(1938-10-05) Many Happy Returns
Details for Many Happy Returns
Summary: Three friends spring a surprise birthday party on Rhyeline.
Date: 5 October 1938
Location: Rhyeline's Flat, London

It's late enough in the year were even in afternoon with the clouds and cooler temperatures that it's a bit dark, and people are huddled around fireplaces or about to sit down for dinner not peeking out their windows. It's all part of this young mans plan the sun going down and all though he walks seemingly alone across the street but pauses on the other side speaking low "It doesn't mask sounds." Graham says with a small chuckle. He carries a few bags and parcels in his hands but is free enough to walk up the stairs and knock lightly on the door before stepping back.

At the knock, Rhyeline looks up from the book in her lap. Setting aside her cup of tea, the girl slips out from under the little blanket and book and makes her way over to the front door. Peeking out through a small opening, a soft, rare warm smile touches her lips when she catches sight of Graham standing there, seemingly alone. Without a word, she draws back, taking the door with her so that Graham has plenty of room to step inside.

Astoria stands a few feet from Graham, behind him. She holds a dark green package, tied with a green-and-black bowtie, with both hands. Grinning at Graham's comment, she whispers, "I doubt she heard us," with a slight chuckle. She wears a black pencil skirt and a dark green blouse - not that anyone can see her, yet. When Rhyeline answers her door, Astoria bites back a giddy, silly noise and does her best to remain still.

Graham the young man watches silently though his free hand is slipped behind himself still normal posture his wand slides from his sleeve into his hand but he turns back. "Ah, Rhyeline good afternoon, I was informed that it was a special day for you." he says a little more formal than his usual but a small jab of his wand behind him. "So we came to say Happy Birthday." the last part is added as the invisabilty spell is dropped wordlessly, and reveals the two standing there as well.

"Happy Birthday!" Phil throws out the greeting the moment the spell is dropped. She even does a little jiggy wiggle then laughs. "Surprise!" Of course she is not one to arrive giftless so she brought some wine since Rhyeline already was given her birthday present.

Rhyeline pauses upon catching sight of the two others. It seems they caught her rather off guard. Half-hiding behind the door, the girl looks rather shy and cautious for a moment. But then as Graham explains, a soft smile returns to her lips. At Phil's little dance, Rhyeline can't help but give a soft, impish little laugh. Even though she's a year older, Rhyeline looks as young as ever. Pulling the door back a bit more, she murmurs, "Thank you so much… please, come in."

Astoria shimmers into existence as the spell is removed. She grins at Rhyeline, adding, "Happy Birthday!" to Phil's exclamation. A moment later, after they are all invited inside, Astoria enters. She makes her way to the side, doing her best to hid the ever-growing grin on her lips.

The young man smiles as he plan worked out better than he could have expected though he knew that the reaction would be shy at first. They are still welcome into the house so not all bad and no hard feelings for the deception. Graham steps lightly inside. "I brought food, and cake and a gift of course, and with Phil's wine all is well." he says stepping off to the side to be out of the way for the moment.

Phil follows in, bring up the rear. She has an excellent rear for it. When she is inside she shrugs off her cloak and sets the wine on the small table near the sofa. "I would have brought Laurence but he has a commission to finish off and post to France by tonight so he sends his regards instead." She smiles at the petite French woman. "He figured you'd understand French people wanting things on time."

Rhyeline closes the door behind them with a careful, quiet click. She follows behind Phil's most excellent behind into the sitting room. There are books and old newspapers stacked here and there. Clearly, she wasn't expecting company. Leading them into the dining room, she indicates that they can put down everything on the table. With her hands clasped behind her back, her dark gaze flickers from face to face. Though the girl looks rather warmed by their presence, so many unexpected people at once leave her feeling rather shy. Especially Astoria who she is still only just getting to know- quite shy.

Astoria sets her package on the table, making sure to fluff the bow a little. She looks up at Rhyeline and offers her a brief smile. A moment later, she says, "I will get the glasses," and wastes no time in doing exactly that. She moves towards a likely cupboard and begins to search for appropriate dinnerware.

Graham nods and places his things down on the table lightly before turning back "afraid Sorcha too got stuck at the shop, but if she can pleads with Niamh enough maybe she can drop by later she also sends her regards." he looks to each in turn. He moves to see about setting out the food getting the needed items. "You get to relax Rhyeline it's your birthday." he says with a grin.

"Yes, sit down." Phil moves over to Rhye and takes the young witch by the shoulders. She guides her over to sit down. "You rest. We will do the work. This is your birthday, your treat." She grins and then starts to help Graham and Astoria get things set up. "We could do with some music."

