(1938-10-27) Goldfish Shoes
Details for Goldfish Shoes
Summary: Another jolly evening at the Broomsticks. The proprietress receives a peculiar purple parcel; 'old friends' meet again; and the special tonight is Roast Frid.
Date: October 27th, 1938
Location: The Three Broomsticks
Related: Cheesy and Toasty

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 is behind the bar. He's not serving customers at the moment, but counting the stock there and marking it down on a clipboard with the stub of a pencil, of which he occasionally licks the end.

With a yawn Ranjit comes into the Broomsticks, resplendent in her lime green robes. She looks like it has been a long day. Her sparkly green flats carry her over to the bar where she slides onto a stool, tucking her feet behind the rung on the stool. "Hello, half a pint of lager please." She fishes in her pockets searching for coins and finds enough to pay, setting them down on the bar.

Graham has come to town to visit it would seem not on work business as he's dressed down in his normal suit. He steps into the three broomsticks and glances about to see if he knows anyone here though not spotting anyone he moves towards the bar to have a seat lightly. He pauses to allow the other to order turning towards her "Hello." he greets her lightly.

Frid looks up at the Midlands accent, raising a brow. He half smiles, setting aside his clipboard and gesturing for the barmaid to move aside as he flips a half pint glass from under the counter and sets it under the tap to pull. "Will there be anything else, ma'am? Cheese toastie?" he suggests with amusement as he slides the lager in front of her and begins to take the coins.

Ranjit looks over at Graham and nods politely, "Hello." She turns her attention to the barman and laughs, "Fred!" Clearly she did not expect to see him here, nor likely he her. "It depends on how much a cheese toastie is. I likely haven't enough, just the half pint please." Confused she looks around, eyes widening at her thoughts. Glancing at Graham she asks, "Hear any bagpipes on the way in?"

The young man nods "Healers robes?" he asks knowing the looks fairly well at least. Graham looks to the barkeep deciding after a moment to go with his usual. "Can I have a cider?" he looks back "If you'd like the toastie it's on me." though his eyebrow raises "Bagpipes? Cant say that I did, but i'd not be surprised to do so." he says with a small chuckle.

Frid slides the coins to the till, giving a short nod as he reaches up for a pint mug and turns back to the swan necked pumps to pull a glass of something strong, alcoholic, and vaguely tasting of apples for the man. "Fingers crossed we can still avoid them," he notes, cider going in front of Graham.

"That's kind of you, but no thank you," Ranjit tells Graham. She picks up her drink and takes a sip, giving Frid a smile over the rim of the glass. "I always try to avoid a pipe band if I can." Setting the glass on the bar she runs a hand over the front of her bright green robes, "What gave away the healer bit?"

"Thank you." he reaches to his side and hands over the money with a bit of a tip. He pauses before taking a sip of his cider "If you change your mind let me know. Why do you avoid the pipes? Just don't like them?" Graham says back to the healer and grins as she speaks "I've seen a fair bit of those style of robes he says "I'm Graham Cohen." he offers his hand over to the other as he greets.

Frid dips his head in thanks as the coins are slid into the till, then takes up his clipboard again to continue his stocktake. It's not that he disappears so much as that he just has a knack for fading into the background as he listens, only appearing when he's needed, and then being right on hand to help.

"Really? Familiar with the badges too," asks Ranjit with a grin. She shakes Graham's hand, "Ranjit Jadu." She picks up her glass and sips her lager after shaking the younger man's hand. Frid gets a sidelong glance from the midwife, she's still amused to have found him working in Hogsmeade. It's as if the world were just so very small. "Do you live in the village?" The small talk is directed to Graham.

Graham sets his mug down though he's still listening " It's nice to meet you, not as familiar with the patches no. I only know one healer really well Keenan O'hea. What division are you with?" he cant help but ask curiously though he shakes his head at the question "No, I live in London I was visiting a friend."

Frid moves away from the bar and over towards the piano. He pauses for a moment, searching through various records, before setting one into the gramophone on the piano lid, cranking it up, and settling the needle down to play quietly. Jazz. Well, if he's left in charge of the bar, you get his taste in music.

"Midwifery and infant care," says Ranjit before she takes another sip. "I've seen O'Shea about." The fingers of her other hand begin to tap lightly against the bar in time with the music. "I came up for a delivery. Lovely little baby boy. They named him Charles." She glances over at Frid and smiles, "Lovely music."

