(1938-11-15) Frid Doesn't Even Own A Rifle Anymore
Details for Frid Doesn't Even Own A Rifle Anymore
Summary: After an upsetting week Fabia finally decides to stop giving Frid the silent treatment, so he can stop giving her the spaniel treatment. Or perhaps not; because it's adorable.
Date: November 15th, 1938
Location: Upstairs at the Three Broomsticks
Related: Family Emergency, Sad Little Hat.

Fabia's Rooms

How exquisitely Frid performed his duties this morning. Breakfast for two and strictly no comment upon finding his mistress in bed with a bartender from a rival establishment. (She does know how to pick 'em.)

When at great length the gentleman has departed and Fabia is dressed in a black pleated skirt and a very pretty green cashmere jumper, she sits down again, rather tentatively, at her dressing-table, and picks at things. Her eyebrows — she's not pleased with her eyebrows today, they must come off and go on again. Tea — a fresh pot has appeared before her, in the sort of space only Frid knows how to clear amongst her cascades of feminine impedimenta. Her nails — she almost has a hangnail forming and cuts it back with vicious precision. More tea — she's so sleepy today. Good God, what a late night it was in the end. She hasn't stopped smiling yet… She can see in the glass Frid moving about behind her, restoring order, and today even he makes her want to smile.

"Frid," she says softly. She hasn't spoken his name in days.

Frid immediately straightens. "Madam?" he queries tentatively, looking over the tea for any imperfections in the cup or saucer, eyes the milk jug in case it or the sugar bowl are empty, but no. Everything appears to be in order. Once more there are fresh flowers, over by the window today in order to let their smell waft in on the breeze should the window ever open, but also because he's running out of spaces to put them, even removing the wilting ones regularly. "More tea?"

"I have plenty of tea, thank you," Fabia answers. She's quiet a moment, putting scented cream upon her hands, and then she says, "Won't you sit down, Frid?"

There is a moment's hesitation, a pause, a silence, and a flicker of dread on the valet's face. He closes his eyes briefly, then takes a breath, moving to perch on the edge of one of the harder chairs close by, for all the world as though he's at an interview. "Mrs. Fairfax, I understand that my behaviour has not been at all suitable," he begins. "I apologise wholeheartedly, and only ask that you might see fit to still write me a reference for the years we have spent together."

His words draw a sigh from Fabia; she rises with cautious grace from her dressing-table stool and sits instead in a pretty little armchair just across from the seat of penance Frid has selected for himself. Her fragrant hands reach out and take his, brooking no argument; she brings all four together, his big hands inside though hardly covered by her smaller and slenderer ones. "I can't do without you, Frid," she tells him, "you know that." And then she looks up into his face, with a small, rueful smile. "But I can't do without her either. You see my difficulty."

Frid dips his head slowly. "If she will accept my apologies for speaking out of turn, then..?"

"She's frightened of you," Fabia explains, "and I don't know that I blame her. … Oh, why did you say it? Do please just tell me why. And don't lie to me as you did before," she pleads. "Don't tell me you didn't mean it in that way. We all know you meant it. She knows and I know."

Frid pauses before he responds, considering his words carefully. "I wanted to make quite certain that she understood, madam, that I take your wellbeing most seriously. Given her profession, which is very much all I know of her, I hasten to add, I… had concerns that she had ulterior motives, madam, and might be taking advantage of your good nature without your knowledge." He meets her eyes, pointing out, "Every time I have seen her, she has quite deliberately tried to sway me to her good graces with… feminine wiles. If she is trying to play me, I had thought, the monkey, then I should expect her to try to play the organ grinder as well."

"I know you worry about me, Frid — and goodness knows, usually you have cause — but when it comes to love all you can do is trust me." Fabia squeezes his hands gently between hers. "Trust that, with one or two notable exceptions in all these years, I know who to take into my bed and who to keep out of it. Perhaps it's just that — you might not know me quite as well as you think you do. But I know, I ought to know, when I'm being played; sometimes I even allow it… But Corina doesn't play me. She doesn't have to."

"I have no doubt that I don't know you as well as I ought," Frid admits, brow wrinkling. "It just seemed… somewhat out of character, madam. You were married. To a man. And before that, Mr. Travers. A man. You had a child, madam. With a man."

All at once there's a little colour in her cheeks and a growing mischief in her smile. "Why, Frid. Did you want to hear more about my romantic history? I'd always thought you tried very hard not to know…" she teases. Oh, dear. This was supposed to be a serious conversation. She looks away, attempting to compose her face into a less suggestive expression. It's difficult, given the way her gaze slides past her bed, and the very recent memories which… Ahem. She looks back at Frid. She's still holding his hands. "It isn't a new hobby," she admits, "I used to sleep with girls occasionally when I was — younger. I do like men much much more, that's quite right, but you see…" Surely this is as much knowledge as Frid will be able to cope with. "It's rather complicated."

