The Duties of a Brother
A/N: At last, a chapter several of you have been waiting for. I hope I don't disappoint too badly...
Willow nudged open the door to the Magic Box while balancing a drink tray, a take-out bag, and her book bag. “Hey Buffy, mission accomplished.”
“Thank goodness.” Buffy gracefully rolled out of her headstand to face Willow. “Which one’s mine?”
Willow set the tray down on the research table. “Doesn’t matter, it’s mochas all around. Oh, but I call dibs on the chocolate chip muffin. So, where’s Giles?”
“He’s not here yet.”
“That’s very weird.”
“Yeah, you’re telling me. He’s all old, it’s not like he was out partying all night and needed to sleep in.” Buffy said, pulling a muffin out of the paper bag. “Mmm, raspberry white chocolate; good call on the muffins.”
“I would have gone for two chocolates, but this was the last one left. There must have been a big yard sale or something for them to sell out of the good stuff so early.” Willow said, helping herself to the other muffin. “I bet he’s late because he had to take care of his brother. That’s got to slow him down.”
“Who knows?” Buffy shrugged. The pair ate quietly for a minute, both trying to finish their breakfast before Giles showed up and spoiled their fun with work. “So, since you’re here, I take it Giles found a new big bad last night? Maybe something to do with the munchkins?” Buffy finally asked, licking the last bit of muffin from her fingers.
“Yeah, I think we’re supposed to look up munchkins, but that’s not the real reason I’m here. Giles thinks his brother’s wizard stalker is going to show up at the store today, and we have to be ready for him. I promised I’d help him set a trap, which is kinda cool because I’ve never seen a wand wizard before. Ooh, except Giles, but he doesn’t count because he’s Giles, ya know?”
“Oh, is that all we’re doing today? That shouldn’t be too hard. After all, if it’s the guy we ran into in the cemetery, he couldn’t even handle a few newbie vamps. I could totally take him.”
“Well, maybe, but if the wizard knows he’s walking into a trap it might be a bit harder than that.”
“Maybe, but I think Giles is blowing this all out of proportion. I mean, so what if he knows a little mojo? Both Giles and you are down with that, and I can probably get around anything he throws at me.”
“I don’t think so. I did some reading.” Willow ignored Buffy rolling her eyes as she took a sip of the sweet coffee. “It sounds like Giles’ brother was involved in some pretty bad things. These death eaters he was associated with are sort of like a cult, and you know how cults don’t like it when their members try to leave.”
“So Giles’ brother was in a cult, like with ritual sacrifices and everything? No wonder I thought he looked creepy.”
“Well, it’s sort of worse than a cult. More like the Nazis I guess I would say, but with magic wands.”
“Lovely.” Buffy sipped her coffee. “Why would Giles let his brother get involved in something like that? I know if Dawn tried to join a cult, I’d go in there and raise a little hell.”
“Well, I think that’s what happened. I would guess at the same time Giles’ brother was getting mixed up with the Death Eaters, Giles was hanging out with Ethan and raising demons. Okay, so not exactly raising hell, but not helping any either.”
“Yeah, but Giles got over it. I don’t think his brother ever did by the looks of it.”
“His brother can’t look that evil.” Willow had heard Buffy’s story about how when she meet Giles’ brother, she wanted to stake him because he looked so much worse than the demons she dealt with on a normal basis. Frankly, Willow just didn’t see how anyone related to Giles could look as evil as Buffy insisted.
“Oh just you wait.” Buffy warned. “He really does look like a villain, and he’s got that kind of attitude, too.”
“As in bwah-ha-ha, I’m going to take over the world, attitude, or as in, curse you and your little dog Toto too, attitude?”
“As in, I am evil and about to suck the will to live out of your soul, attitude. It’s really obnoxious. I’m sort of worried that if the guy stays any longer, Giles will go insane. I mean, look at it this way, he’s only been here a week, and already Giles has missed training twice.”
“So, he never misses training. Even when he’s all lost in his books, he’s still gets there before me. He’s losing it, and I’m worried about him.” Buffy admitted.
“Well, I guess that’s a good reason we make sure to catch the wizard today. If we can at least take that threat out of the picture, then maybe Giles won’t have to worry so much.”