The kitchen is around the corner and Astoria will find a set of exquisite crystal wine glasses on a top shelf. While Rhyeline's flat isn't especially big, the things inside it are of excellent quality. Rhyeline gives a little squeak when Phil guides her by the shoulders to go and sit down at the head of the table. Once seated, Rhyeline watches them all with a rather deep blush. Though the little mouse seems shy, it is also very easy to see in her dark, expressive eyes that their actions very much warm her. As they set about serving the food, Rhyeline keeps peeking over at the gifts, looking tempted- curious to see what's inside.

Astoria chuckles a little after Phil's suggestion. "My sister was born with the voice. I was born with the, well, mental faculties." She winks at the other woman before finding the crystal. "Ah," she exclaims. A moment later, she removes four glasses - carefully - and begins to move back towards the table. She sets the glasses down, placing Rhyeline's first, and then sets to work helping Graham with plates and silverware.

The auror looks back over to Phil as she seats Rhyeline and gives an approving nod at this action before Graham continues his task, he's removed plates and utensils and moves to set them up properly he hands over some of the food boxes to Phil so she can place them out as well.

Phil picks up the wine and pours it into the glasses. She brought a nice desert wine with her. Then she takes the food boxes and helps set out things on plates. When it is all ready she sits down and grins at Graham, "Since you organised all of this you can play mother."

Rhyeline blinks, looking a bit confused when Phil suggests that Graham act as 'mother'. Taking up her glass of wine, the little one swirls it a bit before inhaling its scent. She closes her eyes as she takes a small sip before resting the glass back down and looking over at the others once more.

Astoria sits down after Phil. She pulls herself close to the table and rests her hands in her lap. She laughs, but only a little, after Phil's comment and turns her attention expectantly to Graham. Once her attention is set, her expression resumes its natural, focused state.

Graham chuckles and must understand at least some what. He moves around and serves their plate of food setting it in front of each before he does the same for his own. He moves around the table but before taking his seat one more thing. The young man takes up his wine glass. "Happy Birthday, to Rhyeline a good friend and person a bit like the sibling I never had." he throws a grin and wink her way and takes a drink before sitting down lightly.

Rhyeline sets down her glass after a long, slow sip and speaks up at last. "Thank you so much… this- this means so much to me. Graham… you- you are also- you are like what I hoped a brother would be- and Phil- you are like- like a sister… And… and Astoria… I haven't known you so long, but- but you have been so- so kind to me… I- I appreciate so much your presence… and- I am warmed that- that you all have- have come here… here today." Her cheeks warm with a deepening blush and falling silent at last, she lowers her gaze to her plate of food before peeking back up at them all.

Phil has plenty of siblings. Even a few going spare. But she smiles at the kind words from Rhyeline. "Thank you," says the dark-haired woman. "Now eat your cake and drink your wine and be merry." She takes her own cake and eats a little bit of it. "Then you can tell everyone how my present was the best."

Astoria listens to Graham, nodding, and smiles when Rhyeline mentions her. "You are very welcome, dear," Astoria answers, eyes alight with happiness. After Phil speaks, however, Astoria mock-glares in the woman's direction. The glare doesn't last long, however. She takes a sip of wine and returns her gaze to Rhyeline.

The auror smiles and is glad to hear the others speak in turn. "Your very welcome, i'm glad to hear it." this is to Rhyeline at her response. He settles back into his chair lightly so far things have gone quite well which he's glad for. Graham looks to Phil and chuckles "I wasn't aware we were competing but whoever's birthday is next beware." he grins at his friend.

Expressive as ever, Rhyeline's dark gaze shines bright, aglow with appreciative warmth at the affection with which she is treated. Told to eat, drink, and be merry, she does just that. Her laughter is soft and impish as she takes a bite of cake. "This is wonderful," she murmurs with hushed sincerity. "And- and your gift was very wonderful, Phil." Looking to the others, she adds, "She gave me a charm bracelet that- that I can fill with charms from each place that I will travel to when I am better…"

With a laugh Phil smugly says, "Ah, but my birthday was last month and you all missed it." She grins behind the rim of the crystal wine glass as she sips her wine. "Laurence's birthday is All Hallow's Eve. I don't know what he wants to do however."

Graham shakes his head "We'll throw a combined you and me belated party since I was on vacation during my birthday in August." he says nodding at the brilliance of his half-form plan. He turns to Rhyeline "I'm glad you like it, and that is a great gift i'll admit. Very thoughtful." he looks back to Phil "I don't think I know him well enough i'm afraid but sure you'll do something great. Funny enough Sorcha's the 27th."

