When Giles went to check in at the triage desk, he was told that the doctor wanted to speak with him first, and was led to a side consult room. He was a bit surprised to see that instead of the usual young doctor, he was met by an older man with thinning strawberry blonde hair. “Hello, Dr. Rosenberg. I didn’t expect to see you here.”
“Hello,” The doctor paused to glance down at the folder, “Mr. Giles. Have we met before? You look familiar.”
“We met at Parent-Teacher night.” Dr. Rosenberg didn’t show any recognition. “We also met at a few PTO meetings, and of course, Willow’s graduation.”
“Oh, you’re Bunny’s father.” Dr. Rosenberg smiled.
“No. I was the librarian at Sunnydale High. I mentored your daughter in her independent study project.”
“Oh, right, of course. Please, have a seat.” Giles sat down, thinking once again that it was a miracle Willow turned out as well as she had. “I was informed that you were the next of kin for,” he glanced down at the folder again, “Steven Giles, and that you would be caring for him as he recovered.”
“That is correct.”
“First of all, I just wanted to let you know that the neurologist has done a thorough examination and it looks like there is no permanent nerve damage.”
“Well, that’s a good thing.”
“However, the neurologist asked for a psych consult. That, in itself, is not terribly surprising. We often have patients that come in from accidents seriously disoriented.”
“What’s the problem, doctor?” Giles asked, already having an idea of what the problem was.
“Let’s get right down to the problem, shall we?” Dr. Rosenberg flipped through the file folder. “It appears that Steven is suffering severely from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.”
“His responsiveness was limited.”
“And you measured that how?”
“He doesn’t answer to his own name.”
“Ah, well, I did write in the patient information that he prefers to be called Sev. I doubt anyone has called him Steven in years.”
“Well, perhaps that accounts for part of the problem. However, I’m afraid he may also be suffering from the more severe symptom of dementia.”
“Really? He seemed perfectly coherent to me.”
“Oh no, in fact he was quite delusional. I normally would consider
this part of the patient-provider confidentiality, but as you are volunteering to be his caretaker, I feel you should know that his mind may have been permanently affected by the accident. If you feel that you can not care for him, given his condition, I can recommend several assisted living centers that have more experience with this sort of thing.”
“I’m sure he’s not that bad.” Giles muttered.
“Mr. Giles, I don’t think you understand the severity of this. For my dissertation, I studied Post Traumatic Stress Induced Dementia, and I assure you it is a very serious problem. Patients create unreal manifestations of their accidents in an attempt to distance themselves from the reality of their injuries.”
“What? You mean like someone who was stabbed with a barbecue fork claiming it was a vampire?” Giles asked, trying to keep the derision out of his voice.
“That’s a very common example, yes.”
“You wouldn’t, by any chance, have done your dissertation at UC Sunnydale?”
“As a matter of fact, I did.”
“Ah.” That explains so much, Giles silently added. “So what exactly did my brother say to make you believe that he was senile?”
Dr. Rosenberg scanned the page until his eyes finally rested on a point about three quarters of the way down. “Here we go. He said, ‘Merlin, I’m a wizard, not a psychopath, although your inane questions are causing me to lean towards the latter.’ He then told me to leave his room or risk being hexed.”
“Ah, yes, that sounds like Sev.” Giles sighed.
“He believes he is wizard and invokes the image of Merlin. Clearly he is feeling powerless because of his accident, and thus is manifesting his subconscious desire for control by believing that he is magical. I was sorely tempted to admit him immediately; however, it is always better if the commitment comes at the family’s request.”
“Good heavens, there’s no need to commit Sev.” Giles sputtered. “I’m afraid what we’re dealing with is just a cultural misunderstanding.” He knew it was a stretch, but no other plausible fibs were coming to his mind. “We’re British, and Sev was just falling back on slang from the area we grew up in.” Dr. Rosenberg stared at Giles in disbelief. “Yes, well, you see, with the King Arthur legend so popular amongst my people, it’s quite common to hear Merlin used as an expletive just as an American would say, Jesus, for instance. As for being a wizard, I think Severus was just referring to being such a whiz at Chemistry. You know how some professors get, believing that they know the right answer for everything even outside of their field of expertise, and in England, people who are experts at their fields are often referred to as wizards.”
