Every Bed Taken
“Buffy!” Giles jumped away from the mental patient.
“That’s my name, don’t wear it out.” The slayer rolled her eyes. “So, after spending so much time last night insisting I had to go to the loony bin, by myself, I might add, why are you here, watcher dearest?”
“I can explain.”
“Somehow that doesn’t surprise me.” Buffy rested her hands on her hips.
“My brother’s appointment was moved back until six. I figured since I was already here in the hospital it wouldn’t hurt to check on things.”
“Yeah, but you could have called. I know you have a phone.”
“Just because I am here does not mean you shouldn’t be here also. There could have been a zombie army here, thus requiring a slayer’s presence.”
“Are you saying there’s not a zombie army here?”
“Well…” Giles glanced around. “It appears that everyone’s body parts are firmly attached and they’re breathing normally. That tends to rule out zombies.”
“Yeah, but I don’t like it. There’s something wiggy going on around here.”
“Are they demons? No. Could a demon cause this?” Buffy shrugged.
“Right, demons.” Giles sighed. He hadn’t even considered the idea that this may not be due to a misfired curse.
“You don’t think it’s a demon, do you?” Giles tried to look impartial, but Buffy saw through it. “This is your brother’s fault isn’t it? You think that wizard we met did this.”
“I must admit, the thought did cross my mind.”
“Alright then, Mr. Expert, how do we tell if this is wizard damage?”
“Well, I was just going to check if this patient’s pupils are dilated. That could indicate which curse could cause this damage.” Giles went back to checking his pocket for his pen light.
“But what if it’s not a curse?”
“Then I don’t know what to think.” Giles admitted, running his hand nervously through his hair. “Is that what you wanted to hear?”
“No.” Buffy pouted.
“Well, then, let’s just look for any clues we can so we’ll have something to research.”
“Right, clues.” Buffy took the next several minutes to check every individual lining the halls while Giles did a more thorough examination of the first patient, looking for any sort of symptoms. “You know this is sort of wiggy. I mean, the hospital staff just left all these people sitting out like this.”
“Well, they are rather catatonic.” Giles reasoned. Who really knew what went on in the minds of Sunnydale General’s staff?
“Still, what if someone I knew was being catatonic here? I wouldn’t want them just mumbling in the hall with no one looking out for them.” Buffy frowned as she looked at yet another woman bent over mumbling. “You know, if this is your wizard friends, I’m going to have to teach them a lesson about not messing with the Hellmouth.”
“If this is due to wizards, I’ll look forward to those lessons.” Giles put the pen light back in his pocket. “Have you found anything yet?”
“Nada. Can we go yet? Please? Pretty please?”
“I’m always amazed by how much you hate hospitals.” Giles observed. “Fine, I doubt I’ll gain anything by looking at the others, and Sev will be finishing up shortly I hope.”
“Fabulous.” Buffy grinned. “So, I’m outtie?”
“If you wouldn’t mind taking a look outside the building as well, that would be useful, but I doubt we’ll find any more in here.”
“Great! I’ll see ya!” Buffy raced past Giles to get to the elevator before he could change his mind.
“Thank heavens my father can’t see me now.” Giles muttered as he headed back to the elevator bank.
“Bad news about that dueling practice.” Rupert said, sitting at the foot of the infirmary bed. “Who would have thought a silencing charm would be so bad?”
Severus glared in response.
“Well, the good news is, at least you’re not alone.” Rupert glanced up the row of cots where Rastaban, Prunella, and Rookie were laying in various states of discomfort. The remaining Slytherin fifth years were gathered around their friends’ beds.
A sharp kick to his side brought Rupert’s attention back to his step-brother. Severus nodded towards the other beds then looked expectantly at Rupert. “What happened?” Severus nodded.
“Well, it’s a funny story really.” Rupert grinned. “Rabbie and Prunella decided the best time to get the Ravenclaw notes would be after electives, so they were waiting outside the choir room when we got out. Needless to say, it didn’t go over well.”
