Grim Vengeance and Heroes of Light
Grim Vengeance and Heroes of Light
009 Prompt 068: Hero
Doggie vengeance and heroes in unexpected places.
Xander was, by no means, an expert on dog behavior but even he could tell that Padfoot was not a happy grim. As they walked back to the Leaky Cauldron - at as slow a pace as Xander could manage - the dog was right beside him, stalking along like a dog going to war. He looked neither left nor right, just kept up that stalk-stalk-stalk pace. The one time Xander tried to veer from their course and head into Flourish and Blott's to look for books, Padfoot simply looked up at him with flat, blue eyes.
"Oh, come on. I want to look around."
Padfoot just lifted one lip, exposing a fang and then he growled. His pink velvet bow rustled with menace.
Xander lifted up his hands quickly in surrender. "Okay, okay. No need to get your fur all pointy."
So they headed straight back to the inn. People in the crowd they passed through couldn't decide whether to gush over Xander Harris' handsome black dog with his pink velvet bow and shiny black coat or get out of the way when the dog, who looked far too much like a grim for comfort even *with* the pink bow, showed a bit more fang than most wanted to see. By the time they reached the Leaky Cauldron, Xander was pretty much resigned to his fate.
He was also quite certain he needed to hide the pictures that Tomlin McLean had given him when he paid his bill. They were portraits taken of his very fine animal and handed over, fortunately, while Padfoot waited by the door of the Magical Menagerie, his tail thumping impatiently as he glared outside.
Xander held open the door to the inn and Padfoot stalked by, not even sparing a glance for his godson. The Boy-Who-Lived was very worried now.
As they moved through the inn towards the stairs the innkeeper greeted them happily. He looked down at the groomed-to-an-inch-of-his-life Padfoot and grinned.
"Well, he does look better now, doesn't he, Mr. Harris?" Tom said jovially, completely missing the doggy glare being directed at him. "He certainly smells better, that's for sure."
"Er...yeah. Thanks, Tom," Xander agreed with a glance down at his companion.
"And that bow really looks good against his dark fur," Tom continued.
Padfoot's lip was curling again and a good bit of fang was showing. Xander quickly stepped between Tom and his possibly homicidal dog and forced a grin.
"Thanks. I was wondering if I could maybe get some lunch sent up to my room? I thought I might do some of my summer homework. Or take a nap. Something constructive, you know?"
Tom just smiled and clapped a hand on his shoulder. "Certainly, lad. I'll send something up directly."
Xander nodded with a weak smile. "Thanks Tom. I really appreciate it."
Tom moved away from him to attend to another customer and Xander walked (very slowly) up the stairs following Padfoot. When he got to the door of his room, the dog was standing stiffly in front of it, staring at the wood. Xander sighed and slipped his key from his pocket and opened the door. Padfoot stalked in and the youth reluctantly followed, quietly closing and locking the door behind him. For a long moment, he regretted having Sirius spell the room silent so no one would hear them outside. That meant no one would hear his shout for help when his godfather transfigured him into a newt or something.
Xander finally took a deep breath and turned back to the room. He found one quietly steaming Sirius Black standing there, his arms crossed and his blue eyes flat. With one jerky movement, he reached up and untied the pink bow that was still hanging around his neck. Xander flinched as the material snapped from the force of Sirius pulling it away from his throat. He then held it out with two hands and approached his wary godson.
"How would you like me to tie this very tightly around your neck, Xander?" he asked in a menacing tone and Xander backed up against the door, holding up his hands.
"Now, Sirius, I didn't know he was going to do all that!" Xander stammered quickly. "I just thought you could use...ah...would feel much better after a bath and since you couldn't use the facilities here...." His words faded away at the expression on his godfather's face. "Well it *seemed* like a good idea at the time."
"A good idea at the time," Sirius repeated and then nodding his head, he dropped his arm around Xander's shoulders and escorted him to the nearest chair. He pushed his godson down into the chair and then loomed over Xander, his hands fisted on the chair arms. "Do you know what that man did?"
