The Pen is Mightier
“I don’t know who you brassed off this time, but they’re kicking you out of here.” Giles said as he entered his brother’s room. “I’m sure you are eagerly awaiting my sleeper sofa.”
“My heart is aflutter with joy.” Severus answered drolly. It would do no good to let his brother know just how much he had looked forward to leaving the muggle establishment.
“Yes, I rather thought that would delight you.” Giles smiled sweetly as Nurse Kendall began unplugging Severus from the machines.
“Now Steven, we’ve talked to your brother about how to care for you, but you should know this information as well. You need to take it easy for the next two weeks. No eating spicy food; in fact, for the rest of the week I want you to limit yourself to bland foods like broth and toast.”
“Someone might have seen fit to let your own kitchen know that. Your elves seem to have a disturbing fascination with exotic food.” He stared with loathing at the dish of green cubes that giggled like grindylow excrescence whenever the nurse bumped into the side table.
“Oh dear,” the nurse turned to Giles. “I guess he’s still a little out of it from the pain killers.”
“Don’t worry. When we get home, I’ll be sure to reacquaint him with jello.” Giles smirked at Severus’ look of horror.
“You wouldn’t…” Snape muttered.
“You know, they have it in blue as well.” Giles smirked.
“Oh, I suppose you’ll want to rent a chair from the hospital as well?” The nurse inquired, ignoring their bantering.
“Yes please.” Giles smiled. The nurse excused herself, leaving the men alone.
“You’re a wicked man.” Severus muttered, staring at the bowl of cubes.
“Yes, well, I learned everything I knew from you.”
“I suppose I’ll have to grant you that.”
“I must say, it’s a relief to see you survived the night.” Giles admitted. “This hospital has a rather dubious reputation for accidental exsanguinations.”
“I can see why this is your medical facility of choice then.” They fell into an uneasy silence, both men more comfortable with the silence than each other.
Nurse Kendall returned with a clipboard, Sev’s belongings, and a wheel chair. “Alright, Mr. Giles, I just need you to sign these release papers, and the liability waiver, and the chair rental form, oh, and these insurance adjustment forms.”
The nurse handed Severus the clipboard, with a pen dangling from a chain. Severus’ first response was to look for an inkwell. Just as he was about to ask the nurse for some ink and a nib that wasn’t so atrociously blunt, Giles coughed. “Ahem, it’s a ball point, Steven.”
Severus scowled. “Yes, I’m well aware of that.”
“Yes well, I know you and father preferred felt tips.” Severus picked up on the cue that this pen worked in the same was as the ones in Sir Bradford’s office; there was no reason Giles had to be so obvious about it. Gingerly he picked up the pen and began the process of signing ‘Steven Giles’ life away to the hospital lawyers.
“So then, I told him that everyone else was going to have their slips signed.” Rupert chatted as he advanced towards Severus, swinging the quarter staff from side to side.
“You moron.” Severus scolded, meeting Rupert’s swing with a wooden ‘thwack’ from his own staff. “Even I know better than to say that.”
“You can’t tell Sir Bradford Giles to do something just because everyone else is. That’s like begging him to do the opposite.”
“He’s not that bad.” Rupert swung the staff low, nearly taking Severus’ feet out from under him.
“Right.” Severus did not sound convinced at all as he jumped over the staff. “So I’m guessing he didn’t sign it.”
“No.” Rupert pouted, striking out at Severus again.
“So what are you going to do?”
“I guess I’m going to stay at the castle then.”
“You can’t do that.” Severus remarked, quickly followed by an “Ow!” as he dropped his staff.
“Well, what do you expect? You were holding it all wrong.”
“I was not.”
“Yes you were.”
“I was holding it just like you were.”
“No, see, your thumb had rolled in like that.” Rupert demonstrated his step-brother’s error. “Quentin says that you lose all control if you don’t keep your thumb out.”
“Oh, so it’s Quentin now?” Severus tried to grab the quarter staff again, but it was obviously not comfortable.
“Well, I can hardly call him Almighty Gitwad to his face.” Rupert rolled his eyes. “Let me take a look at that.”
