(1938-10-19) A Girl's Best Friend
Details for A Girl's Best Friend
Summary: The morning after their gossipy slumber party, Fabia and Corina re-animate themselves at a decorous pace. Their thoughts turn naturally toward diamonds. (WARNING: Some Mature Content)
Date: October 19th, 1938
Location: Fabia's Rooms, The Three Broomsticks, Hogsmeade
Related: Good Old Bertie
Characters
FabiaCorinaFrid

Fabia's Rooms


Noon approacheth, but it is not yet actually knocking at the windows, when Frid admits himself to his mistress's chambers without, of course, being obliged to knock at all. Frid is discreet at any time of day, but doubly so in the morning. The first hint of his presence which might be discerned by the pair of slumbering odalisques over whom he draped blankets last night, is the sound of water running into the bath; but he draws the bathroom door cautiously to behind him, so that it doesn't grate too loudly upon their possibly strained nerves.

Then a strip of light two inches wide is permitted to enter via one window, gently illuminating the bedroom. And then he approaches the bed.

He tends to his mistress first, of course: aspirin into one hand, cup of tea into the other, extra pillow behind her shoulders; he stands over her watchfully until she's managed to manoeuvre them into herself in more or less the correct order, then glides round the bed to make the same offering to Corina.

At some point during the night Fabia's blue satin gown and bolero jacket and assorted underpinnings have turned into a pair of chic sea-green silk pyjamas. But she's still wearing her fabulous new diamond necklace, of course.

With the arrival of sunlight, Corina slowly begins to stir. A soft moan escapes her lips, and through the cracks in her eyelids, she is vaguely aware of somebody moving about the room. It takes a good long…she has no idea how long, to recall that she isn't in her own bed. It takes a bit longer to remember whose bed she is in. Muffles by her pillow, she murmurs, "What time is it?"

Corina's tea and aspirin have been left on the edge of the table on her side of the bed, within her line of sight if she manages to get her eyes open; Frid has returned to his mistress's side of the bed to place a comb in her hand (after all, she has a visitor). Fabia, plying the comb sleepily in the vicinity of her face, tidies her hair somewhat, but can only moan in answer. How the devil would she know what time it was?

It is Frid, of course, who clears his throat softly and explains: "It is quarter past eleven, Miss Silver. There is a cup of tea just in front of you. I have taken the liberty of running you a bath, and laying out the things you may require."

Without really opening her eyes, Corina lifts her head to turn and smile in the valet's general direction. "Frid, you are a dream," she says, the notion of warm water helping to banish her sleepiness. Swinging her feet down over the edge of the bed, she sits up, already feeling refreshed and showing off her youthful vigor. She begins unlacing her corset to prepare for the bath.

Pouring more tea conscientiously into Fabia's cup, Frid replies, "Thank you, Miss Silver. The bathroom is to your left." And he withdraws into the other room.

The bathroom has changed since Corina was in it last, inasmuch as every surface is now invisible beneath the sorts of bottles and jars intimately familiar to her. The promised bath is steaming in the cool morning air; bath salts and oils representing a dozen different scents are lined up neatly along the edge, with an untouched cake of Marseilles soap and a loofah; and, over a clothes-horse drawn up close beside it, Frid has draped two large fluffy pale pink towels, one smaller one, and a silk dressing-gown patterned with peacock feathers.

Corina glides into the bathroom, skyclad (a state she is finding herself in in Fabia's presence with increasing frequency). She takes a moment to sift through the various products, and selects a recognized brand of bath salt to add to the water before dipping into it with a satisfied sigh.

After half an hour or so there's a perfunctory knock at the bathroom door; it opens an inch or so. "Sweetie, don't rush if you really can't face getting out, but d'you want anything besides tea?"

Corina hums softly, and the shifting of water can be heard. "Tea sounds lovely, dear." There's half a beat, then, she calls out, "Fabia? You do remember our talk last night, don't you?" The last thing she wants to do is have that conversation again.