Xander gave a very weak smile as he leaned as far back into the chair as he could.
"Well, your teeth look much better," he said. "And your hair doesn't seem quite as tangled. And...er...your nails look very nice."
"What?" Sirius said as he jerked back and looked at his fingernails. "Pink polish!"
"Hey, and I bet your toenails look great too!" Xander said, hoping his enthusiasm would outweigh his stupidity.
Sirius dropped his hands and glared at him. "You're not helping your case, Alexander LaVelle."
Xander flinched a bit as his godfather used his first and middle name. "Sirius, you *needed* a bath!" Xander paused for a moment. "They didn't hurt you, did they?" the younger wizard asked a little worriedly.
"No, they didn't hurt me," Sirius began hotly, "But-"
"Don't you feel better?"
"That's not the *point*, Xander," his godfather stated flatly. "The point is that I had a *bow* tied around my neck! I had my *nails* painted. PINK, Xander. PINK nail polish! Do you know what kind of *hell* my friends would put me through if they saw this?" Sirius demanded as he held up his perfectly manicured hand with its very pink nails.
Xander shuffled restlessly in his seat and desperately tried not to think of the pictures of a conditioned, brushed and bowed Padfoot in his front shirt pocket.
"I...er...can only guess. But they weren't there, Sirius," he finally replied in what he hoped was a placating tone. He didn't recall even PMSing Slayers being this sensitive. "Nobody but me knows it was you and I won't say anything!" He made a motion of locking his lips with a key and tossing it over his shoulder.
Sirius didn't look convinced as he loomed over his godson again. "Right. You're the son of a Marauder. The godson of a Marauder. Don't tell me you'd let such a prime piece of marauding go to waste without a little blackmail."
"I don't know *what* you're insinuating but I would never say a word to anyone about that!" *Not when I have the pictures that can speak for me,* he thought gleefully and fought to keep his expression placating. "Besides, how many people know you're an animagus anyway?" Xander tried again, hoping he might actually reason with the man.
Sirius' left eyebrow rose as he studied his godson. Finally, the larger wizard stepped back a few paces and smiled. It was a smile that worried Xander quite a bit until he saw that Sirius was now twirling his wand idly in hand. Now, instead of worried, he was panicked.
"Sirius!" he wailed as he eyed his wand worriedly.
"You should keep up with your wand better, young Xander," Sirius stated with an evil smile. "You don't know *what* might happen if say, an escaped convict who just got forcibly groomed got ahold of it."
Xander just slumped further into his chair.
"Honestly, Sirius, I didn't mean to have you power groomed!" he whined. "I just thought you would feel better after a bath." His eyes cut away and glared at the wall. "I know for sure you smell better," he muttered under his breath.
"What was that?" Sirius asked, idly pointing the wand between Xander's eyes.
"Nothing really!" Xander yelped. His brown eyes crossed trying to look at the tip of his wand.
He closed his eyes for a moment and then took a deep breath. "Sirius, you feel better. You look better. No harm, no foul, yeah? I really didn't do this on purpose."
"I know you didn't, Prongslet," Sirius said in a reassuring tone as he tapped Xander on the nose with the tip of his wand. Xander relaxed just a bit. "That's why I'm only doing this."
There were some mumbled words and a flick of a wand. A jet of pink light shot from Xander's wand and smacked into his forehead. The Boy-Who-Lived stiffened as he felt the magic wash over him and he closed his eyes for several seconds. When he finally opened them, he found his godfather staring at him with his mouth hanging open. Sirius looked at Xander and then at Xander's wand still held in his hand.
"This thing certainly packs a punch," the escaped convict noted casually before he glanced up at Xander again and snickered. The younger wizard scowled at him.
"What did you do?" Xander demanded as Sirius started chuckling wildly. He stood and grabbed his wand then pushed past Sirius who immediately fell into the chair and continued laughing. Xander stomped across the room and glared into a mirror. His eyes widened in horror as his hands immediately went to his hair.
His bright pink hair.
