Title: A Wizards’ Agreement
Fandoms : HP/BTVS crossover
Pairing: none. SS/RG friendship
Summary: Stories are exchanged and a deal is made. It could become even more useful later.
Timeline: Pre-series for BTVS and Marauders‘era for HP (1971)
Disclaimer: I’m merely playing with two ‘verses that aren’t mine.
Note: It can be read as a stand-alone. However, I know how I want to continue this, with Giles and Snape meeting again in Hogwarts after the end of both series. By the way, anyone wants to beta this puppy?
Severus had only wanted to read his book outside, before the cold really settled in and forced him to retreat in the library.
To read a Potions book lain in the grass of the Hogwarts garden, neck safely tucked in a Slytherin scarf and arms warm in a new uniform was close to perfection, he decided. It sure beat all the times he was forced to hide in the backyard at home, dressed only with thin old clothes. He sighed happily and delved into the complexities of the Polyjuice potion.
Lost in his book, he didn’t hear the four boys who approached him until it was too late, when the book was ripped from his hands, along with his wand. He scrambled to his feet and saw the four Gryffindors who had apparently decided to make his life at Hogwarts hell. One was holding the wand and the book he had accioed and was smirking at Severus. Glasses, arrogant smile and bullying ways- it was James bleeding Potter all right.
“So, Snivellus, trying to find a potion that could make you a pretty boy? Or maybe a less ugly one?”
“I don’t think that’s possible, James. The git is as greasy as they go. Even the cauldron would melt before it happened.”
“Potter, Black and your two… sidekicks. No wonder you need to stay together: you clearly share only one brain for four, or maybe not even one, if you’re think you’re actually funny here. And give me back my book. Do you even know how to read the small signs on the page? They are called letters. L-E-T-T-“
Severus knew he shouldn’t have talked. When threatened, don’t try to be clever- first rule of surviving. But it was one thing to cower before his father’s fist and an entirely different one to do it before four stupid classmates. Compared to Tobias, they were nothing, and he refused to bow here, on this magic ground, where his mother’s blood offered him sanctuary. So, even without his wand, he tried to fight back with his wit. He knew he could cut people with his words –he had practiced long enough on Tuney.
“Shut up, slimy snake! You want this book back, hey? Well, I’m going to give it back to you. In pieces!”
Potter started to tear off the pages and to throw them at Severus. With a shout, the latter ran to him in hope to grab the book before it was entirely destroyed. At least, it was his intention, but Black tripped him before he could even reach Potter and he fell on the soil, hard. One foot connected with his belly, another with his leg and a last one kicked him hard in the face. He felt something broke and knew it was his nose. No caring about the pain or the remains of his dignity, he hugged his knees to his face and tried to become as small as possible, as his childhood had trained him to do. His tears remained hidden and soundless, as the boys kept kicking him.
“Not so proudlike and all, aren’t we, Snivellus? You snakes, you act almighty but in the end, you’re all crybabies and freaks!”
The voice was soft and yet it carried over Potter’s pathetic insults. It sounded posh and educated to Severus’ ears but there was a cold and threatening quality to it. It wasn’t the voice of a professor he recognized, but it expected to be obeyed right now. The kicks stopped and Severus, after wiping his eyes on his uniform, raised his head a bit. Three of the boys were around him –Potter, Black and Pettigrew, as usual- and the last one, Lupin, was near the newcomer. Apparently, he hadn’t heard him come or he would have alerted the other dunderheads.
As the bullies stepped back a little, Severus could distinguish more of the man. To his surprise, it wasn’t a professor, but a student, from Ravenclaw if his tie was any indication. He seemed big to Severus, but it was the first to admit that his perspective was a bit off at the moment. Nevertheless, Lupin looked really small next to him, so Severus continued to assume that he was a seventh-year.
Potter’s vacant brain had apparently started to function and he also seemed to come to the conclusion that his fun was being interrupted by another non-snake student. Severus was once again convinced of his arrogant stupidity as the Gryffindor turned to the Ravenclaw, who was walking towards them.
“Enough what? You’re a Raven, you don’t come between a Gryff and a Slime! We were just playing with Snivellus here.”
“A Gryff? It looks to me that you don’t know how to count very well. And that your definition of playing is rather peculiar”. Oh yes, Severus wanted to learn to speak like that, all soft and impressive. The student smiled at Potter and even the idiot could see that it wasn’t a nice smile. Potter was losing his countenance faster that Severus could have imagined. But, true to his House, he foolishly tried to argue back.
