“Yes?” Giles perked up from his half-asleep state.
“I brought Steven’s things for you to go through.”
“Steven? Oh, yes, of course. Thank you very much.”
“Are you sure you’re alright?”
“I’m fine, just a bit tired.” Giles admitted.
“Well, let us know if you need something.” The nurse offered while handing him the bag of items. She took a few extra minutes to check that all the machines hooked to Severus were working correctly then left Giles alone.
Once he was alone, Giles dumped the contents of Severus’ personal belongings on the floor. He was about to go through the pile, but on second thought, grabbed a tongue depressor from the counter. He gave the pile a few tentative pokes before earnestly sorting through it. The robe was in an awful state, as was the shirt. As he placed the robe back in the bag, he noticed it was abnormally heavy. Severus had probably sewn surprises into the lining. Something in the robe had probably been broken in the hit, as there was a wet green spot that left the tongue depressor a sickly orange color. For a second, his curiosity nearly got the better of him, but remembering the tattoo poking over the edge of the cast, he went back to the meager stack of things left on the floor, willing to leave the robe alone until Severus woke up. There was a tiny sack that Giles figured was for wizarding coins, a handful of candies probably confiscated from some hopeless students, and the wallet. He put the other objects back in the bag, briefly considering checking the coin purse, then picked up the wallet.
“Did you find what you were looking for?” Giles looked up guiltily, to see the doctor standing over him.
“Ah, yes, I did. Thank you.”
“You know, the nurse probably shouldn’t have let you go through his belongings. We don’t actually have proof that you’re the next of kin.” The doctor looked a bit guiltily at the bag of personal belongings. The security procedures at this hospital were abysmal compared to where he had done his residency, but the longer he was in Sunnydale, the less he seemed to care about the inconsistencies.
“No, I suppose it would be hard to prove without Sev’s admission.” Giles frowned. “However, I assure you, he is my brother.”
“Can I ask what you wanted that for?” The doctor looked at the wallet skeptically.
“I was hoping to find the number of his employer, so that I could inform him that Severus will need a leave of absence.”
“You sure you weren’t looking for anything else?”
“Doctor, are you accusing me of trying to rob my own brother?” The doctor’s eyebrow arched as if to say he was implying exactly that, but not willing to put it into words. “That’s preposterous. For one thing, undoubtedly the hospital has already charged his medical bills to me, so if anyone is doing the robbing, it’s Sev. For another thing, I happen to know that Sev never keeps any money in his billfold.” Giles answered.
“See for yourself.” Giles tossed him the wallet.
The doctor flipped it open, frowned, and tossed it back. “Your brother is a very odd man.”
“That’s putting it mildly. He’s a bit eccentric, but then, I guess that’s to be expected from academic scientists.”
“I suppose so. Well, I guess it’s alright for you to take the wallet for now, but I doubt you’ll find what you’re looking for.” The doctor shrugged and began his observations of Severus. Giles tried not to smirk when he noticed the doctor giving the patient an unusually wide berth.
Giles opened the wallet, hoping to find some sort of clue. “Damn.” He muttered; inside was just a note on parchment in vaguely familiar handwriting, “In case of emergency, contact Rupert Giles” with his phone number listed below.
“Is there a problem?” The doctor looked up from the notes the nurses had written.
“Nothing I shouldn’t have expected.” Giles shrugged, knowing he would have to bring the wallet back to his house to check if it was indeed a portkey. “How’s he doing?”
“He should be waking up soon, and probably in quite a lot of pain, unfortunately.” The doctor muttered. “We’ll have to keep him off the more effective painkillers for a full day now so that the neurologists can do some tests tomorrow.”
“Ah. I suppose I should stay here then, in case.” Giles stationed himself in the corner chair, glad that the doctor didn’t object. He had so many questions that only Severus could answer.
It was nearing curfew, and the first year boys’ dorm room was bustling with activity as the boys prepared for bed. Rupert had already packed his homework for tomorrow in his bag, safely stowed in his warded trunk, and was now reading for pleasure. Rastaban was frantically trying to stop his pillow engorgement charm, but was too proud to ask for assistance as the goose down took over the bed. Damon and Evan were putting away their game of exploding snap, and Severus was watching everyone from his corner bed.
“Do you think McGonagall is really going to quiz us on that stuff tomorrow?” Rastaban asked, batting away feathers while frantically flicking his wand.
“For your sake, you better hope not.” Evan laughed.
“Merlin, do you have to get those feathers on my bed?” Damon whined, picking up his wand from the bedside table. “Finite incantatem.” The enormous pillow popped like a balloon, causing Rastaban Lestrange to fall off his bed and roll into the middle of the floor.
The boys’ laughter was interrupted by Severus jumping off his bed and pinning the incoming Argentius to the wall. The mousy boy dropped his toothbrush as Severus shook him. “What were you doing with my things?” Severus shouted.
