Pardon the Interruption
“Buffy?” Willow mumbled while rubbing her eyes.
Her roommate stayed silent.
“Buffy? Your alarm clock’s going off.” Willow tried again. “And if you don’t turn it off in the next ten seconds, I’m going to turn it into a chicken. I’m a witch; I can do that, you know.” Willow opened her eyes and rolled over to stare at the lump on Buffy’s bed. “I’m serious; I’m counting to ten as we speak.” Willow glared at the beeping alarm clock.
“Fine, be that way.” Willow glared at the clock. “Tempus fugit, Pullus frigit.”
The plastic clock seemed to melt away, only to reform a minute later into a yellow chicken with numbers for eyes. The annoying beep of the alarm clock was replaced by an only slightly less annoying “chirp.” She glanced once again at her roommate, who let out a petite snore in time with the chicken’s tune.
“Note to self- don’t speak Latin in the morning.” Willow rolled out of bed, grabbed her shower caddy, towels, and robe and headed down the hall for her shower. She would have preferred staying in bed, but she had no clue how to turn off a chicken and didn’t want to get pecked to death trying to find out.
Evidently the chicken got tired of chirping, for when Willow got back from her shower, the room was quiet except for Buffy’s snoring. She quickly got dressed in jeans, a t-shirt, and just for kicks, her rainbow toe socks. As she was slipping her socks on, she glanced at the post-it note on Buffy’s desk. “Meet G, 8 AM!!!”
“Ruroh.” Willow mumbled to herself, noticing that her own alarm clock was showing a quarter to eight. Maybe turning Buffy’s alarm clock into a chicken wasn’t the smartest move ever. “Oh, well, here goes nothing.”
She picked up her pillow and tried to poke Buffy’s shoulder with it, but the pillow just squished up against the sleeping slayer. “Okay, so something pokier.” Willow frowned as she glanced around. Her eyes fell on a banana on Buffy’s desk. “Hmm, bananas are pokey… and I can’t believe I just thought that.” Willow shook her head. “Thank goodness Xander’s not here.”
Still, glancing around the room she saw nothing better, so she picked up the banana, and tiptoed around to Buffy’s bed. She barely touched Buffy’s shoulder with the fruit, when the slayer instincts kicked in. One hand grabbed Willow’s wrist and the other grabbed the fruit. Buffy’s eyes snapped open. “Willow?”
“Ow?” Willow replied.
Buffy quickly let go of Willow’s hand and glanced down. “Ew, why do I have banana goo on my hand?”
“Well, I didn’t know how to wake you up, so I thought a banana would work… evidently I thought wrong. Granted, you are awake, but next time I think I’ll need a bigger banana.” Willow said, shaking out her wrist.
“Oh, no, I didn’t hurt you too bad, did I? Silly slayer reflexes.”
Buffy winced, still a bit sleep groggy.
“Nah, I’ll be good once I walk it off.” Willow assured her. “But the banana has seen better days.”
“That’s okay. You’re awake and that’s good since you need to meet Giles at eight.”
“I do?” Buffy glanced at the bright pink note on her desk. “Doh, I do. But you still didn’t have to wake me up. I set my alarm clock last night.”
“Yeah, well about that…” Willow glanced at the plastic chicken, drawing Buffy’s attention to the remains of what had been her alarm clock.
“Willow, why is there a chicken on my desk where my clock used to be?”
“Well, you see, it started going off this morning, and you weren’t waking up, so … what can I say? Latin and mornings don’t mix?”
“What did you say to it?” Buffy looked at her friend in disbelief.
“Time flies, chicken fries?”
“Wow… that’s just… wow.”
“Yeah, so anyway you’ve got like ten minutes before you’re supposed to meet Giles.”
“Huh?” Buffy glanced at Willow’s clock. “Oh no! We’re supposed to get some training in before he opens the store. Damn, how did it get so late?”
“You know,” Willow shrugged, “time flies?”
“… and chickens fry.” Buffy shook her head. She hoped her assigned jog would go past the coffee shop because she could already tell this was a day that would need caffeine.
“Why are you wearing that?” Rupert stared at his brother in a green and white rugby shirt and sweatpants.
“What? Is there a spot on it?” Severus glanced down at his shirt.
