(1938-11-27) Fish in Water
Details for Fish in Water
Summary: Fabia and Cooper indulge in just a soupçon of saccharine powder; and there ensues a waking dream of fish and flouncy Spanish frocks… (Warning: Some Slightly Mature Content. One Naughty Word, Anyway.) (Another Warning: The Choreography Is Out Of Order. Sorry About That.)
Date: November 27th, 1938
Location: Upstairs at the Three Broomsticks
Related: Distractions, Wetter Than A Fish.

Fabia's Rooms

"Well, if you hadn't fallen asleep last time—" Fabia teases; and touches the green-dusted rim of her cocktail glass to Cooper's as they sit side by side upon her sofa, both a little dressed-up according to their personal standards, both already perhaps ever-so-slightly squiffy. "Bottoms up, sweetie."

Cooper's standard of dressed up is a set of ironed clothes and perhaps a touch of makeup. But the sweater remains, a less lumpier version of it perhaps. "As a working woman, I reserve the right to pass out anywhere I please," she says and takes the cocktail glass in her hands. Her rim meets Fabia's with a clink before she takes a indulgent gulp. "Mmmm, there's such a unique sweetness to this stuff," she says taking some powder on her pink to have an extra taste. "And how long till it kicks in?"

And for Fabia, being dressed up means silk stockings instead of nylons, and her diamonds sparkling against pale blue satin. Her hair is in a new style, too, and the colour of it seems richer, or is that the light? Or the powder, already? "Not long, not long at all," she giggles delightedly, guzzling her cocktail. "And then — oh, sweetie, perhaps I ought to have told you what happens, but I wanted you to be surprised… I think you will be surprised…" She nibbles her lower lip, enjoying the tease even more than the taste.

"Surprised? I want to say that very little surprises me now-a-days," Cooper admits, digging around in her pockets for a cheap cigarette. While lighting up she kicks off her boots and ties her hair up messily. All a part of getting comfortable on the couch next to Fabia, since they were apparently in for quite a ride. "But then again, you're always a shocker," she smiles, taking another gulp of the drink before leaning forward to tenderly push some of that hair behind Fabia's ear, "Did you get the coloring redone?" She asks, but sure as ever she begins to feel a subtle lag in time.

In between gulps of her cocktail, which she's drinking as though it's a medicinal draught she can't wait to get into her because it tastes so swooningly good, Fabia laughs and leans into Cooper's hand. "Oh, sweetie, all the time, it never stops growing. But the other day I used a spell to do it, instead of the henna. It seems to be lasting, too, I'm so terribly pleased with myself. Who knew magic could be so practical?" She leans back her head, drawing out the impossibly long line of her throat, and pours the last of her drink down herself with a blissful sigh. And then of course the tip of her tongue launches a thorough exploration of the rim of the glass, sweeping up every last tiny green grain. These are not the cocktails served downstairs in the pub at a galleon a go. These are the real thing. Unstinting.

Cooper raises her brows as a plume of smoke escapes past her pink lips. "You? Use magic? You're kidding! Now that's a surprise," she admits, and tops off the rest of her drink. "Who on earth taught you how to do a hair coloring charm?" For all her days of being a school girl, Cooper couldn't even do that. Another go around the rim with her finger and the blonde auror sucks the green powder off delightfully. "Mmm," nodding in approval. "This would have been fantastic with the strawberry short cake the other evening. How'd the rest of your night go with Satan?"

A small clicking, clacking sound, echoing in unlikely ways from one wall of the sitting-room to another. Fabia's reaction is electric; she sits up even straighter, licks the edge of her glass just once more and hurriedly sets it down on the coffee table; her glittering green eyes dart from left to right as she murmurs, "Castanets…?" She pauses. Nothing more comes to her attention. What was Cooper saying? "Oh, Corina showed me lots of little hair and face charms, and let me practice on her, the poor girl, she was — well, I won't tell you what colour she was for — you met her, didn't you, the first time you were here? Before you passed out… I was telling the two of you about…" Fabia shivers; she has just seen the far wall becoming insubstantial… "Kitri."

