A Sheep Dog by Any Other Name...
The sharp ring of the telephone distracted Giles from his mental wanderings. As he answered the phone, he could see Severus try to grab for a wand that wasn’t there in panic. It really was a bit cruel to hide the wand, but on the other hand, his brother always did have an itchy trigger finger. “Hello, Giles residence.”
“Hey Giles! I’m glad I caught you. I was afraid your brother was going to answer the phone, and I so didn’t want to have to deal with Mr. Grumpy today.”
“Hello Buffy.” Giles watched as Snape rolled his eyes and groaned.
“Okay, so are you ready for my patrol report now, or do you need to grab a pen or something?”
“Yeah, you know, that thing where I recount all the not so exciting adventures of the night before and you just go hmm and write stuff down?”
“I am well aware of what a patrol report is. However, unless you saw something after we set the traps last night, there really isn’t much to add. Certainly we could wait until the training session tonight.”
“Well, what if I saw something uber-wiggy?”
“Did you see anything uber-wiggy?” Giles tried not to notice the pointed look coming from the couch. It wasn’t his fault if Severus didn’t adapt well to the vernacular.
“Me? Not so much.” Buffy paused for a moment as if deciding whether she would really say what was on her mind. “Okay, it’s like this. I had lunch with Riley, and it was going really well. Then he got all serious, and well he said some stuff.”
“While I appreciate your renewed dedication to our watcher-slayer relationship, are you sure you shouldn’t be saving this conversation for Willow’s ears?”
“Giles!” Buffy squealed, causing him to wince. “I didn’t mean like that stuff! I meant Hellmouthy stuff.”
“Oh, I see.”
“No you don’t, I haven’t gotten to that part of the story yet. Geesh, stay with the picture here.”
“Right, you were saying?” Giles gave up wondering how many metaphors had been mixed in the conversation so far.
“It was guy’s night out last night, and Riley and his friends were sort of reliving the glory days I guess. So they were staking out the Red Cross blood drop off van, and nothing happened.”
“What a fascinating story.” Giles deadpanned. While he wasn’t exactly thrilled with the remnants of the Initiative remaining in Sunnydale, he wasn’t about to interfere with their patrols if they stayed away from his group. “I suppose this is the point where they run across some sort of obscure prophecy which they are incapable of translating?”
“No. that’s just it. Nothing happened. Zip, zilch, nada. When have I ever watched the drop-off without running into at least one newbie? Like never.”
“Ah, I can see why you’re concerned. Are you sure they didn’t just miss any vampires that could have been around? Perhaps they made too much noise?”
“Pshaw, like that would stop a newbie. Come on, Giles, you’ve got to admit these guys are good enough to spot a newbie from across the road.”
“Are you suggesting that something at the hospital is scaring away the vampires?”
“I don’t know.” Buffy shrugged. “I just thought it would make your watcher senses all tingly.”
“Well, it is an interesting clue that perhaps we should pursue, but I don’t see why you had to call me at home to mention it. Surely it could wait for tonight when…”
“Yeah, about tonight? Mom wants to know if I can watch Dawn for a few hours since she’s got to drop off some painting in L.A.”
“I know, I know, sacred duty, yadda, yadda, but do you know how hard it is to be an independent woman of the 21st century, trying to balance family, school, and duty? Not to mention having a life, I haven’t seen my boyfriend in like…”
“Well, yeah, but lunch doesn’t count. I’m just saying if you could be a bit more flexible, and do the whole run down thingy now, so I have time to watch Dawn…”
“Buffy, you know how I feel about …”
“It would mean an awful lot to mom.” Buffy played her trump card.
“Well, I suppose Joyce would have trouble finding another sitter at this late date.” Giles capitulated. After all, he did owe Joyce a favor after she rescued him at the hospital the other day.
“Thanks! You rock.”
“Yes, well…” Giles tried to clamp down his stammer. “I want you to call me as soon as you’re free to patrol. There are quite a few places we need to investigate tonight.”
“Oh goody, more graveyards.”
“Ah, but there’s also a potentially hexed apartment to explore as well.”
“Golly gee, really?”
“I knew you’d enjoy that.”
“I’ll try to contain my enthusiasm. I gotta run, class time. See ya!”
“Yes, take care.” Rupert hung up the phone.
“Baa.” Severus bleated.
“You heard me.”
“Good grief. Not this again.”
“I would hope he would make the team. It’s only the fourth year he’s tried out.” Rupert rolled his eyes as he followed Rookie towards the quidditch stands.
“Well, yeah, but Lucius is the youngest player on the Slytherin team. That should count for something.”
“Wait, he’s the youngest player currently or youngest player ever?” Rupert frowned.
“Currently, of course. I would have to consult the History of Slytherin Quidditch to find out who the youngest was, although, I believe it was a second year.”
