(1938-11-16) Afternoon Calls
Details for Afternoon Calls
Summary: Fabia receives an afternoon caller. Then, another one. (WARNING: Some Mature Content. And then, some more.)
Date: November 16th, 1938.
Location: Upstairs at the Three Broomsticks
Related: This scene takes place very shortly after and arises from events in Business and Drunken Gits. There are also references to It's Not Idiotic, It's Character-Building.

Fabia's Rooms

There are papers in front of Fabia. She is studying them earnestly, with a sincere wish to understand their import — and yet. How can her gratitude be measured, when she hears a knock at her door? She recollects suddenly giving permission for that young man who wanted to talk to her, Douglas Macmillan, to be shown up if he asked… It must be him. She rises from her desk (her late husband's, really, with a thin veneer of her belongings atop things of his she still hasn't dealt with adequately) as she calls, "Come in~!"

But it's Astoria Bletchley standing there next to Tessa. Fabia raises an eyebrow, her expression betraying a hint of surprise; but beckons her in, nodding to Tessa, to confirm that it's all right, that she's done well. The door closes behind Astoria and she comes nearer, murmuring, "Shall I kiss you, sweetie, or aren't we on those terms? Forgive me for not being certain…"

"Hm?" Astoria asks, taking care not to spill a second, but non-dusted, cocktail. She smiles towards Tessa, thanking her with a curtsy, before facing Fabia with a smile. "Oh, a kiss? That might be wonderful. Well, what am I saying? It would be wonderful. At the very least, it would shut me up. Ugh, I detest it when I ramble," Astoria says, in one breath, followed by a gentle exhale. Her coat is draped over her free arm, and probably acts wonderfully as a balancing device.

Oh, the poor girl. Fabia takes pity; and shuts her up with a light touch of her lips, as one of her hands curls with Astoria's about the stem of her cocktail glass to be sure it's held steady. Whose fault is it that the kiss deepens so suddenly? Why, no one's and everyone's. What a beautiful minute or two, before Fabia draws away, running the tip of her tongue over her carmine lips, fancying she can taste saccharine powder… "Heavens, sweetie," she breathes. "You liked your martini, then?"

Astoria practically falls into the kiss. Saying no to young Gryffindors must be exceedingly difficult. Or maybe it was that lipstick! Either way, her back arches slightly, and her foot twists slightly on the floor until Fabia pulls away. Her eyes bat, and she smiles. "Oh, yes. So, so much. I'm afraid it's gotten me into quite a mood," she says, smile unfading.

Well… it beats the hell out of paperwork.

Fabia steps closer, till she's almost brushing against Astoria, and slips an arm around her waist. Comforting. Supporting. She leans in till her lips almost brush the younger woman's ear and murmurs, "I don't think I'm in quite that sort of mood — but I don't think I can allow you to go home as you are… Why, you're obviously intoxicated. It might be dangerous." Her voice is full of relaxed humour. "I think you'd better come in and rest for a little while, don't you?" Her hand exerts a light pressure, drawing Astoria forward with her.

Astoria's lips pout slightly, but then she's being pulled forward and her expression resumes its smile. "That sounds delightful," she replies quietly, shivering a little beneath Fabia's whisper. Astoria walks forward quietly, letting Fabia guide her without a word of protest. "You really are too kind," she says, eventually. "Which reminds me, in some roundabout way - but oh, I must know first. If we are not going to do that, than what shall we do?"

It's possible Astoria thinks Fabia is leading her to a chair, or to the sofa where they enjoyed such a pleasant interlude once before… But Fabia half-walks her, half-dances her — with appropriate care for the unfinished cocktail clasped between their hands — into her bedroom; and relieves her of her coat and drops it over a chair as they pass it; and then takes sole charge of the cocktail, too, and sips from the glass appreciatively, leaving another telltale red lipstick mark, as she propels Astoria unmistakably toward the bed.

"Lie down, sweetie," she says, with a mischievous smile. "You look a little unsteady… It's quite a cocktail, isn't it, with the powder as well?"