“Yeah, and maybe then he can send his brother back to where he came from.”
“That’s not very nice.”
“I know, I know, he’s family. You can’t just ignore your own family.”
“Actually, its quite possible to… you’re right, Giles wouldn’t just ignore his brother if he was in trouble.”
“So we catch this wizard, convince him to leave Snivellus alone, and live happily ever after.”
“Actually his name is Severus.” The girls glanced up to the door to see Giles enter. “He’ll get rather agitated if you call him Snivellus, even if it says that’s his name in the yearbook.”
“Giles! You’re here! We were getting worried because you said you wanted to start training at eight, but you weren’t here at eight. Actually Buffy was more worried than me because I was on a coffee run at eight, so clearly I didn’t know you weren’t here yet, but still. Where were you, mister?”
“Yeah, what Willow said. Is everything okay?”
“Everything is fine. I was just slowed down abit trying to get Sev squared away. Speaking of which, I was wondering if you could help me get something out of my car.”
“Sure what do you need?”
“Rupert!” a familiar British voice called from the parking lot behind the store.
“That.” Giles frowned.
While most Slytherins’ paranoia took the form of casting silencing charms around their beds, Rupert went to the other extreme, casting magnification charms around his bed before going to sleep. If someone was going to surprise him in the middle of the night, he wanted to hear them coming. Perhaps this was the only reason he heard someone get up in the middle of the night. As the door slammed shut, Rupert jerked awake. “This better not be Rookie heading to the bathroom.” He murmured as he got up to investigate.
Surprisingly, no one was in the bathroom, which left the commons room as the only available place for Slytherins to go at midnight without serious repercussions. Rupert got to the top of the dormitory steps just as the portrait clicked shut. “Gotcha!” He whispered, fervently hoping it was Lucius out after hours, as that would make the blackmail potential so much sweeter. He decided whatever was up, Severus would want to be a part of it, so he went back to the room and flipped open the curtains of his brother’s bed.
“Bloody hell!” The bed was empty.
Throwing on his slippers and casting every silencing spell he knew, Rupert ventured out into the halls of Hogwarts. He knew Severus wouldn’t break the rules unless it was an emergency. His first thought was that perhaps his step brother had fallen ill; after all, he had seemed a bit withdrawn at supper. However, a quick swing by the infirmary revealed only a Gryffindor third year recovering from a hiccup hex. The library was equally abandoned. Running out of options, Rupert decided it was time to get help. Professor Flitwick was an expert at casting tracking charms, but would undoubtedly deduct an exorbitant amount of points from Slytherin, as Severus was not a favorite of the choir director. Profressor Jigger would be worried about a missing Severus and was the Head of Slytherin, but he doubted the potions master would know where to find his apprentice. Rupert decided to seek the only other professor that seemed to like Severus.
Tapping on the headmaster’s office door, Rupert was shocked when the stone phoenix actually slid aside to let him enter. As he rode up the stairs, he thought about what a stupid idea this was. He couldn’t begin to imagine how many house points the Slytherins were about to lose.
“Mister Giles, what has you up at this hour?” Rupert couldn’t tell if Dumbledore was amused, curious, or furious beyond belief.
“It’s Severus, sir. I think there’s something wrong with him.” As Rupert voiced his suspicions about why his brother would be roaming the Hogwarts halls after hours, Dumbledore nodded knowingly. “So do you know where he is?” Rupert finished.
“No, I do not.” Rupert withered. “But, it is an easy enough thing to find out.” Dumbledore pulled a mirror off of his shelf of knick knacks and laid it flat on his desk. “Starlight, starbright, first star I see tonight, I wish I may, I wish I might, see the one I wish tonight.”
“I didn’t know that was a real spell.” Rupert muttered.
“It’s not, but I do so like the rhyme.” Dumbledore smiled, his eyes intently watching the mirror. He tapped the edge of the glass with his wand, and a new scene appeared.
“Potter.” Rupert groaned as the Gryffindor stuck his head out from the Whomping Willow roots.
“Hush.” Dumbledore frowned, waving his wand. Magically the volume of the room went up and Rupert could make out the boy’s voice.
