Someone Who isn't Seven
They were strolling hand-in-hand through Diagon Alley when Giles said, “I’m sorry. I didn’t realize that was Narcissa’s favorite restaurant. I selected it on criteria of a ‘it isn’t a pub’ variety.”
“And I appreciate that. I didn’t realize she’d try to actually glare a hole in you. One would think she actually liked me.”
“The food was excellent, though. High marks.”
“I’m pleased that you enjoyed yourself despite your sister’s attempts to intimidate me. She gets high marks; but I’ve had worse. Xander
is scarier than she was tonight when he wants to be.”
“You haven’t seen Narcissa when she thinks Draco is being threatened. She’d frighten you then. It’s where Draco gets it from.”
They walked in silence for a bit.
“I was just happy not to have to eat my own cooking, and Harry’s always happy to spend time with Teddy. Though I daresay Teddy likes spending time with the younger slayers more.”
“I’m afraid that they’ll corrupt him,” Giles commented with a grin. “Are you prepared to deal with that?”
“He’s a Black, and if you’d known Nymphadora or Remus... my goodness, I hope he takes after Remus, but I see traits more like my side of the family from him. It worries me sometimes because he should have siblings. He would have if... well, he would have.” She smiled slightly. “Maybe I’ll adopt one of your girls without parents.”
He looked at her, a little surprised. He wasn’t sure if she was kidding or not. He decided to operate on the assumption that she was serious. “You may have to fight their watchers for them... Perhaps one of the younger ones that haven’t been assigned one yet.”
Half of her had been joking, but she looked at him seriously. “You have girls there that don’t have mentors? That don’t have families?”
The joking half of her shut the hell up. If they needed help with some of these girls, she would most certainly help them.
“We have three living in Wiltshire currently. They each have a ‘big sister’ amongst the older girls, who help them with homework, make sure they get to bed on time... Sort of how Buffy was with Dawn. Those girls’ watchers are also the defacto watchers for their slayer’s ‘little sister’. Since they are all much too young to do field work, most of us feel their time is better spent learning algebra, the sciences, and languages. They do have a few other classes in demonology, magic, and the like, but they don’t usually start training heavily until they’re fourteen or fifteen.”
“I suppose I never considered that... the ones that don’t have families. If ever you feel the need to have the ones not actively slaying in an environment that’s not so hectic, I do have rooms available. I wouldn’t mind helping to look after them.”
Giles stopped and looked at her. “Are you very certain that you want to? It would be lovely for someone to take them on, but there are very horrific reasons why they have no families, and the nightmares and behavior problems will need working through. Plus they all slayers... at ten and eleven. They’ve just had their first growth spurts, and they are now slayer-strong and a little clumsy.”
“I’ve mentioned my daughter, right? Nymphadora was as clumsy as they come, and horrors? I’m a Black. My own sister killed my daughter. I can handle some emotional problems. You see the well-adjusted Teddy. There’s also the Teddy that had nightmares and has issues with his special abilities that I am not equipped to help him deal with. He gets frustrated and acts out occasionally.”
“Yes, but Teddy wasn’t present when Nymphadora was murdered. I’d really rather one of them didn’t knock you senseless -- or worse -- when you tried to wake her up from a nightmare.”
She just raised an eyebrow.
Giles could see that she had understood what he was saying, but didn’t see how it was relevant. “I’m sure that Willow won’t have any issues with you taking them on, but we’ll want to run it by Buffy as well.”
Andromeda nodded. Willow she could handle, but her relationship with Buffy was still too new. That was the unknown element here - how Buffy would react.
Giles paused and looked at the shingle hanging before them. “Giovanni Giordano’s Gelateria? Fancy something sweet?”
“Always,” she replied.
They went inside. Andromeda spent an extraordinary amount of time studying the flavors. The worker had let them taste anything they wanted with tiny plastic spoons. Andromeda decided she liked the one called rose because it just tasted cold and sweet - until it melted. Then she smelled roses in her nose. She liked the sensation.
Giles opted for the gingerbread-flavored gelato in the end. He had been seriously considering a red currant, but opted for something tasting of his grandmother’s Christmas biscuits instead.
They sat down at a corner table and ate their treats in silence for a moment. “Did you and Narcissa get along when you were children?“ He had heard that there had been some estrangement from the family when she had married Ted Tonks. He wasn’t planning on bringing that up anytime soon, though.
“As well as any of the Black offspring could get along. I pretty much hexed myself in the foot at an early age with Cissa because Cousin Sirius loved to torment her, and I always laughed. Really it was when she married Lucius that things went from bad to worse. And our Aunt Walburga never helped. She was my father’s younger sister, and I’d wager that her sons turned out to be some of the best of us - Sirius in the Order, Regulus taking step to make certain whomever faced Voldemort had a bit of an edge.”
Andromeda sighed loudly and took a moment to eat her dessert.
“Things are always going to be strained with Cissa and I. She doesn’t like how close Draco and I have gotten. She takes it as I am messing with her things.”
“I have noticed that seems to be a common thread in your family, and in Wizarding culture at large,” Giles commented.
“And I do have a semi-related question, and pardon me for asking, but why the continued emphasis on which house you were in school? It isn’t nearly as ferocious in the muggle world... and if it is, it’s usually a school rivalry, and then usually only related to sport.”
“It’s very much a part of our culture, our heritage, our history. You share a bond with those you share a house with. Think of it like this, your slayers share a bond, an understanding, because they have likenesses. It’s the same with houses, and the rivalry was there from the beginning. It’s as identifying in our culture to say you are of Slytherin house as it is for Buffy to call herself a slayer or Oz to say he is a werewolf. The other wizarding schools don’t often compete against one another, so you compete as houses.”
