(1939-01-24) The Hogsmeade Midges
Details for The Hogsmeade Midges
Summary: Cooper comes round for dinner with Fabia; after which the latter draws the attention of the former to the vicious attacks recently made upon her valet by, he claims, the midges in Hogsmeade. He is then given the third degree regarding his mysterious female friend in London — and made to dance.
Date: January 24th, 1939
Location: Upstairs at the Three Broomsticks

Fabia's Rooms

The scant remnants of dinner for two have been cleared away with nary a sound — as indeed each course was served; the fire burns bright in the hearth, with two or three oil lamps lit upon low tables to bolster the illumination it offers; the martini glasses which are so integral a part of any visit to Fabia Fairfax's rooms have been replaced, after a brief, discreet, three-cornered debate, by brandy snifters, offered with a small bow to the two women as they arrange themselves upon the sofa where Honey the pug dog is already snoozing.

And then Frid, his duty done, his stance exuding readiness to slip away and perhaps get on with a bit of urgent sorting, filing, mending, or lepidoptery, elsewhere, murmurs his usual: "Will there be anything else, madam?"

Fabia looks at him from where she's sitting curled at one end of the sofa, with Honey in her lap (having been hauled there one-handed, she's still so tiny, so manipulable) and a pleasantly inebriated Cooper leaning upon her, with her feet up too. Cooper's petting the dog's hair; and she's petting Cooper's. "… Oh, honestly, Frid, sit down and have a glass of something with us. It's only Cooper," she insists — in a tone which somehow manages to convey not that Miss Genevieve Cooper, the Ministry's Finest, is a negligible quantity, but rather that she has become a fixture in the life of this flat and its resident and for Christ's sake does Frid need to keep on being such a stick.

"Yes, it's only Cooper," Cooper repeats hazily in a slightly drunken state. She seems rather content to be the middle link in this chain - love on and giving love to the next. She even tucks her feet in and gestures to the last remaining space on the couch, "See plenty of room." Her glasses are hanging crookedly off her crew neck collar. Her eyes squint from sleepy, lightheadedness, but she's still awake. "Unless you have elsewhere to go?" A smirk. A knowing smirk forms on those lips.

Frid clears his throat quietly, hands folding behind his back. "Perhaps a small one," he relents, dipping his head. "Thank you, Miss Cooper." However, rather than take up that space so kindly offered on the sofa, he first moves aside and of his own initiative and volition selects a record to place on the gramophone, the strains of Duke Ellington drifting through the flat as he finds himself one of the smaller, hard backed chairs, and moves it over to the pair of them. The sofa is for guests. He'll have the stiff backed chair, thank you very much, along with a small, stiff drink of his own.

Oh, Frid's funny little compromises with Dignity and Propriety. Fabia wouldn't object in the least if he settled into the comfiest armchair and took his shoes off; but if he's happier sitting bolt upright with barely a sip of Lagavulin in his glass, she'll just shrug at him and make a face and sip her brandy. All these things she does, while her fingers lace through Cooper's pale curls, rubbing gently at her scalp. "He's been looking a little peaky lately, don't you think?" she remarks to Cooper, still eyeing Frid. "You know he has a woman in London now. My dear, the evenings off he takes, and the state she returns him in!"

Cooper very much resembles the pug on her lap, with both she and Honey having smushy relaxed looks on their faces. "You're welcome Frid," she takes a sip of her martini, only to find it's empty. Cooper fret not over it instead choosing to pop the olive in her mouth and reach for Fabia's glass. And suddenly her eyes open, in an awake and alert mode. "Does he? A steady one? I was under the impression that there were multiple women," she blinks and then feels well kept nails running along her scalp. It makes her retreat back onto Fabia's chest. "What does she look like?" she asks Frid lazily.

Frid suddenly finds his glass of Lagavulin excessively interesting, peering into it as his ears begin to redden. "Ah. I'm sure it's not important, Miss Cooper," he demurs, clearing his throat and settling his glass down on his knee. "And hardly something which needs to be the subject of discussion. You're well?" he attempts, changing the subject badly.

