(1938-12-30) Who Are You?
Details for Who Are You?
Summary: Everyone has a role to play. Shelley and Cooper pretend to be what they're not while trying to suss out Zack's mystery.
Date: 1938-12-30
Location: Hog's Head Tavern
Related: You're Antagonizing Me

The Hog's Head Tavern is perhaps the most disreputable pub known to Wizard-kind, so it might be a little surprising to find Zack there. But there the young wizard is, sitting at a table in the mostly empty pub, all by himself. He doesn't have a drink in front of him, which might be why the barman is sending him dirty looks. Or perhaps it's his magnificent blue robes, which seem quite out of place here, even if they are a bit wrinkled. Parchment and books are strewn across his table in chaos, and Zack himself is hunched over in his chair, scratching away with his quill. There are a few other patrons in the pub, including a man with short black hair and a mustache who's reading today's Daily Prophet at another table.

Mostly empty is the keyword, except for rather boringly dressed young man in the next table on the other side of Zack. He sits facing the blue robed wizard in the back, while he has a clear view of the Mr. Mustache on the other side. A butterbeer sits on the table next to an ashtray holding a cheap cigarette which the drab young man picks up occasionally while reading his own copy of the Daily Prophet. Only, the young man isn't a young man. It's instead a young woman, dressed in her usual oversized coat and men's trousers. Her cloche hat has been swapped for a page boy one, and she's decided to wear boring brown and grey colors.

This quiet set up has existed for at least half an hour now, Cooper following Zack into the tavern. She has, in fact, been following him on and off since his questioning in the ministry. And seeing as he hasn't stirred yet, she assumes he hasn't caught up. Here's to hoping her "invisibility" will continue…

Shelley, it seems, is one of those brave enough to traverse the rickety stairs - though what she as doing up there, is anyone's guess. She comes down on the heels of a rather disreputable looking fellow in a shabby and oft-patched brown coat, with a fair bit of stubble on his chin. He provides good (and perhaps entirely unintentional) cover for the woman as she makes her way down - pausing at the sight of a brief flash of colorful blue robes amidst the dark and dingy atmosphere. Leaning up against the stairwell's wooden wall to conceal herself, she slips out her wand, breathing quietly under her breath a single word, "Suavio." If she's wrong about the identity of her target - well, she'll leave them alone, and no harm done. But if she's right about who's wearing that flash of all-too-familiar blue…

"Did you say something?" Grumbles the man walking ahead of Shelley, a suspicious look in his features.

"Nah. Just slipped for a second," she responds, holding to the handrail as if she just caught herself. "They really oughtta fix up these stairs, huh?"

Zack has no idea that someone has been following him all this time. Not only is he unaware of the disguised Auror, but he's unaware that the older, dark-skinned and mustached man reading the Daily Prophet is watching him as well. He continues to write, so intent on his work, and only looks up when someone casts a spell on him. At this he gives a puzzled frown to the ceiling, but beyond that he doesn't seem to notice anything, and he soon returns to his parchment.

But quiet little Cooper, sees all, hears all. At least while she's working. And while it looks to be that she's doing the crossword puzzle, she's actually taking notes with her stubby pencil. Mostly descriptive. How does Mr. Mustache look like in detail? He is after all eyeing Zack like a piece of steak. The familiar voice from the stairs does catch her attention, and while Cooper is almost tempted to turn around and make sure who it was, she reserves herself. Instead lowering the brow of her hat over her eyes, pushing up the thick glasses up the slope of her nose.

"Given up on blue drinks, I see? That's good," Shelley announces cheerfully - dropping into a seat at Zack's table uninvited, and raising her hand for the bartender's attention. "Whiskey for me," as if there were ever any doubt, "and a tea for my friend. Don't look at me that way - he's a tea man. What you gonna do?" No, tea is not their usual fare - but there are spells that heat up water easily enough, so it'll be made and serves. …in an ale mug.

