(1938-11-05) A Gerbera Is a Gerbera Is a Gerbera
Details for A Gerbera Is a Gerbera Is a Gerbera
Summary: Fabia and Astoria have a drink together; are interrupted by Cooper; certain misinterpretations arise, and are duly quashed.
Date: November 5th, 1938
Location: The Three Broomsticks
Related: References are made to events in Distractions and Phantasm. Also, this is continued almost directly from A Horrible Mistake.

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.

Soon after Astoria leaves Frid's booth (the man must be permitted a little time to himself) and sets up at a table of her own, a pint of ale arrives upon it: deposited by the manicured hand of Fabia Fairfax. The foam drips on her finger as she lets go; she licks it off impatiently, and wipes one hand with the other, giving a sigh and a lift of her eyes. The perils of pub proprietry.

She leans her hip on the edge of the table (it being rather in advance of dinnertime she's attired still informally, Scottishly, in slate grey flannel trousers, which fit snugly about her most notable asset but loosen as they approach her shoes, and an ivory satin blouse, with the tails of its long bow hanging outside her turquoise, ivory, and black Argyll sweater), and smiles down at Astoria. "You looked as though you could use a little something, sweetie."

Astoria startles slightly - conspiracy has a way of making one nervous - before she realizes just who has arrived at her table. "Oh, my," she says, letting her hand raise to her chest. She breathes a sigh of relief and smiles a little. "Thank you!" she adds a moment later, voice a little high. "You seem to have read my mind. Would you care to join me?"

"Oh! If you like. They don't really need me behind the bar at present." It's not a bad evening, but nor could it be said that rush hour is truly rushing. Fabia pats the table; "I'll just fetch my drink," she says, and her lithe trousered figure trots in behind the bar and then out again with the inevitable martini.

She sits down at a right angle to Astoria, drawing her chair close, as she often does when she means to chat with someone in particular — there's nothing in it, one way or the other. "You looked awfully cosy with Frid when I put my head round the door earlier," she remarks companionably. "Dare one ask?"

Astoria nods after Fabia speaks, and awaits her return while sipping the drink. She bobs a foot up and down in the meantime, at least until Fabia is situated, and then grins. "Oh, nothing too exciting. I think he is fond of company who is decent at shooting the breeze, as it were. Nothing too serious, nothing too light." She takes another sip of ale. "Although, he keeps insisting on serving me - even on his day off. A consummate professional, that man. I envy you."

There's something off in Astoria's manner, or so Fabia's expert eye for people informs her; some mismatch between her words and her eyes; but perhaps it could be accounted for by some reaction to meeting again, fully-dressed, a person with whom she was quite enjoyably unclothed several nights ago. These things can be a little awkward, if one doesn't do them so very much… "Well, you certainly can talk, sweetie," Fabia agrees, smiling faintly over her martini glass as she takes another sip. How to put her a touch more at ease? "I am lucky, though, aren't I? Frid never seems to think about whether it's his night off, or if something is strictly speaking one of his duties — if he sees that a thing needs doing, why, he does it. And, of course, you know he'll always be tremendously discreet about anything he hears. The perfect servant."

A plume of white smoke appears out of thin air outside the Three Broomsticks and from it emerges a blonde Auror in her familiar dowdy attire and thick glasses. As she always does, she stands outside in the evening air, casually finishing her cigarette which she apparated with none the less. This evening, she has a bouquet of flowers tucked under her arm. She's put on some nicer trousers for once and found a less lumpy sweater. It's almost like she's on her way to a hot date! Once the butt of her cigarette is reached, Cooper chucks it across the road and opens the door to meet the dinner rush. This time she knows who she's looking for and makes a beeline right to Fabia's table. Pushing her thick glasses up the slope of her nose. "Evening. Might I speak to the lady of the establishment?" she smiles teasingly, unknowingly interrupting a perhaps escalating moment.

"Yes, I was just thinking that the other day," Astoria says with a nod. "You know, when I was a little girl my mother inherited a house elf. He was a rather detestable creature, and still is. I think he rather put me off of the idea of servants," Astoria explains. "Ugh, that little /minion/. Frid, however… Well, he is preferable in every facet. Do not mistake me for a gawking, bored woman - but I -" and then there's Cooper. Astoria looks up at the woman, a sudden frown touching her expression while her eyes (and other features) narrow considerably. Astoria seems content to study, for the moment.

As Fabia looks up at the bespectacled new arrival, her gently friendly expression is transfigured into a broad and sudden smile. "Oh, Cooper, sweetie! How lovely to see you again! Did you get home all right the other day?" She glances across at Astoria and, after a further gulp of her martini, utters a slightly garbled introduction. "Astoria, this is Miss Something Cooper — apparently her first name doesn't matter — the ministry's finest, or so I hear. Cooper, Miss Astoria Bletchley, more or less of the Daily Prophet."

