In the Car, I Just Can't Wait, to Pick You Up...
... on our very first date.
March 20, 2005 6:00 PM
Andromeda knew Branwyn MacAren was studying her as she fussed in to mirror. Well, she had not been on a date in decades. She was feeling a bit nervous.
"Stop fussing, Andromeda. You look fine."
Andromeda looked at her friend. She was Nessa MacDougal's only daughter. She had gone to Beauxbaton's instead of Hogwarts, so her accent was not like the others. In fact, unless angered, it was barely there. Bran was also doing Andromeda a huge favor by staying in the boarding house with Teddy tonight. Which was odd because Branwyn rarely ventured out. She was not like the rest of them. Branwyn was quiet and reclusive. Andromeda felt certain this was where Mac's bookishness came from. If Bran had gone to Hogwarts, she'd have been a Ravenclaw for sure.
"Are you sure you're all right with this?"
"He's a nice mon, Andy. Brody said so. Ma says so. Besides, if he treats you ill, I'll have my boy and my nephews go break his legs."
"I meant staying in with Teddy."
Meanwhile Teddy was keeping a lookout for the Watcher's Council man. He was sitting on the front porch of his grandmother's boarding house and waiting. They mostly kept people who were passing through or the teachers at Hogwarts on their summer vacation. Well, the ones who had no real family to go to. Right now their only boarders were a Quidditch player surnamed Lafroy who was on the reserve team for the Ballycastle Bats and a girl named Valerie that worked at Gladrags. Teddy had not learned her last name yet.
He sat up straighter when he spotted someone who had to be the watcher-man.
Rupert Giles strode along the pavement and paused at the gate. He opened the latch and walked up the path to the front door.
"Ah, hello. You must be Theodore."
Teddy got up and crossed his arms across his chest, blocking the door. "I'm Theodore Remus Lupin. That's my grandmother you've come to court, so there's going to be some questions first."
"Oh?" He raised an eyebrow.
Teddy gestured to one of the wicker chairs on the big porch. He sat in the other one.
"You like my Gram. Why?"
Giles wasn't sure how to answer that. "Is there a reason why I shouldn't?"
Teddy's eyes narrowed. "What are your intentions?"
The front door swung open. "Teddy, who are you talking to?"
Andromeda walked out. "Oh. Hello then. Do come inside. Teddy, why didn't you invite Mr. Giles inside?"
"Gram, I didn't even get to threaten him yet."
"Stop taking after my side of the family, Theodore."
Giles chuckled. "Or, for that matter, my family." He stood. "Hello, Andromeda." He smiled.
"Rupert," she replied.
Branwyn was standing inside with a too-knowing grin on her face.
"Branwyn MacAren," she said, offering a hand. "I've heard a lot about you. I'm Nessa's daughter and tonight the babysitter."
"I'm not a baby," Teddy protested.
"Perhaps," Giles suggested to Teddy, "The proper term would be 'childminder', then." He turned to Branwyn and held out a hand. "It's lovely to meet you. How is your mother? It has been quite some time since I've managed to pop by for lunch."
"Cantankerous as ever. She's pleased Mac is where she is. Mother was having fits on how to manage her when not even my son nor Brody could best her in a fight." She looked at Teddy. "All right, wee one. Best we get upstairs to our movie night, aye?"
Teddy eyed the hand Branwyn was holding out to him warily. He looked at his Gram then at Mr. Giles.
"You be nice to my Gram or you'll wake up on fire."
Andromeda was mortified. "Where did you hear that threat? Nevermind. Fire? I know. Get up the stairs. I will see you later, young man, and we will have a great talk on the proper time and place to administer a threat."
She leaned down and kissed Teddy's forehead.
"Your Gram can take care of herself, remember?"
Giles listened to Teddy's protestations as he climbed the stairs. "I'm fairly certain that I've heard that somewhere before... I just can't remember where..."
He shook his head.
"I'm sure it will come to me. And I think it should be made known that Astoria has already come to my office and threatened me on your behalf. In the vaguest way possible, actually."