Fabia's head pops round the door. Her full makeup of the previous night is gone, replaced by just a discreet line about the eyes, a touch of pink upon her lips, and an imperceptible dusting of powder; and her hair is twisted into a loose, high knot, from which several wisps fall down to graze the back of her neck. "Well," she says, arching an eyebrow, "I remember we talked about how much we have in common. Making old men very happy, for instance."

Corina smiles softly, with just a hint of guilt in her eyes. "Well, I woke up alive, so I suppose all is well. Just promise that if you're going to poison my tea, it will be something painless."

"Oh, sweetie. I don't make the tea. Frid makes the tea." But Fabia's smile is kind, before she pops her head out again. "Shall I leave the door open a little so we can talk?" she asks from the other side.

Corina gestures in a sweeping motion. "Leave it open all the way, darling. I think we are well past modesty, and it isn't so cold out there. Speaking of Frid, I'm too curious. How did you two come together? Maybe you've told me before…"

"Oh! I can't tell my side of that story where he might overhear. He'd give me wounded looks for a week, and cause some fatal accident to befall an article of my clothing he's never much liked," Fabia calls out, protestingly, from the bedroom. A moment later she pronounces, "Tea," and pushes the door all the way open, coming in wth a fresh cup of this life-giving beverage, from which she sips ostentatiously before setting it down within Corina's reach. Her eyes twinkle rather; and how the green of her mysterious pyjamas brings out their shade!

Corina rises, propping herself up with one arm resting on the side of the tub. She takes the teacup with a mouthed 'thank you' and sips, rejuvenating her Britishness. With Fabia in the bathroom, Corina can lower her voice to a nice, conspiratorial whisper. "Lovely pyjamas. Did Frid undress you last night? I'm not certain whether to be jealous or scandalised."

And Fabia has the good grace to colour a little as she giggles. "If I'm awake he almost dislocates his eyeballs trying not to see anything," she murmurs, "but if I fall asleep with my frock still on… Well, I think really he's concerned for my frocks, he's the one who has to look after them, but I admit having pyjamas on without putting them on myself does make waking up just the tiniest bit less painful."

Corina sighs, shaking her head. "Diamond necklaces and a valet that dresses you in your sleep. I do want your life. Hm…I wonder if a courtesan can get away with having a valet. I suppose my gentlemen might find it off-putting."

Preening unconsciously, Fabia considers this. "Well, if you found one who looked very queer…" She winks, and slips out of the bathroom; though her voice comes from very near at hand when she adds, "It wouldn't matter terribly whether or not he was."

Corina nods sagely, furrowing her brought thoughtfully. "You know, you have a good point. I shall have to look into it. Perhaps Frid knows someone? Is there some sort of valet's guild?"

"I think they have a club in London," Fabia offers. "You know he's a properly-trained butler, not just a valet; but fewer and fewer houses keep butlers these days, so really he's fallen on hard times, the poor man, and he may well know someone else in the same predicament. I shall certainly ask him," she promises. Quite abruptly, her pyjama'd leg appears in the doorway, at waist height.

"I supposed it would take a man in a predicament to want to buttle in a brothel." Corina laughs lightly at the notion. "I wouldn't bother him with it. It's a fanciful thought, but not very realistic. I doubt the madam would permit it, anyhow."

Fabia's leg lowers in a careful arc. The foot at the end of it is encased in a soft, well-worn pink ballet slipper. "Oh, but unrealistic thoughts are usually the nicest ones," she protests. "Are you obliged to answer to some sort of gorgon? I'm interested, of course, because I'm supposed to be something in that line myself, now that I'm a pub landlady. I've already been in trouble twice for giving away too many free drinks when I was happy. That, I'm informed, has to stop, if I intend to make a go of the place." She doesn't sound at all enthusiastic.

Corina splashes a bit as she rises from the tub, albeit reluctantly, as the water is starting to cool. "Well, I supposed there's something to that. Can't go drinking away all of your profits."

