All the News That Fits
“Since you’re awake enough to mock me, I take it you’re well enough to be left on your own for awhile?” Giles asked, not quite feeling up to a verbal sparring match with Snape.
“Perhaps.” Severus answered sullenly.
“Well that will have to do. I really must be getting back.”
“Yes, I mustn’t stand in the way of you and your grocery store.”
“It’s actually a magic supply store.”
“As if the muggles could tell the difference.”
“Now you’re just being difficult.” Giles picked his keys up from the counter, slipping them in his pockets.
“Difficult? Why would I be difficult, just because you’re living out your wildest dream while I’m exiled to your sofa that hasn’t even been furnished with cushioning charms? I have no reason to be difficult.”
“Would you rather I send someone to fetch you back to England?”
“You don’t have any more wizarding contacts.”
“No but I am sure if I made the call, my father would be all too willing to send down a Watcher’s Council retrieval team that would expedite you to London, where you could stand trial as a known Death Eater. Wouldn’t that be far more enjoyable than sitting on my sofa?” Giles smiled wickedly, watching his brother snap his jaw shut, stopping whatever retort he had. While he had no intention of following through with that threat yet, he decided he would let his brother stew on that thought for awhile. Giles double checked that he had all the books he needed for the afternoon in one stack. “I should be back before dark. Is there anything you need before I leave?”
“Actually, if it’s not too much of a bother, I would like a book to read.” Severus’ tone clearly indicated that he didn’t particularly care if it was a bother, if his needs were not met, Giles could expect something dreadful in return.
“Which book? There’s a whole shelf of them right in front of you.” Giles answered, switching two of the books from his stack to the kitchen table.
“I am well aware that there is a shelf there. However, I can not reach any of the books.” Severus sneered, perceiving Giles’ tone as patronizing.
“Yes. I’m well aware of that. However, if you expect me to fetch a book for you, it would be helpful to have a title.” Giles answered, finally resorting to his patronizing tone.
“I don’t care. Do you have anything non-demonic?”
“How about ‘The Adventures of Harry Potter’?” Giles lips twitched as he tried to hold back a snicker.
“Don’t be cruel. It doesn’t suit a Hufflepuff such as yourself.”
“If I was a Hufflepuff, I would buy you a kitten to keep you company so you wouldn’t have to resort to books.”
“Now, that is cruelty.” Severus lips twitched in amusement. He truly did miss conversing with Rupert, and once again wondered how they had ever managed to butcher their relationship so thoroughly in such a short time. If it weren’t for their sworn enmity, Rupert could have made quite an amusing adult friend. “I give up. Hand me one of your demonic texts. I only ask that it be in English, German, or Greek. I’m really not up for any of your crazy Etruscan nonsense today.”
“Indeed.” Giles scanned the titles on his bookshelf looking for anything that could possibly be considered amusing. “I’ve got the ‘Standard Book of Spells.’ How about that?”
“I would prefer something I didn’t memorize as a fifth year.”
“How about this?” Giles pulled a dragonhide bound text from the shelf. “It’s a Principia Alchemica.”
“1352; It’s the one where you published the amendment to the Wolfsbane potion. Gran had a whole stack of this issue just to show off your article.”
“I’m hardly going to be amused by something I wrote nearly a decade ago, and the rest of the issue is far from stellar.”
“How about ‘The Prophecies of St. Zvlkyx’?”
“That will hardly keep me occupied for the entire afternoon.”
“How about…” Giles’ hand paused over a book. “No, that won’t do.”
“A friend of mine gave it to me. However, I doubt you would find
Jenny’s sense of humor amusing.” Giles bypassed the Douglas Adams book Ms. Calendar had given him as proof that she was as well versed in British Literature as he was in computer jargon. While Severus might actually enjoy the book, some things were not meant to be shared. “Ah, here we are.” Giles pulled from the shelf ‘A Brief History of the Universe’, ‘Bullfinch’s Mythology’, and ‘The Mists of Avalon’, which Willow must have undoubtedly left at his house some time last semester. “You can spend the afternoon mocking the antiquated ideas of muggles, and if that doesn’t amuse you, I’ll leave you the paper as well.” Giles set the stack next to the sofa, in easy reach for Severus.
“Is the reporting any better than the Daily Prophet?”
“I wager, if anything, that it’s worse.”
“Impossible.” Severus picked the paper up from the stack.
