Scrying for the Obvious
Severus carefully wafted the air above the mug he cradled in his right hand. “Cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves?” he asked with disdain.
“It’s called chai, and it’s decaffeinated. I wanted you to sleep tonight.”
“And here I thought you were going to read my tea leaves. How very disappointing.” Severus took a sip despite it being that herbal rubbish so popular amongst the female students.
“I was never particularly good at tea leaves.”
“You passed the OWL, didn’t you?”
“By the skin of my teeth. I actually did better in potions than divinations.”
“Clearly the potions standards board must have been feeling generous that year.”
Giles pulled a chair up to the side of the couch, and brought over his own mug of chamomile tea. “Yes, well, they couldn’t have been that generous. I certainly didn’t live up to my father’s standards on those exams.”
“Your father is a fool who has no understanding of the wizarding world.”
“I don’t know; he evidently understands wizards better than I do. When I moved here, he suggested that I put confundus charms around my entire neighborhood to prevent your people from finding me. I assumed that our defense teachers were right in saying wizards would never go to a Hellmouth. Let’s see who’s right now.” Giles smiled bitterly over his mug of Earl Grey.
“You’re both idiots. Confundus charms would impact muggles as much as wizards, and trying to anchor them to a Hellmouth would be just as likely to produce an army of confused zombies as it would protect you from prying eyes.”
“Really? An army of confused zombies? You don’t think…”
Severus pursed his lips in concentration. “Hmm, perhaps. It would explain why none of my efforts to scry for the wizard this morning worked. There’s something off about that, though. Were all the patients muttering about the same thing?”
“They kept on asking about the portkey.”
“It’s not confundus then. That still doesn’t rule out obliviate, though.”
“Would the Death Eaters obliviate the muggles they found here, or would they just kill them outright?”
“Well, if this was England, the muggles would be dead, but I wonder. If a Death Eater was sent alone to California, would he be more careful about leaving a trail of bodies that traced back to him?”
“That would just be silly. Dead bodies don’t exactly stand out on the Hellmouth.”
“That’s a comforting thought.” Severus tried to shift the mug to his left hand, but gave up the idea when he realized the cast was in the way.
“Wait, you tried scrying this morning?”
“Did you really expect me to sit around and do nothing all day? This could be a matter of life and death.”
“All life and death aside, you tried scrying on the hellmouth? Are you mad?”
“It seemed like the most reasonable thing to do. Granted it didn’t work, but I blame that on the vague map provided by your newspaper.” Severus glared at the discarded newspaper on the floor, opened to an ad for a chain store with three locations starred on the cartoon map.
“You’re insane.” Giles said, picking up the paper and staring at the map, now with several burnt spots through the newsprint.
“It was not that unreasonable.”
“It could have been disasterous! Willow once tried to scry for a lost necklace, and we had to spend the next week trying to return her vampiric doppelganger to its alternate dimension. You just don’t scry willy-nilly on the Hellmouth.”
“Weren’t you just saying this evening that she was young and untrained?”
“So you see, there was no reason to expect my scrying would fail when I’ve had considerably more experience and wand control than she.”
“It’s not the experience and wand control I worry about, it’s the Hellmouth’s unfortunate habit of unintended consequences. Perhaps your scrying is what led that wizard straight to our door.”
“Speaking of which, have you done anything to prevent him from returning? You should strengthen the wards. After all, I wouldn’t be surprised if that damn blonde vampire were to rat us out the first chance he had.”
“Pity and I thought you got along famously with Spike.” Giles muttered. “No, I haven’t reinforced the wards. I don’t know what would possibly work.”
Severus opened his mouth to answer, but quickly realized that he too had exhausted his knowledge of wards safe for Hellmouth use. “Well, perhaps instead of thinking in terms of defense, we should consider offense.”
“This isn’t quidditch.”
“Oh really? I was confused on that point.” Severus snapped back. “I meant, instead of trying to protect this house as a last stronghold, we should find out where this other wizard is staying.”
“And how should we do that… without scrying?”
“Well, have you asked around? If there is a wizard in town, he will be acting strangely. The residents would surely notice someone walking around trying to pass off galleons at the stores.”
“Once again I think you underestimate the Hellmouth’s ability to surprise us and you overestimate the average citizen’s intelligence.” Giles sipped his tea. When he saw Severus open his mouth, he added “Besides, I’ve already tried that. Buffy is inquiring around as we speak and she was going to ask Willow to investigate the obliviate victims to see if there were any geographic coincidences. I think in this case the girls are far more likely to discover something without arousing the wizard’s suspicions than I would.”