He supposed that made sense. “I had forgotten that your people were so insulated... Even among yourselves.”
“It’s something Dumbledore long labored against. He was always of the mind that to beat back darkness we needed to be united, to rejoice in our differences and use them to complement one another, not as a source of division. Your people display that beautifully. Willow and Buffy are very inclusive. They welcome new people.”
She paused for a moment to eat.
“You must be quite proud of them.”
Giles smiled. “Indeed. As proud as any father can be, blood or otherwise.”
“I have found, and discovered that I rather liked finding, that your family isn’t necessarily the people who share your blood. I have a better relationship with some of my pairs of shoes than I do my own sisters.”
“My father and I didn’t have as good of a relationship as we could have toward the end of his life. Suffice it to say, our opinions on training slayers differed greatly.”
“I’m certain Buffy appreciates your methods, though. Isn’t that part of the process? That the slayer be receptive to the training methods in some way? I daresay you’d be sporting a no arms look if she didn’t. It would be a terribly attractive no arms look, but still there would be a distinct lack of arms.”
Giles tried not to smile. “I’m pleased that you feel that Buffy ripping my arms off and beating me with them would still leave me attractive. At any rate, My methods were of no consequence most of the time; Buffy usually did what she wanted when my opinion and hers did not agree.”
Andromeda chuckled as they got to their feet and headed out the door. “And has that changed any?”
Giles chuckled. “I dare say it hasn’t. Though, I’m not often consulted any longer.”
“Therein lies the problem with surrounding oneself with strong and opinionated women. You will have rebellion. It’s why I’m glad Teddy is a boy. I do believe boys are simpler in raising than girls are. Then again, I am basing this upon Nymphadora, and I do believe Draco was just as bad. Perhaps it’s Black blooded children and I should worry anyhow. I know my cousins Sirius and Regulus were equally as horrid.”
She really wanted to ask him if his job had kept him from settling down and having children. He did such a fine job with the girls at the school. It was a shame he’d not had the parenting that came with a little child instead of just teenagers.
“To be perfectly honest, for the first three months I knew Draco, I thought he was a poofter,” Giles confided. “He has many traits in common with teenage girls, and his dramatic tendencies didn’t dissuade me any from the notion until Astoria mentioned something.”
Andromeda raised a brow. “All Blacks have a flair for the dramatic, and I am certain Buffy or Luna can also vouch for Draco’s preferences.”
“Of course I know that NOW
,” Giles responded, “And I need no further convincing.”
She started chuckling. “Yes, I would definitely never mention to Draco that you questioned his sexual preferences. He’s the sort to give you a practical demonstration in a fit of pique.”
“It pleases me to no end that I was fortunate enough to avoid that demonstration. One does wonder, however, why Astoria kept that tidbit to herself, knowing her penchant for sowing discord.”
“Not with Draco, she doesn’t. Not usually. Only if he’s not behaving in a manner she thinks suits him. She’s very protective of Draco. She was there for him at his worst, and I think a part of her will always care for him, always want to protect him. He’s much the same with her. Draco would never admit this, but he worries, as I do, about her hold on her sanity. Astoria’s had rough patches before. It’s not pretty. She’s like a shell. Her body still functions but her mind is not present - she’s not present. And if you notice burn marks, cuts or hex scars on her hands or arms, please tell me. She does that when she’s starting to lose her grip. It’s all very frightening to me, but she’s not a bad sort, not deep down. She’s just... misguided. But she has all the heart where her sister has none.”
“Has anyone located Daphne?”
“Snape has been looking into it. He literally had me promise not to hunt her down like a dog.” Giles’ face was hard.
Andromeda nodded. “He probably wants to deal with her himself. He’s also probably one of the few people who could find her. She’s very good at disappearing.”
She shook herself.
“Let us discuss something besides Daphne Greengrass. I didn’t mean to get the conversation steered in that direction.”
“How about Teddy? What does a young wizard do for primary school?”
“Well, given his tendency to take on the coloring of those he likes around him, I teach him at home, but I have been looking into a tutor. I just worry that he’s not around other children sometimes. He’s so grown-up. Too grown for a little boy. I know if Remus and Nymphadora were alive still, he wouldn’t be nearly so serious. I couldn’t possibly put him in a primary school like Harry suggested. What if his teacher is a blonde and Teddy decides to emulate her one day?”
She smiled then.
“I worry he might set a snake on someone at the zoo.”
Giles was making this face, and she started laughing.
“It’s my favorite story of Harry’s. It scares a lot of people that he can talk to snakes. It’s not a common ability. He didn’t even realize he could do it until he accidentally set a snake loose at the zoo. It thanked him, he says. I also worry about the wolf part of Teddy. I’m not equipped to deal with that, and I don’t know of anyone to turn to. Nothing has manifested itself as of yet, but I have begun to notice he is more restless around the full moon.”
“I dare say that if he hasn’t transformed by now, he probably won’t ever. However, I would be remiss in not mentioning the few, rare cases of born werewolves not manifesting until reaching puberty. Most likely he’ll only want a very rare steak three nights a month, though.” Giles smiled reassuringly, and disengaged his hand from hers to pull her close and rub up and down the arm that wasn’t currently sandwiched between them.
“I always worry I’m doing somthing wrong. I don’t recall being this nervous about Nymphadora, but Ted was always better at dealing with her. She wasn’t like me at all. I had trouble relating to her at times.”
She leaned into his side. It was nice to be close to someone again who wasn’t seven.