“What the bloody hell were you thinking!” Potter dragged Severus out from under the tree.
“Me? What am I thinking? I’m thinking … well, I’m thinking that’s a bloody werewolf, that’s what I’m thinking!” Severus sputtered. Rupert had never before seen Severus so mad he was driven to this degree of inarticulation.
“I noticed.” Potter rolled his eyes. “I meant what the bloody hell were you thinking coming out here at midnight?”
“I have my reasons.” Severus crossed his arms in front of him, trying to look intimidating.
“Let me guess, you came out here to meet Remus.” James Potter threw up his hands in a gesture of frustration. “You’re an idiot, you know that?”
“I guess I must have been, to ever expect any good to come out of Gryffindor.”
“Hey, leave Remus out of this.” James snapped, even though he knew it would be an impossible request. “I know he wouldn’t be the one who gave you the message to meet out here.”
“No, that was you, you stinkin’, lyin’ bastard!” Rupert was shocked to see Severus take a swing at Sirius, who was just crawling out from under the tree trunk.
Potter however grabbed him from behind and held Severus tight. “If you’re going to insult him at least be correct. He’s not a bastard, nor a liar; stinking yes, liar no.”
“Yeah, what he said.” Sirius sneered.
“Shut up, Black! I haven’t even started on you yet.” Potter growled, and Sirius actually looked cowed for a minute.
“He’s a liar!” His note said Remus would be there.” Severus lurched forward to take another swing but James held tight.
“And I’m telling you he wasn’t lying. You did see Remus there.”
“But that means…”
“Yes, it does. Now, can I let go, or are you going to lose it again?”
Potter guessed from the slumped shoulders it was safe to let go and take a step back. “You lived with him all summer; surely you noticed how he got every month. You’re not an idiot… despite being in Slytherin.”
“Bloody hell, he’s…”
“… a lunatic.” Potter politely cut him off. “Yes we know, but if you’re really the friend he claims you are, you won’t tell a soul.”
“Does Dumbledore know?”
“Bloody hell, he’s going to squeal to the whole school.” Sirius groaned.
“You should of thought of that earlier, you git.” James snapped, turning back to Severus. “Of course Dumbledore knows. Who do you think set up the Shrieking Shack, or arranged for Remus to be here during the summer moons?”
“Bloody hell.” Severus knew it wasn’t the most profound thing to say, but it seemed the most appropriate for moments like this.
“Are you going to squeal or not?” Potter looked Severus straight in the eye. Severus returned the look with interest but remained silent. “Fine. Now, get back to your snake pit, Snivellus, while I rip this guy a new one.” Potter winked then turned his back on the Slytherin and let in on Sirius. Evidently the conversation was over.
Dumbledore tapped the mirror, and once again Rupert could see his face reflected back. “Well that does make things a bit more interesting.” Dumbledore sadly observed.
“Sir, is this a joke? Is Lupin….?”
“What do you think?” Dumbledore’s eyes twinkled as if daring Rupert to believe this was all an elaborate hoax, but the grim smile told him otherwise.
“But sir, werewolves are dangerous.”
“Sometimes it is safer to protect the dangers and offer them an alternative path, than to leave them to their own devices. I would think your father would have taught you this, considering your family’s work with the slayer.”
“But slayers are nothing like werewolves!” Rupert wanted to accuse the headmaster of blasphemy for comparing the proud slayer line to the abomination of werewolves.
“I have met a few slayers in my life, and they all share one thing in common- they have very sad eyes. They have been focused on their mission to the exclusion of all else in their life. They live to fight and die.When I look at Remus, I see a boy who cares very deeply for his friends, who dreams of a happy future, who wants to be an active member of his community. I suppose you’re right, Mr. Giles. When compared to the slayers, this werewolf is far more human.”
Rupert was about to argue back, but couldn’t find the error in Dumbledore’s statement. In all of the watcher’s diaries he had read over the years, not a single watcher commented on his slayer having friends, or dreams of the non-prophetic variety, or even laughing. “It’s just not right.” Rupert pinched the bridge of his nose as he tried to process these uncomfortable thoughts.