“You be the judge.” Giles glanced at his watch. He hoped Anya wouldn’t comment on how late he was, but somehow he doubted she would have any sympathy. “Alright, I’ll see you after closing.”
“Fine.” Severus mumbled, already engrossed in the cover story. Sunnydale’s city manager was resigning in order to take a post somewhere on the East Coast. It was the fourth city manager the city had hired since the unfortunate demise of the mayor a year and a half ago. “Muggle idiots. Merlin forbid they admit their city is a gateway to hell.” Severus muttered as the reporter cited cultural differences as the reason for the manager’s resignation.
“Incoming.” Evan announced as the morning post owls began circling the tables. While the other tables dealt with the standard barn owls, little owls, and gray owls, Slytherins had to contend with a flock of eagle owls each trying to outperform the other owls in wingspan, speed, and ferocity. Once again, it looked like the Malfoy owl would triumph. A few of the boys watched the avian dogfights as they ate their breakfast.
“Oi, Sev, can you get that?” Rupert nodded at the family owl circling above them.
Sev glanced up and quickly returned to his meal. “It’s for you.”
“How can you tell?” Rupert said between mouthfuls. He glanced up at the rafters.
“Vitupera only gnashes her beak like that if she’s delivering to you or your father.”
“Well the nerve… it’s not like I don’t offer her sausage. I’m certainly more generous then you are.”
“True, but she’s a Snape owl, and you are not a Snape.”
“You’ve got that right. Look, can you just get whatever she’s bringing down? I’ve got to run.” Rupert glanced back up at the owl, who seemed more content to circle over the easily intimidated Hufflepuff owls than deliver her message. “If I wait for her, I’ll be late.”
“You know it doesn’t work like that. Besides, you have at least twenty minutes before Charms.”
“Yes, but I promised Beatrice I’d show her that summoning charm again. She’s really struggling in there.”
“Well, Saint Rupert, you’re just going to have to be late.”
“Vitupera! I have a lovely sausage for you! Please come down!” Rupert offered the breakfast meat to the owl, hoping to speed things up.
Severus snorted. “You obviously know nothing about owls.”
“Then you get her down.” Rupert squinted as the family owl circled the rafters yet again, seemingly flying into the clouds.
Severus let out a piercing whistle, attracting not only the owl’s attention, but the attention of everyone in the Great Hall. With a shrug of her wings, Vitupera circled down slowly, alighting at Severus’ plate. “That’s how you get the owl’s attention.” Severus haughtily answered, ignoring the stares from the other tables.
“What a lovely talent. Perhaps you should join the choir with a voice like that.” Rupert replied, grabbing the letter from the bird’s talons, and slipping a sausage in its place before the bird could bite his fingers. “Right, well, I’m off.” Rupert took one more gulp of pumpkin juice as he stood up from the table.
“Good riddance.” Severus called after him.
Rupert ran to the Charms room only to find he had beat Beatrice there. “Hey, Rupert!” The Hufflepuff girl called from the hallway, trying to catch up. “Thanks for coming early to help me.” The girl was practically wheezing by the time she reached the classroom.
“Don’t mention it. After all, I’ll probably be looking for help in
history later this term. I still don’t know how anyone stays awake for ol’ Binns.”
“I know.” Beatrice followed Rupert into the empty classroom. “My first year here, I tried to stay awake by chewing on dragumballs, but the fire breath made my eyes water so badly I couldn’t follow my notes.” Beatrice was heir apparent to the Botts Confectionary fortune, and had been raised with a sweet tooth. It was only recently that she had become overly sensitive about her weight, as Rupert had learned through the choir gossip vine. The last Hufflepuff that had made a comment about free candy at her house had been summarily kicked out of the house’s commons room for the night, or so he had heard.
“Do you suppose Dumbledore will ever replace Binns with an actual professor?”
“I doubt it. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s still here when my grandchildren come to Hogwarts.”
“Scary thought. So what about accio is giving you trouble?”
“I think it’s my wrist, but I’m not sure.”
“Why don’t you show me what you’ve got?”
Beatrice sighed deeply as she pulled out her wand. “Accio chalk.” She pointed at the blackboard rail and waved her arm. The blackboard shivered a bit, but nothing flew to her hand.
“That didn’t look too bad. You’re right, your wrist could use some work, but overall not too shabby.”
“Yes, but that piece of chalk didn’t even fidget.”