“We were playing, the five of us. You’re not Head Boy or even a Prefect. Even if you say something and Snivellus here open his gob, we can still say we were playing. The headmaster always says we’re right, ‘cause we’re Gryffs and not slimy liars like the snakes. He’s a great friend of my father, the headmaster, you know. “
“Delightful, I’m sure. But you seem to operate on the assumption that I will play by the rules and tell someone, which I won’t.” He grinned at Potter. Severus’ heart dropped in his shoes as the Gryffindor started to grin back at the student.
“I think I’m simply going to tan your hides. You see, I hate cowards and bullies and I do love to teach them a lesson. I’m not even talking about what I can do about people destroying books for their imbecilic amusement.” The student was still grinning.
“You can’t do that! You haven’t even drawn your wand and it’s four against one!”
“Well, it seems fair to give you a bit of a sporting chance, yes?” The student’s grin suddenly disappeared as he continued, “I’m sure I can send you back to the castle, crying, even without getting my wand.”
Severus never understood what happened next. The student moved so quickly that he seemed to simply apparate next to Potter- which was impossible, Severus knew, because he had read Hogwarts: a history- and took him by his robe and Potter’s feet weren’t even touching grass any more. Severus decided he was in awe. Potter was so surprised that he let book and wands fall and Severus lost no time in grabbing them. He drew his wand against a startled Black and walked slowly near the student, carefully watching Black and Pettigrew. The student released Potter who fell ungraciously on the soil. He then crouched down next to the terrified Gryffindor.
“Who the hell are you?”
“Rupert Giles, boy. Oh, don’t whimper, it’s unbecoming.”
“Giles? Merlin! My father told me what you did last year- how you gutted it, ripped it to pieces. Even the Aurors threw up. You’re a monster.”
“So am I. Now, I’m going to give you back you wand and you and your little friends are going to disappear from my sight. I don’t want to set eyes on you ever again this year. Furthermore, if I see you bullying one of the students, what I will do to you will see a new horror record for the bloody Aurors. Are we clear? I want to hear you say it.”
“Ye-yes, we are.”
“Good. Get out of my sight now.”
Severus watched with amazement his tormentors flee to the castle. The student –Rupert Giles, it seemed he was called- sat on the grass. Severus looked at him, now that he had the time. Yes, definitely a big guy, not Goyle-sized but enough to be intimidating even when sitting. Brown hair, a bit tousled, falling on his forehead. No, not falling, arranged that way, maybe to conceal something. A birthmark, a scar? He was wearing glasses, rectangular ones, too dark on his pale skin, too large for his face, hiding his cheekbones but not the deep rings under his eyes. His cheeks were sunken, but who was Severus to talk? Broad shoulders, discernible even under the robe. The tie was perfectly done with a knot Severus had only seen on the covers of Muggle classic books. Lucius Malfoy himself wasn’t that proper and elegant. The student’s hands were on his knees and Severus could see leather under both cuffs of his neatly pressed uniform. One was certainly for his wand, but what of the other?
“Do I pass your inspection?”
Severus was startled from his thoughts and saw that the student was grinning at him. No, Severus corrected, it was a smile, very different from the chilling grins Potter had been given. It lighted up the student’s face and made him look friendly, Severus thought. He didn’t see this kind of smile directed at him very often.
“I didn’t mean to…”
“Yes, you did, it’s quite alright. Please, sit down.”
Severus imagined that if someday he was invited to Buckingham, he would hear people talking like that. In front of the posh student who rescued him, he hated his Northern accent more than ever. Nevertheless, he sat down, happy to let his aching body rest. He carefully felt the bloody mess on his face and swallowed. What did it say about him that he could have a broken nose and forget about it? One day, he was going to be severely injured and not even react about it- not a good thing, not a good thing at all.
The student’s face was very close now, looking to him with serious and compassionate eyes. He had green eyes, Severus realised. They weren’t as vibrant as Lily’s but reminded him of a stone used to make rare pestles- jade. He nodded.
“Episkey. Tergeo. ”
Feeling his nose heal itself was a curious experience. Curiously, he felt more the absence of pain than the pain itself. Severus figured that he could be gracious to the student.
Severus looked at the book in his hand. Luckily, Potter didn’t have the time to damage it badly and Severus had all the torn pages. A few muttered Reparo were enough and he hoped he could avoid Mrs. Pince’s wrath.
“What?” Severus had almost forgotten about the student, who had been so quiet he had blend into the background.
“Your spells. One cannot see even the smallest tear on the pages. Well done.”
