(1938-10-29) Peonies
Details for Peonies
Summary: Fabia's plans for dinner with Frid and Ranjit are interrupted by Cooper's curiosity, and Fingal's relaying of the local gossip; the dinner continues, but without Fabia.
Date: October 29th, 1938
Location: The Three Broomsticks, upstairs and down.
Related: Cheesy and Toasty, Goldfish Shoes.

Fabia's Rooms

Upstairs in the Three Broomsticks. A very juicy dinner is on tonight's agenda; for which Fabia Fairfax is dressing with exquisite care and rampant indecision, with Frid on hand doing his best to limit the chaos on the rare occasions it seems advisable to introduce his sensitive eyes into her boudoir.

The rest of the time of course he's on station beside the drinks trolley.

"What time is it, sweetie? Is she generally punctual, your little cheese toastie?" Fabia calls out, from the depths of whichever frock she's testing the merits of this time. She has been calling Ranjit this for several days.

"You know you're reading far more into a chance evening than is entirely necessary," Frid points out, for the ninetieth time. "I have no idea, madam. I have never arranged to meet with her at a specific time."

"Well, sweetie, aren't you glad I did?" Fabia exclaims. "Much less chance of anybody wriggling out of it if there's a definite plan with a time and a place. Oh, this will do, won't it? Oh, zip me up." Her back appears in the doorway; dusky blue velvet opening in a 'V' over ivory satin. "And how could I possibly be reading too much into it, hmm? When the tale is already so sweet, so romantic! And she seems like such a charming girl, really, Frid, you know I'm only too pleased for you." Is that a determined edge of merriment?

Frid closes his eyes for a moment, exhaling, before he gives his employer a polite, if somewhat suffering smile, moving over to zip up the back of her dress. "I don't suppose I could convince you that she isn't really my type, could I?"

Fabia holds in her breath, of course, for the zipping-up, inspired by a certain superstitious horror of having put on a few pounds; and then lets it out in an aggrieved gasp the instant the deed is done, twirling round to face him. "No, you couldn't convince me she's not your type!" she informs him. "Not when she's the only possible example of your type you've ever let me glimpse." A sniff. "Should have thought of that before, shouldn't you, sweetie?" On which note she prances across to her dressing-table to reconsider her choice of earrings.

"In my defence, I think your… exuberance… demonstrates precisely why I do not as a rule make the formal introductions to young ladies I know," Frid tells her haughtily, although there is a faint smile he can't help as she turns away to the dressing table. "If I had any intentions, madam, I'm sure you would have terrified her away!"

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.

Downstairs in the Three Broomsticks. A quiet weekday evening (sans jazz).

In the booth at the end, which is the new proprietress's favourite, three places have been laid with candles, linen and silver slightly better than the pub's usual; and a broad, shallow glass bowl of floating pink peonies.

Fabia Fairfax and her valet come down together, she in rather a muted shade of blue velvet and pearls rather than her habitual diamonds — the only glitter provided by the martini glass already in her hand — they are apparently still bickering about something, or at any rate, she's bickering, and he's rising above it all. "The very idea," she mutters to him, "of me scaring someone off!"

At the appointed time Ranjit enters through the doorway, golden fabric appearing beneath her long woolen coat. She undoes the toggle buttons and shrugs off her coat to reveal her dress. The relative quietude of the pub doesn't appear to be off putting to the healer. "Quality not quantity, Madam Fairfax," she offers kindly, nervously smoothing a hand down the front of her dress.

"The very idea," echoes Frid drily, leaving his employer's side to move to the door to take Ranjit's coat. "Miss Jadu, how do you do. How kind of you to come, despite everything Mrs. Fairfax tried to frighten you away with. Would you care for a drink? I suspect the order of the day may be martinis."

Fabia's mien softens into a welcoming smile at Ranjit's advent; she holds out both hands in the universally-recognised signal for 'now, let me look at you'. "Oh, what a marvelous frock!" she enthuses, coming closer, leaning in to kiss the air above each of the younger woman's cheeks (without even spilling any gin on the marvelous frock in question). "Hello, sweetie. You needn't have a martini if you don't like them," quite the concession, "that's the rather nice thing about living in a pub, one can have really anything one likes, whenever one may happen to like it. Come and sit with me, do please, and Frid will find you a drink. Won't you, Frid? Of course he will."