“Your thumb.” Rupert grabbed the hand and pulled it forward. “Oh, that’s going to bruise up, right proper. We should probably put these away for today.”
“I can take it.”
“No you can’t. Come on, let’s just go back to the library.” Rupert took two steps towards the weapons cabinet, then whirled around, just fast enough to block the swing from Severus. “You’re crazy.”
“You know, your enemies are not going to back down just because you broke their thumbs.” Severus swung again, trying not to wince as his staff rattled against Rupert’s.
“First of all, that’s not broken, I doubt it’s even sprained. Second of all, I doubt I’ll ever be facing off against some enemy with just a quarter staff. What kind of daft thing would that be?”
“Well, if it’s so stupid, why are we bothering with it?” Severus said, once again going on the offensive.
“Because it beats the hell out of working on our transfiguration homework?” Rupert replied, getting back into the fight with a grin. “Of course, you realize, you’re going to lose this fight.”
“Just because you’ve had more practice with Quentin, doesn’t mean you’re perfect.” Severus sneered, quickly swinging the staff at Rupert’s side.
“No, I guess not.” Rupert said, punctuating each word with a parry. Finally he saw an opening, and went for it- knocking Severus’ staff out of his hands and clear across the floor. “It just means I’m better than you.” Rupert ignored his step-brother’s scowl, and fetched the other quarter staff. “Now come on, we need to get back to the library before father and Cassandra get home.”
“So about Hogsmeade…” Severus started up again.
“What about Hogsmeade? I asked him. He said no. End of story.”
“What kind of Slytherin are you? If you want something you go for it.”
“Maybe I don’t even want to go to Hogsmeade.” Rupert answered testily, as he locked the staffs back up in the weapons cabinet.
“Trust me, you want to go to Hogsmeade.”
“Alright, then what do I do?”
“Do you still have the form?”
“Yeah, it’s in my room.”
“Go get it, and meet me by the library door.” Severus did an about face turn and strode off towards the library.
“That boy needs to loosen up.” Rupert rolled his eyes as he watched Severus storm down the hall. Ten minutes later, he was waiting outside the library’s door with the Hogwarts scroll in his hand. Severus was holding a book from father’s collection, a ribbon marking the page he was rereading.
“Alright, here’s the plan. We need to get into your father’s office, find something he signed his name with, and charm it to sign the document.”
“I don’t know about this. I don’t think father would take too kindly to having his name forged.”
“Well, if he didn’t want you to forge his signature, he really should have just signed it in the first place.” Severus answered, trying to sound logical. He had been wanting to try this forgery spell he’d found in the library for nearly a week now, and he was not about to let this perfect opportunity slip.
“I suppose you have a point.”
“Of course I do.”
“So how do we get into his office? I take it this is one of those ‘alohamora’ deals?”
“No using wands, remember.” Severus rolled his eyes. When he graduated and became a famous potions master, he would lobby against the under-age magic restrictions. They were such a bloody nuisance.
“So we need a pick.” Rupert and Severus started walking back to their rooms to find something to pick a lock with. “Do you suppose he put any wards on his office?”
“He can’t, for the same reason mother can’t ward her room. The housekeeper has to be able to get in to clean, and she’s a muggle.”
“That’s good to know.”
“I still don’t see why your father can’t just get a few house elves. It’s far cheaper and safer.”
“It’s practically barbaric. Besides, what would happen if we had a slayer over to visit? She would attack them, and we would be without any house keeping at all.”
“Here we are.” Rupert pulled some of his potions dissecting kit tools from his trunk. “Anything else we need?”
“This should do it.” Severus said, studying the fine hook. “You know, you really should keep your instruments cleaner. Residue left on them can interfere with other ingredients.”
“I know that.” Rupert frowned. “But I only use that for fetching salamander eyes out of the jar, and those are practically inert.”
“Well, in second year potions, sure, but next year, hopefully we’ll start getting into the tricky stuff.” Severus muttered as he headed off for the study, Rupert in tow. “Of course, we don’t get to work on any of the Snape potions until fifth year.”
“The Snape potions? What, like ones your father made up?”
