Monty the Python
Giles briefly pondered the likelihood of getting a speeding ticket as he headed for the Magic Box. On the one hand, it was after dark so the odds of the police being around were close to zero. On the other hand, it was just like the Sunnydale Police to catch every traffic violation known to man while missing all the unexplained deaths. Deciding he really wasn’t that eager to train anyway, he slowed down for the four way stop.
As he waited the mandatory three seconds before continuing, Giles ran the previous conversation over again in his mind. Just what exactly was Severus implying in all of his word games? It almost sounded like he equally expected both the aurors and the death eaters to come after him. Surely, whichever side he was on wouldn’t be pursuing him like a felon. Of course, this was Severus, with the social skills of a wombat. It was conceivable that even his friends were his enemies.
Or, perhaps he was playing both sides against each other.
If Severus was in fact acting as a spy, it was quite possible that his injury occurred when his cover was blown, and he would be a liability to both sides if he were to be discovered. That option was looking more and more plausible considering Sev’s aversion to speaking anything out loud. Of course, that option was impossible to test because even if Giles was to present his case, Sev would have to deny it to avoid leaving any evidence.
The only person Giles could trust Severus with now was Gran. While the younger Lestranges followed Voldemort’s lead, the older generation had remained carefully neutral. Evidently the memories of their flight from Transylvania during the Grindewald era still remained fresh in that generation. Surely Gran would have the answers; he just needed to wait for his father to call.
“Oh, dear lord.” Giles muttered as he realized that it would just be his luck that his father would call when Severus was alone in the house. Would his father hang up as soon as Severus picked up? Would Severus even answer the phone? Perhaps his brother wouldn’t even recognize the machine. After all, it hardly resembled the antique ivory rotary dial monstrosity that his father kept in the study.
As Giles reached the back parking space for the shop, he took a deep breath. It was ridiculous for him to get so worked up over what might happen when he was out. Most likely, his father would not call back in the next few hours. In fact it was still early morning in England. Most likely his father was not even awake.
With a sigh of relief, Giles opened the door, only to freeze. He could swear he heard giggling. Stepping further into the store, his fears were confirmed. Hearing a snort he knew had to come from the slayer, he approached the back room carefully. Two voices were clearly coming from his office. If their comments were any indication, he had a good idea just what they were laughing at.
“Oh my gosh! They named it Monty, look!” Willow giggled pointing out a picture to her friend.
Giles didn’t even need to see the book to know exactly which picture they were gawking at.
“I’m glad you find my childhood humiliation so entertaining.” Giles said from the doorway.
The giggles stopped as Willow attempted to hide the book behind her back. “I thought you said slayer hearing…”
“Oops?” Buffy winced.
“Giles, I can explain.” Willow started.
“Please, Willow, I’d rather you not. I said, quite clearly in my opinion, that I’d rather you not read that volume. You went against my wishes and invaded my privacy. I really don’t think there is much to say beyond that, do you?”
“No sir.” Willow mumbled.
“Then, if you would be so kind as to put the book back in my desk, I would appreciate it.” He knew he should be getting very mad at this point, or taking the high road by teaching Willow a lesson, but at the moment all he felt was incredibly old and tired.
“I’m sorry.” Both of the girls mumbled shuffling out of his office.
“Yes, well, I suppose Pandora said much the same thing.” Buffy looked confused by that, but Willow had the good grace to blush at that.
“I’m sorry.” Willow added as she passed by him.
“Indeed.” Giles shut the lights to his office off and pulled the door behind him. “I suppose I’m partially at fault for not locking my desk drawer.” This time Buffy blushed. “Oh, for heaven’s sake, you broke my desk just to access a few photos? Are the two of you really so bored to resort to such measures?”
“Well, it really is no fair that you got to see us make fools of ourselves when we were younger, but we’ve never seen you when you were young.” Buffy halfheartedly argued back.
“First of all, no one ever claimed life was fair. Second of all, you should hardly be making a claim on maturity now if that’s how you behave. And lastly, perhaps I have my own reasons for keeping my pictures private.”
“Is it because the pictures move?” Willow’s hand flew up to cover her mouth, but it was too late; the words were already said.