“I just hate laying around and doing nothing. I should be making medical potions for after the upcoming battle or something; not just sitting around drinking this flowery disgrace to tea.” Severus frowned. Giles had to keep from smirking; clearly the chai was doing nothing for Severus’ mood. The odds of there being a great battle with this other wizard were extremely unlikely. Either the wizard would be too much for them and Severus would die, or they would have the wizard captured with no blood spilt. Either way, the wounds wouldn’t be the kind easily fixed by a dose of pepper-up.
“You’re in no position to make potions. I’ll reinforce the wards, but unless you know how to trace wand spells without using a wand yourself, there’s nothing left for us to do tonight.”
“The Ministry tracking spells and perhaps one of Pa’s gadgets are the only ways I know of that would allow us to find a specific wand, and we can’t exactly go to the Ministry right now for help.” Severus took a sip of the lukewarm tea and scowled. “When is he supposed to pick up the floo from your store? I should brew some veritaserum in case we need it for the inquisition.”
“Severus, as your brother, I recommend you relax before I am forced to sedate you.” Giles finally interjected. “You can’t even move your left arm and until we know from Buffy and Willow where this wizard might be, it’s a bit hasty to prepare the veritaserum.”
“I hate this.” Severus ground out through clenched teeth.
“So watch some more television. It seemed to distract you from everything important earlier today.”
“Well, given your skills at warding, we’re just sitting ducks anyway. Perhaps I will watch more television… but first I need to use the loo.”
“Of course you do.” Giles groaned. Another week of taking care of Severus, and he might be inclined to turn his brother over to authorities, regardless of which side the wizard was on.
Rupert marched up to the foot of his bed. “Ave Caesari, moratari sunt salutavit.” With a mangled choking sigh, he threw himself ceremoniously face down on the top blankets, arms held out to the side in a symbolic gesture.
“Oh come off it. It wasn’t that bad.” Severus carefully packed his lucky quill back in his locked and warded trunk.
“It was worse.” Rupert mumbled into his pillow.
“And you’re not even finished yet.” Severus smirked.
“What’s he going on about?” Damon said from his bed on the other side of the room. The three boys had passed up the offer of a Slytherin-Ravenclaw pick-up quidditch match in favor of relaxing after the day of testing.
“Evidently, he believes the divination OWL was considerably more difficult than our arithmancy exam.” Severus answered.
“I didn’t say that.” Rupert insisted, rolling his head to the side so that they could actually hear his brother.
“If it was so easy then, why are you prepared to commit hari-kari?” Severus smirked, kicking off his shoes before climbing onto his bed.
“Oh I don’t know, maybe the stars are telling me to… or maybe it’s the tea leaves… or perhaps the crystal ball?” Rupert groaned.
“It couldn’t have been that bad.”
“The written part was actually quite nice.” Rupert admitted. “It’s not as though we don’t cover most of that information in astronomy and runes as well. It was the practical that killed me … literally.”
“You don’t look dead to me.” Damon shrugged. By the third day of OWLs, he had figured one of the Slytherins would crack. He had just figured on it being Lucius, given how much pressure his father put on him.
“No I didn’t think so either, but clearly the fates are stacked against me. My tea leaves said death. My crystal ball said death. My tarot reading said death, with the added excitement of violence, betrayal, and for some strange reason, a powerful female figure. Just once I was hoping for a ‘you will pass this test’ reading, and all I got was various forms of death. Even the graders seemed a bit scared of me by the end.”
“I would be more surprised if you didn’t see death omens.” Severus muttered, settling on his blankets for a quick nap before dinner.
“Oh? Are you planning on killing me? Should we send Damon to meet the others at the quidditch pitch so you don’t have to worry about witnesses?”
“You’re being ridiculous and especially obtuse.” Severus closed his eyes, hoping for sleep to take him from this conversation. “Your father hunts vampires for a living and wants you to take over the family business. Both your mother and your grandmother died violent deaths. Your wand core is vampire’s blood. Quite frankly, if death did not come up in your readings, I would be shocked.”
“Oh thank you oh so much.” Rupert grimaced.
“And the good news is, at least you knew it was a death omen.” Damon added in. “I tried to help Rastaban with the omens last week, and he couldn’t tell a grim from a rabbit. I’m not even in that class and I could figure it out better than him.”
“Yeah, Rabbie didn’t look so hot after the exam.” Rupert muttered. “He went right after me, so maybe the crystal ball was still stuck on all the death omens. Who knows?”
“The good news is, we just have potions left.” Damon smiled. There was no way potions could possibly be worse than the transfiguration and charms exams.
“Don’t forget history.”
“Who cares about history?” Damon scoffed.
“I do.” Rupert answered back, rolling over on his bed so he could face the other boy and still relax on the pillow.