"He doesn't like to talk about her," giggles Fabia; she warms to the subject quite as steadily as Frid's ears seem to be doing. "Not even to me, darling," this to Cooper, cuddled against her, as a glass is passed between their lips, "and aren't I always just the most understanding friend? I give him all the time off he could possibly wish to dally with his mysterious young lady friend, no matter how it inconveniences my domestic arrangements; and then he simply clams up and can't or won't," a reproving glance at her valet, "say a word. And will you look at his neck! Those new high collars of his aren't nearly high enough. He's been claiming to have been bitten by insects. Really. Is that any way to talk about a lady?"

It could be because she's drunk, and it could be because she's curious, and it could be a mixture of both along with the fact that she's being petted. But Cooper raises a languorous hand to cover Fabia's mouth - carmine lips be damned! "Ssssshhhhhhhhhhhh," she coos delicately rather than actually shutting the the proprietress us, which is really what she was doing. And with a warm, dreamy smile she turns back to the off-duty valet. "I'm very well, right now. Thank you," Cooper plucks at the words happily. "But I don't see why it's not important, Frid. This lady has garnered enough of your attention for you to see her regularly. There's obviously some degree of care involved. And we merely want to know more about her, speaking as you friends." She peeks at Fabia, who is technically the employer and corrects, "Friend."

"I have no intention of introducing her to you, Miss Cooper," Frid insists, drowning his embarrassment in a rather large mouthful of whisky, self consciously tugging up his collar as he swallows. "She's a delightful lady, and Mrs. Fairfax is very kind in allowing me time off to see her. And that's all that need be said on the matter, I'm sure." He gives Fabia a Look, a look of utter frustration that his personal life need be brought up, particularly in front of guests. Even if it is only Cooper.

When Cooper's palm is briefly pressed across her mouth, Fabia kisses it; between that, the martini glasses, and now the brandy snifter, she hasn't much lipstick left and the outline of what there is is a trifle smudged. She's got dog hair all over her midnight blue velvet frock and her own knot of dark red hair is slipping inexorably down from the back of her head to the back of her neck. She makes a beautiful picture, if you're drunk, which, thank heavens, Cooper is.

… No more to be said? To such a raptly attentive audience (well, two thirds raptly attentive, one third unconscious with a tiny pink tongue sticking out, dreaming of whisky, coffee, and a world without bobble hats) — to two women who have, truly, Frid's best interests at heart? "We only want to know she's good enough for you, Frid," Fabia protests, "or, failing that, interestingly bad enough. Oh, come on, tell us at least blonde, brunette, or redhead?" she giggles. "Does she like jazz?"

Cooper does the a mix between a giggle and a snort at Fabia when she shakes her head. "Fabia wants to know if she's good enough for you. I just want to know what kind of woman she is!" Cooper makes no apologies for her nosiness. Her grin widens, making her greatly resemble a squinty eyed cheshire cat. "No, no silly," she waves her hand that covered Fabia's mouth about, it's smothered in the last traces of lipstick. "I didn't ask to be introduced! I asked about her. What makes her so delightful?" This is, of course, added to the questions regarding hair color and music tastes. Speaking of which, Cooper pauses to revel in this portion of the Duke Ellington song. "Delightful!"

"I should tend to the fire," Frid decides, setting his glass to one side and rising, if only to get away from the pair of harridans. "Really, it can't be that fascinating for you, surely? Yes, she likes jazz. Of course she likes jazz. I like jazz. She likes jazz. We all like jazz." He busies himself with the coal scuttle and tongs, adding a few more lumps to the already cosy glow.

