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Don't Make Me Angry -

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This story is No. 2 in the series "Correcting Past Mistakes". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Things have gone very, very wrong for the Wizarding World and the Golden Trio and several of their friends are determined to make those responsible pay.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Multiple Crossings > Multiple Pairings
Harry Potter > Multiple Pairings > Alternate Universe
GreywizardFR18552,9131013158,31016 Sep 077 Mar 09Yes

Chapter One

Rating: Adult. Primarily for themes of death, vengeance and various other ideas that Mr. Rogers wouldn't be found discussing in his neighborhood.

Disclaimer: All of the really good characters belong to J. K. Rowling and Joss Whedon. Sabrina Spellman belongs to ABC Family and Warner Bros. Television. I'm just borrowing all of the characters for a while. Any other characters that might show up that you might recognize don't belong to me either, but to their respective owners. There is no intent to profit from this. Only the story is mine.

Category: Dark fic. Be warned! There will probably be numerous deaths (including some character deaths) and lots of extreme violence, so if these types of things bother you, don't complain – just don't read any further. If, however, you're like me, then feel free to enjoy! ;-)

Time frame: Alternate HP-universe, taking place subsequent to the events of 'Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix' and several years after ‘Chosen.’ ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Assed Prince’ and ‘Harry Potter and the Brain-Dead Hollows’ are not part of this universe’s continuity.

Character Bashing: None. Well, at least not against anyone I like.

Feedback: Of course! Constructive criticism will be greatly appreciated. Flamers will be added to the lists of those to be painfully exterminated, once I am appointed to my rightful position as King of the World. (Yeah, you wait and see if I’m kidding. Dogbert had nothing on me!)

Author’s note 1: This story will initially have only a minimal crossover with the Buffy-verse.

Author’s Note 2: Thanks to Lori Bush, Tim Joy, Bill Haden and Drake the Archr for beta-ing this story.

Author’s Note 3: “word” is normal speech, { word } is character thoughts, and :: word :: is mental communication.

~~~

Chapter 1

Hogwarts Castle
Scotland
October 20, 2007


No sound at all was heard as four virtually invisible figures (their formfitting, hooded chameleon-tech bodysuits allowing them to easily blend into their surroundings) stealthily made their way across the grounds of what had once been the premiere magical school in the British Isles, and which now served as the main headquarters of the newly ascended Dark Lord Voldemort.

Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley of the Order of the Phoenix, Sabrina Spellman of the North American Witches Alliance, and Xander Harris of the Reformed Slayers and Watchers Council all surveyed the castle's ramparts with the practiced eye of veterans for any sign of guards or sentinels, before quietly making their way to a nondescript section of the outer wall.

Once there, the hulking, sole survivor of the Weasley family tapped out an intricate pattern across several of the stones and the section of wall directly before the quartet faded away, allowing them access to the interior of the massive fortification.

Once inside the castle's walls, they headed downwards towards the lowest levels of the dungeons, their silent progress interrupted only by the brief instants needed to draw their blackened tanto blades across the throats of the Death Eaters standing a very lackadaisical guard on the prisoner being held there and lower the bodies on the floor, careful to avoid making any unnecessary noises so as to minimize any chance of discovery.

As Ron tenderly picked up the thin, nearly emaciated figure they'd come for and Xander helped slip the former prisoner into a bag constructed of the same chameleon-like material their own suits were made from, Hermione and Sabrina withdrew small consoles from their carrying cases on the belts and punched a series of commands on the control surfaces of each before then depositing them under the cot their mission objective had been lying on.

Nodding acknowledgement that the next stage of their mission had been completed, the four of them, with Ron easily carrying their unconscious comrade, quickly retraced part of their entrance route, turning down a corridor several dozen meters short of their initial entry point and following it until it stopped at an apparent dead-end.

Here, Hermione took the lead and tapped out an even more intricate pattern on the stone walls than Ron had demonstrated previously, paused, and then continued with a second, equally complicated sequence that was finally rewarded with a darkened passageway appearing a few feet down along the wall to their left.

Entering this newly revealed access corridor, the four soldiers and their precious cargo hurried at their fastest pace possible, while the aperture summoned by the brunette witch vanished behind them, the stone instantly reappearing and concealing their escape route.

Six and a half minutes after their departure, a dozen Harpoon Block II SLAM (Standoff Land Attack Missiles), launched from the USS Decatur (and sent as partial payment for the deaths of US citizens), homed in on the active radar signals being emitted by the two consoles Hermione and Sabrina had hidden under the cot, and reduced the castle to nothing but a large pile of dust and rubble.

~~~

Institute of Molecular Medicine
St James' Hospital
Trinity College
Dublin, Ireland

October 21, 2007


"I’m sorry, but there's nothing we can do for him," the balding, grey-bearded man in the white physician's coat, whose collar was embroidered with a crossed caduceus and wand, said quietly to the four individuals gathered outside the entrance to one of the ICU ward's small suite of rooms. Inside, the man on the bed writhed in pain despite his current state of unconsciousness.

