(1938-12-11) The Lady is Always Right
Details for The Lady is Always Right
Summary: Christmas shopping turns into lunch with an unexpected small guest.
Date: 11th December 1938
Location: Diagon Alley, then on to a muggle bistro.
Related:
Characters
CooperFabiaFrid

Cheap cigarette between her lips, weird Saluki dog in tow, Cooper looks positively lost among holiday shoppers in Diagon Alley. Left and right they bustle carrying fun, festive looking packages with no regard for the woman and her creature as they push their way past her. To be fair, she's standing in the middle of the Alley, a lost look on her face and she strolls annoyingly slow to stop and ponder at the display in Madam Malkin's.

An arm reaches out to stop yet another busy looking witch from bumping Cooper and jostling her. An arm, at one end of which is a bag emblazoned with the muggle Harrods of Knightsbridge, and the other end is a familiar looking valet. "You do realise, ma'am, that somebody's going to bowl you over if you're not careful?" Frid warns, half smile on his face as he moves to block the general flow of busy shoppers from doing just that.

Only tail end of that "heroic" act is caught by Cooper, when she hears the shuffling of bags far too close to her ear. Her head turns to to spot the arm and then the logo on the bag and then the valet himself. "Oh Frid, on duty or is it a Frid's Frid sort of day?" she blinks casually, as if she was never at risk in the first place. The cigarette smoke lingers up into the air, "Why? What'm I doing?" Meanwhile, the Saluki lingers over to Frid's feet, getting a whiff of the man's legs.

"Technically on duty," Frid admits, doing his best to keep his leg from the dog and shifting his weight from foot to foot in order to accomplish just that. "But I'm on a long leash today. Various items of business to do in London, so I'm not expected back until much later on." Another shopper barely misses bumping into the pair, and he sets a hand on her shoulder to guide her in closer to the shopfront and out of the way. "You look stumped. Can I help?"

Cooper tiptoes a bit to try and get glance of what goods exactly count as 'various items of business.' "Hope you got some good stuff." She grins impishly, but she's moved again and following Frid's lead, she nods, "Yeah. You wouldn't happen to know what looks good on a little girl, would you? I should note she's a muggle, but thought I'd get some ideas here first." Despite Frid's attempts, the pup is relentless, sniffing about up his leg until his nose is unabashedly in the man's crotch. Because that's where you go if you really want to know a person, according to every dog ever.

Parcels. Small, wrapped parcels. The curiosity will have to wait. "Do you know how old the girl is?" Frid queries, brow furrowing. "Mrs. Fairfax has various grandchildren we" by which he means he "buy for. There's a tailor I know, used to work on Savile Row, whom I could speak with for you, if you like?" As for the nose in his crotch, Frid does his best to nudge the dog away from him without making it too obvious that there's a saluki sniffing at his testicles.

Out the cigarette goes, grinded against a brick wall of the establishment. "Oh I don't know … 6, 7 years old?" Cooper's running a thumb along her bottom lip in thought. Only she pauses suddenly to double-take at Frid "Mrs. Fairfax has grandchildren? I didn't even think she had children…" The dog just won't give. He swears he's found something notable in Frid's taint. What is it? Bacon? Treats? Cooper however doesn't seem to notice the Saluki's inappropriate violation of personal space.

"Mrs. Fairfax's daughter has been quite prolific," Frid agrees solemnly, eventually just grasping the dog's collar to hold it away from him. "Still, I'm sure my acquaintance can draw up something suitable. He is, of course, a muggle. We were in the army together."

"A daughter!" Cooper exclaims in surprise, "That must have been one hell of a childhood. Is she anything like her mother?" The Saluki whimpers, looking apologetically up at Frid for offending him so, and yet he still tries to push forward a little. He's merely trying to be friendly. Patting her pockets, Cooper pulls out a pad and a stubby pencil, "What'd you say this bloke's name was again and where can I find him?"

"Frank Wright," Frid intones clearly, eyeing the dog in warning. "Do you have access to a telephone, ma'am? He's on Barnet 221. Tell him Fred Lee sent you. I didn't know you had a dog."

