Learning to Live
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters represented here. I am truly in debt to Joss Whedon and J.K. Rowling for creating these two amazing series.
An owl flew into Rupert Giles' window one evening in late July. He wouldn't have been surprised twenty years ago, but he had not received an owl in nearly that long. He gently took the letter from the owl, whom on second glance, he recognized to be Orion, Minerva McGonagall's old owl. He opened the letter with shaking hands as he read:
Dear Mr. Giles, I know that you are not expecting this letter, certainly not after the events that led to your banishment from our community. I am Headmaster Albus Dumbledore of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. I write to you concerning your young Vampire Slayer, Buffy Summers. I understand that she has undergone quite an ordeal in the past year and a half and could use a break from the Hellmouth. It just so happens that we have the Boy-Who- Lived in our school as a Sixth Year. Voldemort returned two years ago and has been after Mr. Potter ever since then. He is in need of a little physical protection. Slayers are magical on their own and do not need to be born a witch. The Death Eaters have risen again and are using some physical tactics. I am starting a new configuration for the Defense Against the Dark Arts class. The class will meet eight times a week, and five of those classes will be tradition DADA, but the other three will be Wandless Defense. Buffy will be quite capable of teaching both courses with an assistant in the form of Remus Lupin. You will be unable to accompany her, as I do not have the power to reverse a Ministry decision, but I assure you, your Slayer will be well-cared for and loved. Please send Orion back with a reply after you talk with Buffy. Sincerely, Albus Dumbledore
Giles stared at the letter in amazement at how timely Albus could be. He knew that Buffy had been nearly killed by Spike a month ago and sorely needed some time away from her familiar world. He could not think of anyplace more appropriate than Hogwarts.
"Minerva McGonagall will meet you in London and take you to Hogwarts. She was a teacher when I was there, and I believe she is one of the most trustworthy people I have ever met. Minerva will probably use a Portkey to take you there, for it is a dreadfully long ride on the Hogwarts Express to Hogsmeade. Don't be afraid, she'll take care of you, and I'll send you an owl if there is any change with Xander," Giles told Buffy as the tiny, emaciated girl boarded the plane to London, limping only slightly on her right with a cane in her hand.
Buffy go off the plane and looked around. Nearby, she saw a sign with her name on it held by a severe looking woman whom she presumed to be Professor McGonagall. "Hello, Miss Summers, welcome to England, my name is Minerva McGonagall, you may call me Minerva," the woman introduced herself.
Buffy's head went down slightly as she held out her hand to the witch and replied, "Glad to meet you, Minerva, you may call me Buffy."
"Now, I know Rupert told you that we would go straight to Hogsmeade and then on to Hogwarts, but first we are going to Diagon Alley, to get you some proper clothing," Minerva told the small blond girl in front of her. Buffy smiled at the thought of shopping, only for a moment. Then her face returned to its normal stoic but slightly sad expression. "Hagrid, the groundskeeper, has gotten your luggage and will be taking it to the school from here." The two took a walk through London to the Leaky Cauldron. "My dear, you must be thirsty after your long journey?" Minerva asked, staring at Buffy's entirely too-thin body and haggard features.
"Not really, they had water on the plane," Buffy replied unsteadily.
Minerva smiled and told her, "Nevertheless, I am hungry and this place serves the best butterbeer and pub food in London. You will have a butterbeer, won't you?"
"I don't drink much," she warned.
"Oh, no, it's quite weak, our third year students can have it. It isn't at all like Muggle beer," the professor told the Slayer. So Buffy sat down with her new friend and nursed a butterbeer while Minerva perused the menu. "I believe that I will have the Ravenclaw Peach Cobbler, Tom, and Buffy here will have . . .what would you like, dear?"
"Oh, nothing for me, thank you."
"Bring us two slices of the cobbler, please," Minerva told the bartender, then turned back to the blonde, "You must try Tom's peach cobbler, it's one of the most successful desserts in all of Magical Europe." After they had finished their beer and cobbler, the pair continued on to Diagon Alley. The first stop was Madam Malkin's for robes. Buffy looked through several colors before finding a black and crimson robe she liked. Madam Malkin fitted three robes to her and gave the tab to Minerva, who added another robe which she called a Dueling Robe. "Don't worry, Buffy, the school pays for four robes each year for every teacher. It wouldn't do to have the professors looking shabby." The two left the robe shop and continued on to Flourish and Blott's.
"I'm going to go look at the DADA and Wandless Defense texts, Minerva, I'm not quite sure how to teach the Wandless course," Buffy told the Transfiguration expert as she drifted towards books of her interest. Buffy soon found the fourteen texts that would be needed for the courses. One for each class for each grade. The double class would prove to be one of the most challenging that the school had ever offered, but also the most useful. Soon she had drifted towards the sports books. Happily, Buffy tramped up to Minerva with a stack of twenty books in her arms. At the teacher's raised eyebrow, Buffy responded, "I got all texts for the year, three other DADA books, a book on the Dark Arts themselves, a book on Magical Creatures, and, um, on this broom game."
"Quidditch?" Minerva provided.
"Yes, Minerva, that's the one. It looked like it'd be fun to try."
Minerva smiled happily and told her, "Our next stop happens to be Quality Quidditch Supplies. You can get a broom if you want. Teachers get quite a nice salary, really. You don't have to worry about what you buy here. Hogwarts covers all of your expenses, so all you cover is novelties."
By the time they left Diagon Alley an hour later, Buffy had her own Starlight broom. It wasn't exactly a Quidditch broom, but rather a racing broom. And a set of cauldrons and a potions book. Dumbledore had promised that she would get lessons in Potions, Transfiguration, Charms, and Herbology. Minerva glanced at the young girl and then did a double take. "My dear, is you leg alright, you appear to be limping quite badly?" she asked.
Buffy smiled somewhat sadly, "I'm fine, I just had it shattered from end to end about two months ago."
"Well then, let's be off. Grab a hold of this and don't let go," Minerva told her, holding out a piece of candy. "Say the name of your mother." Buffy complied and felt a faint tug at her navel before she was gone. She reappeared in a large room.
"Welcome, to Hogwarts, Miss Summers," a wizened old man warbled.