There's no snorting in Fabia's blissful, drunken, schoolgirlish giggle, aimed directly at Frid's back as he retreats to the fireside. Only high-pitched good humour. Her arm around Cooper's shoulders and head squeezes the younger woman more tightly against her; she leans down to put a quick kiss on her hair, with lips still curved in a smile. "It's utterly fascinating to us, Frid, sweetie, you know it is. Get yourself another whisky, won't you, and see if you can bring yourself to tell us… what does make her so delightful. What it is about her that keeps you coming back, instead of loving and leaving in your usual rakish style! Or just get yourself another whisky and sit and look nervous. Get yourself another whisky anyway," she concludes.

Cooper is nothing short of pleased at the attention lavished upon her so willingly. And she is in the best state to enjoy it. Though when Frid turns his back to warm up the already heated room, Cooper turns to Fabia to widen her eyes and give her a big open-mouthed grin as if to say 'Look at him squirm!' The expression is quickly waves away the moment he turns his back around. "Why wouldn't it be fascinating to us? Are we not allowed to care? Or do you think we have ulterior motives?" she inquires. Just look at the drunk mushy face! Would you ever think something so sweet could have a hidden intention? Or hunt down dark wizards for a living? "If you could also get me a whisky as well, that would be great," she quickly adds. He's off duty but he's still Frid, right?

The rest of the brandy has just trickled happily down Fabia's throat; and she's not averse to mixing her spirits. "Oh, yes, whisky please," she echoes.

He is, sadly, still Frid, and subject to Fabia's and by extension Fabia's guests' whims, and so it is that, still flushed a bright shade of red, the valet turns back for the drinks trolley. More Lagavulin for him, naturally, but the ladies get the Bruichladdich, pouring out a couple of generous measures and holding the tumblers in his hands to warm them a little before he brings them over to present to the pair. "I think you're both being terrifically unfair to me," he comments accusingly, finally resuming his seat and taking a long gulp from his whisky. "I've known her for some time, she enjoys jazz as much as I do, she's an excellent dancer, and I refuse to say any more on the matter. You see, this is why I don't usually tell you about these things, Mrs. Fairfax. The spanish inquisition."

Yay! Cooper gleefully accepts the whiskey in her hands, impeccably made no doubt. Impeccable taste as well. "Mmmm nothing smoother I tell you. Thank you Frid." she says to her company after clinking glasses with them. Such a potable calls for cheap cigarettes. Pulling a metal case from her pocket she offers one to both Frid and Fabia before slipping her own in her mouth.

"You know, I think he's right. We are being rather unreasonable," she considers and shifts to an upright position to stretch out her back. Though Honey is kept perfectly still in her lap, the sweet dear. "How about this? You may ask us one personal question at a time that we must answer. And in turn we ask you a question that you must answer. We'll call it an even trade." Cigarette still resting on her lip, Cooper puts her hair up in a sloppy knot again while her eyes light up and she looks over at dowager doxy. "Oh! I knew she'd be an excellent dancer, Fabia."

Whisky! Yummy. … Dancing? Yummier! Fabia is in the middle of swirling a vast quantity of Bruichladdich round and round in her mouth when her valet utters this word so redolent of a thousand, a hundred thousand pleasures. And with the Duke already on the gramophone. How perfect. How too perfect. She opens her mouth to insist that one of her companions should stand up and swing her about a bit — and looks from one of them to the other, Cooper even squiffier than she herself, and Frid in one of his un-cooperative moods — and is on the verge of despair when Cooper looses another bee in her bonnet instead. "Well, she can't be as excellent a dancer as I am," she protests, for form's sake, "but I'm glad, Frid, you've found someone who's fun to take out as well as keep in… Cooper, darling, what a delicious notion. I do always love truth games. I'll play if you'll play and Frid will play." She giggles and lifts an eyebrow at him. And she doesn't want a whole cigarette to herself but has a puff on Cooper's while her friend is fussing with her hair, and then tucks it back just where it was, between lips which have, yes, all right, just a faint, unaccustomed blush of red on them. Where did that come from, exactly? Who can say?

"I don't think I could play that game in good conscience," Frid admits, ever one to spoil the party. "There are some things which are entirely not mine to share. Given the proviso that I can't breach confidentiality, however, I'm game."

