Who: Idris Robards, Astoria Greengrass
Where: Heaven Scent
When: 19 May 2001, afternoon
Well, Idris’s work in Helga’s Hill was done. He had a heart to heart with his father, convinced Tali that their father did not murder Orpington, and even if he did, he’d never be convicted, and caught up with old acquaintances. There was only time for a quick zoom around town to get the buy the best of what Helga’s had to offer before heading home.
Mother had asked him to pick up some products from Heaven Scent, a store which was apparently going to be the latest trend among her friends. She wanted to be up on it before everyone else got on the bandwagon.
He was in the store now, bewildered at how many possible items there could be for something as simple as bathing, when he chanced upon an idle saleswitch.
“Ah, just the person I need. I—” he glanced at the name badge, and his face split into a grin, “—I was going to introduce myself but we’ve sort of met before. Idris.”
Astoria had been trying to look busy and fight her stifling boredom by fussing with the display of the Irresistible Me body lotions. If the first bottle could display the “Irre,” and the next the “sist,” and so on down the line, and then repeat for the whole display…
She had been so engrossed in her task that she startled a little when the customer addressed her. And when she saw his wide smile she couldn’t help but smile back. Wow, he was a lot better-looking than that brother of his, who worked in the bookshop. Not lizard-like at all.
“Well, hello Idris,” she said, pushing her hair behind her ear in a gesture that was somewhere between coy and nervous. “It’s lovely to meet you in person. What can I help you find? Are you looking to be… irresistible, maybe?” She indicated the display she was working on, feeling a bit pleased with herself for how cleverly she’d arranged it.
“Not personally,” Idris answered. “It’s for my mother, so I think I’ll have to skip the Irresistible Me. Do you have anything that would appeal to middle-aged ladies? Hopefully word doesn’t get that that I described her in such a way.”
“Ah, in that case…” Astoria lead him away from the Irresistible Me shelves somewhat reluctantly. She could have made some joke about him already being a bit irresistible already, but that was too forward, right? Like that awful Heidi girl would have done. But there was also a ladylike way to flirt and be engaging, and Astoria just didn’t have much practice at it. That’s what happened when you were practically engaged by the time you were fifteen.
“This is popular with our more mature customers,” she said, smirking a bit as she emphasized her more diplomatic language, and holding up a bottle of ‘Who’s That Girl?’ “It comes in bubble bath, body lotion, and perfume — do you know which she’d prefer?”
Idris shrugged. “Why not all? I don’t know her preferences. I’m after a wide variety, actually. A sample of everything that you’d think appropriate. Price isn’t an issue.”
He smiled at Astoria. “You know what’s good here, don’t you?”
Well then! “I think you’ll need one of these,” Astoria said, reaching past him to pick up a small shopping basket from a center table. She swept one of each of the varieties of Who’s That Girl into it, and one extra of the perfume because, why not?
“I do, I’ll show you my favourite,” she said, straightening her shoulders with pride. She glanced around to see if Susan was noticing what an excellent sale she was making.
The next shelf over was Dream Clean, and she started loading several bottles into the basket. “Now this one… helped me get through a broken engagement of my own. In case you want to keep a bottle for yourself. Just in case.” She smiled as she pressed one bottle into his hand, trying to show that she didn’t mean to steer the conversation down a negative path.
Idris was not at all concerned with the fact that the shopping basket seemed to be piling up and up.
“Someone broke your engagement? Well, he’s a fool,” Idris declared. He took Astoria’s proffered offering without argument. “Though really, if we’re talking recovery shouldn’t we go back for the Irresistible Me?”
Astoria pushed her hair behind her ear again and bit her lip to try to keep her face professional and composed. “Well, I suppose that would depend on whether you feel you’re ready to start attracting some new attention.”
“Oh, I think I’m quite ready,” said Idris seriously. “Besides, attracting doesn’t mean anything will happen. Everyone likes a little attention now and then, don’t they?”
He plucked a bottle of Irresistible Me from the shelf as they approached the counter. “You never know.”
“I suppose so,” Astoria said lightly, for lack of a more clever response. She started ringing up his many purchases, but rather slowly, as she wasn’t eager for the conversation to end. “I may have to just get one myself.” She paused in her task just long enough to give him a rather deliberate look from under her lashes, and felt pleased with herself for her (relative) boldness.
“You should,” said Idris. “Here, I’ll make it easy for you, take away deliberating about it.” He took his bottle out of the bag and pushed it toward Astoria. “Have one on me. Ring up two and I’ll grab another on the way out.”
“Why, thank you, that’s very generous.” Astoria had a sudden urge to open the bottle and douse herself with it. She wanted Idris to be overcome, to leap over the counter and push her against the wall and — Oh, my. It had been a long time since she’d entertained thoughts like this.
Feeling flushed, she quickly finished his order and presented him the bill. “And because there’s a gift for me, I think that entitles you to my employee discount,” she said, lowering her voice. “Not that you seem to need it.”
Idris smirked. “I get by.” He didn’t mention that he worked long hours to keep ahead at the International Magical Office of Law. There may be a time when future Robardses would be ladies and gentlemen of leisure, but that time was not now. Though it would arrive faster if Tali pulled his financial weight. How could he support a high calibre wife and children without family money? Fool.
“Appreciate it all the same, as a token of this pleasant shopping experience.”
He paid up and gathered his purchases. “It’s a small world so we may meet again, Astoria. In the meantime, take care.”
“I’ll hope to see you around. And do let me know how your mother likes everything.”
She was sad to see him go, but at least now she had some pleasant daydreams to occupy her thoughts as she went back to tidying the displays.