The pencil scratches across the paper. Cooper speaks as she writes, "Frank. Wright. Barnet 221. Fred Le- Fred Lee?" She blinks, frowns and looks up at the valet, "Where on earth did Frid come from then?" Message received, the Saluki whines and chooses not to push further. Dipping his head and look giving Frid the puppy eyes that he knows usually works with most people. "Oh yeah, got him last year. He was weee little puppy then," she baby talks the black dog, petting behind his ears affectionately, "Fred Lee, meet Maggot. Maggot, meet Fred Lee." Huzzah, an introduction is made. The two can be pals now.

"Alfred," Frid explains simply, shrugging a shoulder. "Frid. Fred. Alf. Well, no, never Alf. I'm not really an Alf." He gives the puppy a wary smile, scratching the top of its head. "Maggot, how do you do. I was going to suggest you join me for a bite of lunch, but I'm not sure where you can take the dog in with you," he explains himself.

Cooper finishes taking her notes and back in the pocket the pad and pencil go back into the pocket. "You could be an Alf if you believed," she grins brightly. The dog bows his head regally at Frid's greeting. "Oh by all means, let's eat. I can leave this guy outside. He's a good fellow, and I'll even treat." Just like last time! "Feeling Leaky? Or are you in the mood for something more muggle?"

"I'd always rather something more muggle," Frid admits in a rare moment of absolute candour, his brow furrowing a little. "This isn't my world, fabulous as it is. I'd rather have a pint, a pie, and a moan about the weather and the cricket score than a fizzing whatever and a deep conversation about quidditch."

"Frid! Frid! FRID!" calls a breathless mezzo-soprano some short distance away through the crowd of lunchtime shoppers. Its owner has espied the strong and stalwart figure of, well, Frid; but not yet the small blonde Auror with whose canine companion he has stopped to exchange friendly greetings.

Sable coat, blue and white and silver-grey paisley headscarf, and enormous violet-tinted sun-spectacles. Fabia Fairfax. "Frid!" she gasps, clasping a suede-gloved hand to her enfurred bosom, "I forgot to say about the oh Cooper, sweetie." And the diversion is very much instantaneous.

Cooper snorts and grins. A finger pushes her thick glasses up the slope of her nose, before she throws the leash free hand up in the air and exclaims, "Then let's get out of here!" Her momentum is taken over by the dulcet tones of Fabulous Fairfax in all her furry glory. "Oh! Speak of the devil," she grins, waving her hand to the woman.

Frid takes a half pace back, switching immediately from casual Frid to on duty Frid, Harrods bag at his side as he waits, watching Fabia for her next need or want, so he can be prepared before she even knows it herself. He just sort of… fades. He's there, he's clearly there, but when he doesn't want to be spotted, he's very easy to forget about.

Fabia dives in upon Cooper to kiss her a hair's breadth from each cheek — narrowly, so narrowly avoiding lipstick collisions — and dives out again with somehow a hold upon both of her hands, as well as a beaming smile. "What a delight," she says, and means it. "What were you two just saying?" she looks from her to Frid and the shopping, and back again. "Get out of here to…?"

Cooper obliges the greeting, making the motion just not the kissy face. Good god she can't pull that off. "A delight indeed! Didn't know you'd be in the area as well. I feel that today's been a real treat," she says. "We were just talking about grabbing a bite to eat, weren't we Fri-" Oh. Where'd he go? Valet Frid certainly made such a smooth transition that even the sharp auror didn't notice him for a second. So she pats his shoulder like a chum, as if she needed to touch him to make sure he was real again, "Right. Food, we were saying. Someplace muggle."

"Better stay this side of the river, though," Frid suggests, glancing briefly upwards. "I'd rather not be stuck on the south bank if it starts to rain. It's impossible to get a taxi."

"Oh!" Fabia exclaims. "But I was just going to luncheon, when I saw Frid and thought—" Well, what did she think? It's slipped her mind now. "You can both just come with me. Can't you?" And this seems to be more a question she must answer herself, for she subjects their attire to the most minor scrutiny — Frid's nondescript suit and hat, Cooper's — well, Cooper's… — and nods, firmly. "Yes, you can. Do let's. Oh, and bring the dog, the dog will be a hit!"