"What do you mean, Doctor Lain?" Hermione blurted out, an expression of mixed outrage, anger and fear taking possession of her drawn and tired features upon hearing the other's words.

"There's got to be something you can do for him You can at least give him something for the pain he's in, can’t you?!" she insisted even as the young woman allowed herself to lean back into the reassuring embrace Xander was offering at the moment.

"I'm sorry, Ms Granger, but whatever spell or, more likely, curse it was that Voldemort used on Mr. Potter, it's tapping into his magical core to power itself, and that's something we can't do anything about," the physician explained by way of apology. "In addition to forcing his body to consume itself, it immediately negates any painkillers we give him, and actually slightly accelerates the cellular degeneration he's experiencing.

"I've never seen anything like this before in my entire life, to be honest," the doctor elaborated with a baffled shake of his head. "Either it's something that that bastard developed on his own, or it's some form of Ancient Magic that he stumbled across somewhere. But either way, no matter what we've tried, nothing has done any good.

"We aren't even sure exactly *how* the spell is doing what it's doing to Mr. Potter's body!" he exclaimed irritably. "Merlin! All of the diagnostic spells we've tried can't find anything out of the ordinary that's wrong with him, except for the fact that he can't access his own magical core!"

"So what're you saying, Doctor?" Ron spoke up for the first time, his face relatively impassive even as his hand reflexively tightened around Sabrina's smaller one seeking some undefined reassurance. "Just how bad off is Harry?"

"I'm sorry, Mr. Weasley. But based on your friend's current state of health and considering the rate at which he appears to be declining," the doctor said as he looked up into the towering redhead's eyes, his voice filled with sympathy and compassion, "I'd give him, at most, a week left to live.

"And that's only because he seems to be fighting against whatever magic is affecting him with everything he's got," Lain added, looking down at the floor with frustration and helpless anger as he spoke and not seeming to notice Hermione's only half-muffled cry of pain and protest or that she would most likely have collapsed if not for Xander's supporting arms.

"No! Harry's the only one who can kill Voldemort!" she protested in a low voice. "The prophecy said so! If he dies, then who'll be left to stop him?"

"Now, if you'll excuse me, I have other patients I need to attend to," Lain noted, apparently ignoring Hermione's outburst completely as he abruptly turned and walked off, leaving a stunned and emotionally devastated group of young adults in his wake.

"I'm gonna go out on a limb here and guess that the doc's not exactly a people person," Xander joked in what was clearly a reflexive attempt at humor, even as he and Sabrina guided their two clearly distraught and shocked friends towards the small lounge that was just a short distance down the hall from their current position.

As Ron reflexively tried to help one of his best friends try to deal with the virtually certain impending death of another, Xander looked over at Sabrina, as if trying to gauge her reactions to the catastrophic news they'd just received.

The dejected look on her face showed that she, too, had been hit hard by the announcement of their teammate's impending death, but, like Xander, she didn't appear nearly as hard hit as Hermione or Ron. Of course, neither of them had spent most of the past sixteen years together as members of the Golden Trio, either, he reflected to himself.

"Do you know anything about this prophecy Hermes just mentioned, Bree?" Xander questioned the blonde as their two friends tried to comfort each other.

"Uh-uh, Xand," the American witch shook her head in denial. "I've heard some of the people in the Order say something about Harry being 'the Chosen One' sometimes, but no one ever told me anything about a prophecy," she replied.

"Yeah, well, given the few experiences I've had with them, I'm thinking that we need to know a lot more about this prophecy Hermes just mentioned, and we need to know, like, now," Xander shook his head as he reluctantly turned his head to look over at his grieving teammates.

{ Damn. This must be killing her, } he thought as he looked at the heartbroken brunette sobbing on Ron's shoulder. { They finally realize exactly how they feel about each other, and after less than a year together, she finds out the guy she loves has only got about a week left to live. That sucks, big time! }

{ But at least they got to spend some quality time together, } he mused to himself as he thought of the only two women he'd ever truly considered in that light.

As far as Xander was concerned, there hadn’t ever been any question about the fact that he had loved Anya Jenkins and had wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. They’d definitely had some really good times together, but he'd managed to screw things with her up big-time, once that guy she'd cursed back in her vengeance demon days had come looking for payback and had screwed him up so badly mentally that he'd walked out on their wedding. After that, things had been majorly of the bad for quite a while, what with them not being able to discuss that particular fiasco without it eventually degenerating into a whole lot of screaming and insults and eventual threats about evisceration and things like that.

After a while, though, they’d somehow managed to coexist and then be able to work together, after a fashion. But then, after they’d sort of reconciled about what had happened with the wedding, when it finally seemed as though there might actually be a chance of them, maybe, possibly getting back together, Anya had ended up getting killed helping to stop the First from releasing hordes of Turok-Han through the Seal of Danzalthar underneath the high school.

And then, a year or so later, after that they'd started dealing with the repercussions of their having activated all of the Potentials in the world and turned them all into actual Slayers, after he and Buffy had finally gotten around to actually talking and they’d managed to resolve (at least for the most part) a lot of the various problems that had separated them during their years in Sunnydale and they’d actually started dating, she and Dawn had happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time and they both had ended up as collateral damage when a group of Death Eaters had decide to stage a raid in Rome.

