Who: Heidi MacDonald, Astoria Greengrass, Heidi’s manfriend
Where: The Glass Slipper
When: 14 February 2002, evening
Astoria tickled her chin with the tip of her quill as she studied the reservation book. Zacharias and Emelda hadn’t been waiting long, but she knew that the longer it took her to find a table to squeeze them in, the busier the restaurant would become and the harder this whole scheme would be to pull off.
She never should have agreed to this, she thought crankily. She liked this job. It mostly depended on standing around looking pretty and then being fairly polite and organised, and that all fit pretty squarely into her limited skill set. Her bosses seemed to like her, too; not that one Muggleborn cow of a manager but the rest of them, and the bartenders made her free drinks if she’d stick around and flirt a bit after her shifts, and she even got on with most of the waitstaff, although she’d had to avoid Hans ever since she had made the poor choice to go to Casino Night with him. He was a waiter, after all — she shouldn’t have encouraged him.
She tapped the quill against her lips, still thinking, then straightened up as she spotted a couple approaching, in her peripheral vision. Ugh, so many couples tonight. “May I help you?” she said, smiling prettily at first — but then she saw that one of the guests was Heidi MacDonald, and she involuntarily pursed her lips a bit.
Heidi didn’t miss Astoria’s change of expression — but then, she didn’t really care either. She was wearing the most amazing little red dress and it was her turn to have The Shoes so she felt like a million galleons. Of course, it didn’t hurt that she was here with Mannfred Stark, chief editor of The Daily Prophet. She slipped her hand through his arm and cosied up against his shoulder a little, unable to resist smirking at Astoria as she did so. Working on Valentine’s Day? She was clearly still single. Not that there was anything wrong with that, of course, but Heidi couldn’t help but feel amused at Astoria’s disapproval when it was clear to Heidi who was having the more fun.
“We have a table booked under the name of Stark,” Mannfred said to Astoria, successfully distracting Heidi from her thoughts about exactly how much fun they would have later.
Silently, Astoria was mildly surprised that Heidi was in any sort of relationship ‘serious’ enough to warrant a Valentine’s dinner date at the Glass Slipper. Surely this man knew that Heidi would still subject herself to degrading acts with him, even if he’d only taken her to Falafelly Good for the occasion. But Astoria only smirked on the inside, because she was at work.
“Of course,” she responded smoothly, glancing back down at the book. Her expression remained unchanged but she was thinking fast. If she could delay Horrible Heidi, then she could grab a table for her cousin, and then if that fat couple by the window would stop gazing into one another’s eyes and licking chocolate frosting off their fingers and just pay up already, that two-top might open up and she could get try to get Heidi and her Mr Stark seated before the next reservation arrived… Fortunately, the podium was built in such a way that the book was mostly shielded from their view as she spotted the name and covered it with her thumb. She then slipped her free hand into her pocket for her wand, waiting for the right moment to charm the reservation away.
“I’m afraid I don’t see that here,” she said, in her most professional, placating tones. “Did you make the reservation by owl request?”
“My secretary made the booking,” Mannfred said in the clipped tones of a man used to getting his own way in everything. “Check again.”
Trust Astoria to not even be able to get this right, Heidi thought, and gave Mannfred’s arm a reassuring little squeeze.
Well. If Astoria hadn’t already decided to make them wait, this Mr Stark’s tone would have clinched it. Hadn’t anyone ever taught him that you catch more pixies with honey? “Let me just check that again for you. Maybe it’s under her name, what would that be?” She flipped through a few pages and appeared to quietly read a few names to herself as she actually took the opportunity to perform a quick spell under her breath and erase his name neatly from the book.
“Wakefield. This is absurd. Why would the booking be under her name?” Mannfred’s tone was becoming even more brusque, a definite warning sign.
“You never know. The staff here seem to be particularly incompetent,” Heidi said, trying to keep her tone light but shooting a glare at Astoria and willing her to just seat them already.
As if this imaginary dilemma couldn’t have been his secretary’s fault? Astoria was indignant; she wasn’t incompetent, she was messing it up on purpose. Red spots appeared in her cheeks and she sounded a bit more curt as she replied, “I’m sorry, I simply don’t see it here. However, if you’d like to wait at the bar, we could fit you in as soon as something opens up.” She had to at least offer, but Merlin, she hoped they just left instead. Otherwise her schedule would be thrown off for the entire rest of the evening, and they were sure to be unpleasant about everything.
Unfortunately for Astoria, Mannfred did not want to wait. “Don’t you know who I am?” he demanded, and a little shiver went down Heidi’s spine. It was no secret that she was attracted to powerful men, and when Mannfred said things like that she couldn’t help but get turned on, just a little. “Fetch your manager,” Mannfred snapped. “I want to speak to someone in charge.”
Ugh, people who said ‘Don’t you know who I am?’ were so classless. Astoria wrinkled her nose, but then considered her dilemma of whether or not to summon her manager. He might fully back her up and smooth things over, but on the other hand he might notice where the name ‘Smith’ had been squeezed in, in small letters, and put two and two together… So she stalled. “I’m sorry, but my manager is only going to tell you the same thing. Your name isn’t here, and there simply aren’t any tables available.” If he’d been less unpleasant, this was where she would have taken the opportunity to offer a free glass of champagne for his wait, but instead she just stared at him levelly, clearly making no move to find him someone ‘in charge.’
Heidi felt the tension in Mannfred’s arm and made a split second decision. As sexy as it was watching him throw his weight around, deep down she knew it wasn’t really for her benefit — it was just the way he was. And she didn’t really fancy a scene in the middle of the Glass Slipper.
“Darling, forget about it. I don’t want to eat here anyway,” Heidi said, slipping round in front of him so that she was between him and Astoria. She ran her fingers over his shoulders as though she was smoothing down his robes and looked up from under her eyelashes as she said, “How about getting a last minute portkey to somewhere like Paris… or Venice?” She gave a wistful little sigh and trailed her fingers down his chest. “Do you think that would be possible…?”
“Of course I can arrange that, if that’s what you want,” Mannfred said, his frown softening as Heidi gazed up adoringly at him.
“Oh yes,” Heidi said breathlessly, and gave him a slow and lingering kiss. After a moment she glanced over her shoulder and said casually, “We won’t be needing a table after all.” She hoped Astoria was impressed. This was how you handled a man.
Astoria had actually slightly turned her head away, wincing as though she smelled something foul, when Heidi began her public display of affection. When Heidi addressed her she snapped back to full attention. “I’m terribly sorry to hear that,” she practically purred, looking just as satisfied with herself as Heidi did. “I hope you’ll dine with us soon.”
And she flashed a very genuine smile, even as she thought to herself Of course they don’t need a table. They’d like to skip straight to a rather different piece of furniture. And as soon as they left, she could go tell Zacharias his wait was almost over.
Ugh. Heidi almost regretted her decision — that smug expression on Astoria’s face was particularly irritating — but she’d just talked Mannfred into taking her to a romantic European city for Valentine’s Day, and she couldn’t very well turn that down.
“Enjoy your Valentine’s Day, Astoria,” she said, unable to resist a parting shot, and then slipped her hand into Mannfred’s as they left the restaurant, already excited about where he would take her.