His bright pink hair that was now styled in long, thin braids all over his head, each braid tied in place with a pretty pink velvet bow.
"Sirius!" he wailed loudly and his godfather just howled happily from his corner chair. Xander dropped his head in his hands and groaned. A curtain of braided hair swept forward and hid his features completely making him groan louder. His godfather fell out of his chair laughing.
Xander stalked along Diagon Alley. He had planned a nice afternoon consisting of a long nap and maybe some chat-time with his godfather. Instead he now had a head full of braided, pink hair all stuffed under an enormous baseball cap Xander had nicked from Dudley. Where Dudley had gotten a baseball cap with the Chicago Cubs logo was anyone's guess but Xander was certain he had put it to much better use that Dudley ever had.
Sirius had refused to turn Xander's hair back to its normal brown color despite the full weight of Xander's whining and insults. Instead, the animagus had turned back into his very nicely groomed doggie self (now without the bow) and snuggled down in the bed covers for a nap. Xander had ground his teeth for a full five minutes until he decided to leave his godfather to his nap. He mentioned a little loudly that the old geezer probably needed a nap more than he did anyway. Padfoot just snuggled a little deeper into his blankets.
Xander growled under his breath as he stalked over to the mirror on the wall and spent several minutes removing all the bows from his braids. He tried undoing the braids as well but every time he finished unbraiding one, the strands of hair just twisted themselves back into a tighter braid. Cursing quite vehemently under his breath, Xander finally gave up trying and glared at his godfather for a few more minutes.
After he felt he had glared for an appropriate amount of time at his completely oblivious godfather, Xander opened his trunk and rummaged (loudly) through it, looking for his Hogwarts letter and his bank key. He also pulled out a backpack, also nicked from Dudders, and the baseball cap out of his trunk before he (loudly) slammed the lid of the trunk closed. Then he stomped out the door and slammed it behind him. He was certain he heard doggie snickers coming from the other side.
It took a few minutes of concentrated work but Xander finally got all his hair under the baseball cap and then headed downstairs. He told Tom he'd changed his mind about lunch and would get some later before he stalked out into the alley. It was now early afternoon and Diagon Alley was much more crowded than it had been before. Xander, however, was in no hurry. He ambled down the long street, safe from his fame because of his baggy clothes and his Cubs cap. Eventually, he made his way up the stairs of Gringott's with the intention of getting some money for the coming school year. He also intended to get some money for Sirius, pounds and galleons, in case his godfather needed it as he traveled on his own towards Hogwarts.
An hour later, a very pleased Boy-Who-Lived walked out of Gringott's. He'd spent quite a bit of time exploring his vault, which held more than just galleons and sickles and knuts. He could see why Harry had never explored the vault. The interesting stuff was hidden behind a glamour that covered most of the back part of the vault. He wouldn't have found it himself if he hadn't stumbled over a hidden pile of knuts while he was bagging up some galleons.
There was a whole bookshelf of interesting books as well as some paintings (which freaked Xander out no matter how he'd been expecting them to move). There was also furniture, some of which looked a bit damaged. He opened drawers and cabinets, looking through each one. Most were empty or had broken quills or burned pieces of parchment. In one drawer, however, in a huge scroll-top desk he found something completely unexpected. Two wands rolled around in the otherwise empty drawer.
Xander stared at them for a moment, knowing immediately that they were his parents' wands and that the burned and broken furniture around him was probably all that had been left at Godric's Hollow.
The young wizard blinked a few times, surprised to find his eyes tearing up. With a deep breath, he took the wands and shoved them into his backpack before he slammed the drawer shut again. Then he ran his fingers along the scorch marks that blackened this beautiful old desk. Perhaps later he'd have time to refurbish these old bits and pieces of his parents' life when he was ready to furnish his own home.
But that was a thought for much later. If Willow didn't come for him, he had at least five more years of schooling and a Dark Lord to vanquish. He sighed as he thought absently that a Scooby's work was never done.