“How much did you see?”
“Well…” Willow winced.
“We stopped at the snowflake dance thingy.” Buffy answered. He watched her mouth “Monty?” to Willow.
“Lovely.” Giles sighed, wondering if his day could get worse. Absently he knocked on the wooden bookshelves as he passed them, knowing how easily fate could be tempted on the hellmouth.
“Giles, why did the pictures move?”
“That’s a very long story.”
“Will you tell it to us?” Willow’s curiosity got the better of her.
Giles thought about it for a moment. His first inclination was to refuse her request. However, it was quite possible that a wizard, or maybe several, would be visiting Sunnydale in the near future in search of his brother. It would not hurt to have a few more pairs of eyes on the lookout for suspicious wizards. “Well, since the two of you seem at such loose ends, how about you make a few grible traps first.”
“Then you’ll tell us?”
“I’ll consider it.”
“I’m glad I’m only in my third year.” Rastaban muttered from his bed.
“Is that so?” Damon replied, not really paying attention to Lestrange. He was more preoccupied with sorting through his trunk.
“Very.” Rastaban nodded. “Did you hear the girls at dinner tonight?”
“A bit like a broken record, weren’t they?” Rupert said with a grin. The rest of the Slytherin boys stared at him oddly. Once again, Rupert had used a mugglism inadvertently. “I mean, they were a bit obsessed, weren’t they?”
“One would think someone had actually invited them to the Ball.” Lucius smirked.
“The fifth year girls were even worse though.” Rastaban groaned. “I do not envy Rudy one bit.”
“Oh that’s right; Rudolphus is going to the ball this year. What lucky lady will be on his arm?” Lucius asked, more because he liked to stay on top of any gossip than because he really cared for his second cousins.
“I think mother set him up with Bellatrix Black.”
“Ugh!” All the boys made gagging noises.
“She’s not that bad.” Rastaban offered weakly.
“She’s worse.” Damon offered, pulling a sack out of his trunk. “Found it!”
“At least she’s a Slytherin.”
“And for good reason.” Rookie cringed, remembering the last time he had crossed her path. “You might suggest to your brother that he wear his quidditch pads under his robes.”
“It’s a little too late for that.” Rastaban shrugged.
Evan strolled into the room, fresh out of the shower. “Good evening, boys.”
“What’s got you so chipper, Rosier?” Rupert asked what was on the rest of the boys’ minds.
“I, my dear friends, am going to the Yule Ball tonight.”
“Oh? A desperate fifth year asked you?” Severus smirked, not
even glancing up from the journal he was reading.
“No, I’m going as the official event photographer.” Evan said proudly.
“So you’re going to be the only wizard there without a witch on his arm. Doesn’t sound so impressive to me.” Damon shrugged.
“Better to sneak food from the snack table that way.” Evan grinned, slipping into his dress robes. “And, I don’t have to follow curfew tonight.”
“Still, I would never want to be responsible for taking photos at such an event.” Lucius decided to add his opinion. “For the rest of your life, every witch who thinks she looked fat or ugly in the yearbook is going to blame you, even if she is fat and ugly.”
“Well, then I’ll just have to make sure no one looks fat or ugly in my pictures.” Evan shrugged blasé to any of Lucius’ concerns. This was his big shot to prove himself to the editorial board and move up the yearbook ladder.
“Then you better stay away from Rudy and his date.” Rastaban teased.
“I wasn’t planning on getting anywhere near Black tonight, not after she broke my tripod last week. That is one frightening girl.” Evan straightened his tie. “All right gents, I’ll see you tomorrow.” He grabbed his camera, winked, and left.
“Is it just me, or has he become downright frightening with that camera.” Rupert muttered, watching Evan take off down the hall.
“Nutters, he is.” Damon agreed. “But, it could be worse. If someone has to be the yearbook photographer, at least it’s a Slytherin. Could you imagine how awful the yearbook would look if a Gryffindor was in charge.”
“Merlin! That’s a scary thought. Hand Pettigrew a camera and the entire yearbook would be nothing but Potter and Black.”