Now that he thought about it, it seemed to be par for the course for the way things usually went in his life.

Sometimes, it seemed to him as though the Powers That Be Bastards had decided that he wasn't ever going to get the opportunity to see if he could ever establish any kind of permanent relationship with any woman he really cared about.

Sure, Willow had once said something about the Powers That Be Completely Fucking Useless were more concerned about maintaining the balance between good and evil than anything else, but it sure as hell looked to him as though they were also taking every opportunity that came up to screw him over, and that they were trying to do the same to pretty much every one of his friends, too.

And that pissed him off.

A lot.

Just who exactly did these pricks think they were, hmm?

Setting up prophecies so they could screw around with people's lives, or designating certain people as the 'Chosen One' so that they could make them dance to their tune – it sure as hell looked like they considered their Champions to be nothing more than puppets that were supposed to dance to whatever tune they played, and that humanity was considered to be not much more than an endless army of cannon fodder, to be used and thrown away as they thought convenient. The way they‘d used and abused Cordelia, for example, was nothing short of criminal, despite any comments someone might want to make about ‘the big picture.’ Finding out that ‘the fluke’ had been engineered by a former PTB using him and Willow to destroy all Cordy’s ties to Sunnydale had nearly had him digging up Skip’s remains for the sole purpose of dismantling him atom by atom.

The more he thought about it, the more pissed off he was getting.

Okay, maybe a little bit of the frustration and anger and need for revenge Xander was feeling about the deaths of pretty much everyone he'd ever cared about originated because normal people had been taught to fear anyone anything that was different, by UN mandate no less, after this Voldemort asshole and his followers began going on their little rampages around the world, but that didn't make it any less valid.

In any event, he needed an outlet to vent his frustrations on and he decided that he was going to do what he could, right now, to screw up the PTBB's plans to the best extent he could.

Which meant that he needed to learn more about this prophecy that had apparently had designated Harry as the Wizarding World's 'one boy in all the world.'

'Cause if he didn't know exactly what it said, then he wouldn't be able do his best to fuck things up for the Powers That Sat On Their Asses And Just Watched, now could he?

~~~

"Okay then. So according to this prophecy, Harry's the only one who can stop this ass-hat Voldemort from taking over, huh?" Xander mused as he thought about what he'd just learned.

Seeing the two still relatively uninjured members of the Golden Trio dully nod their agreement, Xander rose to his feet from the chair he'd been sitting on while Hermione had given him a very detailed explanation of everything they knew about the prophecy and began pacing restlessly.

"Okay, so all we need to do is find a way to keep Harry alive then," he declared as an apparently endless stream of thoughts stampeded through his mind.

"And just how are we going to do that, Xand?" Hermione addressed him with an agonized and puzzled look.

"Nothing that the mediwizards and mediwitches here have tried have even slowed the curse down in the slightest way," she noted dejectedly, the heartbroken expression on her face making Sabrina and Ron both move closer and envelop her in a hug in an attempt to console her.

"Well then, I guess we're gonna have do what my friends and I used to do, back home, whenever things started going south," Xander replied enigmatically, the faded eyepatch he wore seeming to somehow emphasize the steel-hard gaze in his remaining eye.

"We cheat."

Seeing the uncomprehending looks his three friends were giving him, he threw them a somewhat bitter, lopsided grin as he headed out of the lounge they were currently sitting in as he called back over his shoulder.

"I'll be back as soon as I can, guys. You just make sure that Harry's still alive when I get back."

~~~

The Joyce Summers School for Exceptional Girls
Cleveland, OH
United States of America

A few minutes later


"Whoa. I don't think I'm ever gonna get used to that," Xander murmured to himself as the portkey deposited him, his wand at the ready, beside one the towering oaks that stood next to the high stone walls marking the perimeter of the now-abandoned property.

That momentary feeling that every molecule of your body had, just for the briefest instant of time, been scattered across the entire universe before being pulled back together wasn’t something that he’d ever get used to, he thought to himself. But the fact that it was usually the fastest and easiest way to get someplace pretty much ensured that he’d continue using them, no matter how they made him feel.

After a quick look around to make sure that there weren't any guards or passers-by around, he headed towards the main building, its dilapidated exterior clearly emphasizing the deserted and abandoned impression that it and the other structures dotted around the grounds gave off.

Focusing his attention for a moment to examine the wards surrounding the school, Xander nodded with satisfaction when he saw that there hadn’t been any breach of the ‘Notice-Me-Not’ wards Willow had set in the course of their rapid departure three years previously.

{ Damn, I still think Wills did some of the best spell work I’ve ever seen, bar none, } he decided as he admired the simple beauty of his deceased friend’s work.