Astoria continues to smile, eyes bright and devoid of their typical narrowness and calculated intensity. She laughs softly as they dance, and when Fabia steals the drink she laughs a little harder. Following Fabia's suggestion, she flops onto the bed and raises her hands, and arms, above her head; they flop onto the bed while her left leg rubs up the comforter. "It is," she agrees, biting her lower lip. "It's sooo wonderful, Fabia. I feel… oh, what was I saying?"

Another mouthful of Astoria's cocktail vanishes. Fabia sets it down on the bedside table; and perches on the edge of the bed, her grey-trousered hip just brushing Astoria's thigh. "It's very hard," she confides, gravely but with eyes twinkling, "to have such a lot of saccharine powder in the cupboard downstairs, and not be constantly taking it myself… But I think the more I take it, the less special it will feel, and so I am trying to be good… But I'm not naturally very good, you know." Her hand reaches behind her, and strokes upwards along Astoria's leg, lifting her dark robes inch by inch.

Astoria listens quietly to Fabia, eyes slightly glazed. The leg that is touched tilts upwards slightly, inving Fabia farther. "Oh, I couldn't imagine," she replies, breathing a little heavier. "Hell, how can you stand it? Oh, but I'm here- oh, now I see! Fabia, are you- oh, I'm just going to shut my mouth," Astoria says with another soft bit of laughter. Her free leg tilts up, too, and positions itself so that a toe can rub gently against Fabia's back.

At that Fabia can't help but laugh. She leans down over Astoria, exploring her rather tight-fitting, silver-trimmed robes, in search of fastenings which soon yield to her inquisitive fingers. No magic; but sometimes the hard way is the fun way. "I was looking over the accounts, you see, when you came in," she breathes, fluttering her eyelashes. "Have you any idea how much I had rather be making love to you, than looking over the accounts?"

Astoria wiggles slightly when Fabia draws close to something sensitive, which is very nearly everything, if touched properly. She curls the one leg around Fabia's waist, and drapes it over the older woman's leg, or possible just the edge of the bed. "Well, I hope I'm more alluring than numbers," Astoria replies, words spoken lowly and with an amused grin. She bites her lip again, and resumes her study while Fabia works.

Most things are touched properly, by Fabia's hands. So soft, so knowing so perfectly manicured, that the age visible in them is nothing but a guarantee of the sort of competence which has Astoria stripped to her undergarments in very short order. More alluring than numbers, indeed; Fabia is quite engrossed…

A knock at the outer door.

Fabia lifts her head; a very unladylike word hisses between her teeth.

Her hand flies up to Astoria's cheek, which she caresses as she murmurs, "Sweetie, I… I promised someone I'd talk to him about something today. That boy who was in the bar earlier. Douglas Macmillan. He sent me an owl, several owls actually, he seemed rather — oh, God. He couldn't come before because he was always in detention. Let me have…" She leans close, the tip of her tongue flicking across Astoria's lips. "Will you let me have five minutes or so? I won't let him stay too long, I swear it. It breaks my heart to say no, though."

Astoria continues to wiggle quietly under Fabia's experienced hands, and her body is quite responsive. Fabia may have a difficult time escaping, even though Astoria manages, in a rather breathless tone, "Oh, but don't leave! Oh, well, yes- I, do suppose… I could wait." She rises to kiss Fabia's lower lip in return, but her arms don't quite manage to let go; not that she'll be difficult to pry away. "But, not too long?"

"Not too long…" Fabia gives Astoria look which promises that she is more important than Gryffindor boys; she runs a hand all the way down Astoria's leg and tickles the sole of her foot through her stocking as she hurries to answer the door.

The double doors between bedroom and sitting-room, she draws shut on her way.

Owls flitting to and fro between Hogwarts and the Three Broomsticks these past few weeks have borne Douglas's thanks to Fabia for being a sport in that little matter of a bet; her admission that he was quite welcome, and next time he has a bet on, he really only needs to TELL HER; and then his sincere but somewhat awkwardly expressed hope that he might ask her about something the next time he's free to visit Hogsmeade. "Look, I need some advice. Woman stuff."

