Giles was dozing in the chair, the steady beat of the monitors lulling him to slumber, when the doctor arrived for the morning rounds. “Are you sure you don’t want to go home, Mr. Giles? We can have one of the nurses call you when he wakes up.” The doctor offered.
Giles blinked awake, stretching his arms to get the blood flowing again. “That’s quite alright. I don’t mind.”
“It’s not good for you to spend all night and day in a chair.”
“No, I suppose not. If you’ll excuse me, I’m just going to run down the hall and use the facilities. I’ll be right back.” Giles muttered, feeling the need to stretch his legs.
“The cafeteria’s open now. Why don’t you get something to eat while you’re out?” The doctor offered.
“I’ll take that into consideration. Thank you, doctor.” Giles backed out of the room, into the much brighter hallway.
He was returning from the bathroom when there was a shout from room 113. Giles went running for his brother’s room, reaching in his jacket pocket for Severus’ wand, just in case. The sight that greeted him should have shocked him considerably more than it did.
Severus was awake.
Severus was awake and currently holding the doctor by the throat with the one good hand he had. If it was any other patient, Giles would have grabbed his cross and holy water. But this was Severus, and Giles knew just how cranky he could get when woken up.
“Sev, if you don’t put the good doctor down now I will curse you with boils in the most uncomfortable place imaginable.” Giles stated kindly.
The black eyes slowly traveled from the choking doctor to Giles. “Rupert?” The parched throat whispered.
Giles nodded. “Now put the doctor down.”
“Now. Or I’ll call Gran.”
Severus’ hand reflexively released at the familiar threat. The doctor fell to the floor panting. Giles immediately went to the doctor’s side, offering him a hand up. “I’m terribly sorry about that. Although, in all fairness, I did warn you that Sev didn’t take well to hospitals.” Giles muttered, leading the doctor to the door. “May I have a brief word with my brother? I promise you can have a look at him soon.”
The doctor nodded wordlessly and stepped out in the hall, thankful to survive one more close call in Sunnydale.
“Rupert, what are you doing here?” Giles heard the whisper
coming from the bed.
“I was going to ask the same of you.” Giles walked over to the bed and looked down on the broken man. “If you promise not to hex me, I’ll let you hold your wand.” Severus arched a brow, daring Giles to reconsider the offer. “Keep in mind that you’re in a hospital, and the only person who can sign the release papers is your next of kin. Turning me into a frog would be a bit hasty.” Giles smirked in response.
Severus seemed to think that over for a moment then nodded. “Why?” Snape whispered once he had possession of his wand.
“Why are you in a hospital?” Giles clarified. Severus nodded slightly. “You apparated in front of a bus.” Giles watched Severus’ eyes narrow in anger. “Don’t blame the bus driver; you were the one who apparated.”
Severus rolled his eyes. He opened his mouth to respond, but thought better of it. “Pepper up?” He mouthed.
“Not likely. Does this look like St. Mungo’s to you?” Severus took a good hard look at the room around him, noting for the first time all the monitors beeping around him. If possible, Severus paled even more at the realization that the technology around him was completely foreign. Giles almost felt sorry for him. “Look, Sev, muggle medicine has advanced considerably in the past two decades. They can handle your wounds; it’ll just hurt like hell. On the bright side, nothing they give you will taste worse than skele-grow.” Rupert smiled at the scowl he had evoked from his brother. “Remember our first night at Hogwarts, what you told me? You’re in my world now. I’ll protect you, but only if you do exactly as I say.” Giles watched Severus’ eyes narrow at having his words thrown back at him, but the wizard wasn’t in a position to argue. “Let the doctors do whatever they need to. The sooner they get done, the sooner I can take you back to my place and get this straightened out. Understood?” Giles took the eye roll to mean Severus would behave.
“By the way, I’d recommend you not try any magic with that.” Giles pointed to the wand. “You’re about half a mile from the hellmouth, and let’s just say I haven’t had the best experience practicing so near the influence.”
“Hellmouth?” Severus screeched, his voice cracking.
“Later.” Giles quietly responded as there was a knock on the door.
The nurse entered, pushing a little cart of supplies with her. “Hello Mr. Giles.” She winked at the Brit.
“Good morning, nurse.” Giles answered politely.
“I heard your brother woke up.”
“Indeed he did.” Giles glanced at Severus who was staring at the nurse as though he was considering the best way to hex her quickly.
