Fine, I'm gone.
After ruling out several protective magic books from his bedroom shelves, Giles pulled his tattered copy of “1001 Wards for the Everyday Mage” from the living room bookshelf and laid it on the dining room table.
“You’re not really just going to use one of those wards?” Severus criticized.
“Well it does seem like the most practical solution.” Giles did not even look up. “I would think that the average wizard wouldn’t even think about disarming a non-wand ward.”
“But that’s such a common source.”
“I’m looking here precisely because it’s a common source.” Giles said, flipping back and forth from the index to various pages. “These wards are much more robust than the fussier ones. I’d hate to add something more complex only to have it counteract what’s already there.”
“That wouldn’t be a problem unless you anchored your spell to an inorganic substrate such as… Merlin, help me, you did, didn’t you?” Severus could see the tips of Giles’ ears turn red, but the watcher kept reading. “What were you thinking? Didn’t they teach anything to you at your little watcher classes?”
“I was thinking that I lived less than a mile from one of the oldest, most active Hellmouths in history, and creating a proper anchor would cause enough of a shift that the resulting counterbalancing force could be disastrous.” Giles glanced up from the book to stare at his step-brother. “One thing they did teach at the Academy was that this isn’t London; there’s a limit to what works here.”
From the silence on the couch, Giles could tell he had won that argument. “Ah, here we are: protective ward against dark wizardry for domiciles.”
“Will that interact with… that is to say…” Giles followed Severus’ glance at his left arm.
“Ah, no.” Giles reread a paragraph to double check his thoughts. “This spell protects the physical house and the items therein. It really offers no protection to the people inside. You just have to trust that anyone trying to get in would be foolish enough you use an Alohamora on the door.”
“Lovely.” Severus sighed.
“Would you rather I leave the house unwarded?” Giles already knew Severus’ feelings on that. “Very well, then be quiet for a few minutes.” Giles spent the next ten minutes reciting Latin at each of the openings to his house. When he had completed the circuit, he dutifully noted the added ward to his records. Finishing that task he turned to his step-brother and sighed. “Alright, what are you in a snit about this time?”
“I’m not in a snit.”
“I know that face. You’re in a snit.”
“I’m just thinking.”
“Well, of course you are. But you’re also in a snit.” Giles settled down in the leather recliner. “Look, how about I distract you for a bit. Obviously there have been changes in England of late. Would you be so kind to catch me up to date?”
“Because I know how dangerous you are when you’re bored and in a snit.”
“Very well. Another cuppa if you will.” Severus requested. As Giles went into the kitchen Severus called after him. “You know I’m only speaking to you because I’m thoroughly bored.”
“I’m well aware of that. I just wonder what my excuse is for listening to you.” Giles replied, refilling the teapot and setting it to boil. They waited in silence for the teapot to boil, both knowing a conversation was inevitable, but neither wanting to take the first step. Finally, the water boiled and Giles could refill their tea cups. Giles mused that if this rate of awkward pauses continued, he’d have to buy new tea bags before the end of the week. “Now, where do we start? How about we begin with Potter’s son?” Giles asked with a wicked grin.
“Why? Do you have an unnatural obsession with young boys?”
Giles had the good grace to polish his glasses to avoid meeting Severus’ eyes. He knew his step-brother was just baiting him, but he refused to fall into that verbal trap. “Like the rest of the world, I’m captivated. How did he survive the killing curse?”
Severus waited to see if the watcher could be accused of protesting too much, but Giles kept his temper even. Finally, Snape began. “No one knows, but there is a prophecy…”
“Bah! Most prophecies are hardly worth the paper their written on.”
“Spoken like a man who has spent a considerable portion of his life acting out prophesies,” Severus had to pause for a moment and close his eyes. For all the crowing of the wonders of modern medicine, he was still in an incredible amount of pain. “As I was saying, the boy is a wild card, even for Dumbledore. He somehow manages to break every rule in such a way that he will never be held accountable. He’s a Gryffindor, like his father, and like his father, is thick as thieves with his friends. Without them, he would probably be dead by now.”
