Willow stuck her head in the office. “Um, excuse me, but are you guys okay?”
“Of course.” Giles said, quickly hiding his wand behind his back. “Why wouldn’t we be?”
“Oh, I don’t know. It just sounded like someone was flinging spells around.” Willow shot him a glare to let him know he wasn’t getting away with this, no sirree.
“Just a brotherly disagreement.” Giles bluffed.
“Tell me, Ms. Rosenberg, while you’re here giving us a hard time, who is watching the front desk?” Snape cut in.
“Buffy is, and besides, I can hear the bell on the door ring even without super-slayer hearing.” She shot back.
“Hey?” A voice called from the main store. “Does anyone else hear that?”
“You were saying?” Snape sneered back.
“It’s not the door bell!” Willow retorted. “It’s something else…” she tilted her head to listen, “something that evidently requires super-slayer hearing.”
“You guys don’t hear that?” Buffy said, joining the group.
“Hear what?” Willow asked.
“That noise, duh.” Buffy rolled her eyes.
“Could you describe exactly what you’re hearing?” Giles said, going into watcher mode.
“It’s like a ‘kree-kree-kree’, ya know?” Buffy made a high pitched grating sound.
“Ooh! Like the knife scene in Psycho… which I swear I haven’t seen because my parents insist it promotes negative stereotypes of the mentally challenged?” Willow blushed at the odd looks she was getting from the men.
“Right, only quieter and there’s sort of more scratchiness to it.”
“And from what direction are you hearing these sounds?” Giles asked.
“Shh, listen.” Buffy held up her hand. They all held their breath for half a minute waiting to detect whatever it was the slayer was sensing. “Did you get that?” They all looked at her cluelessly. “You guys seriously can’t hear that? It’s like so obvious!”
“Your slayer is insane, Rupert.” Severus said.
“Please, Buffy, where is the noise coming from?”
“Definitely in the direction of the workout room, but there shouldn’t be anything in there, so maybe its outside? You know, like a mouse?”
“Ah, your slayer is listening to mice now. Lovely.”
“It’s not mouse, Mr. Snooty Snape; I said like a mouse.” Buffy rolled her eyes. “Mice are more of a ‘ichee ichee ichee’. This definitely is a ‘kree kree kree’. I think I’ve heard it before, but I don’t know where.” Buffy answered, ignoring the other three wincing through her imitations. “You know, like ‘kree-kr…’”
Before Buffy could finish the high pitched screeching, Willow interrupted. “Well, I don’t know about them, but you’ve definitely got me convinced. There’s something fishy outside.”
He had been waiting for five minutes and the ghost had yet to make an appearance. This in itself had left Rupert feeling a bit uneasy, as he had always assumed that Professor Binn’s spirit was tied to the classroom. Surely the professor hadn’t been exorcised, but then what else could explain his absence?
The other factor that had Rupert nervous was that the only other person in the room was Lucius Malfoy, who was sitting silently at his desk, staring at the empty blackboard. After watching the clock tick through one more minute in silence, Rupert decided he couldn’t take it any more. “Why are you here?”
“Pardon?” Lucius turned from staring absently at the blackboard to look at Rupert.
Okay, so maybe that was too blunt a question for Rupert to start with, but now that it was out there he decided to go with it. “Why are you here?”
“Because class started six minutes ago?” Lucius gave him that ‘did your mother drop you on your head?’ look.
“No, I mean why are you here in NEWT history? Nobody else is. If my father hadn’t required it, I’d be in herbology with everyone else. So, why are you here?”
“Those who do not know their history are doomed to repeat it.” Lucius quoted.
“Ah.” Rupert wasn’t sure how to respond to that so he settled for, “Don’t you think it’s odd that Binns is missing? I guess if he doesn’t come back we could work on our research proposals. Have you picked your final year project yet?”
“I was thinking of the rise and fall of Grindelwald.”
“Oh yes, we wouldn’t want to repeat that.” Lucius looked at him oddly. “Well, you had said… nevermind.”
“How about you? Have you chosen a topic?”
“I was thinking about the Goblin Rebellion of 1492.” Lucius scowled. “I’m just kidding?” Rupert immediately corrected his statement. While the topic of the rebellion that sparked wizard migration to the New World could be interesting, it clearly was not acceptable to Slytherin sensibilities. “What would you suggest?”