What doesn't Fabia Fairfax, nee Fabia Iskanderova, nee Fabia Travers, nee Fabia something else, know about woman stuff? She scribbles in violet ink upon scented writing-paper: "Of course! Anything I can do. Drop in when you can and we'll talk."

It has of course taken a while for Douglas to find time, amid his schedule of intimate tête-à-têtes with Pringle, to pop into the Broomsticks. But he was there today for lunch and a hangover cure; and he was reassured that he might, at his leisure, enjoy that promised chat with the proprietress…

When the bar wench Tessa brings Douglas upstairs to Fabia's door, she's a little slow to open it — but then, of course, all smiles. "Come in, sweetie," she says, "oh, you're still drinking juice. What sort of night did you have last night? And had it anything, one wonders, to do with Miss Medusa Malfoy?"

"You know her, then, huh?" Douglas queries with a hint of embarrassment. He hangs about just inside the door, a vision of youthful awkwardness, until her beckoning hand insists that he should come further in. "I was sort of hoping you didn't. You've… um… you know a lot of things, right?" He eyes a mirror edged with ballet photographs. "Um. About people. And stuff."

Looking up over her shoulder, Fabia promises him, "I know who she is, that's all. I've seen her in the pub, generally with you, and someone told me her name… We don't go to one another's Christmas parties or anything like that, don't worry." She giggles slightly at the idea of a half-blooded bastard with a Muggle family gracing with her presence a Malfoy soiree; and sits down unceremoniously on the hearthrug in front of her fireplace, crossing her legs in their grey flannel trousers. "I know a lot about some things, very little about others," she adds. "People… The sort of people I think you're thinking of… Well, do go on, sweetie. I won't tell anyone. Gryffindors' honour."

Douglas looks up as she calls his house name, flashing a grateful smile. He finds himself a seat, resting his chin on his hand as he ponders exactly how to put his request. "So… she's coming to stay for Hogmanay," he explains slowly, absently swirling his butterbeer in its glass. "And we're going to… you know. I'm going to… we'll… you know. She wants to." He clears his throat quietly. "Um. Look, what I wanted to know is if you can get hold of… um… something. Like a potion or something. I can't exactly ask Slughorn, can I?"

"Yes," Fabia admits candidly, rather pleased to be the sophisticated, the knowing, the trustworthy adult friend, whom one really can come to with Young Love's most serious conundrums, "I rather think I do know." Certainly her smile would seem to indicate an advanced degree of knowledge. "Consider the matter attended to, Douglas," and she tucks her feet beneath herself and glides smoothly up onto them, already starting for the drinks trolley, "and, by the way, my congratulations. Do you want a proper drink, now that you've said it?"

Douglas gives her an awkward grin, lifting his juice and draining a good third of it, then wipes his mouth on his sleeve. "I've still got most of this left," he points out. "But thanks. And thanks for not telling anyone. You're a good sport."

"Thank you. One does try. And it's no one's business, is it, but yours and hers?" she points out, pouring herself a couple of fingers of something Frid would be quite surprised to discover tucked away up here, discreetly shielded by liqueurs for which he himself hasn't a taste. "You're quite old enough to choose your own damnation… I suppose you come in for a fair amount of ragging, though," she adds sympathetically, "for your preferred damnation being a Slytherin."

"There were bets on how long we'd last, actually," Douglas confesses, taking another sip from his glass. "We put a couple of galleons on last week, had a massive blow up row, pocketed the winnings, and made up on Thursday." He grins a little at that, shrugging. "Might as well make the most of it if they're going to get on my back about her. Even my best mate thinks I'm playing her, and says she's got some kind of ulterior motive, too. Maybe I just like how she never backs down, eh?"