With a final touch to the desk, he turned to the bookshelf and browsed the titles. He pulled a few interesting books on pure-blood customs and politics to taunt Hermione with. With her love of books, she'd probably bend over backwards to get him to lend them to her.
After several thoughtful moments, Xander also pulled a few spell books and spell theory books to read for himself. While he had always considered himself to be somewhat allergic to magic, he knew he was going to have to learn how to be a wizard and learn fast.
Xander hoped he could initially rely on his Harry memories to guide him through the magic he needed to know for school (not to mention his Summer homework) but he knew he needed to understand magic for himself. While he clearly remembered Harry using magic at school it wasn't the same as actually using magic himself. Wizard magic was so different from what he was familiar with. Not to mention that before his wish, Xander's previous experiences with magic were not of the good. Now, though, he had about two years to learn and understand wizard magic in order to come up with a plan for defeating the pesky, possibly undead Dark Lord and while that might seem a long time now, he knew it was going to go by fast.
So the remainder of the summer was going to be devoted to completing his summer homework (shudder, high school haunted him still) and even worse, he was going to have to reread his textbooks from the last two years. What did they call it here? Revising? Xander groaned as he tossed the spell books into his backpack. Hermione was going to be so thrilled with him and Ron was going to be appalled.
He also had to come up with a plan for the next year to bring himself and his friends up to speed physically as well as magically. Xander's memories of Ron and Hermione clearly showed him that they weren't going to let him face the Dark Wanker alone any more than he and Willow would allow Buffy to patrol alone and he was going to make sure they were prepared.
Xander sighed deeply as he considered adding another spell book to his backpack but decided he'd come back later. He still had to get his books from Flourish and Blott's and he didn't want to be dragging his backpack back to the inn.
On his way out of the bank, he exchanged some galleons for pounds and then considered speaking with his account manager. After a moment though he decided to come back later. His hair was starting to itch under his cap and he still had some errands to run.
Ten minutes later, Xander was walking into Flourish and Blott's, studying his Hogwarts letter and hoping someone would be able to point him in the right direction for his books. The shop was extremely crowded though and Xander immediately noticed a long line of customers queued up to speak with a person seated at a table on the far side of the store.
Having an unpleasant Gilderoy Lockhart flashback, Xander's eyes darted to the man at the table who was busily signing books and chatting with the people in line. Happily, the man was a complete stranger and Xander relaxed. The last thing he wanted was to run into Lockhart who, if he remembered correctly, was probably still at St Mungo's after obliviating himself into idiocy.
Shrugging off the memory, Xander headed into the store. He glanced around at the excited customers lined up, all with books clutched in their arms.
"Isn't it great?" one young witch about his age gushed at him when he met her eyes as he passed. She bounced happily next to someone who looked to be her long-suffering mother and displayed the book she held so protectively to him. "He finally finished the series!"
Xander couldn't help but smile back at her exuberance before he glanced down at the title of the book. His body and mind came to an abrupt stop as he stared at the book cover.
"I've heard it's a great book, his best yet!" the young witch continued happily. "I just wish it wasn't the last of the Slayer books. Mr. Owling said he isn't going to write any more after this one." She pouted at him for a moment but Xander was still staring at the book she held in her hands. "Are you okay?" she asked. "You look a little pale."
Xander glanced up at her, his eyes wide and anxious. "I-" he squeaked and then stopped to clear his throat several times. "I'm fine, thanks," he finally got out. "Where did you get that?"
She smiled at him again and happily pointed out a large table near the check out where people were clustered. Xander could see a large pile of books and without even a nod to the girl he walked off. It took him a few minutes but eventually he was able to get a copy of the book the girl held so protectively. He ran his fingers across the title of the book, not quite believing what he was seeing.Buffy Summers and the Season of Death
Staring up at him from the cover were the faces of friends he hadn't seen since he'd stupidly wished himself into this world. Buffy, Willow and Spike he knew right away. Their expressions were weary and desperate, expressions he vividly remembered from their months of fighting with the First so many years ago. Two other faces on the cover were ones he recognized but didn't understand why they would be here. Tara McClay and Jesse McNallie.