Rhyeline doesn't Sorcha very well and hasn't ever actually met Lawrence. Taking another bite of cake before sipping the wine, Rhyeline listens to future birthday plans with a soft, smile. "I- I'd like to get to know both of them a bit better… what- what do you suppose they would like for their birthdays?"

Astoria takes a bit of her cake and sips her wine. She closes her eyes for a moment, enjoying the mixed flavors, before taking another bite and sip. She dabs her lips with a napkin before saying, "And mine is the twenty-ninth," as an after-thought. She looks between Rhyeline and Phil for a moment. "That is a wonderful gift - I hope you are well enough to travel soon, Rhyeline." She smiles, and then she turns to Graham. "Where did you vacation?" she asks.

As they talk Phil eats a little more of her cake. "I am sure you will like Laurence. He is very charming. All women love him." She nods her head towards Graham, "And Sorcha is very nice too." Her gaze turns to Astoria and smiles at the other writer then reaches over to top up her wine as Graham is left to answer talk about his vacation.

"We'll all have to have dinner sometime, that would be fun and a good chance for everyone to get to know each other better." Graham speaks including everyone in the idea. He does looks towards Rhyeline a moment "Sorcha, shares many of my same interests as me books and history, but she's also more exciting and less boring than me." he says chuckling though he turns to answer the vacation question. "We went to see the Roman Baths, than to Leeds and finally we moved about Scotland before heading back. We took the train it was excellent."

Peeking over at Astoria, Rhyeline offers her a soft, appreciative nod and murmurs, "Thank you." Then as Phil tops off the little one's glass of wine, she gives a nod of thanks before peering over at Graham. "You aren't boring," she murmurs. "You are an auror and have such good taste in books. And you're good to talk to. So there." She gives a decisive little nod before peeking back over at the others. A subtle warmth lingers in her cheeks. It doesn't take much wine to affect her.

Astoria listens to Graham speak quietly. She smiles after he mentions Bath and Leeds. "That does sound wonderful," she agrees. After Rhyeline speaks, Astoria nods her agreement and takes a small bite of cake. "I agree," she says afterward.

"Some of the best things I have read have been written by Astoria." She inclines her head to the older witch. "You really do have a talent, Astoria. I am hoping you are planning a new book perhaps?" Phil takes another sip of her wine. Being a barfly reporter she is very good at making a drink last a long time, but also at enjoying them.

Graham smiles to Rhyeline a moment "Thank you." he says about her defense of his non-boringness he doesn't drink often but can handle his own when he does so and he continues to take sips where he can. He watches each as they speak nodding "Hm, I apologize not sure i've read any of your work but i'm sure it's excellent, what sort of books do you write?" he asks having just met the other it's not odd that he doesn't know.

"Yes, your writing- your articles- they are always so insightful…" murmurs Rhyeline with emphatic sincerity. The desert wine seems to be melting away the girl's normal reserve, allowing the three a glimpse of the girl's true nature. Smiling at them, her eyes shine with unguarded innocence and warmth.

Astoria laughs softly. "Well, thank you - I had no idea anyone but old professors read my work," she replies with a wink. She adds, "I have begun something, although I am not certain if it is worthy of an entire book, yet. It deals with more arcane magic, and predates the formation of Hogwarts and proper, magical training. Centuries ago, only the most intelligent and skilled witches and wizards were able to procure devices similar to wands. It may seem primitive, now, but much of magic was performed through the use of runes." She takes a sip of wine. "That era has always fascinated me - imagine magic so powerful, so ancient, that its boundaries exceed wandwork!" She pauses for a moment, taking a breath. "Aside from my studies, Mr. Cohen, I write pieces that require a historical background from the Prophet. I will send you a few copies of my work - but, enough of that! Rhyeline, open your presents before I yammer for another hour." She grins, focus on the table at large.

Phil looks very interested as Astoria begins to discuss her latest project. "You will love her work Graham, given your love of history and historical places. I was actually given Astoria's first book as a gift a few years ago. My father is a fan." Well, Rowles are generally Ravenclaws so that isn't perhaps surprising.

The young auror nods looking to each "Ah that is very interesting please do send those. I'm always up for a new books or information to get." Graham says and adds "Though i've practiced it myself I am still hesitant to do wandless magic, er seen it go badly. I'll also stop myself there and yes your presents Rhyeline." he says grinning.