Albus rested a comforting hand on the Slytherin’s shoulder. “Pay no mind to the Gryffindors, Mr. Giles. Their problems do not concern you. You have a far more important problem to deal with tonight. Your brother will be arriving in your commons room any moment now and probably won’t be falling asleep any time soon. You need to decide how much of this burden he must bear alone.”
“I suppose I should go.” Rupert backed up to the phoenix stairs. “Um, sir, I was just wondering….”
“Two points from Slytherin and Gryffindor each for being out after hours. Two points to Slytherin for your pursuit of the truth, and two points to Gryffindor for Mr. Potter’s attempt to diffuse a confrontation. Does that answer your question?” Dumbledore smiled.
“Then I expect you should get back to Slytherin before anyone else finds you in the halls.”
“Yes sir.” Rupert dashed down the stairs, towards his house. Entering the commons room, he heard a sniffle coming from the couch by the fireplace. “Hey Sev?” Rupert called out quietly.
“Ru?” Severus peeked over the end of the couch, surprised to find anyone else awake.
Rupert came around and sat next to Severus on the plush green cushions. “So, what are you doing up?” He figured this conversation would be easiest if Severus would come right out with the truth, but knew that was probably too optimistic. Still, if he offered Severus the out, maybe he would make this easy.
“I was… waiting up for you. What were you doing out of bed?” No such luck. Severus’ bluff quickly became accusatory.
“I was talking to Professor Dumbledore, actually.”
“Would I lie to you?”
“I know, I know. But if I was lying about where I was going, do you really think I would have used a professor as an alibi?”
“Well, a professor would be unlikely to lie and say you were somewhere when you weren’t there. On the other hand, you could be bluffing on the off chance I wouldn’t check up on your alibi.”
“If you want we can go there right now, and ask him. He’s probably still awake. I don’t think he ever really sleeps.”
“No, that’s okay, really.” The boys stared into the weak flames in the commons fireplace. “So, what did you talk to Professor Dumbledore about?” Severus asked, the silence becoming uncomfortable for him.
Rupert briefly considered coming clean and saying that they had seen the whole scene under the willow tree, but settled for, “We talked about slayers.”
“Really?” That was certainly the last thing Severus expected to hear from him.
“Well, I am going to be a watcher someday. I mean, there’s really no other option.”
“I know, but why would Dumbledore want to talk about that?”
“He’s actually met a few slayers.”
“Really? I wonder how that happened.”
“He didn’t say.” Rupert stared into the flames. He really didn’t handle these heart to heart chats very well, despite what most of his classmates thought about his sensitive nature. “He just said that slayers weren’t human.”
“What? How ridiculous. Of course they’re humans. They’re girls.”
“Well, yes, they’re human like that. I’m saying this all wrong.” Rupert ran a hand nervously through his hair, wondering what the best way to navigate through this conversation was. “What I meant was he said that when he met the slayers he felt that they weren’t really connected to humanity.”
“Of course they’re connected to humanity, they spend every night saving humanity from vampires, demons, … werewolves.” Severus’ face darkened, and he turned to face the fireplace rather than his brother.
“Alright, but what do they get out of it?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, let’s think like a Slytherin.”
“That shouldn’t be too hard.” Severus cut in dryly, clutching to his chest a throw pillow with the Slytherin crest embroidered on it.
“So, if you had incredible strength, speed, and skill, what
would you do with it? Would you save the world night after night?”
“Well, you would if you valued the world, right? If you wanted to protect your family and your friends?”
“Well, if I was truly thinking like a Slytherin, maybe I’d want to protect the world just to prove I could. There’s something to be said for being the best.”
“Perhaps for the first night, but would you go back night after night, risking your life to protect a world you didn’t care about?”
“Well, no, that would be recklessly dangerous I suppose.”
“You would use your power for something else then?”
“I guess. I could do a lot with that sort of strength. No one would be able to get one over on me.” Severus thought of Sirius’ mocking face. If he was a slayer, Sirius Black would be the first thing slayed.
“No, I suppose not.” Rupert agreed. “But, if you actually did use your inhuman strength to get what you wanted, would that make you any better than the demons?”
“I guess not.”