“I thought you were a specialist in ancient history. Didn’t you say your father worked in antiques?”
“Well, yes.” Rupert admitted.
“I’m intrigued. How did an antique dealer get knighted? Or were you just trying to impress us as first years?”
“He’s not a dealer per se. He does some work on acquisitions of mystical artifacts. He’s retrieved some valuable artifacts for the royal family.”
“Really? And he works with Travers’ father?”
“They move in the same circles.”
“That’s funny. You see, the Travers runs in my father’s circle and yet my father has never even met your father.”
“Clearly that’s just random chance. After all, your father knows my father’s wife, so our families can’t be in that different circles, right?”
“Well, I don’t know about that. I think you’re a right sort, myself, but it is a little odd that you and Travers never say what it is your fathers do. It makes people wonder. It makes my father wonder.”
“Oh yes, he’s been asking my a lot of questions about you, questions I don’t have the answers for.”
“If he wonders so much, why doesn’t your mother invite my father and Cassandra over for dinner?”
“I’ll suggest that.” Lucius nodded. “Do you suppose Binns will ever show up?”
“I have no idea.” The thought had actually crossed Rupert’s mind that Lucius had somehow arranged for Binns to be missing just to force this conversation.
“Tell me, what do you think of Arthurian legends?” Lucius’ question appeared to be out of the blue.
“Makes for some fantastic reading, but when do we have time to read stories?”
“My father has a friend that is curator for the Arthurian collection of the British Museum.”
“The British Museum doesn’t have an Arthurian collection. Trust me, Nana used to take me there at least once a month when I was younger.”
“The muggle section of the British Museum doesn’t have an Arthurian collection, but the wizarding wing does.” Lucius smiled at the surprise on Rupert’s face. “Don’t tell me you’ve never seen the wizarding exhibits.”
“I haven’t been back since I started Hogwarts.” Rupert stammered.
“My father’s friend is looking for a summer assistant. He offered me the position, but father has some estate business I need to tend to this summer. You, on the other hand, would make an excellent second choice.”
“A summer at the British Museum? Hmm…”
“Of course, our parents would have to meet first before making such an arrangement.”
“Of course. You’re sure we’re talking about the same British Museum?”
“You’d have access to Merlin’s personal library. That could really come in handy for a NEWT project, if that was your topic of course.”
Before Rupert could respond, Severus walked in. “Clearly, the two of you didn’t get the owl.”
“The faculty got called to a special meeting- something about a Ministry inspector. Everyone is supposed to go to their house commons.”
“How peculiar.” Lucius frowned.
“Yes, well, Narcissa sent me to fetch you two. Evidently the sixth years can’t get by without our prefect.”
“Very well, I’m on my way.” Lucius grabbed his books and headed out the door, not inclined to spend one minute more in the classroom than necessary.
“Are you going to stay in here?”Severus asked.
“Oh, I suppose not.” Rupert pulled himself away from his thoughts and slowly gathered his books. “I just had the strangest conversation with Malfoy.”
“Really? Is this more bizarre than the sheep dog conversation of second year.”
“I’m serious, Severus. He wants to meet my father, or rather, his father wants to meet my father.”
“I wonder why.”
“He says that he can offer me a summer post at the British Museum if we introduce him to my father. Can you believe that? The British Museum!”
“Well, bugger me.” Severus swore.
"While I'm willing to support you in whatever lifestyle you chose, Sev, propositioning your own step-brother seems a bit to close to incest, don't you think?"
“Quit it. I’m being serious here.”
“So am I. No means no, mate.”
Severus slammed the classroom door shut and muttered a privacy charm. “Would you just stop and think about this for a moment?”
“I have been thinking.”
“Then you see this situation stinks to high heaven. Why, after so many years of Lucius treating your lineage like something he would rather scrape off his shoe, would he suddenly want a connection to your father?”
“Maybe because he doesn’t know anyone else who wants to work at the British Museum? Maybe he was just trying to be nice?”