“Did you see him in potions last week? James P-p-p-potter, will you please be my p-p-p-partner?” Rookie got down on one knee as though he was proposing. The rest of the boys laughed, although it was unclear whether they were laughing with Rookie, or at him.
“At least we won’t have to see a single Gryff for the next four weeks.” Rastaban leaned back on his bed. “Speaking of which, any of you have exciting plans for the hols?”
“Sleep.” Rupert answered with a grin.
“A lofty goal, and yet one I doubt you’ll attain.” Lucius grinned. “Did you hear Lord Voldemort was going to be in London for the holidays?”
“Is your family going on another of his retreats?” Damon asked. Severus raised his head from his reading to hear the answer.
“Well, I doubt we’ll spend the entire holiday at his salon, but really he does have the most fascinating ideas for revitalizing the wizarding world.”
“Really? I thought my mother just fancied him because of his perfect smile.” Rastaban teased. “If you’re going to the talks before New Years, I might run into you there.”
“Fabulous.” Lucius said, as though it really was quite the opposite. “And will the Lestrange-Snape-Giles family be joining us?”
“I believe our plans take us to St. Urics.” Severus answered.
“I’ve never heard of it.”
“I’m not surprised.” Rupert muttered.
“The island has been in the Giles family for many generations.” Severus glared at Rupert, who simply shrugged.
“Really?” Damon frowned as he shuffled piles on his bed. “I’ve heard that name before.”
“Probably from a chocolate frog card. I must have at least 20 Uric the Oddballs.” Rastaban offered.
“No, I mean the island.”
“There is a facility on the island that my father’s associates use.” Rupert watched Damon carefully.
“Maybe that’s it, although I can’t imagine any relative of mine working with your father. He is a muggle, after all.” Damon looked puzzled but ready to overlook the anomaly. Rupert gave Severus a knowing wink.
“So, what are your plans, Travers?” Lucius turned to Damon.
“Oh? I don’t really know. I’m just trying to pack here.” He pointed at the mess he had dumped from his trunk onto his bed. “I suppose it would make sense to wrap the gifts from Hogsmeade now rather than once I get home.”
“Why don’t you just have a house elf take care of the wrapping?” Lucius asked, as if every household had an army of elves.
“I’d rather not risk mother surprising the elves; she’s a bit nosy around this time of year.” Damon answered. “Oh, but look what I found here.” He held up a bag from Zonko’s.
“Is that from last month’s trip?” Rookie’s eyes lit up. “What did you get?”
“I don’t remember.” Damon dumped the bag onto his bed. “It looks like there’s some dungbombs, some fireworks, and a snake in the grass.”
“What’s that?” Rupert asked, once again bitter that his father refused to sign the form.
“Oh, this is new.” Damon held up the little sponge pellet. “Evidently, you just add water and you get an instant five foot long python. Supposedly it acts like a normal snake, until it dehydrates back into the pellet.”
“I was looking at that last time at Zonko’s.” Rookie smiled eagerly. “They’re really lifelike. I wonder how they do it.”
“It’s probably based on the kelpie mortwood infusion base.” Severus answered. The rest of the boys just stared at him. “At least, that would be a logical place to start.”
“However it works, I know I can’t bring it home. If mother catches me with this stuff…” Damon frowned.
“Well, since you mentioned it…” The boys could see the wheels turning behind Lucius’ charming smile. “I really think we could help Evan’s photojournalism career by providing him with some opportunities for action shots tonight.”
“Action photographs, as in fireworks, for instance?” Damon looked thoughtful. “It really would add to the mood of the Yule Ball.”
“That it would.” Lucius smiled.
“Count me out.” Severus said, as he usually did.
“Come on, Snape. Don’t you want one last fling before we leave? We can pin it on the Gryffs and the train leaves in the morning, so they probably won’t catch us before we’re gone.”
Severus weighed the risks. On one hand, crashing the Yule Ball would probably land the group in Dumbledore’s office. On the other hand, if Lucius and Damon were already on board, trying to remain neutral would probably result in a dungbomb in his trunk. “Well, I suppose, just this one last time.” Severus muttered, knowing he’d regret it in the morning.