"Ah, i've not had an reason to visit that department as of yet." he says taking another drink "A very important job though." Graham says to her but grins "That sound excellent, I bet the parents were so excited." he says turning "Yes very nice music." he also compliments as it fills the air of the pub.

"One of my favourites," Frid admits, moving over to take a seat on the right side of the bar this time. He leans over to claim himself a small whisky, settling his elbow on the bar.

Ranjit sips her drink and nods a little, "They were pleased, yes. Not everyone is, but most are." The glass is set down and the woman slips her hands into one of her pockets and pulls out a photo wallet. It's rather long and when opened falls to the floor. "I have a photo of nearly every baby I have delivered." There are a lot of photos. She shows a few to them each in turn. "If you're lucky, Mr Cohen maybe you'll be sending me a photo to add to it at some point in the future."

Graham looks over the motioned babies a smile on his face though he takes another drink "I'd not thought about it over much, but I suppose it's possible." The young man says about adding his child to that list some day. "I hope that i'll be on the list of the pleased that day, I cant see myself being otherwise." he adds about the first response. "How long have you been with the hospital?"

Frid sips at his drink, glancing to the photos but otherwise not interrupting.

Done showing off her babies Ranjit flicks the photo wallet shut and puts it away in her pocket. "Six years. Every since I left school." She picks her glass up and sips her drink. "How is it working here during Hogsmeade weekends, Fred? I never thought about it from the perspective of someone behind the bar, but it must be chaotic."

"Excellent, it's good that you like your job. I joined mine similarly right after school " Graham mentions before taking another drink from his mug he looks towards the other playing the piano at the question. He will wait to hear the answer though he's seen it here during the weekends it can be a bit hectic.

"It's actually Frid," the valet admits with a slight smile, ceasing his table dancing momentarily to instead be sat quietly at the bar with a whisky, while jazz music plays on the gramophone in the background. "I just go by Fred when I'm with Muggles. It's easier. But I wasn't lying when I said we'd just moved up here."

"Some careers are for life, some are more fleeting." The healer cants her head, looking amused by Frid's secret double lifestyle. "Well I am still Ranjit." She leans over from where she sits on a stool situated between the two gentlemen and offers Frid her hand, "But we'll meet properly this time. Frid."

Graham nods to the others words "I agree, my job is that sort or well as long as one can do it. I apologize never said, I work at the ministry auror's office." which would likely explain his knowing some things about the hospital. He watches the exchange between the two as they re-meet one another properly.

The front door opens with a rather harsh clamor. Gusts of wind penetrate the room, bringing in a generous amount of rain that sprays the floor and wall, while two women enter the inn. The first, a bundled-up witch who lowers her wand with a flick, is Astoria. She unwraps a scarf from her nose, mouth, and chin before exhaling. "Horrid weather," she mutters while several drops of rain drip from her coat. She moves quickly towards the fire, clomping along and leaving wet footprints in her wake as the door slams shut behind her.

The second is a short, rather lanky woman who is drenched from head to foot. Her brown hair rests in drenched strings, or is otherwise plastered to her face. Some might recognize her; she works in the evenings on a corner several blocks away. Her reputation is… mixed. Most would call her a vagrant, but that would be a rather polite term. Her wide, bright eyes scan the pub before she sloshes towards the bar, fingers wiping flicks of water off her wet coat.

"A pleasure, Miss Jadu," Frid insists, glancing to the door as it opens. "I'm so sorry, will you excuse me one moment," he apologises, straightening his tie and setting down his whisky as he makes a beeline for the shorter woman entering. He doesn't actually block her passage to the bar, but he does move in the way, a brow raised.

Ranjit gives the new arrivals a once over but knowing neither and being polite she turns her attention to Graham. "No wonder you know Master Healer O'Shea," she laughs. "There are beds kept open for your lot with all that you put up with."

Graham turns back as the door opens an eyebrow raising but as the barkeep moves over to greet them he'll stay where he is for the moment. He looks back to the healer chuckling at her words "Yes it's considered a perk of the job, though it's a bit of a reminder I must say." he wont dwell on this too much finishing off his cider he sets it down lightly once more.