Andromeda straightened abruptly and Bran gave her an amused look before hurrying Teddy up the stairs. Best to not hear Grandma cursing like that.
"I'm sorry? Beg pardon? She did what? Because it sounded an awful lot like you said Astoria threatened you on my behalf. But of course that has to be wrong because she knows I'd only kill her for doing such a thing. Why does everyone around me assume I can't take care of myself? I really fail to understand that."
"As do I. You are quite capable," he responded. "Shall we?"
He offered his arm, wondering if it was about to be hexed off.
"Do let's," Andromeda said with a smile. She'd almost allowed herself to get in a bad mood, and that was unacceptable tonight.
She took his arm and they walked down the path toward the street. After opening the gate and then closing it behind them, he said, "So, what is new since the last time we spoke?"
"Very little, I'm afraid. Except that I do believe my sister shall visit your establishment if she has not already. A warning about Narcissa - she is where Draco gets his temperament. Do handle her with care. She's only unreasonable or violent when it comes to Draco's welfare. She probably should have had another child to break up all the mother bearing she does in his name."
"Both Nessa and Augusta have spoken to Mad-Eye, so expect him to turn up soon."
Giles nodded. "I have been trying to contact him, but as you well know, if he doesn't want to be found, he won't be."
Andromeda nodded. That was certainly true of Moody.
"And I shall be on the lookout for your sister. Hopefully her visit goes smoothly."
"It's always good to be on the lookout for anyone considered my sister, so enough about that. I'm fairly dull. What's been going on with your end?"
"Much the same as usual, I'm afraid. Tiresome squabbles, boring meetings about inane subjects, paying the bills." He sighed. "Your nephew has been stroppy -- apparently Zabini kicked his girlfriend out a-and then skipped off to France for a week. Draco was so bad that Willow went off and hauled Zabini back. Bodily."
"Draco has spent half his life being stroppy. He does not truly care about many people, but when he does care about you, it is nearly unwavering. He gets very put out about the most ridiculous things. Blaise probably didn't tell him where he was going or why, and if Draco had to find out from Blaise's mother Calanthe, well then, the stroppy makes all the sense in the world. Also? There's a person to bar from the house."
Giles' brow furrowed. "I'm sorry. Why would barring someone from the house upset him?"
"No, no, he'd be upset if you didn't, and I do think it in your best interest if you avoid her altogether. You see, Calanthe Fabiana likes to kill her husbands, though none of this can be proved, of course."
"Ah, I see," he said, in a tone of voice that clearly stated that he didn't. "I'll have to ask Zabini for some of her hair for the wards."
"I'm fairly certain Draco has some. You could just ask him. She was barred from his rooms at Malfoy Manor. Still is as far as I know. My nephew, like most from the Black bloodline, is very adept with wards. He's also fairly decent at making escapes. Again, a Black family trait."
"A trait amongst my family as well." He smiled fondly. "Buffy is particularly adept."
"I do long to meet her. Willow speaks so fondly of her. And if she is your family, perhaps I need to pass inspection? It would only be fair after what Teddy did. He's so protective. Just like his mother."
Giles' fond smile turned whistful. "I'm sure that all of the children will want to threaten you with shovels, or beatings..."
He trailed off, lost in memory.
Andromeda started laughing. "I'll be looking forward to it then. Excellent."
It would be familiar to her. She wondered if Draco had already been posturing or if he had remained civil because this was his boss.
Giles started chuckling. "Thank you for being a good sport. In other news, I've just remembered where I've heard the 'wake up on fire' threat."
"From my nephew? It's his favorite. Well, fire in general."
"No, actually. Dawn used it on Spike once."
"Interesting. From what I understand, it's been a favorite threat of Draco's for years. That one and giving that stone glare of his with a deadened 'I will set you on fire' to someone's face"
"Yes, I've read the reports." He smiled. "Speaking of his pyromania, apparently, he and Pevensie took Miss Abbott and Zabini on a patrol, and got ambushed. Everyone got a bit banged up and I'm fairly certain that Draco was well on his way to burning the cemetary to the ground when Buffy arrived to clean up."
