(1939-02-25) Avocadoes in February
Details for Avocadoes in February
Summary: Fabia and Tessa return from a day's shopping in London, and encounter an unattractively passive-aggressive Frid.
Date: February 25th, 1939
Location: Upstairs at the Three Broomsticks
Related: Shall We Dance?

Fabia's Rooms

"… You know, I think after all we ought to have them run up the same frock for you in blue as well, they can do it quite cheaply, you know," Fabia Fairfax remarks over her shoulder to Tessa, who is contriving to hold open the door of the sitting-room for her employer despite being even more laden with shopping-bags and ribbon-wrapped parcels immediately recognisable to Frid as originating in at least half a dozen of Fabia's favourite London shops.

They claimed, when they set out six hours ago, to be popping up to London 'on an errand'. The errand, apparently, was to keep frittering away Fabia's money until they reached the absolute physical limit of what two women can carry through the 'Floo without collapsing. And now, of course, Fabia is collapsing, into the nearest chair, with her coat and her paisley silk headscarf still on, having first dropped her share of the burdens so quickly after crossing the threshold that it may not be possible to shut the door without tidying up first.

The look on Frid's face on seeing so many bags from so many establishments, none of which are known to be inexpensive, is priceless. You can almost see the abacus working in his brain as he tots up a likely cost for this entire 'errand', brows furrowing a little further with every mental bead. Well. This is going to require rebudgeting the month. "I had no idea," he finally manages, tone deliberately dry as he starts to gather bags and parcels out of the way of the door, "that all of London was shortly to be hit by a meteor and thus you had to rescue every bit of stock from every shop merely to save it." He holds up one of the bags, looking at it with disbelief and holding it up. "Avocadoes? In February? Really? I dread to even think."

'Contrived' is certainly the right word to use, because it's a wonder that Tessa's even able to carry the packages, much less do anything else while doing so. She manages somehow, though, and even manages to place the packages down in some semblance of order. Not a good semblance, mind. She also manages to not -quite- collapse into another one of the available chairs, but it's a near thing. "It's awfully sweet of you, Mrs. Fairfax," Tessa begins, "but I really rather think…" and she trails off, because of course, there's Frid. She looks toward him, her expression almost panicked, her cheeks coloring, though maybe that's just from the obvious exertion. Yes, let's call it that. "Ah, hello, Frid…"

"Oh, Frid, don't be such a stick," orders the limp pile of furs which is all that remains of Fabia Fairfax, "and bring me a drink before I simply fade away." By the end of the sentence she's begging more than ordering. "And don't be so silly, Tessa, you know you need a few new things for France, and the pink one looks so fetching on you… I'm convinced blue would be even more delightful. I know just the right blue. I have a petticoat that colour. I'll take it in so they can match it." A weak kid-gloved hand reaches up to tug off the headscarf which has its ends tucked inside the collar of her coat; beneath it she is wearing… a tiara. Thank your lucky stars, Frid, that it's obviously paste.

Frid just looks at Fabia as the tiara is revealed. Just looks. And then gives Tessa a look which seems to imply it's her fault for not stopping Fabia's whirlwind of shopping. Another parcel is picked up and stacked with its friends on the table.

"Martini, Frid, please…" Fabia implores.

The look is not missed, and Tessa cringes, not quite able to meet his eyes anymore. But really, how was she to know that Fabia would suggest a shopping trip, just as she was coming up with the post? And she really didn't have anything else to do, and so couldn't very well refuse. And of course, it's true that a few good-quality frocks really are an investment, after all, that one can't deny, instead of trying to get several more cheaply, and…now she's just kidding herself. She has them, and she's happy, damn it! "Thank you, Mrs. Fairfax," she says, for probably the 23rd time today, and leaves it at that, with no more protests. She looks back at Frid, halfway between shamefaced and excited, because she can't -quite- bring herself to wish that she hadn't gone.

The thing about Frid is that he'll never exactly directly go against Fabia's directions. That's not to say he doesn't have his own little ways of making his opinion known, one of which he demonstrates today. "Of course, Mrs. Fairfax," he responds to the request for a drink, while making no move towards the drinks trolley until he's finished stacking every box in order of size. If she hadn't bought so many, it wouldn't have taken so long to stack and order them all, so it's really entirely her own fault that her drink is being delayed.

"You're terribly welcome, sweetie," Fabia answers her, also for probably the twenty-third time today. "… Will you make me a martini?" she wheedles, as Frid appears to be still counting the avocadoes and weighing them in his hands and fretting over whether she bought them by number or by weight.

A moment in the chair, that's all Tessa needs. Just a moment,to catch her breath from the whirlwind of activity that was her afternoon…and the moment turns into two, and then three, as the chair's so comfortable and she really is quite worn out. Contrary to what people who saw her galavanting about with Fabia in London might have thought, however, she does actually have work to do, and so she finally rises, smoothing her dress over her hips and straightening her hair. "I ought to go down and check on the girls," she says, "Ellie never can make a decent gimlet." She begins to make her way to the door, but as she reaches the threshold, she turns back, and continues, still almost unable to believe the trip really happened, "It was such a lovely afternoon."

"Oh, bless you," Fabia murmurs weakly. She has taken off one glove and deposited it in her lap. She'll have to work her way up to the second. Two buttons per wrist, it's an intolerable sort of labour for a woman in her state. "I'll go through everything and sort out what's mine and what's yours… as soon as I've had," and she eyes Frid, "a drink."

With that, Tessa departs, though she studiously avoids making any more eye contact with Frid.

Frid finally relents, with every box stacked to his satisfaction and no real excuse to delay any further, not that it was more than a flimsy excuse to begin with. There's the sound of liquid pouring, then the satisfying sound of the cocktail shaker, and then there, a martini, right by Fabia's elbow through his valet-teleportation-magic. "Good evening, Miss Tessa," he adds to her departing back, the very model of propriety.

The hand with its neat white kid glove still on it (in a long day of shopping, Fabia hardly touched a thing that wasn't pristinely clean; it's just the way she wafts through London) rises to wave feebly to Tessa as she excuses herself. And then — oh, thank God — a martini appears. Fabia's fingers curl about the stem of the glass and she brings it to her lips, breathing in that heavenly aroma of gin and vermouth for just a second or so before she drinks down half of it and sighs with pleasure. "I've decided to live," she says to Frid.

"I didn't precisely think you dead," Frid points out wryly, folding his hands behind his back and settling back into an out of the way spot, ready at a moment's notice should she call on him. "I've never known a woman more alive."

"You didn't see the queues we suffered at Selfridges today," his employer groans, and knocks back another couple of soothing, healthful gulps of her martini. "And oh, Frid, my feet…" She is the very picture of a woman who has suffered for Beauty. Or at least for Style; and that is, as she proves every day of her life, far more enduring. "… Still, it was awfully fun," she giggles. Her other hand creeps up to pat her tiara. She quite fancies herself in a tiara.

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