Cooper's own warm grin radiates from cheek to cheek, rather looking forward to seeing the woman. She removes the cloche hat from atop her head, letting her messy mane show its true self. "I got home perfectly fine, seeing as I've come home in a much worse state in the past. But I must say it was all due to a wonderful nights rest. Thank you so kindly for letting me sleep over, the only way you could have made me more comfortable is if you had spared me an extra nighty to sleep in!" She then offers the bouquet of flowers to Fabia. Gerbera. All red. "My most favorite flowers in return for quite a wonderful night!" A blue eye winks to the older woman and she turns to Astoria as they're introduced. If there is some suspicion laced in the journalist's features, Cooper doesn't seem to be able to tell. "Ahh, a Daily Prophetess! How wonderful and exciting, I almost went down that career path as well. Always a pleasure to meet a friend of a friend Miss Bletchley. Genevieve Cooper's the full name, but Cooper will do just fine. I'm not interrupting a dinner or anything am I?"

Astoria listens quietly to the exchange between the two women. Her left eyebrow raises, as if a measure of her own suspicion, and as Cooper mentions a nighty Astoria's eyes close for a brief moment. She composes herself rapidly, expression icing into a rather closed facade of forced politeness. "Yes, how wonderful," Astoria agrees, tone crisp and sharp, and not without a taste of something cold; perhaps it's a twist of her lips, or narrowed eyes. Or both! "It is a pleasure to meet you, Cooper," she adds. The final question is answered with a gesture to the table, and, "Do join us," spoken in the same crisp, chilly tone.

Of course Fabia has been eyeing the red gerberas ever since Cooper hove into view, naturally assuming any floral tributes in the vicinity are destined for her hands… "Well, sweetie, once you were asleep, you were asleep; I didn't like to wake you just to see whether my pyjamas were your size," she murmurs, apologetically but with a giggle in her voice; and then she receives the flowers with an attitude of delicious surprise, putting down her martini to take the bouquet in both hands. "Oh, thank you! You're so kind… I do love the colour. So red. They'll be very pretty on my dressing-table."

The shift in Astoria's tone when she addresses Cooper, is a deafening alarm bell to Fabia, who looks across at the 'prophetess' with suddenly cautious green eyes. She'd like to separate them, but how to do it gracefully, when the invitation has been uttered, in whatever a spirit? "Yes, do sit down, if you have a moment," she urges Cooper; "we're not dining. Only a little drink."

With a sigh of resignation, Cooper merely shrugs placing her hat back on her head. "Yes, well I suppose we'll just have to see the next time I come over for another delightful evening," she replies brightly after re-inviting herself for another slumberfest. "Perhaps you'd even consider coming to my flat. I've got a bit of a record collection that I haven't listened to with anyone in a while, along with a bottle of port that I haven't touched for an even longer time than that!" The blonde auror seems to be quite pleased with Fabia's appreciation for the floral and advises, "Daisies tend to last far longer than roses so long as you keep them in water."

But my! What is this chill in the air! How it nips and bites at Cooper so! Seeing as she's only met Astoria's acquaintance, she automatically assumes that it is not her but perhaps the weather. "Are you feeling well Miss Bletchley? You look pale and uneasy," she inquires, but at the invitation to join the Auror modestly puts her hands up with a grin. "Oh no, I merely came by to drop off the gerberas! I've got to get up bright and early tomorrow." To think the woman would make a trip all the way from London for a "casual" visit. Sure it's a simple apparition away, but it's still a journey!

Astoria's eyebrow arches farther and she tilts her head slightly to the side when Cooper mentions another delightful evening. Her gaze, this time, is settled on Fabia, who has apparently been revealed as quite the, erm, - something. "That is quite a shame," Astoria remarks, tone unchanged. "And thank you for asking, but I am quite well. The cold weather has never agreed with my skin," she explains. A moment later she takes a drink of ale.

Another sidelong look at Astoria; and Fabia concentrates upon the allegedly departing Cooper. "Ohhh," she sighs, looking up wide-eyed, her arms full of red daisies, "then that really was sweet of you, to come out of your way just to… We mustn't keep you, though it would be a pleasure. Another time, then. I'd adore to visit you in London; I seem to be there quite often, what with one thing and another, staying in hotels, even though I live here now. We must talk again soon — do promise you'll pop in when you can, or send me an owl!" She quirks an eyebrow, as though this strikes her as a novelty. And then she looks across to Astoria again, the brilliance of her gaze softening into concern. "What a pest for you, then, coming up to Scotland, if the cold disagrees with you so. Maybe we ought to have a drink in London, too, one evening."