{ And if those lazy bastards at the American Ministry had ever gotten off their fat goddamn asses and actually had someone personally check out the Hellmouth back in ’91 when they were supposed to, rather than just deciding that the possibility of a wand wizard being born in the vicinity of an interdimensional nexus was so remote that it was just a waste of their time, then I might actually have gotten some training years earlier and been able to help Buffy and the guys out during high school, } he reflected with a trace of the old anger that still lingered inside him.

{ Not to mention that things might not have gone down the toilet the way they did years later, and Will and the rest of the Scoobies might still be alive. }

Once again, the memory flashed through his mind: of seeing the redheaded witch standing outside the doors of the Council’s Phoenix headquarters, trying to maintain a shield against the combined UN military forces directed against them as a collateral result of Voldemort’s terror campaign in Europe while the pitiful handful of survivors evacuated themselves through the faltering portal she had conjured just a moment before.

Once more, Xander could see the quick glance Willow had taken a second to throw him over her shoulder as she mouthed the inaudible words, “I love you, Xand. Good-bye,” while she held the shield against the almost inconceivable quantities of munitions that were pounding against the invisible defensive wall she had created, and the abrupt, stomach-churning realization that his childhood friend had no intention of even trying to join them in escaping those blue-beret bastards.

He’d tried to fight his way free of Belinda’s careful embrace as she carried him through the portal to safety, so as to rejoin his oldest friend in her reenactment of the Spartans’ last stand at Thermopylae, but his already broken and bloody body was no match for even a precocious kitten, let alone a Slayer following the Red Witch’s orders, and all he’d been able to do was scream his protests as the portal abruptly faded into nonexistence behind them.

The press releases given out by the Secretariat following that ‘battle’ had stated that the Special Operations Force general staff directing the siege had ordered the use of two Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) munitions, the recently developed 30,000 lb ‘bunker buster’ bomb, “to neutralize the offensive capabilities of the terrorists regressive elements holed up inside the compound,” and that they were confident that there had been no survivors of the blockade, and it had taken the constant efforts of Belinda and two other Slayers along with several hours of Giles’ unrelenting arguments to finally persuade him not to go to New York and hunt down and kill every member of said general staff that had overseen the operation, once he had healed enough to move around on his own.

{ But if you think about it with a little distance, everything comes down to it all being that slimy bastard’s fault for things becoming such a cluster-fuck, } he reflected to himself for somewhere around the thousandth time. { If Harry and the guys could have managed to get that asshole, Fudge, to believe the truth back when Voldemort first returned, none of this shit would have happened, and everyone I love would still be alive. }

Muttering an incredibly profane curse in Sumerian as he slipped around to the back of the edifice, Xander tapped in a code on the weather-beaten keypad by the back door, and smiled with satisfaction as he heard the door lock's tumblers shift and unlock, allowing him entry.

Moving quickly through the empty halls, he made his way to the lowest basement level until he finally stood before what appeared to be a blank wall at the back of an empty storage closet.

"Access requested for Alexander Lavelle Harris," he announced as he stared at the featureless space before him. "Security code: Alpha One November Charlie. Clearance level: Omega Prime. Access password: I like the quiet."

"Access granted," a disembodied, computerized voice replied as a steel door suddenly shimmered into existence in front of him.

"You always did do good work, Will," he murmured under his breath as he pressed his right palm against a slightly recessed panel in the door and waited for a moment until the door slid back slightly and then retracted into the left side of jamb.

Entering the room now revealed, Xander quickly headed down the left hand corridor, making several turns off the main passageway until he abruptly stopped at a glass cabinet enclosing a strange-looking, silvery metal device, small enough to be enclosed within someone's palm and which had three small stems with rings on the ends projecting from the lower end. All in all, it kinda resembled a very futuristic-looking set of brass knuckles, in his opinion, as designed by a nineteen-fifties science fiction artist who'd spent the previous night drinking and had still been somewhat hung-over while drawing it up…Ed Wood would have loved them.

{ Actually, who cares what it looks like? } Xander mused to himself as he punched in a combination on the keypad below the glass door, ignoring the small placard in front of the device that noted that it had been discovered, along with various other objects of unknown purpose, among the possessions of Richard Wilkins the Third. { As long as it works, it could look like a tuba and I'd still be willing to use it. }

After first donning a pair of leather gloves, he carefully removed the device from its receptacle and placed it within a small felt-lined wooden box he’d brought with him for this purpose, then locked the box and placed it back in his inside jacket pocket.

“All right-y then,” he said aloud in an almost satisfied tone of voice as he quickly retraced his steps, closing and securing the hidden room and its access passages behind him as he went.