Ranjit smiles at Frid as she gives him her coat. She steps over and readily accepts Fabia's hands. "Thank you, I haven't worn it in a very long time. I wasn't sure if it would still fit or be fashionable but I wanted to dress up for you." Her gaze drops to the martini glass and Ranjit smiles, "I like martinis, but I am not very keen on the olives so I won't be eating those."

"One martini without olives," Frid affirms, hooking the coat up on a stand and moving behind the bar to begin putting together the appropriate concoction. And, after a glance towards Fabia's glass, making up enough for two.

Her martini glass in one hand and Ranjit more or less in the other, Fabia draws her across to the booth adorned with peonies and ushers her into the side which has two places laid — and then slips in next to her, leaving the single place opposite for Frid. Won't that be nice and comfortable for him?

"Thank you so much for coming," Fabia sighs, sipping her drink, "it's so rare I have the fun of meeting a friend of Frid's. Now, he told me you're a midwife? That must be such very rewarding work to do… How was your day today?"

"How could I not accept such a gracious invitation?" enquires Ranjit. "Especially from such a glamourous individual such as yourself." She winks at Fabia and smooths her dress as she sits. "I also look after infants, children under the age of five who have cases their regular healers cannot handle." As the healer toys with the cutlery her tattoo becomes visible. "Today was my day off however, so I spent it doing mundane things; food shopping and cleaning my flat."

Frid slides an olive-free glass in front of Ranjit, and a glass with three in front of Fabia, smoothly switching out her empty as soon as it hits the table. He gives Fabia a warning look past the healer, retreating to the bar to deposit the empty there, and pours himself a half pint of something.

Oh, how Fabia likes to be told — what she already knows. Beauty may (she acknowledges, occasionally, in the depths of the night) fade, but glamour, she is determined shall be forever. She essays a demurring glance, a little shrug of one shoulder, but you know she doesn't really mean it. You may as well expect a cat to refuse a compliment. "You must have the patience of a saint…" she speculates, and then, catching sight of the tattoo, her hand drifts through the air, till her fingertips hover almost above it. "How pretty," she says interestedly, "may I ask what it is?"

Turning her hand so Fabia can better see it, Ranjit lets her touch the inked writing. "It is Sanskrit, the ancient language from where my ancestors come from. It says Anuugacchati." With her other hand she picks up her drink and after taking a sip of her olive free martini gives Frid a smile of thanks before looking back at Fabia. "It means to let things go, to let it flow a way like water."

Frid takes a sip of his beer while still at the bar, choosing not to interrupt Fabia and Ranjit just yet, delaying the inevitable moment when Fabia starts (or continues, if we're being fair) her fantasy matchmaking service.

One French-manicured fingertip traces the exotic Sanskrit word, after receiving that tacit permission — then withdraws, and Fabia's eyes rise from Ranjit's wrist to her face. "Beautiful," she says, in a manner more subdued than her usual, then shakes her head and eats a meditative olive from her glass. "A thought you like to keep always before you? I should have liked to think you were too young to have so much to let go; but that would be silly, wouldn't it." She lifts her hand slightly, waving to Frid. He's missing out on so much.

"It is a lesson I have had to remind myself of a little too often." Ranjit shifts on the booth seat and says, "You invited me partly to tease poor Frid didn't you? He's a nice man but we really did only have tea together. He even invited me bring other people to the jazz club and I did." She picks up her glass and looks at Fabia over the rim. "But it did amuse me a to tease him a little bit when I was here last."

Frid takes up his drink, steeling himself as he moves over to the pair, dipping his head politely. "May I?" he asks, gesturing to the empty seat, clearly meant for him. "Miss Jadu, I would say how lovely it is to see you again, but I suspect I'd never hear the end of it."

Teasing Frid — why, the very idea…! Fabia touches the rim of her glass to Ranjit's, eyes dancing; then transfers her beaming smile from the young Indian witch, to Frid. "Do, sweetie. Do sit, and tell us just how lovely it is to see Miss Jadu again. In as much detail as you find necessary. I'll wait while you find the proper words. I have such a patient, considerate nature, as you know." Is it possible she's had more martinis tonight than he, personally, has made her? Well, it's always possible

Ranjit cannot help but chuckle, Fabia's amusement is…amusing. She takes another sip of her martini and sets the glass down on the table. "If you were able to speak freely then I would thank you for the compliment, Frid. And please call me Ranjit. You do not need to be so formal, afterall we have shared your umbrella."