"I heard about that from my Ministry contact. It was distressing for them, but the fact that Miss Abbott seemed to survive was a good thing."
"It was a very good thing. I don't know what would have happened had we lost another one." They had arrived at the pub. He disengaged from her arm, and opened the door for her. "After you."
Andromeda smiled. This would be fun. She missed fun. She and fun used to be old friends. Perhaps they could reconnect tonight. The pub was boisterous as usual, but not too loud or too crowded. She made a mental note not to drink too much just because she was nervous.
Andromeda slid into seat and took her cotton wrap off. She had always preferred settings like this for getting to know people - not the stuffy fron parlor tea parties so popular with the pureblood society set.
Giles slid into the booth across from Andromeda. "I must sat that I've grown rather fond of Miss Abbott, and I'm pleased that she didn't meet the same sticky end as her predecessor, but I still can't help but think that we'll soon have a squad of aurors stationed at the house. Or worse."
"One of our coven members, Irulan, works in the Ministry, in the M.L.E., and she says that they have been asking questions about Willow. She's so powerful, and I know she struggles with it. I would not be surprised if they try to monitor her more closely. Just as the do other things they do not understand. Your saving grace there is that the current Minister is a reasonable man."
"Thank goodness for that," Giles agreed. "I dare say that if that happens I'll be leaving England for warmer climes. Somewhere balmy. Like Antarctica."
"Of course we'll do whatever needed to keep you lot around. Shacklebolt is reasonable. It's the Control of Magical Creatures Department you need to worry about. They don't consider her or the slayers human. There's been a lot of noise about that."
Andromeda realized instantly that was probably the wrong thing to say. She motioned to the waitress.
"I'm sorry. No more work talk. I won't bring it up again."
Giles' jaw muscles worked as he pictured a ministry raid with hexes and crossbow bolts flying in the lobby...
"Perhaps that would be best," he commented. "But please inform me should that particular department express any undue interest in our organization."
"Of course. I would hope they would not be so foolish, but..."
Andromeda let that statement lie. The waitress was looking at them expectantly.
"I'll have the biggest plate of chips you can find and a butterbeer. ACtually, just keep the butterbeer flowing."
It was one of her oddities. Andromeda had liked the taste of butterbeer since she'd first had it at the age of thirteen. It had been one of her preferred beverages, when she was not looking to get pissed, since then.
"I'll have the same, but perhaps you should bring me a slightly smaller plate of chips." He cast a smirk in Andromeda's general direction.
"What? I like chips. With lots of vinegar. What did you expect? White wine and caviar? I've never liked the stuff."
"Well, I thought it prudent to order the smaller plate, as you would already have the biggest."
He continued to smirk in her direction.
"All right, I'm missing the joke."
"Nevermind. It wasn't much of one to begin with." Abruptly changing the subject, he said, "Have I ever regaled you with tales from the time that I was a school librarian?"
"Once or twice. I am certain there are more, but do they always involve your being knocked unconscious in some way?"
"Only the early ones," he responded. "I got better at dodging."
"I used to hide from my sisters in the library at Hogwarts, but do tell. At least the parts you where conscious for anyhow."
"Well, there was the time we had a very tense hostage situation." He looked up at the barmaid. "Thank you," he told her when she placed their orders in front of them.
Andromeda grabbed the malt vinegar and began liberally shaking it all over her chips.
"Hostages? Sounds good. Well, not good as in a good time, but interesting. Do tell."
"Well, you see, the mayor of Sunnydayale was well on the way to ascending to demonhood --" off her look, he clarified "-- Olvikan... Great filthy snake demon. We had set up a heist, and we stole a component of the process -- a great bloody box of giant bloody spiders, and Willow was captured in the process."
"What was he going to do with a box of spiders? Or do I really want to know?"
She had her butterbeer in one hand and was popping chips into her mouth with the other.
Giles eyed the plates of chips in front of them, feeling that it may not be a good idea to go into to much detail. "He, ah... Had to ingest
several of them."
"Well, I've heard of worse things that needed to be ingested for dark rituals."
"Much, much worse," he agreed. "Anyhow, the Mayor wanted his box back, and we wanted Willow back. So we arranged a trade. In the school cafeteria. At midnight."
