“Oh, I’m sorry I didn’t realize there was anyone in here.” A nurse apologized, waking Giles from his brief slumber at his brother’s bedside.
“No, it’s quite alright. I don’t want to interefere with your activities; please come in if you need the room.” Giles blinked as his eyes slowly focused on the matronly woman in the doorway.
“It will just take me a few minutes to update his charts.” Giles winced as the nurse turned on the bright overhead lights. She picked up a clipboard from the foot of the bed and began noting down numbers from various beeping monitors. “Well, his pulse and blood pressure are getting stronger. That’s a good sign.” She muttered to herself. She meddled with the IV bag, tutting to herself and adding a few more notes to the clipboard. She moved to the door, and Giles respectfully stood up. “Oh, don’t worry, dear. I’ll be right back with a new drip.” She smiled, and Giles tried not to notice the cracking in the caked-on makeup.
When she returned, Giles asked a question that had been on his mind for awhile. “Excuse me, but when he was brought in, well, I was wondering, what happened to his things?”
“What’s that dear?”
“Well, I was wondering what happened to his clothes and belongings.”
“Ah, well, we had to take them off to do the surgeries. Don’t worry; we’ll give them back to him when he checks out. However, I doubt he’ll be able to make heads of tails from his shirt.”
“I was just wondering if there was perhaps a …” Giles coughed nervously “stick, amongst his things?”
“Well, a baton really.” Giles blushed. “You see, he was quite
attached to his … baton. I think he will want to have it readily available when he wakes up.”
“Yes, ahem, he’s a big classical music enthusiast; he likes to conduct along with any song he hears on the radio.” Giles was hoping the Sunnydale syndrome would make this sound the least bit plausible.
“Well, I can check for you.” The woman shrugged, with a look that clearly said she thought Giles was crazy, but was used to dealing with distressed families.
“Thank you; that would be very helpful.” Giles smiled. The smile seemed to work, as the nurse gave him a wink and left the room before replacing the drip bag.
She returned a few minutes later carrying a plastic shopping bag. “These are the personal items for Steven Giles. Let’s see if we can find your brother’s baton.” Giles winced as the nurse pawed through his brother’s belongings. He peaked over the bag’s edge, hoping to spot the wand before they accidentally uncovered anything less savory.
Finally he saw a glimpse of the dark wood. “Ah, there we go- his …baton.” He reached into the bag and pulled out the wand.
“Well, I’ll be darned.” The nurse looked in amusement as Giles gave it an experiment flick.
“You don’t mind if I keep it out for him, just in case he…” Giles nodded towards the sleeping patient.
“You go right ahead, dear.” The nurse smiled sympathetically. She clipped a new saline bag into place, tossing the old one into the disposal bin. “So, is that accent real? Are you really Australian?”
Giles coughed with surprise. “I'm British, not Australian.”
“Well, well. We don’t get many British people in here. I don’t suppose you know Hugh Grant?”
“I’m sorry madam, I can’t say we’ve been introduced.” Giles replied, sinking back into his chair, suddenly feeling very tired and old.
“Just thought I’d ask; you being British and all. How about Paul McCartney, from the Beatles?” The nurse asked hopefully, straightening a few of the tubes connecting Severus to the array of monitors.
“I believe my father has made his acquaintance, but I personally have not.”
“Well, isn’t that something.” The nurse sounded impressed.
Giles decided discretion was the better part of valor, and refrained from repeating just what his father thought of musicians and riff-raff that had been knighted for their entertainment value. The nurse stayed in the room a few minutes longer, occasionally running a hand through her hair and glancing at Giles as if trying to decide if it was worth the effort to try flirting, until she ran out of things to check. She excused herself and left Giles alone with his thoughts and Severus’ wand.
“Now boys, we are not going to dawdle, gawk, or fuss. We will only get what is on your school lists. If you misbehave in any way, shape, or form, I am returning you to your mother and father whether you’ve gotten your supplies or not. Is that understood?”
“Yes, Mrs. Lestrange.”
“Please, Rupert, call me Gran.” Mrs. Lestrange ordered. She had watched her daughter and son-in-law try to raise the boys as two separate families under the same roof now for nearly two years, and it was wearing on her patience. If those two had spent half as much time fawning over their children as they did fawning over each other, perhaps they would have noticed that they were deepening the rift between the boys rather than helping. She had reached the point where she had to interfere, if only to prove to her sister-in-law that her family was much better than the other branch of Lestranges, hence the shopping expedition.
Gran rolled her eyes. “Right, first things first. Let’s get your uniforms.” She steered them through Diagon Alley to Madam Malkin’s.
“Ah, Mrs. Lestrange, what brings you here today? We just got in some new bolts of Chinese silk.” The shopkeeper was very attentive to one of her best customers. Old families and their old galleons were always the best customers to appease.
