(1938-11-05) A Horrible Mistake
Details for A Horrible Mistake
Summary: Frid and Astoria discuss saccharine powder, Phil, Fabia, and come to a potentially horrible arrangement.
Date: November 5, 1938
Location: Three Broomsticks
Related: Plot: Saccharine Powder

Clearly it's Frid's evening to himself. You can tell by the way he's sitting over in a booth, rather than overseeing the bar, and by the fact that he's actually taken off his jacket, which is hanging up by the door. Just in case.

Astoria enters via the front door, admitting a rather cool breeze into the room. She rubs her arms and shoulders, shivering for a moment, before stepping farther into the room and towards the fireplace. As she walks she unwraps a scarf from her neck, and then a pair of gloves.

Frid glances up from his half finished pint as the door opens. As she approaches the fire, and coincidentally him, he rises to his feet politely. "Miss Bletchley. A cold evening, hm?"

Astoria's attention moves to Frid, whom she regards warily for the briefest of moments - that is, before she dips her head in a brief nod and affords him a small smile. "It is," she replies. "A pleasure to see you, Frid. I hardly recognized you without your jacket." Her approach to the fire paused, she turns and begins to walk closer to Frid's table.

"I apologise," Frid immediately responds, casting a faint smile and a nod towards the coat rack by the door. "If you like, I can fetch it. Can I get you a drink, ma'am?"

"Oh, don't bother," Astoria says with a wave of her hand. "Enjoy your respite, or evening off, or whatever it is I have disturbed," Astoria says with a wink. She approaches a chair, adding, "May I join you, or is that pressing the matter too far?"

Frid's smile broadens. "I'd be honoured, ma'am. Are you sure I can't get you something to drink? A bite to eat, maybe? Peanuts? Pork scratchings? A pot of olives?"

Astoria waves her hand again and swiftly removes her coat afterward. It is soon folded over the back of the chair while she says, "If you insist - well, I suppose I would not say no to a small brandy." Astoria seats herself and crosses one leg over the other. "But, really - a small one."

Frid raises a brow, holding up thumb and forefinger. "A small one? Very well, a small one it is," he agrees, giving a quick nod before heading over to slip behind the bar and pour two brandies. Swirling the glasses, he returns, offering one over with an amiable nod. "And to what do we owe the pleasure this evening, ma'am? If you're not here to drink, I do admit to some curiosity."

Astoria waits quietly until Frid returns with her drink. She accepts it with a brief nod of her own before raising it to sniff. Apparently satisfied, she lowers the glass. "A colleague of mine is investigating the green powder your glorious benefactor," Astoria's hand raises and extends in a type of luxurious display, "came across. I thought I would stop by and ask if she would be interested in discussing it with my colleague." She finally raises the glass and takes a small sip. "And to see you, of course," she adds with a small wink.

Frid laughs quietly at that last. "Of course," he replies, flicking a small smile. "But the green sugar… well, it is proving extremely popular. I don't doubt that Mrs. Fairfax would be overjoyed to know that a steady supplier had been found. Have you any leads?"
"None whatsoever," Astoria replies. "One hears little rumors, of course, but I haven't heard of anyone selling it as of yet." Astoria scoots her glass gently with the flick of a finger. "It seems to have had a very quiet start for a new product. Hm, curious."

"Word of mouth is an excellent means to promote a new product," Frid muses, resting his arm on the table and swirling the brandy in his glass, still to take a sip. "The grand unveiling may still be to come, of course."

"True," Astoria agrees with a nod. She laces her fingers together, nodding as she does so. "Regardless, my colleague is quite keen to learn all about it. Oh, that reminds me - have you tried it, yet?"

Frid fixes his gaze on her for a moment. "A taste, ma'am. I like to keep my wits about me, in case anything untoward might happen and Mrs. Fairfax requires my services. It does seem to, ah, lead to some disturbances."

"Yes, well, best not indulge, then," Astoria says with a wink. She rubs the side of her neck with a gentle grin and a tilt of her head. A moment later, she adds, "It definitely casts a spell on the wits and senses."

