New BeginningsDisclaimer: I own nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero. Zilch.A/N: Takes place after Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Season Five of Buffy. Obviously, these events do not follow those of canon, though some aspects will come to play.1. New Beginnings
Fear rose in Dawn’s throat as she stared at the man – creature- before her. Her arms shook with fear, strain, and weakness. The wind blew past her, causing her hair to move in soft waves. On an ordinary day, she would savor the feel of the wind. But when you are tied to the edge of catwalk overlooking the long fall below, it could not be an ordinary day.
“Well, what do you know. It’s just about that time,” Doc said, staring at his watch. He smiled at her, a lethal smile. Another wave of fear passed through her as she stared at him. Suddenly, movement from behind him distracted her. A ray of hope filled her as she stared at the space behind him.
“Spike!” she called out, her eyes widening.
Doc spun around, slipping the watch back into his pocket. Spike staggered forward, his shock of blond hair in disarray. “Doesn’t a fellow stay dead when you kill him?”
Doc smiled at him, not the least bit unnerved by the unexpected presence of the vampire. “Look whose talking.”
“C’mon Doc. Let’s you and me have a go,” Spike said, desperately trying to take Doc’s attention away from Dawn. If he does anything to hurt the Bit, I swear I’ll kill him. Again.
Doc stared at Spike for a moment, seemingly considering the words. His words were slow and deliberate as he glanced back at Dawn. “I do have a prior appointment.”
Spike stepped forward. “This won’t take long.”
“No, I don’t image it will.”
In a move unseen by the vampire, Doc pulled a blade out of his jacket. He leapt forward so quickly that even a vampire could not fend his blows. He twisted the knife deep into the vampire. Spike screamed as the knife bit into his skin, but he pushed passed the pain. He pushed Doc off of him. Now, Spike was the one in front of Dawn.
“You don’t come anywhere near the girl, Doc.”
Doc studied Spike for a moment, looking genuinely puzzled. “I don’t see a soul anywhere on you. Why do you even care?”
Dawn’s eyes widened as she stared at Spike’s back, holding onto the hope that he could save her. That he could prevent the portal from opening and allowing Hell to open. Spike stared at Doc, clutching his bleeding wound. “I made a promise to a lady.”
“Oh?” Doc asked. Suddenly, his tongue shot forward, and Spike barely managed to get out of the way of the slippery thing. But as Spike was turned sideways, Doc swept his feet out from under him and knocked him to the ground. He grabbed Spike by the arms, holding him so both were facing Dawn. “Well, I’ll send the lady your regrets.”
“No,” Spike whispered as he and Dawn looked into each other’s eyes. He saw the hope fade and the despair grow as Spike stood there, incapacitated. As Spike felt Doc’s weight begin to shift and the grip on Spike’s arms loosened, Spike made a desperate grab, hoping to grab onto anything he could to stay on the platform.I will not fail Buffy. I will not let any harm come to the Bit.
Doc’s eyes widened as a hand encircled his wrist with such force that he had no time to react. “Oh my,” was the only thing he could get out before he was falling, plummeting towards the ground. The last thing he saw before he blacked out was the frightened face of the girl on the platform.
Dawn watched the falling duo, screaming out Spike’s name as he fell. Even though a part of her knew that he would live through the fall, the rational part of her mind was no longer functioning at that moment. She watched as both hit the ground, neither moving.
Suddenly, she could hear pounding on the stairs of the metal structure. Her heart caught in her throat as someone ascended the stairs, for she could not tell who was coming for her. Yes, it could be her sister, coming to get her down from the platform. Or, it could be Glory and Spike’s heroics could have been for nothing.
For what seemed like an eternity Dawn stood there, the noises getting increasingly louder. Fear grew with every passing moment as she struggled to free herself from her bonds, her eyes never leaving the dark alcove at the top of the stairs.
And suddenly, big sis was there. Fresh tears streamed down Dawn’s face as Buffy ran forward, her face a mask of worry. “Buffy?”
“Dawnie,” Buffy whispered as she ran over. “Dawnie, are you okay?”
For a moment, Dawn could do nothing but cry as she stared at her older sister. Buffy was there. Everything would be okay now.
Even though Buffy knew the relief that was passing through her sister, she had to know if she was okay. If anyone had cut her. “Dawnie, did anyone hurt you? Did anyone cut you?”
Dawn shook her head as Buffy undid her bonds. “Nobody hurt me. Spike got rid of Doc before he could do anything.”