Severus scowled. He hated when people tried to patronise him. He was a wizard and, more importantly, a Slytherin; every spell of him was going to be perfect. Or maybe one wasn’t meant to practice magic in a magical castle. His voice dripping with sarcasm, he said so to the student. Said student smirked in return and Severus wasn’t sure how he felt at the idea that his sarcasm was entertaining someone else and not making him angry.
“You should have seen the Reparo charms I did in my first year. I couldn’t get the hang of it until I broke my glasses and had enough reason to get it right. But I seem to forget all my manners. Rupert Giles, seventh-year Ravenclaw.”
Severus declined his identity and clasped the hand the student was offering him. He hesitated for a few seconds and decided to offer some manners as well.
“Thanks for helping me, you know, earlier, with the merry Gryffindork band.”
“Don’t mention it at all. I would have been glad to have a reason to send a few mildly painful hexes on some tender parts of their anatomies. Nothing cheers me up more than the sign of bullies sent running, clutching their arses and moaning pitifully.”
Severus offered a tiny smirk at the thought, before grimacing. Later, while remembering this afternoon, he would be amazed at the fact that he had started to talk at all, that he has wished to confide things that he only told Lily to another student. Maybe it was the way the student –no- Rupert sat next to him, unobtrusive and quiet.
“I’m sure you’ll have your chance soon. They’ve been at me something fierce since the beginning of the term, especially Potter and Black. It’s been only two months and I already know they want to send me home more dead than alive. Every single day I’ve got to hide. Today I thought that the cold was going to be enough against them, pampered sissies that they are, but I was wrong.”
“Yes, you were. You were in the open, facing away from the castle and your wand wasn’t in your hand. They only need one occasion, just one.”
Severus scowled at the unwanted lesson before realising that Rupert’s eyes were looking far away and that his voice had sounded curiously bland. Severus wasn’t sure he was the one Rupert was really lecturing. He raised an eyebrow. Interesting. He decided to see what made his new acquaintance tick.
“What did Potter mean?”
“I beg your pardon?”
“He said that you gutted something. I’m sure he wasn’t talking about fishes, because the idea that Potter has even seen a meal that wasn’t prepared before by simpering house-elves is laughable.”
Severus watched Rupert react. His eyes briefly closed and his smile took a self-depreciating turn. He looked away from Severus.
“Is it a habit of yours, asking blunt and unexpected questions to a nearly stranger?”
“It’s always better to know where everybody stands.” Severus didn’t say that he liked to know how people react to the unforeseen, because it was then that he could discover their tempers- especially if violence was hidden under an hypocritical mask- and what they were capable of. It was also one of his rules of surviving. Moreover, he had told Rupert about the bullying –even if it wasn’t like Rupert hadn’t seen it first hand, he conceded- and he needed something in exchange, something worth of what he had shared.
Rupert sighed and Severus remained silent, waiting. Rupert took off his glasses and started wiping them with his handkerchief. He kept them in his hand when he started talking.
“It happened last year, in DADA class. I presume you know about boggarts, yes? Good. Professor Fortus, the professor of that year, thought it could be a great idea to use one in class. We had covered boggarts years ago –second class, maybe- but the idea of showing one in class was fairly new. Until then, it was standard procedure to show one only in seventh year, with only one student present at the time, backed up by one or two professors. Professor Fortus added it to his syllabus, but then, he wasn’t nearly as clever as he thought he was.”
“Why do you say that? It makes sense to me to do real practice in DADA class, especially with something as unpredictable as a boggart. You’ve got to be prepared to the worse that you can meet outside. And the sooner the better.”
“So, I imagine that you would not be embarrassed to have your worst fears known by anyone, like those boys earlier.”
Severus cringed at the thought. He wasn’t stupid: if something took the shape of his father on one of his drunken binges, he would cower on the floor and wait for the hitting and screaming to start, no matter how unreal the situation was. Ingrained behaviour they had called it at school, when they have tried to make him tell where all the bruising came from. Potter and his cronies had already remarked how he tried to avoid people touching him and they took great pleasure in sneaking up on him and grabbing his shoulder. No, that wouldn’t do it at all.
“I see your point. So, something happened when the boggart tried to scare you.”
Severus wanted to hear the rest of the story, so he curbed his impatience and waited for Rupert to find his words.
“For reasons that I cannot explain to you, I’m able to recognise and identify many dark creatures that aren’t much known around here. Te-terrifying creatures.” The stutter was almost inaudible, but Severus heard it. It was certainly unexpected, especially after the show Rupert had put on the Gryffindorks. He nodded and put his arms around his knees, looking away from Rupert, letting him tell the story without watching him.
