Giles arrived to find Severus out cold. He really should have expected it. After all, any time he had a good head of steam prepared for his brother, Sev always was conveniently absent. And while attributing his sleep to Slytherin survival instinct instead of the i.v. drip might have been a bit much, Giles wasn’t prepared to rule it out yet. He sank down in the bedside chair, thinking he would just rest his eyes for a few minutes before looking into Severus’ chart.
Two hours later, he was awoken by a sharp buzz from his jacket pocket. He fumbled for a minute to answer his phone. “Hello, Rupert Giles speaking.” He glanced over at the bed to see Severus still asleep, and drooling. One of these trips he’d have to bring a camera.
“Hey Giles. Is everything okay?”
“Of course.” Giles automatically answered.
“Okay. Because, you see, I’m sitting here at the Magic Box, and you’re not. I thought we had said training tonight.”
“Well, yes, but… good lord, is it already that late?” Giles glanced at his watch. His plans to give Severus the potion and lecture would have to be postponed.
“It sounds like you’re busy. How about we put it off until tomorrow?”
“Ah, no, I do not think that would be wise. How about you start with the meditation exercises we went over last month, and when I get there, we can work on your combat skills.”
“Are we going to use the swords?”
“I was rather thinking we should stick with the quarterstaff.”
“We did quarterstaff last time.”
“Yes, but surely you can appreciate that it is the most practical weapon. Swords are not always available, but a quarterstaff can be readily adapted from items around you.”
“Well, why don’t we just practice with chairs or Tupperware while we’re at it?” Buffy whined.
“If you feel that developing a martial style with plastic bowls would aid you, I can look into it.”
“I was just kidding.”
“Be careful what you joke about. I’m sure I can figure out some exercise involving chairs and Tupperware for you.”
“True, but wouldn’t it be easier just practicing with fencing swords?”
“How about we table this debate until I get there. I’m having trouble getting a clear signal in here.”
“So that’s why you’re shouting into the phone.”
“I’m not shouting.”
“Of course not.” Giles could imagine Buffy rolling her eyes at that. “Alrighty, one meditating Buffy coming up. I’ll see you in a few minutes.”
“Very well. Good bye.” Giles hung up the phone with a sigh. “Well, Sev, you can’t blame me for missing your pepper-up dose. It’s not my fault if you sleep through everything.”
His brother showed no response to his scolding, not that Giles expected a response. It was just nice for once not to be corrected or blamed by Severus. Perhaps if Severus was unconscious more often, so many people wouldn’t be angry with him all the time, Giles mused. “I’ll be back at dark. Don’t do anything rash.” Giles couldn’t help adding on his way out. Yet again his questions would have to remain unanswered.
Rupert was halfway through unpacking his school trunk when a knock on the door interrupted him. “Come in?”
An older woman, with her gray hair pulled into a tight bun, peeked her head in. “Rupert, your father would like to have a word with you in the study.”
“Now?” The stern look Rupert got answered that question. “Oh well. Thanks, Nana.”
“If I were you, I’d be on my best behavior. It looked as though your father had visitors.” Nana added.
“Even better.” Rupert sighed. He dropped his books on his bed and headed to the study, where sure enough his father was waiting for him, with visitors.
“Ah, here’s the young man, now.”
“Good evening, Mr. Travers, Quentin.” Rupert politely nodded towards the two men sitting on the leather couch in front of the fireplace. His father nodded for him to take a seat.
“Now, Rupert, you remember how we spoke about supplementing your studies with summer instruction?”
“Of course, father.”
“Quentin will be starting Oxford in the fall, but is currently between schools. He has graciously agreed to supervise your studies.”
Rupert could feel the blood drain from his face. He had been looking forward to spending more time with his father this summer, assuming Sir Bradford Giles would want to oversee his own son’s education. Instead, it looked like he would be spending his summer with a right pillock. Feeling all eyes on him, he realized it was his turn to say something. “That’s very generous of him. Are you sure you don’t have something else you would rather be doing?” He asked, hoping the other boy would have enough sense to take the out offered.
“A good watcher puts his duty as a role model first and foremost.” Quentin replied, obviously quoting from some book he had lovingly memorized.