“My grandsons will be starting Hogwarts in the fall and they need their uniforms. Additionally, I would like them both to find appropriate formal robes. I daresay Cassandra has not brought them in to be fitted lately, and you know how fast boys grow.”
“Of course.” The shopkeeper smiled, not bothering to mention that the shorter boy had not been in since his mother remarried and the other boy had probably never been properly measured if his current clothes were anything to go by. Undoubtedly, Mrs. Lestrange was aware of the deficiencies, and her checkbook would do everything in its power to rectify the situation.
“May I leave them here while I attend to a few of my own errands?” Mrs. Lestrange asked, already knowing that Madam Malkin would never dream of refusing her.
“But of course. Now dearies, run along to the back. We need to get you measured.” Madam Malkin nodded at Mrs. Lestrange and followed the boys back to the dressing rooms.
Severus, remembering his previous visit, went immediately to the
raised platform in the back and held out his arms. Rupert hung back a little, eyeing the bolts of fabric in every shade imaginable exchanging places seemingly at random, while to the side of the shop a pair of young seamstress witches commanded an army of scissors, pins, and needles with their wands. He had seen a few spells performed at home, but nothing to this degree. It was baffling that people would rely on their magic for such menial tasks as cutting a straight line.
“Severus Snape, or should I say Severus Giles now,” Madam Malkin tittered as she approached the modeling stage, “how was that last robe we fitted?”
“It was alright, I suppose.” Severus answered, trying to ignore the tape measure tickling his legs.
“Your grandmother has asked for another set of formal robes, would you like a similar style or shall we try something new? Hmm?”
Severus couldn’t decide whether she was patronizing him because he was a child or because she was naturally like that to all her customers. “I would prefer something a tad longer, and the material was of too coarse a weave last time.”
“Ah, so your mother has taught you something of fashion after all.” The woman winked at Severus, causing him to blush. “Well, I think we can arrange something. Is there a particular color you’d like?”
“Are you sure? You can have any color you’d like.” She smiled sweetly.
“The last time I checked, black was a perfectly suitable color for
formal robes.” Severus responded curtly.
“Well, if you are positive that you want black, I am sure we can find something for you.” The seamstress sighed and waved her wand towards the shelf of black fabrics. “No, no, perhaps, no, perhaps, quite possibly, no.” She scanned through each of her blacks, sending several bolts flying back to their shelves. Rupert barely missed an errant bolt of black velvet that brushed his ear on the way to the shelf.
Rupert watched everything Severus did carefully so that he didn’t embarrass himself when it was his turn. Soon enough, Severus was dismissed from the stand, and told not to wander far. Rupert took his place and the whole process began again, with considerably more giggling, fussing, and indecision.
Severus found a quiet space under the bolts where he could watch for Gran out the window and avoid any stray yards of fabric zooming overhead. He hadn’t sat for more than five minutes when the bell rang, indicating patrons entering the store. Hearing a familiar voice, he ducked farther under the rack, praying that the newcomers wouldn’t spot him.
“Ah, Mrs. Black, in for the fittings, are you lot? I’ll be with you in just a minute.” Madam Malkin called to the woman who was overseeing a herd of children.
“I just wanted to show Bella and Narci your new shipment before they had to try on those awful robes. Not that it’s your fault dear, but I must say, Andromeda has the most awful taste in all things. I’m sure if I had daughters, they would never choose bridesmaid robes in red and gold; that combination flatters nobody.” As Mrs. Black commented on all manners of fashion to her nieces, her sons were wandering off in boredom.
Severus heard a “shh!” right before his ankle was grabbed and he was dragged out from the racks. “Well, look what we have here.” Regulus smirked.
“It looks like a Snivellus.” Sirius replied, a wicked gleam in his eye. “I thought you turned out to be a squib.”
“That’s not what I heard.” Regulus sneered. “I heard you dropped out of Hogsmeade Day and went to live with the muggles because you’re a squib.”
“That’s not true.” Severus scrambled to his feet, only to be pushed back down. “I’m a wizard!”
“I’ll get you.” Severus went charging towards Sirius, only to be grabbed by Regulus.
“You and what army.”
“Me.” The quiet voice came from directly behind them. Severus and Regulus turned to see Sirius being held by a boy about his height. The boy was standing directly behind the youngest Black, and had his left arm wrapped around Sirius so tightly he couldn’t move his arms.
“Who do you think you are?” Regulus scowled.
“I’m Severus’ brother, and no one is allowed to pick on him, ‘cept me.”
“Who says?” Regulus dared him.
“Um, Reg, he’s got a wand.” Sirius muttered.
“Nuhuh, he’s never even been to Hogwarts, or I’d have seen him before. He’s bluffing.”
“Your brother doesn’t seem too quick.” Rupert muttered in Sirius’ ear, and smiled wickedly as Sirius arched his back uncomfortably.
“Siri, if he’s related to Snivellus, then you can take him.” Reg egged his brother on. The boast was cut short as Severus managed to kick Regulus in the shin and wiggle out of the hold.
