(1939-01-05) Friendship Is Complicated (So Is Money)
Details for Friendship Is Complicated (So Is Money)
Summary: Rhyeline and Zack come in from the cold for a drink at the Three Broomsticks; and whilst having a drink or so of her own the proprietress attempts to bestow the benefits of her age and wisdom. Well, something like that.
Date: January 5th, 1939
Location: The Three Broomsticks
Related: Slight references to Familiar Faces.

The Three Broomsticks

Despite the obvious patina of age, The Three Broomsticks has a warm, inviting ambiance. This character the pub has attained is, no doubt, thanks to the years it has been steeped in the environment of this particular village. Just one evidence of the village's influence on the pub can be seen in the dark paneling inside the building. The wood was once the outer walls of the home that housed Hogsmeade's founding family. Put to good use once again after the founding family bequeathed it to the pub, the paneling has served the pub just as well as it once served Hogsmeade's founders. The Three Broomsticks has flourished under its current proprietor and is always open and ready for a customer or visitor.

The dark wood surface of the floor glows with a polished sheen from much cleaning, and exposed ceiling rafters, which appear to be original, cross the ceiling in tidy squares. Wood tables of varying sizes litter the room, and matching chairs are scattered among them. Several secluded booths fill up the space along one wall. A flavorfully aged mahogany bar takes up most of the space near the back wall with a series of mirrors and shelves of varying heights hanging behind it. Those shelves behind the bar are lined with memorabilia depicting the life and people of the village as well as items which are special mementos to the pub's owner.

The streets are rather quiet for a Sunday afternoon. No students are anywhere to be seen, except perhaps for the girl walking along-side the absent-minded wizard in blue. It would not be difficult to mistake Rhyeline for a student at all. The older witch following them looks more like a chaperone for their date than a guardwitch. "I haven't been to the Three Broomsticks since- since I was a student… and… and even then it- it was only when Annie dragged me over… but… some- some warm butterbeer… it would be nice," she murmurs, peeking up at Zack with a soft smile.

Stepping into the warmth of the Three Broomsticks, the little one shivers a bit. Rhyeline keeps close to her friend's side, almost hugging one of his arms. The place is as quiet as the street outside. The witch following them takes up a place against the wall near the door. "It… it's a bit… different…" she murmurs, looking at the piano with profound curiosity.

Zack has, on occasion, been mistaken for a student himself. "Yes," he says. "It would be nice." He tries to hold back the smile that threatens to sneak onto his face without much success. "I came here at the beginning of last month. When I first got back. After I died. I mean after the accident. I came here to organize my notes. It is different, though. It's less busy. There were more people then." He sticks close to her, not knowing where to go now that they're inside.

Sleeping off last night was almost a day's work in itself; but Fabia Fairfax has at length crawled out of bed and painted her face and attired herself in warm grey flannel slacks and a black, white, and silver Argyll jumper over a turquoise silk blouse. Three strands of pearls are here again, gone again in the jumper's V-necked opening, behind the blouse's long-tailed bow, and her attention to the handful of customers to whom she is playing nominal hostess, is likewise evanescent. She is in fact leaning her elbow on the counter behind the bar, and her chin in the palm of her hand, on the verge of nodding off again. She has a cup of tea in front of her, instead of a martini, but hasn't touched it yet. She regards the tendrils of steam rising from it with mixed feelings.

There's only one bar wench on duty. There were two, but Fabia insisted upon relieving the other, letting her take a few minutes to put her feet up in the back room and have an undisturbed cigarette. It's not as though there's a great deal of work today, is there. Students away, locals as reluctant as ever to come under the sway of overtly modern redheaded Muggle sympathisers.

But the girl does look up, when the door opens and shuts behind Rhyeline, Zack, and a gust of wintry air; and perhaps it's her reaction, more than their presence, which Fabia notices. She looks up too. Big green eyes widen. Who's that girl? Who's that boy? But who's that — tolerably familiar girl? Isn't she the one who's engaged to marry somebody? Wedding dresses… Fabia certainly, most certainly, recollects something about wedding dresses… Is this the groom? No, wasn't the groom meant to be—? She straightens, finds her tea, and brings the cup to her lips, nodding to the new arrivals before drinking deeply.