“So what does this have to do with what Dumbledore was talking about?”
“Oh…Right, the conversation.” Rupert frowned, realizing how far off topic he had gotten. “I guess, Professor Dumbledore was pointing out that it’s rather odd that we expect slayers, who have all these great strengths, to be so much better than the demons. The Council generally starts training the girls when they’re really young, so they don’t have any friends. Why should they care about saving the world, when there’s nothing in it for them? They should all turn on us and use their skills to control us, not the other way around. Maybe that’s why so many of them die when they’re so young. They just don’t care.”
“Huh.” Severus thought about it for a moment. It sounded like Dumbledore had a better sense of the problem with slayer mortality than the Council, even though they had been working on the problem a lot longer.
“Right, so then Professor Dumbledore took it another step further.” Rupert offered hesitantly.
“Well, he thought that maybe part of the reason bad things are bad is because they were cut off from society. Maybe if we were to befriend them and provide them a way to contribute to society, they wouldn’t be so violent. Take for example, werewolves. Maybe if we treated them like normal people and just gave them a safe place to be during the full moon, they wouldn’t be such a problem for the slayer.” While he knew he was putting words in the headmaster’s mouth, Rupert figured a little bit of bluffing was in order. “He said, sometimes it’s safer to offer them an alternate path, than to leave them to their own devices.”
“Right, so he thinks we should give vampires the right to vote and let pixies run for Parliament?” Severus shot back sarcastically, trying to hide his emotions behind his caustic humor.
“Well, no. I don’t think so; although with him it’s hard to tell.”
“I think Dumbledore is crazy.”
“Really? You were just saying last week what a spectacular alchemist he was back in the day. Do you really think such a brilliant potions master could be crazy?”
“Perhaps, if he was exposed to too many fumes.”
“Maybe, but would they make a crazy man headmaster of Hogwarts and Mugwump of the Wizengamot?”
“Fine, he’s not crazy. He’s just wrong. It’s one thing to say in abstract that someone is more likely to protect something if they have a stake in it, so we should befriend them to give them that stake, but it doesn’t work in reality.”
“Well, maybe not for vampires. They have no souls and therefore can’t care about society, but some of the other kinds are just as human as a slayer.”
“That’s fine for you to say now, but what if it was real?” Severus finally turned to face Rupert, staring intently into his eyes. “What would you say if you knew there was a real werewolf in this school? Would you still want to be friends with this, boy,” Severus practically spat out the word, “if you had seen him frothing out the mouth, snarling, seeing you as nothing more than the next meal?”
“Well,” Rupert could see that whatever he said next would be very important. If he blew it off or answered too quickly, he would lose his credibility with his brother. On the other hand, if he thought about it too much, Severus would assume he was trying to come up with a credible lie rather than face the truth. “That’s a tough question.”
“That’s what I thought.” Severus looked triumphant but not happy about the verbal victory.
“Would I want to be friends with a werewolf while it was in its wolf form? No. I think there would have to be a good cage to keep the wolf away from everyone else, during the full moons. But, if I saw him in class, as a boy, I don’t think it would matter. I mean, he couldn’t infect me in that form, and he’s not any different in his thoughts and feelings from any other boy, and who knows. Maybe if he had friends as a person, he’d be more inclined to lock himself up safely during the full moon to keep his friends safe from the wolf? I guess I wouldn’t have any reason to hate the boy… unless he was a Gryffindor.” Rupert offered weakly as a joke, but Severus didn’t find it funny.
“How do you know his thoughts and feelings are the same as any other human? How do you know he doesn’t think demonic thoughts?”
“Well, I suppose I would talk to him and find out what his thoughts were. If they were along the lines of getting a job, falling in love, and setting up a family, I’d say those were pretty human. If they were raising dark spirits of hell and resorting to cannibalism, I’d call those rather demonic.”
“How do you know he’s telling the truth? How do you know he’s not lying just to protect his secret identity?”
“How do you know that about anyone? For all we know, we could have a slayer at Hogwarts… or, better example, someone in Slytherin could be a death eater. We’d never know.”
“That’s not true. We’d know.”