Severus arched his eyebrow accusingly. “Don’t look at me like that. They had a bad strategy! If they were going for the Ravenclaws, why didn’t they go for one of the boys in dueling? Why choir and why try to take Penelope Peasegood as the hostage? Everyone knows Peasegood screams like a banshee. Pruney got one leg lock curse in before Penny screeched, bringing not one, but three, house prefects. Granted, even I had underestimated Botts’ cursing vocabulary. Pomphrey still can’t get those warts off Lestrange’s nose. But, it was still a stupid idea; Bosenbody and Evans can be quite frightening in Transfigurations class, and everyone knows they’re friends with Penny. That had to have been one of the shortest and funniest wizarding duels in Hogwart’s history.” Rupert stared off into space, remembering the brief wand fight. Lily’s cursing was amazing, for a muggleborn.
Severus snapped his fingers and pointed at Rookie. “What happened to Rookwood?” Rupert clarified. Severus nodded. “I’m not sure, something to do with taunting Peeves while on the moving stairs… you know, you really shouldn’t try to groan without your voice. It looks like you’ve got gas.”
Severus communicated his opinion in a very eloquent hand gesture. “I don’t think Cassandra would approve of such language.” Rupert replied with a wink.
Just as Rupert was going to threaten to write Gran about Severus’ condition, Lucius slipped away from the group talking to Rastaban and joined the step-brothers. “Well, look who we have here- if it isn’t the traitor and his step-brother.” Lucius spoke quietly enough that not even Madame Pomphrey could have scolded him for disturbing the patients. Of course he was being quiet more for sounding menacing than his concern for the patients’ wellbeing.
“I don’t see how losing your voice in a duel with Potter counts as being a house traitor.” Rupert stuck up for his brother.
“I wasn’t talking about him.” Lucius turned his cold eyes over to Rupert.
“Alright Malfoy, what are the charges this time?” Rupert matched Lucius’ conspiratorial tone.
“You should have helped your fellow Slytherins in the duel today.” Lucius scolded.
“And do what? Jump into the crossfire and land up in the cot next to them? If they had asked for my opinion beforehand, I would have pointed out that going after the one class with all the female prefects was a dumb idea. Of course they didn’t tell me, so I wasn’t exactly prepared to do anything about it. And when it comes down to jumping into the fray to save face for Slytherin, I didn’t see Narcissa doing anything, and as our house prefect, she at least would have had the authority to stop the other prefects.”
“Are you questioning my Narci’s honor?” Although Lucius was whispering, his voice sounded more like a growl.
“No, no.” Rupert held up his hands in surrender. “I’m simply pointing out that if someone as cunning as our prefect couldn’t figure out how to redeem the situation, how can you expect someone like me to save the day?”
“Well you have a point. You certainly need help when it comes to being cunning.” Lucius admitted.
“Thanks. You’re too kind.” Rupert offered Lucius a thin smile. Severus would have bit his lip to keep from laughing, but as his voice was non-existent, he didn’t even bother hiding his facial expressions.
“I know. If only I could help you develop those Slytherin skills.” Lucius tried to disguise his segue as a novel idea, but Severus could tell that the blonde was just getting to the real reason he came over to the bed in the first place. “I know! With Rabbie and Prunella in the infirmary, we now have no means of attaining the Ravenclaw notes. You could practice your cunning and redeem yourself in our eyes by trying to attain a copy for the house.”
“I could.” Rupert acted like he was thinking it over. “But, really, what’s in it for me? Clearly, it’s going to take a lot of effort to get those notes, and I’m not sure I have the time for such a project… you know, if I didn’t have to meet with Martha about the history notes, I could probably find a way to get some of the notes at least by the next house meeting, but I’m so busy.”
Lucius glanced around to make sure no one was watching him stoop low enough to be negotiating with the muggle-born. “Alright. If you can get at least one section of Ravenclaw notes by the Tuesday meeting, you won’t have to work with Martha.”
“I don’t know… I mean, the pain of having to take one of their familiars hostage, and then drafting the ransom letter. It could take hours.”
“Don’t press your luck.”
“Fine.” They shook on it, and Lucius headed back to the main group of Slytherins. “What are you looking at?” Rupert scowled at his step-brother, who was grinning like the cat that just ate the canary.
“You know just for that,” Rupert reached into his bag and pulled out a several books. “I ran into McGonagall in the hall, and she wanted me to pass on the message that voice or no voice, she still expects you to take the written part of the Transfiguration test tomorrow.” Severus’ smile vanished. What good was being laid up in the infirmary if you couldn’t avoid your least favorite classes? “I’ve brought you the Transfiguration textbook as well as ‘Very Like a Whale: a Wizard’s Guide to Aquatic Transfigurations’ and ‘From Whelp to Kelp- Simple Water Tricks’.”
