The Light is Strengthened with Knowledge
Note: I apologize for the long wait between updates. I'm hoping to have this finished by the end of the year.
Xander moved slowly and carefully through the dark halls of Hogwarts, keeping his invisibility cloak wrapped tightly around him. It was late, after curfew in fact, and Xander definitely didn't want to get caught out of bounds. The last thing he needed was a detention, especially if it came from Snape. The potions professor had been an absolute demon lately and even the Slytherins were treading softly around him.
It had been two and a half weeks since Xander had revealed Sirius Black's innocence by showing Dumbledore that Peter Pettigrew was still alive by presenting the man himself. The headmaster and Remus had been stunned and, Remus especially, extremely angry. The fact that Xander had stared the werewolf down with a little assistance from his hyena had unfortunately brought up more questions but Xander been able to put off that particular conversation until the mess with Sirius had been cleaned up. It wasn't as if he didn't plan to tell them, he just wasn't certain what he would say.
"Hey, I'm not really the Boy Who Lived. I'm really a 25-year-old demon hunter from a fictional universe."
Xander didn't think that would go over very well.
Dumbledore had wanted to discuss Xander's seer-like knowledge of Pettigrew's crimes - not to mention the manifestation of his hyena when Remus was about to jump Peter - the weekend following Xander's revelation but Pettigrew's appearance and Sirius Black's proven innocence were situations that dropped a bomb on the Ministry of Magic.
Pettigrew being revealed as the Harris' secret keeper and a marked Death Eater as well as the one who killed all the Muggles was publicized quickly. The fact that Sirius, now acknowledged as the rightful Lord Black, was put in prison without a trial made even bigger headlines. As usual, public opinion on the serial killer, Black, did a complete turnaround. Now he was a wronged Noble Head of House and heroic Auror who had been stabbed in the back by the scheming Ministry and his former best friend.
How Dumbledore managed to keep his hands clean when he was the Head of the Wizengamot and one of those who should have made sure there was a trial, Xander didn't know. He read the papers (both the Prophet and the Quibbler) and watched in awe as the politicians maneuvered around this huge scandal that had exploded right in the middle of the Wizarding government. No one liked the idea that an innocent could be sent to Azkaban without a trial and the fact that Fudge had done just that earlier in the year when Hagrid was sent there for supposedly petrifying students was paraded in the papers by some enterprising reporter.
All in all, Xander was thankful that Dumbledore had been far too busy to interrogate him concerning how he knew all that he did about the Marauders and Pettigrew being the Secret keeper for his parents. That hadn't stopped Remus from watching him intently in every Defense class. That also hadn't stopped Ron and Hermione from pestering him for information on how he knew what he knew.
Or, at least, Hermione had been pestering him. Ron had left school shortly after Percy was called to the Headmaster's office the day after Xander's revelation. It didn't take long for rumors of Percy being taken first to the Infirmary by Dumbledore and then escorted out of Hogwarts all together to make the rounds of the school. Especially as Ron, Fred and George disappeared shortly thereafter.
Hermione was frantic with worry about her friend and Xander was too, but he was more worried about Percy. The boy was a prat but Xander just had to wonder how much of that attitude came from Percy and how much might have come from anything Pettigrew might have done.
Xander sighed silently as he finally reached the area of wall where the Room of Requirement was supposed to be. Taking a deep breath, he filled his mind with what he needed and began walking back and forth in front of the wall.
*I need to read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, I need to read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, I need to read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. *
He thought the words as hard as he could and hoped desperately that the castle would be able to provide for this need. The book didn't exist in this reality but Xander really needed to know what was going to happen. Or what happened when Harry Potter was the Boy-Who-Lived. The Powers only knew what Xander's meddling had already done to this timeline.
A few moments later the torches in the hallway flickered for a moment and Xander could swear he felt the magic moving in the hallway just before a door appeared.
He blinked a few times before he understood what he was seeing.
The door in front of him looked exactly like the door he'd gone through countless times in Sunnydale. It led into the house that was more of a home to him than his own had ever been. That door also no longer existed even in his former world seeing as it was at the bottom of the huge sinkhole that Sunnydale had become.
With a shaking hand, the boy reached out to turn the handle of the door to Buffy Summer's home. It opened just like he remembered, with a slight squeak that he'd never gotten around to oiling. Walking into the room was like walking into his past.
A moment later he'd slowly entered the living room and looked around. This room, this house, had been a sanctuary for the seven years he'd known Buffy and her family. There were so many memories of this room, of this home. It looked the same as he remembered. It even smelled the same. Even the view from the windows was one of a sunny Southern California day in Buffy's front yard.
Xander stared out the windows for a long time, looking at a place that no longer existed. As he finally turned away, he couldn't help the small sob hat snuck out but he stifled it quickly. He had things to do.