"Oh, marvelous," Fabia giggles helplessly into her whisky. "Who goes first? Cooper, you go first. Ask Frid a question. I can't do it, if I do it it'll be something filthy and he'll refuse to play any more."

!!!! Look at how Cooper's face glows like the sun in Tahiti !!!! "Excellent!" she practically squeaks in excitement, a puff of smoke releasing from her mouth. Swallowing a rather unrefined gulp of Bruichladdich - it's so smooth she doesn't even wince - the glass is put down on a side table and she rises to her feet, stretching her hands up in the air. "Yes, I believe it is smart if I go first," she says to Fabia, at the same time taking the woman's free hand and pulling her up into a standard frame of dance. The playful smirk is back on her face. "Okay Frid, how did you and your lady friend meet?" Start off slow let the water get warm.

At some point of her rising, Cooper very delicately scooped Honey up and placed her on the couch.

With no concern whatsoever for pose order, Fabia puts down her glass (almost empty), bestows a caressing stroke upon her grumbling puppy (who finds the sofa cushions a poor substitute for Cooper's nice cosy lap) and completes the balletic movement of her arm by settling her hand at her friend's waist. "Oh, yes, how did you meet her, sweetie?" she echoes, flashing a brilliant, inquisitive smile over her shoulder at Frid.

Frid clears his throat quietly, folding his hands around his whisky glass. "Ah. Well. It would have been several years ago now," he admits, not quite meeting either of the ladies' eyes. "In London. Through a friend at the club who suggested that if my current employment didn't work out so well, I might gain work with her instead."

Cooper's eyes follow her partner's arms as they gracefully land on her waist, before follow up the arm again so she can smirk at Fabia. She shakes her head slightly at the woman. No quite the ballet. "Oh my! Does that mean, because you met her you actually looked into alternate employment?" Her brows raise. how scandalous. There's a firm grip placed on Fabia's hand and waist before a confident push, and they're swinging and swaying to Duke. And for whatever reason Cooper is a rather strong lead.

At first the assurance with which Cooper takes the lead surprises Fabia, who'd have assumed she'd had a few too many to— But then she just settles in to enjoy it, moving lithely, easily with the music and with her partner, her joints well-lubricated by the gin and the brandy and the whisky and the insistent rhythm of the Duke and his orchestra. Until she hears a revelation so ghastly she can hardly encompass it and, indeed, she almost misses a step… "You were thinking of leaving me, Frid?" she gasps, cuddling Cooper reflexively closer, peering over her shoulder at her still-seated valet. "Christ, are you going to leave me now, and marry this lady of yours, and be a gentleman of leisure and have six or seven little valets?"

"Ow!" eeps Cooper, who has been dancing in just her socks and was stomped on suddenly by Fabia's foot. No. the woman really did miss a step.

Fabia's silk-stockinged foot, so it's not too painful. Just unexpected.

Frid presses his lips together, swirling his whisky in his glass, although he can't help but lean back in his seat to watch the pair of them. Dancing. Duke Ellington. He has good reason to watch. "One," he insists, holding up a finger, "that's another question entirely, and that's not cricket. And two," another finger, "of course I wouldn't leave you, Mrs. Fairfax. You'd barely survive without me, and it would hardly be fair." He sniffs at the idea of an army of little valets, rolling his eyes. "My private life has no bearing on my professional, thank you very much."

Cooper shrugs at Frid and then Fabia as she continues to lead the woman around in turns and spins. "Fine then. Whoever gets asked a question, must ask next. So your turn Frid," she says, releasing one of Kitri's hands and pushing her shoulder for a spin.

Fabia sends Frid a look of gratitude for his reassurances, but then is too busy giggling and twirling to give him the thoughtful, appreciative answer he deserves — her dog-hair-bedecked blue velvet skirts swirl out (and is that a flash of stocking-top, Frid, you poor traumatised man) as she responds to the suggestion of Cooper's hand in dramatic style. "Yes, do ask!" she laughs, as Cooper reels her in again and she twines both arms around her partner's waist and hangs on.

