Life isn't fair
“So I was thinking.”
“Oh?” Giles said, as their swords clinked.
“You don’t have to sound so surprised.” Buffy rolled her eyes. A timer went off in the background, so she switched the sword over to her left hand.
“I wasn’t.” Giles tried to ignore Buffy’s look of disbelief. “I was merely expressing curiosity at the direction of your thoughts.”
“Sure, whatever.” Buffy frowned, adjusting her grip without missing a single parry. “So, anyway, I was thinking I need to declare a major soon. Any ideas?”
“Might I recommend you stay away from music?”
“Funny, ha ha.” Buffy rolled her eyes.
“Well, what classes have interested you the most, so far?”
“I almost liked psychology, but after last semester with the whole
Walsh thing, I don’t think I could go back there.”
“That’s understandable. You’re taking that drama course with Willow, aren’t you?”
“No, it was full by the time I could register.” Buffy frowned. “I don’t think I’d want to be a drama major anyway. It’s not like I’ll ever go all Hollywood.”
“Have you considered History? You’re leaving your weak side open.”
“I thought about it.” Buffy quickly adjusted her position. “But I kinda want to do something that actually matters. I mean, don’t history majors just sit around reading old books, until they’re old enough to be history themselves?”
Rupert cringed at that assessment, giving Buffy the opportunity to bring the blunt tip of the sword to his chest. “Oops, you were a history major, weren’t you?”
“Perhaps you could consider education? It’s a reputable field.” Rupert ignored the question, hoping to maintain his dignity.
“Nah, I just can’t see myself hanging around a school all my life. I mean, you spend all that time in school just to get a degree to do something better. You’d have to be crazy or something to want to go back.” Buffy rambled before actually thinking about what she said. “Oops, sorry.”
“That’s quite alright. I wouldn’t be surprised if it turns out I am half crazy.” Rupert muttered, trying to catch his breath. Even when he had Buffy run a mile, practice her punches, and jump rope first, he always was the first to tire. “I think we’ve had quite enough practice with the swords for tonight. Shall I get out the Tupperware bowls now?”
“I was kidding about that.” Buffy put her sword down.
“Funny, I wasn’t.” Giles headed over to his satchel and pulled out a small Tupperware bowl, with a masking tape label on the lid.
“What is that?”
“Silver polish. I want you to go through the weapons cabinet.”
Buffy sighed, rolling her eyes. “That’s so boring.”
“It may be boring, but it is quite necessary. Several of those weapons are in desperate need of a cleaning. What would happen if you were to need one of them, and their blades were too dull to decapitate your foe? The only way for you to know which weapons are ready to use is for you to clean them yourself.”
Buffy grabbed a few of the grungier axes and followed Giles over to the table where they could work. “This is disgusting.” She peeled some of the black gunk on her blade, dumping it into the waste basket.
“Yes, well, Vahrallas were not one of the prettiest demons around, even when they’re alive.”
“Too bad Willow and Xander aren’t here to help.” Buffy commented, as she and Giles worked on the blades.
“I’m sure they have their own things they need to do tonight.”
“Don’t we all?” Buffy muttered.
“Yes, life isn’t fair.” Giles agreed.
“So how’s your brother?”
“If you don’t want to talk about it, that’s okay. I just thought I would ask.”
“No, that’s alright.” Giles tried not to think about all of his history with Severus, and just focus on the man in the hospital, who needed him. “Actually, he is doing better, I believe. Evidently he had a very interesting appointment today with Dr. Rosenberg.”
“Let me guess, post traumatic stress delusions.”
“Why yes, actually.”
“He says that to everything. You should have heard Willow during psych class. Vampires, hellhounds, really bad hangnails, it’s all post traumatic stress.”
“Actually, it’s pretty funny, but you have to have Willow do the voices for it. She tells it much better.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.”
“So, patrol routes tonight, any suggestions?”
“Hmm?” Even after so many years, Giles found Buffy’s conversation jumps a challenge.
“I’m thinking my route is too predictable, so I should be mixing it up. Any suggestions?”
“Well, there were reports of a raccoon on State Street.”
“It could be a demonic raccoon.” Giles shrugged. Buffy stared at him. “Well, you did ask for suggestions. There are numerous demons that could have upset trashcans in a similar fashion to raccoons. Some are more dangerous than others.”
“Unsubstantiated reports of a raccoon.” Giles clarified.
“Maybe I should go into zoology.”
“For a major? You know, pick a major, any major?”
“Ah right.” Giles sighed, wondering what he did to deserve conversations like this.
Rupert had an hour after lunch when he was supposed to be changing into his fencing clothes. He rushed about his room, hurriedly dressing with hopes that he’d have time to spare. Checking the clock, he realized he had plenty of time, so he headed across the hall, knocking lightly on Severus’ door, before entering.
Rupert walked right up to Severus, who was sprawled on his bed with a book in front of him. “What are you up to?”
“Why do you care?”
“I want to go do something.”
“What do you mean?”
“You do lots of things.”
Rupert arched his brow, daring Severus to back that statement up. Instead Severus turned back to the book he was reading. “Oh, quit being such a tosser. Come on, I want to do something.”
“You mean, something other than annoy me?”
“Of course. We’ve been on holiday for three weeks now and I haven’t seen you at all.”
“That’s not true. Mother made us work on the take home assignments together last weekend.”
“Gah!” Rupert fumed. “Don’t you want to go flying or something? Practice quidditch?”
“You hate quidditch.”