From the far corner, into a flat which is now only half flat, and half bare-boarded stage, bursts a dancer in not a tutu but a flouncy Spanish-style frock: black velvet bodice, three-tiered yellow chiffon skirt edged in black, and red and yellow flowers tucked into her bosom and her flaming red hair. Indistinct, unformed figures, far dimmer than she, who has her own personal spotlight, seem to be gathering about the fringes of the expanding chamber, watching her as she leaps and twirls in enormous, bold circles, kicking up her legs to astonishing heights, with a fan in her hand and a smirk on her lovely, strong-boned face. And then after a series of appallingly quick, tight little turns upon the points of her toes, she comes to a sudden stop at centre stage, as it were, directly before the sofa; her upraised hand snaps the fan open.

Fabia squeals, frankly.

"Kitri…," Cooper hums in repetition, inhaling the last big of her cigarette before putting it out in the ashtray. When she glances back up there's a stage on the far side of the room. The loveliest of women steps forward in her in Spanish garb, the frills and ruffles of the skirt seducing Cooper with every twirl. "How splendid," she murmurs after Fabia's squeals, leaning back into the couch, sinking into its cushions and tucking her feet in to watch the show. "But where's the music?" she turns and asks Fabia, pursing her lips and listening for a melody to layer atop the castanets. "There must be music…" And then she hears it. But…what is that? That's not music. It's a bubbling sound. It drips at first, then louder and more rushed and then grows into a heavy trickle. The top edges of the walls are dripping water, clear and clean and fresh smelling. They begin to flow heavier and steadier until pools of water collect on the floor. "Oh my… you may have a problem." The waters rush faster and the room begins to fill with water, which rises to about a foot in heigh now.

"Oh, I'm sure I'm equal to it somehow," breathes Fabia, who hasn't spared an iota of her attention for Cooper since the entertainment began. It's not the most peculiar thing to have happened in her sitting-room lately. She doesn't imagine there'll be any real water damage. All the same she thinks of the mud, and the moss, and quickly pulls her feet up onto the sofa, too…

The Spanish ballet dancer takes several more tremendous high-kicking leaps; and then flits hither and yon on the pointes of her tiny satin slippers, enticing a trio of unmistakably masculine figures to follow her with teasing flicks of her toes which kick up sprays of water from the puddles upon the stage. The boys' hands clap out a rhythm, encouraging her; they part their lips as though to whistle and then suddenly there's the melody — jaunty and bright, if not exactly Spanish. Having gone backwards as far as she can go the dancer surges forward, chasing away the boys, laughing at their pretensions; and as the water rises beneath her, she makes a headlong circuit of the entire stage, twirling again and again, at the end of each twirl reaching down to slap the water with the end of her closed fan. Whole waves are stirred up, to break upon the shores of the sofa, which has lingered after most of the rest of Fabia's furniture has simply ceased to be. The dancer's skirts show a darker pattern left by the spray — but somehow she's above the flood, not in it, her toes caressing its liquid and shifting surface. She strikes another pose; fans herself (her strong young body has begun to gleam with its exertions) smoothly and languidly; looks about her and giggles at all that she sees.

In association with the dancer's long throat, her strong nose, the redness of her hair — perhaps that giggle will be enough to tell Cooper who stands before her as well as sitting, rapt and sighing, at her side.

An arm wraps around Fabia, and Cooper squeezes her friend affectionately on the shoulder. The other looks for another cheap cigarette to light, which she finds and lights instantly. The water is rising quickly now, but the dancer seems to capture far too much of their attention for it to even be noticeable. Cooper claps along with the boys, her hands following their rhythm. And there it is! The music she was seeking - fun and flirty like the dancer on stage. She looks over to Fabia with a look of delight as if to say 'Can you hear that too?' By then the water has reached to their chins and gradually it rises above their heads, slightly muffling their ears of the melody, but it's no less bright and daring. It only resonates with the sound of being underwater. Of course, the aquatic details seem ancillary and are merely background details to the light of dancers on stage, who continue moving and dancing as if there were no water at all. And Fabia and Cooper's lungs also seem rather unaware that they were submerge, for they work just as well as normal. It's as if they've transformed into mermaids enjoying an nautical performance.