The last face was one he'd only ever read about. Dark, scruffy hair, vibrant green eyes and a pair of round glasses perched precariously on his face. Xander guessed he was looking at the face of Harry Potter.
Xander ran his fingers over wonderingly Harry's face and then moved to Jesse's. It was older than the fifteen-year-old best friend he still occasionally had nightmares about dusting. Curious, he flipped the book over and read the back cover.**For six years, Buffy, Willow, Harry and Jesse had been fighting evil on the Hellmouth in Sunnydale. But now they faced something far worse than they had ever had to deal with before. The First Evil, the source and embodiment of all that is evil, is rising in Sunnydale with its army of deadly Bringers.
Can the Scoobies, heroes of Light, along with William the Bloody and the rogue Slayer, Faith Lehane, defeat the Ultimate Evil? With the destruction of the Watcher's Council and the possible death of their long-time Watcher and mentor, Rupert Giles, Buffy and her crew must not only prevent the rising of the First but also the annihilation of the Slayer Line itself.**
Xander blinked several times as he recognized the description of their last year in Sunnydale. His mind was a complete blank as he turned the book back over and stared at his friends' faces. After a few minutes of staring, the words at the top of the cover finally caught his eye.
Seventh and last in the Sunnydale Slayer Series.
With a determined stride, Xander approached the shopkeeper. He got a curious look from the man behind the counter before he laid his book down.
"Do you have the other six books?" Xander asked his voice a little strained. The shopkeeper smiled happily.
"Of course, young sir," he stated and with a flick of his wand, six additional books sat on the counter. "We're selling quite a few of the whole set now that its complete."
Xander just nodded. "I'd like all seven please," he stated, completely blowing off the notion of getting his schoolbooks. Just the idea of seven years of Sunnydale history fictionalized for the wizarding masses was something Xander just couldn't get his mind around. Tara and Jesse still alive? Harry Potter as part of the Scoobies?
He paid for the books and then glanced behind him at the long line of people waiting to speak with the author. Mr. K.L. Owling seemed a nice enough man. He happily chatted a minute or two with each person before he signed the book. Xander studied him intently trying to figure out if he, like Xander, had some contact with Sunnydale.
"Sir?" the shopkeeper asked as he handed Xander the change in sickles and knuts for the books.
"Would you mind holding on to these?" Xander turned back to ask. "I'd like to get this last one signed."
"No need, sir," he said and flicked his wand again, shrinking all but the final book. "Here you are. Just tap them twice when you want them to resize."
Xander nodded and gave him a half-smile before he joined the line of people waiting to get their book signed. He listened idly to the people around him talking about the books and their favorite characters. Buffy the Slayer was mentioned constantly as were the wiccan witches, Willow and Tara.
Giles was a favorite as well, mostly Xander thought, because he was British and guided the heroic Buffy to her destiny. Xander heard many comparisons between Headmaster Dumbledore and Watcher Giles though he was surprised at how many people referred to the Watcher as Ripper. Xander wondered if Ripper had made more appearances in these books than he had in his own time with the man. Xander had to admit that Ripper was one scary British librarian.
He was surprised to hear Harry and Jesse's names pop up quite frequently and usually in the same sentences with Spike. Xander couldn't imagine what conversations were revolving around those three characters. He was sorely tempted to open the book in his hands and start reading as some other waiting customers were doing to find out what the hells they were talking about.
But he didn't want to start reading it before he'd read the other books first. Just the fact that Tara and Jesse were on the cover made him think there had been some major differences from the timeline he remembered. He couldn't even imagine what changes had been made because of Harry's presence in the Scoobies instead of himself. It was pretty obvious that the Vengeance Demon had completely switched himself and Harry
Xander waited a good two hours in line, waiting his turn to speak with the popular author. When he finally stepped up to the table, he'd had plenty of time to figure out what he wanted to ask. He knew he wouldn't have much time.
"Hi there." Mr. Owling smiled up at him as Xander laid his book on the table and the young wizard returned the expression.
