Deirdre hauled herself into the caravan, collapsing on a nest of cushions. Groaning, she turned to the old tin kettle sitting on the coffee table. It had the look of a tired butler, with burnished bulbous eyes and a spout for a nose.
‘Tea please, Kettle. Something fragrant… and delicious.’
‘No,’ said the kettle in a deadpan tone.
‘What do you mean ‘no’?’
‘Certain rituals need to be observed.’
‘Rituals?’ Deirdre fixed the kettle with a don’t-fuck-with-me stare. ‘I like you, Kettle. You make the best teas and you don’t even need a fire under you, but I have enough rituals to deal with in my line of work. Proper magic is demanding, and today’s been hell. I know you’re new here, but it might not be wise to deny a tired woman her cup of tea.’
‘I’m afraid it’s impossible. You-’
‘You ungrateful chunk of tin! If it wasn’t for me you’d still be rusting away in the flea market. I bought you. I mended your handle! All I want in return is a simple tea. No rituals. No riddles. Just tea!’
Deirdre clashed her hands together, throwing heat and images of ginseng into the dour-faced little blighter. He rattled away on the table, but his expression remained infuriatingly unperturbed.
No steam rose from his spout. Was he resisting her spell? Where had he learned to do that?
‘You cheeky little beggar! Let’s see what a night in the cold does for your manners.’
She had barely lifted him when a searing pain flared through her hand. Deirdre shrieked and the kettle clattered across the rug.
‘What is it then? Tell me! What blasted ritual needs performing?’
The kettle stared up her, his face taciturn as the smell of burning horse hair rose from the rug.
‘You need to put some water in.’