With Fabia hanging on to one arm, Frid uses the other to hail a taxicab; the address she gives is not any well-known lunching spot, but the Army and Navy Stores in Victoria Street. "I just have to pick up one little thing," she promises, "it won't take a minute, and then we'll have a lovely bite of something in Kensington. A little place I know. Not at all pretentious."

The driver is not terribly keen upon a quartet of passengers including a Saluki, but this is another of those points at which Fabia's momentum is extremely useful. "Oh, but he's such a nice little dog," she insists to the driver, lowering her sun-specs to twinkle gorgeously and mendaciously; and as she seems also to have a great deal of Muggle money concealed about her person today… of a provenance opaque even to Frid… They get into their taxi.

"Surely. Anywhere is better than here right now," Cooper pouts at the passing shoppers, who seem to be getting more numerous and more aggressive. The auror looks rather uneasy at the consumer crowd. And as she looks to the sky for inclement weather, Maggot finds himself intrigued by Fabia's sable coat. It has fur like himself…but it doesn't smell alive…in fact it smells - the dog catches a whiff of the woman's heady scent and groans unpleasantly. And with the group she follows through Leaky and then into a taxi.

The Auror, the Squib, and the Saluki wait in the taxi — no, this isn't the beginning of a filthy joke — while the vivacious woman who has dragged them all this far runs into the Army and Navy Stores for her just a little thing.

It is just a little boy, not a day over five years old, bundled up in a warm navy blue coat and a blue-grey woolly hat and scarf. As they dash together along the crowded pavement to the taxi he holds Fabia's hand tightly, looking up at her in preference to the rest of the world. She gets in again, sits him on her knee, beams at the others, and says, "Well, shall we go? Driver—" And she gives directions to a French bistro on a side-street in Kensington.

And Frid, being Frid and therefore prepared for every eventuality, produces from somewhere about his person a small lollipop and a toy model train, which are offered over to the small boy. "You could have mentioned, madam," he chides mildly, "this morning."

Cooper is looking rather forward to this lunch. She's dragged about with Maggot cuddled up in her lap. It's an awkward fit. He's getting very tall. And suddenly her blue eyes go wide when Fabia comes out with a little boy, which turns into a quiet look of terror when she subsequently brings him into the car. Blinking, she clutches her dog a bit tighter, looking to Frid an mouthing, 'What is that?' Her finger pointing of course to the little boy.

The small boy regards these offerings very seriously holding one in either hand. "Thank you, Mr Lee," he answers.

"Oh, what's he going to do with those before luncheon, Frid? Take them back and give them to him again later, will you?" puts in his grandmother, over his shoulder, after disciplining the attempts of his woolly scarf to block her view. "And this is my friend Miss Cooper. Do you remember what I taught you to say?"

Surrendering the train and the lollipop with a hint of anxiety, but no animosity — he has been accustomed from his cradle to grandmaternal whims and knows they usually turn out all right for him in the end — the boy looks at Cooper, clears his throat, and utters in a childish soprano: "Enchante, Mademoiselle Cooper. Je m'appelle John Hargreaves fils. C'est un plaisir de vous rencontrer." He stumbles a little over the 'r' sounds, as any English boy would, but Fabia has had her paws on him for several afternoons recently — and it shows… He reaches doubtfully over the back seat of the taxi, looking for her hand.

Fabia beams, and squeezes him. "So malleable at this age," she says happily.

Frid gives the boy a wink as he tucks the toy back away, subtly rolling his eyes towards Fabia. He doesn't add anything, what could he add, but murmurs quietly to Cooper, "Mrs. Fairfax's eldest grandson, Master John."

Whatever it is, Cooper is clearly uncomfortable, but because her tummy is rumbly and she rather enjoys her company she tries her best to hide it. "Uhm…tres heureuse…," she mutters out the abrupt, all to casual reply. "Erm…c'est mon chien…Maggot." The dog on the other hand, isn't shy! Already decided that he likes Master John, he gives the boy a friendly lick, which makes Cooper pull him back to control his excitement. "Calm down."

The natural comradeship between a small boy and a rapidly expanding dog, blossoms beautifully in the back of the taxi all the way to Fabia's little French bistro; the ladies in whose laps the new friends are arranged try to chat, of course, about other things, but before long it's, "Oh, how old's yours?" "Three." "Mine's four and a half and a bit, still a puppy really!"

