(1938-12-24) It's A Dog's Life, Being A Valet
Details for It's A Dog's Life, Being A Valet
Summary: All has been forgiven since the business of the saccharine powder. On Christmas Eve Cooper comes to call upon Fabia, her voice raised in song, and bearing a most charming gift.
Date: December 24th, 1938
Location: Upstairs at the Three Broomsticks
Related: The Lady Is Always Right

Fabia's Rooms

It is Christmas Eve. Despite what the cards would have you believe, there is no fine white dusting of snow outside, coating the landscape with serene stillness. No, it's just raining, grey, and rapidly getting darker as the afternoon wears on. The business of the various locals, enjoying the festivities over a few beers with friends, or more accurately a lot of beers with friends, is starting to top up the tills nicely, while upstairs in Fabia's rooms, Frid has relented and allowed her 'just one more' drink. As it's Christmas. This, of course, is having the opposite effect on the pub's financial state, and thus accruing a state of perfect balance.

The healer's demands that she cut back on the booze have been cutting back, moreover, on Fabia Fairfax's style. But Frid, bless him, has been working overtime to keep her distracted and amused these past several weeks, as the saccharine powder filters out of her system and the cravings wane — whenever she's not with one of her particular friends, Frid is at her side, escorting her on visits to the theatre and the cinema, interminable Christmas shopping expeditions round Selfridges and the Burlington Arcade and so forth (he is obliged to do all the wrapping of presents, and dispatch parcels to everyone on her list, which is not a short list), and wherever else she has a fancy to go. And she does have some awful sudden fancies, when she's struggling neither to dose herself with poisonous green powder nor to drink any more than she can stand. Just a martini when she's dressing, and another later in the evening. That's all, usually, honestly. Well, another tonight, because it's Christmas.

Also because it's Christmas, she's wearing a very red silk evening gown in the middle of the afternoon, and a greater than usual assortment of diamonds. In fact she's done up in rivalry with the little Christmas tree in the corner. She's kicked off her shoes, though, and crossed her stockinged ankles upon the arm of the sofa as she sprawls along it, propped up upon a mountain of pillows, sipping her martini and watching Frid do Friddish things. It's going to be a quiet Christmas. Usually she likes to get away for a couple of days, but she's trying to save money this year. Christmas at home. With the gin.

~Come desire of nations come! Fix in us, they humble home! Rise the woman's conquering seed, bruise in uuuusssss the serpent's head!~

A certain blonde gentlewoman is being led to Fabia's rooms after she appeared suddenly in the night with a cigarette, her creepy looking dog, and a holiday basket of malleable weaving that is kept shut with an obnoxious red bow. She's apparently two bottles of wine in and jolly with life - perhaps because just a few days ago Mrs. Fairfax had shared some troubling news. And after a painful visit to the healer's, she was all clear to go. How sweet life is when it's most at risk. At this moment, she's walking down the hall behind a bar wench, loudly singing the muggle carol in her deep baritone (or her best drunken attempt at it). Cooper relinquished her dog earlier, and she pauses the wench in the hallway every now and then to get close in her face and warn, "Tess, Tessa, Tessy … you take good care of my Maggot! You take good care of him." Somehow the poor girl manages to drag her to the door, and if the two hadn't heard the auror's singing already, she knocks on it to welcome their visitor.

The door is answered, to Tessa's knock and Cooper's voice, by an immaculate and exquisitely-written Frid; who has had a glass and a half of his Lagavulin already this merry Christmas Eve but doesn't look it. Yet. "Miss Cooper," he says very clearly, above the jazzy Muggle Christmas songs emanating from the gramophone on the other side of the sitting-room — this for Fabia's edification as well as a courtesy to her guest, for he knows that where she's sitting, craning her neck to see who's at the door, she can't see into the corridor. "Please, come in. I'm certain Mrs Fairfax will be delighted to see you."

"Oh, Cooper," the Mrs Fairfax in question coos, delightedly, swinging her stockinged feet down onto the floor. She sits up further, glittering and gay, and raises her martini glass in a sort of informal toast of greeting. "Sweetie, come in — come in. How are you? Are you quite all right? Oh, do sit down and — sweetie, do sit down." She can't seem to help repeating herself in her radiant enthusiasm. It's been a little while since they met, and the last time — well — the news she was obliged to impart wasn't the most felicitous…

"Frid," she utters quickly, lifting her eyes from Cooper to the dark figure two paces beyond her, "something for Cooper to drink, do please—" But he's already moving towards the drinks trolley, bless him. Anticipatory as ever.