"Along with some side effects," Frid notes, then presses his lips together. He shakes his head. "When you say 'a colleague', ma'am, would that be an honorable member of the ministry? Should I expect a levy on this sugar in the near future? Taxation and duty?"

Astoria replies rather quickly, "Oh, I do not work for the ministry. The colleague is Philomena Rowle, the reporter who covered the Glinch Case. She is our criminal specialist. Apparently the powder was first sighted in Knockturn Alley, so she suspects a possible criminal connection - nothing confirmed, of course. Thus far the powder is completely legal." Astoria takes another small drink. "As for taxation and such - I really could not say."

"I can't say I've seen any particularly adverse reactions to it," Frid muses, finally lifting his brandy to his lips for a sip now it's sufficiently warmed. "Much like the booze, I'd say. With a few minor differences. A nice, legal, earner for somebody in the alley, then. Send her in, though, I'm sure Mrs. Fairfax will be thrilled to have another young lady to entertain, regardless the subject."

Astoria chuckles after Frid speaks and leand forward. She places an elbow on the table and rests her chin atop her palm. "I will. I am sure Phil - Philomena goes by Phil - shall be delighted," Astoria replies. A moment later, she adds, "I should also ask, and believe me I understand if you would rather not discuss it, if your offer to help me with my experiments still stands."

Frid pauses, then nods. "I take it you've found no other willing victims, then. The offer still stands, yes."

"Sadly, no," Astoria says with a gentle sigh. "I am afraid you are my only prospect in this matter. If you are quite certain, we should write an agreement together and turn it into a contract," Astoria explains. "I would not want to betray your trust in this matter, and I think you are owed certain… well. Rights, of course."

"I can find some paper," Frid offers, rising to his feet once more. "I would like an agreement of complete confidentiality, and assurance that no harm will come to me. What would you like from me?"

Astoria's mouth twists and her brow knits together while she thinks, though her eyes never waver from Frid. "Those are acceptable. For my part, I need only a willing participant. I think, to begin, that I would like to use the spell at least five times per meeting. If I become more proficient, that number will likely decrease to two or three. Once I have satisfactorily used the spell several times, the meetings will conclude." Astoria offers Frid a brief smile. "Parchment would be lovely."

"And the agreement is complete at the end of the year?" Frid suggests, moving over to the bar to withdraw paper and pen from behind it. "If you need more time, then we can renegotiate."

"That amount of time should be more than enough," Astoria says with a nod. She bobs her foot, and does her best to hide a small grin. "How many meetings can you manage in a week?" she asks.

"I have one evening off a week," Frid explains as he sets the paper down in front of her and resumes his seat. And his brandy. "Which I don't always spend here, I hasten to add. But I usually have my mornings mostly to myself. Mrs. Fairfax is not an early riser." Understatement of the day.

Astoria chuckles mildly. "Well, we shall contain the meetings to less than two hours, then, so that your evenings are not completely wasted," Astoria replies. "Or your mornings, for that matter." She takes a quill, dabs it in ink, and begins to write.

Frid is conspiring in a booth over near the fire with Astoria. He's jacketless, and both have a brandy in front of them, although she also have some paper on which she is writing with great concentration.

Astoria sits across from Frid, pen a'scriblin'. She dips the tip into the ink well while blowing on the parchment. A moment later she writes two more lines, and then signs her name. "There we are," she says, pushing the paper towards Frid, along with the quill.

Frid hesitates for just a moment, reading over the contract and idly tapping the quill in his hand before finally dipping it into the ink and scrawling a surprisingly messy 'Frid Lowe' along the line. "Confidentiality," he reminds her, blowing on the ink to dry it before rolling the parchment and handing it over.

Astoria watches Frid quietly, attention keen while he signs. When the parchment is handed over she tucks it neatly into her sleeve, presumably into a pocket. "Not a word shall be spoken," Astoria replies with a nod. "I will make you a copy, and the original will be kept at my home."

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