"Ranjit," Frid echoes, dipping his head. "Well, then, words cannot possibly express the depths of my joy that you saw fit to grace this humble establishment with your exotic, charming and delightful presence." He gives Fabia a triumphant smirk, lifting his glass for a sip.

"Oh, Frid," his employer sighs reprovingly, "if you adopt a tone you might risk her thinking you insincere."

"I can't win," Frid confides in Ranjit, winking.

"Or can he?" Fabia asks Ranjit brightly.

Her shoulders shaking with laughter, Ranjit curls her fingers around the stem of her glass. "I wasn't aware that I was a prize anyone here was interested in winning."

"Miss Jadu," Frid insists, quirking an easy smile, "of course you are a prize, and one I am certain any gentleman would be honoured to win."

"Sweetie, you should always think of yourself as a prize," Fabia informs her, patting her arm, "and bestow yourself accordingly. No losers, only winners! And Frid," she nods across the bowl of peonies at him, "falls without question into the latter category. Really, if he didn't, I'd have noticed by now, I've a very sharp eye for that sort of thing."

Blushing a little Ranjit sips her drink. "You are both too kind. I am getting the idea that this dinner invitation has become something more complicated." She looks over at Frid and arches a dark brow, "Does this happen often?"

"Any time she gets the opportunity, I fear," Frid admits, shrugging helplessly. "I try my very hardest not to give her the opportunity."

"If only," Fabia murmurs, knocking back a healthy percentage of her martini, and looking with radiant good cheer and determined innocence toward Ranjit. "But do tell us, sweetie, how long you've been in your present profession? What drew you to it? You must be very fond of children, do you hope to have a few of your own one day?"

Ranjit sips her drink and sets her glass down, having not quite finished but drunk a fair bit of it. "I suddenly feel your pain Frid," she commiserates. "It is kind of you to ask Madam Fairfax. I have been a midwife specifically for a year, but started my training after leaving school six years ago." She is older than she likely looks. The question of children has her deflecting, "No children at present, but have you ever had any, Madam Fairfax? You do have that twinkle of sophisticated mischief about you that I recognise from some of my patients."

"Children and grandchildren," Frid informs Ranjit helpfully, possibly just getting his own back a little bit on his employer.

Oh, thank you, Frid, very good of you to field that one. Fabia rolls her eyes at him, and continues speaking just to Ranjit: "Sweetie, you don't know how oddly that strikes one's ears. I'm a Mrs Fairfax, not a Madam Anything, and anyway you must just call me Fabia, almost everyone does. Have you lots of mischievous patients? That must be rather fun — or is it?" She blinks her big green eyes twice, and composes herself in a very listening attitude, obviously just as eager to redirect the other's curiosity and indulge her own.

"Never say so," says Ranjit, expertly feigning shock. "I would never believe it. You have such a delightful figure. You are far too young for grandchildren. Far, far too young." She smiles at Fabia, "Fabia it is. Please call me Ranjit." She turns the knife over on the table, idly toying with it. "Women in the throes of labour can be very demanding and some of those demands can cause problems. But the most mischievous patients are usually the ones who have things stuck on them or in them and no plausible excuse what so ever."

"Oh, you are sweet; it's true my eldest grandbaby is only three years old…" Fabia murmurs, and why not? Plenty of still quite youngish women have grandbabies who are practically infants. (In truth the boy is four and a half, but his grandmama's command of dates has been resolutely inaccurate her entire life…) And then, as Ranjit touches upon the subject of the sorts of things she has to deal with — a slow, appreciative, utterly filthy smile washes over her face. "Of course," she says wistfully, "I had such a good excuse— Frid, sweetie, why don't you go and see how our dinner is coming along?"

Frid escapes. No other word for it.

Then Fabia leans in a little closer to Ranjit. "Oh, do tell me, what sort of implausible excuses?" she giggles.

"Ah, well let's see," says Ranjit leaning back in the booth so that she can cross her legs beneath the table. "When I was a junior apprentice we had a man come in with a cauldron shrunk to the size of his head. Unfortunately it was over his head. I should have realised then, as it was my first day, that life as a healer would never be dull." She watches Frid's quick departure with amusement and then looks at Fabia, "The man's wife had cast the shrinking charm."

Whilst Ranjit speaks Fabia eats the other two olives from her martini, smirking somewhat at the delightful image conjured, as it were, up in her mind. "What an interesting commentary upon their domestic life!" she remarks. "I wish I'd thought of trying it. Oh, what else? Do tell me something quite dreadful."