“A few students passed before me. One feared the abyss and the boggart changed into a creature covered in scales and smelling like dead fishes and rotten kelp; he made him trip on a fishing line. One feared an older woman, her mother perhaps, who shrieked and insulted her until she made it lose its voice. Then, it was me. And the… thing started to become one creature before another and I had only the time to know that I knew what it was before it changed again, but not enough to recognise it. I couldn’t identify it clearly, and every time it was some horrible creatures and my classmates were shouting in fear every time it changed, and the boggart was becoming stronger and stronger and I lo-lost it.”
Severus turned towards Rupert and saw him uncover one of his cuffs. A dagger was attached to his forearm by a leather scabbard.
“The blade is all silver and has the runes Eihwaz and Tiwaz carved on it.”
“Wicked.” Severus could see that Rupert had been eager to show it and was pleased by his reaction.
“Don’t say a word to anyone about it. I am not supposed to have it on me anymore.”
“I won’t, but you’ve got to finish your story.”
“As I said, I lost it. I couldn’t identify the de- the creatures, so I took my dagger and attacked the… thing. No one had ever touched a boggart but what I discovered that day is that, no matter what appearance it takes, it’s all an illusion; the real form of a boggart stays the same. It’s quite small –it has to, you know, to stay in cupboards and such-, has a rubber-like quality and is extremely disagreeable to touch. My dagger was sufficient and I was so terrified of what it represented, of what it meant, that I stabbed it over and o-over, until the poor thing was in shreds. It had blue blood, strangely. I literally took its guts out it. That’s why Potter meant. Maybe his father was one of the Aurors who came to interrogate me, to make sure I was not going to eviscerate my classmates any time soon, even though they had given me the nice nickname of Gutter Giles.”
“Could someone have a bit of an education here? I mean, if they’re going to name you after some horrifying act, they could have gone with ol’ Jack. Rupert the Ripper, that gives you some historical background. If they’re going to freak out one some dark creature’s death, they could do it in style. Aren’t you Ravenclaws supposed to be the educated ones?”
“You don’t seem very disgusted.”
“It was a dark creature you had to confront in a DADA class. Some ways are more permanent and messy than others. If students aren’t supposed to get their hands dirty in this class at some point, maybe it’s time to replace it with, let’s see, embroidery. Or not, because pins can be dangerous, students could sting themselves with them and bleed to death.”
“Well, you certainly do love to be blunt. And sarcastic.”
“I simply hate hypocritical dunderheads. And I also despise people who like to say all’s well and nice in this world when it isn’t.”
“It must have been hard for you to discover than in the Wizarding world the predominant opinion is that all is fine, fine, fine even when everything is falling apart. Of course, what can you expect from people who once thought it was a laughing riot to be burned at stake?”
“What do you mean, discover? I’ve always been in the Wizarding world! I’m a Slytherin!”
Severus had nearly shouted the last phrase. His blood status wasn’t something he wanted known, his life was already complicated like that. He stood up, in hope to gain a physical advantage on Rupert. The latter didn’t move and only turned his head upwards in order to look at Severus. He gave him a serious look and nodded.
“Please, forgive me, I didn’t mean to say it that way. It is fairly obvious to me that you are at least half-blood. I’m one myself; I had not intention of upsetting you. Sit back, please? I’m enjoying your company very much and I would be very displeased at myself if my impropriety made you go. Severus, I am sorry.”
Severus hesitated. No one truly apologized to him –ever- and he could see that Rupert was sincere. He only had to compare him to Lupin, who would come to him every time after his friends hurt him or jinxed him and would apologize and call him Severus like they were friends and all despite the fact that he looked out for his friends when they were hitting Severus and always backed them in front of the teachers, saying it was Severus’ fault. Severus hated Potter, Black and Pettigrew, but he despised Lupin with all his heart for his cowardice and his hypocrisy. He could be as mean as his friends but was always careful to pretend he held the moral ground.
The last time the four Gryffs had stolen Severus’ homework, Lupin had given him back to him with loads of apologies and a smile, even though it was so wet the ink had entirely dissolved on the parchment and it was beyond magical repair. Severus had been blamed by Professor McGonagall for his clumsiness and had been given a T. Yes, Severus despised Lupin and his bloody insincere apologies.
Rupert was watching him with intent and hopeful eyes and Severus felt something at the idea that someone could want his company.
