Chapter 25AN: Next bit. Enjoy. I can’t seem to come up with new titles for the chapters, so this one’s just nameless. Suggestions are welcome :))
After George and Angelina had left, Helen took a bath, still pondering over her previous idea that George’s and Angelina’s exchange brought into her mind, then she made herself ready for the evening.
It felt exciting, preparing for a date yet again, after all these years. She put on a black dress that reached just a few inches above her knees, with ¾ sleeves and a boat neckline, then slipped into black flat shoes. The black colour made her appear quite pale, but after a glance in the mirror, Helen nevertheless approved and decided that it actually didn’t look that bad – I’ll just turn off the lights, that should do the trick,
It was long past seven in the evening when Giles finally allowed himself to put the futile research on the ever so vague dream of Buffy’s aside, telling to himself that until anything more precise occurred, there was only so much he could do. On his way home he bought the stuff for dinner, and remembered that he still needed a present for Buffy. He frowned, looking around desperately as if waiting for a suitable present to fall into his lap from somewhere as he had no idea whatsoever. There he spotted a music store few metres ahead. For a moment he hesitated, then slowly walked over and peered in through the shop-window. He saw a young man, the shop assistant talking to some customers. He looked him up and down and after he had decided that the man didn’t appear to be a chaos-worshiping maniac, he finally entered. Ten minutes later he stepped out with a small gift-wrapped package, put it in his bag and hurried home. Although he promised to himself not to think of what the evening might develop into, he couldn’t keep his mind off it, the touch of Helen’s skin the previous day, her tiny ruby lips upon his, all that and more would pop into his every thought at some point and a wave of sudden heat would creep over him every time that happened. He felt an odd mixture of pleasant anticipation and fear, panic even. It’s been too long since he’s been with a woman like that, in a sober state anyway
, he thought. Immediately, painfully, he remembered the orgies during his London years, with Diedre and the others... she was very beautiful back then... before Eyghon had come to claim her and now she was dead, just as the rest of them, except for Ethan of course.
And then there was Natasha, his colleague at the museum, with whom he had spent two nights, although he could only remember the first one of them, the other time was rather a misfortunate event, not to say a complete catastrophe, after a Christmas party of the whole museum staff, where his father was re-established into his office, and Giles got so drunk, as it seemed the only way to endure all the praising odes on his father he had to listen to... The next morning however was the most embarrassing he had had in his whole life... He had managed to suppress the memories of it too, but now it came back – the look on Natasha’s face on the next day when she came to hand in her notice... Giles shrugged and close his eyes, still getting goose-bumps at the picture. Well, on the bright side
, he thought, it probably can’t get any worse
While ascending the stairs to his apartment, Giles could perceive a strange smell. It wasn’t particularly bad, more like candy or a chocolate cake with rather strong christmas-y spices. It also smelled a bit burnt. He sped up as it seemed to be coming from behind his own door. When he entered, there was a thin vapour coming from the kitchen, sneaking about through the rest of the apartment. Helen was sitting in the living room in an armchair, wearing his apron over a black dress. She was louring over some books, biting her lip.
“Hello,” he spoke as she didn’t seem to have noticed him before. She cringed. “What-uh... what’s going on?”
“Oh, hi,” she replied and flushed a bit at seeing him. She gave a quick stolen look over her clothes. Only then she noticed the thin smoke. “Can you smell something burnt?” She asked frowning. Then her eyes widened. “Oh, Merlin’s eyes!”, she cried out and ran into the kitchen, “I forgot! Oh no, no, no, no, no!” She knelt in front of the oven, from where the smoke was coming and opened it, fearing what she would find inside.
“What on earth is going on?” Giles asked as he put away his things and came over to her. An open cook-book laid on the counter.
Helen was staring at a large black pile which she took out from the oven, a sombre expression settled on her face. She didn’t dare to look at him. All she had wanted was to bake a simple little cake, something like brownies, it really
didn’t look that difficult in the book. “Any chance you could go out and come back in two minutes, pretending you saw nothing while I efface this mess and solemnly vow never to bake again?” She asked in a small voice.