Severus rolled his eyes. “Not your cup of tea, eh?” Rupert grinned at thick tomes now on his brother’s lap. “Well, I also brought this.” Rupert tossed the latest edition of Witches Weekly on to Severus’ lap. It was absolute torture for Sev not to have a voice when his mind was full of so many witty comebacks to that action. He had to settle for just raising an eyebrow.
“No! Whatever you’re thinking, no.” Rupert replied. “Gran sent it; she wanted you to read the article starting on page forty.”
Severus glanced around to make sure none of the other Slytherins saw him pick up the magazine for witches, and flipped to page forty. There, highlighted in Gran’s favorite shade of green ink, was the article “Can Squibs Exist?” by Remus’ mother. Severus looked up at Rupert in question.
“I didn’t really read it carefully. It has something to do about whether a squib can exist in the magical world, which of course is impossible considering how many buildings and forms of transportation can’t even be accessed without a wand. Then it goes on to say, if squibs are sent to the muggle world to survive, are they squibs any more or are they muggles? Finally, she talks about the murders. Evidently, they’re being called Death Eaters.”
Severus looked thoughtful at that. “Although, I don’t know why. I still think KOWs is a better name for that group.” Severus shot Rupert a withering glare. “What?”
“Well, I better let you get to studying. By the way, you know that thing I talked to you about last week?”
“Severus looked confused.
“You know that thing, with that person, and the potions thing?” Rupert glanced around nervously. More from his brother’s expression than the poorly articulated sentence, Severus recognized what Rupert meant. “Well, I asked, and the best time would be next Wednesday, during the Slytherin quidditch practice, if that’s alright with you?”
Severus thought for a moment, and then with a silent sigh, nodded.
“Great, I’ll let her know that if you have your voice you’ll meet with her next Wednesday.” Rupert grinned. “I just know she’ll be looking forward to it.”
Severus rolled his eyes then shooed his brother out of the room. Visiting hour was over, and Severus had lots of work to do. Especially if he was planning on out scoring everyone else on the Transfiguration test.
Rupert skipped out of the infirmary and headed straight for the library, where he knew he would find who he was looking for. Seeing her bent over her Transfiguration notes, Rupert snuck up behind her and placed his hands over her eyes. “Guess who?”
“Ru!” Lily blushed.
“You guessed right.” Rupert sank into the seat next to her. “I just went to see Severus.”
“Oh no.” Lily groaned. “I heard about the duel. I bet he hates Gryffindor now even more than ever.”
“Well, yeah, maybe.” Rupert admitted. “But I did get him to agree to schedule some time to meet with you. I hope you’re free Wednesday afternoons.”
“He really said he’d do it?”
“Of course. I wouldn’t tell you if he said no.”
“No, I’d just keep asking him until he said yes.” Rupert teased.
“Lovely, so I should assume he’s doing this only under duress?”
“It won’t be that bad. He’s not nearly as awful as everyone seems to think. He’s just shy.”
“Shy?” Lily couldn’t help but think that shy was the last word she would use to describe Severus Snape; cold, aloof, prickly, maybe even loathsome- but not shy. After all, this was the same Severus Snape who had gladly reduced her to tears at the third year potions bee. He had no problem gloating in public then.
“Don’t worry. Just show him that you’re smart enough to pick up whatever he shows you. There’s nothing he hates more than an idiot.”
“And yet he’s friends with Evan?” Lily frowned.
“I don’t think friends is the right term.” Rupert frowned. “He’s as much Evan’s friend as I am Lucius’ friend.”
“Oh.” Lily chewed on that thought for awhile. Slytherin politics were not her specialty. She could have sworn that Evan and Severus were on good terms despite one being a total flirt and the other being a social pariah. Of course, to someone who didn’t know Rupert better, it might appear he was chums with Lucius for the number of times the two of them were seen conspiring in the hallways generally preceding or following any of the inter-house pranks.
“So, you are free to meet him on Wednesday, right?”
“Oh, right. That will work perfectly.” Lily smiled at Rupert. “Thanks. Let’s just hope this helps.”
“Oh it will. Just trust me.”