“Let’s see just how badly the Zeppo can fuck up Snake-face’s plans.”

~~~

Harry’s hospital room
Ireland

A short time later

“Hey, guys, how’s he doing?” Xander asked quietly as he rejoined his teammates as they stood vigil by their friend’s bed.

“Not too badly, all things considered, Xand,” was the somewhat strained, pain-filled response he received from the drawn and haggard-looking figure on the bed. Seeing the surprised look on Harris’ face, Harry Potter managed a pain-filled smile for his newest visitor.

“Hey, Har, good to see you’re awake, old buddy,” Xander smiled at the former Boy-Who-Lived as he lay on the bed, his gaunt form in obvious pain despite the best efforts of his friends and the hospital staff. Hermione was seated by her lover’s side holding his hand in both of hers, the expression on her face one of equal pain as the one on Harry’s as she looked at him, although hers was clearly of emotional, as opposed to physical, origin.

“Well, Xand, what’d you bring me? Some Twinkies?” Harry asked as he tried to grin in spite of the agony he was experiencing, in an effort to lighten the dismal atmosphere in the room.

His question immediately drew everyone’s attention to the wooden case Xander carried in his hand, with all of them able to sense the magical energy radiating from whatever object was contained inside it.

“Uh-uh,” Xand shook his head. “Sorry, buddy, but the nurses confiscated them as soon as I came through the door.

“They said something about you being on a restricted diet, but personally I think they really just wanted to keep them for themselves,” he elaborated in a confidential manner.

“I did manage to keep hold of this for you, though,” Xander noted as he held up the box in his hand.

“It’s something the Council found among some of the assets left behind by one of the Big Bads we took down in Sunnydale, years back,” he explained as he doffed his jacket and tossed it off to one side. “And I think it might help resolve this little problem you’re experiencing at the moment.”

All four of his teammates were staring at the box as though he had said it contained a fragment of the True Cross, with Hermione’s eyes wide and filling with something approaching hope and joy for the first time since Harry had been captured the week before.

“What is it and what’s it do?” she demanded in no uncertain terms as she slid off the bed to stand up.

“I’d rather explain later, Hermes, once Harry’s healthy again,” Xander deferred any attempts at an explanation.

“So if you’ll let me stand right there, and if the rest of you guys will move over there, off to the side and out of the way,” he directed them to the far side of the room, “I’ll get this party started, okay?”

Shrugging off his friends’ questions and demands for more information as they moved to the spot he had indicated, Xander moved to stand by the side of Harry’s bed and set the box down on the nightstand.

“Okay, Har, now this is probably gonna feel really strange at first, but once we’re done, you’re gonna be fine again,” he promised his friend as he opened the box and removed the silver-colored device, slipping his fingers through the rings and cupping the cold-feeling metal body in his palm.

“Okay now, give me your hand,” Xander asked as he reached down to take the slighter man’s hand while murmuring a short phrase in a voice too low to be understood by any of the others in the room.

As their hands touched, a glowing light began emanating from the point of contact as the device activated, flaring out to encompass them entirely before as quickly dying away. Both Harry and Xander shook for an instant as the light flared, then stared at each other, a look of astonishment and disbelief almost immediately taking possession of Xander’s face even as Harry abruptly writhed in pain.

“What –? What the hell did you just do, Xand?” Xander suddenly demanded as he reached up and touched his face before looking down and staring at his hands, before turning his head to then stare in disbelief at the man in the bed.

“Sonuvabitch!” the Chosen One groaned loudly at the same time, as he turned to fend off Hermione’s questing hands as she rushed over to his bed and frantically demanded he tell her how he was feeling.

“You didn’t tell us how much this really hurts!” Harry declared as he turned his head and glared at the larger man standing by his bed.

“Harry! What’s wrong, honey? Aren't you feeling any better?” Hermione demanded. “Didn't that thing of Xander’s work?” she asked, worry and concern creasing her face as she tried to determine her lover’s condition, and whether there had been any improvement n it.

“Merlin, Harry! What happened, mate?!” Ron demanded as he looked back and forth between his two friends who both appeared to be suffering from some sort of Confundus charm. “What’s going on? How are you feeling?”

“Xander! What the hell is going on here?!” Sabrina demanded as she grabbed the one-eyed man’s shoulder and pulled him around to face them, appearing to be almost as upset as Hermione at the confusion that currently seemed to reign supreme. “Just what did that thing you used do?”

“What are you asking me for?” the focus of her questions replied in an almost angry tone of voice. “Ask him! He’s the one who used the blasted thing!” Xander stated as he pointed to the man lying on the bed.

"What the hell did you do just now?" he subsequently demanded as he turned to glare at the man lying on the bed before him.

“ALL RIGHT! EVERYONE! JUST SHUT THE HELL UP!” Harry yelled at the top of his lungs, even as his body tried to curl around itself in pain, shocking the others present in a stunned silence.

In the ensuing quiet, Harry looked up at his friends and teammates and began speaking quietly, the pain he was suffering causing frequent interruptions of his words.

“Okay, guys, you all need to relax and pay attention, ‘cause I really don’t want to have to repeat myself,” he announced after a second's pause, once he clearly had everyone's attention.

"First off, I'm not Harry. The handsome one-eyed guy over there is," he informed his audience, pointing to the one-eyed man towering over the bed. "I'm Xander,” he announced as Hermione, Ron and Sabrina stood staring at him in astonished silence.

"And like an old girlfriend of mine used to say, are you deficient, my friend?" he answered Harry's question as he turned his head to look up at him with the faintest hint of a smirk on his lips.

“I've just saved your life. And hopefully the world, too, you dork.”

***

Xander's words had ignited a loud flurry of astonished questions, outraged exclamations and an even louder demand for an explanation of how he'd accomplished what he'd done from his companions, and it took a few moments before even a semblance of anything approaching order was restored.

“It’s something that we found in the effects of one of the Big Bads we took down years ago, back before Sunnydale decide to mimic the Grand Canyon,” Xander-in-Harry explained to his intently listening audience.

“We recognized it as the duplicate, or maybe the prototype, of something that had been used by one of the Mayor’s minions to switch bodies with Buffy, and we decided to hold on to it, in case something like that ever happened again, and we needed to reverse things back to normal,” he said. “Or in case we ever needed it to save the world from ending.”

“And since things look like they fit that description, I figured I might as well use it,” he added with a small shrug, followed by a minor grimace as pain again surged through his body.

“Especially since there wasn’t anyone else still alive who knew about it and could get to it, what with all of the security measures and safeguards we had around it and some other stuff we picked up over the years.”