Giles smiled softly, and helped her scrape off the dark mass of what could have been a delicious cake only an hour earlier into the bin. Feeling like a loser in an epic battle Helen finally put off the apron and humbly handed it over to Giles – a clear gesture of acknowledging defeat -, then threw herself resignedly into a chair, while he began to unpack his shoppings in order to prepare their dinner.
“Don’t be too hard on yourself, it could happen to anyone,” he said casually, while chopping some vegetables.
“Sure,” she murmured, clearly not convinced, then her eyes fell upon the cd that Giles had just unpacked. It was Best of the Beatles
, gift-wrapped. “Hm, I thought you’ve already got everything from them,” she said more to herself.
He turned around to see what she was talking about. “Oh, that, it’s for Buffy. Tomorrow’s her birthday. I thought she might need some musical education as well. There’s still hope that she’s not become yet entirely deaf by that meaningless noise she usually listens to.”
Helen had to grin, he could be so British sometimes...
“I almost bought-uh... Don Giovanni
, yet I wasn’t sure whether it’s good, or if you like it, so-uh... I didn’t.” He spoke , looking a little flustered.
She shrugged. “Good. I’m not much of an opera-fan anyway.”
“Thank God,” he said sounding more relieved than he had intended to.
“There certainly is good stuff out there, but... Have you ever wondered why there had been no English opera between Purcell and Britten?” She asked, Giles shook his head. “You see, English were the only ones to recognize that human voice simply wasn’t made to be singing at such heights as E6, that kind of singing wasn’t natural so thankfully they spared us dozens of other cheap and cheesy tragic stories with tenors in love with sopranos and baritones plotting against them.” Giles paused in his chopping, looking somewhat amused at her nagging, bitter tone – clearly she still yet had to overcome her baking failure. And as if she herself realized how that sounded, she added sheepishly: “Ok... now I sound like my father I guess.”
He smirked and said without much thinking. “You sound quite like my
Helen raised her brows: “Is that a good thing?” She asked half joking.
Giles gave her a short smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes, then dropped his look and turned his back to her to continue the dinner preparations without answering.
She watched him for a while, biting her lip, thinking whether to bring up the subject again. “Don’t you want to see him again ever?” She asked bluntly and immediately gave herself a mental slap. So much for a subtle approach...
Giles stopped chopping and began to rummage in a cupboard looking for a pan. He could feel her gaze on his back. He slowly turned, holding a pan in one hand. “I-uh... not exaclty. Not-uh... I wouldn’t say ever
, just-uh...” He took a deep breath, his expression hardened, there was coldness in his eyes as he spoke: “Right now
I feel like I don’t want to see him ever again, yes.” He looked directly into her eyes and saw a trace of something, shock perhaps, fear in them, he wasn’t sure. “I hope time will change my attitude.” He added more softly.
Helen nodded and squirmed a little on her chair. “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to poke in it.” Giles smiled at her again and eased a little, returning his focus back towards the dinner.
“I just wonder... your father is your only, close family and you have no contact with him, surely he must be longing to see you,” she said, her voice low and her tone cautious.
“He’s not my only family. I have a mother too,” he said almost defiantly. And a pair of lunatic aunts...
“Whom you haven’t seen since when?” She asked innocently.
“You have no contact to your uncle and he’s your only family,” he replied dryly, knowing too well how lame that had to sound.
“Yes, well, you see the difference is I don’t actually know my uncle, we’ve never met, there is no bond between us... whereas your-“
“Yes, I wondered – why is that? How is it that you’ve never met him?”
Helen glared at him. “Don’t change the subject.” She said reproachfully.
He looked at her resigned, putting the pan on the hotplate. “I am just... I am afraid that if I were now to see him, the meeting would end up in a disaster.”
“I-I... given the anger and the rage that comes up every time I merely think of my father, I would probably be yelling at him all the time, cursing and swearing and what not... you see I doubt it would be a pleasure to any of us.”
“Hm,” she nodded thoughtfully, and just when Giles thought she would leave the matter alone, she spoke: “Maybe that’s what he wants... I mean perhaps he wouldn’t-eh...” she paused again, thinking how to say it, “sometimes there is nothing worse than silence, sometimes the most awful swearwords and the most terrible shout are more welcome than not talking to someone at all. Silence can be more punishment than anything else.” She minded not to sound like some book of wise proverbs, but rather casually, if not lightly.