“They actually have an entire book on Slytherin quidditch?”
“Well, it’s a four volume set, the History of Quidditch at Hogwarts, but the Slytherin volume is the second largest.”
“Oh?” Rupert was easily out of his depth with all this quidditch talk, and as they neared the bleachers it became clear that the day was only going to become worse, not better.
“Well, of course, Gryffindor is larger. That house tends to do crazy stunts anyway; add a few broomsticks and it’s no surprise that they would set more records for idiotic accidents.” Rookie answered eagerly. “But just because their book is larger, doesn’t mean they’re a better team than Slytherin.”
“Of course.” Rupert agreed, not bothering to point out that by that logic it wouldn’t matter that Slytherin was the second largest volume. He knew better than to use ‘logic’ and ‘Rookie’ in the same sentence.
“If you’d like, I could lend you the volume.” Argentius offered, leading the boys towards the fourth year section of the stands.
“Perhaps later, when the school year isn’t so busy.” Rupert offered, knowing that classes always got worse rather than better as the year progressed, so it was a pretty safe bet he wouldn’t be seeing the History of Slytherin Quidditch any time soon.
“It’s about time you got here.” Damon greeted Rupert and Rookie. “I think they’re going to call out the teams any moment now. You almost missed it.”
“How could we possibly miss Lucius’ quidditch debut?” Rupert answered in such a tone that Damon almost considered it as mocking.
“Yes, well this is an important game.” Damon agreed. “Gryffindor matches always are.”
“It’s a pity we always have to meet as the first game.” Evan sighed. “It would be much more sporting to face off as the last game of the season, as it usually decides which team would get the quidditch cup.”
“It’s tradition for this to be the first game.” Damon replied.
“I know. It would just be a better tradition if the games were in a different order…” As Evan spoke, Rupert worked his way through the stands so that he could be sitting next to Severus.
“So, what are you thinking?” Rupert muttered; his voice easily drowned out by the crowd.
“Hmm?” Severus pulled his omnioculars from his face.
“I was just wondering what was on your mind on this lovely fall day.” Rupert smiled sarcastically at his step brother.
“Quidditch, of course.”
“You don’t have a clue what’s going on, do you?” Severus finally turned to stare at his brother.
“Come on, we do this every year. Why is this game so important?”
“Well, it is Lucius’ debut game.”
“Right, but is that really enough for everyone to be this tense? It’s like they’re waiting for an explosion.”
“I believe it is also Sirius’ Black’s first game.”
“In fact, assuming neither team has changed their rotation considerably; Sirius should be playing opposite Lucius.”
“So, if an opportunity were to present itself …”
“Payback for the gong?”
“There were a few additional things said in dueling that have, shall we say, added fuel to the fire.”
“Indeed.” Severus raised the glasses to his face, tuning out the noise from the stands.
“What sort of fuel?” Rupert squinted, watching the doors to the team locker rooms closely.
“Hush, they’re opening they gates.” The crowd stood to watch as the players strode out onto the field. Several titters came from the Slytherin girls as Lucius cast a knowing wink up into the stands.
“What a git! He hasn’t even gotten on his broomstick yet and he’s acting like a prima dona.” Rupert muttered.
“Perhaps.” Severus agreed. “Hopefully he will concentrate on the game once it begins.” With a shrill whistle, the referee released the quaffle and the teams were off.
An hour later, there was no sign of the golden snitch, and Rupert’s vocabulary of wizarding profanity had nearly doubled. “Merlin’s balls, he’s done it again!” Rupert collapsed onto the bench, tired of swearing.
“So it wasn’t just me.” Severus muttered, tossing the omnioculars aside.
“He’s going to hand them the game, isn’t he?” Rupert sighed
“Well, if the upperclassmen have anything to say about it, I doubt Lucius will be seeing the quaffle any time soon.”
“Still, that’s four times now he could have scored off Sirius and he’s passed it off instead. He’s never been that bad in our pick up games.”
“Clearly he’s not playing up to his standards, and considering his upbringing, I highly doubt that it’s stage fright. What could he possibly gain from throwing the game?” Severus grabbed his omnioculars once again, intent to watch his fellow fourth year.
“Oh no, it’s coming to him again.” Rupert groaned, the noise being echoed by several of his housemates. As Lucius grabbed it, he cast a weary glance up at the stands.
Severus followed the glance up to his section. “Oh bloody hell!”
“Look!” Severus handed the omnioculars to Rupert who trained them on Lucius.
“I don’t see anything odd.”
“Not there.” Severus turned his brother ninety degrees to the right. “There!”
“Bloody hell! What does she think she’s doing!”
“You’ve got to stop her.”
“Well, it’s not like any of the girls are going to listen to me.”