“Here, let me try.” Rupert offered, even though he and Severus had mastered this spell before they had even started second year. “Accio eraser!” He called, and the eraser flew up from the tray to his hand. “Did you watch my wrist?” Beatrice nodded. “Try it again.”
“Accio chalk!” Once again, the wall gave a bit of a groan, but the piece of chalk stayed in the rail.
“Hrm.” Rupert frowned. “Accio chalk!” He pointed at the small piece of chalk which dutifully rose up to his hand. He walked over to the chalkboard put the piece back along with the eraser.
“What am I doing wrong?”
“I don’t know.”Rupert replied, walking back to where Beatrice was standing. “Hey, have you ever noticed how chalky Flitwick lets his boards get? I can still read the notes from yesterday on this.”
“I know. It’s as though he doesn’t care if we can read his notes or not.” Beatrice sighed.
“I have an idea.” Rupert walked around the Beatrice, and picked up her wand arm. “Let’s try this. Call for the eraser.”
“Accio eraser!” Beatrice called as Rupert waved her arms for her.
The eraser jumped up from the rail and flew to her awaiting hand. “See, it works!” Rupert grinned. “How did that feel?”
“Well, it felt very nice.” Beatrice blushed, looking shyly back at Rupert, “But, I don’t think my wrist was that much different from its normal position.”
“Hmm.” Rupert took a step back, suddenly realizing how close he was standing to the Hufflepuff. Beatrice was a nice girl, but he didn’t want to give her the wrong ideas, especially considering Whimple’s slight obsession with the girl. “Just a moment.” Rupert muttered, getting an idea. “When you decided it didn’t work, had you tried calling for anything besides chalk?”
“Well, I tried calling for my inkwell last night, but that didn’t work either.”
“Did you say inkwell, or just ink?”
“Does it matter?”
“Yes, I think it does.” Rupert pointed his wand directly at the board rather than the chalk tray and called for chalk. He could feel the strain on his wand, but nothing appeared to be happening in the room.
“What’s the matter?”
“Page 47.” Rupert muttered. “Summoning charms are most effective when calling for a complete object, rather than its parts. I think your wand was trying to pull the chalk out of the chalkboard rather than going for the piece in the tray. It was probably trying to do the same with the ink in the inkwell. You’re lucky it didn’t spray all over you.”
“Is that all?”
“I think that’s enough.”
“Well, that’s fabulous!” Beatrice gave him a quick hug then ran out of the room.
Discovering that he still had a few minutes before class, Rupert pulled out the letter from his father. He wasn’t surprised to see that it was in fact a bundle of papers that Cassandra must have condensed for his father. Waving his wand casually, he returned the papers to their full size. Not only was there the usual cover letter from his father and an additional letter from Quentin the Git, but there was also a large stack of newspaper clippings. “What’s all this?” Rupert muttered pulling out the letter from his father.
He was interrupted from his reading by the arrival of several students, Severus among them. “Is that what Vitupera brought?” Severus asked, setting his stuff down in his customary front row seat.
“What’s this?” Lucius asked, picking up a news clipping.
“It’s a …” Rupert began.
“I didn’t know you knew any other Travers.” Damon commented picking up the letter from Quentin.
“Oh yes, you see …” Rupert turned to Damon.
“The pictures aren’t moving.” Lucius interrupted.
“Of course they wouldn’t, they’re…”
“Hey, who is this? I don’t think I’m related to any Quentins.” Damon mused.
“Would both of you stop!” Rupert grabbed the papers from his
“You don’t have to be so touchy about it.” Lucius sneered.
“Shh!” Severus turned around. “Flitwick’s starting.”
The boys exchanged some meaningful stares, but quickly forgot about the stack of papers once Professor Flitwick started the lecture. By the time they had finished charms and history, even Rupert had forgotten he had the package in his bags. It was only at the start of study hall, when Severus grabbed him by the elbow and dragged him towards the library, that Rupert remembered the mystery on his hands.
“You weren’t supposed to let Damon see the letters from Quentin. That was my card to play.” Severus grumbled as the boys found a quite study table in the back of the divination section.
“Well how was I supposed to know the letters would be so long this time?”
“Why was it longer than usual?” Severus knew it was a hopeless cause to teach Rupert any court politics, and therefore went straight to the point.
“I haven’t exactly figured that out.” Rupert mumbled. “I haven’t even finished father’s letter.”