Argentius coughed, but didn’t say a word.
“I asked you what you were doing with my things.” Severus growled.
“He was running an errand for me.” Lucius drawled, following Argenitus in from the bathroom.
“And what, pray tell, did you want with my trunk?” Severus dropped Rookwood to face off with the blonde. Seeing his chance, Argentius grabbed his toothbrush and darted across the room to the safety of his bed.
“I was just looking for paper.” Lucius shrugged.
“And you didn’t think to just ask me?” Severus scowled at the self appointed leader of the Slytherins.
“Not for this kind of paper.” Lucius smiled. “But don’t worry, I got what I wanted.”
“What are you driving at?”
“Are you sure you want to do this with such an audience?” Lucius nodded to the rest of the room, who were all watching the argument eagerly.
“The more witnesses the better, I would hate for anyone to question whether your death was unprovoked.” Severus growled out.
“What, you plan to poison me like you mother poisoned your father? You’re not that good.”
“Don’t push me, Malfoy.”
“Are you threatening me, Snape? Or should I say, Giles?” Most of the boys gasped, but Rupert and Severus both paled.
“What do you mean by that?” Severus mumbled.
“Surely I wasn’t the only one who noticed how oddly you were acting around our pet mudblood? You’re the only one to meet him on the train; you’re always fighting like you’ve known each other for years, but how would a true pure blood know a muggle like that?” Lucius sneered at Rupert, whose hand gesture expressed just what he thought of that.
“So I asked Argentius to look for any evidence in your trunk.”
“He wouldn’t find anything.” Severus replied, knowing exactly what was in his trunk, and the measures he’d taken to remove any damning evidence.
“No, he didn’t.” Lucius admitted. “But a letter to my mother proved far more fruitful. You see, she actually attended the sham of a marriage between your mother and that muggle. Tell me, Severus, was the Snape fortune really so meager that she’d have to resort to muggle money?”
“You bastard.” Severus swore.
“Actually, I think that would be you.” Lucius replied haughtily.
“Is that it?” Rupert loudly commented, distracting his dorm mates from his blushing step-brother. “You went to all the trouble of bribing Rookie and writing your mum, just to find out what was up with us? Really, Lucy, tacky tacky. You could have just checked the back issues of the Prophet’s Society column. It’s all in the library, or are you too bourgeoisie to visit the library?”
“I think you’re missing the point, mudblood.” Lucius snarled.
“The point being what? So Severus and I are step-brothers, so what? The surprising thing is that it took you three months to figure that out.”
“You filthy mudblood,” Lucius snarled, upset to find himself being upstaged yet again by Rupert Giles.
“Is that the best you can do?” Rupert rolled his eyes dramatically. “I guess I shouldn’t expect more from an inbred, mother-sucking…” Before Rupert could finish the insult, Lucius jumped at him. Rupert, having more experience with hand-to-hand combat, was able to roll away in time, but the room broke into pandemonium.
“Quiet!” The booming voice broke the fight up as the boys all turned to face to sixth year prefect in his pajamas. “Just what do you think you’re doing?”
“Well, you see Lucius accused Severus of having muggle relations, and Rupert said that Lucius was an inbred …”
“I don’t care, Rosier.” The prefect rolled his eyes. “You are all completely out of line. I have half a mind to report you to Jigger.” The boys all gasped. “Consider this a warning, if you break into war one more time, I’ll have to report you.” The Slytherin prefect glared, but then remembered his first year dorm. He wondered if it was one of those rites of passage- did Slytherin first years always fight to establish a pecking order in the first semester? “Now look, it’s one thing to be sly and crafty, but it’s another thing to pick on your own house. If you want to start fights, at least aim it at the Gryffindors, alright?”
“Yes, sir.” The boys chorused.
“Right, to bed with the lot of you.” The prefect rolled his eyes and exited the room.
“Truce?” Rupert called out. Most of the boys eagerly answered in response, but Lucius and Severus held out.
“Aw, come on Lucy, you know it’s all in good fun.”
“I don’t see how making a mockery of the proud tradition of wizards is good fun.” Lucius replied in a huff.
“I’m not making fun of tradition, I’m just making fun of you, Lucy, and it’s not like you don’t jibe right back.” Rupert rolled his eyes. “Look, we’ve been playing at this long enough, what do you want?”
“What do I want?”
“Yeah, what do you want? There must be some reason you keep harassing me and Sev. What do you want from it all?”
Lucius thought awhile before answering. “Quit being such a bloody know-it-all. You’re making the rest of us look bad.”
“Is that it?” Rupert was a bit taken aback by that.
“What, you thought your father was the only father riding their son hard?” Severus answered for Lucius. “I bet Lucius’ father is ten times scarier than Sir Bradford.”
“Tell me about it, and my father is always trying to hold me up to Mr. Malfoy’s standards.” Rastaban admitted. “No offense, cous’.”