Fabia sinks into the chair across from Douglas's, crossing her grey-trousered legs at the knee, and raises her glass in a salute to this moneymaking scheme. It's just the sort of thing she'd have done in his place. "Of course you've both got various motives for being with one another," she opines. "Outside the world of adolescent fantasy, two people don't just come together because each thinks the other is such a jolly nice and noble person, and then proceed to walk hand-in-hand along the same ideal, identical rose-edged path to matrimony and eternal bliss. Human needs and desires are bloody complicated — they hardly ever match up neatly, and they can't be counted upon to make sense to people on the outside, who don't see what you see when you look at her."

Douglas grins more broadly. "Fact is that she is kind of a bitch," he admits freely. "But you expect that from a Malfoy, don't you? And that's the edge that keeps her interesting, too. I mean, I've been out with hundreds of girls. Well, dozens, at least. And they're all pretty much the same. Snog, simper, declarations of love, stupid fantasies of marriage and children, and I'm out of there. I mean, come on. I'm seventeen. I don't even know what socks I'm going to wear tomorrow, let alone want to settle down with some girl, right?"

"When I was seventeen," Fabia sighs, and has significant recourse to her whisky, "I didn't just date Slytherins, I married one. And I was praised for it by some people, because it was thought to be a damned sight more sensible than anything else I'd done since running out of Hogwarts as fast as I could with my indifferent assortment of OWLs. But you're quite right, of course, you don't want to get married for a good long time yet… Hundreds more girls first, and a life of your own. You must know yourself before anything else. I can't tell you what a foolish mistake it is, marrying too young."

"But… you don't think it's wrong to… you know..?" Douglas queries, leaning forward to listen to the older woman's advice. "I mean, I haven't. Don't tell anyone that, by the way. I've got a reputation to maintain. But… I want to."

Fabia smiles fondly, reminiscently. Reassuringly. "No," she promises him, "it's not wrong." She sips her whisky; and raises a hand, one bediamonded finger pointing up in the air to indicate she has some further remarks upon the subject. "Whether it's sensible or stupid, now, that's rather a better question — and whether it's done well, or done poorly! But if she's a girl you care for enough to take her to visit your parents, and you're planning the grand event this far in advance and even embarrassing yourself in front of elderly ladies to ensure there won't be any unfortunate repercussions, I think you're going about it quite as well as you could. One or two practical suggestions, though, if I may?" She does, without really waiting. She has her own reasons for not taking too long over this chat. "Time it carefully in relation to meals — a heavy dinner is no friend to the hopeful romantic. Wear shoes you can get out of without stopping to untie the laces, and be sure you take your socks off too, never mind that you're in Scotland. She will appreciate a hot bath waiting for her afterwards, and might like you to offer to wash her hair. And — I can't put enough emphasis on this." She attempts it anyway, lowering her chin, looking slightly upward at him through her eyelashes. "Keep a sense of humour."

"I've got two sisters," Douglas points out, half grinning as she mentions socks. "There's no chance I can commandeer the bathroom with that kind of expert timing. But sense of humour I can do. I'm renowned for it, me. Pretty sure you're not supposed to, you know, laugh while you're…" he whistles two tones. "At it."

"Depends upon the company, of course," is Fabia's judicious pronouncement (of course she drew in a breath and offered a sympathetic nod at his summation of the bathroom situation), "but I've always thought laughing was better than crying…" Her glance wanders vaguely past Douglas, towards — well, the far wall, perhaps, and the closed double doors set in it. "Some girls get their feathers awfully ruffled if something goes wrong; I don't know what yours is like, whether she'd blame herself or you, but if you made her laugh then you might find you'd saved the occasion…" She winks, and gets up to pour just one more wee dram. "It's not a wildly romantic thought, is it? But to be amused is to be relaxed, and perhaps receptive to further overtures… Of course when I tell you this I'm not drawing only from my own experiences, many and varied though they've been; I'm recalling decades of feminine gossip." She collapses elegantly back into her chair, crossing her legs in the other direction this time. "And one thing almost every woman could tell you, sweetie, although unlike me, she won't, is the disastrous tale of her first lover getting it all wrong, no matter how hard he tried. I'm rather amused by the idea of helping at least one of you get it right."