Startled, Zack looks up at Shelley when she drops into a seat at his table. "Oh, it's you," he says, looking quite unsettled. "I hope you remember what Rhyeline told you. About how you're not supposed to harass me. She told you that. Don't touch any of my notes. I'm checking which ones I have. I found some more hidden in the house I used to live in here." The man reading the Daily Prophet turns the page. He looks to be in his forties: he has dark skin, his face is lined, and he has deepset black eyes. He's almost bald except for the short bristles covering his scalp, and his moustache is a thin stripe across his upper lip.

Cooper's blue eyes go wide behind all those layers of cover. Shelley? What on earth is the woman doing here? And what is this mess about Rhyeline? Her jaw goes stiff, gaze glance briefly over to the black haired man to see if he was still there. He turned the page, no motion to leave just yet. All good signs. Cooper continues listening on, half irritated what's going on between her coworker and her target in the next table over.

"Hrm? Why would I harass you, Zack?" Shelley asks. "Just - you know. You went and got me all worried, being in a place like this when we'd just talked about you and alcohol and all." She flashes him a smile, then leans in to add, "It really isn't polite to come into a place like this and order /nothing/, you know. Gets them all bent out of shape. The staff's likely to do stuff like spill half-empty cups on your papers, and I know you would hate that."

"I don't know," Zack says. "I'm still trying to figure that out. I expect it's because you're nosy. I'm not drinking alcohol. I don't like it. Even if it's blue and makes you breath snowflakes." He glances around the place, alarmed when she suggests his notes might be in danger. "I didn't order nothing. I didn't order at all. And you've just ordered tea for me. They'd better not spill it. I don't want to hex anyone today. I'm trying to work." The man pretending to read the Daily Prophet looks just as irritated as Cooper feels. His eyes are narrowed slightly, his eyebrows drawn together in a disapproving frown.

Is she … is she flirting with him? Cooper quirks a brow as she listens on in the interaction, unknowingly getting more and more irritated on par with the same man she's been observing. The cheap cigarette is grabbed and she takes a slow drag. Cooper needs to calm down, and do what she came here to do. Mr. Mustache's irritation is noted. But she's still trying to figure out Shelley's strategy.

"But you /should/ have ordered something," Shelley informs him. "Even if you don't drink it. Then you're a customer. If you don't order anything, you're a freeloader. It's like… paying to /rent/ the table, you see? If you really want to make the bartender like you, you ask him to pour himself a drink, and pay for it. Then your papers are perfectly safe." She seems utterly unaware of the irritation around her, as she slouches comfortably in her seat, smiling companionably at Zack. Her spell doesn't seem to have had much affect on him - at least, he isn't grinning at her in that idiotic manner some of her vic- err, targets have done in the past. Is she losing her touch?


"I don't care whether the bartender likes me or not," Zack says, not bothering to lower his voice. "I just want a place to work. No one comes in here anyway, so it's not like I'm keeping anyone else from using this table." He puts quill to parchment again, but a second later he puts it back on the table and frowns at Shelley. "Oh, did you want something from me? You're smiling. That means you're being friendly. You must not be working right now." Mr Moustache folds his paper up and sets it on the table, and he leans back in his chair and picks up his mug, drinking as his eyes scan the room. They pause frequently on Zack and Shelley.

Okay. Cooper's really trying to understand what's going on at the table before her, only she's concerned she'll lose Mr. Moustache. According to her notes, he fits the basic description of Piers only she needs a way to definitely identify him. But what can she do, Cooper bits her lip and her eyes fall on the dark haired man's paper. Oh! With barely any movement at all, she pulls out her wand from its holster. Concealing it at the hip she whispers "Arificus," and a small wind subtle swings the Tavern's door open as if a gust of a winter air pushed it. Another strategically placed "arificus" makes it look like the same draft sweeps up Mr. Moustache's paper fluttering it in the direction of Zack. The oblivious blue-aficionado should be able to recognize Piers, right?