"Fabia, can you do that?" Cooper watches the dancer through the water intently. While her voice's volume is slightly muffled by water, it still echoes with an emptiness about the room. She takes her glasses off and gets a second look at the dancer. "Wait a minute…that's…" Cooper looks from Fabia to the dancer and then to Fabia again and back. "Christ that's you isn't it? But you're also here…"

Fabia snuggles into Cooper's arm as it encircles her; and when she smells that familiar smoke she reaches up without looking, her fingertips wandering over Cooper's shoulder and throat to her mouth, to borrow the cigarette for as long as it takes her to draw upon it and breathe out contentedly. How they share everything, these two. She looks about with a degree of alarm as the water sloshes over the edge of the sofa, but it's not really — it's not really water, is it? It looks like water, but without… Oh, she gives up, tucks the cigarette back between her friend's lips, and cuddles closer, resting a hand on Cooper's thigh just because that's such a convenient place to put it at present.

The danseur in the role of Basilio has dashed into view, affecting to strum his guitar, and the flirtation is on! How cool Kitri is at first… oh, but then she splashes him — and, heavens, this wasn't in the original choreography! — they spin around and around in one another's arms, sinking down into the water as it rises, until the ballet becomes purely aquatic, though in no measure slowed by the element through which the dancers are, or aren't, moving…

"Well, of course it's me, sweetie," Fabia giggles, when Cooper bursts out with that sudden recognition, "I seem always to hallucinate myself when I take saccharine powder… I think it must come somehow from my memories. Though how, when I couldn't see myself from the outside… I can't imagine, but I do adore seeing. Wasn't I rather gorgeous?" She sighs longingly. "I didn't know, then, quite how I looked… I could only see my flaws."

Without thinking Cooper obliges Fabia. Letting her take a drag of whatever she pleased, letting her caress whatever her hand led. It mattered not for she was far too distracted by the performance in front of her. She still has the cigarette in her mouth from when Fabia stuffed it back in. "You were lovely," she mutters and then looks down smilingly to the woman before planting a kiss on her forehead, "You are lovely. It's funny how things always seemed better in the past. Sometimes even the future seems brighter. Very rarely are we ever contented with the present." Cooper watches on at the aquatic ballet, a dreamy smile on her face while she watches the ballerina and her Basilio gracefully move about. Their moves so strong and fluid it's almost like they were swimming. "I hope you don't still see your flaws now," the auror idly comments with the underwater echo to her voice.

Suddenly, bits of lake plant life appear. The tables in Fabia's room turn to boulders. Long viny roots gather and and sprout around the stage into a thick foliage. They reach to the top of the room where lilly pads linger on the surface. Some of the flowering lilies themselves have been pulled underwater and add to the scenery. The growth appears all about the room with the exception of the stage and the very couch they sit on.

"I do still see them," Fabia murmurs, giggling to herself, at herself — there isn't a train of thought, however bleak, that could truly upset her in a moment like this — "but compared with the present set, sweetie, they're nothing, nothing at all… I sickled my left foot now and again, the muscles in my calves built up too quickly, what do those things matter now? I danced…"

Negotiations between Kitri and Basilio have been proceeding in the underwater lily garden, with a great deal of leaping in the air and falling to one knee and Kitri pretending not to look at her swain as he commits the dreadful sin of speaking a word or two to other girls. And now they're caught up in a livelier dance, circling the stage, Basilio holding Kitri tightly by the waist and swooping her up into the air where her limbs unfurl into a star with each high point in the music. Once — just once — he lets go, only to catch her just before she can fall! Fabia, the real, elder Fabia, gasps with appreciation, clutching at Cooper's leg; "What a thrill that was!"

Cooper snickers trying to see the said flaws that Fabia sees. But all the saccharine powder in the world couldn't make her see anything past the flawless athleticism that was Fabia. "I don't see how you weren't always a principal dancer," she peaks at the prancing about the stage. Her eyes can hardly keep up with their spins and twirls, the colorful lines of Kitri's three teired skirt distracting her. A warm smile and she does nod, "You did dance. How marvelous-oh!" She too gasps and clutches Fabia close as if by instinct, heart racing a little at the near fall. "My god I thought you were done for!" She laughs heartily.