“For the OWLs we only need to know ones done by my great-grandfather. His textbook was used in Hogwarts for half a century.” They stopped in front of the door to the study. “Alright, I’ll do the spell, you keep watch, okay?”
“Fine by me.” Rupert knew he didn’t want to be the one doing the spell if they got caught. As Severus knelt in front of the locked door and began fiddling with it, Rupert had a thought. “Just what sort of spell are you going to be able to do if you can’t use your wand?”
“It’s from one of your father’s books.” Severus answered, not even looking up. “It’s a good thing Lucius doesn’t think too highly of muggles. Some of those spells in his hands could be dangerous.” Working quickly, Severus got the door open. The two boys scrambled inside, Rupert opening the door, just wide enough to keep a look out. Severus set the magic book down on the big mahogany desk. “Alright, where’s the slip?”
Rupert tossed permission slip to his brother, keeping his attention on the hallway. Severus opened the desk drawer, rifling through papers until he found one signed by Sir Bradford Giles. He set the papers side by side and began reciting the spell from the book. He picked up a pen from the marble set on the desk and traced the name in the air above the paper. Nothing happened.
“Damn.” Severus scanned the book again, checked the papers, and then the quill. “It’s not working.”
“Well, are you sure you have the right pen?” Rupert asked, not even turning around.
Severus picked up the other pen from the desk set. This one had a blunt stub at the end. Evidently, Sir Bradford Giles only had one working nib to use between the two pens. Carefully, Severus tried to unscrew the blunt nib to replace it with the regular quill tip. Unfortunately, the nib seemed to be screwed on too tightly. Adding a bit more oomph to it, Severus tried again. “Merlin’s beard!”
“What?” Giles turned around. “Bloody hell! What did you do?”
“Nothing! I was just replacing the nib.”
“Replacing the nib?! Sev, that’s father’s favorite Cross ball point! His father gave him that pen when he joined the Council.” Rupert stared in horror at the black inky mess.”
“It was broken anyway.” Sev tried not to sound frightened. Ru looked like he was about to loose it.
“What are we going to do?” Rupert ran his fingers through his hair hoping for some sort of inspiration.
“I don’t know. What kind of quill puts the ink inside it anyway? It was a stupid quill!”
“All muggle pens keep their ink inside them. It’s a damn sight better than constantly having to dip into an ink well.” Rupert defended the pen, “And what’s more, that stupid quill costs about 200 pounds. We’re going to die.”
“No we aren’t. Here, put the papers away.” Severus scowled. Rupert quickly put the signed paper back into the desk and tucked the permission slip into his back pocket. “Now, does your father have any spell-o-tape in his office?”
“No, why would he? Besides, wouldn’t that be really obvious?” Rupert started paying through the drawers, looking for any sort of solution.
Severus meanwhile, was busy wiping the pen off on the few clean spots of his shirt. “Well, if we don’t use spell-o-tape, I don’t know how else to fix this.”
Rupert grabbed the pen from Severus’ grip. Wiping it off again on his shirt, he breathed a sigh of relief. “Oh thank goodness, this we can fix.” He grabbed a tissue out of the box on the filing cabinet and pulled out the broken ink cartridge, trying to keep any ink from dripping on the floor. He opened the desk drawer and found a replacement cartridge. He tried to fit the nib back on the pen. It wouldn’t screw completely back on, but when he put the pen in the stand it looked fine. “Alright, we’re getting out of here.”
“But we haven’t gotten your form signed yet!”
“I don’t care. We’re leaving.” Rupert grabbed the book, and stormed out of the office.
Severus followed behind by a few steps, “Come on, Rupert. We need to try it again. You absolutely must go to Hogsmeade.”
“No. I’m not going to forge my father’s signature.” Rupert answered, guilt finally getting the better of him.
“Then what are you going to do when everybody else goes to Zonko’s and can play pranks on you? What kind of Slytherin are you?”
“The kind that has decided that it is far safer to wait until Cassandra drops us off at the station in three weeks, and then will suddenly remember it in my bag, and beg your mother to sign it on her husband’s behalf since he would have signed it but undoubtedly had more important things to do than show us to the station.”
“Oh.” Severus frowned. “That would work too.”