(1938-10-25) Striking Walls
Details for Striking Walls
Summary: Astoria Bletchley has something on her mind, when she comes into the Broomsticks for a quiet drink; she bends, briefly, the ears of first Frid, and then Fabia.
Date: October 24th, 1938
Location: The Three Broomsticks

The Three Broomsticks

Despite the obvious patina of age, The Three Broomsticks has a warm, inviting ambiance. This character the pub has attained is, no doubt, thanks to the years it has been steeped in the environment of this particular village. Just one evidence of the village's influence on the pub can be seen in the dark paneling inside the building. The wood was once the outer walls of the home that housed Hogsmeade's founding family. Put to good use once again after the founding family bequeathed it to the pub, the paneling has served the pub just as well as it once served Hogsmeade's founders. The Three Broomsticks has flourished under its current proprietor and is always open and ready for a customer or visitor.

The dark wood surface of the floor glows with a polished sheen from much cleaning, and exposed ceiling rafters, which appear to be original, cross the ceiling in tidy squares. Wood tables of varying sizes litter the room, and matching chairs are scattered among them. Several secluded booths fill up the space along one wall. A flavorfully aged mahogany bar takes up most of the space near the back wall with a series of mirrors and shelves of varying heights hanging behind it. Those shelves behind the bar are lined with memorabilia depicting the life and people of the village as well as items which are special mementos to the pub's owner.

Frid appears behind the bar. Not literally, but in the mystical way he seems to have of not being there when he's not needed, and then just as you think if only there were a Frid, there he is. He actually draws attention to himself by clearing his throat quietly, standing behind a newer member of the bar staff, who starts, a jingling in her pocket. Frid arches a brow at her, looking to her pocket pointedly, and then to the till. "I think," he mentions to her quietly, "it might be better all round if you were to square away your outstanding tabs, and then leave. I don't think there's any need to cause a scene, is there?"

Astoria ruffles her newspaper to get the pages to crease before glancing up towards Frid. She spies him easily - after all, he is the only member of the staff without cleavage. That Astoria can see, at any rate. She clears her throat, noting the exchange between the two employees from afar (even if she does not have the context of their exchange) and folds her newspaper. Afterwards, she waits to catch Frid's attention.

Frid doesn't threaten, or loom, or otherwise intimidate. He just steps back, folding his hands behind his back as the offending coins are emptied from the barmaid's pocket, and she glowers her way to the exit, snatching up her coat and giving Frid a particularly well known piece of sign language before slamming the door on her way out. For his part, Frid briefly closes his eyes, then straightens, moving to take over the duties of the now absent member of staff, despite lacking cleavage. When Astoria catches his eye, he gives her a nod of 'you're next', finishing off pouring a pint for a customer at the bar and then making his way over. "Madam?"

Astoria nods towards Frid after their eyes meet. She pushes her paper around a bit, mostly fiddling, and takes another sip of her brandy. But then Frid arrives, and she looks up at him with a rather darkened expression - due partially to lack of light, but also from her brows being partially scrunched together. "Thank you for coming over, Frid. It is Frid, isn't it? I never asked what you preferred to be known as," she remarks.

Frid inclines his head. "It is, madam, yes," he agrees, briefly looking over her table with a critical eye. "How can I be of service?"

"Well, Frid," Astoria begins, leaning forward a little. "I've found myself at my wit's end." She continues to watch him, keen eyes focused and lips quite thin. "And a stiff drink hasn't loosened my thoughts. I suppose I need some advice. Hm." She looks away at this point, though her expression doesn't change. "And maybe another drink. If you can spare the time, I wouldn't mind both."

"The drink I can offer," Frid responds easily, giving her a faint smile. "The advice, I shall see what I can do, although I promise nothing. Armagnac, is it?" he queries, looking to her drink and making his best educated guess by the smell, the glass, and the colour.

Astoria turns back to Frid, and a grin tugs at the edge of her lips. "It is," she replies, after he asks about the brandy. "You must have an excellent nose," she observes, grin fading.

"Trade secrets, madam," Frid insists, retreating to the bar for just long enough to uncork the bottle and pour another glass, warming the bowl as he returns to her and sets it down in front of her. He steps back, folding his hands behind him, and waits.

Astoria's grin returns, if only for a moment, at the mention of trade secrets. She watches the valet's progress with interest, noted by the slight raise of her eyebrow, until he returns to the table. She sips the brandy, nods her approval, and returns her attention to Frid. "Thank you," she begins. "Well, the premise is quite simple. I am aiming to learn a branch of sophisticated magic, but it requires a partner. It isn't dangerous, but it is potentially compromising." She takes another sip and allows the swill to linger. After swallowing, she concludes, "I am afraid I do not know who to ask, or even how to go about asking. It is quite embarrassing, really."

Frid nods as he listens. "And so you are asking me to volunteer myself for your magical leanings, madam, or to suggest a willing participant you might approach?" he queries. "I admit that I am not overly familiar with all those local to here just yet, however. Is the embarrassment on your part, or on the part of your partner, madam?"

"I'm not certain I have the nerve to /ask/ you so directly," Astoria admits. "Although, I do not seem to have the nerve to /ask/ anyone," she adds, releasing a soft sight. "Perhaps that is the crux of the issue." She sips her brandy and flicks her gaze up to Frid. And then she clarifies, "It is a slight combination. The branch in question is not one that is often pursued. I am not certain many witches or wizards would be interested in learning it, for one, and they may be put off by my attempts. Again, not that it is harmful. Merely a touch taboo."