“He sounds like Buffy.”
“I doubt Buffy’s a parseltongue.” Severus shot back.
“Good heavens, no. She can’t even speak French without butchering the language.” Giles chuckled. “So, Potter’s son is a parseltongue. Pity he didn’t end up in Slytherin.”
“I think not. I have my hands full. He’s rather fitting punishment for Minerva though. Even her animagus form is getting grey hairs from that class.”
“I thought McGonagall’s form was already grey.” Rupert smirked.
“The point was that I am thankful those rotten beasts are not in my house.”
“It’s a wonder Dumbledore lets you near children with that attitude.”
Secretly, Severus agreed with Giles’ assessment, but wasn’t about to admit it. “Whereas, you make a stunning role model for the youths of Sunnydale,” Severus was expecting the typical blush that Giles had developed.
Instead Giles did a remarkable job of keeping his head level as he defended himself. “Actually, considering my teaching colleagues, I have done a remarkable job with my slayer and her friends.” He wasn’t about to mention that anyone would be an improvement over Principal Snyder.
“Are you sure?” Severus drawled in that way that left no doubt to his own opinion on the matter.
“Would you like me to ask Buffy tonight? You know, I am going to train with her at ten, so I can clarify the point if you so insist.” Giles called Severus’ bluff.
“Is she coming over here?”
“No, I’m meeting her at the Magic Box, why?”
“And you can make it there in less than three minutes without apparating? Impressive.”
Giles followed Severus’ glance to the wall clock. “Oh bugger!” Giles jumped up from the chair and started throwing several books and spare clothes into his satchel. He was halfway to the door, when he froze. “You need your medicine.”
“No I don’t.”
“The nurse said that you were to have tranquilizers before midnight to make sure you rested properly.”
“And I’m telling you that I don’t.”
“Don’t be obtuse.”
“I’m not!” Severus and Giles engaged in their typical stare-off. Giles knew he was at a disadvantage, having never perfected occlumency, by any stretch of the imagination. However, he also knew enough bad mental images to scare Severus out of his head in a pinch. Focusing on a picture of the Sunnydale High lunch lady puckering up, he wasn’t surprised that Severus quickly turned away in disgust. “You’re sick, you know that?”
“You shouldn’t be reading my thoughts.” Giles answered, although he knew better than to think Severus wouldn’t continue trying. “Now, are you going to take your medicine like a good patient?”
“No.” Severus scowled. “I’ll wait until you get home.”
“It will be after midnight. Your current pain killers will have worn off, and you’ll be in considerable pain.”
“I’d rather be in pain, than risk being unresponsive if someone were to break in.”
“You sound like that auror recruiter from seventh year. ‘Constant
Vigilance, and all that rot!”
“Alastor Moody.” Severus grumbled.
“Fine, look, how about I leave the pills and a glass of water beside your bed. If you want them, help yourself.” Giles finally compromised, quickly filling a mug with water, trying not to spill too much as he brought it over to the coffee table.
“You’re going to be late.”
“They’re usually late; it won’t matter.” Giles muttered, opening the childproof lid on the bottle of tranquilizers. “Are you sure you’re going to be alright?”
“I’ll be fine.” Severus rolled his eyes.
“Are you quite sure? Because if you’re not, I can always call and
cancel.” Giles offered, knowing he couldn’t really afford to cancel yet another night this week.
“I’m fine. Now go. You’re getting worse than Gran.”
“I don’t think that’s possible.” Giles frowned. If Severus was not going to ask for help, it wouldn’t be his fault if anything happened. “Alright, I’m leaving now.”
“Fine, I’m gone.” Giles grabbed his bag and left, carefully locking the door behind him. When his father got ahold of Gran, he’d have a few choice words for the woman. Leaving him with his step-brother was cruel and unusual punishment no matter what sort of trouble Severus was in.