Rhyeline nods in agreement with Phil. Graham will definitely love Astoria's work. But once encouraged to open her gifts, the birthday girl needs no further encouragement. With another deep sip of wine, she sets down her glass and moves her plate aside so that she can safely pull Astoria's gift (such a beautifully fluffed bow) towards herself. With great care, she removes the bow. But before she tears the paper, she pauses to release her hair from its current crimson ribbon and quickly ties it up instead with Astoria's ribbon. Grinning at them all, she finally opens Astoria's gift.

Astoria winks at Graham before focusing on Rhyeline. The woman's bow-tying receives a brief, broad grin that nearly curves into a smile. She places her elbow on the table and rests her chin atop her hand. "Lovely," she remarks, tone sincere, while Rhyeline unwraps her package. It is a painting, seven by thirteen inches, that has a simple, dark-brown frame. The painting's subject is a woman with dark hair, which ends mid-back, tied with ribbons. Her skin is the color of a creamy espresso, though the strokes used are not precise enough to pick out individual tones. Her eyes are expressive, dark, and warm - they flutter on occasion, which is often accompanied by a grin. She wears a dark coat, white blouse and skirt, and, when fancy takes her, twirls or walks along the cobbled street beneath her. The setting is the edge of a city park.

"What a beautiful painting," opines Phil. She leans forward to better see it. "The artist is good. I like the tonal qualities of her features, the texture." One too many art exhibit visits for the debutante. She settles back in her chair and sips a bit more wine. "What did Graham get you?"

"Very nice." The young man says smiling about the ribbon replacement and looks over the painting a moment in appreciation. Graham will allow the other to say what she thinks of it firstly but it's clear he likes it at least.

Rhyeline pauses when she catches sight of herself twirling upon the cobblestones near the gates of a city park. This is no casual purchase. It doesn't seem like Rhyeline hears Phil when the woman encourages her to open the next present. Instead, she looks up at Astoria, parts her lips to speak, but then falls silent once more, blushing deeper still.

Astoria smiles at Phil's observations. "I also enjoyed the textures," she replies. The painting isn't sentient, as evidenced by the young woman having nothing to say, and not engaging in other activities besides walking along her street. The subject peers up at Rhyeline for a moment, eyes wide, and casts her a nervous grin before glancing away. Astoria focuses on Rhyeline, and manages to smile a little after the younger woman's blush. Astoria quietly waits for Rhyeline to continue.

"Did you paint it?" Phil looks at Astoria with a grin on her face. "You are a woman of many talents. If I didn't like you I might be awfully jealous and hate you," she jokes. A nod goes to the painting, "It is really quite good. You captured her essence perfectly."

"I did," Astoria says, in response to Phil. She adds, "But you have nothing to be jealous of. You are more than twice the journalist I will ever be." Afterward, she offers the woman a very slight nod, perhaps in gratitude. Afterward, she looks back towards Rhyeline.

Phil blushes a little at the compliment. "Thank you," she says to Astoria. "Perhaps sometime you might be interested in looking at the manuscript I have been working on? It is historical fiction set during the last Troll War."

Even with the wine that Rhyeline has taken, her shyness is quite intense as she realizes that Astoria herself painted the portrait. It is a remarkable likeness. Not only does it capture her physical characteristics- but it also shows a fair amount of her nature that few perceive. The way she twirls, the shy warmth of her smiles- her reserve rarely allows such things to rise to the surface. Rhyeline sets aside the painting with the greatest care before peeking back over at Astoria. Finding her voice at last, she murmurs, "Thank you very much… it- it is beautiful…" Then looking over at Graham, the girl pulls his gift closer. She smiles when to her relief, it's books! And not just any books, they are the next few books in a specific spy series. Smiling with shy warmth over at Graham, she murmurs, "Thank you so much. I was planning to go and purchase these books soon. But now, I get to read them tonight."

Astoria answers Phil with a nod. "I would be more than happy to look over your manuscript, although my memory of that era is foggy at best." Astoria smiles at Phil before glancing back to Rhyeline. She says, "You're very welcome," before letting her attention focus intently on Graham's gift - books! "I have heard great things about that series," she says with a grin.

Graham grins as the other opens the bag which contains the books in question "Your welcome, I figured if you were like me and enjoyed that first in the series you'd be looking for the rest. The second book there, I was able to have the author sign it." it a direction message happy birthday and glad that she likes the books.

"I'll have to borrow the first one after I finish reading what I am currently on." Phil sets her wine glass on the table and glances to Graham giving him an approving nod.