Lucius reddened slightly but quickly regained the poise his father had drilled into him. “My father expects me to be the head of Slytherin house, and I think the rest of you knew that coming in.” The other boys nodded, except for Rupert, who looked at everyone like they were half crazy.
“So by leader, do you mean top of the class, or just the most popular?” Rupert asked, giving it a minute’s thought.
“Both, I suppose.” Lucius answered.
“Well, how about we let you be the spokesman, but grades are up
for a fair fight. Is that a truce?”
“Only if you quit calling me Lucy.”
“Deal.” Rupert smiled.
The boys were about to go about their business, when Evan opened his mouth. “Hey, Severus never declared truce.”
“Well, I don’t think it’s necessary.” Severus shrugged.
“Hey!” Rastaban protested.
“What, do you think I’m going to try opposing Lucius or Rupert if they’ve got a truce on? How self destructive do you think I am?”
“What about the rest of us?”
“Well, I would think the rest of you would realize that they still haven’t found enough evidence to prove the cause of my father’s death.” Severus let the thought dangle out in the open. “Good night.” With that ominous note, Severus crawled into bed, and pulled the curtains shut.
A few minutes later, the rest of the boys were tucked in, and the last light was extinguished with a “nox.”
Nearly half an hour later, when the soft breathing of sleep could be heard from five of the beds, a quiet “psst” caused Severus to peak his head out of the curtains.
Severus rolled his eyes, but opened the curtain wider so that Rupert could climb into the bed. “Sorry about earlier.” Rupert whispered.
“Somehow, I doubt you even know what you’re apologizing about.”
“I know you didn’t want it known that we were related, and I know you didn’t want me to be so loud about it.”
“And yet, you did so anyway.” Severus muttered.
“Yeah, well, by that time there wasn’t any other way out of the situation. Malfoy doesn’t exactly take no for an answer.”
“I told you that.”
“I know.” Rupert rolled his eyes. “Look, I just wanted to bring you this, as sort of a peace offering.”
“Is it a blanket coated with small pox?” Severus asked sarcastically.
“It’s a book I filched from father’s shelves. It’s on wards and protections that don’t take wands. I figured that way Argentius couldn’t get into you trunk again.”
“Thank you, but you needn’t have bothered. I borrowed the same book from mother’s shelves.” Severus admitted, glancing at the book in Rupert’s hands. “How else do you think I knew who tried to break in?”
“Oh, right.” Rupert frowned. “So are we alright?”
“You know, truce and all?”
“Is this about what McGonagall said?”
“Sort of. I’m getting really tired of having to out-read you in every class.”
“So why don’t you just surrender?”
“You don’t think my father will yank me out of Hogwarts faster than you can say magic if I don’t finish at the top of the class?” Rupert asked skeptically.
“No, and even if he tried, mother would talk him out of it. She’s a Slytherin, and they take care of there own.”
“I don’t know. Father can be pretty set in his ways. He’d have to be to train a slayer.”
“My mother can be quite persuasive.” Rupert considered that and nodded. He opened his mouth to say something, but then shut it on second thought. “Just say it already.” Severus rolled his eyes.
“Is it true what they say about your mother poisoning Mr. Snape?” Rupert whispered.
“I can’t believe you would ask that.”
“Well, is it?”
“My father was well into his nineties and had worked with toxic potions all of his life. My mother is brilliant at potions, but no one would have been able to poison Mr. Snape without him knowing it just by taste. It’s true they didn’t love each other much. Father hardly left his lab after I was born, but my mother would have no reason to poison him. I can’t believe she did it. I think he just died of old age.”
“But no one knows?” Severus shot Rupert an evil glare. “I’m not saying she did anything. For the most part I think your mother is a good person. I’m just saying, it must be rough not knowing.”
“Well, what about you? Do you know how your mother died? Is anyone accusing your father of murder?” Severus asked a question that had been on his mind ever since he met his step-brother.
Rupert picked a bit at the corner of Severus’ pillow before answering. “I think my father blames himself.”
“What? Sir Bradford?”
“Well, yes, you see he was the watcher, he should have saved her. My mother was a potential that was never called. He had trained her since she was my age, and they sort of fell in love, I suppose. Shortly after my birth, they were out patrolling in London, just for fun, and they were jumped by a bunch of vampires. I guess mother was a bit out of shape from having me, and well, by the time my father was done fighting off the vampires, she was drained.”
“Rather strange notion of leisure there.”
“I think it had to do with a sense of duty.” Rupert tried to defend his father’s actions, when in fact he sometimes felt the same way. He
tried not to blame his father, to just pass it off as an accident, but sometimes he wondered.
“I still don’t see how you didn’t end up in Gryffindor, with a father like that.”
“Blame the hat; it was probably high on mothballs.” Rupert joked, not quite sure he wanted to be serious anymore, but the joke fell flat. “Well, I better go.”
“Right, good night.”