When I was seven my father told me there are two kinds of plays; tragedies and comedies. Tragedies end in death and comedies in marriage.
“So you can’t have anything else?” I asked.
He shook his head sadly. “So,” he said. “Which one are you going to choose, poppet?”
I told him my life would be a comedy, obviously. I was only a child and had no concept of why anyone would choose the former. He pulled me into a hug and kissed the top of my head. “That’s my girl.”
I wriggled away, giggling.
“Now, are you ready for this party?” he asked. “This is very important to your mother, you know.”
I did know. She hadn’t talked about anything else for weeks. I also knew that it would result in me dressed in some kind of lace monstrosity, spending hours pretending to listen politely to the conversation of the adults.
At my expression my father laughed. He had the kind of laugh that filled the entire room but that night it sounded hollow and cold.
“What is it?” He was already looking at his watch. “I have to leave now, Sadie.”
He started to walk way, fiddling with the button holes on his dinner jacket.
I sighed, looking down at my feet. “I just wanted to tell you that-” Then I looked up, only to see that he’d already left.
That was the last conversation I had with my father.
I don’t remember what it was that I was going to tell him but I know that those were the exact words we spoke. I replay it in my mind often enough that I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. Sometimes I worry that I replay it too often, and it will become embellished in my mind until it’s nothing but a story, a shadow of the truth.
Memories are strange things. I don’t remember what I was wearing and I don’t remember where we were, except that it was in the house. Maybe I don’t remember it at all; maybe I made it up.
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“Sadie!” my mother called. “Sadie come down, we have a guest.”
I froze. I was lying on my bed deciding on a name for my puppy. She was asleep, her tiny, perfect head resting against my toes.
I slid of the bed gently, taking care not to wake her. Then I picked her up off the bed and put her in the cardboard box under my bed. It was hardly the most pleasant place for a puppy but I was distracted and I didn’t want to come back to find my room in ruins.
In the nine years since my father had left many things had changed. I had changed, undoubtedly, and the mother I remembered was nothing like the one I had today. One of the biggest changes however, was that now we scarcely had any guests. Our house used to be filled with parties and friends and obnoxiously loud relatives.
Of course, the change didn’t occur immediately. At the beginning practically everyone we knew came; to gossip under the guise of offering their condolences. But slowly and steadily the stream of guests stopped. We still went out - social climbing was my mother’s sole purpose in life - but they didn’t come to us.
“I’m not sure that it’s proper,” my mother would say pointedly, “to entertain in a frivolous matter at the home of my late husband.”
Even though it made as much sense as attempting to teach a goldfish to speak French, my mother’s friends would just about die before doing anything “improper” so we were left alone.
Besides which, my father hadn’t died, he’d simply disappeared.
Irritated I ran my fingers through my unruly curls, and wandered downstairs to meet our guest. I desperately hoped it wasn’t one of my mother’s friends. I could just imagine what they would say about the state of our home.
If anyone of any importance found out about the true state of our lives - that the money my father had left was all but gone, that despite the stunning exterior our house was literally falling down, or that what little money remained my mother was drinking away – then nothing would ever be the same.
When I reached the sitting room I didn’t recognize who it was immediately. He was wearing a suit, had a bristly moustache and was saying something I couldn’t quite hear to my mother. His voice was cold, patronizing.
Then with a start I recognized who he was. And it was much, much worse than one of my mother’s society friends.
He was the father of the infamous Sirius Black and he sat in our living room and looked around at the peeling wallpaper and my mother in her old grey dress and he smiled in the exact way that snakes would smile if they could.
He’d heard, he said, that I could act. That I had the kind of talent that only came along only once in a generation. There was something they believed to be called the Order of the Phoenix and his son was involved. He would be so very grateful if I’d attend Hogwarts next year, get to know his son.
He asked politely, as though he was worried I might say no, if I would please join his son and find out exactly what he was doing. Then I would report back.
“Not to me”, he added, as though it was a minor detail. “To the Dark Lord. He really does want to find out what Dumbledore is up to.”
I’m not going to pretend that I’m particularly noble, or brave. I don’t really care what the Dark Lord does – if it means we won’t have to hide from muggle borns then it sounds good to me. I just don’t really want to meet him. Or talk to him.
Or report back to him if I failed.
My mother leapt up and clutched at his hands. “She would be honoured,” she said.
Orion Black nodded slowly and walked over to me. “You’re a pretty girl,” he said. “Very pretty indeed. My son will fall for you in an instant no doubt.”
He smiled now at my mother. “So your daughter agrees, she will succeed, and all of this,” he glanced at the floor, littered with dirty bottles and months of dust, “will remain between us. Do I have an understanding?”
Without waiting for an answer he picked up his hat and looked from my mother to me. “No need to worry, I’ll find my own way out.”
As soon as he left the room my mother collapsed into her chair by the fire.
“Are you alright?” I asked her.
She looked at me coldly. Even slouched down in the chair she seemed to look down at me.
“I’m fine,” she snapped. “You should dress for the party tonight. I want you to look spectacular. And perhaps you could get your poor mother a drink?”
My mother is one of the most charming people I have ever met. She has more friends than anyone I know, each one jealous of her beautiful house, flawless wardrobe, her perfect life.
All of it is a lie.
She sighed loudly. “How many times am I going to have to ask you? Or would you prefer to stare blankly at the wall for a little longer?”
She doesn’t really bother wasting her charm on me though.
But Orion Black, however horribly he put it, was right about one thing. I had truly inherited my mother’s talent.
I can make anyone believe anything.
I can be anyone’s best friend. I can be sweet and innocent or cold and cruel. I can make you believe that I’m funny, clever and charming.
I can make people believe whatever I want them to believe.
Lying is an addiction. Even when I try to tell the truth lies continue to spill out. Maybe it sounds silly to you, but there’s a kind of power in making people believe in things that aren’t.
I sound like an awful person and I probably am.
But I was also perfect for the job.
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A/N - Thanks so much for reading! And please don't forget to review :)