“Well, good,” he said stubbornly, “in that case we’re on the right path. As he doesn’t deserve any better.” And when she was about to object, he said louder, taking the pan off the plate: “So, dinner’s ready.” He really didn’t want another evening spoiled by his father.
Helen silently consented into letting it go for now and helped him set the plates and everything for the dinner to be served. Then she went to the living room to put on some music. Something to soothe his mood, and to undo the damage I might have done so far...
Her finger stopped on the Satie-cd she had given him for Christmas. Right
. Danses de travers always work with me...
She returned back to sit on one of the stools, while he poured some wine into their glasses.
They raised them and Helen felt like it was the moment for a small toast: “Thank you again. For everything.... letting me stay here, saving my life...”
Giles smiled, shaking his head: “I didn’t exactly. I got knocked out and hit my head... again... seems to happen quite often actually.”
“Well,” she blushed a bit, and took a sip from the red wine, “that counts too.”
For a moment they ate in silence, the meal Giles had prepared was delicious and Helen was just thinking how she could really get used to his cuisine, when he turned to her:
“So, now tell me, how comes you have never encountered your own uncle?” He asked, his tone was suggesting that he didn’t really intend a serious, dreary conversation rather than wanted to get even with her for the previous unwanted talk.
She merely shrugged, thinking for a moment before helping herself to some more of the salad and chicken: “I don’t know, it just... never happened,” she answered laxly, the topic was far less delicate to her.
“But you admit it’s somewhat-uh... unusual.”
“I guess,” she replied shortly to tease his curiosity for a little longer. It really was a boring tale, he’d be disappointed soon enough.
“So? What’s the story?” He asked, his voice just a tiny bit flirty.
She sighed: “It’s not that spectacular really. More like a plotline in a soap opera. The story is – my grandparents, my mother’s parents didn’t approve of my father, they thought he was a muggle, which by the way my mother believed as well by that time they got married, and so she broke any relations to them and left with my father.”
“And you never met your grandparents either?”
“No. But that’s hardly a loss. Given how they treated my mother they had to be atrocious people,” she spoke and for a moment a satisfied look settled on Giles’ face for he thought that the contempt she showed in her voice was exactly what he felt towards his father.
“But in such a small community as your wizarding one... it seems almost impossible for you to never have met anyone of your family,” he wondered.
“Had we stayed in England and gone to Hogwarts, then certainly. But my parents left the country for good. First they went to Italy, then father took us to Romania. David would go to Hogwarts later and indeed he knew my cousins there. Josephine and-eh... what was the boy’s name... Arthur I think. They were about the same age. They became friends even. But I never met them.”
“Romania?” Giles asked puzzled.
“Yes. I was four when our mother left us and father decided to move elsewhere, and so we landed in Sighișoara, a charmingly charmed medieval place... Well, we didn’t stay in, but around, in the outskirts. When you have little kids with magic, it’s wiser not to live in town.”
“Hm,” Giles said, he couldn’t really imagine three little wizards rampaging in the neighbourhood. Then he remembered the family-photograph that he saw in Helen’s bedroom.
“But it was a beautiful place to grow up in, right in the heart of Transylvania. Every time I look back I must think how lucky we were to spend our childhood on spot like that.” A dreamy smile played about her lips. “In late summer we used to fly on our broomsticks over the forests, the colors below were breathtaking... Once we saw a dragon. God, I was so scared I swore I’d never fly there again...” She laughed into her glass of wine and Giles was watching her, fighting the urge to kiss her right now. “But of course a few days later we were back in the air, hoping to spot it again, but it had moved by then.”
After finishing their dinner they moved to the living room, both a little nervous.
“What did Snyder want from you by the way?” Helen asked, glad to have found a topic. “Gave you a hard time?”
They sat down.
“Actually,” Giles frowned. He had forgotten all about the queer meeting with the principal. Now he had told Helen about. Just as he expected, she too found it very peculiar.
“That is... unprecedented to say the least,” she murmured. “Not that you wouldn’t deserve it, having risked your life to save the school on endless occasions, yet...” She shook her head, still bewildered.
“Well, he doesn’t know about that, does he? Nor about Buffy thankfully... Or about anything else really... tedious little man,” he muttered.