"I'm sure you'll be astonished to hear it, but I'm hopeless with money," Fabia confesses, from without. "Frid gives me my pin money every Friday, and then he gives me a frightful look when I run out by Wednesday."

With her snowy hair bound up in a towel, wrapped in the bathrobe, Corina emerges, patting her face with another towel. "Perhaps you should entrust your finances to Frid. He seems to have a good head on his shoulders."

There has always been a long looking-glass bolted to the bedroom wall, just outside the door to the bathroom; during Fabia's tenancy a three-foot-long wooden barre has been set up in front of it, at waist height. She's standing there now, one hand on it, the other arm raised before her in a graceful curve.

Her always-superb posture has taken on a new and serene dignity; her back is straight but not rigid, her neck elongated, her hips squared, her legs turned out; she has the knee of her supporting leg slightly bent, and she's moving her other leg to and fro, slowly lifting and pointing her foot. To the front — and to rest, in precise alignment with her other foot — and to the back — and to rest. The same movement, again and again, exactly. She's facing away from Corina, but smiling at her in the glass. It would be difficult not to notice, in that position, in those pyjamas, the remarkable tightness of her posterior.

Frid is nearby, laying out her clothes, folding each stocking back upon itself with the tenderest care that she might slip it on with swiftness and ease.

Another perfectly ordinary morning chez Fairfax-Travers.

"Oh, he's been in charge of my finances for years," Fabia assures Corina. "I wouldn't trust anyone else. It seems I have more money now than I had before he took over, which just goes to show, doesn't it?" No comment from Frid. He's far too well-behaved to interject any remarks into this discussion.

Corina pauses to ogle Fabia's flexibility and phenomenal bum, brow lifting with a touch of astonishment. "Merlin's beard, no wonder tulip man is so enamoured. I'm tempted to have my way with you, myself." She gives Fabia a wink as she takes her teacup to sit on the edge of the bed, crossing her legs. "I really must find something that will keep me in that kind of shape."

After a compliment like that Fabia has to show off a little for Corina. Thinking quickly, she straightens her supporting leg and curves her torso forward, raising her other leg behind her in a small but elegant arabesque. Her hand leaves the barre and both arms twine exquisitely through the air, as though they hadn't a bone anywhere in them, before arriving in a position which compliments perfectly the angles created by the rest of her body.

An instant later she catches hold of the barre again and dips down into a penchée, her leg high in the air behind her and the bun on her head almost grazing the floor. On her way up she rises from her flat foot onto demi-pointe, shifting perceptibly forward in space as though a breeze had blown her in an arc; then with a magnificent sigh which spreads through her entire being she returns to the standing position of a normal human woman.

… A normal human woman who is rubbing her hip and saying, without any particular surprise or animosity, "Christ, that hurt. I can hardly do anything I used to do, you know, though I've held onto what I could, for all the obvious reasons." She gives Corina a conspiratorial smile.

Corina lightly claps her hand against her wrist, so as not to spill her tea. "Bravo, madame. You are truly stunning. But don't hurt yourself on my account." She sips to pause for thought. "I had considered trying ballet. But let's be honest," she cups her substantial breast through the robe, "I haven't quite the right figure for it."

A curtsey, which would be exquisite if it weren't being conducted in pyjamas; and, still smiling, Fabia takes hold of the barre again. Her foot resumes its swift, precise, pointed movements, this time describing circles upon the floorboards in the area specially cleared of rugs for her use. "I hope that's not a complaint," she remarks, "because if you try to complain about a figure like yours you'll only sound absurd. Never mind ballet; for everything else, you're ideal. I was even smaller," her hand, on its way up into an arc above her head, pauses to echo Corina's gesture through the thin silk of her green pyjama top, "before I'd had a baby… You could try it, you know, for the exercise, but you'd have to bind yourself rather tightly if ever you intended to jump," she giggles. "Some girls really do have to — and in the dressing-room, everything comes off and one is quite, quite astonished."