As soon as the last of the bonds was undone, Dawn threw her arms around her sister, tears still streaming down her face. “I was so scared, Buffy. I was so scared.”
Buffy hugged her sister back, shutting her eyes tightly as tears welling up in them. We were so close to failing her. Too close. If Spike hadn’t gotten Doc away from her, it would have been too late. He would have started the ritual.
Time seemed to stop as the sisters stood at the top of the platform, embracing each other in thankfulness. All of them would live to see another day. Glory had not defeated them.
Buffy opened her eyes, a smile crossing her face as she saw the beginnings of the rising sun. “Dawn, look.”
Dawn turned around, a smile forming through her tears. “We made it, didn’t we Buffy? They can’t do the ritual anymore, can they?”
“No, Dawn, they can’t.” Buffy said, giving her sister a shaky smile. “Now let’s go home.”
With that, the two sisters slowly made their way off the platform, knowing that they had survived the greatest of odds. They slowly walked down the stairs, not knowing what the coming days and weeks were to bring. And for the first time, they really did not care.******
The white-bearded wizard sighed as he sat down at his desk, staring at the two professors in front of him. Both stared back at him, wisdom running through the depths of their eyes. For many years, time seemed to have been kind to the three, as they had been aging quite well. But after the strain of the last year, ever since the reappearance of the Dark Lord, time had caught up to them. Worry lines had appeared. Tiredness was slowly growing on them, for they knew that the fight was far from over. They did not know if the battle would ever end.
Even with the blazing fire before them, a coldness seemed to permeate the room. Shadows bounced off the walls, casting an eerie glow in the in the corners of the room. Even Fawkes, the beloved phoenix of Dumbledore, seemed to sense that something was amiss.
“Another school year is again approaching and once again, we find ourselves without a Defense Against the Dark Arts professor,” Dumbledore sighed, folding his hands neatly on his desk. “In all the time I have been at Hogwarts, I have never seen such a turnover rate as we have had in the last five years. It is uncanny.”
The man sitting opposite Dumbledore shifted slightly in his chair, his coal-black hair sliding over one of his eyes. “Ever since Potter came, we’ve had trouble. Five professors in five years have never happened before.”
Dumbledore’s eyes twinkled in humor for a moment before turning deathly serious. “While that is true, Severus, it is merely a matter of coincidence. And I believe the time has come for you to bury the hard feelings you have had for Harry ever since the day he arrived at this school. He is not, and never has been, the man that tortured you during your own school days. He is merely a young boy, struggling to accept that fact that he has a unique connection to Lord Voldemort. If we want to win this battle against Voldemort, we must all be united.”
Severus Snape grimaced as he looked away from Dumbledore, not wanting to reveal his feelings in the matter to the Headmaster. He knew the risks a divided front posed to their coalition. Voldemort would use any division to his advantage and destroy any resistance that they had managed to build. Yet, at the same time, he would never like Harry Potter. Too much had happened for any mutual like to exist between the two. Even acceptance would be hard to achieve.
“That said,” Dumbledore said quietly. “We need to find a professor.”
That is not as easy as it once was, Albus,” Minerva McGonagall said, her mouth set in a grim line. “After the recent misfortunes that we have had with the last five Defense Against the Dark Arts professors, nobody is that willing to fill the position. It has been almost three weeks since we have put the ad in the Daily Prophet and we have not gotten any applications. I’m afraid that it is looking rather hopeless at this point.”
A silence filled the room, the crackling of the fireplace the only noise that echoed off of the walls. The portraits that lined the rooms stared down at the Dumbledore, silent as they waited for his news. Even the portrait of Phineas Nigellus was surprisingly subdued, as he was not yet recovered from the shock that the line of Black’s was forever ended. Dumbledore eyed the two for a moment before sighing once again and prepared himself for the objections that he knew were too come.
“There is one person that I have had in mind,” he began slowly, watching the two carefully. “I received his application just one week ago. He seems very eager to return to Hogwarts, though he did graduate fairly recently. And while he had never seemed particularly interested in teaching during his years here, his grades in Defense Against the Dark Arts were quite exceptional, unmatched by any in his year.”
“Which former student are you suggesting, Albus?” McGonagall asked, looking at the Headmaster warily. “And why did you choose to tell us about your decision beforehand, instead of waiting to tell us at the same time as the other professors?”
Dumbledore straightened in his chair and looked down his crooked nose at the two professors carefully. “I felt that both of you in particular should be told privately beforehand, as the decision affects you more than it will the other professors in this school.”