The owner of the bistro knows Fabia; knows that whoever she claims to be bringing to luncheon when she rings up for a table, the actual composition of her party will be something else, will change at least twice before she leaves, and as for the number of them who have bothered to bring any sort of cash money — but then one of them will always turn out to be a French count, or an American oil millionaire, or an Italian racing-car driver who's just won the Grand Prix, or the exiled King of Sweden. She often drags in three or four beautiful women, too, and that never looks bad for a place, now does it. So he puts up with the times when she arrives with… a nondescript ex-soldier… a blind woman who dressed in the dark… a small boy… and a dog. Well, the Saluki at least is an elegant creature and a credit to his establishment.

They're shown to a darker corner than usual, though. Well, what can she expect? And then, "Perhaps we might accommodate this gentleman elsewhere?" he suggests diffidently, offering his hand for Maggot's leash.

Cooper has been keeping a healthy and yet non-offensive distance from the boy, instead standing closer to the Valet. The bistro's owner naturally looks down his nose at her, to which she simply just pushes her glasses up a bit more - perhaps just a bit sloppier than usual to rub it in the man's face. "Oh uhm yes," she reliquishes the leash and the man takes the pup away, much to the disappointment of Master John. And muttering to Fabia she admits, "I only learned you had offspring an hour ago…"

They left their coats as soon as they came in, of course, Fabia slipping her tinted sun-spectacles and headscarf into the pockets of her fur and dumping it unceremoniously into the owner's hands in order personally to attend to the unbuttoning of her grandson's overcoat and see that his hat and mittens (on a string; how she rolled her eyes and murmured to the other grown-ups, "The way Emma dresses him!") went into his pockets. They sit side by side now, he in a neat and somber dark suit which makes him look more fit for a funeral than a day out with the woman he calls Grandmere, who is in Maggot's absence the sole focus of his gaze; she in ferociously smart but deadly respectable Hardy Amies tweeds and a turquoise silk blouse tied in a bow against her throat.

"Only one," Fabia answers Cooper, giggling, "but she's been multiplying like a bunny, sweetie." Ah! But where could Cooper have been hearing such things, an hour ago? She gazes keenly across at Frid, on the Auror's other side; "What have you been telling this lovely creature? Not that it's a secret," she's switched from Frid to Cooper again, "I'd hardly have introduced you if it were…" The owner, having transferred Maggot into an underling's care, returns at this juncture and Fabia, who has not yet touched her menu, addresses him thuswise in French: "Just bring us everything that's best and freshest today, sweetie, you know I trust you implicitly. I take full responsibility for my grandson's palate, he's quite old enough to have it expanded."

"As you wish, madame." The menus disappear; the owner bows and does the same.

"Miss Cooper was expressing an interest in finding clothing for a young lady of a similar age, madam," Frid explains, offering up his hat to the hatrack as tribute and waiting to sit until the ladies have done so. "I suggested my friend, Mr. Wright, who we have previously purchased from for your grandchildren."

Cooper has mittens like those. They're shoved into her oversized jacket's pockets, the very same jacket that had been kindly taken care of for her. But she can reveal that details later. "Oh uhm yes. Don't know a thing about clothing." She needn't tell them that. "Or children. So I needed some assistance getting some for a young girl. For uhm…charity." Picking up the napkin before her, she tucks it into her sweater collar. Like a bib.

The glance Fabia exchanges with Frid at that moment could only be described as fondly parental. They've brought two little ones out to lunch with them, it seems. Courtesy requires that Fabia tucks her napkin into her collar too; next to her, Master John, who has just finished arranging his in his lap with scientific precision, looks up at her and gasps: "Grandmere! Your napkin!"

"I can put my napkin where I like," she tells him, "because I'm a grown-up, but you mustn't ever until you're eighteen, d'you understand? And for Christ's sake don't tell your mother." A pause. "And don't tell her I said for Christ's sake, either. Frid, light me a cigarette before I fade away from sheer— Cooper, my sunshine, tell us about your charitable endeavours." A sudden thought. "John, do you need to wash your hands? How covered in dog are you?" She inspects his hands. "Oh, well, I suppose that's not too bad. You'll do for a casual luncheon with friends, but for dinner you'd certainly have to wash up. Do you remember what I was telling you about there being a time and a place? Well, this is it."