Rhyeline looks over at the older woman watching them from behind the counter. A familiar woman she recalls from the company of one of her other guards. The little one herself is not quite as Fabia might remember her. Instead of that profound caution, the girl watches her with an innocent curiosity in the slight tilt of her head. Peeking up at Zack, she can't help but grin when she sees the smile that has snuck onto his face. "This way…" she says, tugging on his arm.

The pair approach Fabia and upon reaching the bar, the girl hesitates, looking at the barstool a moment before lifting her gaze to the proprietress. "Good afternoon… Madame Fabia. Mm… Might we have a- a couple of butterbeers?"

"Okay," Zack says, letting Rhyeline lead him to the bar. He doesn't notice the woman behind it until they get closer, and then he blinks at her as though she had just Apparated into existence in front of him. "Oh, you know her name. I thought you hadn't been here since you were in school. I was here last month and I don't know her name. Well, I do now. It's Madame Fabia." He glances at the woman and gives his head a single, firm nod. "Yes, two. And make sure they aren't blue. I don't want any blue drinks."

"Oh, heavens, that's a new one, sweetie," is Fabia's immediate, unfiltered reaction to Rhyeline's mode of address for her. "It's Mrs Fairfax generally, or Mrs Travers, or just Fabia… Of course you may, though. And," her gaze flicks up at Zack, her very red lips curling into a smile, "Butterbeer isn't much blue, as a rule, although, now that you mention it, I do know how to make one or two quite interesting blue drinks…" Another mouthful of tea, a sigh in the back of her throat which — in the quietude of the Broomsticks this afternoon — is probably audible to the young people over the bar — and Fabia sets down her cup and saucer and steps along to pull the pints requested, waving aside her bar girl's half-hearted attempt to do the needful. "How are the wedding plans coming along?" she calls to Rhyeline in a friendly sort of way, whilst exquisitely fragrant Butterbeer pours into one glass and then the other.

Rhyeline pauses at the mention of wedding plans and bites her lower lip. A quiet, vulnerable look appears in her young features as she looks up at Fabia. "…no wedding. Not… not yet… no such plans… not yet…" The subtle in her cheeks steadily deepens. Methinks she doth protest too much. She sneaks a glance up at her friend. Though he is of average height, he is rather tall compared to the diminutive girl beside him. "She is- is a friend of one of my guards… I met her before at- at the Leaky Cauldron," she explains rather quietly.

"Yes, I know," Zack says to Fabia. "Just make sure you don't make it blue on purpose. I don't like blue drinks anymore." He blinks when the woman asks how the wedding plans are going. "Oh, we're not getting married," he informs her. "That would be inappropriate. She's supposed to marry someone else." His brow furrows - he seems rather upset by this fact for a second. But then Rhyeline explains how she met the woman they're talking to. "Oh, that makes sense. I didn't know your guards were allowed to have friends. Having friends is distracting."

The distraction giggles. She gives Rhyeline a funny sort of look, and Zack an even funnier one — but smiles warmly at them both as she pushes the two full and foaming pint glasses across the bar toward them. "Terribly inappropriate," she agrees with Zack, "but so are such a lot of the nicest things in life, don't you find?" And then, to Rhyeline, "Very pretty colour you've gone, sweetie, you ought to consider it for the bridesmaids' frocks." She finds her cup and saucer and, lifting them with a faint rattle, adds, "Drink up, it'll do you good if you've been out in the cold. Have you been out in the cold?"

"While she works, she's not supposed to talk to friends… but… at other times, it's alright." Rhyeline takes up her butterbeer in both hands and holds it rather close to herself. "Yes… we walked here…" she murmurs rather softly. "And… I'm not engaged… I… I just…have a suitor…" She averts her gaze and even bows her head a bit, trying to hide the deep blush warming her cheeks.