Corina laughs softly at the mental image. "I suppose. It is such an elegant form of exercise. Though I agree, jumping is probably out. Binding these girls would be an exercise regimen unto itself. And no, I'm not complaining. Without my natural attributes, I fear I'd never have been so successful at what I do."

"Less elegant than you might think," Fabia informs her, with a rueful roll of the eyes; and adds, "Men have only been my hobby, not my profession — thank God, or I might not have enjoyed them as much! — but I'm quite certain the natural attributes which matter most are on the inside. Some women have marvelous bodies they just don't know what to do with; others have the character, the charisma, to make a little seem like a lot. I'm sure you would do well even if you weren't the most physically perfect creature I've ever seen outside a ballet company. Lord, how serious I am when I haven't had a drink yet."

Corina shines gleefully with the compliment. "Believe me, how much my figure matters varies greatly depending upon who my client is, and what his or her tastes are. But thank you, I should like to think that my mind and spirit are largely responsible for my success. Nevertheless, I still want to be gorgeous when I'm older. Call me vain, but…well, I'm vain." She shrugs, unashamed to admit it.

"Oh, sweetie," and Fabia looks away, sighing with appreciation. Then her foot abandons its circling and she flits across to the bed and embraces Corina, with only a belated regard for her cup of tea. "I know." Her arms are tight about the younger woman's shoulders for a moment; then she draws away, and returns to her exercises, chatting as she goes. "I'm so very vain too. It's an awful thing to be, I promise you, as time goes on and on, but if one doesn't cultivate a saintly and oblivious personality virtually in the cradle, what can one do? It's there — it's part of one — one can't help but care terribly for how one looks. The best advice I can give you, the advice I, thank God, had from someone else when I was about your age, is to take care now. Don't just wake up one morning and realise you're forty and begin to panic. It's too late then."

Corina nods sagely, drawing her cup back from where she extended it to prevent being spilled upon in Fabia's exuberant embrace. "I have a number of products to help me along. Goodness, you should see my bathroom. But it's the exercise I need, and stars, what I wouldn't give for some secret to keeping my tits up."

"I don't think there is such a secret…" Fabia sighs. "Even for little ones like mine. Good lingerie, and trying not to be seen in the nude standing up, that's the best arrangement I've managed, though I don't mind telling you the tulip man proved a challenge in that regard… And don't ever, ever have a baby. I know you say you won't, but really, if you want to stay beautiful, don't. The worst I've ever looked was when I had my little girl," she opines, "I couldn't dance, I could hardly move; I've never had such a body before or since. I was glad enough she was in the world, but couldn't bear feeling like like that! I was at the barre again the moment I could stand up again, and I've never stopped… I only miss a day," her leg is now swinging back, then sideways, then forward, to quite surprising degrees, "when I'm very sick. I don't mean a hangover, a hangover isn't enough excuse. It never was."

Corina lifts her hand, shaking her head. "Oh goodness, no. Never. I have no interest in being a mother. I take every precaution to make sure I don't get pregnant. What in the world would I do with a child?" She wrinkles her nose, pursing her lips distastefully. "Not that I'm judging you poorly for it, or anything. I respect mothers. But it's not for me."

"I didn't do it on purpose," Fabia confesses suddenly. "But there it was — and I'd always said I never would, I couldn't possibly, but when it was Teddy bloody Fairfax's child, somehow I wanted her to be born…" She sighs. She props her foot on the barre and curls backward, then forward, shifting her arms into various elegant positions, twirling round on demi-pointe, restoring her foot to the barre and doing the same things the other way round. "I'd have had to stop dancing before much longer anyway — but the one regret I have in my life," and, by Fabian standards, she sounds positively subdued, "is that I hadn't another few months, or a year, on stage, before Emma."

Corina nods slowly, eyes showing sympathy, but her jaw set with new determination to never bring a child into the world. "At least you have her. Do you have a good relationship with your daughter? I understand that you don't exactly maintain a traditional family."