He moved away from the windows and carefully explored the room, briefly touching the pictures and knick knacks Mrs. Summers had collected in her home. As he passed the sofa, he realized there was a thick, hardback book lying on the coffee table. It rested right beside a bowl of fresh popcorn and a cold can of soda.
Slowly he approached the coffee table and picked up the book. "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows", he read out loud, his tone disbelieving.
He hadn't been sure that even Hogwarts, with all the magic at her command, could provide this book for him to read. But Xander *needed* to know what happened in the book and apparently that need was so great that Hogwarts had been able to grant it.
He gripped the book to his chest tightly and closed his eyes.
"Thank you, Hogwarts," he whispered.
He felt the magic of the castle wrap around him for a moment before he sighed and slumped down onto the couch. Absently, he picked up the bowl of popcorn and set it on the cushion beside him. He grabbed a handful and followed it with a swig of the cold soda.
Then he made himself comfortable on Joyce's couch and opened the book. It was time to find out what happened to The Boy Who Lived.
Many hours later, Xander slowly closed the book as he stared across the room sightlessly. He had often wondered in the time since he had come to this world why a Vengeance Demon would consider this bad. Sure he missed his friends terribly but excepting the Dursleys, his life wasn't all that bad.
Now he understood.
As he reached up and touched his scar lightly, he understood why this was considered vengeance. He had a sliver of the Dark Lord's soul in his head. He was going to have to die in order to get rid of it. And that was only after he got rid of all the other horcruxes.
Xander took a long, deep breath that, despite his best efforts, came out as a sob. He was, after all, half a thirteen-year-old boy and everything he'd just read was just about crushing him. Even his sharp, Sunnydale-honed mind was balking at the task before him. He didn't have Willow or Buffy or Dawn to back him up. Usually, he backed *them* up. What the hell was he going to do about this?
He held his head in his hands and tried to stifle the sobs that were so desperately trying to make their way out.
It was several minutes before he realized there was someone running their hand up and down his back in a comforting motion. Xander blearily glanced up for a moment and then jumped off the couch with a yelp. The book he was holding slid to the floor with a thud as the woman seated beside him just smiled up at him with a familiar, loving expression.
Xander blinked several times, wiping the tears from his face with a jerky movement of his hands.
"Mrs. Summers?" he said faintly and Joyce just smiled again.
"Not exactly, Xander," she replied in Joyce's voice. "But you needed someone to provide you comfort and I have provided that as best as I can. You have such fond memories of this woman. I was hoping she could help you."
"You...you're...." Xander blinked again. "You're Hogwarts?" he asked quietly. The blond woman nodded slowly.
"Yes. And as this is the Room of Requirement and you require comforting, I tried to provide you with someone who could help you. Was I wrong?"
Xander took a deep breath and then sat back down on the couch. He stared into the eyes of a woman he thought he'd never see again. He sniffed as his eyes overflowed again. Suddenly he wasn't just feeling crushed by his 'destiny'; he was missing all his friends, his family, his home.
Then he was sobbing into the Joyce Summers' shoulder as she held him. He didn't know how long he cried but eventually he leaned back, still hiccoughing raggedly. She gently handed him a glass of cool water and carefully wiped his hair away from his eyes.
"I don't know what I'm going to do," he finally mumbled as he stared into the water glass.
"The book didn't answer your questions?" Joyce/Hogwarts asked.
"Yes...no...I mean," Xander stammered out. "I couldn't let things go along as they did. But now, I don't know if everything will happen as it did before." He glanced up at her. "Do you know I'm not really the Boy-Who-Lived?"
The blond woman smiled at him. "But you are, Alexander." She touched his hair lightly. "Do not doubt your place here. You are the one who will slay this Dark Lord. You have the power and the wisdom to do so."
"But I'm not Harry!" Xander stated as he picked up the book he had just been reading and showed her the cover. "*He* was destined to kill of this guy. What if I screw up something?"
Joyce just smiled and patted his cheek before she stood.
"You will manage, Xander," she assured him. "You have already achieved much. And there has been a prophecy made about the White Knight just this Summer. Ask the Headmaster. You will defeat Tom Riddle and be happy."
Xander jumped up as she moved away. "But...a prophecy? About me? Really?" He was boggled by that.
"Ask the Headmaster. Do not let him avoid the question." Joyce/Hogwarts stated as she moved towards the kitchen.
"Will I see you again?" Xander asked just before she moved into the kitchen and she turned back to nod once.
"I am here when you need me, Alexander. Now you need to get ready for your meeting with the Headmaster and your friends." She gave him a stern glance. "Be sure to brush your hair and wear something nice."
Xander blinked at her as she disappeared into the kitchen. Then he glanced at his wrist watch and swore under his breath. He just had an hour before his scheduled meeting with Dumbledore.
With a final glance at the book in his hand, he laid it down on the coffee table before the large empty bowl that still contained a few popcorn kernels. Then he dashed out the front door, feeling just like he was on his way to meet the Scoobies and avert another apocalypse. Just like always.