"No," Zack states. "Most of the nice things are appropriate. That's what makes them nice." Mistaking Fabia's next comment as being intended for him as well, he looks confused. "I haven't changed color. And I can't be a bridesmaid. I'm a boy." He picks up his butterbeer with both hands as well, sipping it and peering at the two of them over the rim of his glass.

Fabia's heels rise from her shoes as she goes up onto tip-toe; "Where did you get this one?" she asks Rhyeline, leaning over counter and bar toward her, and then, without letting her answer, she presses on. "How do you know you haven't changed colour?" she inquires of Zack. "You can't see yourself, can you? You might do without knowing it. As it happens you haven't. I was speaking to your young lady friend, who certainly did — certainly has… Anyway I'm sure she'd let you be a bridesmaid if you really wanted to, sweetie, if you're such good friends that you'll walk in bloody freezing Scotland for one another. I wouldn't," she puts down her almost-empty tea-cup, and lifts a French-manicured, diamond-bedecked hand to cover a yawn, "ahh… Wouldn't go out in this for a thousand pounds and a pint-pot of Beluga caviar."

"I don't know for sure," Zack says. "It's just unlikely. Someone would have to have cast a spell on me, or spilt something on me. I know no one's spilt something on me, and I don't think anyone would cast a spell on me without asking first. That would be rude." He glances sideways at Rhyeline. "Oh, yes. She does that sometimes. It's cu- I mean, it happens. I don't want to be a bridesmaid. I'm a boy. I said that already." Sipping from his glass, he stares at the woman as if she's gone mad. "Yes, we are friends. I like walking with her. Even if it's cold. What's Beluga caviar? Why would you want a thousand pounds of it?"

Fabia listens to Zack with an air of growing wonder and amusement and, with her kohl-rimmed green eyes still upon him, steps back, reaches for a bottle of Courvoisier, steps forward again, and pours it into her tea-cup until there's rather more booze therein than caffeine. "Fish eggs," she supplies, and sips this augmented libation, "from the Caspian Sea. Very special fish eggs. Sturgeon. Sweetie, one wants them because they're delicious. A thousand pounds of the stuff — well, I didn't say that, not quite," another sip, followed up by a gulp, "but a thousand pounds of Beluga caviar would be worth rather more than a thousand pounds in cold cash money, so I expect I'd like it… I might just keep it and eat it all, though. I'm sure I could, if only I had enough toast. And Frid makes very good toast. Never burns it, and always cuts off the crusts."

Zack wrinkles his nose. "That's disgusting," he says. "Who'd want to eat fish eggs? Fish come from the sea. Well, you'd want to eat them. You've just said that. But it's still disgusting." He looks confused as she goes on about pounds. "A thousand pounds of Galleons would be a lot. But a thousand pounds of Knuts wouldn't be very much. Coins are usually cold, especially in the winter. I don't think that affects their weight though. Oh, I like toast. I eat toast for breakfast. When I'm on my own. My mother cooks eggs. Who's Frid?"

"It's not disgusting, it's delicious!" Fabia insists, while Zack is still speaking; a protest often uttered, by one with a palate as sophisticated as hers… She likes all sorts of things normal people don't. She has never, however, considered the weight of coins in the cold. "Well, if someone gave me a thousand pounds I'd hope it would be in paper money, which doesn't get quite so chilly as metal, sweetie, so it doesn't hurt to hold it if you haven't your gloves on," she offers helpfully, and then, "Frid's my valet."

"It's disgusting," Zack reaffirms. "It comes from the sea. That's what you said. The Caspian Sea. That makes it disgusting." He frowns at her over his glass of butterbeer, still quite confused. "Paper money? Now you're just making stuff up. There's no such thing. What would anyone do with paper money? A thousand pounds of paper would be a lot of paper. It would be hard to carry. Unless you used magic. Oh, you have a valet. So you're rich. He can carry your thousand pounds of paper money for you. He'd need to be really strong though."

"He's quite strong, but not that strong, sweetie," Fabia giggles, "and I'm not that rich… Muggle money, though, it's in paper as well as coins. Have you never had any before?" She tilts her head, looking at him; pure wizard, really, she oughtn't to be surprised. She feels another yawn coming on and hides it behind her tea-cup. That is, her cognac-cup. She looks to Rhyeline, lifting an eyebrow; 'Who and what is this one?' her gaze seems to inquire.