Astoria finds the fire and shivers. She continues to wipe water from her jacket while the flames warm her front and side. For the moment, she doesn't pay much attention to anyone else.

The lanky woman stops in front of Frid. Her head slowly tilts back until her eyes - bright, wide, and green - settle so that she may look up at Frid. An eyebrow raises and a rather amused smirk crosses her expression. "'at was fast," she says in a thick accent beneath a rather wicked smile. She takes one step back and rests a hand on her hip. The smile fades a little before she says, "'least let me get a drink first, hm?"

Frid lowers his voice considerably, barely a murmur over the sound of sax and double bass drifting through the pub. "Just leave, madam. Your profession isn't welcome here." He moves forward as she backs up, nodding to the door.

Now that Astoria has unwrapped herself some Ranjit seems to recognise her, giving the other woman a little wave. "Hello Miss Bletchley." She sips her drink and glances at the other woman briefly then looks away.

Midnight blue velvet, long sleeves lined with paler satin which flows out to form cuffs fastened by tiny sparkling buttons, full skirt brushing against silk stockings just below the knees, blazing diamond necklace and lustrous sable stole — Fabia Fairfax, the proprietress of this establishment, returned from putting her feet up for a while, and once again wearing the expression of delighted interest which indicates she's pleased to be behind the bar in her very own pub. (This expression was flagging till an hour ago, when Frid nudged her upstairs.)

First things first; she murmurs the magic word to Tessa (it's "Martini"), and leans on the counter, looking up and down the bar, to see who's in. And, oh, my, who's about to be thrown out. She looks a touch conflicted. If it were up to her, she'd let anyone drink in the Broomsticks who had money to pay, but she and Frid have had this talk once already, the last time a lady of the night came in who wasn't quite in Corina Silver's price range. It doesn't do to unsettle the regulars, many of whom don't like to find themselves sitting with… well.

Oh, there's Astoria Bletchley. Fabia gives her a little wave.

Graham turns back at the name which he recognizes he soon echo's the greeting "Ah, Miss Bletchley good to see you." the young man says offering a small wave. He looks back as the barkeep seems to be ushering the other away though he turns back at another entrance the place seeming to fill up quick here.

Astoria turns slowly, glancing over her shoulder with a small frown. She spies Ranjit and her expression softens. "Hello!" she greets quite calmly, attention settled, finally, on those in the bar. "Dreadful weather," she says, ignoring Frid and the woman near the door. She waves back to Fabia, a near-smile touching her expression. "Oh, and Mr. Cohen. My, such a crowd. Give me a moment, just warming up a bit." Her hands extend towards the fire.

"Not 'ere about my profession, though, am I?" the woman asks, arching an eyebrow. "Got outta' that life, I did, anyway. Onto something new, now. Much betta'." The woman looks Frid up and down before tilting her weight to the other foot. "Oh shove off, then," she adds, moments later, without explanation. "'ere, yeh big oaf," she continues while reaching into her coat. Seconds later she produces a small package wrapped in astonishingly well-to-do gift wrap. A purple bow sits atop it, along with a folded piece of paper that is addressed to 'The Owner of the Three Broomsticks'. She rather uncouthly shoves it at Frid, rolls her eyes, and turns to leave.

Frid eyes the package dubiously, giving it a light shake, then dips his head. "Good evening, madam," he responds after her as she leaves, nothing if not polite, although the slight pressing together of his lips in disapproval is quite clear to those who might be watching the exchange.

"It is Scotland," observes Ranjit. "Not an area known for its welcoming weather in the winter months." She pretends she can't see the odd little Cockney who's trying to flog and then fling things at Frid. "I read your article, Miss Bletchley. I was glad our conversation helped." Another sip and she eyes her nearly finished drink.

A martini has just been set in front of Fabia; she beams fondly down at it. They're perfect, these days, no matter which of the girls makes them… they've all had such a lot of practice. She raises her glass to Astoria (and incidentally to that other pretty girl she's with) before taking her first sip; and then her eyes wander back to Frid and the curious object now in his hand. She rises onto her tip-toes, heels slipping out of the backs of her shoes, to get a better look. She couldn't hear, over the jazz record and the hum of conversation, any of the brief conversation which passed between her valet and the, er, deliverywoman; her curiosity is sharp.