“Mr. Travers and I were just discussing what curriculum you should follow.” Rupert’s father continued. “I must confess, having never been to Cassandra’s school, I am not sure what your weaknesses are.”
“Well, obviously, Bradford, the boy needs to be tested. We can’t know where he stands without knowing his scores.” Mr. Travers interrupted.
“I rather thought the boy would be able to judge which subjects he was weakest in.” Bradford cut in.
“Nonsense. You’d no sooner have a slayer dictate her own training regime than have a student pick his own classes. That path would lead to nothing but ignorance and sloth.”
“That’s a ridiculous argument. I believe that Rupert could accurately assess where he stands on several subjects, at least for this summer.”
“I haven’t had French, yet.” Rupert offered.
“No French?” Quentin asked in alarm.
“His school teaches Latin.”
“The boy needs to be tested. Before I let Quentin instruct your son, I want to know where he stands.”
“You’re not going to be instructing my son; I don’t see why you need to know the test scores. If anyone should be insisting, it should be Quentin.” The men continued their heated discussion in perfectly civil tones, ignoring the two younger men present. Rupert watched the conversation go back and forth, much like a tennis match.
“So, Rupert,” Quentin finally addressed his soon to be student. “What subjects did you study in your school and how would you say you rate in them?”
“Ah, um.” Rupert glanced at his father for advice, but the men were still in their negotiations. “I got top scores in history and astronomy.” He started, hoping those were reasonable muggle topics. “I also did well in herbology.”
“I mean biology.” Rupert quickly covered. “My professor specialized in herb plants, so we called it herbology. I don’t suppose watchers use botany often, though.”
“Botany isn’t really an important skill for watchers, no.” Quentin frowned thoughtfully. “What other courses did you take? Your father said you had Latin?”
Giles wondered if his Charms and Transfiguration professors would be insulted if he referred to their classes as Latin. Probably, but he could think of no better muggle equivalent. “Yes, Latin, well, in a way; we mainly worked on vocabulary more than composition.” He wondered if Merlin would smite him down for that exaggeration.
“And what did you cover in math?”
“Math, as in mathematics?” Rupert blinked wondering if this was how a deer felt, trapped in headlights. “I, um, tested out of their first year mathematics program.” How else could he explain that numerology and arithmancy didn’t show up on the curriculum until third year? “However, we did a decent amount of math in the astronomy course.” He wasn’t quite sure if calculating astrological houses was what normal astronomers used math for, but he really did not want to spend the summer reviewing long division.
“What about English composition and literature?”
“Oh, yes, we had plenty of compositions to write in English.” Rupert figured that DADA could be considered a composition class, especially since Professor Bones was obsessed with analyzing legal case studies for every hex, jinx, curse, and creature they studied. Before Quentin could presume any more about their curriculum, Rupert added. “We also had chemistry and athletics.”
“Chemistry?” Rupert winced, hoping Severus wasn’t listening. “It sounds like your school is very weak in the liberal arts.”
“I suppose. It’s got some very top teachers, though, especially in the science fields.” Rupert wanted to defend Hogwarts more, but wasn’t sure just how much of his education he could admit to the Travers.
“Pity that a watcher doesn’t need that much science. Did your athletics class include fencing or pugilism?”
“No.” Rupert knew enough not to say they spent all year practicing flying.
“Hmm.” Quentin seemed content to sit back and ponder the information he had received from the boy.
Rupert glanced at his father only to see that he and Mr. Travers’ argument had shifted subjects and was now about how economic factors were impacting their recruitment abilities. “I don’t care what your research shows, Wilford. The price in tea of China is not a dependable indication of whether the Asian potential is most likely to be called next.” His father was insisting. Rupert glanced back at Quentin, whose eyes were fixed on a spot just over Rupert’s left shoulder. He was beginning to think that if he were to leave the room no one would notice, when Quentin spoke up again. “I’ll meet you tomorrow in the classroom at ten. Please bring at least one pen, as you will be taking placement exams all morning. In the afternoon we will begin physical training. A watcher must always be in shape if he hopes to keep up with his slayer. I need to speak to your father now. You’re dismissed.”
Rupert glanced at his father, who nodded distractedly that it was fine for him to leave and then resumed his argument with Mr. Travers. Rupert quickly escaped the study and headed back to his room. He couldn’t wait to go back to Hogwarts.