Ranjit leans in, lowering her voice as she says to Fabia, "Some people really do put their wands in the most unusual places." She pulls a face as if that might give a clue of the type of orifices the staff at St Mungo's have had to remove wands from. "Who doesn't want a lover to say it was magical? But really, that is taking things too far."

You honestly cannot tell Cooper that the Three Broomsticks has a jazz playing piano and not expect her to travel from afar to come see it. The loose figure of her dowdy, oversized coat and cloche hat appear outside the establishment's doors suddenly from a plum of white smoke, and the woman stands outside there for a moment to pluck the cigarette from her mouth before tossing it to the side. A cough and then she steps through the door, eyes wide as she has a look at the place from behind her thick frames. "Blimey, I cannot believe this," her bright smile curling with delight as she walks toward the bar, hesitantly looking for some service.

Fabia is always happy to lean in very close for the confidential exchange of gossip. She does so now, her henna'd head almost touching Ranjit's dark one; surely a terrifying spectacle for Frid, if he happens to glimpse them from afar. "Wands," she breathes. "I never thought of trying that either. Well, how could I have? I spent all my life with Muggles, and my wand in a box. God, and I thought I'd done it all. I need a drink. May I finish yours?" She annexes the little that's left in Ranjit's glass, after the briefest pro forma interval during which the younger witch might, in theory, have lodged a protest; then waves the empty in the direction of the bar, assuming the wenches behind it will get the message. It's a familiar one by now, isn't it? It ought to be.

The bar wench known as Tessa (this may or may not be her real name) waves to her employer to acknowledge receipt of the message; but first, there's an actual paying customer. "What can I get you, love?" she asks Cooper.

Ranjit slides her glass over to Fabia, "It happens far more often than people know. We don't tend to advertise it, but well, we do sometimes take photos to amuse ourselves." She grins a little and turns her head to glance towards the bar before looking back at Fabia. "You spent a lot of time with muggles then. I spent several years married to one, well a muggle born wizard. He tended to not use magic either, preferred other methods. Confidence scams mainly it turns out."

Tongue stabbing at her cheek, Cooper leans against the bar pondering over her drink of choice. Her blue eyes scan the room for some ideas, until they stop at Fabia and Ranjit and with no effort at polite discretion, the blonde sticks her arm out to point in their direction. "That," she says indicating the martini glass. And then a pause before she leans in to Tessa, eyes narrowing and interrogating her with, "Do you even know what that is?!" She's keen on quizzing the staff to see if they really know their stuff or if they're blindly serving muggle delicacies. My god, Cooper thought she'd die before she saw a martini in the Three Broom Sticks. Someone slap her!

Fabia's hand is immediately upon Ranjit's arm again, rubbing it gently. "Oh, sweetie," she says, with a slight, sympathetic shake of her head. "I was married to a Muggle myself," ah, how gin loosens the lips, "for rather long than several years, though in the end he preferred little blondes… There's a marvelous cure for men like that; it's men like Frid."

"That?" Tessa shrugs. "Well, that's generally three parts gin to one part dry vermouth, very well shaken, three olives," she answers, with a small sigh, heaving a fresh bottle of Madam's personal gin up onto the counter. "Would you like one too?" Suddenly there's a jigger in her hand; and she's measuring the liquor rather precisely into a crystal and aluminium cocktail shaker.

"Blondes? How clichéd. My ex-husband preferred to gamble and leave me with debts, I think I'd prefer if he had left me with a blonde instead." Patting Fabia's hand as it rests on her arm Ranjit says, "I hardly think I am Frid's type, but I thank you for being so sweet. He made it quite clear our evening out was not his way of trying to be alone with me."

There's still disbelief in those eyes of Cooper's and not relenting her skepticism she remains perched forward and with a challenging air in her voice she says, "Then make it." And from the ill fitting jacket pocket, she slaps her a coin on the bar top like an old western for in her head she's in a stand off with the barmaid. That is, until she senses the rather animated talking behind her and Cooper swivels her head around a moment to catch a glimpse of the two ladies. "Are they patrons or is the actual owner around here?" she thumbs in their direction.

"Oh, sweetie," Fabia says for the nth time, dropping into one of her lowest, most discreet tones when she sees the woman who has just come in peering in their direction, "he tried to tell me you weren't his type either, but men don't know what they want unless you let them know what they ought to want. If you really do like him, you ought to try. And for goodness' sake say and I'll— I'll—" What will she do? Saints preserve them both from what this woman might take it into her head to do. "Well, I'll send him to London more often, for a start," she promises, "and try not to tease him quite so much about what he might be doing there. Really, you mustn't think I'm jealous of him, it isn't like that at all." It's just a tiny, tiny bit like that.