“What in the name of Merlin could have possessed you to even think of something like that, let alone try it, you idiot?!” Harry-in-Xander half-screamed as he stared down at his friend who now resided in his former body. “Now you’re the one who’s dying without any possible hope of a cure!”

The reputed last, best hope of the Wizarding World seemed to be working himself up into some kind of outraged frenzy at the realization that yet another of his friends was about to die and that he could do absolutely nothing to stop it

“Yeah, I am,” Xander-in-Harry agreed with an effort at a nonchalant nod.

“And you’re still alive to stop this asshole from taking over the world,” he pointed out. Gritting his teeth to muffle a groan of pain, he hissed and took a moment to recover as the unrelenting agony threatened to overwhelm even his amazing tolerance for pain.

“Now you listen to me very closely, Harry,” he ordered as forcefully as he could manage after the spasm passed. “That sonuvabitch Voldemort is responsible for the deaths of pretty much everyone else in the world who I ever cared for, and that friggin’ prophecy of yours says that you’re the only one who can stop him.”

The others were somewhat stunned to see the fervor and hatred that now lit up Xander’s eyes as he lay on the bed, staring up at Harry with an intensity that they’d previously only seen when he was fighting to save his companions’ lives.

“I want that bastard *dead* for all of the people that I’ve loved who are dead now because of him,” Xander-in-Harry said, the venom in his words thick enough to be almost physically palpable. “I want him burning in hell for all of eternity while I think of ways to make him suffer even more, if I can ever manage to go down there personally to do it.

“And if I can’t kill him myself because of this friggin’ prophecy thing, then I’ll do whatever is necessary to make sure that the person who can kill him – that’s you, you moron, in case you haven’t been paying attention – is gonna be around long enough to put him into the ground, for good!” he declared emphatically.

“Since you staying in this body and dying because of that curse that that ass-wipe cast on you wasn’t gonna let you do that, I did what I needed to do to make sure that you lived long enough to kill him,” Xander-in-Harry elaborated, his explanation being interrupted several times as waves of pain shot through his borrowed body.

“And now, because you switched bodies with me, *you’re* gonna die in my place, you bloody stupid prat!” Harry-in-Xander yelled back, upset and not at all sure of how he should be reacting to this revelation.

“Yeah, I probably am,” Xander-in-Harry agreed, with a calm that his companions found more than a little bit disturbing. “But, so what? If me dying is what’s going to let you take that bastard down, then I’ve got absolutely no problem with that happening.”

“Are you completely out of your bloody mind?” Ron yelled at his friend upon hearing those words.

“I don’t think so, buddy,” Xander-in-Harry shook his head in disagreement. “And you’re not the first person to ask me that question, either.

“To put it in terms you’re probably more familiar with, pal, I’m a pawn that’s being sacrificed to let you guys checkmate our opponent’s king,” he replied as he turned to look up at the towering redhead.

“Well, actually, I’d guess you could say I’m more of a white knight than a pawn,” the old ‘young man’ added with a nostalgic smirk, after a moment’s reflection. “Not that it really matters a whole lot.

"Either way, you're still alive and kicking, so you can go out, find Voldy-dork and stomp his ass into the ground, so that he stops annoying us, all right?" he stated matter-of-factly while the others all stared at him with disbelief at his seemingly cavalier dismissal of his own fate.

"And I'd really appreciate it if you do it soon, so that you can bring the shmuck's body back here and let me piss on him before I die, buddy," Xander-in-Harry added with an almost skeletal grin.

"Okay?"

***

"So, you're saying that this spell you're talking about will let us all blend our power together into a single magical core that'll be completely under Harry's control?" Hermione pressed Xander for more detail about the enjoining spell he'd told them he'd once been a part of, back during what now felt like the Scoobies' halcyon years – back before the Great Awakening and before Voldemort and his allies had triggered a world-wide civil war and a witch hunt that harkened back to the legendary witch-burning days of the Puritan era.

They'd spent the past nine hours discussing any possible way the surviving members of the team might confront and possibly prevail against Voldemort in his currently powered-up state, and they were now down to considering the most desperate, last-ditch possibilities that any of them could come up with, which had prompted Xander to finally, reluctantly, bring up the subject currently under discussion.

It was an extraordinarily dangerous tactic, as Rupert Giles had warned seven years ago, but these five people were now at the straw-grasping stage.

"Yeah, I think so, Hermes," Xander-in-Harry agreed. "From what I can remember Wills and Giles saying, it takes whatever essence that the people participating in it are offering and then adds it to the subject of the spell, so that he or she ends up with the sum of all their capabilities.

"Kinda like if you thought of everyone's magic as being like Play-Dough, and you scooped it out of them and then squished the scoops together and kneaded them into one big mess of magic for the primary subject to use," he offered his suggestion as a possible analogy.

"Oh man, Xand! You certainly come up with the most poetic sort of images when you're describing things," Sabrina laughed, drawing snorts of amusement from both Harry-in-Xander and Hermione with her reaction.

"I don't understand," Ron shook his head in non-comprehension. "What's this Ply-dough thing you're talking about, Xand?"

"Never mind, sweetie," Sabrina shook her head in absent dismissal of her lover’s question. "I'll explain it to you later, okay?"

"So, exactly how much detail do you remember about this spell that your friends cast, Xand?" Hermione asked him, her curiosity piqued by the potential possibly offered by this magic her friend had remembered.

"Consciously? Not even close to being enough for you guys to work with," Xander-in-Harry replied.

"I remember that it was a Sumerian spell, and something about the spirit, the heart, the head and the hand, but that’s about it. I think you and Bree are gonna have go in and dig the details out of my subconscious," he grimaced as he considered the degree of closeness that he and whoever ended up exploring his memories would end up sharing, then mentally shrugged off the potential consequences.

{ You swore you'd do whatever it took to take that bastard down, } he reminded himself. { Are you going to wuss out now, after everything else you've done? Besides, it's not like you've never shared your head with anyone else before this. }

"Are you sure you want to do this, Xand?" Harry-in-Xander asked, his question sounding more than a bit odd to the former Scooby, coming as it did from his own former body.

"Yeah, I'm sure, Har," Xander-in-Harry nodded his affirmation, trying to ignore the waves of pain that were intermittently surging through his body.

"Come on," he said, as he turned to look up at his friends. "Let's get this over with. You're probably going to need as much time as possible to get yourselves ready, if you decide to do this. And either way, I advise you to hurry, ‘cause I don’t know how much time Harry’s body has got left."