“I have decided to accept Oliver Wood as the new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor.”
Silence greeted his words momentarily before Snape stood up angrily, knocking the chair he had been sitting on to the ground with a loud bang. His normally pale complexion was now a pasty white and his dark eyes were flashing angrily.
“Oliver Wood?” he rasped, voice tight as his hands clenched into fists. “You accept a mere boy to take a position that is known for its difficulty? Someone who will favor Potter and the rest of the Gryffindors, while ignoring the rest of his class? You accept him over…over…”
“Over you,” Dumbledore said quietly, his eyes trained on Snape. “I do realize that he is very young still, but I have very good faith in him. He has already shown that he has the patience and the ability to teach, as shown when he taught the young Mr. Potter the art of Quidditch. Yet, that is not the issue you have trouble accepting, Severus. Though you are one of the finest potion masters that have ever graced this school, you still hunger for a position that you believe will help absolve you from your actions of years ago.”
Snape did not reply, instead clenching his teeth to control his anger. Slowly, ever so slowly, he picked up his chair and sat down once again, though his eyes still blazed with anger.
Dumbledore eyed him carefully for a few more moments before turning to McGonagall. He studied her, trying to gage her reaction to his announcement. Her expression was thoughtful was she carefully weighed her feelings on the subject.
“Though I am more than a little surprised at the decision,” she began slowly, “I believe that Wood is a good choice, though he does have little teaching experience. He was always eager to learn, and he did show that he had the patience to teach younger students.”
Dumbledore nodded his agreement. “If that matter is settled, then, I will announce my decision at the next meeting.”
He glanced at Snape once more and, seeing that he was not going to argue though his feelings on the issue were apparent, continued.
“There is another issue that I believe should be addressed.”
Snape and McGonagall regarded Dumbledore curiously, surprised by his slight hesitation.
“With Voldemort’s power growing by the day, it is important that our students are prepared in every way possible to defend themselves in the coming battles. Yet, even with all of our teachings, I still believe we could give them more of an opportunity to protect themselves. Unlike the last battle that was fought against Voldemort, younger witches and wizards will be involved in this battle. Harry Potter will fight against Voldemort, and his friends will not let him fight alone.”
“But Albus, what else could we do?” McGonagall asked. “The classes taught here were decided on when the school first began. They have proven to give students a strong education.”
Her question was answered only with silence. Dumbledore eyed her for a moment before standing up and walking over to a small bookshelf hidden away in the corner of the room. He ran his fingers over the bindings of a few books before pulling out a thick leather-bound book. He turned and placed the book on his desk.
Snape picked the book off the desk, his scowl deepening as he glanced at the title. “Slayer: Proving the Myth. You cannot possibly be suggesting…”
“But I am, Severus,” Dumbledore said, calmly interrupting the potions masters. “This may be our answer to giving the students a broader education,”
“We do not even know where this “slayer” may be found,” McGonagall objected as she slid the book out of Snape’s hand. She opened the book to a random page, not even flinching as dust flew up into her face. “We do not even know how much of the myth about the slayer is true. Even with that said, where would such a person – “
“California. Sunnydale, to be exact.”
The pained looks that cross both Snape and McGonagall’s faces were so similar that it was all Dumbledore could do to keep from smiling. McGonagall closed the book slowly and placed it back on the desk. “An American, Albus? Surely you can’t be serious.”
“I am, Minerva,” he said, his voice deathly serious. “I will not let any of my students face the power of Voldemort without ensuring that they have had the best of instruction. I have been keeping track of this Slayer, along with her friends for the last couple of years. And I believe that she, along with a very good friend, could provide our students with excellent training. The Slayer will provide the students with all of the knowledge she has gained over her five years. Her friend will provide the students with the opportunity to learn wandless magic.”
Both professors looked to object but were halted as Dumbledore lifted a hand. “That is all for now. If you please, I have new professors to whom I must write.”
The two nodded and walked from the room, their faces slightly troubled as they closed the door behind them, sparing a quick glance at Dumbledore. He paid no heed to them, but continued his writing. He did not even notice when the door shut quietly behind him, leaving him alone in his office. He wrote quickly but efficiently, knowing what a surprise the letter – and owl – would be to the two women. As he whistled for his owl, he wrote the addresses down, the ink drying quickly as he wrote.Buffy Summers
1630 Revello Drive
1630 Revello Drive