Negligence of Magical Creatures
At four o’clock, Giles decided he had spent enough time at the shop. All the mundane paperwork had been taken care of, Anya insisted she could handle closing in an hour, and Willow had long since given up on research. He was about to get in his car and head for the hospital, when a thought struck him. There was probably no better time for him to swing by State Street and confirm that the animals were in fact gribles. The sooner he tracked them down the better, and at least now it was still daylight.
He headed down the block to the corner of State and Main, and then turned down the alley behind the movie theater. Clearly, this alley had not been cleaned out in months, if not years, judging from the clutter stacking up around the dumpster. Glancing around first to make sure no one was following him, he pulled out his wand. He was hoping he wouldn’t have to resort to using it, but thought it was better safe than sorry.
Behind the dumpster came a shuffling sound. Giles braced himself as he pointed his wand towards the dumpster. There was a screech, and then a cat came darting out from behind empty boxes. Giles jumped before he could stop himself, feeling very silly for being spooked by an average house cat.
His feeling of foolishness was cut short however by the grumbles coming from the boxes on all sides. He turned back to the dumpster to see what clearly was, in fact, a grible. Honestly, it didn’t look that much different from a kneazle; he couldn’t see why Sev had gotten on his case so much about it.
“Now, let’s see if we can track these guys.” Giles pulled from his pocket a few sheets of paper that Willow had printed out for him on gribles. “Now let’s see, not to be used for pets… tends to bite… if handled, should be treated like a knarl.” He glanced back down at the little creature that had taken a step closer to him. “Oh lovely, now if I only knew how to treat a knarl.”
The creature tilted its head, as if questioning what Giles had just mumbled to himself. Deciding that the first page was useless, he flipped to the next. “Ah, here we go. Gribles create nests, and often collect magical artifacts to augment their nests. The most common artifacts they prefer are used port keys and charmed silverware.” Giles watched as another beastie joined the one in front of him. “I’m guessing you found a port key?”
Giles could have sworn the creature was smiling back up at him. “I don’t suppose you could tell me who used that port key last, could you?” Giles realized he was talking to the creature and blushed. “Yes, well, back to the sheet. Let’s see, the best way to rid a house of a grible infestation is to use a basic murtlap trap, with the common jarvey-repellent as bait.” Giles looked back down at the creature. “I have no bloody clue what murtlap traps or jarvey repellents are.”
He was about to flip to the next sheet, but noticed a gleam in the gribles’ eye. He glanced from it to the two other gribles that had gathered around it. At some undiscernable cue, the gribles charged, grabbing at his shoelaces and cuffs. Following the first rule of the Watcher’s Council- when in doubt, run away- Giles took off for the head of the alley, dragging the dogged gribles with him. Reaching the street, Giles realized they weren’t about to let go of his cuffs.
In desperation, Giles pointed his wand at a bag of trash and muttered “Portus!” The sudden port key startled the gribles, and they hesitatingly let go of Giles’ clothes, to investigate. When the first one reached the trash, both it and the bag vanished. “Oh dear.” Giles muttered, running for his car. He knew creating a portkey with no final destination was a major faux pas, but he counted on the Sunnydale authorities ignoring it like they ignored everything else.
As he got into the car, he took several deep breaths. It was ridiculous that a wizard his age was scared of a small nest of gribles. “Damn, father was right.”
“I can’t believe you told him!” Rupert pounced on Severus as soon as the dark-haired boy entered the dorm room.
“Tell who what?” Like any good Slytherin, Severus wasn’t going to deny anything until he knew what the charges were.
“You told my father about course sign-ups.” Rupert accused, waving a piece of paper in Severus’ face.
“I did not.”
“You did so!”
“Oh yeah? Then how did he know about it?”
“Maybe he heard from someone else.”
“What, you think Jigger dropped by the manor with some helpful advice for my muggle father?” In Severus’ opinion, Rupert should never attempt sarcasm as he never pulled it off as well as a Slytherin should.