“No, it’s just, well… more rugged than I’m used to seeing you?” Rupert offered cautiously.
“It’s not that bad.” Severus glanced down the table at what the other boys were wearing. The whole bench was dressed in casual clothes this Saturday morning.
“I didn’t say it was bad. I just didn’t know you owned a shirt that didn’t need a tie.” Rupert teased.
“Har dee har har,” Severus nervously speared another piece of egg on his fork.
“So what’s the big occasion?”
“It’s quidditch try-outs.”
“I know that, but what’s with the clothes? You normally just wear your black robe to try-outs.”
“That’s because normally I just watch.” Severus informed his brother with a bitter smile.
“Wait, you mean you’re actually trying out?” Rupert asked in disbelief.
“I’ve been practicing all summer.” In fact, Severus and Remus had spent many evenings on their brooms at the quidditch pitch, trying to avoid the simpering witch Trelawney, who was in her final year apprenticing with Madame Vablatsky. While Severus knew he wasn’t a stellar quidditch player, Remus had assured him he had the speed and balance to make a half decent chaser.
“Really? You never told me that.”
“You never told me about your dueling practice this summer, but I’m sure you worked on that.” Severus countered.
“Well, of course I did. I just meant, well, if you’re trying out, who am I supposed to watch the try-outs with?”
“The girls?” Severus offered.
“That’s just cruel.”
And yet, an hour later, as the rest of the sixth year Slytherin boys were parading onto the quidditch pitch with their broomsticks, Rupert found himself in the crowd of girls and first years. After being asked for a fifth time why he wasn’t trying out, Rupert decided he needed out. “Narcissa, darling?”
“Yes, Rupert dear?” The house princess addressed her, well, friend would be using the term loosely.
“It’s really quite crowded here, I think I’m going to try and get a better view elsewhere.”
“It is a bit stuffy with all these first years.” Narcissa shot a disgusted look at the pack of eleven year olds who were more interested in rooting for their classmate than offering proper recognition to the house hierarchy. “Where were you planning on going?”
Rupert glanced around for an idea of where he could go without the girls following him. “The Gryffindor stands look pretty empty.”
“You know we’re not allowed up there.”
“Is that a real rule?”
“Well, technically no. But if you go over there, what’s to prevent them from coming over here?”
“If the Gryffindors show up here, I’m sure Prunella will take care of them, and it’s not like any of them will find me up there.”
“Alright, it’s your own funeral.” Narcissa shrugged, giving her blessing to whatever stunt Rupert had in mind.
Rupert ducked out of the Slytherin stand, and made his way around the pitch to the red and gold stand. He climbed the stairs, enjoying the silence on this side of the field. As he reached the curtain into the student box, his ears popped, and he thought for a moment that he must have climbed the stairs too quickly. He moved aside the curtain to face another surprise. Lying on one of the benches reading a book was a very familiar redhead. Walking right up to her, he leaned down over her head. “Lily?”
“Eep!” Lily threw the book up, hitting Rupert on the nose. Sitting up, Lily finally caught her breath. “Don’t scare me like that!” Lily slapped him on the arm.
“Ow?” Rupert rubbed his nose as he sat down beside her. “I wasn’t exactly trying to scare you, you know. I made plenty of noise coming up the stairs.”
“I couldn’t hear you. I had a bubble charm up.”
“Well don’t accuse me of surprising you, if you’re going to be putting up silencing charms right and left. What’s the big idea?”
“Well, I had to cast a silencing charm.”
“Of course I did. I come out here for a bit of peace and quiet, only to be so rudely interrupted by your house making enough noise to wake Rip van Winkle.”
“It’s quidditch try-outs; what did you expect?”
“How was I supposed to know that?”
“I don’t know? Because Slytherin quidditch try-outs are always the first Saturday morning of the school year?”
“That’s just silly.” Lily frowned.
“True, but that’s tradition.” Rupert answered with a wry smile. “If you wanted peace and quiet, why did you come all the way out here anyway? You would have been better off in the library or by the lake.”
“I suppose, but that’s where everyone would think of looking for me.”
“So you don’t want to be found.” Rupert concluded. “Are you doing something important? Am I bothering you?”
“Oh, no, not at all.” Lily quickly shut her book and shoved it into her bag.