“Hm... I wonder what he will do to me when I return next week. He’ll probably bite my head off. Or fire me,” she said gloomily. The threats that Snyder had spoken out to her a week ago sounded in her head.
“Actually,” Giles began again as he remembered Principal’s last words this morning I think I’m in love with her
... Helen turned at him curiously. “Nothing.” He shook his head, trying to banish the memory. “He-uh... he’s not been quite himself. Perhaps he won’t even notice you were gone... He’s been acting very strangely.”
She stared thoughtfully into the fireplace. “Well, something’s a miss, I can tell.”
“Don’t think about it now,” he said gently. “I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough.” And he leant closer to kiss her at last. She closed her eyes, a pleasant dizziness overcame her at the soft touch of his lips. He was taking his time, very much unlike those previous hungry kisses they had shared before. It was almost as in a slow-motion. She was glad to be sitting though, for she already began to feel her knees getting weak and shaky... This kiss is of the silent-killer-sort, that’s sure
...it flashed through her mind a second before a loud pop echoed through the room and they both flinched and jumped off the sofa as thanks to the experience of the last few days rather horrid associations were connected with that very sound.
“Oh, sorry, bad timing,” George murmured and for a short moment he appeared indeed a little embarrassed.
Helen stared at him, relieved, amazed, yet also a bit angry. This was clearly becoming an irksome vice of him that would need to be stopped soon for all their sakes.
Giles recovered first. “Right... I suppose we should be used to it by now,” he said, the smile on his face looked rather tensed.
“You are so lucky I can’t do magic right now,” Helen said at last, shooting dark glances at the young wizard.
“Am I? Well, that’s not a very nice thing to say to someone who had just spent the entire night searching for a certain blasted book – as I was asked to do as soon as possible.” He said reprehensively and held out a large heavy looking volume.
It took Helen a second to realize what it was and another one to remember what part that black leathern cover had played at some not too far away point of her life.
“You found it,” she said and walked to George. It didn’t escape Giles, though he had no idea what this was all about, that her hand was shaking just a little as she raised it to take the book from George.
“I also called on Rebecca right away, since the portkey threw us at the Ministry anyway. I passed her your rummy cryptic message.” He said and walked passed them to sit in one of the armchairs.
She watched him in disbelief as he made himself comfortable, showing absolutely no inclinations to leave anytime soon.
“And?” She asked in a shivery voice as she was trying to stay calm.
George’s eyes were laughing as she caught his look and she knew he was doing this on purpose, teasing her and having his revenge as he had promised her earlier when she had ordered him with all those tasks.Hm, let her sweat just a little bit longer,
George thought and turned at Giles. “Oh, I am utterly starved now, I haven’t eaten since this morning as there was no time between all the assignments I was doing for Helen... Could I-eh...,” he put on an exhausted, almost suffering, tormented face, “bother you for a small snack at least, Mr. Giles? I’m afraid I won’t even have enough energy otherwise to disapparate back.”
Giles shot Helen a questioning look, not sure what to do. He was rather hoping that one of them would tell him what was going on. She gave him a short nod indicating that he best comply with George’s request.
“Oh, and a cup of coffee would be most appreciated,” George added loudly as Giles went to the kitchen to fetch some cold supper from the fridge.
“And? What did Rebecca say?” Helen asked again, her voice on the edge.
George pretended for a moment to be watching Giles in the kitchen and finding his doings there terribly interesting, then turned at Helen with raised brows as if only now he realized he’d been asked a question. “Oh! Quite right. Rebecca.... Weeell,” he drawled, then made a dramatic pause which drove Helen crazy. “She was rather surprised when I told her,” he continued in a casual tone, sounding just a little smug. “Well, no more than she was surprised to see me in her office I suppose.”
“And?” Helen asked, this time she sounded rather bored, resigned.
“She said she’d keep those books. She cannot promise anything though, but she said she’d be glad for any help and advice as to how to deal with them anyway.”
“That’s good,” Helen said, somewhat appeased now by this statement.
Giles reappeared in the living room, offering George a cold plate. “Are you talking about the council books that are currently at the Ministry?”
“Yes, we are,” she replied, then remembered the book George had brought from her London apartment. The Latin title De potestatibus infernis diu extinctis habitis
shone in golden letters on the cover. She gave it to Giles. “Here. Is this one of yours too?”