With a scowl, he sat back and snarled: “It’s only because I want to know why you think I’m a half-blood. I don’t believe in apologies; people always say they’re sorry to avoid doing something really useful”.
Like Severus’ own mother, always saying she was sorry when she was cleaning Severus’ blood from the kitchen’s floor, pretending to forgot that she hadn’t help her own son against her husband.
“Let’s see. Your accent. Northern England, somewhere industrial? Manchester, perhaps. Not the kind of area a Pureblood family would inhabit; they are afraid of Muggle industry and products and you nodded when I spoke about rubber. Then, you know Jack the Ripper, which is definitely Muggle history even though he wasn’t entirely… human. And finally, you’re a Slytherin first-year attacked by four Gryffindor boys, two of them at least being from old Pureblood families. What could be so important to your housemates that they forgot about house unity and leave you to the tender mercies of Gryffs? Blood status. Sorry, Severus, your years here are going to be hell. Bloody Purebloods.”
“Nice. I can finally understand why you’re in Ravenclaw. I’m a half-blood by my mum.”
“So am I.”
Rupert smiled once more at him and Severus felt his lips twitch in response. It was nice to acknowledge who he was with someone who understood. He couldn’t discuss this with Lily: even if she was in the wizarding world now, she still didn’t understand what it meant. He sure couldn’t discuss this with his housemates, who had mocked him and ridiculed him since the first night. Of course, he wasn’t to embrace his Muggle part, because let’s be clear, Severus was all for forgetting about it. He loved the wizarding world and the Pureblood ways and culture, even though many wizards were clearly idiots.
It was also nice to talk to someone who wasn’t Lily, or, he acknowledged, to talk to someone full stop. He hadn’t seen her a lot since they had arrived, because she had said she wanted to make friends with her housemates and they would meet later. Severus was surprised to discover that he had been lonely for two months, having no one to share his first experiences of Hogwarts with.
Rupert seemed rather content with him here and of course, Severus realised, someone who was called the Gutter by his housemates and known as a monster even by first years might be lonely too. A small feeling of hope began to rise in him. However, he didn’t know how to proceed. Years ago, when he had decided to finally meet Lily, all his carefully planned explanations had gone pear-shaped, even though she did come back to the park later that fateful afternoon.
He discreetly watched the boy who was sitting next to him in silent. Rupert still had his arms around his knees, almost as if he was trying to fold in himself. Although they had chatted amiably, Severus could feel tension emanating from the Ravenclaw: maybe Rupert wasn’t as self-assured and poised as he tried to convey. But he was strong, knew how to impress and –if his quick movements against Potter were any indication- how to fight. Severus was sure Rupert would be someone he would be relieved to have on his side.
“Rupert?” How strange it was, to pronounce the first name of a person.
Severus tried to find his words, wanting to sound adult and logical and all about allies and strategies. He really could not have predicted what he blurted out next.
“Would you… would you liketobefriendswithme?”
Severus didn’t think he could have sounded more like a naïve five-years old if he had tried. His treacherous body decided then to add to his humiliation by starting to blush. He averted his eyes, looked at the grass and waited for the rebuke.
“Re-really?” Rupert’s stammer took him by surprise and he looked up. Rupert had a shy smile on his face that made him look younger.
“Well, if you want to.”
“I’ll be delighted.” Rupert kept smiling at him and Severus smiled back at someone who wasn’t Lily for the first time in years. It felt… nice somehow. Severus had two friends now, and even if he had sworn to Lily she was his best friend forever, he was happy to have another one. Rupert was still smiling and looking so surprised and so happy for a seventh-year that Severus thought that, maybe, he had become Rupert’s only friend.
They decided to go to the library after that and Severus liked that he didn’t have to walk alone and wait anxiously for a trap; there were two of them now and Potter had looked pretty frightened. Severus knew he would cherish this particular memory for months to come. Rupert understood why he looked so relieved and muttered something about teaching him some spells “very useful against undesirable company”.They sat in a corner and Severus started reading his Potions book again, glancing sometimes at Rupert who was working on a Transfigurations essay. At one time, the Ravenclaw passed his fingers through his hair, which had the effect to clear his forehead. Even from where he was, Severus could see the nasty scar that ran across it. It was still raw and red and looked like something had used its claws on Rupert’s head. It looked painful to Severus, who had a long experience of bodily damages. The library wasn’t the place to discuss it but he knew he would ask about it later. Rupert had played Sherlock with him, he would return the gesture. But right now, he was studying along his new friend, on whom he could count to watch his back, and it was enough.