Frid lifts his free hand to his temples, rubbing at them lightly. "Very well, then," he relents, pausing for another fortifying sip of his Lagavulin. He's going to need it tonight. "Miss Cooper, why law enforcement? What made you go into such a potentially dangerous line of work?"

"Oh, that's a good one," is Fabia's helpful contribution to the discussion. Though, to do her credit, her feet and her legs are functioning exquisitely.

Well, except for that step. Let's draw a veil over it, shall we. It was all Frid's fault. So many things are around here.

Cooper snorts! A question she asks herself everyday. "I actually wanted to be a journalist at first," she admits letting Fabia spin again, "But with some prodding from an old professor, I did some hitwitching and they eventually asked me to be an Auror. Almost said no, but my aunt told me I'd be good. So I said, hey - why not die for justice?" It's a story dulled down by sarcasm and humor. But the truth never the less.

"I imagine you'd make a good journalist," Frid notes drily. "You're good at prying into other people's personal lives. Mine, anyway."

"Naturally," Cooper beams and takes it as a compliment. A few more steps left and right. One more twirl, and a light push of Fabia's shoulder and she's being passed onto Frid. Who better catch her. Or they're all in trouble.

Cooper settles herself on the arm of the couch, puffing at her cigarette to catch her breath - she's been dancing with it between her teeth this entire time! "Fabia, what was it about old Bertram Travers that made you marry him?"

Fabia, dancing, is utterly responsive to every cue — she twirls out, she's pulled in, she twirls out, she's pulled in — and suddenly, without the least idea it's going to happen, or the least capacity to keep it from happening, she's twirled right into Frid in his very upright armless chair. She clutches at his shoulder with one hand and the back of the chair with the other, gasping with mischievous laughter. "Oh, had enough already, Cooper?" she gasps, giggling. "Oh, Frid, do, please, you can shut your eyes and pretend I'm your young lady who's such an excellent dancer! Oh, come on. Please." Her hand lifts from his shoulder and finds his hand and tugs on it firmly, repeatedly, till she has secured for herself a partner, however reluctant.

Dancing again, she sighs, "Well," to Cooper, and proceeds to narrate her entire marital career in few enough words. "Darling, he was young Bertie Travers then, you know, one of those appallingly sexy Slytherin boys with the shoulders and the silver serpent's tongue. He said the most beautiful things to me. And I married him because — because I was seventeen and bloody stupid, or because the better ideas I'd had for my life seemed suddenly in doubt, or just because I adored him and wanted to be certain of screwing him every night — choose whichever answer will make you smile nostalgically for the days of your youth. And then I got married the second time, well, not legally married, but I began to use his name, because I was… rather older and still bloody stupid, or because my time on stage was running out, or because I'd been screwing him every night and had a baby coming… Really the same sordid story both times."

Frid is less inebriated than the ladies, which can only improve his dancing. He's also less talented, however, and not drunk enough to believe he's anything even resembling a good dancer, and so when he's pulled to his feet, it's barely more than a mortified shuffle he manages, his hands very firmly in acceptable, respectable places on her; one has her hand in his, and the other barely touches her elbow. "I can think of more stupid things to do at seventeen," he mentions quietly, glancing down to make sure he's not stepping on toes. "I went to France."

Gosh, it's such a lot less exciting than dancing with Cooper. But Frid has in his favour at least the fact that he's tall, and Fabia does like tall dancing partners. They make her feel more feminine. She's smiling up at him when the talk takes a turn across the Channel; her smile melts into a gentler expression of fondness and she squeezes his hand tightly, looking from him, to Cooper on the sofa with her cigarette and a handful of somnolent pug, to him again. "Christ, you're a brave pair," she says softly. "I'm always a little embarrassed to talk to you about the war, Frid, because of where you were, and everything you did, when I didn't do anything and my main preoccupation was just trying to get hold of eggs and so forth because, you know, I had Emma, she was born in nineteen-fourteen, and it's very important for children to eat well— Oh, don't let me rattle on. You ask something, Frid," she insists, changing the subject before she gets both feet all the way into her mouth, a fate even worse than losing track of them underneath Frid's, "if you can think of anything you don't already know about me. I can't imagine there's a great deal."