"Dueling at midnight. I have so been there." She cleared her throat. "That is to say as a lady, I would imagine it involves great intrigue."
The look on Giles' face was one that conveyed the fact that he was certain that she was full of something smelly, but he continued without comment. "The Headmaster broke into the middle of our deal and sicced the constabulary on us."
Andromeda started chuckling. "My my, but you did have adventures as a librarian."
"Indeed," he said, biting off part of a longer chip. "The best part was after the mayor made his presence known, the groveling little troll apologized profusely and all but kissed his bloody arse as he walked through the door." he started chuckling. "And then he turned to us and asked -- deadly serious, 'Why can't you deal drugs like everyone else?'"
Andromeda laughed again and finished off her butterbeer. The waitress was instantly there with another. She was thinking she should continue to see him for the stories alone. She did love a good story. Nymphadora had always been full of tales.
He ate another chip.
"So, how about you?" He rasied an eyebrow. "You appear to have some stories of your own."
"I do, I suppose. I was raised on tea parties and ladies society functions, but I was rather fond of being comfortable. My daughter was the complete embodiment of that part of me. She was positively wild, and I envied that. There is still a part of me that draws back when I am about to be unladylike. However, my cousin Sirius could always bring out my mishcevious side. I miss him and his little brother. Regelus was a right git, but I still loved him. However, Sirius was rather fond of pranking him, and I could be talked into it at times."
"Do tell," Giles prompted.
"Reg was always very devoted follower. It came as a great shock to me that he turned on Voldemort. He was a few years younger and very prissy. Esepcially about his hair. He had very beautiful black hair. I'm afraid I messed with his shampoo more than once. I was also very adept at charming pimples onto people's faces."
"I assume that it was more than just the standard purple stripe shampoo that one sees coming out of the Weasel Wizard Wheeze shop," Giles commented.
"Well, there was a time he had to become quite fond of hats because he wanted soemthing on his bald head," Andromeda said with a grin. "Regulus was a terribly vain creature. I was honestly surprised he took the Dark Mark. I also shrunk his robes and pants a few times. It was all very petty stuff, but he'd get so worked up over it."
Sometimes she wondered if they had treated him better if Regulus would not have done what he'd done. Then again, he had proved himself in the end. His loyalties were not to Voldemort. Considering who his brother was, Andromeda wondered if he, too, would not have still ended up just as dead if things had fallen to the other side.
She shook away such morbid thoughts.
"George Weasley is more about the fun. I went for the pain."
He raised an eyebrow.
"Perhaps I should loan you one of the history books written about my family. They were a bunch of elitists and loonies. A great many of us prefer methods of torture where the person goes on living. In agony. To the pain instead of to the death. Not one of my finer qualities. Well, depsending upon who you ask."
Giles ate another chip. "Perhaps I ought to warn you about 'Ripper', then."
"Is this a person?"
"It's my nickname."
Andromeda raised a brow. "I am assuming it has nothing to do with digestive issues."
"Ah, no..." he responded, chuckling. "I tend to allow myself... Certain liberties when angry and worried. Usually about someone I care deeply about."
The smile was slow. That sounded very familiar. "That's good to know."
Andromeda continued eating her chips. A small part of Andromeda wondered what certain liberties he allowed himself, but there was time for that conversation later. No need to ask the scary questions right away.
"I'm rather pleased to see a smile," Giles told her. "I'll admit that I was a bit concerned about telling you that."
"I will definitely be sending one of the many books on the family's history to you. Or you could always ask Draco and watch him sputter a bit. I mean, there's someone in the family tree that hunted non-magic humans for sport and wanted it legalized."
"Perhaps I'll have Anya ask him about that. I can see that conversation being rather amusing. I shall have to see Willow about a hidden camera."
"You know, Willow's mentioned Anya. I should like to meet her. She sounds rather interesting."
"I believe that we can arrange for that," he told her. "Though, I don't recommend asking what she thought of the middle ages, as she will tell you -- at length."
Andromeda started laughing. "Most excellent."