Douglas runs a hand through his hair, insisting, "I know what to do." He lifts his chin indignantly. "I know where it goes and everything. I'm not stupid, you know!"

"Oh, heavens, did I say that? If I did, I didn't mean to," Fabia promises hastily. "But any new physical activity has, ah, subtleties of execution you can't expect to understand completely in advance; and you may not have thought of this yet, but actually you have to do two things. You have to do it, which is the straightforward part; but you also have to make sure she wants to do it again, and with you, not your replacement. Have I said too much? I have, haven't I? I do, so often. Are you sure you don't want a drink?"

Douglas hesitates, then holds out his glass hopefully. "A little one, please?" he relents. "Anyway, she says she wants to do it. With me. So that's all right. And I know… um… well, we've… you know. Snogged and that. And um… you know. So I know what she likes. Like the ear thing and all that."

"Mmh." Fabia nods; and takes both their empty glasses across to the drinks trolley (she's practically a barmaid now, she knows what to do with empties, this early in the day anyway) and returns, after a moment's thought, with a pair of gin and tonics. His is the weaker of the two, though it may not seem so.

"If you've mastered the 'ear thing'," she says seriously, with the air of one who knows all about it (though truly she's about to burst out laughing), "you're obviously ready to move on to far greater challenges. But as slowly as you can, when the time comes… Any woman would rather complain, smugly, to all her girl friends, about a man who took too long over enjoying her, than a man who left her thinking: what, is that all?" She shrugs exaggeratedly and makes a face, to convey the attitude of such a disappointed mistress. "Will there be a lot of people with you for the holidays? I hope you'll manage to be private long enough… Still, the odds'll be better there than at school."

Douglas takes his G&T and gives it a tentative sniff, then a tiny sip, lips pressing together as he tries to make what he can of the flavour without coughing. "Just my family, I hope. Unless my sister brings back some irritating boyfriend again." The irony of his complaint about his sister's boyfriends is lost on him. "But there's plenty of places we can go. I thought maybe the smoking room..?" he suggests, looking to her for approval. "Or the incubator?"

His self-constituted advice bureau's emerald eyes widen to an unprecedented size: she exclaims, "No! I don't know what you might be incubating in there, but absolutely not! She might be the most adventurous girl in all the land, rendering those perfectly acceptable possibilities for the future — I've had quite a bit of fun in smoking-rooms, but that's by the bye — but for your first time together, you must make rather more of an effort, sweetie. She's a Malfoy, she's accustomed to a certain style. And even if she weren't a Malfoy, girls generally like to be comfortable, and to have a decent expectation of privacy — well, I say generally, some girls quite like the idea that you might be interrupted, but it's difficult to tell that in advance without asking, so best to be safe and assume not. If you can't manage a bed and fresh linen sheets anointed with a few drops of a scent she likes, find at least an exquisitely comfortable sofa, in a room which doesn't reek of whisky and cigar smoke."

"Or — do you know what I'd do, if I were an enterprising young man who was good at magic?" Fabia wets her throat with her usual liberality. "Your family's house must have attics, cellars, something of that nature — perhaps a summerhouse which isn't used at this time of year. You might find such a place, clean it and tidy it, decorate it with the prettiest things you could borrow from here and there, hundreds of flowers, candlelight, a spell to warm the air so your feet wouldn't get cold without your socks, and anything else you can think of that might amuse her. It might be tricky to get a mattress into somewhere so out-of-the-way, but what you've got to ask yourself is, is she worth it?"

Douglas points at her, rest of his fingers still curled around his gin and tonic. "I think you're on to something there. I could trick out the attic. Nobody would disturb us up there. Give it a bit of a scrub up, candles, flowers… uh… what sort of flowers?"

"I don't know," she answers immediately, "what sorts of flowers does she like? You'll have to investigate. Be as thoughtful as you can about the little details. Show her how well you've been paying attention to what she likes and doesn't like… You should be doing that anyway; a girl always appreciates receiving a specific gift, a gift her gentleman wouldn't have chosen for anyone else — only for her. It's nice if it's expensive too, of course, but you're seventeen," she favours him with a rueful, understanding smile over the edge of her glass, as she sips, "all you can really do is be thoughtful. The flowers may set you back a bit, if you don't know anyone with a greenhouse, but it's an investment in your future, you know."