~~~

Malfoy Manor
England
October 22, 2007


"My Lord, we captured this Mudblood sneaking around outside the wards," one of the apparently numberless generic Death Eaters declared as he shoved the manacled, dark-haired man forward to stumble and land on his knees before the ornate, obsidian-colored throne that occupied the center of the room.

“He said that he knows Potter and his followers’ current whereabouts and their current plans, and that you would want to speak with him. We were unable to get past his mental shields to retrieve the information he spoke of, My Lord, so we brought him before you, after we removed all of his muggle contraptions, so that you might rip the knowledge from his mind,” the Death Eater announced as he bowed in a nauseatingly obsequious manner.

“Boy, the minions really do know how to suck up to you, don’t they, Tommy boy?” the captive smirked as he pushed himself up to his feet and grinned at the only vaguely human form staring down at him with disdain.

“Harris?” Voldemort sneered, recognizing the man with the eye patch as one of his nemesis’ few remaining vocal supporters. “I should have expected this.

“Come to beg me for mercy now that Potter is dead and you’ve finally realized the futility of even trying to oppose me?” he declared pompously as his hangers-on all watched with amusement, anticipating the torment their master would soon subject the prisoner to.

“Nah,” the prisoner shook his head in disagreement with the other’s words. “I just dropped by to let you know that not only is Harry Potter still alive, but that he’s also finally figured out exactly how he’s going to destroy your ass.”

“Oh really?” Voldemort laughed contemptuously as he eyed the man wearing the magic-nullifying manacles standing before him. “And just how exactly is he going to do that, pray tell?”

“Like this,” the supposed captive said simply, as he held out his shackled hands before him, and a brief, exceedingly intense burst of light burst out of him.

The alleged magic-nullifying cuffs fell to the stone floor in the same instant that a shimmering, blue-white hemisphere formed around the captured resistance fighter, pushing the assembled Death Eaters back and away.

The expression of surprise on Voldemort’s face almost immediately shifted to one of rage and he was just forming the first syllable of his favorite curse, ‘Cru–“ when he felt an devastatingly powerful attack hammer against his mental shields, effortlessly shattering them and leaving him open to the subsequent assault.

:: Hi there, Tommy. Ready to die? ::

At first, the being once known as Tom Riddle initially thought that apparition confronting him in the former sanctity of his own mind was simply the mental essence of his prophesized foe, Harry Potter, but it took only a brief instant’s appraisal for him to realize that the being confronting him was far more powerful than the scarred youth could ever have become in the brief two and half decades of his existence.