Rhyeline hugs all the books to her chest tightly. Without further ado, she rises and makes her way into the sitting room and places them on the shelves. The bookcase is already quite full, and yet somehow, there's just enough room for her to slip the books into place one by one.

Astoria watches Rhyeline quietly, grinning all the while. She finishes her wine with a tilt of the glass and stands up to follow the woman into the sitting room. A moment later, she finds herself plopped down on a cushiony seat. With a sigh she relaxes, leaning back farther than she usually might, and crosses one leg over the other.

The auror seems very happy that the books were so well received. Graham he watches as they go onto the bookshelf which is even all the better for his being glad that's what he chose. He stands up to though and moves to collect plates and things that are done being used and moves to place them in the sink he runs some water over them to clean them off not wishing to leave a mess.

As Rhyeline is out of the room Phil leans in closer to the other two and murmurs quietly, "I think this is helping her." She sits back and say more audibly. "This was an excellent idea Graham." She rises to her feet to help clear up. "Maybe you can show Astoria your book collection while we tidy, Rhyeline?"

Rhyeline watches out of the corner of her eye as Astoria follows and sits down on the loveseat nearby. Upon hearing Phil's suggestion from the dining room, Rhyeline pauses. "Oh- alright…" And then glancing over at Astoria, she clasps her hands behind her back and murmurs, "Em… so- what sort of books do- do you like most?"

Astoria listens quietly to Phil before departing, but doesn't comment. While on the loveseat, Astoria looks up and back towards Phil as she speaks. "Hm," she replies, to Rhyeline. "Well, that is a difficult question." She chuckles mildly. A moment later, she replies, "I prefer a good history above anything else," with a few nods.

Graham nods at the lowered words from Phil giving a smile as he's glad that it's not just him who thinks so. "I think so, it's fun to step out of the craziness for a while." he finishes washing the dishes and sets them to dry he nods in thanks as Phil before moving back towards the table to help with that sife of thing.

Phil puts the cake away a cake tin, there for eating later and then takes up a dish towel so she can help with the drying. "Astoria is going to help me with my story. She is going to interview that Mrs Gardener." Phil speaks quietly to Graham, not wanting to be overheard as they discuss her ongoing attempts to help catch that thief.

Rhyeline's soft smile brightens when Astoria mentions history as her favorite. "Oh. Well, I- I have quite a few of those- both from- from wizarding and- and muggle history… and- also, some works by my father… Dillorous Diderot…"

Astoria leans forward, but just a little. "Muggle history?" she wonders, smiling a little. "Sadly, a subject I ignored for a long time." At the mention of Rhyeline's father, however, Astoria nods and smiles, "Of course - I am well acquainted with your father's body of work. I had no idea you were his daughter." Her lips curve into a grin while she studies Rhyeline for a moment, and then her bookshelf.

The young man's eyebrow goes up but he nods "That is a good thing have an extra pair of eyes on things. I can help if you need it whenever i'm free, my investigation is at a dead end for the moment but things will pick back up no doubt. Just be careful hm?" Graham says as he cares for his friend

Phil nods as she sets a dried glass on the counter. It is soon joined by it's companions. "I was thinking, now that you are auror you could request the case. Given you already helped work on it." She moves to the doorway of the kitchen and then back again, waiting for Graham's response to her undoubtedly clever idea.

"Yes… I'm his daughter," murmurs Rhyeline, nodding with a soft smile. "I think that- that through him came my interest in how the muggle world interconnects with the wizarding world…" Turning back towards the shelves, she searches in silence for a time before at last drawing a leather-bound volume of great age. With care, she brings it over and shows it to Astoria in silence. It is an early edition of a key wizarding history: Mundum Veneficus by Ezemus Enthrellien.

Graham winces looking to his friend though he smiles after a moment finishing the clean up "I wish I could, but deplorable as that person is, it's considered a magical law enforcement job not auror, obviously helping unofficially i've already offered and that still stands for anything that you need."

Astoria listens quietly as Rhyeline explains. "He always struck me as a brilliant man. I am afraid I do not remember much about him, biographically. You will need to tell me all about him, some day," Astoria says with a small smile. When the book is produced, Astoria shares a brief, shocked expression. "How lovely!" she exclaims. She encourages Rhyeline to show her the book, all the while noting intriguing marks, notes, and turns of phrase. The party lasts about another half-hour, allowing a brief time after cleanup for everyone to sit, relax, and finish more cake. The conversation eventually winds down, and the social cues are not difficult to notice - the party ends with thank-you's, a few slurred words, and Rhyeline with gifts to read and ponder before bedtime.

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