It may be Madam's personal gin, but she's free enough with it, and Cooper seems ready and willing to pay — Tessa doubles the quantity, and pours the extra-dry Martini & Rossi in after it. Shaking along the horizontal, rather than the vertical, axis, for she has been informed that this is the way to get the best friction with the ice, she nods across to the booth on the end. "The new owner's Mrs Fairfax, old Mr Travers's widow. That's her with the very red hair."

"Perhaps," suggests Ranjit, "he might just have meant it. He seems a very private person, Fabia." She nods towards the empty glass, "Do you think the bar girl might give us a refill? I am suddenly quite thirsty." Parched even. "Jealous? Why would you be jealous?"

At which point Frid steps in, pausing on his way back from the kitchen with three plates. "Can I help you with something, madam?" he asks of Cooper, looking her over suspiciously. "Mrs. Fairfax is engaged at present."

Fabia lifts her hand from Ranjit's arm and waves it vaguely. "Oh, people sometimes think things — a woman, with a man for a servant — but never, I assure you." And then, "Blast, I can't remember whether I signalled for one drink or two. Well, Tessa will sort it out, she's quite clever, really, certainly the best of the lot at making all the new cocktails I've taught them. He is a private sort of man, but even the most private men need the occasional friend," she's on Frid again now, "and… oh, there he is. I hope you don't mind, I ordered the dinner without asking you. The kitchen can be a little hit-and-miss. I haven't known yet quite who to keep and who to fire. Very tricky."

Cooper's eyes follow Tessa's hands. Solid technique. She approves, and therefore slides the coin forward. "Widow?" the auror raises a brow and tilts her head, "Didn't even know Mr. Travers was ever married." And from the kitchen doors someone walks through and to address her. Automatically, Cooper's eye-level is about in line Frid's chest, but when she realizes the man blooms to a full six feet or more, she cranes her chin upward. "I'm merely an admiring customer wishing to meet the new management," she gives Frid her cheesiest charming smile, and her cloche hat is removed from so that a lumpy mess of blonde hair sits atop her head. "If she shan't be free anytime soon I'd hate to disrupt her. Only…is it always this slow this time of evening?" If she recalls anything from her youth it was always packed.

"I am certain that whatever comes out of the kitchen will be far nicer than whatever I would be having otherwise," Ranjit assures Fabia. "I am not the best cook, though I do try not to poison myself if possible." She glances over at the bar, taking in the sight of Frid and Cooper. "I never imagined that your relationship with Frid was anything but professional. Dalliances with the help never end well and don't inspire the kind of loyalty he shows you. Even when we met he was the epitome of discretion."

Having vetted her in the space of a few sentences, Frid dips his head, still balancing the plates in his hand. "It is rather more busy when the students are out, we find. Shall I inform Mrs. Fairfax that you wish to pay your compliments, madam?"

Tessa has placed one perfect dry martini (dry in the 1930s sense) before Cooper; she takes the other across to the booth at the end, for her employer, and, finding two empty martin glasses, Fabia's and Ranjit's, takes them both away with her and gives the women a look which means she'll be back soon with one more.

"I don't really think of Frid as 'the help'," Fabia admits, saluting Tessa's retreating figure with her martini, "but I'm glad you see. He's so valuable in his present capacity, I'd have to be the most tremendous fool who ever lived even to consider risking it… And I'm not quite such a fool as that." She sips, and makes the mildly ecstatic face she always makes upon her initial acquaintance with a brand-new martini. "Anyway, I've… other arrangements at present. How curious," she whispers, eyeing Cooper, "I wonder who that woman is?"

Cooper scratches her chin with interest and then pushes her thick glasses up on her nose, "I see." But at Frid's offer, her face brightens and with a nod she smiles and says, "Yes. That would be capital if you could skitter over and tell her at her earliest convenience." She wiggles her fingers to walk across the air like two legs when she uses the word 'skitters'. Is she hitting on him? She might be hitting on him. Just a weeeee bit. Tall men have always held a remarkable sway with her. "Thank you, miss. Keep the change," Cooper scoops up the martini glass with strangely good finesse for someone who dresses so frumpily.