Rhyeline meets Fabia's gaze and perceives the puzzled inquisitiveness of them, but doesn't answer. Instead, she looks to her friend and murmurs, "Muggles use different sorts of notes as currency… Sometimes they have just one note that means a great deal of money. They feel it's more manageable than actual coins… though… I think that… that they do have coins for some occasions." She hesitates before admitting, "It's a bit complicated." She glances back up at Fabia.

"Yes," Zack agrees. "No one's that strong. So he'd need to use magic. Oh, you're talking about Muggles. That explains it. They do crazy things like that. No. I don't use Muggle money. I traded some fish for a Muggle tent once, though. I don't like fish and I needed a tent. So it was a good trade." He peers at Rhyeline as she tries to explain Muggle currency to him. "That is complicated," he says. "It would be easier if they just used coins like us." He doesn't notice any of the silent exchange between the other two.

"Oh, Muggle money is very simple really," says Fabia, the expert. On spending it, anyway. "Pounds, shillings, and pence. And guineas, of course, but you can't hold a guinea in your hand, you can only pay it for something, it's a pound and a shilling. Four farthings in a penny, two sixpences in a shilling, and two shillings in a florin. Two and six is half a crown, five bob is a crown. Twenty shillings, or ten florins, or four crowns in a pound. The small ones are all coins, and there are pound coins too of course, but for anything larger, we do use paper, it's such a lot easier if one is carrying round lots of money, after a card game or something." She likes to explain things, so helpfully, and to assist people with any little problems they may have; but here she pauses, and eyes Zack again, and draws her lower lip briefly between her teeth. "You don't eat anything from the sea? Not even prawns? Sweetie, what hell for you."

The sudden tutorial on muggle currency is a bit overwhelming even for Rhyeline who is relatively well informed about muggle affairs. "I grew up near the sea… I've always loved seafood," she murmurs rather quietly, hoping that they might linger on this subject instead of the former. She glances to Zack, "Have you ever tried fresh grilled salmon?"

Zack listens to Fabia explain the Muggle currency, his brow furrowed in concentration. But most of it ends up sounding like utter gibberish to him. "That's not simple at all," Zack says. "I think you have your words confused. Simple means something that is easy to understand. Complicated means something that is difficult to understand. Simple things can't be complicated. Except for friends. Everyone says having friends is simple. But they also say it's complicated. It's very odd." He makes another face when asked if he eats stuff from the sea. "No, I don't. I don't like prawns and I don't like fish and I haven't tried fresh grilled salmon. I don't like the taste of seafood. It's salty. It tastes like the air on the beach."

The cognac has gone all the way down. Very pleasantly. There's none left. Fabia looks away from her young interlocutors to the bottle, for just an instant; but then Zack says something which rivets her attention. "Is it complicated," she breathes delightedly, making of it a statement rather than a question. She looks from Zack to Rhyeline, then back again, instantly conjecturing about eleven things they'd be grateful not to have to hear, if only they knew, which fortunately they do not. "You have very definite tastes, then," she remarks to Zack, tilting her head, smiling faintly. "Well, I just hope one of you understands wizarding money, if not the Muggle variety; two Butterbeers is—" And she names the customary price. One of the few she can generally remember, the drink being the pub's most popular.

Rhyeline can't help but smile as Zack corrects the older witch's use of the word 'simple'. And his example of a complicated thing- friendship- makes her smile grow even more gentle and warm. She doesn't quite notice how Fabia is watching them. Tilting her head to the side a bit, she murmurs, "You don't care for sea air? Truly? I love the seaside…" Glancing to Fabia, the little one pulls out enough money to pay for her own drink.

"Yes, it is," Zack tells Fabia, mistaking her statement for a question anyway. "I know I do. And I definitely don't like seafood. Yes, wizarding money is easy." He puts his butterbeer on the counter and starts patting his robes in search of his money, which he can never seem to find easily. "Hmm?" he says to Rhyeline. "No, I like the smell of sea air. I just don't like the taste. I like the seaside too, I just don't like eating stuff that comes from it."