"Oh, sweetie. I don't. But she does." And Fabia switches from side to side, swiveling on her supporting leg, curving the other this way and that without putting it down. "She has a husband and four babies, a fifth one coming — a lovely little house in which meals are always served on time and even the passageways smell of lavender — I don't understand how I could have raised such an intelligent and sensible and respectable creature… I don't think I did; I think she raised herself, while I was running off to cocktail parties and amateur theatricals. It's difficult, of course, since she married, but I do try to behave myself when I visit. I try to behave as well as the babies, anyway. They're angels, except for Philip. Trust Emma to breed little angels. She wasn't one herself."

"Well…maybe we're supposed to be one another's second-chances. Not that I'm aiming to be your daughter," Corina smirks. "But…something similar, perhaps. Someone to learn from your experiences, who can actually make use of the lessons gleaned from you life." She nods to herself, quite proud of her little moment of sagacity.

In a rare instance of discretion Fabia doesn't allude to having heard this before, to having had all manner of younger friends over the years, whose lives have moved away from hers after a couple of months or a couple of years, with no hard feelings on either side — and to her general assumption that Corina will do the same, and no hard feelings there either. It's the way of the world, and it never keeps her from enjoying a friendship while it lasts. "I hope I'm not quite beyond putting my knowledge to good use," she quibbles marginally; but flashes Corina a smile with her words. "Of course it's yours too if you think you could do anything with it; but please steer quite clear of being my daughter," she pleads, with a minor fluttering of her eyelashes, "or I shan't be able to look at you anymore, and I'm not queer but I do appreciate a work of art, you know, when it's standing just in front of me."

Corina's grin stretches from ear to ear. "Oh, goodness. It would be a tragedy if you stopped looking. Whatever would become of my vanity?" She giggles, tilting her head curiously. "It's probably for the best that you're not queer. We might completely ruin things if we went all the way down that road." She arches an eyebrow at Fabia, smirking almost challengingly.

And Fabia moves away from the barre, facing Corina fully; a ripple passes through her compact little pyjama'd form as she rises, feet apart, onto demi-pointe, and lifts her arms into fifth position en haut — or is it en couronne? "Might we? Of course," she hints, shifting into an effacé, then a croisé devant, "I'm not saying I never…"

Corina laughs merrily, leaning back on one arm. "Darling, I'm hardly surprised. You are far too much like myself to have never at least experimented. We are Sybarites, Fabia. It is in our natures." She cannot help herself. Her brow lifts suggestively. "Of course, if we ever did find ourselves in such a position, I wonder if either would have the will," she giggles, "or the sobriety to stop."

A yard and a half away from where Corina sits, Fabia continues with her morning routine, disciplining her body into all manner of charming shapes. She knows so well what she's doing that she doesn't need to concentrate, and so as her foot flicks up and she spins in a tight, neat pirouette, her mind wanders; "Now you've made me think of it," she confesses, with an unconvincing attempt at guilt, "which, really, I hadn't before… Do you have female clients regularly? Are there any older ones? Or would such a thing be terribly unusual for you?"

Corina nods unabashedly. "I have had women, yes. Witches, mostly. But I have had a couple of female Muggle clients. They are mostly young women experimenting, but some older women as well. One of my Muggle clients was a fourty-something trapped in marriage. Loveless, obviously, even though she respected her husband." She shrugs nonchalantly. "But he simply couldn't give her what she wanted. I could."

"Well, one does understand," Fabia murmurs, nodding; of course she'd know a thing or two about marriage, satisfying and otherwise. She spins round again, returning to precisely the direction in which she faced before, and, incidentally, precisely the topic she and Corina were addressing before… "Probably better not; as beautiful as you are, as amusing as it might be, I should like to keep you as a friend. And I'm not really bothered by," she says, terribly honestly, pirouetting, "going to bed occasionally with someone who's a friend, not anything else, but it's different for you, isn't it?"