A numerous group of shadows move across the lake floor, alerting the pair of women of the presence of creatures in their midst. It's not a ominous warning, however, especially when their bright colors move in from their periphery to swim around the stage, like christmas lights decorating the set. They seem to be a variety of koi, white and shining with gleaming orange, gold and black spots. They float about the dancers and about the couch excitedly, moving more or less lively according to the performance music "Ah," Cooper says dreamily, watching a koi float past her head. "Un poisson rouge!" she says in perfect French, hand reaching out to try and touch the shimmering scales.

"Oh, it was quite on purpose — he caught me every time we rehearsed, and then, the only time we ever danced Kitri and Basilio on stage together…" And Fabia catches her lip between her teeth again, almost surrendering to regret, only to have a fish become entangled in the hem of her evening frock.

For the first time her eyes cease devouring herself; she looks down to see what that peculiar sensation might be. A glimmering golden shape, conjured from Cooper's unconscious imagination, flapping its tail against her ankles; she laughs hopelessly and takes hold of her skirts, freeing it and then flapping at it to usher it away to join the rest of its school. "Très belle," she giggles, Cooper's words having nudged her towards the second language which was for many years nearer to her than her first, and she lets loose a whole stream of idiomatic French, admiring the lilies and the fish and explaining just what it takes for both partners to accomplish the lift presently being demonstrated — which requires the danseur to lift his partner, one-handed, high in the air at the highest extreme of his arm, while she strikes an elegant pose and holds it for a breathless instant. This is done thrice, so you know it's not a fluke.

Cooper giggles at the koi stuck under the material, watching Fabia let it flutter away. "Slippery things aren't they?" she snickers and lets a fish slick past her finger tips. The movement so full of its own life that it irks Cooper a little and makes a shiver run down her spine. The French commentary to the dance is delightful though. And Cooper nods her head along after every sentence to show she understands. "Oui, but has he ever dropped you?" she asks in the tongue. With every apex to the lift, she holds her breath and exhales when she falls only to hold it again when it happens once more. "Also, he's very handsome. Was he gay?" As all the best-looking male dancers tend to be, but Cooper can still fawn over a hallucination right?

Not too far from their island couch, appears a figure of man sitting on a rock. His figure is long and lanky, thick lustrous black-brown hair falls a tad past his shoulders. His dark robes are as deep as his hair, and his face is obscured by a shadow that his hood casts partially over his face. He too seems to be enjoying the dance before them, leaning back on his rock languidly. The man can be seen over Cooper's shoulder, though the auror herself doesn't seem to notice him.

"Oh, well, there are falls sometimes, it's not always anyone's fault… Is he so handsome?" Fabia frowns at her phantasm's so-capable partner, a frown which melts swiftly into a new appreciation of how fine they look together… "He wasn't, you know, beautiful body but plain enough in his face… I must be remembering him as better-looking than he was!" She laughs delightedly, running the tip of her tongue over her lips. "Yes, he was rather queer, we tried it once but what a disaster, we agreed to be friends instead… Heavens, sweetie," and Fabia's gaze has been drawn past Cooper by the undulations of a particularly graceful group of fish, "was he?"

"Not anyone's fault, but no less terrifying," Cooper shivers just a bit at the idea of being dropped. Observing Basilio a second time, she confirms with a nod, "Yes. I'd say he's a 7 out of 10. But perhaps I'm woo-ed by his grace." There's an amused cackle at Fabia's failed attempt to woo her partner, who so strongly handles the specter of the older woman on stage. And her attention is actually drawn to her imaginary man. His lanky frame continues to lounge upon the rock, and his hooded head turns to reveal a vague form of a face - sharp hooked nose, deep-set half lidded eyes that look back at Fabia and Cooper. They sit there looking at each other a while. "Him?" she ponders and then smiles warmly, but sadly, "He wasn't even really my type. But he was undeniably charming, and ever so memorable. I don't think I'm remembering him better or worse looking than he really was." She purses her lips at the man, who dips his head at them like a gentleman, and Cooper too dips her head in a heavy greeting, "Monsieur."