Frid does the unthinkable, which he, apparently can get away with. He goes through Fabia's bag. Admittedly, he packed it, but the thought is still there. One case of cigarettes, one cigarette holder, and from his own back pocket, a book of matches. A scratch and a hiss, a puff of smoke, and then the cigarette and holder are offered over. "A lady, Master John, is always right," he offers as his own advice.

Cooper doesn't understand what she's doing wrong. And in fact might not even notice how her classier companions were accomodating her so. "Oh not too much of an endeavor really. I was at that Kindertransport charity drive at the BBC, and met a young jewish girl there. Separated from her parents the poor thing." The cigarette makes her want one too. She procures her cheap ones, which earns a subtle appalling glance from a nearby waiter while she slips it between her lips. "Anyhow I'm trying to do a bit more than just get her a new set of clothes. Frid, mind if I bum a match off you?"

The phrase 'bum a match' registers within the enquiring mind of young Master John. The next time he sees his father looking for a match to light a cigarette, out it'll pop; and good old Grandmere will be in the soup. Again.

With her twelve-inch ebony cigarette holder to fondle between her fingers, and the smoke from that first long, desperate drag percolating through her lungs, Fabia's incipient nervousness eases and her luncheon-party begins to seem like a jolly idea all over again. No matter what the subject that's just come up. "There are rather a lot of those children, aren't there? I think I read the beginning of an article in the paper the other day while I was waiting at the manicurist's but then I had to put my hands in to soak and I didn't finish it — you must let me know what the thing is that one ought to do," she insists. "Clothes, you said? Make sure you buy them a size too big, though, so she can grow into them, they often grow like weeds. What else had you in mind?"

The first course arrives. "Potage au Saint Germain," the waiter explains discreetly, by which he means split pea soup.

"Oh, lord," Fabia sighs, diverted, "this is always very good here."

"Keeping them well clear of Mr. Mosley and his frothing rhetoric would be my second recommendation," Frid notes quietly, tearing off another match and cupping a hand around Cooper's cigarette as he lights it for her. "Are they German jews? That might become somewhat awkward if Mr. Chamberlain fails to keep peace."

"Awkward wouldn't even begin to cut it," Cooper puffs, the cigarette comes to life, and she smiles an appreciative 'merci' to Frid. They're in a French restaurant after all! "Yes they're German jews, and their government is demanding bloody gold for every child we bring over here. Not to mention, their parents are not allowed to leave." There's a deep irritation in the woman's voice as she smokes and is served her soup. Naturally, the wrong spoon is picked up to partake in it. "Anyhow, for this particular girl. I'd like to see if I could find a way to get in touch with her parents. I've some German contacts from an assignment I had done there in the past. Only I can't reach them with out some diplomatic help. Fabia, have you entertained anyone international lately?"

The frequent and scintillating hostess so appealed to her, manages to swallow a (correct) spoonful of her soup before she succumbs to a fit of the giggles. This necessitates the pulling-out of her napkin from the front of her suit jacket, that she might dab with it at her lips as she sighs and flutters her eyelashes at Cooper. After that it ends up, well, in her lap where it belongs, because she isn't thinking about it anymore. "Oh, dear, I wonder whether… I do know someone who has spent much of his career in the diplomatic service, but the thing of it is, he's refusing to take another post at the moment. Not till Chamberlain's thrown out, he says, which he hopes will be any day now, but, you know," she lowers her voice, "he's been saying that for weeks. He's giving me dinner this evening, perhaps I could… What exactly is it you want done?"

And the eyelashes resume fluttering, at double speed, in a different direction. "Frid, my angel," she purrs, "will you watch John for a few minutes while Cooper and I powder our noses? Don't worry. We shan't let the soup get cold."

Cooper pouts, taking a heaping amoung of the potage in her mouth and then comments, soup half swallowed, "As he should be! Poland was a mistake, I tell you. You should hear the-," she stops herself and grumpily waves her hand dismissing the direciton that sentence was going. "I mean in an ideal world it would be nice to somehow reunite the family over here … But if I have to settle with a correspondence then that's certainly better than nothing. Just to let them know, their daughter's alright, and so she has something from them. It would perhaps be a bit easier to do this magically (she whispers this word), but I'm open to more mundane avenues." What's that sound? Gears? Turning in Cooper's head? The woman's eyes burn with candid fervor as she devises plans.

