“So this Endora is a witch as well?” Severus asked, blinking slowly as the dancing candies took the screen again.
“Well, they haven’t said so exactly, but things seem to go to hell when she’s in the room. Of course, it could be her mum.” Spike mused.
“No, clearly that last scene was implicating Endora as the culprit, half-blood that she is.”
“Half-blood, that’s one way to put it.” Spike scoffed. “At last count, I think at least six of the characters belonged to Julian.”
“Which one is he?”
“The rich one with the square jaw.”
“Really? I would have thought Tabitha would show better taste.”
“If the lasses had any taste at all, this wouldn’t be Passions. Care for a refill?”
“Oh, yes please.” Severus handed his tea mug to Spike.
“One Earl Grey and one O neg coming up.”
“Oneg, is that an American brand?” Severus asked. “If so, you would be better off with the Twinings. Americans really do murder tea.”
“You could say that again.” Spike answered, keeping his smirk to himself. He went into Giles’ kitchen helping himself to blood and tea. “So, I don’t suppose you’re in the same business as ol’ Ripper?”
“Ripper? Is that what he’s going by these days? I suppose it’s an improvement over Muddy.” Severus sounded amused. “No, I’m in quite a different field. Quite frankly I find most of the watchers hacks at best.”
“Really? You don’t say.” Spike began contemplating how to extract useful gossip about the watcher from this unwitting source.
“I hope you’re done in there. The show is about to return.” Severus called, keeping his eyes fixed on the small screen.
“Oh bugger.” Spike muttered, grabbing the mugs out of the microwave and running for the couch. “Here you go.” He handed the cup to Severus’ good hand just as Martin confronted Miguel about Kay’s pregnancy.
Just as the guys had settled into the couch, the front door opened. “Sev, are you alright?” Giles called out. “Good heavens! How did you get the television on?” He took two steps forward and froze. “Bloody hell! How did Spike get in here?”
“You might not want to leave your key out in the open like that.” Spike answered, keeping his eyes on the television.
“I didn’t leave my key out in the open.”
“Come on, watcher, you don’t really believe anyone falls for those fake rocks with the hidey holes, do you?”
“What are you doing here Spike?” Giles seethed.
“For Salazar’s sake, Rupert, can’t you wait until the advertisements?” Severus glared at his brother, before returning his attention to the screen.
“Of course, silly me. I should have known that I can’t interrogate William the Bloody as to why he has broken into my house until commercial break. It’s not as though I own the place.” Giles wearily retreated to the semi-sanity of his kitchenette. He pulled out a frozen dinner, and opened the microwave. “SPIKE!”
“Yeah?” The vampire called from the sofa.
“Why is there blood all over my microwave?”
“It’s like this….”
“Hush!” Severus interrupted.
“… I’ll tell you at commercial break.”
“Lovely.” Giles sighed.
As soon as the car commercial clicked on, Giles was up by the sofa. “Alright, Spike, you’ve had your soap opera, now tell me what the hell you’re doing in my house.”
“Well, how do you like that? I make time in my busy schedule to visit you and you’re just being short with me.”
“Spike, you have the social graces of a five year old and even the demons in town can’t stand your presence. I highly doubt that you have a busy schedule. Just tell me why you came out of here so I can get you to leave.”
“Hey, I resent that. I have a social life!”
“If that’s the case, what the hell are you doing in my living room?”
“I have information.”
“Oh, do tell.”
“It will cost you first.”
“In case you haven’t noticed, I have an invalid brother on my couch, a shop to run, and yet another metaphysical disaster to cope with this week. I don’t have the time or the resources for that sort of guessing game. Just tell me what is so important.”
“First I want a week of blood.”
“You know, a stake would be cheaper.” Giles countered. “It wouldn’t take much to clean the ash out of the carpet.”
“Well, if that’s the way you’re going to play it, I can just leave.”
“Fine, why don’t you?”
“I will…after Passions.”
“Oh, for heaven’s sake… Out! Get out! Now!”
“Oi, how’s that for cruel and unusual punishment? Kicking a bloke out before the end of his show.”