“So you’re saying that he was just asserting his belief in his superior knowledge?”
“Yes. Sev is quite arrogant, and although it can be a headache, it is hardly worth committing him over.”
“And when he says he wants to hex me?”
“It’s just British slang for… ahem… using strong language.” Giles supposed Avada Kedavra was strong language; very few other words were strong enough to kill.
“Ah.” Dr. Rosenberg looked as though he had bitten into a slice of lemon, but offered no further resistance.
“Is that all you wished to speak to me about?”
“Thank you, doctor. Have a nice day.” Giles excused himself, slightly amused at the puzzled look on Ira Rosenberg’s face. He wondered how many of Ira Rosenberg’s case studies were actually dementia and made a mental note to have Willow research her father’s case loads for misdiagnosed demonic activity. Of course that mental note would have to take backseat to the mental note of choice words he was preparing for Severus. Did the man have no discretion at all around muggles?
“So what are you signing up for?” As their first year was winding to a close, the Slytherin boys were finding more and more distractions from studying for finals.
“What’s that, Rabbie?” Damon glanced up from the same paragraph he had read three times over.
“Did you all get the class registration form for next year?” Rastaban Lestrange asked. A murmur of agreement sounded as the boys resigned themselves to yet another interruption.
“Of course we got our forms, but why are you bothering to ask what we’re taking. It’s perfectly obvious.” Lucius drawled.
“Well, I mean, other than that.”
“Other than what?” Rookie eagerly closed his book as it looked like the conversation was going to be considerably more entertaining than the Goblin Rebellions.
“We’re second years. We all have to take take the same classes. It’s not like scheduling is that exciting. Really, Rabbie, if you’re going to try to distract us, at least come up with something interesting.”
“But we get an elective.”
“Does that really count?”
“Of course it counts, and I’m trying to decide what to take.”
“Well, what were you considering?” Argentius decided to join the conversation.
“It’s a toss up. Part of me thinks I should take the Introduction to Dueling, but I also want to take advanced flying. You know, maybe I can try out for chaser in a year or two, like my father.”
“Ooh, that’s a toughie.” Damon agreed. “I had forgotten about that option.”
“So what are you guys taking?” Rastaban asked the room.
“Dueling.” Lucius answered.
“Dueling.” Damon nodded.
“Dueling.” Rookie shrugged.
“Dueling.” Evan answered, as if there wasn’t even a question in the matter.
“Dueling.” Severus piped up when everyone turned to stare at him.
“Hmm?” Rupert lifted his head, feeling the weight of everyone’s stare.
“What elective are you taking?” Rastaban asked slowly to the only boy who hadn’t gotten distracted from his studying yet.
“Oh, I signed up for Frog Choir.”
“WHAT?!” Rupert winced at the uproar.
As soon as the room quieted down, Lucius got up and sat down next to Rupert on the bed. “Rupert, our dear pet mudblood, what did you say?”
“I said I signed up for Chorus.” Rupert answered. He hated when Lucius got that condescending look about him that always preceded a lecture. He had a feeling this one may actually be worse than the lecture about wearing his formal robes backwards.
“You do realize that no Slytherin male has ever signed up for chorus in the history of this house?”
“Somehow that doesn’t surprise me.”
“In fact, no Gryffindor male has signed up for choir either.”
“Yes, I was rather counting on that fact actually.”
“Most Hufflepuffs even find chorus emasculating. In fact, signing up for choir is a sign of deep seated neuroses. Should Severus take you to see Madam Pomphrey, or maybe one of those muggle psycholoiatrists?”
Rupert smiled at Lucius, trying to ignore the pain from the shoulder Lucius was squeezing tightly. “Using big words does not aid your argument. I’m not crazy, and I’ve already turned in the form.”
“I think, what Lucius is trying to say is, well, why the bloody hell did you sign up for choir?!” Evan screeched at the end of the sentence.
“You mean other than the fact that Flitwick has never failed a student in his choir?”
“You’re not failing Charms; you don’t need it that badly.”