"Mmmm … those Slytherins were rather delicious weren't they?" Cooper muses having another sip of her drink as her cigarette continues to smoulder between her fingers. "They were really the only ones who knew how to have fun." A testament to what kind of Hufflepuff Cooper really was.

Frid half smiles as he relaxes a little into the dancing, no doubt due to the Duke's calming influence. He does like the swing bands, it has to be said. "I'm led to believe that Slytherin gentlemen are only after one thing, however," he cautions, more than a few years too late for either of them. "Very well… my query. Mrs. Fairfax, what's the bravest thing you ever did?"

"One rather counts on that," is Fabia's self-satisfied little response to her valet-cum-dancing-partner's attempt to add Wise Elder Brother to the list of roles he fills in her life. Honestly. What did he think they were after? Cup of tea and a biscuit? And then he has the rare pleasure of seeing her stumped for something to say. "Well, I don't know," she admits. "I don't think I've done anything much that was brave. If you have to do it, if you haven't really a choice, it doesn't count I don't think. You just do it. Perhaps… Perhaps," and she smiles awkwardly up at Frid, "keeping Emma. When I could have, quite easily, not have… But, you know, she was mine." She glances between them again, hesitating, rendered almost shy by a question which has turned more personal in the answering than even she expected. "It's such an ordinary thing, you know, being a mother, practically every woman does it sooner or later — so many seem to take it in their stride and just manage — but you know me. You both know me. Just picture me with a tiny, helpless human creature depending upon me to keep her alive and teach her about the world and take care of her for as long as she needed me. It was the hardest thing I'd ever done even before the Germans began bombing us."

Somehow she's hanging onto Frid's hand and his arm more tightly now, dancing nearer to him, seeking by instinct the comfort of the person whose job it is to keep her alive, God bless him.

Cooper has somehow slid onto the seat of the ouch with Honey pug still passed out on her lap despite the festivities. "I'm sure you were a lot more apt for it than you think," she shrugs. A finger traces around the rim of the cup silently and her lips purse while she looks at no one and nothing in particular. A deep drag is taken, followed by a deep swig. Their conversation interrupted by the sudden silent crackle of the record ending. Cooper pulls her wand out to remove the needle, flip the side over and get the B-side going to some more light, fun jazz. "So what's the next inquiry?" she smirks, idly petting Honey.

"I'm shocked she's as well adjusted as she is," Frid notes drily, looking up as the record comes to an end, that being an excellent excuse to extract himself from Fabia's grip. He's already half extricated when the needle lifts, the record is flipped, and more jazz begins, which has him stopping dead in his tracks for a split second before straightening very slightly, that dry ease which he'd just about attained gone in an instant, and politely leads Fabia to her seat. Frid the valet, once more.

Arid Friddish wit at her expense is just the ticket to lift Fabia from her sensitive mood; she's preparing a comeback, and, by God, it'll be a good one, when the music stops and starts again without Cooper being obliged to get up… And then, oh, she could slap that girl. Just to relieve the sudden hurt feelings. Frid's sudden hurt feelings, which she fancies she can feel coming right down his arm and into her hand, possessing her as well, as his feet still and he escorts her valettishly back to the sofa and the blonde witch who awaits her there. She squeezes his arm as hard as she can, just once, and looks up in a failed attempt to catch his eye, but doesn't insist he keep on dancing. The friendly, confidential mood between the three of them has evaporated.