"To be honest, I really don't know." Corina rises to find a place for her empty teacup. "I don't really have friends. I have lovers, and I have occasional acquaintances. When I sleep with someone, it is either because I have chosen to enter into a mutually beneficial liaison, or because I have a scratch to itch and I happen to be attracted to that person. But the former are clients, and the latter I rarely ever see again."

"Oh, heavens!" At the end of her capacity at last, Fabia engages in one last gorgeous stretch (her back cracks) and then flops down backwards onto the unmade bed, just where Corina was sitting a moment ago. "You've not really — liked someone enough to keep coming back, without it being at least in some sense a professional matter?"

Corina shrugs, ambling back toward the bed. "There have been a few that I've run into again and ended up back in bed. But never deliberately if I hadn't chosen them as a lover. I'd really hate to give them the wrong impression. I've had far too many young romantics get the notion in their heads that they would woo me away from my awful, awful life." She rolls her eyes.

"I don't imagine your life is so terribly awful," Fabia murmurs, lying supine in her pyjamas, hands folded beneath her head. "I suppose for some girls it might be, but not you… I suppose when I was dancing I occupied for a while the in-between land. I had admirers, patrons — I had to, in order to live as well as I liked to live." As she speaks a leg curls up, stretches into the air, then lowers. "But I usually managed to find ones I had a good time with… Sometimes they wanted to take me away from the hardships of my life," she laughs, and the other leg takes its turn, "which I imagine were a good deal harder than yours. Dancers work and sweat and court injury every day, sweetie. I can't tell you how many pairs of pretty pink satin pointe shoes I ruined by bleeding through them, even before they'd have worn out naturally. But even when I fancied I was in love with someone — I always fancied I was in love — I wouldn't have given it up, not whem I was young enough and strong enough to dance…" A note of unabashed pleasure has entered her voice, stirred up by her memories; a slow, sensual smile prompts her pinkened lips to curve; her toes point.

"Oh, don't mistake me. I quite enjoy my life." Corina slides onto the bed, lounging lazily and propping her head up on one hand. "I get to enjoy the luxuries of the upper class without the responsibilities attached to their station. I'm not manacled to a husband or children that I don't want. I have my pick of lovers, and plenty of free time to do with as I please. Trust me, I know how good I've got it." She shrugs, showing mild reluctance in admitting, "And when I can…I try to make it a little better for those girls that didn't manage to accomplish what I did."

Next to her, Fabia stretches again; and wiggles onto her side, facing her friend across a foot or so of sheet and blankets. She mirrors Corina's pose. It looks good on both of them, in vastly different ways, according to vastly different tastes. "It does sound rather pleasant, now that you mention," she agrees, the corner of her mouth quirking up, "though I'm so used to being busy that I mope a little when I haven't anything in particular to do…" Of course, she counts having her nails done as a major errand, why wouldn't she? "I wouldn't have credited you with an advanced degree of selflessness and compassion if you hadn't mentioned, but, you know, since you have it, it does make you even prettier," she compliments, shamelessly but genuinely.

Corina graces Fabia with a sparkling smile. "Thank you," she says softly. "I won't claim to be some saint. But if I can lift up just one of those girls into a better position every now and then, I don't feel so guilty for not suffering as they do. Usually it's as simple as dressing them up and placing them into the arms of a client that can't quite afford me. Every now and then, it works out."

"… Oh, you must tell me," Fabia breathes, "how much? Oh, just whisper it. Please."

Corina can't help her laugh. Fabia's reaction was just too priceless. "Oh, Fabia, dear. There's no price tag. Well, alright, so I wouldn't bed a client for less than a ten pound note, or two galleons. But really, it's more about whether he…or she…can attract my attention. Wooing, that sort of thing. The real income is in the gifts. Not that I'd ever sell most of them. They're much too precious to me."

