It had been a busy morning at the shop, business picking up once Anya had left for her early lunch. It was nearly eleven by the time Giles had a moment to brew a pot of tea and look through the morning paper. Making sure there were no customers hidden in the back shelves, he settled down at the research table, red pen at the ready.
Unlike most people, Giles read the newspaper from the back to the front. It was a habit he had picked up when he started working at the high school, and he still found it the most efficient means to get the information he was interested in. The Sunnydale Press seemed to be only slightly more aware than the local police department, so the headlines tended to focus more on trite issues such as the junior high soccer team’s success, rather than more critical issues such as, say a mad wizard on the loose. There were hints of the bizarre supernatural in the local news, and it had proved to be a valuable resource at times, but for the most part the editors avoided anything that could cause a stir, forcing Giles to dig in the back pages.
As he flipped to the second page of obituaries he sighed. “Oh dear, that is a pity.” His pen hovered over the picture of Ms. Moran, wondering if it was worth highlighting her death. Yes, she was an effective teacher who was willing to stand up to Snyder at the faculty meetings. Yes, he was rather curious as to what would finally get Ms. Moran after she had taught at Sunnydale High for nearly 40 years. However, considering her age and her smoking habit, it was highly unlikely that she was killed by vampires. “Rest in peace, Ruth.” He muttered before moving to the next obit. “Aha, barbecue accident.” He circled the entry.
He scanned several more pages of the weekly obituaries before reaching the police blotter. “Hello, what’s this?” He leaned forward and reread the little blip. An apartment complex near his own was evacuated that morning due to a mysterious cloud of gas. “While residents expressed concern, no one needed medical attention. However, one resident reported that their cat was still missing. If anyone has seen Fluffy, please call…” Giles rolled his eyes. If the cloud was what he thought it was, no one would be seeing Fluffy any time soon.
“Ah, Anya, you’re back early.”
“Yes I am.” Anya pouted.
“Is everything alright?”
“I don’t see why carbon is so much more expensive when it’s been compressed for eons. At this rate, I should have Xander buy a lump of coal and sit on it. It would be faster.”
“Should I know what you’re talking about?” Giles looked up from the newspaper.
“No, of course not. You’re a man. Men never understand.”
“Ah yes, of course.” Giles nodded. “Are you back from lunch officially?”
“Yes.” Anya grumbled.
“Alright. I need to go look in on Severus, if that’s alright?”
“Fine, go, be miserable.”
“Thank you.” Giles picked up the newspaper, tucking it under his
arm, and headed for the door. “Have a lovely afternoon. I should be back in a few hours.”
What is Hogwarts like during the summer? It must be odd being the only person in Slytherin. Of course you’re probably being remarkably productive, what, without Rookie interrupting you every ten minutes. Are you working on any exciting potions with Jiggers? When he was here for dinner last year, he had mentioned something about a life elixir. Is that what you’re studying?
Life here is dreadfully dull. Quentin is being a git as usual. His goal is to have me translate the Bible into ten different languages by the end of the summer. I’ve just started Exodus, and am ready to pull my hair out. The only bright point of the day is sparring practice. Quentin may be better at picking out details of fighting styles, but I still knock him down at least twice as often as he gets me.
You’re an idiot. The elixir of life is an immortality potion that was supposedly created by Merlin and then lost. No one has ever successfully created the elixir, as far as I know, and even if it was possible, I doubt Jigger would waste his time pursuing such fanciful creations. Professor Jigger is brilliant. We’re working on several different potions focusing on purifying aether. They’re highly volatile, of course, but they would have numerous applications if we find an acceptable solution.
For your information, I am not in Slytherin during the summer. There are six students remaining through the summer for apprenticeships, and therefore they have given us our own suite of rooms.
As for Quentin, I don’t have any immediate suggestions. However, I did notice there was a volume on wandless hexes in my mother’s side of the library. Try the third case over, second shelf.
Thank you for the suggestion, but your mother has reorganized her bookshelves. Luckily, Quentin has been surprisingly interesting the past few days. Evidently, the Watcher’s Council is in a bit of a stir over a rash of unexplained deaths in Great Britain. Judging from what my father says, all available men have been assigned to researching the menace. I doubt that he actually meant to include Quentin in that count; however, Travers is insistent that his son crack the case, and therefore, we have been spending our time researching.
The so-called demon is rather unusual. It evidently shocks the victim and then sucks their soul out, thus killing them. Sometimes it tortures the victims before this, but so far they all end in a state of permanent petrifaction. Additionally, a green cloud of gas develops around the attack site. Looking at the clouds in the pictures, I wouldn’t have been surprised if they were some wizard playing a joke. After all, at least to me, they all look like a skull sticking its tongue out. However, the accompanying deaths are not a joke by any means.
Anyway, at least it gives me a break from the Bible. If I have to translate the word ‘begat’ one more time, I think I’ll go mad.
Ru? Just because Evan gives you a nickname, does not mean you have to accept it. Leave cute nicknames to the Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs.
From your comments, I think the Watcher’s Council must be a bit behind on their understanding of metaphysics. Anyone with half a brain would know that sucking a soul out of a person would not be enough to kill the person. Take, for example, the dementor. It will suck out a person’s soul, but the body that remains is fully functioning. As far as the green gas is concerned, has anyone managed to test a sample for the gas in case it is a potions prank that just happens to be in extraordinarily bad taste? If you can send me a sample, perhaps I can convince Professor Jigger to take a look at it.
How is your work with hot air going? Exploded any cauldrons lately? If so, I hope you wrote down the steps, so we can try it on the Gryffindors next year. I still can’t believe no one caught Potter and Black for what they did at the leaving feast! I can understand the Ravenclaws being sore losers to us after losing by a point, but Gryffindor wasn’t even in the running. Do you suppose they’re bribing Dumbledore or something to get away with stealing the house cup?
I tried bringing up your point about the dementors, but evidently since they are not included in the Encyclopedia of Demons, they must not exist. At least, that’s what Quentin said, even after I showed him that passage of the DADA textbook. However, when I was looking up dementors, I ran across some spells that looked like they might also produce a green cloud. Do you know if there are any potions that can do this?
There are several potions that can produce a green cloud. Do you have any other information? For example, how large is this cloud? What is the duration that it’s visible? Does it always form the same shape? Is there an accompanying smell?
I haven’t really been working on potions that produce clouds so much as potions that dispel clouds. We actually have one potential formulation that is looking promising. Professor Jigger thinks he will be able to present it to the Ministry’s Board of Potions by the end of the summer holiday. Unfortunately, the background documentation necessary to get a new potion approved is extensive, so I will probably be too busy to correspond for the rest of the summer. I hope things are going well for you.
Bugger all. Quentin blew a gasket when I mentioned that I had asked your opinion on the manner of the green cloud. He was especially angry when I suggested that it could be humans, or rather wizards, causing the murders rather than a never before heard of species of demon. I’ve now been banished to working on the Bible translations all day. It’s awful.
As if that’s not bad enough, Father and Cassandra are going to Buenos Aires at the end of the month. This means that we will be spending the last week of vacation at the Lestranges. Actually, having Gran take us to the station won’t be so bad. I’m more annoyed by having to turn in my translation work a week before I had originally intended. Best of luck with your potion.
Considering the circumstances, I will not be returning to London before the school year. Please fetch my supplies along with yours and bring them for me. I’m sure my mother will provide you with whatever
funds you need.