“You’ve got to be kidding me. Whatever do you need history for? When I told Jigger I wanted to work in the Ministry, he said I didn’t need history. If the Ministry doesn’t care about that stuff, why should you?”
“You never know. I could need it for my career.”
“What do you plan on doing? Incite the next goblin rebellion?”
“Hmm, now there’s an interesting idea. Hey, Sev, what do you think father would say if I decided to incite a goblin riot instead of joining the Council?”
“I don’t think he’d say a thing.” Sev mumbled, his eyes firmly shut as though in denial of being awake. “It’s more a matter of what he’d do. I have a feeling it would be considerably worse than quality time with Quentin.”
“Alas, and it sounded like such a promising career.” Rupert sighed melodramatically.
“So you’re joining the Council?” Damon thought about it. “I suppose that would be an interesting career, and history would be important if you spent a lot of time looking up dead things. It’s just…”
“… Just say it, Travers.”
“Don’t you think it’s rather squib-y?”
“Is that even a word?” Severus mumbled.
“No offense intended, but I thought the Council was rather a dumping ground for squibs that couldn’t get jobs in the Ministry. After all, that’s how Uncle Wilford got in there. Of course, if anyone asks, I’ll deny this conversation ever took place.”
“If I were you, I would still be embarrassed to be related to Wilford Travers even if he wasn’t a squib.” Rupert said, smiling at the snort coming from Severus’ bed.
The trio fell into a conversation lull, and Severus was just about to drift off, when Damon piped up again. “So, any exciting plans for the summer?”
“Provided I don’t fail tomorrow, I will be at Hogwarts all summer working on potions.” Severus answered.
“Sounds thrilling. How about you?”
“My father is sending me to Greece, something about experiencing history.” Rupert rolled his eyes. “I’ll actually be spending time with your cousin at an archeological site.”
“Second cousin, twice removed I hope.”
“Either way, I imagine he’ll be a git, as usual.”
“Hey, don’t blame me. My father banned me from speaking to that side of the family years ago. In fact, grandfather burned them off the family tapestry when Wilford didn’t get a Hogwarts letter. It was a shame to the family the day they had to send him to that second-rate Sherborne school.”
“Disowning because he’s a null? That’s a bit harsh, isn’t it?” Rupert couldn’t help but ask.
“Maybe they were just looking for any excuse to get rid of him. After all, to meet the man is to loathe him.” Severus muttered; so much for the idea of taking a nap.
“I think disowning him is really the nicest thing we could have done. I mean think about it, how could a muggle possibly survive in our society? Any possible job we have he wouldn’t be competent at. He can’t get around apparating or using floo; it would just burn him right up. God forbid if he were actually to inherit our family manor; the wards wouldn’t recognize him, he couldn’t open the doors, all of the water taps would be shut off to him. No, muggles just don’t belong here.”
“Where have I heard that before?” Rupert muttered.
“Just because you want there to be an exception doesn’t mean the rule is wrong.” Damon shot back. “Muggle things and wizard things just don’t mix. We shouldn’t go into their world, any more than they should come into ours. Take the knight bus for example.”
“What’s wrong with the knight bus? It sounded like a good idea in the paper.” Rupert retorted, glad he had at least read that issue of the Daily Prophet in preparing for his history notes.
“Alright, so we have a bus for stranded wizards and witches, but what will it drive on?”
“Roads, of course.” Rupert scoffed.
“Right, roads; with all the other muggle traffic, I take it?”
“Well, that would be considerably easier than trying to build roads just for wizards, don’t you think? Roads can be very expensive, and the Ministry taxes are already high, according to Gran.”
“Right, so a bus pops onto a street, drives faster than is muggle-y possible, and then disappears again. Any muggle watching that is going to be paying attention to the bus, and not to whatever their supposed to be doing. Bam! All the muggles crash and die, and who will they blame? Of course they’ll miss the fact that they were the ones not paying attention, and immediately blame the wizards.”
“If I remember correctly,” Severus interjected, in a way that implied that he most certainly remembered correctly, “the Ministry has been working on a series of invisibility charms and bumper wards to prevent such a thing from happening. The bus won’t cause any accidents because the muggles won’t even know it’s there.”
“Besides, it’s not like the muggle authorities would believe
reports of a double-decker purple bus disappearing as the cause of the accidents.” Rupert interjected.
“You really think the Ministry wizards are smart enough to think of that?” Damon ignored Rupert.
“One would hope so. Of course if you’re the type of wizard they’re recruiting, I may be overestimating them.”
“Git.” Damon threw a pillow at Severus’ head. When it missed, he lazily accio’d it back to his bed.