~Adam's likeness now effaaahaaacee. Stamp thine image in its plaaahaacee. Second Adam from above! Reinstate us in thy - FRID!~

Bright and cheerful, Cooper's beamingly warm grin lights up the young gentlewoman's face from underneath the brim of her cloche had. She immediately steps forward to crane her arm around the valet's neck, doing an awkward combination of tip toe-ing and dragging the poor man down to her level so she can plant a gratuitous holiday peck on his cheek. "Merry Christmas." Cooper gives the man a friendly slap/pat on the beard. It's Christmas Eve. She's sloshed. Screw it!

But Mrs. Fairfax does make her appearance in her red, diamonded glory and with a hand in her cheek, Cooper mildly swoons just a bit. "Oh Fabia, honestly! A dress like that and you're all staying in?!" She tuts and does that weird air cheek kiss thing they always do. "Nevermind, I've gotten you both a present." Her eyebrows waggle as she presents, but not quite hands over the woven basket.

Frid's reaction to Cooper's excess of holiday cheer shall not be recorded, to spare the poor man any further reddening of the tips of his ears.

The 'weird air cheek kiss thing' is enough for starters, but the basket upon Cooper's arm — the revelation that it's a present, perhaps in answer to the extremely good bottle of plonk which was delivered from Fabia to Cooper two days ago, by Royal Mail not owl, to mark the season as Fabia always feels it ought to be marked — well, that's so terribly exciting that Fabia gets carried away and kisses Cooper on the lips, right there in front of Frid — lingering for a couple of seconds about it, too. "A present!" she laughs then. "Oh, bless you…" And she sits down again upon the sofa from which she so precipitously arose, pulling Cooper with her. And the basket too, by extension.

Weird air kiss thing. Check. Present shown. Check. Sudden whirlwind of a kiss. Not on the list, but check! Between the whip lash her inebriated state gives her, and the swift moves of Fabia Fairfax, Cooper needs a second to blink and process what went on. In the end, all that comes to mind is, "I thought healer's orders were to lay off the liquor." This statement, though directed to Fabia, earns Frid a look. You're supposed to be caring for her! The taste of gin and lipstick remain. And Cooper looks rather good in that shade. If only it weren't so sloppily smeared on, making her look like a cheap streetwalker. Only Cooper doesn't think to wipe it off so she'll be looking like one for the rest of the night.

"Anyhow, don't get too excited yet. I'm hoping you'll like it," Cooper says as she's pulled down onto the sofa. After undoing the bow, her arm digs into the basket to produce - a baby pug! A soft cream layer of fur with a dark mushy face that has a mixture of confusion and apathy at its surroundings. She's no bigger than the length of two hands. And best of all, she's quiet!

A soft sound is Frid placing a glass of something on the coffee-table for Cooper — something she'll like — and straightening into an unobtrusively watchful posture above the two women on the sofa. The two women and, now, the pug dog.

Fabia's eyes imitate dinner-plates and her lips form a small, silent 'O'. Her hands reach out to lift the tiny creature from Cooper's similarly tiny hands and hold it against the bosom of her evening gown, heedless of the short pale hairs already being shed upon the red silk by her new little friend with whom she has, it's plain to the meanest intelligence, fallen instantly, hopelessly, recklessly in love. "Oh," she whispers at last, as the puppy squirms against her, tiny pink tongue flicking out to lick at a manicured fingertip. "Oh, Cooper…"

Frid fixes a long gaze on the dog. Another on Cooper. Dog. Cooper. Dog. Cooper. One of whom is going to require walking, feeding, watering, grooming, and picking up the crap after. And the other of which is a pug. He merely closes his eyes for a long moment, drawing in a long-suffering breath as he ponders the logistics of this new present, which is for life, not just for Christmas, don't forget. Of course, given Fabia's usual attention span, it'll be entirely Frid's responsibility before the week's out.

The poor dear, taking in the heady French scent is a lot for the pup. Who does quite enjoy Fabia's warmth, but also must get used to the smell. Cooper throws a smile to Fabia then Frid, whose long sigh she took as a sigh of absolute enamoration for the creature. "So you both like it then!" she's already concluded in her drunken state, "Merry Christmas! A friend of mine gave her to me a few days ago and I figured she would make a lovely gift for you two. I haven't named her yet. Leave that one up to you pair."

Truth is, the puppy was the weakest in the litter that was bred from a fine show dog. Seems all her siblings were destined for greatness except this one. Cooper's breeder friend dumped it on her, and seeing as the auror didn't want it, she figures this would be the best way to get rid of it. But. They. Don't. Have. To. Know. This.

