(1939-02-21) Can't We Just Pretend It Never Happened?
Details for Can't We Just Pretend It Never Happened?
Summary: Frid and Tessa meet again after an awkward moment. They proceed to have another awkward moment.
Date: February 21st, 1939
Location: A back room at the Three Broomsticks.
Related: Takes place shortly before but is emphatically not referred to in The Beauty of Slow Numbers.

It's later. Some time later. Let's say supper time. It's as good a time as any, and the first chance that Frid's had to escape Fabia's ridiculous demands since last Tessa spoke with him. Even now, he's unusually subdued, something which might generally escape the notice of most of the staff, given that when he really wants to be he can be close to invisible, but any of the usual banter on the way to the kitchens to nudge Cook into providing supper for the night is missing. Instead, he makes his request of the kitchen staff, and, rather than immediately returning upstairs, takes the opportunity to slip into the stockroom, ostensibly to refill some of the copious quantities of alcohol which seem to evaporate from the drinks trolley at an alarming rate of knots at the best of times, and a truly frightening speed today.

Tessa often has occasion to go into the stockroom in the Broomsticks. That's been established. One such occasion seems to be right now, since she's entered it. "Hello, Frid," she says as she moves to one of the shelves and begins to poke around on it, probably looking for some liquor or other. After all, why else would she be there? In contrast to Frid, she's looking very much like her usual self, and she glances at him with a smile before she goes back to her task. She doesn't speak beyond the cordial greeting, though it may just be because she really needs to organize these bottles because she can't ever find anything she's looking for, damnit. (She doesn't know Frid's system.)

Immediately Frid is stiff backed, sombre and formal. Every inch the professional valet. "Miss Tessa," he responds, dipping his head and taking a half pace back among the shelves, partly to let her find what she's looking for, and partly through reflex, it being stage one of valet-ninja 101. He does, however, watch her very carefully, clear blue eyes taking in every movement she makes, every subconscious gesture, scanning the tone of her voice in his head as though running it through his own personal polygraph. He reaches for a fresh bottle of Lagavulin (it's hidden behind a stash of the Glenmorangie on the top shelf, high enough that Fabia can't accidentally find it in her random nosing about) and cradles it in his arm, before clearing his throat quietly. "Did you..?"

Another bottle is pushed aside, though carefully, for it's really quite a mess in there, and Tessa goes up on her tiptoes, peering toward the back of the shelf. Ah-ha! She reaches back, coming up with a bottle of port. She pulls out the rag that she has tucked in her apron and begins to remove the dust; from the looks of it, this particular bottle's been there quite a while, probably longer than the new proprietress. "…Need anything?" Tessa finishes, raising her eyebrows. "No, thank you, Frid, I've found what I was looking for," she continues, raising the bottle and wiggling it a little to indicate her success. Then, she pauses. It's for no more than a second, and she looks to be about to say something more, though when she does speak again, her words are innocuous, not seeming to warrant her hesitancy. "I really must organize this room. Perhaps you can help me go over the inventory, to make sure I've fully separated Mrs. Fairfax's private stock from the Broomsticks'."

"Best of luck with that," Frid can't help but respond, tone dry. "Just let me know if we're ever down to less than half a dozen bottles of the Bombay or the vermouth, same with the Bruichladdich. And the Lagavulin's not for sale." He lifts the bottle under his arm as though to demonstrate which whisky he means. "Other than that, let me know when we're down to a bottle or two of any of the regular spirits and I'll get them topped up." He tucks his bottle back away again between his arm and his body, warming it as best he can. "Join me on Monday morning, though. I'll do a full stock take and run you through the accounts?"

Tessa glances to the bottle, scanning the label, then nods, "Of course. I shall come find you, and you can let me know me if it's convenient or not." She looks back toward the shelf, frowns, then takes down another bottle, this one of vodka. "Thank you," she says, and begins to turn away and make her way out of the stockroom. However, when she's almost at the door, she stops, then turns around to face him once more. "Frid…" she begins, then takes a deep breath, steeling herself for what is sure to be slightly awkward. "I shan't mention it again. But, please know that you needn't worry about me saying anything, to anyone." She doesn't expand. Hopefully he catches her drift.

With that sentence Frid's ears, cheeks and neck almost immediately flush a deep red, the heat almost palpable from them. He clears his throat, glances to the exit - blocked by Tessa, naturally - then looks upwards in case there might be an escape hatch or something suddenly appeared just for him. "I really don't make a habit of… well… I just mean that it shan't… you… well. Quite." If all else fails, fall back on 'quite', Frid. Well done. He takes a moment more, a steadying breath, and then just whispers, so quietly that he might as well just mouth it to her and rely on her lipreading skills, "Thank you."

Frid's reaction is not quite mirrored by Tessa, but her head does dip slightly, her eyes sliding away from him in an attempt to give him as much privacy as she can, considering that they're in the same room, and there's only the two of them in there. So really none, but maybe it's the thought that counts. However, when he speaks, she looks back up at him, quickly enough that she's able to catch his last word, and her expression softens, the lingering awkwardness melting away. She doesn't say anything more, just gives a single nod of acknowledgement, before she turns back toward the door, leaving the room and making her way into the pub once again.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License