“Really, Rupert, that is rather inhumane, even for you.” Severus commented, keeping his eyes on the commercial.
“And I’m sure one day I’ll appreciate the irony of being lectured on being humane by the likes of you two, but I’ve had a really bad day and …”
“Fine!” Spike shouted. “Something’s up at the hospital. Word is there’s a bunch of mindless zombies on the sixth floor. Now, shut up, the show’s on.”
“Fine, I’ll just be in my kitchen, enjoying the few comforts of what I thought was my home.” Giles went back into the kitchen, stopping to pull out a pack of frozen peas for his head, on his way to the microwave. “Being lectured by a Death Eater and William the Bloody on cruelty… if Gran could see me now.” Giles mumbled.
“Tell me, Lil’, just where did I go wrong?” Rupert muttered as he took his place on the choir riser.
The Gryffindor turned her head and glared. “Wouldn’t it be faster to tell you where you went right?”
“Alright fine, what have I done right?” They had only been back at school two days and Rupert was wishing the semester were over.
“Well,” Lily paused. “I’d have to go with nothing.”
“Thanks. You’re just a load of help today. Next time I’ll ask the bathroom mirror for advice.”
“You wouldn’t want to do that. Martha might get jealous. In fact, I’m taking a risk right now talking to you.” The pair glanced over to the Slytherin sopranos to find that they were indeed the center of attention.
“Alright.” Rupert took a step backwards and held up his hands in surrender, looking at the Slytherins. Narcissa sent him a nasty smile and the girls went back to their previous conversation. “Did you see that? It’s just plain creepy.”
“Well, what did you expect, going out with that harpy?”
“What?!” All heads turned to stare at him. He dropped his voice to a whisper. “What do you mean, going out with?”
“Everyone knows. It’s no use hiding it anymore.”
“Oh, I can’t believe this! Look, Lily…” Rupert’s sentence was cut off by the entrance of Professor Flitwick. “Talk with you before study group?”
“Who said you were invited to study group?” She hissed back. Rupert sent her his best pleading eyes. “Oh all right.” Lily caved. “I’ll see you before study group.”
With all the looks he was getting from the soprano section, choir couldn’t end fast enough. Life, or at least the Slytherins, seemed to be plotting against him as he found himself forced to sit next to Martha VanHaven in every class and meal. Rupert rushed through dinner, trying to ignore the number of times Martha tried to slip her hand on his knee or flutter her eyelashes at him. Finally he was able to make his escape to the third floor study room.
Lily entered a few minutes later, tossing her bag down on the table. “Alright, Rupert, I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt, but if you don’t have a good explanation by the time the others get here, you’re out.”
“Et tu, Lily?” Rupert asked. Lily shot him a warning look. “Ever since we got back from break, everyone’s been acting strange around me. At least tell me what my crimes are before asking me to defend myself.”
“You seriously have no idea?”
“Not a clue.”
“Well…” Lily debated whether she would be a traitor to her sex by giving the boy a clue. “I can’t say for anyone else, but I’m mad that you lied to me.”
“Lie? About what?” Rupert asked incredulously.
“You said that you weren’t interested in anyone, back in November, and then not only do you ask Matha-my-nose-is-bigger-than-Pinnochio-just-so-I-can-look-down-on-you VanHaven to the Yule Ball, you start dating her. If you liked her so much, you could have just admitted it.” Lily sniffed indignantly.
“Oh, if that’s not just the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard! Why does everyone think I’m dating Martha?”
“Well you are, aren’t you? She said you asked her out at the Yule Ball, when you two snuck out. You were gone for an awfully long time.” She shot him a disapproving glare.
“First of all, how would you know how long I was gone from the Great Hall?” Lily stared at him as if to say ‘how stupid do you think I am?’ “And second, it’s not what you’re thinking, whatever you’re thinking.”
“And just what am I thinking, Mr. Giles?” Lily started tapping her foot, like the timer of a bomb about to explode.
“I don’t know, but here’s what happened. She asked if I wanted to go to the owlery and meet her owl…”
“Oh please! You bought that?”