“Personally, I think the knight bus is a good idea. It’s been a pain not to have an apparition license, and it would certainly cut down on the floo calls during the summer if Hogwarts students could actually go places.” Rupert threw in his opinion.
“I’m not saying it’s not a nice thing to have around. I’m saying that it’s wrong for us to use muggle roads just as its wrong for a muggle to try to get by in this world.”
“You sound just like Lucius, with all his anti-muggle sentiments.”
Damon didn’t even try to deny his similarity to Lucius’ latest point of view. “I think you’re missing our point. We’re not anti-muggle. We’re just for a clearer division between the wizarding world and the muggle world. You could say Separate but Equal.”
“Isn’t that the same catch phrase they rioted over in America?” Rupert mused. “Seperation only works if everyone is either one or the other. It’s not such a clean break in reality. What about muggle-born students? If they try to be muggle, their inherent nature will cause spontaneous magic accidents, but if we separate them out from the muggle world, they’ll never be able to see their family again. That’s not right.”
“I don’t know, maybe it is.” Damon frowned. “Wouldn’t a wizarding child be happier in a wizarding family? We should have all children identified early and adopted into a wizarding family so they grow up normally.”
“And all squibs get orphaned off as well?” Rupert shot back sarcastically.
“Sure, why not?”
“Clearly, because no one would adopt them.” Severus shot back. “If wizards care about lineages and family magic so much, why would a pure-blood wizarding family adopt a muggle-born witch or wizard? They wouldn’t, and we’d suddenly have an enormous number of wards of the state, which would just cause taxes to skyrocket. It’s just as likely that the muggle orphanages would be crowded with our squibs. And that doesn’t even begin to get into the logistics of getting the muggle-born babies from their parents. I doubt any of them would willingly hand over their child just because we say so.”
“Then maybe we should arrange to swap the babies in the muggle hospitals before their parents know any better.”
“So we would have to station a witch at every muggle hospital to look for magical babies to switch? That hardly gets us out of the muggle world.”
“Look, you just don’t understand.” Damon rolled his eyes. “I can’t explain this well, but trust me it would work. Lord Voldemort said…”
“Wait, is this that chap that Lucius went to hear in Vienna?”
“The one that’s a complete looney?” Rupert muttered.
“What does Lord Voldemort have to say about baby snatching? Please tell us; Lucius has never mentioned baby snatching before.” Severus asked, feigning extreme interest.
“He wasn’t talking about baby snatching. He just said that muggles and wizards should be kept separate. That it is vital to our economy, and that our society depends on it.”
“That’s nice, but how is it vital to our economy?”
“What do you mean, how?”
“Last I checked, the wizarding economy depended on the muggle economy to operate. Take agriculture for example. What sort of self-respecting wizard would waste his time farming? And yet, all wizards have to eat. Sure we have charms to keep food fresher, longer, but if you don’t want to be eating transfigured shoelaces, you really need to get the food from a farm. If wizards didn’t trade with muggles, we’d all starve.”
“Yes, but why should we have to trade with the muggles? Wizards are better than muggles. We should just be able to take the food we need. They would never be able to stop us.”
“So you’re saying it’s alright to steal from a muggle just because you’ll never get caught.” Rupert mused. “That’s interesting, a frightening commentary on our society, but interesting as well.”
“No, I’m not saying we should steal.” Damon frowned, not liking the language being put in his mouth. “I’m just saying we shouldn’t have to pay for muggle things. Look, it’s like house elves.”
“Oh I can’t wait to hear this one.” Severus smirked.
“House elves keep to their own society and never try to attend wizard schools just as wizards never try to join whatever it is house elves do. The house elves get our food and in exchange we provide them shelter and a meaning of life. Muggles should be the same way.”
“That’s got to be one of the most flawed arguments I’ve ever heard. First of all, only the richest wizards can afford house elves, so if muggles were the same way, we’d still have a lot of wizards that couldn’t afford one, starving because they had no food. Second, muggles are humans, house elves aren’t. It would take a lot more for a wizard to maintain a human and so it wouldn’t be cost effective. Why not just get a house elf? Lastly, there are almost a billion muggles in the world while only a million wizards, if that many; wizards would never win if the muggles protested en masse.”
“I didn’t mean that they would be the new house elf, I meant that they would be in a separate society that didn’t overlap with ours.”
“But as it stands, the house elves do overlap with us.” Rupert insisted.
“You just don’t understand.” Damon muttered.
“You’re right, I don’t understand how anyone could possibly thinking it right to treat muggles worse than they treat wizards when clearly we’re all human.”
“And it’s that sort of statement that’s getting you shipped off to Greece this summer.” Severus muttered under his breath.