Best Served Cold
“Sev? It’s Rupert.” Giles announced his presence as he entered the dim hospital room.
“You’re back?” Severus groaned.
“I told you I would come back. This isn’t the kind of neighborhood you want to be alone at night.” Giles glanced out the window to see the sun sinking below the horizon.
“It’s a hospital, not a neighborhood.” Severus replied.
“You know what I mean.”
“I’m surprised the nurses let you back here. I’m supposed to be resting.” Severus muttered as he watched Giles approach the bed and take his customary seat. “At least that’s what the blonde scary one said.”
“You find Mrs. Kendall scary? I would have thought you would have seen worse.”
“She’s a married woman who has no shame about flirting with near corpses. I would say that is one of the more frightening depravities of the human condition.”
“At least you didn’t have to teach her daughter.” Giles retorted before thinking.
“Merlin help us, she reproduced?”
“Yes, but she won’t be having any grandchildren to the best of my knowledge.”
“Her daughter has been sterilized? Thank the world for small mercies.”
“Her daughter was turned into a vampire at her high school graduation.”
“Is it still reproduction if it’s through a vampire lineage?” Severus asked, quite willing to let his mind wander to esoteric trivia, anything that could distract him from the sharp pains that corresponded with every breath he took.
“I think that would depend on whom you asked.” Giles shrugged.
“I think that damn nurse would welcome grandchildren even if they drained her dry.”
“Yes well, I believe Buffy is putting a damper on the prospect of Harmony’s childer, so there is still hope in this world.”
“Don’t worry about it.” Giles pulled a thermos out of the satchel he brought. “Care for some pepper-up?”
“You actually brewed pepper-up?”
“What? The recipe is simple enough.” Severus raised one eyebrow, about the only expression he could muster. “I’ve already tested it on myself; it works quite well and will stimulate your immune system.”
“I’m well aware of its restorative properties. I just can’t help but wonder what the doctor will say when he returns tomorrow morning to find I have blue hair.”
“In all fairness, that was not a fault in my brewing capabilities; it was quite intentional.”
“No, it was not.”
“Yes it was. I followed all your instructions to the letter.”
“Their hair was supposed to be Slytherin green.”
“It was still funny, and it probably worked out better that way. After all, your look of surprise was easily construed as proof of your innocence.”
“I’m only saying, you’re ability to follow potion recipes is notoriously poor.”
“Do you want the pepper-up or not?” Giles sighed.
Severus was silent for a moment, thinking over the repercussions of whatever response he gave. “Yes, thank you.” He finally conceded.
Giles carefully washed out the cup on the counter that had held the Gatorade earlier, and poured a generous serving of the potion. Sitting at his brother’s bedside, he carefully held the cup as Severus drank through the straw. Finally, Severus spat out the straw. “Done now?”
“Yes. Thank you. It was tolerable, although, you clearly did not cut your ginger root fine enough.”
“Would you like me to call Nurse Kendall in? Perhaps she can brew your potions for you.”
“Sarcasm does not become you.”
“If only pepper-up improved mood along with everything else.” Giles sighed, slipping the thermos back into his bag.
“Are you going to leave now?” Severus asked. Giles could hear a hint of panic in his step-brother’s voice, although Severus tried to pass it off as disdain.
“No, I thought I’d take the time to catch up with some work here, unless you mind.”
Severus seemed content with that answer; at least he didn’t say anything to the contrary. Giles pulled a trashcan from under the counter over to his chair and pulled out a stack of wooden sticks and a knife. “What are you doing?” Severus tried to turn his head to look at what his brother was up to, but couldn’t turn that far without wincing.
“Just making a few more stakes. You’d be surprised at how fast we go through these around here.”
The room fell into a comfortable silence, punctuated by the soft noises of Giles’ whittling. Just when Giles was sure Severus was asleep he heard the quiet voice murmur. “You never did tell me how you got them to take the potion.”
“Ah.” Giles smiled and continued with his slow carving, making sure the shavings landed in the trash can.
“How did you do it?”
“Surely, you’ve figured it out by now.”
“If I knew, I wouldn’t have asked.”
“Ah. Well, I followed them, trying to figure out their routine, just as you suggested, and the only thing that seemed readily accessible was the quidditch pitch.”
“The quidditch pitch?”
“As you know, we had flying the last class of the day on Tuesdays and Thursdays that year. Well, there was a water fountain directly in front of the Gryffindors’ locker room. After flying lessons, they would always stop and get a drink of water from the fountain. I brewed your potion on Monday night and stored it in a bag. On Tuesday, during lunch, I went down to the pitch early and set the bag up inside the water fountain so that it would come out with the water when they drank. When everyone was gone, I got the bag out of the water fountain and buried it under the thestral compost heap. It was a close call; I almost didn’t make it back in time for dinner that night.”
“The thestral compost heap?”
“Invisible creatures leave invisible dung, and anything it sticks to becomes invisible too. Anything in the heap could only be seen by maybe half the staff, if that many. On top of that, it’s still under a heap of dung so it’s not like the faculty are going to go poking around there for clues. It was a bloody brilliant hiding place, if I do say so myself. If it weren’t for the fact that you’d have to see death before you could find the heap, I bet it would be on the Slytherin school tour.”
Severus thought on that for awhile, mainly wondering why he didn’t think of it sooner and just how much had gotten past him over the years thanks to that trick. Finally his thoughts returned to the potion. “Wait, you put the potion in a water fountain?”
