(1938-10-13) Shop Talk
Details for Shop Talk
Summary: A chance meeting at Twilfit and Tattings, between one who has all day to shop, and another who must, who absolutely MUST, catch her train to Hogsmeade.
Date: October 13th, 1938
Location: Twilfit and Tattings

Twilfit and Tattings

Golden manequins bearing the latest in wealthy wizard fashions sit in the window display, and a decorative wall sits behind them to block any view further into the shop. Inside, the shop is lit by multiple chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, the light of many candles making the polished wood that makes up the wall and some of the furnishing seem to glitter. Behind the wall of the front display is a sitting area with plush velvet furniture and a wooden table with a very finely detailed red tablecloth, where tea and biscuits are always available. More manequins line the walls, showing various wizard fashions, but not a trace of muggle fashion anywhere to be seen. There's no racks here in the customer area of the shop, giving the impression that everything is made to order. There's a fitting area in the back corner, capable of serving only one customer at a time, but the fitting sessions are known to go quickly and smoothly here. Near this area are doors leading to dressing rooms.

When the staff of Twilfit and Tattings unbar their hallowed portals in the morning, they've a ball of nervous energy hovering on their doorstep — or is it a potential customer? Her silver-fox-trimmed vicuna coat and rakishly-worn trilby hat, while obviously expensive, scream 'Muggle' rather than 'witch' — but here she is, in Diagon Alley, laden with a dressing-case and parcels, and apparently anxious to add to the basket on her arm something from their stock.

Thus by the time Rhyeline Diderot arrives at her favourite, favourite robe shop, slightly early for her appointment at half past the hour, the Mugglish woman has shed her coat and her other burdens and is cris-crossing the shop floor, clad still in her own beautifully, narrowly tailored russet-red tweed suit, over a turquoise silk blouse with a long-tailed bow tied at its collar.

"No," she's sighing to the girl assigned to run after her, "it's very lovely, and the workmanship sublime, but not at all *me* — you do see?" She fingers the hem of the robe in question, lets it fall, and veers abruptly round the mannequin and into the path of — "Why, how pretty you look! Did you get that here?"

Hands clasped behind her back, Rhyeline slips into the shop as unobtrusively as possible. It is a bit of a relief when she sees the shop keepers busy with an earlier client. This way they don't pounce quite as quickly. However, when the peculiar woman in muggle clothing turns and pounces, Rhyeline is caught a bit off guard and jumps just a bit. "Oh- I… Yes… they- they make such- such good suggestions here…"

"They've certainly been *trying*," and the Mugglish woman sighs again. "I haven't been able to find anything I'm certain would suit me, though, and I've got to run in a few minutes to catch that beastly train. Do you have," this to the shop assistant, as she gestures to what can be seen of Rhyeline's frock under her cloak, "do you have what *she's* wearing, but in a greener shade of blue?"

"I'll go at once and see, Mrs Fairfax," the shop assistant answers, bobbing a slight curtsey. "And if — if we haven't it in, we could certainly make it up again to your specifications…"

"Oh, but it's no use at all if I can't have it today," Mrs Fairfax insists. She favours Rhyeline with a dazzling smile. "Thank you so much, sweetie, for coming in just as I was beginning to despair. What's your name?"

Rhyeline blinks, looking rather surprised that a middle-aged woman is so taken by a young lady's fashion. She peeks over at the shopkeepers and catches the odd look that a couple of them exchange behind Mrs. Fairfax's back. Looking back up at the woman, the little one hesitates before murmuring rather softly, "My name is Rhyeline Diderot…" The surname is pronounced with a subtle yet flawless Parisian accent.

"Ah! Vous êtes Française?" And in defiance of her initial Englishness, the odd woman switches into that language, speaking it easily, colloquially, with the merest hint of an accent on the occasional word. "I think your frock *might* do for me," she speculates, leaning her chin on one suede-gloved hand, "with the right little jacket, if the hem were at the right height… It's very young, of course, but it has that subtly witchy air about it, which isn't to be found anywhere else in my wardrobe, and which I may want… Won't you be an angel and take off your cloak and model it for me properly, Mademoiselle Diderot? I should say — I'm Fabia Fairfax. Or possibly Travers. How *do* you do?"

Asked to model, the warmth in the little one's cheeks deepens. She parts her lips to speak, but then the shop keepers are already approaching to assist their favorite little doll out of her cloak. Slipping out of her warm autumn cloak, the little one appears to be wearing a dress of pale turquoise-blue silk that falls in an elegant cascade from her rather narrow waist. The woman might notice that the girl is wearing ballet flats upon her tiny feet. While she moves with a young dancer's grace, she doesn't look nearly strong enough. Perhaps looks can be deceiving?