Just then, the door to Madam Malkin’s opened. “Severus, Rupert, are you two finished here?” A shrill voice cut across all the noise of the store. The two boys ran for Mrs. Lestrange as though she were base in a game of tag. They stayed at her side as Madam Malkin discussed the delivery details with their Gran, and as she politely conversed with Mrs. Black.
As they left the store, Severus leaned over to whisper to Rupert, “Why did Sirius think you had a wand?”
“Daft git can’t tell a wand from a finger tip.” Rupert winked at his brother while demonstrating how he had held Sirius hostage at “wandpoint”.
“Brilliant.” Severus muttered before schooling his features. “Of course you realize you’ve just antagonized one of the most prestigious families in the wizarding world. At Hogwarts, they will undoubtedly make your life miserable. The Blacks are notorious for their vengeance. That was a very foolish thing you did, and it’ll be a wonder if you don’t get sorted into Gryffindor.” Severus sneered.
“Thank you would have sufficed.” Rupert rolled his eyes, and crossed to the opposite side of the imposing matron leading them straight for Ollivanders.
“I hope you two didn’t get into any trouble at Madam Malkin’s.” Medea muttered knowingly.
“Oh no, ma’am.” They insisted.
“Good, because it is now time for you to get your wands like proper young wizards.” The boys eagerly followed her into a dusty store lined with narrow boxes.
“Ah, more new students.” Mr. Ollivander greeted the boys as another family exited, a blonde girl clutching a narrow box tightly.
“Who do we have here?” He glanced at Rupert, squinted, then turned to stare at Severus. “I know just what to get for you.” He wandered off to the back of the store, humming something that could have been a cross of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and Ravel’s Bolero.
“Is he alright?” Rupert whispered to Severus, who pointedly ignored him.
“You have your father’s brow and your mother’s chin. Stubborn and yet subtle, you are undoubtedly aspiring to be a potion’s master, are you not, Mr. Snape?” Ollivander called from the back room.
“Of course.” Severus replied proudly.
“Of course.” The voice was much closer, and then suddenly right in front of the pair of boys. “Try this.”
Severus picked up the dark wooden stick and tapped it lightly against the counter. Rupert watched in awe as a pale green glow emitted from the tip and traveled up Severus arm.
“Yes, of course, just as I thought. Hawthorn, firm twelve inches with a core of moonstone, perfect for balancing volatile solutions- your father had one just like that.” Severus’ face remained its impenetrable mask, but Rupert could see the twinkle in the boy’s eyes, and knew that he wouldn’t hear the end of it for the next few weeks.
“Now, you, young man, what is your name?”
“Rupert, Rupert Giles.”
“Muggle born, but not raised, what a peculiar and difficult combination.” Mr. Ollivander’s pronouncement seemed to be quite the astute observation, as most of the standard combinations rejected Rupert before he could even try a swish. At the fifteenth box, Mr. Ollivander suddenly perked up, and went running down one of the aisles.
Rupert tried to follow him a few feet, but couldn’t see where he had gotten off to. “Here, try this.” The voice came from behind him. Rupert jumped and turned to find a wand being shoved in his face.
“Are you sure about this?” Rupert asked, feeling there was something wrong about the blood hued stick.
“Oh yes, I remember now who you are. This is your destiny, Mr. Giles.” Ollivander’s eyes twinkled with glee.
“If you insist.” Rupert picked the wand from Mr. Ollivander with his fingertips, wincing at the thought of another explosion. Instead he suddenly felt a warmth reaching into his bones. “What is this?” He asked in awe.
“That, Mr. Giles, is California redwood, thirteen inch, swishy, with a core of vampire blood. Most traditional families find it … unlucky,” Mr. Ollivander whispered the last word as if enjoying the drama of the moment, “but, the source of that wand has fared quite well in the States, where they enjoy the unexpected.” Mr. Ollivander winked at Rupert.
“Thank you, I think?” Rupert backed away from the wandsmith slowly, until he was safely behind Mrs. Lestrange.
“Boys, please wait outside for a minute, and don’t wander off.” Mrs. Lestrange instructed.
As they left the shop, Severus hissed. “Your wand is a freak wand.”
“It’s just special, is all.” Rupert carefully observed the red stick, not quite sure he trusted it.
“It’s not for proper wizards like mine. My father had a wand just like mine.”
“Yes, I was there when he told you that.” Rupert rolled his eyes. “He didn’t say it was better, just common.”
“Well, at least its not bloody Gryff colors.”
“I’m going to save the world with my wand while yours rots.”
“Just you wait. My wand will be better than yours. Twenty years from now, my wand will be ruling the world, and yours will be sorting kiwis and papayas for you.”
“Ten galleons says that's not so.”
“Proper wizards don’t make wagers.” Severus scolded. “Especially with muggles destined to lose.”