"Do go on, madam," Frid replies, tone a little guarded. "If it would make you feel any better, I can assure you absolutely that I have no intention of learning your taboo branch of magic."

Astoria sips her drink again and pushes it slightly to the side. About half of it remains. "It is a spell with which you enter another's thoughts," she explains, "and memories. Particularly useful in the line of work I'm in. Although, as you can see, difficult to… breach the subject."

"I can see why you may have trouble finding volunteers," Frid notes drily. "Every man and woman has their secrets to keep, after all."

Long, graceful, aged fingers with French-manicured nails curl about Frid's arm; Fabia Fairfax's face pops round the edge of her valet, flicking a smile at Astoria before looking up into Frid's face with what is by her standards an earnest expression. "Frid, sweetie, Madam Tabitha is terribly cross about something to do with an order for whiskey and *I* don't know what it's all about. Do you think you could…?"

It cannot be denied that such matters fall within Frid's purview. Much more so, at any rate, than taboo branches of magic. He excuses himself to Astoria, correctly though with a certain stiffness, and departs in the direction which his employer, with a little jerk of her head, indicates.

And Fabia turns properly to Astoria, and pats her shoulder, consolingly. "Do forgive me for tearing him away — it looked as though you were having a lovely talk — but if things grow any more heated in there the pub might catch fire, and *then* what will we all do for booze?"

The door opens and the golden haired figure of Damien Proudmore strides in. The young man is well dressed and looks rather stressed. He makes his way in and to to a table settling down with a soft sigh. Waiting on a waitress he glances around with those deep blue eyes taking in the other customers and offering a few of them those that he knows or knows of a faint smile.

Astoria watches Fabia approach, and her response to Frid does not quite escape her lips. She smiles at the exchange between the two of them, but only briefly. As Frid turns to leave she crosses one leg over the other and laces her fingers together. "Indeed. It's quite all right. I am afraid I was boring him - I do not think he relishes the role of a bartender," she explains quietly. Her eyes flick to the door and she notes the entrance of Damien. A moment later she turns back to Fabia. "How are you, Madame? In spite of the whiskey, that is."

Standing next to Astoria's table Fabia can see across most of the bar; she doesn't know Damien but in her new role of proprietress, not to mention her eternal role of person well-disposed towards good-looking young men, she gives him a most cordial smile, and waves one of the bar wenches over to receive his order. Whilst conducting these operations she says to Astoria, "I'm very well, thank you, sweetie, and delighted to see you in our midst again…" She glances after Frid, though he's long since disappeared, and adds, "This wasn't at all what Frid was expecting when he came to work for me, you know, it's marvelous of him to help as much as he does. He's awfully good at pouring drinks. But if you just fancy a chat you'd probably better try me — or even Madam Tabitha!" She laughs at that notion — so much that she raises a hand to shield her painted mouth.

"He seems quite pleasant," Astoria replies, "though I will respect your suggestion." She reclines a little in her chair before saying, "Won't you join me? I'm afraid that I'm rather a bore this evening - I seem to have struck a rather sturdy wall. Its displacement has preoccupied me for most of the evening."

"Oh, I thought you'd *never* ask." Fabia smiles dazzlingly; and pulls a chair out from the table and somewhat nearer to Astoria, settling herself into it with one leg crossed over the other at the knee. She's wearing a black velvet cocktail frock, pale stockings, and dark red velvet T-strapped shoes. "What's your wall, sweetie? Something you can chisel away at, or shall you have to knock the whole thing down in one tremendous gesture?"

Astoria wears her typical black robes - slightly stained at the hems - and a pair of heeled boots. "Either, I suppose, but better if it were the latter." She pauses and takes a long sip of her brandy. "As I was telling poor Frid, I'm attempting to learn a rather sophisticated branch of magic. Finding a partner is…" she swirls the contents of her glass with a small sigh, "… awkward."

A martini glass appears next to Fabia's hand. She reaches up to pat the thoughtful, beautiful, obviously-due-for-a-raise-soon creature who has delivered it; and completes the gesture by swooping it up to her lips. "Mmmh!" she emits happily. "Why do you need a partner, not just a teacher? How sophisticated did you say it was?" Her eyes widen, but on purpose; she's only teasing.

"A teacher might be in order," Astoria replies, "though I daresay they are rare. And secretive. And most likely quite stingy with their methods." Astoria smiles to the wench as she departs before turning back to Fabia. A slight grin crosses her lips after the question. "It is one spell. But a difficult one. And rather taboo, despite being legal and quite harmless. However, I think it would be highly useful for my line of work."

"Oooohw," Fabia murmurs, drawing closer; she appreciates the whiff of an enticing secret, yes she does. "One spell? One very special spell…" She sips her martini, and parts her lips to utter a calculated question — which never leaves them. A dark and discreet presence has come into being at her elbow.


"Oh, no." Fabia shuts her eyes, and opens them again as she tilts her head back and looks all the way up at Frid. "The whiskey?"

"Yes, madam."

Fabia tilts her head back up again, resignedly. "The whiskey," she says to Astoria.

Astoria's smirk manages to reach her eyes, which alight with palpable amusement. It only takes a moment to compose herself, which consists of a gentle sigh and her intense expression resuming. "The whiskey," she affirms, a second obligatory sigh following her words. "Another time," she suggests with a gentle nod in Fabia's direction.

"I'm so sorry," sighs Fabia. She flows up out of her chair, martini in hand, and pets Astoria's shoulder again as she passes by, in the casual way she often does when she likes someone. "Do promise you'll come back and tell me everything one day when the whiskey pipeline has been stabilised. You've intrigued me, Astoria Bletchley."

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