Fabia spares him rather a long glance, and returns his nod; she whispers to Cooper, "I wouldn't have said no," and lifts her hand from her leg to nudge her gently in the unmentionable sweater. Her hand replaces itself — round the back of her waist, letting her cuddle even closer, as saccharine powder always makes her wont to do. Her eyes drift back to the dancing; the pas de deux has segued into a glorious ensemble piece, in which all the girl dancers look just a tiny bit like Fabia, in their varying ways. Well, she hasn't very many tracks in her mind, has she? "How did you know him?" she asks beneath the music, lifting her head upwards and to the side, bringing her lips nearer to Cooper's ear so these quiet words will be sure to reach her.

Cooper laughs lightly at Fabia's approval commenting idly, "I think you would have adored him. He was a very elegant sort." The hooded man gives the blonde a knowing sort of smirk, which make Cooper irritated a little, her brow furrowing. It's a good thing she had someone so close to comfort her. Her own hand runs down Fabia's arm and over the top of the woman's hands until she laces her fingers around Fabia's. "We sort of came together through work. In fact, we first started going at it when we were stuck in an elevator together," she snorts and shakes her head, "We were good friends for a while after that." Cooper looks away from the man, once more mesmerized by all the dancers and notes with a grin, "Look, they all have henna'd hair!" Her hand runs through Fabia's colors locks.

A degree of effort is required to draw Fabia's hair free of its chignon; but she doesn't object to Cooper making it, and indeed purrs slightly at the sensation of fingertips running over her scalp. "Well, you know, I like… different sorts…" It seems as though her words ought to make bubbles in their pretty fishpond, but they don't, they only make faint ripples, which wash up against Cooper and cease there. "Such pretty girls, aren't they… Almost all ballet dancers are pretty, you know, you simply don't get into a company if you haven't a decent look about you as well as…"

The stage abruptly clears, and castanets ring out again; Fabia's phantasm is dancing a solo entirely as dramatic and flirtatious as her entrance, leaping so high she seems to be swimming, propelled upward by her powerful, shapely legs and supported thereafter by the water all about her. The final diagonal of frantic, ever-faster pirouettes into fifth has the real Fabia gasping with aesthetic satisfaction. Even the gentleman upon the rock offers discreet applause.

"That you do indeed," Cooper smirks. But Fabia doesn't finish her sentence. "As well as?" she inquires further, but turning to watch the stage, she sees why the woman stopped so suddenly. Throughout the solo, all three audience members watch on in awe. Cooper, like her gentleman phantom, is also applauding with ever leap, and stretch and swirl. The dancer's movements are so powerful even the lilly growth around her seems to sway with the motions she's making through the water. "That's ridiculous that you were ever able to do that," she says under her breath still watching, and with a grin she comments, "You look like…I don't know… you have this look on your face like I've never seen before. Like you're completely alive within your element." She's talking about Kitri of course. Being a dancing fish on her watery stage. "Do you ever miss it?"

As Fabia's phantasm flickers away into the 'wings', to be replaced by a trio composed of Basilio and the flower girls who have been around and about throughout the performance — the real Fabia sinks still more deeply into Cooper's embrace and utters with bleak, husky honesty, "Every fucking day."

Cooper exhales through her nose, bubbles leaving and rising upward. When Kitri disappears, the koi fish begin waning around the stage, swimming off back to wherever they came from. Some of them flickering and disappearing before they even get to far. Layer by layer, the gold and black hues of the fish thin out. "I'm sure," her arm tightens around Fabia as she whispers her reply to watch the last moments of the performance, "I'm sure that you do." There's some understanding in her voice. In fact something in Cooper even misses the vision of the dancing Fabia already, her eyes searching the darkness of the stage wings for her. Biting her lip, Cooper places a hand delicately on the side of the woman's face, pulling her in to plant gentle kisses on her temple, on her cheek, on the corner of her mouth.