He took it, stared at the title for a moment, recalling himself her story which he had been told just yesterday, then opened it and soon indeed found the infamous stamp of the Library of the Watchers Council. He barely nodded before returning the book to her. She opened it once more and seemed to be looking for something in its list of contents.
“What-uh... what is the matter? Why did you ask that girl to hold on to those books?”
She was frowning over the pages of the ancient volume that looked remarkably well preserved despite its age, apparently she couldn’t find what she had been expecting. “I would like to have a closer look at them. I-eh...,” she war murmuring, her eyes still fixed on the book, “... I had an idea today that George and Angelina planted in my head earlier...”
“We did?” George asked doubtfully.
“Yes, something you said actually, earlier right before you went to my place you were joking with Angelina about it and-“
George looked horrified. “You mean to tell me that you assigned me to do all that because of some joke I told to my wife?!”
Helen ignored his shock. “You were talking about turning into a vampire and you said – an immortal wizard
– which got me thinking... I’m quite certain I’ve never encountered any reference to a wizard who would have become a vampire. And thanks to Hermione I had read quite a lot on that topic. I recall reading somewhere that it has to do with the wizarding blood. Now as much as I resent that expression, there seem to be a few peculiarities about wizards that would indicate that it nevertheless might be justified.”
“What?” George asked perplexed. “Was that English?”
“What do you mean?” Giles could mask the fact, that he too didn’t understand much either, far better. Not to mention that Helen found him too adorable when he looked confused.
She took a deep breath to undertake another assault. She knew she was usually babbling when she got excited. “I must check my books again. I was looking in yours,” she pointed at the several pieces lying on the coffee table, “but there isn’t much about wand-magic of course. From what I remember still, it’s not possible for a wizard to become a vampire on the-eh... let’s say orthodox
Now Giles had an idea where she was going with it. “You think the Death Eaters might have wished to become vampires?”
She shrugged, wondering herself about the question as she heard it now said out loud.
“Death Eaters wanted to be vampires?” George repeated incredulously and the way he
said it, she had to admit it, it sounded pretty cheap. “Why on Earth for?”
“To be immortal?” She suggested. George shook his head unconvinced. “Common, it’s a serious thought. They would be unbeatable in the battle-“
George looked at her, still shaking his head in a mocking disbelief. “Helen,” he said in a pitying voice, “it’s the lamest
idea I’ve heard in a long time. And I see Ron every day.”
“Now hang on,” Giles spoke. He didn’t want to dismiss it quite yet.
“It’s not that absurd,” Helen tried to defend herself.
“It is actually,” George insisted and when she was about to interrupt him, he said louder: “Hello-oo, remember horcruxes? Those things Hermione sawed our ears for weeks with after the battle when she was explaining how Voldi would make sure to stay immortal? Alright, it didn’t quite work out well for him in the end, but still – see my point? He had horcruxes, anyone could have done the same. Wouldn’t that be a far better and safer way to getting immortality than letting some demon suck at you and becoming a soulless creep?”
Giles was now looking from the one to the other, his imagination was working hard trying to picture what these horcruxes
An unwilling “Hm” was all Helen could offer as an answer.
“Plus you just said yourself wizards couldn’t turn into vampires,” George added matter-of-factly and with a satisfied problem-solved-
expression on his face he leant back in his armchair.
“But that’s just it,” Helen caught a new wave, returning her look upon the index of the dark volume in her hands. “I could swear I’d seen a description somewhere in here of a ritual that would enable a wizard to...” Her voice trailed off as her fingers were tracing the keywords of the index. After a while however she angrily shut the book with a loud noise. “I was sure it had to be in this one...” She plunked it down on the coffee table to the other books and threw herself in the other armchair opposite George while Giles stood leaning onto his fireplace, watching her biting her lip, before she said, rather to herself: “Perhaps it was in one of the other pieces we had found at Traverses’.”
Giles’ eyes widened.
Thanks for reading. Pls. review, you know what they say – it takes days, weeks even to write a chapter, it takes only a minute or two to post a comment. I’d appreciate very much, also I’d like to know what you’re enjoying or not so much about the story, the characters, the plots. Any point in continuing? :)