Dutch treat? My, it must be complicated. Perhaps — and Fabia looks from one to the other again, more slowly, as she whisks Rhyeline's money away behind the bar and waits obligingly for Zack's — perhaps it's even innocent. And perhaps she'll have another drop of the cognac. In a proper glass this time. Money filed; brandy snifter procured. She pours out just an inch of the fragrant liquor for which she has developed quite a penchant this week, and warms the glass in both her hands. "You grew up by the sea…?" she encourages Rhyeline.

"Aah… I see. It- it does have a distinct taste." With a soft smile, she adds another payment to the counter. "Don't worry, Zack… it's… it's my treat today. That's- that's something friends do sometimes…" It would seem Zack knows very little about how friendship works. It is a shame that he has such a naive and inexperienced creature to teach him. Looking to Fabia, she nods. "Yes… outside of a- a small muggle village… A beautiful house… a manor…"

Zack finds his own money just as Rhyeline offers to pay for it, and he blinks at her and puts it away again. "Oh," he says. "Okay. Then I have to pay next time, right? Otherwise it's not fair." He gives his head a short not. "Yes, exactly. It tastes strange." He picks up his glass of butterbeer as Rhyeline talks to Fabia about where she grew up, and his eyes wander about the pub as he drinks.

Frid the valet is always saying, to other people admittedly, not to Fabia's face, that she has all the financial sense of a cheese sandwich. She displays this now, by returning the original coin to the bar alongside the second one Rhyeline has produced — and explaining, impulsively and ever-so-slightly pityingly to Zack, that: "Friends don't add up whether or not something is fair. Friends just give to one another, and trust that they'll still always, always owe debts they can never repay." She pushes the coins back across the bar in Rhyeline's direction, with two perfectly lacquered pink and white fingernails, smiles gently, and carries her cognac away.

Rhyeline blinks, looking rather puzzled when Fabia returns the money to her. She parts her lips to speak, but hesitates when she heads off. But then she connects her words to the gesture and bites her lower lip, looking a bit shy. "I think… I think she wants to be our friend…" She glances to Zack, wondering what he thinks.

Zack looks round when Fabia tries to explain that aspect of friendship to him. "What?" he says, confused as he watches the woman wander off. "Oh. But then how is anyone supposed to keep track or know when to give or when to not give?" he asks Rhyeline. He frowns at the coins on the bar. Wasn't that supposed to be their payment? He blinks at his friend. "Hmm? She does? When did she say that she wanted to be friends? I don't remember that."

"She said it in her gesture… she said that- that friends aren't supposed to add things up. We are just supposed to owe each other what we can't ever repay. Like… like when I- I invited you to come and- and stay with me. That wasn't supposed to be a kindness you needed to pay me for. It… it was just a gift. And… she gave us the coins back, to tell us that the butterbeers were a gift… because she wants to be our friend." Rhyeline speaks as if reasoning through a complicated arithmancy problem.

"That doesn't make any sense at all," Zack says, still frowning. "If she wanted to be friends she should have said so. It would be easier that way. Simpler. How is anyone supposed to know that she meant she wanted to be friends?" He considers the matter of acts of kindness and repayment for a moment, confused. "Yes, I remember you told me that I wasn't supposed to repay you for letting me stay at your flat. It's very confusing. But you're paying me to make spells for you even though we're friends. Shouldn't I just do it as a gift? You said we were supposed to be friends first, so I shouldn't accept payment."

"You need payment to live… and I want you to do that research… we are friends, but- but yes… you also work for me. Just like… Cassius is my suitor… but I also work for him…" Biting her lower lip, she can't help but grin. "Friendship /is/ complicated," she agrees with a small nod before taking a small sip of butterbeer.

"Yes," Zack says with a firm nod of his own. "It's complicated. That's what I said earlier. See? I was right." He falls silent as he continues to drink his butterbeer, and though he stays close to his friend at the bar, his thoughts drift off elsewhere and he soon becomes lost in them.

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