Bonelessly languid, drunk and a little high to boot, Fabia rolls her head back against Cooper's shoulder and nuzzles into her kisses. Her lips almost catch Cooper's; and then, "Wait," she breathes, "it's not quite…"

Her arm snuggles round Cooper's waist, her other hand lifts in a gesture — as an octet of dancers, four henna-haired girls and four matadors with capes a-swirling, herald the return of the leading dancers, Fabia and her more-or-less queer ex-partner, hand in hand, then their triumphal elopement from the stage. They're pursued, of course, by Kitri's father the innkeeper, the ridiculously foppish suitor he had in mind for his daughter, and a riot of fluttering red Spanish skirts and capes as a curtain of water-lilies floats down…

"Dear God," is Fabia's review, uttered with unfathomable longing.

Such warm cheeks and soft skin! Cooper is ready to sink into a real kiss, but she's halted and her attention is brought back onto the stage. And with just much entertainment as before, this time resting her chin on Fabia's shoulder, lip biting with anxiety at the plot - the elopement, the pursuit. Even Monsieur leans forward on his knees as he watches on. Even before she's ready to accept an end, the curtains fall leaving the three-person audience in silence. Cooper sits still a moment, taking the performance in with her arms wrapped around Fabia. "You're still her, you know?" she turns her head to whisper into Fabia's ear and nuzzling just beneath the lobe. "You're still her. Magnetic, lively, expressive, captivating. Just … you're not dancing perhaps. But you're still her."

The water-lilies cascade and waft gently in the water, creeping out to cover the other walls, secluding Fabia and Cooper little by little in a smaller, more private aquatic paradise… "Am I?" the regrettably former dancer sighs, shying away from Cooper's lips as they brush against skin suddenly too sensitive, and then thinking better of it and pressing into them again. She turns within the circle of Cooper's arms, wrapping her own more securely about her friend, pushing up that awful sweater to find the warmth of her beneath.

When the flora and fauna of under water life begins to surround them, the man stands up from his rock. His knowing smirk is still on his face when says, "Adieu, Genevieve." And he disappears behind a wall of lilies. Cooper hears the loneliness of his farewell, and chooses this time to ignore it, instead opting to clutch Fabia tighter.

"Yes," Cooper confirms her answer simply, trying to pull Fabia back in when she pulls away. But the woman gives in a little, just as she hoped she would. "You certainly are. I think … maybe at one point in your life you needed dance to feel that way." A peck is placed on Fabia's long, lovely neck, "You may not realize it, but you no longer need it now. You no longer need dance to be Kitri." Cooper shivers a bit at the initial chill of Fabia's hands on her midriff, but her own body warmth should take care of that soon enough.

The marvelous green powder Fabia put in their cocktails in such heaping spoonfuls has done its work well; or was it the pleasure of the ballet performance which has left her still more pliant, more affectionate, less susceptible to gloomy thoughts, than is her inevitable wont? The thought flickers through her that she doesn't trust Cooper's reassurances, that she'll never stop needing these things she remembers deep within every muscle and sinew of her body, but can't ever have again; but she's almost on the verge of believing, she wants to believe, and so instead of arguing she leans in, tightening her hold upon the young blonde Auror, and gives her an intimate smirk which suggests that she might be waiting for a kiss. Convince me.

Cooper leaning her head against the back of the couch she smiles at Fabia - a sweet simple smile that's still so warm only a former Hufflepuff could give it. She watches the woman grapple with her words internally, all while petting the back of the woman's cheek with her hands. The water in the room begins to drain, slowly and slowly around them. Cooper's aware that it would take more than just a couple words to convince Fabia out of a lifetime of elegant movement. But that doesn't seem to bother her this very moment. Instead, a bit of her breath is let out her body when the dancer pulls her in closer. The taunting smirk is met with her own. Her fingers pull the strap down Fabia's shoulder slightly, Cooper kisses the skin where it was. She reclaims the spot where her hand ran through the colored hair, and she maintains a firm grip at the back of Fabia's head, pulling it back with gentle force so that she can trail up the collar bone. And eventually she lands back into a deep kiss with her, that hand keeping the dancer's lips locked with hers, until she parts for a brief question, "Lend me a shirt to sleep in tonight, will you?"

"I can't imagine you'll need one, darling."

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