“Okay, so if what you’re doing isn’t that important, then you must be trying to avoid somebody.” Lily glanced away guiltily. “Who are you avoiding? Is it Peter Pettigrew again? Meggie was telling me he got, oh how did she phrase it, clingy, after the last dance.” Rupert scowled at the thought of the worm of the sixth years.
“Oh this is going to sound awful.” Lily shot Rupert a guilty glance.
“I’m trying to avoid Meggie.”
“Really?” Rupert certainly wasn’t expecting that. “I thought you and MacDuff were best friends and all that.”
“Oh, we are.” Lily sighed.
“You know, it’s a bad sign when you have to run away from your friends.”
“I know. I’m just so mad at her; I don’t know what to do.”
“What did she do wrong this time?”
“Well, you know how she is about Black?”
“I was rather hoping she would get over that during the summer.”
“No luck. In fact, if anything she’s gotten worse. Evidently the Blacks and the MacDuffs went to some family reunion gathering over the summer, although how they’re related I don’t know.”
“It’s probably through the Lestrange line.”
“What isn’t?” Rupert shrugged.
“I don’t know.” Lily admitted. “Anyway, at this big reunion, the topic of lycanthrope legislation came up, and Sirius actually told his father that it was wrong. Clearly he was just trying to rebel, but Meggie doesn’t see it like that. Ever since she got back from that she’s been raving about Sirius. He’s so brave to stand up against his parents like that! And he’s so handsome! And don’t I think he’s wonderful for being so independent?”
“I think I’m going to get sick.” Rupert groaned.
“Oh, but it gets worse.”
“I don’t see how.”
“On the train, she had this brilliant idea that the Gryffindor boys are incapable of doing anything by themselves, so the trick to getting Sirius is to go after the group.”
“She’s going to date all four of them?! That’s just… well, that’s just not right, even for Meggie.”
“No, silly, she wants to set me up with James so that we can ‘double date.’ Doesn’t that just sound lovely?” The sarcasm was dripping off Lily’s words.
“Ugh. I hope you’ve set her straight.”
“I’ve tried, but it’s no use. I’ve decided it’s probably best to just ignore her until it goes away. You know Meggie; she’ll have a new brilliant plan by dinner.”
“What if she doesn’t? What if she still wants to set you up? What will you do then?” Rupert rather enjoyed playing the role of devil’s, or in this case, Margaret MacDuff’s, advocate.
“I don’t know.” Lily frowned.
“Why don’t you go on a date with Potter, just to shut her up?” Rupert offered. After five full years in Slytherin, he had learned how to humor someone hell-bent on something, and Margaret MacDuff was certainly hell-bent on Sirius Black.
“I don’t know.” Lily looked into Rupert’s eyes as if searching for a hidden answer. “Maybe it’s because I like someone else.”
“Oh.” Rupert blushed, and turned away as if to watch the quidditch tryouts. Finally after a minute, he asked, “Is it Lupin?”
“What? No!” Rupert was surprised by the vehement response. “Not that there’s anything wrong with Remus. He’s always been very nice to me; he’s just, how do I say this… boring? Do you know what I mean? He’ll make a lovely professor, with a lovely wife, and lovely children, and they will be very lovingly boring.”
“I think you underestimate him.” Rupert replied. “He’s probably braver than most if he can room with Severus for an entire summer and not go crazy.”
“I don’t mean there’s anything wrong with being boring. It’s just not for me. I want to have adventures. I want someone who will want to see the wonders of the world with me; go to Egypt, China, Greece…”
Rupert knew that there was probably a hidden meaning judging from the leading look in Lily’s eyes, but he wasn’t quite sure what she meant. “I think that’s just your Gryffindor romanticism. I’ve been to Greece, and really adventure is rather overrated.” Rupert thought of the nightmares he’d been having since reading Quentin’s statue. Yes, he could live a long time without having that sort of adventure again. “Granted, I always thought China sounded like a nice destination. They have good tea there.”
“What? It’s true. Alright, so you want someone adventuresome. That won’t convince Meggie you don’t like Potter. Is there anything else you’re looking for in this mysterious interest of yours?”
“Well, I want someone who would appreciate art, like music.” This time Rupert was sure there was something in the way Lily was speaking that was supposed to be a hint. He just wasn’t sure he knew what the hint meant. On one hand, it would be nice if she was trying to hint that she liked him, but on the other hand, it would be thoroughly humiliating if he thought he was getting a hint when in fact she was talking about someone else.