“Well, not this year, no.” Rupert admitted.
“So tell us, why did you sign up for choir?” Rupert glanced around to find the entire room staring at him, perhaps none with as much loathing as Severus.
“Well, it’s a rather interesting story, I suppose.” Rupert offered sheepishly. “You see, last week Violet asked me if I thought Evan liked Mafalda...”
“What’d you say?” Evan interrupted.
“I said I didn’t think you had anything against her.” Rupert frowned.
“Oh.” Evan sighed.
“And well, then I asked Violet why, and she said that Mafalda was thinking that maybe she might like Evan, and so if he was going to sign up for flying, she might sign up for flying, but if he didn’t, she’d rather take choir than dueling or art.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Because you were going to take dueling.” Rupert rolled his eyes as though it were obvious. “Besides, I thought you liked Violet.”
“Well, but if Mafalda…”
“She’s beneath you, Rosier.” Lucius commented.
“Actually, I think that’s what Rosier wishes.” Damon teased.
“Ahem.” Rupert coughed. “The point is, I talked to Violet, and she told me what the girls were taking. Violet, Narcissa, and Mafalda are all taking choir. Prunella,” the boys all made a face at that name, “wanted to take dueling. Martha was going to take painting. So I asked around, and it seems all the pretty girls take chorus, the ugly girls take dueling, the butch girls take flying, and the mousy girls take painting.”
None of the Slytherin boys could find fault with that assessment.
“So, I figured I’d rather spend a year being the only boy in a class of beauties than have the snot blown out of me every week being hexed by Gryffindors in dueling. It really wasn’t a tough decision.”
“But you’re a Slytherin!” Rastaban exclaimed. “Slytherins don’t take choir.”
“Sure they do.”
“No, they really don’t.” Lucius answered, as though his word were law.
“Well, as of next year, they’re going to start.”
“I said so.”
“Well, Malfoy, if you wanted to make up rules, you should have told me before I turned it in.”
“It’s just not done.”
“Well, it’s about to be done. I find it hard to believe that in the history of Hogwarts there hasn’t been another Slytherin who’s tried this. Why not have arranged marriages while you’re at it?”
Rupert wasn’t expecting most of the boys to think it over before answering, “Sure, well, sort of.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me.”
“Well, it’s not arranged, but it’s pretty much taken for granted.” Damon shrugged. “Take Lucius; Malfoys only marry rich and Slytherin, so that leaves him with Narcissa, Bellatrix, or Violet.”
“Violet’s money is too new.” Lucius cut in.
“Right, so, odds are Lucius is going to marry Narcissa, barring disaster.”
“Or a family allegiance with France or Spain.” Lucius added thoughtfully.
“Fine, you marry Narcissa; I’ll just have a crazy fling with her in the choir room.” Rupert ducked just in time to miss the badly thrown punch. “Relax, Lucius, I’m just kidding. I won’t touch Narcissa.”
“Or Violet.” Evan added with a pout.
“What, the Rosiers have no problem with new money?” Rupert teased, but rethought that at the low growl coming from across the room. “Fine, fine, Violet’s off limits, but that still leaves me three other houses of lovely ladies.”
“I don’t know. Is it worth it? You’re still going to look like a git at all the concerts.” Rastaban pondered.
“Well, it was better than the alternatives.”
“I still think you’re barmy.” Damon Travers muttered.
“Fine, I’m barmy. I’m crazy. I’m an embarrassment to the Slytherin name. But, on the upsides, I’ll have access to the girls, and if you don’t give me any more grief about it, I’ll pass on any interesting tidbits I hear.”
The boys seemed content with that and wandered back to their studying. All the boys, that is except Severus, who went straight to Rupert’s bed. “Spill.” He whispered.
“You’re not crazy and you’re not the hormone factory Evan and Damon are, so why are you doing it?”
“Maybe it’s a whim.”
“Maybe you’re deliberately trying to piss off your father?” Severus countered. “He wanted you to take dueling, didn’t he?”
“Hmm.” Severus thought on that for a moment. “Well, if you make a fool of yourself, I’ll hex you six ways from Wednesday, got that?”
“Loud and clear.”