The basket is pushed out of the way as, holding the tiny pug easily in one hand through her period of inevitable olfactory confusion, Fabia leans forward to envelop Cooper in — more of the same. The puppy is thus twice as warm, between a person familiar to her and a person quite new, and perhaps that soothes her, or perhaps she's just of an amiable disposition, but she doesn't struggle against Fabia's love. Well, few do, do they. "She's beautiful," Fabia sighs to Cooper, kissing her cheek again, for real this time, leaving even more lipstick all over her, and staying leaning in to her as her arm leaves Cooper so that she can hang on to her present with both hands again. "Oh, thank you, sweetie. I adore her. But whatever shall I name her? Oh, I shall have to think about it a great deal. Oh, Frid, isn't she the sweetest thing?" And, cradled within Fabia's hands, the creature is presented to him for his admiration. Who could resist those eyes? — Fabia's, that is…

Frid takes another swig from his whisky. He's going to need it, he can tell. Taking a moment to swallow and lick the traces from his lips, he eyes the dog warily. "Very sweet, madam," he responds, with all the warmth of a good martini. "Is she trained, Miss Cooper?"

If only for the sake of the puppy's warmth, Cooper obliges Fabia and leans in to envelop the thing. Not before grabbing her delicious whatever cocktail on the coffee table. The additional smeared lipstick on her cheek that matches smears on her lips makes her look doubly scandalous. My goodness there's been so much snogging going on about and she's hardly been here ten minutes! "Hmmm I don't know, martini perhaps?" she grins jokingly and looks to the valet for suggestions, "What say you? What would be a good name for this darling?"

The said darling is looking helplessly up at Frid, stuck in between the bodies of a heavily perfumed woman, and a lady with an awful cheap texture to her sweater (which is green! for the holidays!). To answer the valet's question, "Oh of course not, Frid! She's just a wee thing. Don't be so insensitive."

It's a dog's life being a valet. As the needle on the gramophone reaches the end of Fabia's favourite record of holiday songs, which has been played by Frid's count six times already today, on top of the eleven times yesterday, she isn't the least bit conscious — why would she be? — of what this addition to their menage will mean for Frid. All she knows is that she has a warm, soft, squirming thing in her hands, and it's licking her fingers again, and it's altogether delightful… Oh, how could one rationally expect Fabia Fairfax not to go into a rapture over a pretty girl who has been her lover bringing her a tiny puppy at Christmastime? But she's still gazing up at Frid; his unenthusiastic response takes the gilt off her lily, and she holds her baby pug more protectively against herself now, as though that wicked valet might do something beyond the pale, like give it back. She seems, just for the moment, between Frid and the puppy, to have forgotten where the latter came from. "Oh, Frid," she says softly, in the sudden quiet, "do you not…?" She looks, au fond, bewildered by his failure to adore her pet.

Frid rubs at the bridge of his nose with one hand. "She's lovely, madam. I just worry for her wellbeing when we move back to London." See? He's being the voice of reason. It's nothing to do with the fact that he'd have to walk the puppy, clean up after her, feed her, water her, groom her, find her when Fabia puts her down and inevitably forgets about her… oh no. "We" he "will have to find somewhere suitable to walk her, and so forth, you understand? I'm not sure it would be kind for the poor thing." He does his best. He does. He creaks his lips into something resembling a smile for the animal. There.

Cooper takes a sip of her nondescript cocktail looking between all the members of the party (including pup). "Wait what?" she blinks at the sudden news, pushing her glasses up her nose and removing her hat finally. "You're moving to London? As in … permanently?" In response to Frid's defense, pug puppy whimpers lightly as if she knew the discussion taking place and wanted to appeal to the proprietress her her valet with cuteness.

Fabia's clever, sensitive fingers soothe the puppy's velvety ears, hardly touched by the darker colour which will come upon them as she grows. She looks from Frid to Cooper, to Frid to Cooper, during the silence which extends itself hopelessly, waiting for her, the most voluble member of their little Christmas party, to fill it. "Well… yes, sweetie," she says at last. "Sometime in the New Year. We haven't decided when. This isn't really — well, it isn't the right place for us, is it?" she points out gently. Somehow it's all plurals. Frid, masquerading as a Muggle rather than admit his true heritage, is as out of his element here as she… in the collective opinion of the village of Hogsmeade. "We've really got to get cracking, sooner or later, and… move on with life."

"The thought was to let the Three Broomsticks out to a landlord on Mrs. Fairfax's behalf," Frid explains, glancing to Fabia in brief apology for spilling the beans. "And perhaps look at a suitable establishment in London instead. For Muggles."

"Or… perhaps just sell this place," Fabia utters, shrugging a little. Well, what has she to be sentimental about here? If she had to own every place where she's had particularly good sex, she'd never afford the rents.

Cooper tilts her head at master and slave's explanations. Well this is sudden news! "So I can understand about fitting in better in London. I'm surprised you all weren't driven out of this place sooner," she quirks a brow. "Only if you sell the Three Broomsticks, do you have another source of income to sustain you?" Now Cooper is playing the voice of reason here. They need to eat after all! And Frid needs money to do his weekend dance banding.