“Well, hello there, sweetie. Welcome to Sunnydale Hospital. I’m Nurse Kendall.” The woman spoke loudly and slowly to Severus as though he were deaf as well as injured.
“Charmed.” Severus croaked.
“Oh my, sweetie. Why don’t you try not to speak until we get more fluids into you? How are you feeling?” Severus stared at the woman as though she had grown a third eye. Did she not realize that she just asked a question after telling him not to speak? He rolled his head to stare at Giles with an expression that said ‘Help me, please.’
“I think he’s in a lot of pain, nurse.” Giles replied. “Can he take anything for it?”
“Of course, dearie. The doctor sent me in here to add a sedative to your drip. Now you’re probably going to go right to sleep for several hours, and when you wake up, you’ll probably be disoriented for a while longer.” Severus winced as the nurse lightly patted him on the arm. “But, with all your broken bones, I would think sleep would be a blessing.”
Giles watched the nurse add another bag to the stand by Severus’ bed and flip a few valves leading to the needle in Severus’ right hand. “Don’t worry Sev, I’ll take care of you.” Giles kindly offered.
“You’re such a huffle…” Severus’ eyes drooped and his voice faded away before he could finish that thought.
Thump, thump, thump. Rupert’s head bounced against the window as the train sped onward. Thump, thump. Rupert was too busy staring at the countryside passing them by to converse with his fellow passenger. Or at least, he hoped Severus would see it as such. He wasn’t going to cry- wizards didn’t cry – but he couldn’t help but feel a bit rotten inside. On the train platform, Cassandra had doted all over Severus just like all the other parents bidding their children farewell. Sir Bradford Giles, however, had just stared Rupert in the eyes and said “Mind the teachers. Watch for Severus. Remember that Giles do not fail.” Having said his peace of mind, his father had stepped back and waited for Cassandra to finish, anxious to return to the muggle platform and leave his son behind.
Rupert was shaken out of his pity when the door to the compartment opened. “I’ve seen you before.” Rupert turned to the voice. A blonde boy stood in the doorway, wearing his robes with such finesse that Rupert had to admit they didn’t look at all like a dress. The boy was staring at his step brother with casual interest.
“Likewise.” Severus was eyeing the boy carefully before coming to his conclusion. “Severus Snape.” He held out his hand.
“Lucius Malfoy.” The boy weighed the name in his head, and decided it was worth returning the handshake. “Your family is known for potions, correct?”
“Indeed.” The corner of Severus’ mouth twisted up in what passed for a smile.
“My father says that the Snapes are traditionally Slytherins.”
“Both of my parents were Slyths.” Severus replied proudly, casting a dark glance at Rupert then returning to his conversation.
“Oh really?” Lucius seemed to warm up to that pronouncement. “And what is your mother’s maiden name?”
“My mother’s cousins are Lestranges.”
“Perhaps that explains why you look familiar?” Severus observed.
“Were you at the funeral for Belladona Lestrange a few years back…?” Rupert quit paying attention to the meaningless chitchat, preferring to stare out the window. He wasn’t sure he wanted to be a wizard if all they did was compare family trees whenever they ran into each other. It almost made the watcher curriculum sound enthralling, at least with that he’d get a chance to practice his sword fighting.
“… Rupert.” Giles turned when he heard his name, only to find out that Severus was talking about him, not to him.
“And his last name?”
“Giles.” Severus hissed.
“That’s not a name I’m familiar with. Boy, what does your father do?”
Rupert was tempted to glare at the condescending boy, who was no older than him, but refrained when he noticed the stare Severus was sending his way. “He’s one of the senior members of the Watcher’s Council.” Rupert replied proudly.
“I’ve never head of that.”
“He was knighted by the Queen.”
“And, yet, not recognized by the Wizengamot; I’d hardly call that fame.”
“If I may,” Severus interrupted. “I believe the Watcher’s Council is one of the elite branches of the Unspeakables. My mother told me of a Lestrange on the Watcher’s Council a few generations back.”
“An Unspeakable? Well, I suppose that’s better than a common auror. Still, your pedigree is unheard of.” Lucius glanced at Giles from head to toe. “Severus, are you sure you should be associating with such common stock? He’ll probably be sorted into Hufflepuff.”
“Sharing a train compartment can hardly be considered associating, especially considering the status of the other compartments. Merlin forbid, I have to breathe the same air as a Weasley.”