"Oh it was no trouble at all. It's good to have a change of scenery if not for a short while," Cooper nods, pushing her specks up again. "And yes, you're always welcome into my home in London should you ever need accommodations. Or even a nighty!" She laughs at her own joke like a dork, and then pushes the cloche had further on her head. And to poor sickly-looking Astoria, Cooper pouts sympathetically, "Yes, cold weather has never been kind to anyone. A few more sips of your drink and you'll be nice and rosy then. Again, quite a pleasure to meet you. You both take care." Her fingers expertly slip a cheap cigarette out of her pocket which is then held in her mouth while she lights up. And prancing easily past the dinner crowd, she exits back into the night hair, exhales a puff and then poof! She's gone.

Astoria waits until Cooper has departed before turning sharply towards Fabia, eyes quite keen. "You told me you didn't sleep with women," Astoria says, voice a little low. "Not that I mind. Our evening together was enjoyable. But… oh!" she fumes, lips thinning. Whatever she was going to say is cut off by silence, and a glare that finds the wall. Something about flowers may be muttered.

Fabia blinks. She sets the flowers down upon the table, and reaches for her martini, leaning close to Astoria to murmur, "Is *that* what's got you into such a mood?"

"Well, yes," Astoria replies. "Of course one expects lies and half-truths on occasion, but - oh, to hell with it. I loathe being made to look like a fool, Fabia. You could have very well told me you fancied women. It is not as though it is a crime." Whatever the reason for her sudden frigidness, it apparently does not end. Her arms cross and her expression narrows just a touch more.

First Fabia knocks back the remainder of her martini, in her usual daredevil, semi-alcoholic style. Then she leans an inch or two closer, her words pitched for Astoria's ears alone, barely reaching them even so. She's smiling, on purpose, lest the people around them in the pub — near, but, thank God, not too near — think this moment as serious as it is. "If you feel a fool, it's your own concern, Astoria. I don't know that it's your business who I sleep with, any more than it's mine who you sleep with; but Cooper had too much to drink and spent the night on my sofa. You were the first woman I had, by herself, without a man there, in rather a long time. Are you satisfied to know it?"

Astoria sits quietly, expression quite keen and still narrowed, as Fabia explains. It softens… slowly. Her eyes widen, her frown straightens, and her brows unknit. "Well," she begins, her tone having lost the icy edge, though it is still quite sharp. "Well, I see how- oh, nevermind," she says while leaning forward. Astoria rubs her brow, and along the bridge of her nose. "Ugh. Don't look at me. I am too embarrassed." A pause. "But don't go away, either," she adds quite suddenly.

Terribly gentle, terribly understanding, Fabia smiles. "I won't go away," she promises, first of all; then she leans back and lifts her martini glass to her lips to look for a few final drops, which are slow in sinking down into her mouth, giving both women time to think. She sets the glass down again, its depths truly plundered, and leans toward Astoria to murmur, soothingly, "It's all right. It's all all right. It was very pleasant, you know, I liked it very much; but I consider you under no obligation… Don't be embarrassed, sweetie, these things do happen."

Astoria rubs the bridge of her nose for several moments before composing herself. She takes a long drink of ale afterwards, and sets the glass aside with a quiet thump upon the table. "Well, I owe you an apology, at the very least. I thought you were, well, I don't know. Ashamed, or some other silly conclusion. It isn't you, it's— well, we needn't get into that. Fabia, I apologize. Really, yes, it was wonderful. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I suppose I am rather on edge for some reason - and now I'm carrying on." She forces herself to smile and takes another long drink from her ale. Afterwards, she adds, "What was I saying? Oh, yes. I'm not sure why I reacted the way I did. You will forgive me, won't you?"

"There's nothing at all to forgive," Fabia promises her, generously, warm-heartedly, touching her hand just once (very lightly) where it rests on the edge of the table, after putting down the glass of ale. "I just hope if you meet me one day with a gentleman admirer, you won't be quite so stern," and she bites off a giggle, holding her lower lip for an instant between her teeth. "A good man is hard to find and so easy to scare away." She nods to the ale. "On the house, of course, as I brought it to you."

"Oh, I'm not really the jealous type," Astoria assures her, "despite… this. Really. I just - oh, let's not talk about it anymore. Ugh, how embarrassing," Astoria raises a hand (the non-patted one) to her face again and rubs her brow. She emerges a moment later to say, "Oh, thank you. I really should pay, and that reminds me - did you get my letter?"

"Oh, well, if you really want to pay, I suppose I shouldn't argue; Frid wouldn't like it if I argued…" Fabia makes an amused little face. "Oh, the letter about your friend who wanted to talk about—? … Well, yes, I did get it. I might send her an owl, I don't see the harm in it, really. Sweetie, are you all right? You should sit for a while if you like… As long as you like. Don't worry about anything. You're too pretty to worry." She rises from her chair and pats the top of Astoria's head, just once, her fingers almost clasping a handful of the other woman's dark hair but then lifting away. "Take care of yourself, sweetie, and do come in again. Don't worry about a thing."

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