“Really? How? Do you think it would just come up in conversation? ‘Oh, hello Lucius, how was your vacation.’ ‘Oh it was quite lovely, I wore a silly mask and tortured muggles because I’m a death eater.’ Not only would he never say that, but how could we tell that sort of rhetoric apart from his normal pureblood supremacy rot?”
“Right. I guess my point is, just because someone doesn’t tell you something, doesn’t mean they’re lying. After all, you didn’t tell me that you were going to try out for quidditch, but I wouldn’t say you lied about it.”
“You did too say that.”
“I suppose, but I didn’t mean it.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“Look, Severus, you can go through your whole life not believing anything people tell you; you can think that everyone is hiding something from you, but will it really help? Think about how many opportunities you’ll miss out in life if you never trust anyone. Sometimes you just have to take that leap of faith and trust your instincts.”
“I don’t think your father would appreciate that strategy.”
“No, but I think Gran would.” Rupert countered. Severus thought about that for a moment.
“You and Dumbledore discussed all that?” Severus asked skeptically.
“Well, no.” Rupert blushed. “We talked about slayers and werewolves, but not about trust.”
“Well, as an example of someone that would have all the powers of a slayer but none of the guidance from the Watcher’s Council.” Rupert mused. “Hmm, what if there was a Council of Werewolf Watchers? I wonder if we could then convince them to fight for good instead of evil.”
“Werewolves are dark.”
“Maybe the spells that originally started lycanthropy was dark, but then, so was whatever spell started the slayer line. You don’t think all the slayers are dark? Those girls certainly weren’t dark before they were called. My mother wasn’t dark.”
“You think a spell started the slayer line?”
“Well, the only other option is divine intervention, and I’d much rather believe a spell than a god did this. Think about it. If someone is the victim of dark magic, does that make them evil? If not, is it our job to make sure they don’t become dark themselves?”
“And we’re talking about werewolves?” Severus asked suspiciously.
“Or slayers. After all, I’m far more likely to meet a slayer than a werewolf.” Giles said, enjoying the little bit of irony he offered.
“I suppose you’re right. So what would you do? Would you try to make friends with your slayer?”
“Sure, why not?” Severus arched his brow at Rupert’s flippancy. “Does it really matter? It will be years before I even get the possibility of having a slayer, and I’m sure I’ll change my mind half a dozen times before then. I just think Dumbledore’s ideas were worth considering.”
“Look at the time, I’m so sorry for making you stay up like this.” Rupert quickly covered, deciding he had said all he could. Severus’ eyes followed Rupert’s to the clock over the fireplace, showing ‘Time to be in bed’. “Thank you for staying up and talking with me, but I really hadn’t intended on staying up so late. We’ve got class tomorrow.” Rupert stood up.
“Oh, it was no problem.” Severus said distractedly. “I couldn’t sleep anyway.”
“Some nights are like that. Are you coming to bed?”
“In a minute. I just have to put out the fire.” Severus waved Rupert on, wanting a few minutes alone to settle his thoughts. Whether or not Rupert realized this, Dumbledore had given him many insights. While he may not agree, he understood where Dumbledore was coming from leaving Remus Lupin in the school, despite his condition. He also had a better understanding of the nature of slayers and werewolves. Finally, it was quite telling that a headmaster who had his fingers in every important thing in the wizarding world took the time to talk to Rupert about his doubts of his future calling. Perhaps his mother was right. Perhaps, when all else failed, he could always trust Dumbledore.
Rupert, meanwhile, crawled gratefully in between his covers. That had to be one of the hardest conversations he’d gone through in his life. While he personally couldn’t stand the thought of a werewolf on campus, and was all for owling his father to send the slayer post haste, this wasn’t any werewolf. This was Remus Lupin. The same Remus Lupin who happened to be the first friend Severus had made, excluding himself of course, since their parents had married. If Severus were to lose Lupin, there’s no telling how long it would be before Severus learned to trust anyone ever again. Undoubtedly, Dumbledore understood that and had decided that preserving Lupin’s and his brother’s faith in humanity was worth more than the risk of a werewolf attack. Was that the correct decision? Only time would tell. Rupert fell asleep wondering when life got so complicated.