“Music you say?” Rupert coughed nervously. “Well, considering how much you stood up for Whimple last year, I would have said he qualified, but he’s not exactly what I would call adventuresome.” Lily rolled her eyes. “Oh, I know! It’s that Ravenclaw chap that Beatrice said plays the organ. I would say a pipe organ is a rather adventuresome instrument.”
Lily shook her head in defeat. “You’re really dense you know that?”
“I am?” Well, that didn’t exactly sound like she was interested in him. Maybe he had been misinterpreting her hints all along.
“You just don’t get it at all. In some ways you’re even worse than Meggie. At this rate, I’d be better off hiding in this quidditch stand forever than trying to convince Meggie she couldn’t set me up because I had a viable alternative.” Lily sulked. This wasn’t how she intended her sixth year to go. Rupert Giles was supposed to sweep her off her feet and they were supposed to live happily ever after. Evidently, Rupert hadn’t gotten the owl.
“There’s always a third option. You could go on a double date with Potter and sabotage it so badly that he’d never ask you out again. I wouldn’t mind helping you plan such a thing. I bet you could even convince Severus to whip you up a few potions to use. After all, this would be a considered a worthy cause in his book.” Lily’s lips twitched as she tried not to smile. “He’s got this great secret recipe that causes a person to burp bubbles. It’s rather amusing to watch, but tastes rather odd if you mix it with pumpkin juice.”
“You sound like you’ve got first hand experience.”
“The things I do for my family.” Rupert joked.
“Still, I would hate to ask Severus for that kind of favor, especially after all the help he was last year.”
“Since you brought it up… I was wondering how did you do?” Rupert smirked.
“I actually managed an E, can you believe it? McGonagall says I should be able to qualify for the mediwizards program without a problem if my NEWTs are as good.”
“Well, I owe you a big thanks for that. If you hadn’t set up those sessions with Severus, I would have failed it for sure.”
“I’m sure he’ll be glad to hear you did well.”
“I doubt it. He’ll probably be appalled to think that anyone in their right mind would let me in the NEWTS class. I don’t think he likes me very much.”
“Oh nonsense.” Rupert scoffed, looking out at the boys lining up for chaser drills. He was so intent on observing how his classmates were doing that he nearly missed Lily’s scoff. “Fine, you may not be his favorite person in the world, but I don’t think he hates you. I think he just gets very protective around his potions.”
“I think it goes well beyond that.” Lily shook her head.
“How so?” Rupert knew Severus’ reputation within his house was not always glowing, but he was curious just how other houses viewed the star student of Slytherin.
“He’s such a bloody perfectionist about everything. I bet he got perfect Os on his OWLS.” Lily joined Rupert in looking over the railings to watch the Slytherin practice.
“I know for a fact that he did not get perfect scores on his OWLs. Nobody gets perfect scores.”
“Oh yeah? Then what did he mess up on?”
“He did rather abominably on History.”
“That doesn’t count. Nobody cares what someone gets in history. I mean about important things. He never makes mistakes in the important things. It’s inhuman.”
“That’s not true. Severus makes mistakes all the time.”
“Oh yeah? Name one.”
As if tempting fate, the pair was interrupted by a loud whistle from the field. “Wizards down! Someone call Pomphrey.” The quidditch captain, a seventh year named Denny, belted out with his amplified voice.
“Oh dear.” Rupert muttered, noticing that the pile of tangled limbs at the center of the pitch included his brother and the first year phenom.
“I’ll see your oh dear, and raise you a Merlin.” Lily gasped as they pulled Gordon Llewellyn off of Severus. “That can’t be good.”
“No kidding. With Gordon out, it means Augustus will make the team.”
“I meant, Merlin, your brother looks really hurt! You should do something about it.”
“What can I do about it? Madame Pomphrey is already on her way.” Rupert pointed to the mediwitch walking onto the field.
“Boys.” Lily shook her head in disgust. “You just don’t get it.”
“That’s not true. I get it. But I have a feeling Sev’s embarrassed enough about the fall. Having his brother there to dote on him would just make things worse. At tragic times like this a Slytherin has to keep what little dignity he has.”