"I'm not supposed to drink on the job, Zack," Shelley remarks in a dry voice. Which is why she takes such grim pleasure in taking the glass of whiskey that is delivered to her, and taking a drink. Ahhh… Lovely. The tea, in an ale mug, is also left for Zack.

Once the bartender has moved off again, Shelley says to the loopy young fellow, "If you want a place to work and be left alone - then you /do/ want the bartender to like you. Order a drink next time. You don't have to drink it, just pay for it. And order a drink /for/ the bartender. You're just going to have to trust me on that. Your other option is to find a more reputable place and just rent a room."

Her own eyes flick towards the man who has been watching them as the wind blows gently past her hair. She smiles at the man, then returns her attention to Zack, as if she couldn't care less about his presence.

"Okay," Zack says. "You sound like you know what you're talking about. I'll do that next time." He picks up his mug of tea and gives it a skeptical look. "I usually drink tea out of teacups. This is strange." But he drinks it anyway, holding it with both hands. Startled as the newspaper flutters past, he looks up and sees Piers sitting at the other table. The man stands to retrieve his paper, sparing the briefest glare for Zack but otherwise ignoring his presence. Zack stares at him with slightly wide eyes, like a deer caught in wandlight.

Cooper is listening to the conversation and paying attention to the trajectory of the paper at the same time. And noticing that Shelley is finally making some sort of progress, she almost feels bad that she's brought attention to the moustachio'd gentleman. But it was necessary. She freezes, just like Zack, upon recognizing their blue-fond friend's reaction. Oh Shelley! Are you seeing this?

"You alright there, Zack?" Shelley asks, allowing concern to lace her voice. Sure she sees it. /Of/ course she sees it. "Who's that, then?" she asks. She still leaning back in her seat, and still has her glass in her hand - her left hand. Her right hand is resting on her leg, right where she keeps her wand.

Zack doesn't seem to hear her. He continues to stare at the man over the rim of his cup, though he isn't even drinking from it anymore. The man, who bends to retrieve his newspaper, does hear her, however. Or it seems he does, because he decides to stop pretending not to know Zack and turns to him. "Evening, Zack," he says. His voice is deep and a little rough, but his tone is pleasant. The young wizard doesn't respond. "I see you're with a friend," the man continues. "I hope you're not showing her anything inappropriate."

"I'm fairly certain Zack is not that sort of gentlemen," Shelley quips.

In the midst of a casual drag from her cigarette, Cooper tries to keep herself from choking too loud on the smoke when Shelley interrupts. Oh god, she hopes this woman knows what she's doing. Cooper lowers her head further, keeping hidden but still keeping her wand on hidden against her waist.

Shelley always handles things her own way - with a certain sense of /style/ and- well, not charm exactly. Certainly a special /kind/ of charm, at any rate.

"Zack… if he's been threatening you…" she gently prods the man. Say it, Zack. Say he's been threatening. Then she's allowed to /do/ something.

The man called Piers lifts his eyebrows at Shelley's quip. "No," he agrees. "He's the kind of gentleman who follows the rules." He looks to Zack then, his eyebrows still raised. "Has someone been threatening you, Zack?" The wizard in blue shakes his head, alarmed, and finally finds his voice. "No," he says. "No one's threatened me. Some people harassed me, but they didn't threaten." Piers nods his head and walks back to his table, straightening his newspaper and flicking it open again as he sits.

The tension in the room could be cut with a knife, and yet it's not near ready to explode or expose anything juicy. Cooper purses her lips, looking back and forth to each member of the party. Mentally urging Shelley to keep going. Keep finding something out.

"You know. I do believe it's possible to file complaints in cases of harrassment with the MLE," Shelley muses. "It's a good thing to start a paper-trail on these things. In case they escalate, you see. You just have to detail when, where, who… that sort of thing." Especially the who. Give us the /who/, Zack. "I'd be happy to help you with that. File the paperwork for you."