“Slytherins aren’t nice.” Severus rolled his eyes. “No, let’s think about this. The Malfoys know the Travers, which means that the Malfoys know of the Council, no matter what Lucius might pretend. Now, your father has the most power in the Council of any of those with wizarding connections, thanks to Travers the squib. Maybe the Malfoys are trying to get access to the slayer on behalf of He-Who-Must-Not-be-Named? You would be an easy mark. You can’t take the offer. It’s too dangerous. I can’t believe you don’t see this.”
“Actually, I did see that.” It was Rupert’s turn to roll his eyes. “You’re the one who’s missing the angles.”
“Oh really? And what angle is that?”
“For the past six years you’ve given me grief about not worshiping the ground Lucius walks on. Now, for the first time ever, Lucius is putting me in a position to owe him one. If I don’t take the position, he’ll undoubtedly take it as an insult. How many times have you told me I can’t afford to insult him considering his family’s politics? Besides, a position at the Museum might give me access to resources the Council can use.”
“It’s too dangerous. What if the Museum is a trap?”
“It’s a Museum, what’s the worse that could happen to me?”
“Oh I don’t know. They could lock you away in a sarcophagous, never to be heard from again. They could give you a cursed dagger that will cut out your tongue. Or worse, you can like it so much that you decide you want to be one of their circle. It’s one thing to be a Slytherin, it’s quite another thing to be…” Severus trailed off.
“Right.” Rupert chuckled. “I can just see the Death Eaters accepting a nice little mudblood like me into their ranks. No, I’m alright to socialize with, but they’d be far more likely to invite you into their club than me.”
“Right. What use would they have for a potions apprentice too stuck in his books to notice the world around him?” Severus scoffed.
“I would imagine they’d have use for you similar to the one that the Council has for your mother. Defensive potions can be quite useful for either side of a battle.”
“Yes but I never… what was that?”
“What was what?”
“That?” Severus tilted his head to listen; it sounded like something was pounding up the hall.
Rupert stared at him oddly, only to be interrupted by a loud thump against the door. “Oh, that?”
“What is that?” The brothers pulled out their wands and faced the door, as once again, the door thumped and rattled on its hinges.
“I’d guess it was something trying to break down the door…” Rupert said nervously, as the thump was echoed. “But that’s just a guess.”
“Not a guess.” Severus muttered as one more thump brought down the door and a pair of dogs jumped over the frame.
Alright, a pair of dogs was an understatement, Rupert quickly reassessed. These beasts were at least four feet high and snarling mad. Their eyes glowed an eerie red that was definitely not a natural trait. “Hell hounds.” Rupert muttered as he and Severus backed up. “As long as they’re not trying to track us they should leave us alone.”
The hounds took a step closer, sniffing menacingly. “No such luck.” Severus muttered. “Freezing charm on three?”
“What if freezing charms don’t work on hell hounds?”
“Then the magic will piss them off and it won’t matter.” Severus answered. “Ready?” Rupert nodded. “Three!”
“FRIGIDUS!” The boys shouted, their wands firing off at the same time.
The two hounds looked stunned for a moment, but quickly shook it off. One beast took a flying leap towards Severus.
“FRIGIDUS TOTALIS!” Rupert pointed his wand at the beast, and just as it was about to land on his step-brother, ice crystals surrounded the hounded, freezing it in midair. “Frigidus totalis!” Rupert threw at the other hound, catching it right in between the eyes, and only relaxing as the ice crystals encapsulated the beast.
“Holy Helga!” Severus exhaled. “Who the bloody hell let hell hounds loose in Hogwarts?”
“Mr. Severus, Mr. Giles.” A familiar stern voice said from the doorway. “When students are ordered to their common rooms, there is generally a good reason.” Professor McGonagall drawled.
“I’m sorry, sir, I mean, ma’am.” Rupert muttered.
“Yes, well don’t do it again. Now run along, and stay off of the third floor.”
“Yes ma’am.” The two boys quickly grabbed their books and ran past the teacher on their way out the door.
“I wonder what that was about.”
“I don’t know. Hell hounds are excellent trackers.”
“I suppose the Ministry Inspection is looking for something much darker than improper syllabi.” Severus drawled.
I just hope we’re not there when they find it.”
A/N: I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who voted for this fic in the crossover awards. Hopefully next year it'll be ready for the completed fic category. Thanks for your support!