"Ah, that," says Ranjit, clearly in the know, "Is one of the ministry's finest. She's frequently in the hospital and not because there are wands in unpleasant places. I've never had her in my ward, just in case you were wondering." Her gaze returns to Frid and lingers just a little too long but then she looks back at Fabia, "You're right, help was not the right word despite how helpful I am certain he is."

Frid dips his head ever so politely, faint smile playing at the corner of his lips. "Of course, madam," he responds, before moving over to the table in the corner to set down the meals. "Mrs. Fairfax, one of the customers would like to be introduced. At your convenience, of course," he adds hurriedly, the thought only just hitting him that she's just going to think he's trying to get Ranjit alone.

"*Is* she," Fabia breathes, eyeing Cooper's ill-fitting clothes, her forgettable face, her pale and untidy hair. Wonders do never cease, it's true… And then there are plates upon the table, all round the bowl of floating pink peonies she arranged with her own hands this evening before going up to dress, and Frid leaning down to speak to her, which means she can't say any more about him. "The girl in the — coat?" she says, politely, from within her own dusky blue velvet and three rows of quite large, quite real pearls. "Do bring her over, sweetie, I'm almost as curious about her as I am about your—" She stops herself in time.

The ministry's finest is currently leaning roughly against the bar, still skeptically sipping at her martini. It's undeniably good but Merlin be damned, she won't admit it immediately. Not after all that interrogation. At one point, she's a bit sloppy with it, and a bit gin seeps out of the corner of her mouth. Embarassed, Cooper hastily sets down her glass to have a bit spill on her hand. And with no napkin near her, she resorts to the end of her lumpy sweater, dabbing at her mouth before wiping her hands on her pants and looking around to see if anyone saw her mess up.

"She is indeed. Please go meet her or invite her over. I don't mind." Ranjit reaches for her own drink and takes a healthy sip. "The more the merrier."

"Of course, madam," Frid responds promptly, straightening and returning to Cooper. "Mrs. Fairfax sends her compliments, and asks if you would care to join her, ma'am."

The dinner Fabia has ordered is fresh-caught trout, lightly grilled, with some sort of very fragrant butter and an assortment of vegetables; not quite pub fare, but simple enough that the kitchen could do it well. She unfolds her napkin into her lap, but seems more interested in the current martini (Tessa has just brought Ranjit another, too) than in putting anything in her stomach which isn't an olive. "You're so sweet," she says to Ranjit.

Cooper finishes cleaning off her gin hand when Frid arrives. And giving him a sheepish smile she scoops up her drink and says, "Many thanks, erm sir…" No name tag, no introduction. So she gives him and awkward half-head bow, half-curtsy before weaving her way over to Fabia and co. "Miss Fairfax. A Pleasure. I'm Genevieve Cooper," another odd half curtsy and then a hand extended for the shake. The gin hand. "I haven't been here since I was a young girl going to Hogwarts. Never found a reason to come back until recently when I heard of the few changes made. Sorry if I'm disrupting your dinner with—" Cooper looks at Ranjit as if something suddenly lodged itself in her throat. There's an uncomfortable tingle on the back of her neck, "…your friend. Although it's a pleasure to meet her as well."

Sipping her martini, Ranjit watches the introductions between Fabia and Cooper. When Cooper suddenly gives her an odd look the Indian witch smiles, "Please join us, there looks to be quite a lot of food and I'm sure Frid would rather run away than dine with us but I doubt Fabia will let him." She sets her glass down and places her napkin over her lap.

"I assure you, Miss Jadu, nothing would please me more than joining you both for supper," Frid insists with a slight smile. "Shall I put something on the gramophone?"

When meeting someone new, everything is turned up to a higher level. Fabia beams at Cooper, offering her hand (well-lined by age, long-fingered, exquisitely soft, French-manicured, laden with diamonds). "Such a delight to make your acquaintance, Miss Cooper," she says brightly, in an upper middle class sort of voice; perhaps not born to the noblesse, but capable of faking it. "But do call me Fabia, everyone does. I'm so glad you've come back to the Broomsticks after a long time away; in truth, I've done the same myself. Won't you join us? Frid, sweetie, will you have another plate sent over? And do put something on the gramophone, something jaunty; it feels suddenly as though we're having a party!"

"A party, eh?" Fingal says as he enters, looking cheerful at the sound of it. "Just what we need!" He approaches the others, taking a table seat near to them.