A hand rises to Astoria's forehead. "OH! Well, thank you, but I owe you an apology. I should have sent you a letter of thanks - you /must/ forgive me. How about I buy your next round? The information you gave me was exceedingly helpful. It is the very least I could do." She walks towards Ranjit, apparently finished with the fire.

The woman exits the inn with a slam of the door, though it is more likely caused by the wind than her exceedingly thin arm. The poor door is probably used to such harsh treatment. The package escapes being garish by being a rather darker shade, though the paper has wonderfully intricate designs in a slightly lighter shade than its base color. The note reads thus:

Dear Madame - It is my sincere hope this package finds you well and warm. Inside you will find a sample of a new product that I have termed Saccharine Powder. A half-teaspoon in any beverage or dessert of your choice to start. Do enjoy. ~Farniverous.

Frid considers the package carefully, reading the note attached, before deciding it isn't too dangerous and retreating to the bar with it. "Madam? A parcel for you."

"It is indeed, looks like it's time for the meal rush." Graham says though he stands up from the bar "It was good to meet you Miss Jadu. I should head back to London though." he says giving a small bow of his head to those he passes before stepping outside. He'll turn on the spot and disappear.

Ranjit looks at her glass and then smiles at Astoria, "Thank you, that would be most kind." She doesn't get a liquid supper often but won't turn down a free drink. "Oh yes, nice meeting you too," she tells Graham before he departs.

"Oh, for me?" The least little gift thrills Fabia; something in glamourous and expensive purple wrappings, well, it does even more for her than her hour upstairs with a cigarette and a naughty French novel. Her emerald eyes are bright and her rather good skin has the sheen of delight upon it as, after clasping Frid's arm in a moment of excitement, she accepts the parcel from him and reads, in turn, the note, holding it at arm's length (her near vision's not ideal, and of course she's too vain for spectacles). "Saccharine powder…" she murmurs, turning the pretty little parcel over in her hand, pondering the best angle from which to attack it. She sets it down on the bar, hopping up onto the stool Graham's just vacated, and tugs gently at one end of the bow.

Frid moves back to his end of the bar, and his whisky there, although he keeps a close eye on his employer. Babysitting.

Amused Ranjit looks at Fabia, her eyes taking in the muggle fashions and the dancer's physique, a grin playing about her lips. The healer knocks back the last of her drink and sets the empty glass on the bar. "Good evening, madam. I hear you have recently taken over this fine establishment. How bucolic you must find it. I imagine someone with your undeniable fashion sense frequently visits more exotic locales; London, Paris, Milan." The words sound anything but exotic with her Brummie accent.

Astoria sits down just beside Ranjit and calls over a wench. She glances towards Frid and Fabia, brow creasing as they handle the package, but her attention soon returns to the matter of drinks. Afterward, Astoria listens to the healer's questions.

The bow comes off easily. Whoever tied it must have rather precise hands - it is folded quite marvelously. The paper, too, can be removed by pulling at the folds. They practically pop off, though tearing is always an option, too. Beneath the paper is a thin metal box with a glass top. The metal is purple, and a knob atop the glass is green. Inside is a thin, pale-green powder - presumably saccharine - that nearly reaches the glass.

In Fabia's hands the paper tears a little, and then is dropped over the bar onto the counter behind, into the midst of the flotsam and jetsam of a hard-working pub; she has put down her martini, such is the power of her interest in this offering, and she holds the pretty metal box in both manicured and beringed hands, caressing it to feel the smooth, cool texture of the purple metal, feeling the weight. She looks away to give Ranjit a bright smile: "Oh, how do you do? I'm Fabia Fairfax, and I like all sorts of places, really. Are you a friend of Astoria's?" She shifts one hand underneath the box, and lifts the lid a fraction with the other, holding it nearer her face so she can sniff the contents.

The powder is odorless, sadly.

"Miss Jadu is the old friend I took to see the dance band, madam," Frid interjects quietly, lifting his chin a little to observe the contents of the box.

The box hits the bar, spilling a minute quantity of pale green powder, as Fabia turns to Frid. "Is she?"

Frid closes his eyes for a moment for strength. "Emphasis on the friend, madam. Emphasis on the friend. We share an appreciation of jazz music."