“Of course. How else would I get them to drink it without them noticing?”
“You idiot. The potion’s reactive with water. It causes the pigmentation to change. You should be lucky the dilution didn’t change the timing as well.”
“So, they ended up with Ravenclaw hair instead of Slytherin hair. It was still good for a laugh.”
“Alright, I’ll grant you that.”
“Thank you.” Rupert smiled to himself.
“I still can’t believe you let him foul you that badly, Ru.” Damon commented, grabbing a piece of toast from the platter in the center of the table.
“Nah, it was nothing.” Rupert shrugged.
“No, it was a flagrant violation of fouls 267, 42, and 138. Hooch really should have benched him for that.” Rookie said between sips of pumpkin juice.
“If Black wants to get his jollies off by pushing me into a mud pit during a class scrimmage, that’s his problem. It’s not like the mud didn’t wash off.”
“What our pet muggle means is that he has no clue what the seven hundred illegal fouls of quidditch are.” Lucius teased.
“Well, there’s that.” Rupert smiled. “Seven hundred fouls? Somebody must have been extremely bored to come up with that list.” The rest of the Slytherin first years just rolled their eyes. After almost a full year, they had given up trying to turn Rupert into a true wizard, and were now willing to settle for the boy just staying a minor embarrassment instead of a full blown disaster.
The regular din of breakfast was interrupted by a gasp. Everyone turned to the doors to see what the commotion was about. Four boys slunk from the doorway to their usual spot on the Gryffindor table. It was only once the smallest boy, Peter Pettigrew, sat down, that a Hufflepuff girl lost all composure and burst into giggles. Within moments the entire hall was laughing at the blue-headed boys- the entire hall, that is, except for the four sullen boys who woke to find their hair matching the Ravenclaw banner.
“Man, I would love to find out who got one up on Black and Potter!” Violet Whitehorn, a Slytherin first year sighed between giggles.
“Oh you would?” Evan leaned closer to the pigtailed beauty whom most of the first year boys admitted was the best catch of their class. While it was clear Narcissa Black was probably prettier, Whitehorn’s father owned Nimbus broom company, which made her infinitely more attractive in the boys’ eyes.
“Oh yes! That’s a fabulous trick!” Violet grinned.
“Well, if you really want to know…” Evan smirked knowingly, gaining the attention of not just Violet, but most of the other first year Slytherins.
“Did you do it?” Violet looked eagerly at Evan.
“I don’t want to brag, but well, as we all know those Gryffindors had it coming.” Evan puffed up his chest. Rupert was almost going to contradict him, but was saved by a kick in the shins from his step-brother. He glanced up just in time. “I think everyone here would agree that Potter and Black have messed with the Slytherins one too many times. That’s why I had to take action and…”
“Oh really, Mr. Rosier?”
The look of sheer terror on Evan’s face was almost as much a perfect moment as the sight of the blue-headed Gryffs, in Severus’ opinion. “Professor McGonagall?” Evan squeaked.
“My office now, Mr. Rosier.” Professor McGonagall ordered.
“But I didn’t…”
The Slytherins watched their comrade march off to his doom. “I hope she’s not too hard on him.” Violet sighed.
“I don’t know. Those are her pet Gryffs he messed with.”
“The only thing Rosier is going to get in trouble for is bragging about something he knows nothing about.” Lucius commented.
“What do you mean?” Violet turned her attention to Malfoy. “Did you do it?”
“Oh please, Violet, use your head. That’s not the work of Rosier. He’s barely passing potions and if it was a charm they would have been able to undue it by now.”
“Besides,” Severus sent an icy glare across the table to his step-brother, “any self-respecting Slytherin would have dyed their hair green.”
“Oh.” Violet thought on that for a moment. “So do you think it was a Ravenclaw?”
“Who knows how many people Potter managed to tick off this week? For all we know, it could be the Gryffindor girls.” Lucius glanced over to that table. “Of course, with that many mudbloods, I doubt they’d have the talent to pull it off.”
“Right, a mudblood would never be able to pull that off.” Rupert agreed, trying to hide his smirk. His efforts were aided by another firm kick to his shins. “So who wants to pass the pumpkin juice?”
“So how long do you think it’ll stay like that?” Damon asked between bites of toast.
“An hour?” Rookie guessed.
“Nah, definitely overnight.” Rastaban added his guess.
“It has to grow out naturally.” Severus said with finality.
“Touche.” Lucius gave Severus a wink.
“Don’t look at me. That is clearly not my handiwork.”
“Of course not.” Lucius glanced between the step-brothers who were acting surprisingly quiet for the amount of pranks the Gryffindors had pulled on them. “Still, ten points to Slytherin.” Lucius muttered, raising his glass in a mock toast to the brothers.
“To Slytherin.” Rupert raised his glass, echoing the toast.
“To Slytherin.” Severus agreed, raising his glass and taking a large gulp of the pumpkin juice. “And now, to Transfiguration class.” The boys quickly finished up their meals and stood up.
“Oh Merlin, we have to face McGonagall now? She’s going to be a terror after this.” Rookie whined, reality finally sinking in.
Taking a glance back at the Gryffindor table, where the four boys were trying to hide despite their electric blue locks, Damon Travers grinned. “I don’t care, it was worth it.”