Chapter 8 : 8. Fake It
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I didn’t plan to get completely drunk – but I did.
It felt nice; sitting at the bar, laugh hysterically at something that I would never find funny sober. Theo – who was just as drunk, if not more, as I was – was the funniest person I had met in a long, long time. He kind of reminded me of Chuck with his boy-ish grin, and his brotherly affection. For a moment, I felt completely at home. For a moment, I let my mind slip to another happy place; to Sirius.
Suddenly, I had difficulties to breathe.
“Susie? Susie, what’s wrong? Are you okay?” Theo asked, his voice panicky.
“D-do I look okay?” I stammered, taking another sip of my beer. I felt Theo’s eyes watch me closely, my trembling hand and my unsteady breathing.
“No,” he said after a moment, shaking his head. “And you certainly didn’t look okay when you arrived, either.”
I glanced at him, and tried to give him an I’m-Okay-Trust-Me-smile.
“Wanna tell me what happened in London?” he asked quietly, his voice no longer slurry.
“No,” I said at once, emptying my glass. “Another beer, please!”
The bartender put another beer in front of me, took in my appearance and current state, before turning his weary eyes to Theo. “You’re carrying her out, man,” he informed Theo, who just waved the man off.
“Let’s play a game,” Theo suggested, turning on his chair to face me.
“Fine,” I said – anything to change the subject.
“We ask each other questions – yes-no questions – and if you’re caught in a lie, the liar must drink,” he told me, and I narrowed my eyes at him.
“How will we know when someone is lying?”
“Trust me,” Theo guffawed, shaking his head. “You’ll know.”
“Okay,” I said, and took a sip. “I’ll start.”
“Okay,” Theo said, looking oddly calm.
“Do you love Em?” I asked, getting the big question out at once.
“Yes,” Theo said, looking straight at me. “Are you running away from something?”
I knew this game was a bad idea.
“No,” I said at once.
Just as I had said the word, my glass rapidly filled with beer, until it came over and dripped on the counter. I tried to reach for a paper, but it was useless; the beer just kept filling the glass.
“Drink, liar,” Theo guffawed, and I started chugging down the beer.
To my shock, the endless filling stopped just as soon as my lips touched the glass. As soon as the glass was empty, I slammed it back on the counter, taking deep breaths.
“Ugh,” I shuddered, shaking my head. “What was—“
“It’s a common prank glass around here,” Theo said, eyeing me closely. “It can tell when the drinker is lying. You lied,” he said with a small shrug. “But I already knew that.”
I glared at him. “Knew what?”
“That you were running away from something,” he finished, and took a small sip from his glass. “A guy?”
“N—“ I began, but fell silent as I threw a fearful look at the glass I gripped with both hands. Should I risk it, or tell the truth for once?
Could I trust Theo?
“Yes,” I muttered, avoiding his eyes. “But it’s not what you think – it’s a lot more complicated than that.”
“It always is,” he sighed, shaking his head. “Just… just don’t do anything that would hurt Em, okay?”
“Like snatch her dream job right in front of her, you mean?”
Theo laughed once, before his face turned grave. “Yeah, let’s not tell her for the time being…”
“Yeah,” I agreed after a moment.
Oh God. Oh God. Oh God. Oh God!
Em would totally murder me if she found out.
“You look lovely,” Theo snorted sarcastically, as I fixed my fake wig and moustache, along with my ridiculous looking robe that hid the imaginary hump on my back.
“Piss right off,” I hissed, glaring at him from under my hat.
Theo gazed down at me, before grinning widely. “You know, I just realized who you remind me of!”
“Don’t—“ I warned.
“Gandalf!” he said cheerfully, obviously proud of his realization.
“Do you wish to live and see tomorrow, Mr Blake?” I muttered darkly.
That shut him up.
Okay, sure, so my cover wasn’t exactly from the smoothest end, but I had become paranoid when it came to the point of keeping my job a secret from Em. Everytime she asked what I had been up to, I acted like a crazed dog about to have another rage attack. It had only been a week since I had taken the job, and I already considered quitting – for the sake of my sanity!
Lucky for me, Theo was pretty much the master of disguise. Of course, it made me wonder why he got such a kick of playing dress-up with me – so eventually, I decided not to take his advice.
Which explains my current outfit; an old man with a hump.
“You know,” I said, as we crossed the large hall. “I don’t need you to escort me everyday!”
“I know,” he said with a sigh. “I just like to watch people react to your outfits…”
“Psycho,” I snapped at him as we reached the elevators.
“Have you seen yourself?” Theo shot back, just as the elevator doors opened in front of us. “Have a nice day, sir!” he said with a chuckle, as I stomped into the elevator.
“Fuck off,” I said, loud enough to make an older witch gasp in shock.
When the elevator reached my floor, I slowly trudged out, pulling my pointy hat lower over my eyes. I was determined to not be recognized by Em – my first day had been filled with close-encounters, which included me doing insane dives and ninja-like moves to dodge her.