"We are only acquaintances," Astoria explains with a small smile. Astoria looks between Frid and Fabia, grinning widely for a moment, though the expression doesn't linger long.

"Oh, don't we all," and his employer gives him a withering glance, not buying any of that, thank you very much. She has no further interest in box or powder, only in Ranjit Jadu, to whom she turns with a glittering smile. "Sweetie, do let me buy you a drink. I should adore to hear what you thought of that dance band…"

The Indian witch leans over and shakes the offered hand. "A pleasure Madam Fairfax. I have heard much about you from Frid." She grins at Astoria, "We had tea together, but I think we might end up friends yes." Her new drink is acknowledged with a smile to the writer. Ranjit takes a sip and then laughs, "I do like jazz. I've been in a spot of bother before because I like a few too many muggle things."

Hanging on to Ranjit's hand, eyeing her up and down with frank fascination, Fabia waves her other hand at the girl who has just brought Ranjit's drink and indicates that another ought to be immediately forthcoming. And another martini for herself; she's halfway through and planning to accelerate. "Sweetie, you should see my record collection," she beams, "and everything else… You needn't fear that spot of bother around here. What has Frid said about me? Not too much of the truth, I hope… I must say you don't look old enough to be anyone's 'old friend' he took to hear a dance band." She casts an accusing glance at Frid, and, finally, relinquishes Ranjit's hand in order to knock back a little more of her current martini.

Astoria's grin widens briefly into a smile after Ranjit speaks. "We might," she agrees happily, nodding. Afteward she quiets, however, in favor of listening to Fabia gush. Oh dear.

"The 'old' may have been a slight exaggeration," Frid admits, holding up thumb and forefinger to indicate a teeny weeny lie. "I thought perhaps you wouldn't ask so many questions then." He glances to Ranjit in apology. "Apparently I was wrong, I'm so sorry."

"I do not believe the word old ever entered into what was said about you, just how interesting the work was." Ranjit laughs, waving away the valet's apology, "It's fine Frid. You can tell her you picked me up in Covent Garden Market and wined me and dined me." She takes another sip of her lager. "Well, tea' me and cheese toastied me." Her mouth quirks up into a grin at Fabia, "I think I'll be safe with your record collections unless you have my ex-husband hiding in your wardrobe. He's the biggest spot of bother I ever had. Thankfully he is a spot on someone else's landscape these days."

"Picked you up," Fabia breathes, "in Covent Garden Market…" She closes her eyes in pure pleasure, swallows the rest of her martini, and then slaps down the glass — and slaps Frid's arm. "You magnificent devil. No wonder you don't let me meet your evenings off, if they all have such tales to tell." Then, ignoring him again, ignoring Astoria, ignoring all the rest of the world, she leans in toward Ranjit… "I promise I haven't anyone's ex-husbands in my wardrobe, not anymore; so won't you please come to dinner one night this week? We can put on records and I'll tell you all about what Frid's like when he's not oiling his way into the lives of beautiful young strangers by means of cheese toasties."

Frid just rubs at the bridge of his nose with one hand, shaking his head. "I assure you, madam…" he attempts gamely, before Fabia just carries on regardless. "I do apologise, Miss Jadu."

Astoria stifles a laugh with a twist of her lips. She looks between Frid and Ranjit before resting her chin on her palm. Smirking, she continues to listen.

"It is fine, Frid. Honestly." Ranjit is well used to eccentric characters, healers have all kinds of crazy stories. "I am glad to hear you set those ex-husbands free, Madam Fairfax." She swallows another mouthful of lager. "Dinner would be an honour. I have Tuesday nights free. I'll even bring Frid some samosas." She slips from her stool, getting to her feet a little unsteadily. "However, I should go now. That delivery took twenty hours and I haven't slept or eaten so this lager has gone to my head."

"Oh, your poor sweetie…" Fabia gasps. She blinks heavily-mascara'd lashes. "Tuesday, Tuesday would be bliss, but what on earth were you delivering?"

"Oh, a baby," says Ranjit as she heads out, waving to them, leaving in a swirl of hideously lime green healer robes and loud sound of apparition.

Fabia watches her go with an interest quite undisguised. "A baby," she murmurs, to no one in particular.

"Miss Jadu is a skilled midwife," Frid supplies, taking up his whisky to nurse once more. "And I assure you, madam, I had nothing to do with that, either."