“Ah, a valid point indeed.” Lucius nodded, giving the matter some thought. “You’re welcome to join me. I’m sharing a compartment with the Blacks. They’re not the best to talk with, but at least their name is respectable.”
“Thank you for the offer; however, I’d rather have a bench to myself than share with that clan. At least Rupert keeps his mouth shut.”
“Suit yourself. I’m going to continue on my tour, but if you’d care to talk, we are in the fourth car to the left.” Lucius nodded at Severus, barely glancing at Rupert, on his way out.
“Bloody git.” Rupert muttered, turning back to stare out the window.
“Don’t swear.” Severus didn’t even glance up from the book he had picked up again.
“I can bloody well swear if I bloody well want to.” Rupert grumbled. “You’re not my mother.”
“No, she’s dead.” Severus commented in that flat voice that drove Rupert crazy.
“Yes, and my father’s so unspeakable you can’t even be bothered to acknowledge that you know him.”
“You’re an idiot, you know that.”
“Takes one to know one, or are you too good to know me now?”
“Look.” Severus threw down the book, giving up any pretenses of ignoring his step brother. “You just don’t get it. That was Lucius Malfoy.”
“So, the Malfoy’s are some of the most powerful wizards there are. Rumor has it, his father will be the next Minister of Magic.”
“So, it’s not like you’re about to go up to Buckingham palace and ask if Andy and Eddie can come out to play.”
“That’s completely barmy. They’re royalty and he’s a git in a dress.”
“And if I were to attend school with one of the princes, I think I would try to be friends without reciting my entire lineage first.” Rupert finished proudly.
“Merlin, you’re going to be a Gryffindor. I’m going to be related to a Gryffindor. That’s it; my life is over as we know it. Why don’t I just join the circus while I’m at it?” Severus rolled his eyes.
“For the number of times I’ve suggested it, and you’ve refused, I don’t see any reason why you would join the circus now. Oh, and am not.”
“Whatever you called me.” Rupert shuffled uncomfortably on the bench seat.
“Not yet, but you will be. I’ll bet a galleon on it.”
“I thought real wizards didn’t make wages.” Rupert sarcastically
“It’s not a real wager if it’s undoubtedly going to happen.” Severus politely explained the rule he had just made up.
“Well how are you so sure I’ll be a Gryffindor?” Rupert stumbled over the last word.
Severus sighed wearily and stood up from his seat. Rumaging through his luggage, he came up with a book entitled, “Hogwarts, A History.” He tossed the book at Rupert and returned to his seat. “There are four houses at Hogwarts, and students are sorted according to their temperaments. Hufflepuff is for the nice but dull kids. Ravenclaw is for the book smart kids. Slytherin is the house for power; all the students who amount to greatness come from Slytherin. All of my family has gone to Slytherin, as has the Malfoys, the Blacks, and several other people you will undoubtedly tick off within the first day. Gryffindor is the last house, and it’s for troublemakers who speak before they think. Obviously, that’s where you’ll be sorted.”
“Oh.” Rupert pondered that for a minute, eyeing the crest on the front of the book. “How do you know I won’t be a Slytherin? Giles are powerful, too.”
“You’re not a pureblood.”
“So, Slytherins are almost always pure. They don’t take kindly to muggle-borns, which you are. You wouldn’t last a night without connections, someone to watch your back.”
Rupert was silent long enough for Severus to pick his book back up, but then he opened his mouth again. “That’s not true. I do have a connection, I have you.” Severus stared in disbelief at his step-brother. “No, hear me out. I don’t particularly like you, and I know the feeling is mutual, but I know your mother told you to take care of me and I know my father told me to watch after you. We may not like it, but I have your back and you have mine.”
Severus’ eyes narrowed. He had hoped Rupert hadn’t heard those instructions from his mother, but evidently it was meant to be. Whether he wanted to admit it or not, he had to watch over Rupert, if only to avoid the howlers if something were to happen to the smarmy git. “Alright. However, I still think you’ll be a Gryffindor.”
“If you’re a Slytherin, I’m a Slytherin.”
“Trust me on this. You’re in my world now. I’ll protect you, but only if you do exactly as I say. You don’t want to be in Slytherin, they’ll eat you alive.”
“Well, then I hope they bring plenty of sauce, because I’ve got a tough skin.”
“You’re barmy. Now, be quiet.”
“Yes, sir.” Rupert mock saluted then quickly turned to the history book. Severus frowned, but said nothing to ruin the silence of their cabin. He couldn’t help but wonder if this was his last calm before the storm.