In fact it's like she's forgotten she had company at all until Fabia mentions the powder room. "Powder our … But what about Frid and your …," she gestures to the two males at the table. But still half caught in the daze of her charity endeavors, Cooper blindly shrugs and complies, roughly wiping hints of green soup off her bib nakin and then tugging it out of her collar to leave it on the table.

The two women are gone for quite sometime. Roughly over 15 minutes perhaps, as Frid and child have their soup and man time. When they step out, they return thoroughly powdered…with rouge it may seem. Only it's not rouge. They're flushed, not quite meeting one another's gaze. Cooper has her hands shoved in her pockets, a solemn, serious look on her face despite her pink cheeks. She pushes her glasses up again, takes a seat and recreates her bib. Frid's close proximity makes a certain red color apparent on the auror's lips. Was she wearing lipstick when they ran into one another.

And when little John queried, half way through their soup, exactly where Grandmere and the other lady went, Frid was quick to insist that they had gone to powder their noses. And when it looked like it was taking some time, and the question resurfaced, he tried again with the 'a lady is always right' line. And at the third? "A gentleman does not ask where a…" and then, thank goodness, they're weaving their red cheeked way back over to the table. The women get a resigned look each, and he silently tops up their glasses from the ordered wine.

The soup did get cold, and was just, upon the ladies' return, replaced with duck. Duck! How delightful. So solid, so cheerful, at this time of year. Fabia smiles benevolently upon the duck and the waiter who bore it hither. "I'm so glad we could have a little chat about writing to Germany," she says ingenuously to Cooper, from beneath lowered eyelashes, "I'll be sure to ask my friend whether there's anything at all he can do in that department. John, did you like your soup? It was — what did you say? Speak clearly, sweetie, you want people to hear what you have to say! Well, did you have most of it? Good boy. You can never tell from a first taste whether or not you like something," and this has the taste of something repeated, "you must keep trying it for a while and really think about it in order to make up your mind, mmm? This is a duck breast, it's just like the chicken breast we had last time at the Grill Room, do you remember where to cut into it or would you like Grandmere to show you again? All right, sweetie." And, wrapping her diamond-bedecked hands around his tiny paws, which in turn hold his knife and fork, she demonstrates the most correct and economical duck-dismembering technique. "There, you see, you can do it."

Again, wrong fork, which Cooper ungracefully manhandles the delicate duck with. She concentrated awfully hard on eating, her head dipped down to hide the blush on her face. And when Frid gives her the resigned look, she dips her head even though her, throwing him a pouty glance that says 'Only God can judge me.' "Yes, that would be very helpful indeed. If you could also have him make mention about a doll the girl used to have, that would be nice," she says to Fabia and turns uneasy again when she's all attentions to the kid. Ironic how Cooper can both do a favor for a little girl and yet felt uncomfortable in the presence of a child. And looking around for the split pea soup she hmms to Frid, "They took away the potage, then? I was sort of looking forward to the rest…"

"I suspect it was cold, Miss Cooper," Frid mentions, raising a brow. "I'm not certain it would be particularly palatable when cold. Do try the duck, however, with a little of the jus." He takes up his own fork, holding it up for a moment as he looks to Cooper, then tucks in. This fork, woman. This one. "Where is the child being put up, ma'am? In London?"

"Mmm yes, it's quite delicious. Not dry at all," Cooper replies delightfully with a full mouth. Frid's motion, is not lost on the woman. And with a cheek puffed with food, she blinks at the valet then looks at the two others for confirmation. Even Master John is using the right fork, and looks strangely right back at Cooper. Clearing her throat, she relinquishes her cutlery for the correct on this time and continues on sawing at her fowl. "I'm not entirely sure. I believe its London but I'll have to double check. Speak any German from your Great War days Frid? The kids seem to like it when they can communicate with someone." Cooper found this out the hard way when a bunch of young harrow faces lit up upon realizing she was fluent.