“You’re going to be late.”
“They’re usually late; it won’t matter.” Severus muttered, throwing a few more sickles into his robe’s pocket. “Are you sure you’re going to be alright?”
“I’ll be fine.” Rupert rolled his eyes.
“Are you quite sure? Because if you’re not, I can always stay here.” Severus offered, knowing he couldn’t really afford to miss the first Hogsmeade weekend.
“I’m fine. Now go. You’re getting worse than Gran.”
“I don’t think that’s possible.” Severus frowned, checking his robe pockets one last time. He’d done his duty, offering to bring Rupert anything he wanted back. It was now out of his hands. “Alright, I’m leaving now.”
“Fine, I’m gone.” Severus grabbed his wand and left.
Rupert stared at the door, suddenly becoming aware of how very quiet it was in the room. The rest of the boys weren’t planning on being back until dinner time. The entire day was before him, with absolutely no one else around. He could do anything he wanted. This would be the perfect time to mess with the other guys’ things. Rupert grinned wickedly. He was half way to Lucius’ trunk when Slytherin survival instinct kicked in. If any of the guys noticed something was missing or moved, he’d be the first person blamed because he’d be the only person around.
Flinging himself on his bed to sulk, Rupert went over his options. He could go to the Great Hall to see if he could find a pick-up game of chess. However, the only students in the Great Hall were likely to be first years, and he just couldn’t add that sort of insult to injury. He could start his History essay, but none of the other third years were starting so early, so why should he? There was always that extra credit project in potions he could work on. He just couldn’t help but think it was wrong to work on a Saturday. He wished Sev was around so they could practice with the fencing swords down in the trophy hall, but fencing alone was not nearly as exciting. That left him with just the unopened letter from his father.
As a first year, he was so excited to see the family owl on post days. It was nice to know his father still remembered him, despite being so far away. However, it had been over a year since a letter had included anything beyond the most basic news and a new assignment from Travers. Evidently, the junior twit wanted to do his college research on curriculum development, and his father had decided Rupert would be the perfect test subject. Rupert casually waved his wand, causing the envelope to steam itself open. Pulling out the letter, he was neither disappointed nor surprised.
“Dear Rupert: Cassandra and I are working on a new locator project. Our latest lead is in Brussels. We will be traveling there next month, but Cassandra assures me that her owl can handle the distance, thus it should not impact our ability to communicate. Quentin Travers has sent the following exercise for you. I believe it is a permutation of the Rosetta Stone exercise. If you have trouble with the translation of the accompanying text, please include all your progress and questions in your next epistle. Signed, Sir Bradford Giles.”
“No one actually says epistle.” Rupert muttered, flipping to the next sheet. Sure enough, Quentin’s loopy scrawl provided a key for Egyptian and some demonic language, as well as passage of text in the demon tongue to translate. “Rosetta stone, my arse; he left off the Greek!”
Rupert was a fraction of a second away from practicing his incendiary charms on the paper, when he realized that Quentin was quite capable of accidentally sending him a translation of a demonic spell that was activated by fire. The junior watcher had on more than one occasion, accidentally triggered spell defenses when quizzing Rupert last summer, and if it weren’t for a few well placed fire-extinguishers and buckets, the classroom wing of the manor would be no more. The only course of action was to translate the stupid paper, and send it back as soon as possible, before any of Quentin’s bad luck rubbed off.
With a sigh, a groan, and a few more expletives that really would have benefited from having an audience, Rupert got up off his bed and gathered his muggle pen and paper set. He carefully warded his trunk, bed, and room before heading to the library. The library was even more abandoned than usual so it didn’t take him long to find a quiet corner in the reference section where he could access the Egyptian/English dictionaries. One benefit of attending Hogwarts was that the wizarding school actually carried a Hieroglyph/English dictionary. Undoubtedly Quentin had intended for Rupert to get the transcription of the Rosetta Stone, and translate the demon text first into Greek, and then into English. Well, Rupert had one thing to say about that, and he didn’t think the hand gestures would come across as well in a letter as they would in real life.