Zack watches Piers walk away, and he takes the mug away from his face at last. He sets it down on the table. "Complaints?" he asks, distracted. "No, I don't want to file a complaint against you. You're being nice. And you said you wouldn't harass me anymore. Don't file the paperwork. You shouldn't report yourself. It's a nice gesture, though. Strange, but nice." He stands up and starts shuffling his papers together, gathering them up and putting them away. "I should go," he says after he has all his papers. "I mean, I need to go now. I have to leave." He turns and walks towards the door. At the other table, Piers watches him over the top of his Prophet, making no pretense about it now.

Cooper groans lightly and rolls her eyes at Zack's utterly inappropriate reply to Shelley's offer. This man is an idiot, and now he's moving once more. Fearful that Piers will leave along with him, she decides it's now or never. "Silencio," a whisper as she aims the spell toward Zach. But something with her wand just isn't working. The spell fizzles at the tip. Ugh. Not now. Licking her lips, she tries and hatches another plan instead.

Pulling her brim lower on her face, she rises from her seat, taking her cheap cigarette with her. Smoothly she begins to slip past Shelley and behind Zack, only to "accidentally" lose her balance and reach out to Piers' shoulder with her cigarette hand for balance. "Oh Merlin, sorry sir!" Cooper reveals herself as a woman, throwing those apologetic blues in the man's direction. Once she's stabled herself she peers onto his shoulder, "Looks like I've got a bit of ash on you. Here, let me take care of that. "Tergeo." The ash along with a loose strand of Piers' hair siphon themselves off of the cloth and into her handkerchief, which she quickly pockets as if nothing happened. "There we go, right as rain!"

Shelley lets out a frustrated sigh, but she allows him gather up his papers as she sits up, then moves with him to the door - and just outside it. She doesn't want his /minder/ to overhear, after all. There, she gently takes his hand. "Zack, wait," she urges him. "You need to file a complaint - about /them/, not me. That's Piers, ain't it? The one from your lab, always lurking and watching? I think he's dangerous, and I think you need to let me do my job - but I can't do it without you.

"I protect people. I want to protect you - but I /need/ your cooperation to do that. These people you worked for - I think they're dark. And how many people could that put at risk? /Including/ Rhyeline - you know she'd put herself in harms way for you. Zack, please stop fighting and let me help you."

With his eyes on Zack and Shelley, Piers doesn't notice Cooper until she's falling into him. He drops his paper with a short, alarmed outburst and stands up. "It's fine," he says in his deep, rough voice, brushing at his shoulder absently after Cooper cleans her ash off of his shoulder. His robes, black as they are, hardly look any different for the accident. "Excuse me, I have to go talk to someone." He tries to step around her, intending to head over to the pair at the door.

Zack jumps when someone takes his hand, and he stops and looks around at Shelley. "Oh," he says. "You're holding my hand. Do you want to dance? I don't think they allow dancing here." He shoots a nervous glance over his shoulder towards the man. "Yes," he says. "That's Piers. You figured that out by yourself. I didn't tell you. He is dangerous. He's supposed to be." But his eyes widen when she mentions Rhyeline. "Is she in danger? But Piers wouldn't hurt her. Not if she stayed away. You have to help her. Help her!"

A brief glance is thrown in in the direction Piers was indicating - toward Shelley and Zack. And seeing as her colleague didn't look like she was quite finished talking with the young wizard, Cooper finds another means of distraction. "Right, sir. By all means, go about your business," she says in the friendly Hufflepuff way that comes naturally to her face. She gives the man another cordial pat on the shoulder, but this time rather than dropping ash on the man's robes, the live butt of her cigarette burns a hole into the material, perhaps even burning the man a little.