“Well, let me have a look.”
“But what if it’s sensitive Watcher’s material? I highly doubt Quentin would approve of my disclosure of that information.”
“I would think Quentin’s disapproval would be enough incentive that you would share it with the entire house.”
“You have a point.” Rupert glanced around quickly to make sure no one else was lurking in their vicinity then pulled out the package of papers. “Do you want to start with the clippings or the letter from the Git?” Rupert asked, saving the letter from his father for his own perusal.
“I’ll start with the articles.” Severus reached for the stack of
folded newsprint. “I never understood the attraction of muggle newsprint. The pictures don’t even move.”
“Yes, well, it’s not like they have a better alternative.” Rupert mumbled, finishing the last paragraph in his father’s letter. Once again he was instructed to excel in his studies, keep his nose clean, and do honor to the Giles name.
“What about those tele-whats-its?”
“Right, those; weren’t you saying those could project moving pictures?”
“Well, yes, but they’re horribly expensive and terribly heavy. It’s not as though you could carry one around for any time you want to check the news. Lily says that most families in her neighborhood only have one television if they have any at all. That’s hardly as convenient as a newspaper.”
“Oh, so it’s Lily now, is it?”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“You know, she’s a Gryffindor?” Severus sent Rupert a meaningful look which Rupert chose to ignore.
“I think I may have noticed it once or twice, what with the red and gold tie she wears every day.” Rupert picked up the letter from Quentin and began scanning it.
“I just think, if you’re going to pursue your interest in Muggle studies, perhaps you should get a more reliable source of information.” Severus tried to sound reasonable, which was hard considering how much he loathed the witch that had topped him in runes by three points.
“Hold that thought.” Rupert muttered, glancing down at the stack of paper clippings. “If Quentin’s wrong, this could be a very bad thing.”
“Define very bad.”
“The Travers are trying to get the slayer recalled to deal with this menace that they insist must be demonic.”
“What if they’re wrong?” Severus frowned, wondering what could be worse than a demon that required the service of the slayer.
“If father is right, the menace is man-made, or rather wizard-made.”
“I wrote you about it.”
“The nefarious green cloud, right?”
“That would be the one.”
“And your father believes that this might be the work of wizards?”
“Well, actually, I believe it was your mother that came up with that conclusion. However, neither of our parents have found definite proof one way of the other, so it’s likely that Travers will be able to recall the slayer to England.”
“I don’t see how she could hope to succeed against a wizard in combat. After all, wizards have far more cunning and foresight than the average vampire… assuming the wizard isn’t a Gryffindor of course.”
“Of course.” Rupert agreed while sorting through the articles that spanned nearly a year. “The letter from father suggested we look for any connection between the victims, specifically any wizarding connection.”
“Alright, he didn’t mention you, but you could help, you know.”
“Why should I?”
“Because more people might die if we don’t figure this out.” Severus looked skeptically at his step brother. “Because I need to prove Quentin wrong, and as a matter of Slytherin pride, you need to stand with me.”
“That’s a better argument, but what about the counter argument. If it is indeed wizards, and we do indeed find the proof of that, then by providing evidence to the Watcher’s Council, Sir Bradford would be revealing the entire wizarding world to a bunch of muggles. The consequences of that could be far more serious than a few scattered deaths.”
“A few scattered deaths? Sev, people are dying. That is far more important than any oath of secrecy. Besides, the watchers are hardly muggles.”
Severus had to think for a moment about that argument before finally conceding. “Alright, what do we need to do?”
“The clippings should have all the identification they know about the victims. We need to look into whether any of them have wizarding connections. Are they wizards, squibs, do they have wizarding relations?”
“Alright.” Severus pulled out a piece of parchment to take notes. “Are we also supposed to look for this symbol?”
“This.” Severus pointed to one of the picture.
“I think that’s the cloud of green gas.”
“It’s also a symbol, albeit a blurry one.”
“How are we supposed to identify a blurry symbol? There’s not exactly an index of cloud pictures we can refer to.”
“I’ve seen that symbol.”
“I don’t know. But it was recent.” Severus bit his lip in consternation, staring at the photo.
“Well, we can look for that after we look up the names.” Rupert sighed. “Great, just what I needed; another project.”
“It could be worse.”
“I don’t see how.”
“This article could be about you.” Severus grinned wickedly pointing at the picture of the victim’s house.