"I'll see if I can bribe one of the girls at school who takes Herbology," Douglas decides, nodding as he listens.

Fabia nods along with him; then exclaims: "Oh! Your scarf. Give me your scarf."

Douglas arches a brow, nonetheless beginning to unwrap the scarf from his neck. "What? Why? What are you going to do with it?" he queries, holding his glass between his knees as he unwinds the red and gold wool fabric and offers it over. "If you're going to do some sort of truth spell on it, I will never buy a Butterbeer here again."

"I wouldn't know how," Fabia giggles, shaking her head at the very idea; she takes the scarf and folds it up and tucks it into the chair next to her. "You've lost this," she informs him. "Tomorrow afternoon you'll realise you left it at the Broomsticks, and it will be behind the bar for you, wrapped up as a parcel, with one or two items of interest inside. Unless you'd rather not take anything incriminating back to school so soon? I don't know how hard it is to hide things there these days… But it might be better for you to have what you'll need, just in case you can't wait."

Douglas grins slowly. "You know what? For an aulwifie, you're awfy devious," he approves.

"For a… what? … Or perhaps you'd better not tell me." She flutters her eyelashes at him slightly, then shakes her head to show she didn't mean anything by it. Then she puts down what's left of her G&T and rises, as though signaling that the interview is reaching its natural conclusion. "We must do this again one day, sweetie. For one thing, when your attic plan is farther along you'd better bring it back to me for review. More inside information, you know."

She smiles confidentially; and ushers him out.

The doors open; Fabia stands framed within them for an instant, one hand upon each, looking toward Astoria with an expression of tremendous apology. "Oh, sweetie, can you forgive me?" She flits closer. "I'm afraid I got a little carried away when I realised he had no idea how to go about anything… You must think by now that I haven't any idea either…"

Astoria laughs a little as Fabia enters. She buries her face in the comforter, and her half-undressed body, which has been covered partially in a blanket, rolls around a little. "Merlin's beard, Fabia. That was… that was priceless. That poor boy was trying to take me on a date, earlier. Oh my, now I feel just terrible even considering it. Can you imagine? Oh, now I feel terrible - I shouldn't make fun, but-" she stifles a bit of laughter into her hand. "I had forgotten how innocent so many students are."

Fabia's laughter joins with Astoria's; but is briefly muffled by the passage of her Argyll sweater over her head. It is rather warm in her flat, with both fires going, and so much to giggle about… She drops the sweater onto a chair, inside out, just as it is, and sits down on the bed next to Astoria. "Were we ever so innocent?" she sighs speculatively. "Well, I know I wasn't… But you must promise, sweetie, promise faithfully, not a word to a soul. I protected you; now you must protect young Douglas." Her hand strokes Astoria's leg softly through the blanket still half-covering her.

Astoria continues to lie there, though one leg, the one Fabia chooses, kicks free of its woolen protector. "Oh yes, I most certainly was. I was just hopeless in school, worse than that poor boy, even, by far," she says while propping her head up onto her elbow. Her free arm scoots to wiggle its way up to Fabia's back. "Oh, I suppose I can keep a little secret," she says with a mischievous grin. "Or perhaps I'll just forget?" she asks, raising her eyebrows.

"Mmm, yes," Fabia agrees. "Perhaps you should put it quite out of your mind…" Her smile broadens; she's already done the same herself, and she's here with Astoria now. She lifts back the blanket which has apparently become such a burden to her partially-clad afternoon visitor, and lets her hand caress its way unhindered (but very slowly) up along her leg. She leans down as though to kiss her — but at the last instant she pauses and simply gazes into her eyes. Warmly, teasingly, she inquires, "What has my marvelous green powder done to you today, sweetie? Shall we find out?"

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