Frid clears his throat quietly, finding something terribly fascinating at the… oh look! A teapot! Isn't it nice? And gosh, isn't it hot in here. He withdraws his hands, interlacing his fingers in his lap. "Your, ah, hobbies, are hardly my business, madam," he insists. "I am pleased that Miss Silver brings you joy, and apologise for my misguided concerns. If it would help at all, you might inform her that I do not even own a rifle any more."

"Oh, lord," Fabia sighs, biting her lower lip in amusement as Frid all but flees from her presence. She folds her hands demurely in her lap — but can't stop smiling. "I'm sorry, sweetie, but you did look rather like a confused spaniel…" She sighs again and refolds her hands, looking for a way to put this. "I suppose normally I should agree that just this one thing isn't your business; but you chose to involve yourself in it, and now here we are. Oh, why did you say it?" she repeats, hopelessly. "When I'd told you it was all right? Was it just because of — how she spoke to you?"

"I do on occasion, madam, suffer from poor judgement," Frid confesses, brows drawing together. "My judgement in this case was clearly off, and I apologise. Her behaviour towards me had, perhaps, alarmed and unsettled me. How might I offer amends to the young lady, do you know?"

"… Well," Fabia begins. Then she unclasps and reclasps her hands; "Oh, I don't know! You can only do the decent thing, I suppose, and hope… But first you must promise me, very faithfully — not to try to exercise this sort of judgment in the future. If ever you have any concerns about anyone in my life — you must come to me. No one else. I thought — I trusted — that that was always what you would do…"

"Madam, I did raise my concerns with you," Frid counters reasonably, "but given that my concerns were that you may have been manipulated, I was not wholly convinced by your dismissal of the matter. Mrs. Fairfax, I have only your best interests at heart. You do know that?"

"I know you think you have," Fabia sighs. Oh, are they just going to keep going round in circles? It's dizzying — not least because, without some sort of resolution upon this point, she might not be able to keep him… "Frid, I must have your promise not to interfere again. No matter what. I can't be afraid of inviting people I care for into my home. You can talk to me, you can always talk to me about me. But not to anyone else. Promise." She looks beseechingly into his eyes; she hasn't the least notion how to play the stern employer, only how to be a woman longing for reassurance.

"I promise that I will make no comments of such a serious nature to any of your guests, without your express approval, madam," Frid relents, chewing on his lip. "And I promise that should you require any such comments, I am, as ever, at your disposal."

Fabia listens anxiously, trying to find the loopholes. She knows there must be loopholes. But… oh, she can't find any. Only Frid. Hopelessly overprotective Frid, whose overprotection she's blessed in the past before having cause now to curse it. She — well, she leans over to touch him again, though this time just to pat his hand quickly. With any luck that won't be enough to make him run away. "Thank you," she says in a soft little voice. "I — I'm not cross with you, not really, I've just been upset…"

"For which I can only apologise, madam," Frid insists earnestly, giving her a slight smile. "Perhaps I might be able to arrange something for you. Do you know which evenings Miss Silver might be free?"

"I don't think she'll come here again, after…" Fabia trails off into a little shrug. "And Jasper can't come here either, he's a Muggle. I don't know what I'm to do. I like to sleep in my own bed and have all my own things and you to look after me, but it seems I shan't that particular pleasure very much unless I give up most of the others…" She shrugs again, shifting in her chair to try to find a position from which the situation appears less complicated. "Will you write her a letter, Frid? I don't know whether it will help, but I think it is the right thing to do. Will you tell her, please, that you're sorry? And no pussyfooting about and cutting corners, saying you're sorry if she thought you meant such and such… A real apology. And tell her, oh, that you've given your word not to interfere in anything to do with my private life from now on, and… and all that sort of thing. Will you, Frid? For me?" That pleading look again, with bells on.

"Of course, madam," Frid responds, dipping his head. "I should still like to know when Miss Silver might be free, however, if it would not be too much trouble for you."

There is a brief silence. "I don't know, sweetie," Fabia says finally. "I went to London yesterday to try to telephone to her and I couldn't get through." It was after that, presumably, that she picked up her new man friend.

Frid doesn't say anything. He just looks at Fabia, one brow lifting very slightly and lips quirking to the side.

"… Jasper was away in the country," she adds, wriggling slightly.

"How unfortunate for him, madam," Frid responds, nothing but polite. He pauses, taking a moment before asking, "Might I request Wednesday evening off, madam, instead of Friday this week? Something has come up."

"Yes, of course, Frid," replies his employer, grateful that that eyebrow went down again before it made her feel any more like a schoolgirl caught in an indiscretion, "I quite understand, sometimes these things do come up."

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