“It’s either this or the end of quidditch as we know it.”
“And that’s a bad thing because…?”
“Because, howlers are never a good way to start a day, especially after losing to Gryffindor!” Severus roared.
“Fine, I’m going.” Rupert worked his way past the group of second years to reach the fourth year girls.
As he approached he could hear Narcissa gloat to Mafalda. “See, I told you he would do it! That’s my little lamb.”
“Um, excuse me, Narcissa?” Rupert cut in.
“Oh, Muddy? What are you doing here?” The blonde beauty glanced at the corner where the boys normally sat.
“I’m not quite sure how to say this.” Rupert frowned.
“Can it wait? You know there is a quidditch game in progress.” Narcissa rolled her eyes, as if to say ‘uncultured rabble, I don’t see why I even bother.’
“Actually, it’s about the quidditch game.” Rupert took a deep breath, hoping for a stray bolt of Gryffindor courage to help him approach one of the most powerful members of his house. “You see, it’s quite clear that Lucius is not quite playing up to par. Wouldn’t it be in the best interest of the house if he were playing with his full strength?”
“Just what are you implying?” Narcissa cast her cold glare at Rupert, and he suddenly realized why Severus had been so insistent that he be the messenger.
“Nothing.” Rupert quickly held up his hands in surrender. He turned back towards Severus, who also was shooting him with a death glare. If he had to put Narcissa against Severus in a duel, Severus would win, but it would be a very close match. “I just was wondering, since Lucius values your opinion so much, by any chance, that is to say, did you give him any words of advice before the game?”
“Of course I gave him advice. Even Rookie was giving him advice this morning.”
“Of course.” Rupert nodded glancing towards the field to note that the score was tied. “By any chance did your advice mention Sirius Black?”
“You mean, did I tell Lucius that if he hurt a single hair on my cousin’s head I wouldn’t be seen with him at the Yule Ball? I might have let something like that slip.” Narcissa’s smile, showing her pearly white, pointy, teeth, let Rupert know the conversation was officially over.
“I see, well, enjoy the match.” Rupert muttered backing away, but Narcissa was already ignoring him.
“What did she say?” Severus asked as Rupert took his seat.
“She said that she told Lucius if he hurt a single hair on her cousin’s head, she wouldn’t go to the Yule Ball with him.”
“And, evidently her little lamb took her seriously.”
“That’s what she called him.”
“Well, I can see the resemblance, all that white hair… and evidently his intelligence isn’t that much higher than sheep.” Severus contemplated.
“I guess that would make her a sheep dog.” Rupert mused.
“That’s a much nicer term than I would come up with.”
“Yeah well, some how, we need to get the little lost lamb back on track, or this game is spent.” Rupert muttered, watching Gryffindor score.
“Right, so if the sheep dog is leading the sheep astray, the shepherd needs to retrain the dog. Who’s the shepherd of Narcissa?”
“No, you’re just another sheep.”
“I watched you over there. You turned tail and ran as soon as possible.”
“Yeah, well, you didn’t even have the nerve to approach her in the first place. What kind of sheep does that make you?”
“Baaa.” Severus bleated at Rupert, earning a few strange glances from the spectators around them. “Happy now?”
“No, we still don’t have a shepherd.”
“Ah, I know.”
“Lestrange!” Severus hailed Rastaban from the row in front of him.
The boy climbed back a row, never taking his eyes from the hoops. “Hey mate, what’s on your mind?” Rastaban asked. Severus leaned over and began whispering in Rastaban’s ear. “Godric damned, that’s why he’s been playing like such a tosser?” Rastaban blurted out, earning a few evil glares from the first years in front of them that still carried on the pretences of innocence.
“So what are we supposed to do about this?” Rastaban asked the brothers, fully aware of who was in charge of the house when Lucius was incapacitated.
“This is the plan.” Severus once again began whispering in Rastaban’s ear. “Got it?”
“Good call.” Rastaban nodded, and headed off to the back of the stands.
“What call?” Rupert asked.
“Watch.” Severus just shrugged and went back to following the
game which was taking a decisively bad turn.
Rupert tracked Rastaban up the stands to where his older brother was sitting. Rodolphus was sitting out this season on academic suspension. While he had gotten Professor Jigger to raise his grade, McGonagall refused to budge, and Dumbledore refused to lift the regulation to help Slytherin’s team out of their tight fix. The former beater was practically fuming as he watched his teammates slowly fall farther behind the Gryffindors. Rastaban leaned over and whispered in Rodolphus’ ear.
“SLYTHERIN’S BALLS!” The curse was loud enough to earn a scowl or two from the faculty tower across the field. Rastaban leaned back over and added a few more comments to Rodolphus who nodded once.