A lager appears, too late to find its owner; and another martini, which Fabia happily scoops up. "Well, you can't blame one for wondering, sweetie," she arches an eyebrow at Frid, "in light of this very interesting revelation."

Astoria chuckles after Frid's explanation. She drags the ownerless lager over for herself and begins to drink from it. "Where did you say the two of you met, Frid?" she asks.

"Covent Garden Market," Fabia reiterates on Frid's behalf, with a waving motion which indicates that Astoria is quite free to help herself to the lager, "where he picked her up."

Frid quirks his lips in resignation to the feminine inquisition. "It was raining," he explains himself, "and I offered the use of my umbrella."

Fabia giggles at this extra delicious tidbit. "It's always so reassuring, isn't it, Astoria, to meet a gentleman with an umbrella on a rainy day? One might suspect some gentlemen of carrying umbrellas just on the offchance."

Astoria sips her lager, but soon nods. "That was very gentlemanly," she remarks, doing her best not to sigh dramatically. She grins towards Fabia. "I admit that I would not deny Frid with an umbrella," she agrees, nodding slowly.

"He's awf'ly good with an umbrella," Fabia assures Astoria, leaning close to offer a conspiratorial whisper which nonetheless reaches Frid's ears with no trouble at all, "I hardly even get damp round the edges, no matter how it's bucketing down."

"An umbrella is an eminently sensible piece of equipment in England," Frid responds, long suffering. "Really! Will you read into everything I say something more?"

"Yes," Fabia tells him, batting her eyelashes.

"She's bullying me," Frid tells Astoria, nodding solemnly. "It's what she does."

Astoria nearly sputters. Her mouth raises to her lips and she covers it firmly. After a short-lived cough she takes a breath and shakes her head. "My, my, me! Madame," her head continues to shake, but she can't help but smile. She glances to Frid. "I apologize, I should /not/ encourage…." she grins, "… but it is a little amusing."

"Besides, I was originally visiting an old friend at the market there," Frid feels the need to explain. "He runs a stall there these days. Provides excellent salmon."

The only reason Astoria has the opportunity to interject something into the conversation is that Fabia has remembered the martini in her hand and is doing what comes so very naturally. Even more naturally than giving Frid hell. … "Oh, hush," she tells Frid, in that same bantering tone, which they usually keep upstairs but on this occasion have brought down with them, "if anyone's the bully here it's you. What happened to my goldfish shoes, hmm?"

Frid does allow a faint smile to flicker over his features. "I regret to inform you, madam, that they accidentally slipped when I was building the fire."

"There! You see?" Fabia points at him triumphantly, turning to Astoria for validation of her next point: "He bullies me! He BURNS my SHOES!"

Frid insists to Astoria, "They were hardly shoes fit for a lady, madam. More fit for a clown, perhaps."

Astoria chuckles at the exchange. She continues to listen to the two, grinning a little. Reaching across the bar, she tabs her finger on the green-sugar-stuff and extracts a few grains of the stuff. She looks at it quietly until Frid admits the fate of the shoes. This time she laughs. Astoria chuckles aloud for several minutes, eyes alight. "I'm afraid I was laboring under the image of the two of you being quite proper to one another. I see that this is not the case - though I am certain it is for the best."

"Oh, I should think Fabia wore them quite well," Astoria adds, winking. She knows whose side to take. Maybe.

"They were darling, darling shoes," Fabia informs Astoria, in a voice of authority, downing the second half of her martini in a few careless gulps. It burns; but by her sigh, she loves it… "I wore them exquisitely. Would have worn them, if I'd had them more than three hours. He works fast, when he sets about his evil deeds." She glances over at Frid again, then back to Astoria, and says, rather less combatively, "I'm not a lady anyway; it's just Frid forgets it sometimes."

Frid raises his brows. "I assure you, madam, I am nothing but an absolute professional. The shoes slipped entirely by accident, and I did offer to replace them with something more suitable from my own pay."

Astoria listens and continues to chuckle. "I am certain you did, Frid," Astoria agrees with a nod. She rubs a thumb against her finger, eyeing the powder, before glancing back up to Fabia. "At least he has the best intentions for your feet, Madame. That is an important trait." Because… shoes.