"No," Frid responds shortly, perhaps a little too abruptly, as it draws a Look from Fabia and a confused frown from the youngster. He clears his throat quietly, adding more civilly, "We weren't precisely on speaking terms with the huns, ma'am. No formal introductions, you understand. And it's not a language I've ever felt the need to pick up."

Cooper jumps a little at the unexpected reply. Midway through chewing, the auror too throws a surprised look at Frid alongwith Fabia and the child. "Oh … I erm … understand," she continues eating, "Apologies I though maybe you had picked it up a bit. Done some translating work or something. What did you do in the army anyhow?"

"I shot Germans, ma'am," the valet replies quietly, raising a brow. "King's Royal Rifle Corps. Ypres. The Somme. Flanders. Generally unpleasant and not recommended as a holiday destination."

"Flanders? Or shooting Germans?" Cooper replies, wearing her impish smile again. Her minor attempt on lightening the situation. Smile a little Frid, baby. She pauses a moment, musing to herself. "You know…I've never actually handled a gun before." A beat. "Are you a good shot?"

Frid glances briefly to Fabia, this same vein of conversation having caused some consternation last he admitted it, and so he just tucks into his duck, enjoying a mouthful of it before informing her, "I'm not bad. But I can't see any reason you'd need to handle a rifle, ma'am. Did you plan to dress as a man and sign up in a flush of patriotic fervour?"

Cooper blinks and seems to actually consider the plan. "Wait, can I do that?" she asks Frid, but then shakes the idea out of her head and continues back onto her original topic. "No, but I've had a mostly mug-erm… mundane upbringing only … school got in the way and it sort of robbed me of some experiences. I've always wanted to shoot a gun at least once though." She drops hint one. "And drive a car." That's hint two.

"I'd adore to teach you to drive!" Fabia squeals.

"We can borrow a car," Frid hastily adds. Because… noooo. Not his pride and joy! Nooooo!

Alas, then Master John pulls her down to whisper something. "Hmm, sweetie? Oh." She puts down her knife and fork. "I'll go and show him where it is. Do pardon us." And Frid finally has his moment alone with Cooper.

"We can arrange the driving," Frid allows, as the other two disappear for a time. "And I'm sure Mrs. Fairfax has any number of friends who might take you hunting. Or I could see what I could do there," he adds after a moment's consideration. "I know a man who works for Lord Bedford, and I'm sure we could join him on the cull, maybe get some venison for supper some time. If you like, of course."

Look at those big blues! How they glow with delight at their willingness to show her the muggle ropes. Cooper could hardly accept before the brat had to pee. Duck still in her mouth she let out a muffled, "Really? You're not lying? You'll teach me to drive? And…and organize a hunt! I'll get to shoot around with real refined folks? Oh!" She can hardly contain her excitement in the way, her mouth can hardly contain her food. "Wait … will they expect me to wear a dress and such like mug-mundane ladies are expected to wear?"

Frid clears his throat quietly, amused by the excitement if anything. "Tweeds, I think, ma'am, are the usual expectation. Or if you come out with me and a chap I know, then I'd just recommend dark, warm clothing and a hat. And a willingness to run if we need to."

For a moment, Cooper looks slightly downcast and she hmms, "Hmmm I don't own tweeds. And I don't want to look disrespectful…" What can she do, what can she do? Her eyes wander to Fabia's chair and she pushes her glasses up oncemore, "I don't suppose Fabia has some that she'd be willing to lend, does she? She can't be all sable and satin. Otherwise, I'll just go out and buy some. Then return it after I'm done." Retail worker's nightmare.

A French lesson is in full swing as Fabia leads her descendant back to the table again; she's quizzing him, it seems, on everything she told him on the way to the loo, when, it must be said, he wasn't at his most attentive. She seems crushed by how little he's retained. "Well, sweetie, what's the word for that?" she asks him, pointing to a clock on a side table in the corner into which they've been tucked. It's slipped his mind. She sighs. "We're making very little headway," she remarks to the table. "What have we missed? Oh, do you know, I don't think I want any more of this duck. Do you want to finish my duck?" she asks Cooper.

"I'm sure she might, ma'am," Frid insists, but then, ahh, excellent, Fabia is returned. O rapture. O joy. "Mrs. Fairfax, you have friends who hunt, do you not?"