"That's my job. That's what I do," Shelley reassures Zack in a soothing voice. "But you need to help me do it. No more of this song and-" …probably best to avoid metaphor with Zack. "If we leave together, it'll aggravate Piers. Let's meet at the auror's office so we can discuss things calmly and rationally. No harassment, no threats, just talk, okay? No harm in that."

"Argh!" Piers cries, recoiling in pain. "What the hell are you doing, woman?" He pulls his robes back from his shoulder, sticking his finger in the hole so that he can examine the wound. "Watch where you're putting that thing, will you?"

"I don't want to aggravate Piers," Zack says. "He's unpleasant when he's aggravated. He's dangerous. It's part of his job." Startled by the man's cry, he looks over at the man and frowns. "Someone's aggravating him right now. I don't want to be here when he's aggravated." He walks out of the door.

"Damn," Piers says when he sees Zack leave. "Look, just stay out of my way. Put that out before you do anymore damage." He once again starts to step past her.

Aggravating Piers is exactly what Cooper is doing. She acks, in mock surprise that she's burned the man. "Oh goodness! I-I'm so so so sorry!" Her voice bleeding with timid repentance as she touches her hand to her lips. "Of course, of course sir it won't happen again," she steps out of his way, instinctively reaching forward once more to pat him a good bye on the shoulder, but retracts it instantly. "Sorry sorry! Staying out of your way. It's out. I'm putting it out now!" To prove her point, she squashes the butt in a nearby ashtray and finally lets Piers step aside. And when he's finally made his way close enough to the door to touch it, Cooper gives a subtle upward flick of her wand and mutters "Claudeo" before slipping it back into its holster.

"At the office, Zack. Don't forget," Shelley hisses after him in a low voice, though she puts on her best irritated expression as she turns away from Zack and back towards the Hog's Head. "There's just no getting through to come people," she grumbles when Piers steps into earshot, and she makes her way back towards her glass. "It's like beating your head against stone. Someone must have dropped /him/ on his head." She reaches her table and picks up her whiskey without sitting - knocking back the contents. There, that ought to plant in Piers head that they didn't reach an arrange- did he just fall on his face?

Her eyes go to the other 'customer' in the room, eyebrows raised.

Piers tips forward and topples over, catching himself painfully on his hands. It clearly isn't his day. Wincing, he pushes himself to his feet, casting about for whatever or whomever tripped him. But he sees only the clumsy woman with the cigarette and the woman Zack was talking to, and neither of them are close enough. Scowling, he starts for the door, but as he opens it he hears a loud, familiar CRACK from outside. After sticking his head outside just to be sure, he walks back into the pub, scowling. He marches over to Shelley's table, looks her straight in the eye, and says, "Who are you?"

Cooper keeps her clueless facade going, hands up as if she were innocent and that she never grabbed her wand to begin with. "Sir, are you feeling alright? I mean maybe we should get you to a hospital," she sweetly suggests, but he marches right on past her and straight to Shelley. In which case, her hand hovers over her wand handle again, just in case.

"Brin Harper," Shelley answers promptly, looking surprised and a little unnerved with the aggressive way he approaches her. She takes a step back, and quite visibly and nervously put her hand on her wand. "I, uhh, I met Zack at this Christmas party the other day, he had all these /blue/ alcoholic drinks and- what's it to you, anyways?!" She straightens up from an uneasy-looking slouch, her expression going from anxious to a more determined expression.

"I'm fine," Piers snaps at Cooper, sparing the briefest of glances for her. "Go hassle someone else." He fixes his eyes on Shelley again, and upon seeing her demeanor and hearing her hesitant answer, he lets his face relax and takes the harsh edge out of his voice. He doesn't smile, however. "I'd like to know what you were talking about," he says, and then he adds a rough "Please."

Cooper raises her brows as Piers softens just a tad. Did he really just fall for that? Shelley's dripping with unease! But she takes this as a queue to quietly make her way to a booth, away but not too far away from the pair. All the while she's throwing looks at Shelley from over Piers' shoulder - shaking her head and then pointing at the holster in her wand to gesture 'I've got you.'