"Well," she sighs, sinking down in her accustomed place, and straight away gulping the modicum of whisky left behind in — her glass or Cooper's, she can't tell, and then trying to find some way of keeping on keeping on, "I rather think Emma's a better mother than I was, I don't know where she got any of it, unless she had another mother I never knew about. And I don't know whose turn it is either. Is it mine?" Another try for Frid's eye. Can't ask him anything just at the moment. Can't think of anything to ask Cooper, except, how could you be so thoughtless? Or is it… is it just possible she never told Cooper not to— not to use magic in front of Frid? Not here at home? She's swamped by a wave of vague but intense guilt. She falls silent.

"Yes, your turn to ask," Cooper yawns, leaning back into the sofa and stretches her head back so that it hangs over with her chin high in the air. She takes a languid drag, still mulling over the Emma bits of what Fabia said. But instead of exhaling she holds it in her lungs for as long as she can muster, letter herself get even more light headed while Duke filters in through her ears and pounds in her brain.

But it's quiet. Why? Cooper's head comes back up looking around the room while she exhales. "Is .. someone going to ask something?" Her eyes flit to Fabia. Then to Frid, who has readopted his stiff stance. Uh oh. What happened?

"I believe it's Mrs. Fairfax's prerogative," Frid notes solemnly, moving round behind the drinks trolley to retrieve the Bruichladdich and, unbidden, tops up both Fabia and Cooper's glasses. Because that's what she pays him for, and that's what he's good at. Unlike magic, like some people, some UNTHINKING people decide to demonstrate all over the place.

"Oh, fuck it," Fabia mutters. "I don't like to be rude to a guest," and she reaches out, not to slap Cooper — the impulse has passed — but to touch her hair again and then clasp her face in her hand, stroking her cheek gently with her thumb, to take any possible sting out of the offering of what amounts to a reproof, "but generally… I could have sworn I'd mentioned… We tend not to… Please don't do magic up here, darling," she says, without being the least bit specific about why not; "just if you happen to want something, do it the old-fashioned way, mmm? Or ask one of us. It's — well, it's a sort of house rule." Whisky is pouring into her glass from a source almost invisible. She looks up at Frid — smiles gratefully, encouragingly — and drinks. "Anyway we've both said, haven't we, where we were in the war," she adds, exercising her prerogative, in an attempt to draw the conversation away from the aforementioned house rule. "Where were you, darling?" she asks Cooper. "You must have been just a child… Were you evacuated? So many were. Were you with family? I stayed in London, with Emma, throughout everything, because — well, I had such a lot of reasons, and they all seemed like good ones at the time."

Cooper narrows her eyes slightly at Frid as he cooly refills their glasses, as a valet and not a chum. She's still not sure about what she did, until Fabia reveals it to her. Or at least a facet of it. "Oh. I …," she blinks, understanding the house rule and not questioning it, for now. "Well okay … sorry …" Cooper tucks her wand back away then throws her hands up as if she were surrendering, before does actually surrender. To the comfort of the couch that is.

Back to the conversation it is then, leaving her burning curiosity at the back of her mind. "The war? I was four when it started - How old was Emma? I had just started living in Wales with my Auntie Ines, and ended up growing up there." Quite a surprise seeing as Cooper has no trace of an accent in her voice. "I'm not Welsh though. I'm German, and I can sort of vaguely remember Germany when I was a wee thing. But it's only in dreams really …" And the evening continues on and on with tales of Cooper's parentless childhood during the war and of being referred to as 'Schatzi' and a whole mess of other pointless stories.

"You're a hun?" Frid queries in surprise, hurriedly correcting himself. "I mean, you're German? Why the devil were you in Wales?"

And when the ladies have finished their whisky — and a bit more besides, just to be certain the job is done right — Cooper passes out right there on the sofa and the combined efforts of both her companions are required to transport her to Fabia's bed and tuck her in with her blonde hair spread out angelically upon the pillows. Her hostess joins her shortly thereafter; and, hearing a bark or two from a few inches above floor level, reaches down and scoops Honey up into their happy, snuggly, drunken heap. Goodnight, Hogsmeade.

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