Fabia Fairfax or possibly Travers stands back, rocking to and fro in her narrow, low-heeled shoes, admiring but also inevitably judging both the frock and the shape of the girl inside it. She looks, on the whole, pleased. "Very pretty," she repeats, "and you look just as a mannequin ought… Yes, I do believe I *could* carry it off, at the right time of day, with a bolero jacket in a darker shade. I think I have just the one, from last season's Mainbocher collection…"

The shop assistant whose earlier responsibility was to trail Fabia, has reappeared, with the discreetly sympathetic mien of one who brings bad news. "I'm afraid, Madam, we haven't the gown in question on the premises. Are you certain you must have it today? Could we not tempt you with—"

"Oh, but now I don't want anything else," the woman insists, in English again. "Perhaps you'd better run one up for me anyway. You can send it to me at the Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade. How long will it take? And what measurements do you need?" Flashing another grateful smile at Rhyeline, she allows herself to be drawn aside into a discussion of time and fabric and measurements.

Rhyeline is quite fluent, but doesn't get a chance to show it. Fabia Fairfax is a magnificent whirlwind of chatter and energy and switches to speaking with the shop assistant before the girl can respond beyond a small nod. At the mention of the Three Broomsticks, the little one blinks and tilts her head to the side, wondering how such a Mugglish looking woman has come to stay at such a locale. However, as Fabia Fairfax begins to discuss details with the shop keepers, the young one moves towards the quiet sitting area and sits with that slow, careful grace of hers. Should Fabia Fairfax find herself with a quiet moment, Rhyeline would look over towards her and murmur, "Have you lived in France, Madam?"

Such a quiet moment arrives after one of the shop assistants has helped Fabia into her pristine and pretty winter-white vicuna coat. She alights upon the edge of a chair, sorting through the parcels jammed haphazardly into her basket, trying to find a better arrangement for them. She looks up at Rhyeline's words. "Yes, sweetie, on and off for twenty years. Most of my professional life. I was a dancer," she explains, "and one can't really dance in England. Well," she considers, "I suppose one could now." A shrug of one shoulder. "Was it some similar necessity which brought you to London?" she asks with friendly curiosity.

"Oh- no… I was born here…" She doesn't mention her parents- specifically her mother marrying a British man. That information she guards much closer these days. "But- you say you were- a dancer?" asks the little mouse, looking rather intrigued.

"Mmm," Fabia nods, "that would account for it…"

She gives up on rationalising the contents of her basket and puts it down while she buttons her coat and cinches its belt tightly about her still-slender waist. And then, scooping up the basket, and the dressing-case from the other side of her chair, and glancing about once more to make sure she hasn't forgotten anything, she adopts the posture of Woman Who Must Leave. "Yes," she says, "though it was a long time ago, now…" A not-entirely-self-deprecatory roll of her eyes. She knows she still looks rather fabulous. She knows it in her bones.

"In… in the muggle world, yes? There- there aren't many- many wizarding dance companies, are there?" Rhyeline's soft cheeks grow just a bit warm- embarassed that she might seem ignorant in front of such an elegant woman.

"None to speak of," is Fabia's opinion. "The wizarding world isn't large enough to sustain a really first-class company… There aren't the girls, there isn't the interest. Though you," she tilts her head, "you might have been a possibility… You've the right proportions, and a natural co-ordination of your limbs… Alas that you weren't caught young enough." She smiles ruefully, and rests her dressing-case on the back of the chair she lately occupied, indicating a potential willingness to prolong their conversation just a minute or two.

"My- my mother… when I was younger, she- she taught me the- the basic positions… and- some other things… she thought it would teach me to carry myself properly," murmurs Rhyeline in a rather soft, shy tone.

Fabia utters an 'ah'. "How curious! And a very good idea; in this day and age the humblest petits rats can be relied upon to display better carriage than the daughters of ducs… She was French, yes, your mother? But a witch, as you are? From whom did she learn? I wonder whether I might have known her?"

"My- my mother's name is- Severine Moreau- though she took my father's name when she married him. I- I never asked how she had learned…" One who keeps track of pureblood families of Europe would know that Moreau is small but well-to-do pureblood family of France. As a child, her mother was trained in classical ballet at Beauxbatons.

This Mugglish woman, in her handsome Muggle tweeds, knows no more of Moreaus than she does of Diderots; her expression of congenial interest doesn't alter, until, abruptly, she remembers that time is marching on. She tries to look at her wristwatch, but, beneath her coat and her jacket and her glove, of course it's inaccessible; she rolls her big green eyes, shrugs a little, and says, "I must run, forgive me sweetie. It was so amusing to meet you. I do so like your frock; I hope I shall like mine half as much. Have a lovely, lovely day, and do pop in to the Broomsticks if you're in Hogsmeade, I hear it's a charming place if you like that sort of thing." She laughs, more to herself than to Rhyeline, and smiles again over her shoulder as she hurtles out into the street.

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