Great Wizards Are Always the Same.

"And then! Then! Even though he was the one who bought that terrible book that completely destroyed my kitchen, he refused to admit he had been wrong!" Sophie seethed. She drank from her tea.

Two of the other women nodded their heads in sympathy and deep, profound understanding. The third one barked a laugh, smock coming out from her wide mouth as she did so. It was almost as if the smoke was jumping ship.

"Next time, dearie -- because there'll be a next time, mark my words -- just make sure to put the same goo on his clothes. Then refuse to clean them at all. "

Sophie smiled, accepting the tea that Molly was offering but saying no at the brandy that Yuuko and Nanny were drinking with it.

"Wizards are always like that," Molly told her, rolling her eyes, pushing a strand of white-gray hair behind her shoulder. "Things that work out? They want to publish it, they hope for songs and everlasting legends that go as far as other worlds."

Everyone nodded in agreement.

"And he has Clow's genes to make it worse," Yuuko said, lips pursed as she shook her head, accepting more brandy in her tea (though by then it was more brandy than tea, really). "His genes like to think that mistakes aren't mistakes because they were part of the original plan from the beginning. You'll never get him to admit otherwise."

"And then it's probably worse when they do admit a mistake," Molly said as she snorted a laugh, but her face had acquired a certain fondness. "Because oh! How can they sulk. At least Shmendrick, he never lets things go. He beats himself over and over and over again because of course he's the most powerful wizard in our side of the multiverse, of course he should be aware of everything and anything."

She sighed. She sounded annoyed and fond and sad and very much in love. Sophie offered her some honey cookies, and Molly gave her a smile that said 'I understand'. She smiled as well, but then she sighed.

"And then, the truth serum," she started.

Yuuko and Nanny Ogg both laughed this time. Molly blushed a little, but her lips were twitching, as if she wanted to laugh as well but didn't quite dare. Sophie thought that sometimes being the newcomer meant that you didn't quite understand the in-jokes.

"Tell her!" Yuuko said as she chortled. "Go on, Molly Grue, tell the girl about truth serums and truth spells."

"Just because I'm not a witch," Molly started.

Nanny snorted. "If you were in my Lancre, that wouldn't stop anyone. That's what Esme says. And you look enough like a witch that she'd teach you her Headology and you'd be set."

Headology, Sophie had always thought, sounded a lot to the kind of magic she did, which always amused her to a certain point.

Molly rolled her eyes, but she was smiling. "Once, years and years ago, while we were visiting Gytha, I asked about truth serums, and..."

"What about them?" Sophie frowned. "Every time I start reading on them, Howl panics. He had Michael hide most of the recipes for them."

"It is Howl, after all," Yuuko said, leaning against her chaise. She had picked up her pipe as well, and now it seemed as if her smoke and Nanny's was trying to fight against each other. "He has never really liked being honest."

"The thing about them is that truth serums don't really work," Molly said gently. "They all have these fantastic ingredients so that people gasp in shock and surprise, but they do nothing much. Well. I've known some that make people sick to their stomachs, and they think it's because they finally said the truth and they have a weight off their shoulders."

"A good cup of whiskey does more than many of the truth serums I've known!" Nanny cracked a laugh, shaking her head. "That was a good one, the old Merlin thought about truth serums. He was quite a Headologist, himself. Tell people that your tea makes people tell the truth, and they won't ever believe that they're drinking tea and brandy. And then they'll spill the truth as if it was wheat on a field."

"It's impossible to hide the truth forever," Yuuko added with a shrug. "It tends to want to come out, no matter what. That's why every now and then there are skeletons tangled with trees. So truth serums offer a good excuse. Only that here, miss Molly Grue didn't know it at first."

"As I said, I'm not a witch," Molly said. "So the first time these ladies here offered me some, I said yes and then I took the bottle with me."

"And? What happened?"

"Shmendrick was hungover for two days," Molly said. Yuuko and Nanny were laughing again, loud and clear. "And although many truths were probably said, neither he nor I can remember a thing about them."

"Oh, dear Shmendrick was so upset after that!" Yuuko laughed. "If there is one thing that wizards everywhere can't ever let go is of their pride."

This time, the four of them nodded. And how.

"I suppose there is only one thing we can be thankful of, regarding wizards" Nanny Ogg said. She took a long drag of her pipe before she said. "And that is that one should be grateful that a wizard's staff has a knob on the end."

In another part of the Multiverse.

"Did anyone just get the willies?" Howl asked.

Shmendrick shook his head no. Clow smiled. Howl sighed.

"Figures."