Oh my! What soft hands his woman has. Cooper resists the urge to molest the hand that is feeding her. "That's very kind of you, Miss Fairfax - er Fabia," Cooper pulls off her coat and drapes it on the back of a chair to reveal a better view of her lumpy red sweater, also oversized. "…Healer Jadu, isn't it. I'm afraid I've seen you before around Mungo's," the woman sits down at a seat, warily and subtly scooting her chair just an inch away from Ranjit. Healers aren't always her best friends. "In the infant care ward if i'm not mistaken…" Turning back to Fabia she says, "I merely wanted to come by and admire the place. You're quite intrepid for making such an improvement given the political climate around here now a-days."

Frid dips his head once more. "Please," he offers Cooper, gesturing to his place, and his yet untouched supper, before disappearing once more towards the kitchen to rustle up another meal of some sort. There is a brief burst of blue language, oddly filtered as the door swings open and closed on its hinges, from the kitchen, no doubt from an irritated chef.

"Doesn't it just. A bit of verbal chess never hurt anyone." She sips her drink, gaze following Fingal as he sits nearby, the older gentleman is given a polite smile. Cooper speaks to her and she nods, "Yes, though I am not at work. Please call me Ranjit. I'm a midwife in any case so you won't be needing my services anytime soon from the looks of you." Chunky jumper and all.

The presence of Fingal in the pub prompts the usual inexplicable disquiet in Fabia; after retrieving her hand from Cooper's grasp, in no particular hurry, she nods to this gentleman she was at school with, smiles courteously enough, but then fiddles with the napkin lying in her lap and frankly gulps her martini, her fourth of the evening, caring not whether her trout cools upon its plate. "I'm afraid I don't know much about the political climate," she says to Cooper, apologetically, "I suppose you're talking about the piano; but anywhere I live must have a piano, and what a bother it would have been to get it up the stairs! Better here, surely, where anyone who fancies a song can enjoy it…"

Fingal nods toward the others. "A pleasure to meet you, Ranjit," he says to her. "I'm Fingal Macmillan." He glances toward Fabia, looking a bit concerned. "Well, I don't consider myself much of a political person, but… I've heard some rumors around, about why some people have stopped coming here." He shrugs, shaking his head. "Doesn't make much difference to me of course. This place has changed, but… well, it's still the closest to home."

Settling in Frid's spot, Cooper raises her brows and with a nervous giggle says, "Oh heavens I hope not! I try to have a steel barrier over my womb." She pats a hand over her belly where her uterus would be. "Though I'm not too fond of my healer, so if you could recommend someone who handles…such things then I'd be more than willing to entertain other options." She's trying hard to be polite, but completely forgetting that fact that it isn't polite to talk about birth control at the table. Blinking, she noticing the curb in volume to the otherwise extravagant Fabia. Looking between she and Fingal, she questions, "You are well acquainted … I take it?"

Ranjit glances between Fabia and Fingal. The tricky thing about healers is they are sharp, trained to notice things. But not wanting to make her hostess feel uncomfortable the witch doesn't mention anything merely nods politely to Fingal, "A pleasure, sir." Instead it is Cooper who wades in there, amusing Ranjit a little. Unlike Fabia she is famished and willing to eat. "This looks delicious Fabia. My compliments to the chef." Nobody likes cold food and no chef wants their food eaten in a state different than the one they presented it in.

Frid returns not too long afterwards, not with a beautifully presented trout, but… well, he's made himself a sandwich. Carrying it on a plate first over towards the gramophone, he flicks through the records there until he finds something suitable, setting the needle on it and letting it play quietly across the pub.

There is little Fabia Fairfax won't discuss at the dinner table. She nods sympathetically to Cooper, endorsing her steel barrier, a very sensible precaution for a young woman with her way to make in the world; she nods to Ranjit, too, accepting the compliment upon the food she's still only toying with herself, having run her knife along the trout and separated a bite or two but left them where they're lying upon her plate. Fingal's words, now, those leave her torn, between her wish to have a charming little party upon which no inauspicious thoughts may intrude, and — her curiosity… "I wonder what you've heard, Mr Macmillan?" she asks at last. "I know there are a few people who don't care for the music, but they'd be welcome just to put on something of their own instead; and beyond that, I don't see what there is to object to… Unless it's me." She pours most of the rest of her martini down her throat; and flashes a tense smile at Frid, as the needle in his fingers touches the record. It's a favourite of hers, a lovely little Duke Ellington tune. "And I don't see what I can do about that. I'm a half-blooded bastard, I've always been a half-blooded bastard; there's no changing it at this late date."