The puppy has given in, resolving to languidly rest on Fabia's shoulder with its smushy face. Her ears are her weakness. She cannot resist!

Frid clears his throat quietly. "Mrs. Fairfax and I were debating the merits of running a jazz club in London, Miss Cooper," he explains, with a vague nod towards a pile of paperwork over neatly stacked over on a table to one side. "The sale of this place would provide the needed capital to start the venture, or at least most of it. Or if we were able to raise the capital from other sources, we might be able to let this place instead and have a small, but steady income to rely on while the club gets off the ground. It all rather depends on how much Mrs. Fairfax can raise, and how much I can match from my backers."

Oh, she's being adored by a velvet-faced creature snuffling into her throat now without regard for fragrance. What heaven. Fabia sighs, her perfectly shaped and lacquered fingertips scratching in an unceasing rhythm at the pug puppy's ears — one nail on either side — she can reach easily with the same hand, the head of her is so small… She amends Frid's remarks to say, "I do have a bit of money coming in anyway, I've done rather well out of — well, never mind that. It doesn't go as far as it used to, but we're not in any trouble, don't worry, sweetie." She beams fondly at Cooper. "What an angel you are to worry. But can't you see us rather more with a club in London than a pub in Hogsmeade? For Muggles, of course, in the main, but friendly witches will always be welcome," and Fabia's inclining towards her young friend must surely leave her in no doubt who she means, "as long as wands are kept out of sight…"

"A jazz club!" Cooper raises her brows, half excited at the prospect. She's shuffling about the couch to sit up now, thus the poor pup will be entirely Fabia's responsibility for the moment. The puppy ends up sliding onto the woman's chest like the fat young mush it is. "You'll have quite strong competition from the Natrix. That place is quite popular, as you already know," she says to Frid, patting around her brown trousers for a cigarette (green sweater, brown trousers. Yes, she is dressed as a tree this evening). "Roughly how much do you think you're still lacking?" Big blue eyes look at the pair curiously behind her thick frames as she lights up.

"Oh, the plan's in the very, very early stages," Fabia says hastily. "We haven't even found the right building yet. It's all — very new. So please, sweetie, don't tell anyone yet. We didn't mean to — did we, Frid?"

"Something smaller than the Natrix, though, more intimate," Frid insists, glancing to Fabia for confirmation. "Looking for the crowd who'll enjoy a good drink and a good band, rather than trying to compete directly, I'd think. More of a personal touch. Mrs. Fairfax's speciality, getting to know the customers, and getting them back in."

Fabia smiles ironically. "The sort who like me, anyway."

Cooper hands are up as Frid-bia explains their lack of game plan at the moment. "Alright, alright," she mutters with her cigarette between her lips, puffing away. "Should you need help with anything feel free to let me know. Only take care to make sure its known you wouldn't be competing with the Natrix. The owners, they have unofficial ties with citizens that are less than upright." Blah, this is where the law enforcer in her seems to come out. "In the meantime, we have important business to attend to. Like naming this puppy!" An affectionate finger goes to briefly scratch under the pug's chin.

"We do have certain thoughts," and Fabia looks fondly across at Frid, who, though in honour of Christmas Eve, or perhaps the puppy, is actually taking a drink with company tonight, though he has not of course sat down; "and none of them are anything like the Natrix… I do love it, but it's not for us, any more than the Broomsticks! Bless you, sweetie, for worrying, but you really mustn't. I rather think between us we'll be equal to the task. What you could really do to help us, if you like," and, for the pug's convenience, she sidles across the few inches of sofa separating her from Cooper, till her bountiful red skirts spill across the Auror's lap, "is tell us all about how to look after your beautiful present properly. I must admit, sweetie, I don't know a lot about dogs. Frid, do you know about dogs?"

She gazes up at him entreatingly. And then at Cooper. And then Frid, and then Cooper… As though she can hardly make up her mind which of them she'd rather consult upon this issue presently so pertinent to her.

And from there the conversation simply devolves into dogs, dogs, dogs. What to name this particular dog (Fabia can't, and will not for quite some time yet, make up her mind); what she would like to eat (her menu is virtually as complicated as Fabia's when she's on the latest diet); how often a creature with a bladder the size of a pea will require Walkies (too often); cleaning spells Cooper knows (scarcely of any more use to Fabia than they are to Frid).

When Cooper takes her leave (after being snogged still more thoroughly, and having the lipstick wiped off her with a sensible white handkerchief Fabia commandeers from Frid), Fabia is sitting on the floor in her evening frock and diamonds, with her arms wrapped round her knees, watching in rapt fascination as her tiny pug laps water out of a pale green porcelain saucer. Ah, l'amour!

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