Across from her Fabia giggles irrepressibly. "Then we're perhaps even more similar than I thought. No matter how poor I was I never asked for a particular sum, unless I needed a new costume and I thought my lover ought to pay for it, or something like that; but you can imagine how heavily I hinted about… gifts…" She's still wearing her diamonds from the tulip gentleman, of course, Frid knew better than to strip her of those; her hand strays up to caress them. "I mean, if you don't let a gentleman know what you'd like, he might produce any old thing, and wouldn't that just be an irresponsible waste of his money?"

Corina nods solemnly. "Oh, indeed. I make quite certain that my tastes are well-known. But, I swear, still no diamonds. It's the state of the economy, I tell you. I never had this problem in Paris."

"In Paris, gentlemen have a much better idea of how to behave," Fabia agrees sympathetically. "They are brought up to it; their fathers teach them…" And then — she pushes herself up, and slithers off the end of the bed, and commences scavenging through one of the drawers of the late B. Travers's dresser.

Corina sighs wistfully, flopping onto her back. "I miss it, so. London has it's nice spots. But truly, it is so gauche by comparison."

A box snaps open; then shut. Fabia falls onto the bed, on her front this time, with her feet hanging off the end; propped up on her elbows, she extends one hand in Corina's direction. There's a profound glittering in the vicinity of her fingertips, even in the half-lit boudoir… Diamond earrings. Not a modest pair, either, for once Fabia has set her mind to something, she's oblivious to half-measures. "For you," she says, lowering her eyes in an attempt at modesty. "Do please take them, it would amuse me so to give you something you've been lacking lately. I mean, the absurdity, almost."

Corina rolls back to her side, jaw dropping open. "Fabia…oh, you sweet, wonderful woman." She reaches to take the earrings in hand, marveling at their sparkle. "Come give me a kiss. I promise I won't seduce you…unless you want me to." She winks, then leans forward to press her lips to Fabia's cheek.

Terribly amused, pleased, liable to laugh at any moment, Fabia leans into the offered kiss, touching her own lips to Corina's cheek for the first time — until now, she has taken care to kiss only the air next to her friend — reaching out with her other hand to touch the other side of Corina's face, very gently, and lifting it away an instant later, as though she hadn't meant to do that, as though it had been an automatic reaction quite beyond her control.

When Corina draws back from that touch, there is triumph in her eyes. But she makes no comment as she sits upright and dons her new treasures — the diamonds a perfect compliment to her pale skin and moonlight white hair.

"So lovely on you," Fabia comments, unnecessarily, lying back on the bed where she can observe this preening with complete sympathy and complete comprehension. "I think I had those from a Russian Archduke, in the summer of 1908 — they're a little old-fashioned, perhaps — but witches tend to affect a style outside time, so they will be quite natural for you, with your long gowns and your corsets. Much nearer to what we wore then!"

Corina nods in vehement agreement. When not out on the Muggle town, Corina favors a Victorian style that the earrings would go very well with. "Well, your generation had a much better sense of style, anyhow." She looks over a lifted shoulder in a feigned coyness. "Does this mean I owe you something?" This girl couldn't stop flirting if her life depended on it.

Fabia's reaction? A slight drawing-away, as her lips form an 'O'. "You don't owe me anything, sweetie," she says, firmly. "I never give a present just for what it might get me in return — I never lend books, either, I simply let them go." Her hand lifts, and swoops. But there's a subtly coquettish quality to all of this, and to her posture; she's certainly not going to be the first to bow out of the game. "Earrings too now."

Corina giggles girlishly, showing off her pearly whites. "Well, that's the beauty of my position. I'm never obliged to reciprocate. But I tease. I could never consider you a client. You're…" It's brief, just a quick, sad little shadow that is gone as soon as it comes, "…my best friend."

And Fabia's smile falls, then is restored in more tender form; she finds Corina's hand with her own, and there's nothing at all in this touch but impulsive, girlish affection. "Oh, sweetie. At present I rather think you're mine."

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