“I figured anything was better than her stepping on my feet through another song, so I said sure. We went to the owlery. Her owl bit me, and I had to go to the infirmary to get it fixed. See!” He held out his finger that had healed long ago.
“You really expect me to believe that?”
“I swear it’s true! You can ask Madame Pomphrey. She’ll vouch for me.”
“Okay, fine, so you were bit by an owl.” Lily capitulated, knowing no one would invoke the shrill mediwitch as a witness if they could avoid it. “That still doesn’t explain why you were sitting next to her at dinner.”
“Well, it’s not like I had a lot of choice with the way Narcissa was herding us. I could hardly go sit with the first years.”
“Her hands were all over you.”
“If you were watching so carefully, you would have noticed I was trying to avoid any contact with Ms. Pinnochio myself.”
“So you’re not going out with Martha?”
“Thank you!” Rupert breathed a sigh of relief.
“That doesn’t really help, you know. Everyone still hates you for leading us on like that.” Lily pouted.
“Leading you on? Since when?” Rupert was beginning to get the feeling that his life had become a Kafka story, complete with the emotional trauma cleverly disguised as conversations of nonsequitors; if only a Kafka story could have a happy ending.
“Well…” Lily narrowed her eyes. “There was that thing with your brother.”
“Oh you are such a man!” Lily fumed. Upon seeing that this was hardly an insult, she clarified. “When you asked Amelia if she had a date yet for the Yule Ball...?”
“What? That was an honest question.”
“Yes, but she wouldn’t have said no if she knew you were asking for your brother.”
“But that makes no sense. Either she had a date or she didn’t and the answer shouldn’t have changed depending on who asked. Since she didn’t, Sev was free to ask her. She could have said no.”
“Right, like that was even a possibility.” Lily rolled her eyes.
“Besides, I thought they had a good time. Severus said it went alright.”
“Of course it went alright; your brother is a gentleman, unlike some boys at Hogwarts,” She sent him another meaningful look. “That’s not the point.”
“Clearly I have stepped into an alternate dimension where the rules of logic don’t apply. Can I just apologize and we go back to the way it was last year … please?”
“Well…” Lily’s verdict was cut short as the Ravenclaw girls entered.
“What is he doing here? I thought we decided…” Amelia Bosenbody blurted out.
Lily cleared her throat. “Well, I’ve changed my mind. We don’t hold anyone else’s relationships against them here, so it would be wrong to ban Rupert just based on who he associates with, even if she is a harpy. Besides, Rupert is our only Slytherin, and we need notes from his house for the OWLs.”
“I suppose it is too late to train a new one…” Amelia finally admitted.
“Thank you, ladies, and I apologize for any wrongdoing I may have committed, whether I realized it or not.” Rupert sent Lily a questioning glance. She nodded and the group breathed a sigh of relief.
As soon as study group was over, Rupert ran to the library in search of his brother. Finding Severus in the reference section, Rupert slipped into the seat next to him. “Hey Sev, I need your help.” He
“What are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be out with Martha?”
“Not you too! I’m not going out with Martha. I never asked her out. I don’t want to go out with her.”
“Funny, that’s not what she says.”
“I know! You’ve got to help me fix this!” Rupert hissed, trying to avoid the ire of the librarian, who was glaring in their direction.
“That’s not an easy task. You know what they say about the Slytherin women- they always get their man.”
“I thought that was the Canadian Mounties.” Sev arched his brow, daring Rupert to correct him. “Alright, alright, so how do I break up with her if I never asked her out?”
“Well, you can try, but I doubt it would work. In fact, it might make her more clingy if she gets suspicious.”
“Oh Salazar, what did I do to deserve this.” Rupert asked the heavens.
“Use your head for once, the solution is quite obvious.” Severus finally took pity on his brother. “If a Slytherin woman always gets what she wants, you just have to convince her that she wants something else…” Severus cast a paranoid glare at Rupert “… something other than me, that is.”
“Thanks! You’re a life saver!” Rupert cried out, clapping Severus on the back.
“Sorry Madame Pince.”