"Well, I don't see how it's any of your business," Shelley answers, crossing her arms over her chest. "Doesn't much matter, anyways. I mean he's sweet and all, and the daft is a little endearing, but I think it's just going to be all too much work and he's more exciteable than a niffler in Gringott's - ain't he?"

Piers frowns, his eyes narrowing when he's told it's none of his business. His back to Cooper, he doesn't notice her sending signals to the woman he's talking to. Then his eyebrows lift with amusement. "Zack, daft?" he says. "Excitable, maybe, but not daft. Well, you obviously don't know him very well. That's good. I suggest you keep it that way." His face becomes serious again, though not yet unpleasant. "What's going to be too much work?"

Continuous silence from Cooper now. She merely listens on, peeking out from the booth to keep an eye on her colleague.

"You're as daft as he is," Shelley mutters, arms still crossed. "Well, no work at all now, since I won't be offering him any more dances. Now, if you don't mind-" she scoops up her glass, and moves towards the bar. "I need another drink." She slams the glass down - finding it promptly refilled. Reaching into her pocket, she finds the coins to pay for it, ignoring Piers entirely.

"Dances," Piers says flatly. "You wanted to dance with him. Well, good luck to you, Ms Harper. Good evening." He turns away from her and walks off, stopping at his table to pick up his Daily Prophet and pay for his drink. Then he leaves the pub as well, shaking his head and muttering "dances" under his breath.

"What /is/ your name, anyways?" the bartender asks in a dry voice, as Shelley leans on the bar sipping her whiskey.

"Kalna Selchu," she offers, earning a skeptical look. "Caden Hadley. Susan White. No?" She lets out a loud sigh. "Alright, you got me. Jocunda Sykes." This gets a loud snort from the bartender. Reaching into her pocket, Shelley pulls out 2 galleons, leaving these on the bar to thank the bartender for his discretion as she looks at Cooper instead. She makes her way near enough to speak discretely, then comments.

"You looked quite dubious of my acting ability. I'm /hurt/. Positively hurt."

And when Piers has taken his leave, Cooper peeks out the window to make sure that he's gone. And Shelley gets nothing more than a look over her shoulder. One of particular interest as she heads over to the bar. "It was rather terrible, but it got the job done, right?" Cooper runs a hand over her face. "You need to watch yourself. You're on their radar now. I'll be sure you're set up with the proper protection charms." Pulling the handkerchief out briefly from her pocket she lets Shelley sneak a peak at the hair she's sneaked off of Piers, "In the meantime, this may be useful for the future." Can you say polyjuice potion?

Shelley puts a hand on her hip, raising her eyebrows. "Like I can't handle my own protection spells?" Since her 'accident' - since being 'demoted' to a consultant - she is a little touchy on some subjects.

Oh, she's going to hear it about this one, she's sure. She's not supposed to be doing anything approaching fieldwork. But this was /fun/.

"He'll be meeting me later in the office," she murmurs quietly. "For another chat. Hopefully I can talk some sense into him this time and get him to cooperate. There's something dark here - or I'm a first year."

"It's protocol. I get them too. They're to keep you safe," Cooper non-nonchalantly waves at Shelley, as if she could care less about her colleague's protests on the topic. "Right well, he seems to respond to you well. Better than me at least." Cooper can't understand why. She was soooo nice to him! "Okay, I've got to run. It's probably best I get this sample saved somewhere. I'll keep tailing Zack and you see what you can get out of him verbally." A nod and Cooper is back out into the cold air, incognito as a young man once more.

Shelley lets out an annoyed huff of air, but nods. She takes a few moments to finish off her whiskey then, tipping an imaginary hat at the bartender, makes her way out. She better get back to the auror's office, in case Zack went there directly.

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