Rodolphus leaned over to the girl sitting at his side. Bellatrix Black had tried out for the Slytherin team, but had been passed over yet again. It was no secret that the captain did not feel that girls could play quidditch up to Slytherin standards, but it didn’t keep her from being bitter, especially when watching how the new recruit was being run over by her younger cousin.
As Rodolphus whispered into Bellatrix’s ear, Rupert watched the grim expression on her face worsen. “SON OF A BEZOAR!”
Bellatrix didn’t need to be told twice. She jumped up and strolled right up to Narcissa who was watching Lucius. Some words were exchanged. Rupert was glad he wasn’t close enough to hear, judging from the looks on several of the girls’ faces.
Just then Malfoy caught the quaffle. With a pained expression he looked up to the stands, hoping against hope that Narcissa wouldn’t prolong his misery. He was quite relieved to see her shaking her head frantically. With a sudden burst of speed he went straight for the goal and scored, leaving Sirius in his dust. The crowd went wild… the Slytherin crowd at least. They were back in the game.
Just as the Slytherins had managed to regain the lead, a cry went out from the Ravenclaw stands, pointing out the golden snitch. Both seekers spotted it, and made a dive for it. Being resourceful as usual, the Slytherin seeker kicked up a cloud of dust as the pair flew practically at ground level. The Gryffindor seeker coughed at the wrong moment, veering slightly off course. It was just enough to give the Slytherin seeker time to reach the snitch.
“A Win for Slytherin!” The announcer called out.
The victory party in the Slytherin’s common room was loud and a bit more rambunctious than usual. Even with the golden snitch, if Slytherin hadn’t managed to turn the game around at the hour mark, they still would have lost. It was nearly midnight by the time the fourth years piled into their bedroom.
“I won!” Lucius cried out, for the millionth time that evening.
“You bloody well nearly lost the entire thing.” Damon glared back, having heard the story from Rookie.
“But I didn’t.”
“But you would have, wouldn’t you?”
“What do you mean?” Lucius sobered rather quickly. “I played hard out there; at least I made the team.”
“You started out like crap.” Rookie pouted.
“I was nervous.”
“Oh come off it. We know what was going on.” Rastaban flopped down on his bed.
“What?” Lucius scoffed, tossing his quidditch robes into his trunk.
“Narcissa was bragging about how her little lost lamb was following her orders not to mess with her cousin.”
“You can’t prove it.”
“You were hardly being subtle.” Severus cut in. “You shouldn’t have looked at her at every possession if you didn’t want us to know.” Lucius locked his jaw, knowing that anything he said would come off as an admission.
“You should be lucky Sev figured it out and set Bella on Narci.” Rastaban added.
“Oh he did, did he?” Lucius turned his full glare on Severus.
“In case you didn’t notice, the mascot of Slytherin is the snake, not the lamb. If I wanted to be in a house that lets any old bitch herd me, I would be a Hufflepuff.” Severus swore.
“Take that back!” Lucius whipped out his wand and had it pointed at Severus.
“On what grounds?” Severus had his wand pointed at Lucius before the rest of the boys even noticed a challenge had been offered.
“You’re a liar.”
“I have lied about nothing.” The two boys began circling, and Rupert could see how this was going to get out of hand very quickly.
“Gentlemen, stop it!” Rupert called out as he did the stupidest thing imaginable and stepped between the wands. “No dueling in the halls.”
“He insulted Narcissa.” Lucius accused.
“Actually, I think she brought it on herself. She was the one claiming to be herding her little lost lamb. It’s only logical that would make her a sheep dog, ergo…” Severus tried to aim his wand around his brother, only to have Rupert once again move in front of it.
“Um, Rupert, Jigger says that we should never stand between two dueling wizards.” Rookie offered the advice to the only Slytherin not in dueling.
“Right, I know. But this isn’t a duel; this is just a friendly disagreement.”
“Friendly disagreement?” Damon scoffed.
“You’re not helping.” Rastaban nudged Travers.
“What we need to keep in mind is that Slytherin came out ahead in the end. Sure, Lucius was a bit fuddled at first, but who amongst us hasn’t been led astray by the fairer sex? Come on, we’ve all been misled by those harpies! Who here hasn’t been? I admit I have. See, I’m a sheep too. Baaa!” Rupert bleated. “Come on, who’s with me? Baaa!”
Evan, realizing that this was probably the only technique ridiculous enough to disarm the two wizards joined in with his own bleat. “Baaa!”
Soon, Damon, Rookie, and Rastaban were joining in the bleating. As the noise got louder, Lucius finally broken down and added his own bleat. “Come on, Sev, why don’t you add a bleat?”
“No.” Severus looked at his brother like he was a complete stranger. “I refuse to admit that women have ever or will ever reduce me to nothing more than a barnyard animal.”
“Really? Maybe I should drop a line to Gran…”