Who: Sasha Capper, Ernie Macmillan
Where: The cloakroom at the Glass Slipper
When: 28 April 2002, evening
Sasha probably ought to be more ashamed of herself than she was for hiding in the cloakroom with a bottle of champagne during her mentor’s birthday celebration. She wasn’t a Gryffindor, so why should she judge herself for a bit of well-placed cowardice? Val had insisted on joining her tonight, and then he’d insisted that they needed to finally (finally) set a date for their wedding and she felt warranted whatever behavior pleased her.
Bringing it up at a public event where he thought she couldn’t run away seemed incredibly rude to Sasha. So she had run away. To the cloakroom. With the intention of getting utterly smashed on bubbles as that was the only kind of alcohol she could get a real blackout effect from without killing herself of alcohol poisoning first.
Bloody Russian constitution.
Ernie was leaving the party early. He’d made the necessary birthday wishes toward Robert, talked with everyone for an adequate amount of time and didn’t feel like hanging about any longer. Sasha was around with her fiance, and now that Bole seemed to be finally detached from her, Ernie couldn’t find her, so right now seemed as good a time to go as any.
He felt awkward around Bole.
“Here’s my ti—” Ernie frowned, before a smile appeared on his face. Slowly. “You’re not the coat check girl. What’s… going on?”
“No, I am not the coat check girl,” Sasha drawled. “I scowled at her until she ran away. Coward.” She waggled the bottle of champagne at him. “And what’s going on it that I am getting pissed. Want to join me?”
Ernie thought for a split-second. Hell yeah.
He didn’t show his enthusiasm outwardly. “What’s the occasion? And don’t say Robert’s birthday.”
Sasha was about to hand over the bottle and paused. This one was almost empty. She finished it off and then handed him the other one she’d stashed under some designer cloaks. He could open it; she was feeling a little unsteady.
“The occasion,” she said, leaning back against a bit of wall, “is the end of my youthful exuberance, of course.”
Ernie looked at the label. “This is good stuff.” He seemed surprised. He pulled up a chair and sat by Sasha.
“Oh, I don’t want to drink to that,” he remarked, though he uncorked the bottle anyway. “I want you to stay youthful and exuberant forever.”
Sasha rolled her eyes at his first remark. Of course it was the good stuff. This was the end of her life they were mourning. “I’m afraid youthful and exuberant forever is out of the question. The old ball-and-chain wants to make an incredibly dishonest woman out of me.”
She head fell back against the wall and she slid down to sit on the floor.
“Ah.” Ernie frowned. “Hang on — dishonest?”
“Mmm, yes, dishonest,” she said. “I think that’s generally what they call it when you marry someone that you don’t want to marry.”
He wasn’t drinking enough so she held out her hand for the bottle.
Ernie noticed he was still up far too high. He ditched his chair and sat on the floor as well. He took a sip and handed the bottle over. “I wouldn’t say it’s dishonest, exactly. Just…” he pursed his lips, “I don’t know. It’s not your fault. More like everyone else who is enabling it. Yeah.” He sighed. “What if you just say no?”
“It’s not that simple,” Sasha said after taking another very long pull from the bottle of champagne that made her head spin slightly from lack of oxygen. “Frankly, pissing off my mother is one thing. I make enough money that I don’t give a fuck if she disowns me. But she’d take my dad and my sister with her. And my dad might be spineless and my sister might be silly but, I don’t know, they’re my family.”
“What, are you saying your sister won’t speak to you again? Doesn’t she live next door?” Ernie let out a cheeky smile. “Well, I’m sure Andrei will stick by you. And me, obviously.”
“She might not,” Sasha said sadly. “My sister got lucky. She can’t imagine that anyone wouldn’t be madly in love with the person my mother picked. She’d be angry at me for breaking it off but in her weird way she’d be mad because she wants me to be as happy and in love as she is.”
Ernie eased the bottle back and took another (long) sip. “So why don’t you tell her so? That you’ve found someone else and you’re happy?”
“Because,” Sasha said dryly, “then she’d expect me to produce said mystery man. And while Blaise is a really stand-up ex boyfriend, I don’t think he’d be willing.”
“Hmm,” mused Ernie. “Who else do you know?”
“Um,” Sasha began ticking off men on her fingers. “Terence is married. Alexander is unacceptable. Humphrey is even more unacceptable. Draco’s mother might think we were serious. Actually,” she paused, “it really can’t be anyone too involved in Society or our mothers might insist that it actually happen. Which wouldn’t be any better than where I am now.”
Ernie wrinkled his nose. “See, that’s what happens when you only know Slytherins,” he voiced, laughing a little. He drummed his fingers against his leg. “Someone at work?”
“I’m pretty sure if I asked someone at work to pretend to be madly in love with me I’d get dobbed in for sexual harassment,” Sasha groused, taking the bottle back. “That’s the problem with being the boss.”
“Well I wouldn’t accuse you of that.”
Sasha’s eyebrow just about shot off her forehead. “Are you volunteering, Macmillan?”
Ernie frowned. “Well, I mean, you’ve just explained everything to me, so I know why you’d ask.” He seemed to frown further, and grabbed more sips to clear his head. Well, at least not care that his head was not clear. “But yes. I guess. What was the question?”
“I think you just agreed to pretend to be madly in love with me for some unspecified period of time to save me from my unwanted engagement,” Sasha said.
And then she burst into mildly hysterical drunken giggles because it was just so funny.
Ernie had a goofy smile on his face. It was so nice to see Sasha happy. “Alright.”
Sasha sobered slightly (though she couldn’t quite keep a smile off her face in response to that look on his face). “Seriously? Because I can’t walk out there and ditch my fiancé if you’re going to change your mind in the morning.”
“Why would I do that? I’m madly in love.”
Sasha laughed again. “You’re a natural.”
“Oh, don’t say that yet,” said Ernie. He leant over and kissed her, quickly. “What about now?”
Huh. Sasha hadn’t expected that. She wasn’t often surprised. But it was nice. It was really nice. Instead of answering him, she curled her fingers into the collar of her robes and pulled him towards her for another kiss. He tasted like champagne.
Truly, Ernie hadn’t planned this. But he always did his work with due diligence and that now included Sasha’s dilemma. They should be kissing, shouldn’t they? It was all part of the act and it had to look natural.
He kissed her for a bit longer, one hand finding its way onto her cheek. He finally broke away, flushed. “Um. You don’t have to ditch him right now, right? You can stay here. Tell him tomorrow.”
“Nah, I should tell him now,” Sasha said, struggling to her feet without her normal grace. “Before I talk myself out of it, you know?”
And before her liquid courage wore off.
Ernie let her go reluctantly. He spent a couple of seconds feeling sorry for himself before also staggering to his feet. “Uh. OK? What was I even doing here — oh yeah, I was headed home. Do you want me to come with you or… I’ll see you later?”
“I’ll see you later,” she confirmed, smoothing out her dress and trying not to wobble on her heels. “At work tomorrow. I’ll be wearing dark glasses and drinking… a lot of coffee.”
Ernie nodded. “OK. Goodnight, dear,” he said earnestly. He pulled Sasha across for another quick smooch before finding his coat and slipping it on. “Uh, good luck.”
“Thanks,” Sasha laughed, picking up the bottle and taking another slug. She smirked. “But I don’t need luck. I’ve got flair.”
And with that she turned on her extremely high heel and headed back out into the fray to find Valerius Bole and tell him that she’d rather not marry him after all.
Ernie looked upon her retreating form with admiration before making his exit.