He had been working for nearly an hour when he felt someone watching him. He glanced up to find that sure enough someone was watching him. “What are you up to?” Lily Evans sat down across from him.
“I’m translating.” Rupert answered, looking slightly confused; as if he wasn’t quite sure he could still speak English after spending so much time staring at Ahshu- at least he thought the demon language was Ahshu considering all the diphthongs.
“Oh, I thought you were going to Hogsmeade.”
Remembering what Severus had told him about third years who didn’t go to Hogsmeade, Rupert began making excuses. “Well, I would have, but really this translation was much more important than seeing some silly shops and …”
“Really? My parents just refused to sign the permission slip.”
“Oh… mine too.” Rupert admitted.
“I’m glad to know I’m not the only one.” Lily smiled and Rupert couldn’t help but smile back. “So is Severus around here too?” Lily wrinkled her nose as though the name itself was distasteful.
“Nah, he’s at Hogsmeade.”
“Oh.” Lily frowned. “I thought you two were…”
“We are. But my father is considerably less trusting of wizarding kind than his mother.”
“Oh.” Lily didn’t really understand that explanation, but knew better than to push the topic. “So what are you translating?”
“Just something my father sent me.” Rupert muttered as Lily picked the key up off the table.
“Your father sends you letters in hieroglyphs?”
“No, he sends letters in English.” Rupert rolled his eyes. “He just sends the hieroglyphs along for added enrichment.”
“Oh, like a crossword puzzle, only more cryptic, and in… what’s the stuff at the bottom here?”
“Bless you. It’s not that other Egyptian language is it? What did our runes book call it?”
“No. It’s Ahshu.”
“No, the language is called Ahshu.” Lily stared at Rupert as if he
were speaking in the demonic tongue. “Oh never mind.”
“And I thought my family was odd.”
“Yes, well.” Rupert pressed the bridge of his nose; he could already feel a headache coming on.
“Well, I just thought I’d stop by and say hello, since you were here and I was here, and no one else was here…” Lily trailed off, glancing around at the otherwise abandoned library. “I should probably let you get back to your sneezes.”
She had already stood up by the time Rupert figured out what she meant. “No wait!” She looked at him expectantly. He actually wasn’t quite sure why he called after her; he just knew he would rather not spend the rest of the day with nothing but the dictionary to keep him company. “It’s really not that important for me to work on this.”
“Oh?” Lily tried to mask the hopefulness in her voice.
“Yeah. I mean, it’s a dead language, so it’ll still be there after dinner, right?”
“So, um, were you in the library for any particular reason?”
“You mean, besides avoiding the first years in the Great Hall?” Lily shook her head.
“By any chance, would you be interested in taking a stroll around the lake? There really aren’t going to be many good weather days left this year.”
“That would be wonderful.” Lily grinned. “Oh, but I need to put my books back in my dorm. Can I meet you at the front hall in fifteen minutes?”
“Front hall, fifteen minutes- it’s a date.” Rupert grinned, thankful for the distraction from what was looking eerily more like a blood ritual translation than he really wanted to cope with on a Saturday afternoon.
“A date?” Lily froze.
Rupert stuttered for a moment. “Right, you know, a date, as in a time and a place, where two or so people meet, and thus…” He blushed. “Walk?”
“Right, around the lake. Not a date, just a walk, but a friendly walk because it’s really quite nice outside.” Rupert rambled as he packed up his books, glancing furtively at Lily. Not that there was anything wrong with Lily, in fact there were quite a few things right with the girl from his perspective, he just wasn’t sure he liked her in the dating sense.
“Of course, a friendly walk date, but not a date.” Lily nodded, breathing a sigh of relief. Actually, as far as guys from Hogwarts went, Rupert wasn’t all bad. She just wasn’t quite sure she knew him well enough to date, but walking, she could do.
“Right. Fifteen minutes?”