March 27, 2005 9:49PM
Andromeda was on her way back home when she rounded a corner and nearly ran down Rupert. She was not admitting to herself that after such a lovely night with him a week ago, she'd been hoping to see him again.
"Oh, Rupert. Hello."
He stopped, looking very surprised. "Andromeda!" He was very pleased to see her. "What a wonderful surprise!"
"Willow owled. Draco was knocked unconscious. He's more or less all right. Pevensie's a bit bruised. My sister's here in the kitchen with Willow, Hannah Abbott and Buffy, I think. I left Teddy with Branwyn's son Cullen. How... how have you been?"
She unconsciously patted her hair down and straightened her shirt.
"Ah yes, we've had some excitement with him." He shifted his books and files around. "Care to go for a short stroll?"
She should get back to Teddy, but Cullen knew she'd maim him if her grandson fell to harm.
"Just a short one. I don't want to get back and find my grandson in a kilt."
Giles chuckled. "I'm only going to my office."
"Oh. Well. All right then," she said, falling into step beside him. "I'm afraid a great many of your... children know we had a date last week."
"Yes, when one lives in a place as populated by teenagers as I do, I'm afraid that the gossip does get around."
"It was Draco," she said. "You will soon find he can not keep a secret to save his own life. Not that our going to the pub was exactly a secret, but I did not intend for your personal life to be on display."
"Nor did I, but I'm afraid I'm used to it now," he said. "It got better for a while when I returned to England just before we met, but I have a feeling that it was the great ruddy ocean that did it. Out of sight, out of mind."
Andromeda chuckled. "I hardly think you could be out of people's minds. You're not that sort."
"Oh, I dare say that there was a time that I felt as though I was being ignored. It was right after the children had gone to college, and I was not having a good few days... And I ran into my old..." He trailed off. "I hesitate to call him a friend. He was one once, but he's managed to gain my enmity on three separate occasions recently. We went to the pub, had a good time, and then the next morning I woke up as a Fyarl Demon."
Andromeda laughed so hard trying to picture this that she had to grab onto his arm. He did not seem to mind, so she did not remove her hand.
"Did anyone take snaps? I should have liked to see that."
"Thankfully, no," Giles responded. "But I ended up having to ask Spike
of all people for help." He paused when he remembered something he'd forgotten. "Berk crashed my car."
"Willow mentioned him. Vampire, I believe? You do know you lot are supposed to fight those, correct?"
He had this look, so she chuckled.
"Hence my reluctant resignation. Though, at the time, he was not dangerous."
"You shall have to explain to me how that works. A vampire not dangerous? No such thing, as far as I was taught."
"Indeed, that is broadly correct," Giles responded. "With one or two exceptions. This particular vampire had been captured by a military group operating in Sunnydale, and while he was their guest, they implanted him with a behavior modification computer chip. Every time he attempted to harm a human, he experienced intense pain. Other demons, on the other hand... Well. I'm just lucky that the promise of three hundred dollars made him more inclined to help me. Plus, he spoke Fyarl, which was a stroke of luck."
Andromeda frowned. Muggle technology was a work in progress with her. Teddy knew more about the DVD player than she did. Ted had tried to teach her things, but she just wasn't very good at it. Muggle Studies had been her worst subject in school.
"Happily, he turned up at my home the next day with a dire need to have a tracking device removed from his back... and I managed to get two hundred seventy-five dollars back. All in all, a very productive day."
He paused at his door, and waved his hand over the basalt plate next to the door. They heard a sharp click. "And we've reached the end of our stroll."
Already? Andromeda frowned slightly.
"I don't suppose you'd allow me to make you dinner. I'm a deplorable cook. I really only know how to make pasta with sauce, but I promise it will be edible. You know, when you are not having to deal with watchers being knocked unconscious and such."
"I believe that would be lovely," Giles commented. He opened the door. "Please come inside. I do have one other matter to discuss with you, and I'd rather that the walls didn't hear any of it."
"Of course," she replied.
Andromeda looked around, trying to memorize everything. His office suited him. She didn't suspect it would be otherwise. He had not let any of his children choose the decor. It was all him. She felt very much like she was entering a man-cave. A sophisticated man-cave, but a man-cave nonetheless.
After closing the door behind them, he invited her to have a seat. He pulled off his glasses and pulled his handkerchief out of his back pocket. "You may want a drink."
"I'll pass. Sounds serious. What's wrong?"
"I extremely dislike having to say it, but I believe Willow may be backsliding. She... ah... Lost her temper and Buffy had to implement extreme measures to c-calm her down."
Andromeda swallowed nervously. "We must not let this get out. If the Ministry finds out... she'll just have to start meeting with the coven again. We pulled her back once, and we can do it again."
She liked Willow, but she was more invested this time. She knew Rupert thought of the girl as one of his own. Andromeda would help her all she could. It would hurt him if she fell to harm, and Andromeda could not have that.
"We may want to see if Esme will be willing to come back, as well." He was gesticulating with his glasses in one hand and his handkerchief in the other. "I've begun to spend more time outdoors in order to charge up my own abilities, as I will most likely be the first responder should anything untoward happen. The gradual method is much less uncomfortable than the method the coven used last time, but I think Anya can smell it on me."
"You let Anya sniff you?"
He gave her a look.
"Yes. Right. Very serious business. No jokes just now." Andromeda sighed. "I don't know about exposing her to Astoria. Our Seer's been feeling a little unstable, I think. I haven't spoken to her in days, and I am worried she might have gone on one of her wanderings again."
Giles groaned. "Yes, that's exactly what we need." He cleaned his glasses again. "Let's perhaps keep her in the loop but ensure that she understands that her services will not be strictly necessary unless things take a turn for the worse. As for Anya, I think that you'll find that she also hears extremely well and can see in the dark."
"A girl after my own heart. I can handle Astoria, and unfortunately, I have had to before. If I can locate her, I will put her in the loop. The problem is locating her. She likes to disappear sometimes. The last time she turned up a few months later in St. Mungo's making the Mad Hatter look sane."
Giles sighed. "Wonderful."
"It's actually remarkable she's remained sane this long. She's been Seeing since she was four. She's manageable when you know how to speak to her, and I will speak to her."
"Four? I agree with you, then. It's quite remarkable. We once faced a vampire seer who was quite insane. Criminally
He raised an eyebrow. "You've heard of her?"
"Watchers are not the only ones who can research."
He put his glasses back onto his face. "So. Back to happier things. When shall we eat Italian at Chez Tonks, and what sorts of wine do you prefer?"
"Reds on the sweeter side of the grape," she replied, smiling.
"I know just the one."