“No, but it’s quite possible that mother said something about it. They are married after all.”
“That’s still your fault then.”
“She’s your mother; how else did she know we got the course selections form?”
“Have you learned nothing about Slytherin women?” Severus’ voice cracked. “She probably heard it from one her friends.”
“I don’t see why you’re making such a big deal about it, anyway. It’s not like your father would actually understand any of the choices you have. Just sign up for whatever Lucius signs up for.”
“He’s not going to let me do that.”
Severus grabbed the letter out of Rupert’s hands. “Oh this is not good.” Severus muttered, quickly scanning the text. “I wonder how he found out you were in choir.”
“You didn’t tell him?”
“Are you nuts? I don’t admit to anyone that I’m half related to a boy in choir!”
“Oh.” Rupert sighed.
“Oh no, this is impossible.”
“See! That’s what I’m talking about.”
“Lucius is taking arithmancy and runes, and he expects us to be there to help him cheat.”
“We don’t cheat.”
“No, of course not, did I just say that aloud?” Both boys frowned. It was no secret that Lucius had a habit of borrowing the step-brothers’ notes before and even during some exams, but they still outscored him so they didn’t bother to tattle on him. “Still, you really need to take arithmancy and runes if you expect people to take you seriously, especially after you skipped dueling.”
“I know.” Rupert kicked his bed post. “But, what am I supposed to do about that?” He stuck his tongue out at the letter.
“I can’t believe mother would let him get away with suggesting these classes.” Severus cringed. “I mean how crass can you get- divination AND care of magical creatures? You may as well become a Gryffindor.”
Rupert shuddered. “Don’t even suggest such a foul thing.”
“Well, you know that Gryffs always take those two classes, especially the lazy Gryffs like Black and Potter.”
“Dear lord, no.” Rupert winced, this was just getting worse and worse. “Do you suppose we should write Gran?”
“We can’t do that!”
“Why not? We tried that before.”
“Exactly. We’ve already tried that and we got a howler in thanks. Do you want to get a howler again?”
“So, what we need to do is convince Sir Bradford Giles that those two classes are the worst possible classes for a future watcher.”
“Hrmm.” The two boys sat down on Rupert’s bed, locked in thought. “I’ve got it! Well, at least part of it. The slayer isn’t really a magical creature is she?”
“Technically? I think slayers do fall under the magical creatures. I mean, if vampires, lycanthropes, and mermen do, than so would a slayer.”
“Well, we’re hardly going to be caring for teenage girls in the class, are we?”
“I’m sure if we were, Rosier would have brought it up by now.” Severus rolled his eyes.
“So, we can find a class to take that place. Runes on the other hand could be very useful. Dead languages are important for watchers, right? I mean, I spent all summer working on Greek. I bet he’d buy the Runes argument.”
“Right, but it’s Divination class you really need to get out of.”
“Why? I thought Rookie was taking it.”
“Exactly. People like Rookie take Divinations. It’s a complete waste of your education and your time.”
“Oh. Well that’s going to be harder to get out of.” Rupert took the letter from his step-brother and reread the second paragraph. “It is vital for a watcher to have proper respect for prophecies and basic predictive arts. I expect you to make the most of your opportunity to take a class in divinatory techniques. This should help your early career, as most watchers begin in the prophecy translation and interpretation department.”
“He does seem pretty set on it.” Severus frowned. “I don’t suppose you can convince him that arithmancy has more to do with prophecies than divination?” Rupert cast him a disbelieving glare. “Well, unless you have a better idea, how about we tell Lucius that your father is making you take divination, and see if he can get his father to convince your father that it’s crap.”
“You really think Sir Bradford Giles cares what Mr. Malfoy has to say?”
“Well, of course, Mr. Malfoy is the Ministry’s top… you have a point.”
“So what should I do?”
“Invest in crystal balls.” Severus smirked. “Come on, we’ll figure this out after dinner. I’m sure if we tell Lucius, he’ll have some good ideas. He needs your notes more than you do.”