"Hi," Xander replied. "I was just wondering where you got the idea for the Slayer series," he asked in a steady tone and he studied the author.
Mr. Owling just chuckled and nodded. "I get that question a lot and believe it or not, the whole story just came to me one afternoon when I was on the Knight Bus, riding home from work." The man leaned back a bit and smiled at the memory. "It was just there in my mind, complete with Buffy, Willow, Jesse and Harry. As a matter of fact, I wrote the last few scenes of this seventh book shortly after I started the first one." Mr. Owling just shook his head for a moment. "I've never had a story come out so neatly before.
Xander just nodded slowly and then glanced away thoughtfully as Mr. Owling picked up his book. "Who would you like me to sign this to?" he asked and Xander returned his attention to the author.
"Oh, just make it out to Xander, if you don't mind," he said with a half-smile.
The author's eyes snapped up to his for a moment before they lifted his forehead, hidden under the brim of Xander's cap.
"Xander...Harris?" he asked, his voice squeaking.
"Er...maybe," Xander said as quietly as he could, his eyes darted behind him and then back to the author. He pulled his cap lower on his head and hoped no one noticed the pink hair.
"Right then," the author squeaked again and then took a moment to clear his throat. "Right. I'll be happy to sign this for you. But...ummm...would you mind signing something for me?" He looked up at Xander with an imploring gaze. "It's for my little girl. Her birthday is coming up soon and I just picked it up today. Would you mind?"
Xander blinked at him a few times before he nodded. "Sure."
Mr. Owling beamed at him. He took a few seconds to sign Xander's book with a flourish before he leaned down and pulled a large, flat envelope from his bag on the floor beside him. Carefully, he opened the envelope and pulled out a large picture, which he slid across the table to Xander.
The young wizard gaped at the photo. It was a large, glossy, moving picture that showed Xander dressed in his Gryffindor Quidditch outfit zooming down out of the sky. Right behind him, in Slytherin green, flew Draco Malfoy, looking as intent as Xander, both boys chasing after the game-winning snitch. Xander guessed the picture had been taken at last year's game.
Xander looked up in complete surprise at the author who was smiling happily at him.
"My daughter can't decide who she has a bigger crush on; you or Mr. Malfoy. Getting her your autograph should secure you in her favor." The author leaned forward a little confidentially. "Which, I don't mind telling you, I *much* prefer."
"Er...right." Xander couldn't believe this was happening. Someone wanted his autograph and here was a large glossy picture with him name and image on it. "What's her name?"
"Just sign it to Amelia," Mr. Owling said. "She'll just be so happy."
Xander held out his hand for the writer's gold-inked quill and signed in a corner: 'Amelia, Happy Birthday and keep flying high. Xander Harris'. He studied it for a moment, thinking his writing was terrible before he slid it back to author.
"Is that okay?" he asked hesitantly as he picked up his book.
Mr. Owling studied the signature for a moment and then beamed. "It's perfect, Mr. Harris. Thank you so much."
Xander gave him something of a dazed nod before he walked away from the happy author. The young wizard wondered if things could get any more surreal today. A moment later, he was standing on the side of the crowded alley, staring vaguely around at the busy wizards and witches making their way up and down the street. For the first time, Xander truly considered the possibility that Willow was not going to find him.
Up until this point, Xander had considered it only a matter of time before his friends found and rescued him no matter how many plans he'd made to take out Voldemort. He figured he'd save Sirius, maybe get Ron and Hermione on the right track with some training and then Willow would show up and take him home.
Now, though, looking at the cover of the book in his hand, Xander realized that his inadvertent wish had changed much more than just making him the Boy-Who-Lived in the Potterverse.
If the cover was to be believed, Tara was alive. *Jesse* was alive. If he went back, would they die again? Could he even get back to his own world?
Did they realize he was gone? Were they looking for him?
Xander Harris, the Boy Who Lived, hesitated only a moment before he shouldered his book bag and turned toward the Leaky Caldron. He had a lot of thinking to do.