“I don’t hate quidditch, I just… well, alright, I hate quidditch. Still, I’d be willing to play. I’d even let you play Chaser and I’d be Keeper.”
Severus lifted his head and stared at Rupert, who was waiting patiently for a response. After two minutes of staring, Rupert finally rolled his eyes. “Stop it. Hold still.” Severus tried staring at Rupert again, who had now resorted to crossing his eyes. “Damn. It’s not working.”
“What’s not working?”
“Come on, tell me.”
“You’re trying wandless magic on me, aren’t you?”
“Maybe, but you can’t prove anything.” Severus muttered, flipping pages in his book to see where things went wrong.
“Well, what were you trying to do?”
“Why do you care? Why don’t you go away?”
“I’m curious, and I haven’t spent any time at all with you this entire break.”
“In the three years you’ve known me, you’ve never wanted to spend time with me before.”
“That was different. That was before…”
“Before I had to spend every single day with that blasted pillock of a baby watcher,” Rupert whined, making a horrible face.
“You don’t like dear Quentin?” Severus had a wicked smile on his face.
“It depends what you mean by like. I’d like to strangle dear Quentin, if that’s what you mean.”
“That’s your problem.”
“But it’s an awful problem. The boy does not know when to quit. He’s as strict as McGonagall, as boring as Binn, and as masochistic as Hooch.”
“Hooch isn’t masochistic.”
“I thought any quidditch referee was masochistic.”
“He’s worse than Black.”
“Completely possible. Black’s an annoying git, but at least he doesn’t try to assign a grade to my French diction, and that twit can’t explain what to do with a sword if it was a matter of life or death, and even when I do disarm him, he never counts it. At least, Black will admit when he’s lost.”
“That’s not true.”
“Well, alright, maybe Black doesn’t have a clue.”
“Still, it’s not my problem.”
“Come on, I need your help. Doesn’t that whole Slytherin thing work during the summer too?”
“What Slytherin thing?”
“The Slytherin thing where when one Slytherin gets in a fix, the other Slytherins come to his defense?”
“That’s a Gryffindor trait. Slytherins get out of their own problems.”
“What about last year, when…”
“That’s different. Slytherins can work together as long as it’s to get back at a Gryffindor. Quentin isn’t even in a house. As a Slytherin, a muggle like Quentin is beneath my notice.”
Rupert sighed heavily. “Come on, you know you want to.”
“I want to what?”
“You want to help me plan a prank on Quentin. He has it coming.”
“Oh, come on. How many times did I help you out last year with
the Gryffs? Not to mention that Lucius problem.”
“What Lucius problem.”
“No Lucius problem, forget I said that.”
Severus grabbed Rupert’s ear and yanked hard. “What Lucius problem?” He growled.
“Around exam time, Lucius had your potions book and was going to dump ink on it, but I switched ink containers, so he dumped disappearing ink and it didn’t wreck your books. Now, let go.”
“So?” Severus let go of the ear, and Rupert rubbed it gingerly.
“So, Lucius didn’t realize his ink was switched and used the same well for his Transfiguration final, so the first time through it came out empty.”
“That’s why he had to redo it?” Severus said, with new appreciation of his step-brother’s craftiness.
“If anyone asks, his normal ink well was found in Peter Pettigrew’s bag.”
“Right, but I need something better for Quentin.”
“Can’t you just hex him naked in front of his father?”
“I need a prank without magic- remember the restriction?”
“Damn that restriction.” Severus muttered.
“So you’ll help me come up with something good?”
“No? Why not?”
“Because it’s your own problem.”
“What does that mean?”
“Well, I don’t see why you’re having such a whine over this. I mean, at least you have something to do over the summer. I just have to stay in my room all day. Do you know how mind numbingly dull it is, to only get out for meals or to switch books with the library? At least you get to play with swords and sticks and pointy things. Mother won’t even let me go back to Father’s labs.”
“You heard me, I won’t help you.”
“What labs? My father doesn’t have any labs.”
“No, my father does… did, at the other house.”
“Well, that’s half way across the country, how are you supposed to go there and get back in time for dinner?”
“I could floo.”
“The manor isn’t on the floo network. Technically, this is a muggle residence.”
“If Mother truly cared, she could get this place on the floo network.”
“I’m sure it’s more difficult than that.”
“I doubt it.”
“Okay, fine, you’re right. Your summer is just as miserable as mine. Do you want to come to my class?”
“Well, I don’t see why I have to study Greek and French and real history by myself.”
“Evidently the Goblin Rebellion is not interchangeable with the Boxer Rebellion. Who knew?” Rupert rolled his eyes. “You could come and learn stuff too, and we could play tricks on Quentin together.”
“No? But I thought you said you were bored.”
“I am, but I’m not going to take stupid watcher classes. I don’t want to be a watcher.”
“Well, neither do I.”
“But you didn’t have a choice. I do.”
“That’s a weak argument.”
“You have yet to produce anything but weak arguments.”
“…” Rupert froze, with his mouth open. “Damn.”
A moment later they could both hear the nasal whining yell coming up the hall.
“Sounds like class time, junior.” Severus smirked.
“This isn’t fair.”
“Life isn’t fair.”
“Rupert!” The voice was louder.
“Coming.” Rupert screamed back then muttered. “Look, you’re bored, and brilliant. I know you’ll come up with a good trick. Just let me know when you do, okay?”
Severus shrugged, and watched as Rupert went running off to fencing practice. He turned back to his book. It was only three weeks into the break, and he was already resorting to his mother’s collection of wandless spell books. “Life isn’t fair.” He muttered.