"Frid and I were merely talking about hunting the numerous amount of options he can offer me," Cooper says brightly to Fabia. There's a glow on her face, rosy and youthful, like a child on her birthday. "Only I'd need tweeds to shoot with his fancy folk….and good manners…maybe I'll just stick to the other option. Dark clothes and running sound much more realistic to me."

Fabia's hand, having shoved away the remains of her duck, reaches now for assorted glasses and mixes a little wine and water for John now that he has something in his stomach. So he can have the taste. She puts the glass in his hand, drinks contentedly from her own, and answers, "Not as many as I used to, of course, it's not something I've gone in for much myself, but, you know, in this country there are always people slaughtering something… Why d'you ask? Oh, sweetie, if ever you haven't any clothes you need, you can just borrow mine. I know," she beams at Cooper, "we're not too far off in size… What's this about running round in the dark, Frid? I thought that was more my specialty than yours. Is there something you'd like to tell me — later?"

Frid clears his throat quietly, having the good grace to look suitably embarrassed. "I was merely offering a second option for Miss Cooper if she'd like to help a friend of mine out with the cull. Quietly."

Since the duck was offered to her, Cooper digs in curiously looking between Frid and Fabia. Uh oh. Was there something she should have not divulged? And suddenly said the underling who was taking care of Maggot comes rushing to their table with a polite but harried gait to him. "Miss you are needed immediately," he looks at Cooper with a panicky yet murderous gaze. The auror seems to know that look and dropping her fork instantly, she rises from her seat and says, "Oh god, what's he doing?" The underling shakes his head gruffly as if to say 'not here'. And to her company she says, "Pardon me." Needless to say, the blonde may likely never be welcome here again. Or at least not with her dog. Cooper retreats into the back with the bistro worker.

Culling. Quietly. Fabia shakes with laughter in her bold Hardy Amies tweeds. John gazes up at his grandmother, uncomprehending, but pleased she's pleased, sipping his watered wine and trying conscientiously to like it. Frid is, to judge by the look he's getting now, going to get another look, combined with assorted words, just the very moment he and she are a deux

But then the canine situation arises. Fabia sits up just a little straighter, because, apart from having to be escorted to the loo, her pet has behaved impeccably throughout. "Godspeed," she sighs to Cooper, and looks anxiously after her; "Such a beautiful animal, really," she says to Frid once Cooper has gone, "do you think we ought to get one or two dogs?"

"That depends, madam, if we intend to move back to London permanently," Frid decides, glancing to the boy. "Any decent sort of dog needs more than a quick jaunt around a street or two, and I think we could only provide that where we currently reside. I don't think it would be wise, on the whole."

Of course the child turns wide, wide eyes upon his magical Grandmere (he knows that, even without understanding the literal truth of it!) at the mention of a dog. Or multiple dogs. "Well, I shall think about it," she says, guiltily, looking down at him and understanding what she's done. After that taxi ride — oh, dear. "Everything's a little complicated, now, sweetie," she murmurs to him. "I'll tell you all about it one day, and we'll have a good laugh. Shall we have our dessert, now? Just one between us, with two spoons," she adds, raising her voice for the benefit of a hovering waiter, though her gaze doesn't leave her grandson's face. She can fascinate children, too, when she's of a mind to… "I'll have a taste and you can finish it for me. We don't want to be too full this afternoon, because we're going to — oh, I wanted it to be a surprise, but I'm so excited I can't resist telling you. We're going to the roof garden at Derry and Toms. It's just up the road. We'll walk as fast as we can, because it's chilly, but it won't be nearly so chilly on the roof because it's protected from the wind. I took you there in the summer, do you remember? It looks very different now, but I think it's still pretty, still one of the nicest places in London; and I wanted you to see the difference, because you're old enough, now, to notice and to appreciate things like that. In the spring we'll go again and you can see the same flowers return. It will be more special if you remember they were gone in the meantime. You'll be taller, too, and you'll see it all from higher up. I always like to revisit places I've been happy, and see how they've changed and feel how I've changed too. Do you see what I mean, sweetie?"

He may see, he may not see — it may grow upon him later. For now he only stares up at Fabia with eyes curiously like her own, waiting for whatever will be the next marvel she produces.

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