this. Children really were quite sly and manipulative, she thought.

She could hear the dull murmurs of Megan and Howl talking. They didn't seem to be arguing, for once.

"They do like each other, really," Neil explained. "Mum's just too embarrassed about him to show it. So they argue instead."

Sophie smiled. "Siblings are like that," she said. She thought of Howl's drunken rambling about Megan being envious of him for not being respectable.

"The irony is," she told Howl, as they were leaving, "that back home you're completely respectable."

"A sorcerer is never respectable," he said, primly.

Sophie snorted.

"Just don't tell Megan, and everything will be fine," said Howl.