Fingal backs off from the table, looking a bit uncomfortable with the feminine matters that Cooper speaks of. "Er… in a sense," he says to her when she questions his relationship with Fabia, relieved to have something else to talk about. "We hadn't seen each other in a long time, until she took charge here," he explains. "Er… well… I've merely heard that some people object to… the somewhat 'Mugglish' character of the changes going on at this place," he says, turning to Fabia. "As I said… I'm not much for politics, but… it's something that's been talked about around town."

Frid weaves his way back towards the booth, setting his sandwich plate down on the table and looking Fingal over, hands folding behind his back. He doesn't actually say anything, choosing merely to look for now, although there is a brief, questioning glance towards Fabia.

"Certainly delicious, much better than what I would have had at home, " Cooper adds to the compliment, feasting her eyes on the meal before her. And music! Oh the music! How it pleases her so to hear Duke at a wizarding establishment. "I care for the music, very much so. I adore," the auror mentions with intentions of bolstering Fabia not realizing where the conversation was going and taking a sip of her drink. But when blood purities and what not bring up a more tense air around the group, Cooper's big blues continue to look between Fingal and Fabia, this time taking a much heftier sip. This time she whispers perhaps in the direction of Ranjit, "Well…this is awkward." Trust Cooper to call it out.

For her part Fabia looks at Frid as though he were a life-raft personified, as though she'd much rather be on his side of the table than Ranjit's; but it's too late to change… She finishes her drink, waves the glass impatiently in the hope of catching Tessa's eye and obtaining another (Tessa commences to oblige), and with nothing else to do with her hands attacks her trout with sudden determination. She eats three tiny bites of it very quickly, then sets her knife and fork neatly in parallel with one another; they make an oddly nervous clatter against the edge of the plate. "I can't help what people think," she says, with a sideways glance at Fingal, "or what they choose to dislike… Really, I've done almost nothing, I haven't even touched the curtains after Madam Tabitha said I oughtn't, and, good God, just look at them." She pushes the plate away; it bumps into the dish of floating peonies in the middle of the table. They look a trifle wilted now; so does she. "I'm going upstairs, do forgive me," she says quietly, folding her napkin and dropping it on the table. She looks at Frid again, and then looks away; her big green eyes fix upon Genevieve Cooper, sitting next to him, and a measure of hope inhabits them. "Miss Cooper, sweetie, will you come up with me? I have some records I think you'd adore… and cigarettes. I don't know about you, but I'm gasping for a cigarette."

As Ranjit eats she listens to the conversation drift towards politics and begins to look around. She nods in agreement with Cooper just moments before Fabia claims the auror for her upstairs company. Ranjit's brows draw together when she realises she has been left with Frid and what was supposed to be a dinner with Fabia has now clearly turned into an awkward date-non-date with Fabia's handsome but very private and subdued valet. The healer knocks back the rest of her martini with aplomb and gives Frid a wan smile. "Pardon me, I just need to nip to the ladies…" and maybe apparate home. Without her coat.

There's no better way to get through a strange situation than to eat through it! And Cooper, not having such a grand meal since forever, was quite looking forward to this one. A fork at the ready, she prepares to dig in until she is requested upstairs. Oh but now she's torn! What to do! Fabia has such a commanding presence, and Cooper can't say no to records, cigarettes, and most of all the elderly! "I um…okay!" but quickly, she stuffs a bunch of trout in her mouth. "If you will excuse me," she mumbles out with a full trap and grabs her sad excuse of a coat to follow Fabia.

"Oh, bring your plate if you like," Fabia murmurs to Cooper as an afterthought, "it's only upstairs," and she smiles with that same deliberate courtesy at Fingal: "Good evening, Mr Macmillan. I hope you enjoy your drink, and please put on any music you like."

Then she puts her hand through Cooper's arm (the one which isn't engaged in picking up her plate), and leads her around the bar and through the Staff Only door, pausing only to snag her latest martini straight from Tessa's hands. Bottoms up!

Oh in that case, Cooper instantly swipes the plate with her freehand and is hastily pulled alongside of Fabia, who is oddly strong for a lady her age. Her martini is left behind for she believes there will likely be more drinks upstairs. Leaving the consumer world of the Three Broomsticks behind, she ventures off with the landlady to personal territory. All the while, watching the woman in concern over her sudden flight. "Is everything alright…ma'am?" the blonde auror asks step by step with the woman. …

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