"Oh, but all my other shoes are so sensible…" Fabia pouts. She lifts one leg, showing off to Astoria her slender, silk-stockinged ankle, and the narrow, elegant, but low-heeled shoe upon her foot, with its simple silver buckle. "After so many years of ballet my feet are wrecked. I wanted just one fun pair, to put on now and again when I knew I wouldn't have to walk very much, and what happens? A holocaust!"

Frid rubs at the bridge of his nose once more, draining his whisky and heading over to the gramophone to change the record. Yes, if you can't win… play jazz.

Astoria grins widely after Fabia explains. "I had no idea you danced," she replies, taking a brief sip of her lager. She pushes the drink aside and watches Frid stand. After he is a safe distance, Astoria adds, "Poor man. I am sure he will never live down those poor shoes."

"Oh, yes," and now Fabia's on another of her favourite subjects, though betwixt them she does give the box of Saccharine Powder another curious glance and line it up neatly next to her empty martini glass. "I was a ballet girl for, oh, half my life, really…" Having no drink of her own left, and no drink of Frid's either, she helps herself to a sip of the somewhat communal lager — and makes a ghastly face. "No, I'm not that desperate," she decides, and waves to a bar wench, giving her usual martini signal. "Latterly with the Ballets Russes. Too Mugglish, I suppose, for you to know us. Another world, really, as well as another time. The company isn't what it was before Serge's passing; though that girl, Toumanova… I like her so much. And Markova's dancing with the new Monte Carlo company now, after her own…" Fabia giggles. "Well, let's not say, shall we? Do you like dance, or am I being a frightful bore?"

Astoria leans against her hand and smirks after Fabia refuses the lager. She takes a slow slip afterward, not seeming to mind the flavor, while she listens. "I am afraid I have very little knowledge of muggle entertainment. Dance included, sadly. I have been to one ballet. Oh, what was the name…" She rubs her forehead, perhaps in thought, but no memory seems to surface. "I can't recall. But do go on. The performance was delightful, I have simply been unable to convince others to join me since then."

"Oh, well, sweetie, if you want to go again, just ask me," Fabia beams, determinedly, just the tiniest bit disappointed that, once again, she has failed to find a kindred obsessive. "Ninette de Valois and Freddie Ashton are doing such heavenly things at Sadler's Wells these days, and of course there's Marie Rambert's company… Practically the first in this country to do anything worth seeing. I like to see everything, of course, even if for years and years the only dancing I've done myself has been to music like this." She tilts her head; Frid has put on, either by accident or in propitiation of this capricious goddess, one of her favourite Harry Roy records. "Will you come and dance with me?" she asks Astoria suddenly. "Oh, just for a minute, I do so like this song."

Astoria continues to listen to Fabia, eyes quite attentive. Years as a journalist and researcher have honed her listening skills, and she is, despite being prone to rambling, not a poor listener. "Well, then!" she remarks. "When next I hear about a show I shall call you immediately." Astoria grins after the invitation. "Why certainly. I will do my very best not to embarrass you," she explains. Astoria stands and extends a hand towards Fabia. She does not have a dancer's body at all - though it may be difficult to tell as she is typically hidden beneath her robes.

Not to worry — Fabia (beaming with delight, and taking a quick sip of her latest martini to fortify her for the fun to come) is dancey enough for two. Her feet find the beat as soon as she's off her barstool, and her shoulders begin to shift with the melody before the two women reach the small open area around the piano, which was cleared the other night by a scientific re-arrangement of the tables (Frid's work, Fabia's delight, and Madam Tabitha's latest grievance).

"Don't worry," she murmurs to Astoria beneath the gentle but insistent rhythm provided by Harry Roy and His Orchestra, via the spare gramophone which once belonged to her late husband; "I'm not too drunk to lead," and she twirls her hapless partner before catching hold of her waist and doing just that.

"Oh, well, that is rea-" Astoria begins, her own body not quite at ease with beats and rhythms as Fabia's. But then she's being twirled and a touch of red blush rushes up the side of her neck. She moves easily enough, though she doesn't quite manage graceful, and soon finds Fabia's shoulder. Grinning a little, and still blushing, she steps in time with Fabia; her hips sway a little more than they should, though that may be the alcohol.