I threw my bag under my desk, and slumped into the chair, closing my eyes with a sigh. When I opened them again, Rousseau stood in front of me, looking down at me with raised eyebrows.
“Sir!” I said, quickly standing up.
“Erm,” he said, looking at me intently. “Can I help you, sir…?”
I stared at him blankly, before slightly raising the hat, peering back at him with wide eyes. “It’s me, sir – Susie!”
He frowned, and looked me up and down quickly. “What’s going on?” he eventually demanded. “Yesterday you came in wearing a pink wig, and a fake mole that kept falling off. The day before that, you wore fake eyebrows that covered half of your own face.”
“It’s an illness, sir,” I said after a moment of silence. “I keep changing my appearance. Its dreadful.”
“Oh,” he said, his frown deepening. “And here I thought you were trying to find your true persona…”
Fuck, that did make more sense, actually…
“Well, ehh, no, I actually—“
I fell silent, as he slowly reached towards me, removing the hat, wig and moustache. He shook his head slowly, as he signalled me to removed the ridiculous looking robe avec hump. I pouted, as I took it off, handing it to him.
“Nice try,” he said, walking to his office with my outfit. “Bring me a coffee and the owls that came today, thanks!”
I’m so fucked, I thought to myself.
Sometimes I think the Ministry is way behind the evolution. Why in the name of fuck would they make actual human beings get coffee to the higher bosses, when there’s magic!? It just didn’t make any sense to me. Fuck the shit about ‘in order to create a stable social network between the Ministry workers’ – it totally sucked!
The coffee room was like the common meeting ground of lower workers; assistants, secretaries and the likes. I had seen Em in there lots of times; each time she had been doing something that looked important, but when you looked closer, she was reading comic books while she pretended to copy important looking parchments.
This time was different – this time had nothing to hide behind.
I carefully peered into the room, narrowing my eyes at the slightly smoky air that obviously came from the corner, where three wizards stood and smoked something that looked nothing like normal cigarettes.
I suspected Floo Powder.
When I saw no Em in the room, I slowly crept in, hurrying towards the coffee station. I knew it was my time to show my swiftness; get the coffee and bail the fuck out.
As soon as I was done, I swivelled around with the coffee, ready to bolt – but bolted right into Em, who stood right behind me.
“What the f—“ she began, as the coffee spilled right over her shirt. When she took a closer look at me, her eyes widened in surprise, and her mouth fell open. “Susie!?
I stared at her with the same shocked expression she had, feeling the fear and panic flutter somewhere in the pit of my stomach. “Oh, hello,” I said.
“What are you doing here?” she said, staring at me.
Her eyes slowly fell to the badge I was wearing, her eyes scanning the title.
“You… you work here?” she said slowly. “As—“
“It’s not what you think!” I said at once.
She just continued to stare at me, and I felt frustrated by the fact that I couldn’t read her face to know what kind of reaction to expect.
“Right,” she said, turning on her heel and marching away, her brown curls bouncing.
“Shit,” I cursed, biting my lip. “EM, WAIT!”
But she was already gone.
For the first time in a very long time, I feared to open a stupid door.
I spent a good fifteen minutes just glaring at it, quickly going through the worst case scenario in my head.
One; Em would throw something at me.
Two; Em would then put my things on fire.
Three; Em would throw my things through the window – while they were on fire, of course.
Four; Em would put me on fire.
And five; Em would then throw me out through the window – while still being on fire, naturally.
I gulped, and opened the door. The silence that welcomed me made me even more worried. I quickly scanned the dark room, expecting her to attack me from behind the sofa or something.
I blinked, as the lights went on. More and more people popped out from everywhere, faces I didn’t recognize, smiling faces, all of the applauding and cheering… among the crowd, I could only recognize Em and Theo, both of them grinning widely.
Next thing I knew, Em had thrown her arms around my neck, suffocating me in one of her famous hugs.
“I’m so happy for you, Susie!” she called over the cheers, which soon were drowned by some loud music.
“H-happy?” I choked out, as she finally let me breathe again. “You’re not mad?”
Em frowned. “Mad? Why would I be mad? Why would I be mad that my best friend got the best job on earth?”
I stared at her meaningfully, and she shook her head with a giggle. “Yes, yes, yes – of course I’m jealous, and of course I wanted that job… but that doesn’t make me hate you. You’re a difficult people to hate, Soozer,” she said, leading me around the room with one arm around my shoulders. “Besides, it takes more than that for me to hate you.”
Okay, so Em was genuinely a madwoman. It is now official.
“Okay!” Em called out, handing me a drink. “Let us drink for your success!”
She clinked her glass with mine, and whooped loudly. Her genuine excitement and happiness only made it all much worse – if she only knew…
A/N: I do not own Gandalf - J.R.R. Tolkien does... obviously.
- Lily xxx
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