Skill at classical dance needn't necessarily translate into skill at this; but musicality has its uses, and Fabia's slender form (swathed in velvet and sables) sways with Mr Roy and Miss Bletchley both. "I've been wondering what you might be like if you relaxed, sweetie," she says, holding Astoria a little closer after almost losing her grip due to the shifting of the younger witch's robes beneath her hand, "I'm so glad you decided to, tonight. Well, you'd have had to, with the show Frid and I were putting on… I don't really mind so much about the shoes, you know, or I could easily have gone to get another pair, I just like ragging him. Well, you know that. And I know something's been worrying you this week — I hope you've managed to get nearer to sorting it out." One can have such confidential chats, dancing; Fabia's manner as she pilots Astoria deftly about the limits of the informal dancefloor is kindness itself.

Astoria tenses slightly as they draw nearer. Her expression remains quite the same, but her body becomes a little more rigid, and her muscles flex momentarily. It passes. She soon finds her former poise and follows Fabia's steps. "A woman in my line of work cannot afford to relax very often," she explains. "It is… competitive, and highly-scrutinized. I hope that is not too off-putting." Her expression, which is usually quite narrow and dark, has relaxed, though a shadow of it flickers for a moment while she explains. She adds, while stepping in time with Fabia, "No nearer, sadly. It is a rather awkward process. Did Frid pass on what I had said?"

"You mean what you were saying before I came over with my latest pub-running disaster? No, sweetie, why?" Fabia blinks at her, denying it; though if Frid had spilled every last word, would she have got him in trouble by saying as much? "Did you bare all your secrets?" She may be three sheets to the wind, but she's exquisitely sensitive to any partner she may have; she noticed Astoria's stiffening, and the deliberate relaxation which followed, and now she spins her out and pulls her in again to the same distance they had between them at the beginning, mending the situation without anyone having to mention it.

"Oh, I thought he might," Astoria replies. "I could not truly tell, but he seemed a little put-off. As I said the other day, it is a bit of taboo magic." She turns in rhythm to the song, but doesn't let herself be stopped short. Astoria resumes the closer position, and is unable to hide a small grin at the result. "Not all my secrets. The poor man probably has enough of those on his plate," she says with a slight wink. "At any rate. Are you curious enough to want to hear more?"

When Astoria ends up so near to her again, by her own choice, after that moment's effort which was required for her to sustain such a position the first time — oh, Fabia's heart melts just a little. She rubs the younger witch's back just once through her robes, in mute recognition of what seems to have been a barrier overcome, while further up her diamonds glitter and her smile is hardly less dazzling. "Oh, sweetie." She pretends to pout. "Of course I'm curious, if you don't mind telling me what all the long words mean!"

Astoria maintains the distance, but not forcibly or with any great measure of care. She blushes again after Fabia speaks, though the red tinge remains primarily along the side of her neck. After lightly shaking her head to remove a bit of stray hair. "I would love to, but perhaps another time," she replies with a gentle smile. The song ends just as Astoria speaks, and she begins to slow. "I really should see about getting home before it gets too late, though," she admits with a sigh.

"Oh, must you? After only one song?" Fabia affects to be put out, but she consents to slow, and releases Astoria's waist, keeping hold only of her hand. There are one or two words still to be said. "But come in one night this week, then, won't you, and we'll have a proper talk… Not Tuesday, though," and she smirks gaily, her gaze flicking across towards Frid, who's deep in conversation with someone over the bar. A thought occurs. "If you come on Wednesday, you can hear the next installment of the shocking tale!"

Astoria keeps hold of Fabia's hand, but comes to a rest as well. "I really should. Sadly. You see, tomorrow I have to work - it is a rather dire necessity. Wednesday will work, though," she agrees easily. The mention of a shocking tale catches her interest, and she nods slowly with a slightly-widened eyes. "I'll see you around eight-thirty?" she remarks, releasing Fabia's hand. "Don't get started too early without me," she adds, grinning despite herself. She takes a step back and a few minutes later heads for the door.

They come; they go — eventually they all go. Fabia watches after her for a moment and then weaves (exquisitely, musically, in her blue velvet and her sables) through the tables, through her thinning assortment of patrons, to her erstwhile seat at the bar and the pretty little box of pale green powder someone was thoughtful enough to send. It's still sitting there. Hmm.

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