:: Who – *what* are you? :: Voldemort demanded as he felt agony from the attack surge through his immaterial form. :: You’re not the Potter brat! ::

:: Wrong. And yet, you’re right at the same time. True, and yet false, too. We are one, yet we are many. And we are your final death, Tommy boy, :: was the answer he received from the smiling ethereal construct facing him.

And with that declaration, the amalgam formed from the magical cores and the essences of each of the four teammates – Harry’s unswerving determination, Hermione’s formidable intellect, Ron’s incomparable grasp of strategy and tactics and Sabrina’s innate spirituality – reached out their arcane hand and ripped from Tom Riddle, the self-styled Lord Voldemort, his magical core and all of the knowledge and training in the Dark Arts he’d spent the majority of his life researching and gathering, the shock of the sudden and traumatic magical amputation leaving behind a virtually mindless shell that fell forward from the throne he’d been occupying to sprawl bonelessly on the cold stone floor where a moment before the newest prisoner had knelt.

“Accio Tom Riddle’s heart,” the amalgam intoned as he stretched out his hand towards the body lying in front of him, and the assembled Death Eaters watched with horror as the summoned organ burst out of their leader’s chest and flew across the few feet separating the two, to land in the waiting hand.

A half-instant later, every marked Death Eater dropped dead as their Dark Marks imposed a simulation of their master’s current state of health on them; and since Voldemort’s heart no longer beat, neither did theirs, much to their horrified regret and everlasting detriment.

After a thorough inspection of the Manor House revealed no surviving Death Eaters, the amalgam dismissed the wards surrounding the estate and apparated back to the hospital room where its other four components remained.

Considering the significance of some of the information he/they had gained today, there were some very important things they needed to consider, and the quicker they did so, the better for all involved.

~~~

Potter Manor (under the Fidelius charm)
Family Ritual Room

Later that day…


“I still can’t believe that we’re actually seriously contemplating doing this,” Sabrina said quietly as she stared at her four companions as they sat or stood around the arcane circle inscribed in the stone floor of the room.

“Well, it’s not like we could make things any worse than they are now, is it, darling?” Ron stated as he slouched against the bare, featureless stone wall behind him, his arms folded across his chest. “Over eighty percent of the Wizarding World in Europe and the Americas has been destroyed, and none of the sections we’ve been able to contact anywhere in Asia and the Pacific area are much better off, either,” he reminded his lover of the current world situation as it pertained to their own particular segment of the population.

“Ron’s right, Bree,” Hermione agreed with the towering redhead’s assessment. “Wizarding society is tottering as it is, what with the damage Voldemort and his ‘friends’ in New York have caused, and we might even be looking at the equivalent of the next Dark Ages, if it does collapse under the weight of all the damage and problems it’s facing.

“Not to mention that the rest of the world’s not looking too good, either, guys,” Xander-in-Harry grunted in from his cot set off to the side of the ritual chamber. “Most of the Middle East is reliving the Middle Ages, and those parts that aren’t are all reflective sunglasses, automatic weapons and Jihad; it’s looking like Spain’s letting the fascists back in to run things again; the Mob seems to be in control of most of the Caribbean and Central America; India and Pakistan have both gone communist, complete with their own little cold war; and China and Russia have their knives out and at each other’s throats over the Siberian oil reserves. Most of Africa is either dying of AIDS or ethnic cleansing, and America and Europe are still cleaning up after the civil wars that bastard in New York started. Hell, even Switzerland is making noises about standing up and not letting other countries infringe on their territory.

“And the aftereffects of a pocket nuke and two one-megaton city busters being set off isn’t something that’s going to go away anytime soon,” he pointed out with a terrible grimace of pain. “The fact that a significant portion of the Middle East is now a radioactive wasteland, and will be for the next few thousand years, means that the world’s economy is heading down the toilet at warp speed, at least for the immediate future. Getting access to those oil fields under the ‘protected habitats’ is going to take some time, no matter how fast they push it.”

“So we’re thinking of doing this for the world’s benefit, not ours? Is that what you’re saying, guys?” Harry-in-Xander asked, a skeptical expression on his face as he sat next to Hermione on two chairs that one of the manor’s house elves had produced for them when they had moved their earlier discussion to their current location.

“Hell, no, Har,” Xander-in-Harry immediately replied. “I’m doing this because of all the people I love that I’ve lost. All Ron and Hermes and I are saying is that, even if we do succeed, we really can’t make things a whole lot worse than they are now.

“And, if we are successful, we can also make things significantly better for a whole lot of other people, too,” he noted.

“I mean, I don’t think that anyone here would object to seeing Jerusalem avoid becoming a radioactive crater, would they?” he asked and was answered by his friends shaking their heads negatively. “Damascus and Tehran I could give two shits about, but I kind of liked Jerusalem.”

Granted, the Israelis’ reaction hadn’t been pretty, but no one could ever call them liars, or accuse them of not following up on their promises.

Seeing the others’ response and feeling as though he could still sense the faintest traces of their emotions in the back of his mind, Harry (still wearing Xander’s body, as he thought of it when he considered his current situation) sighed and nodded his head in semi-reluctant agreement with their proposed course of action.

“Okay. Let’s get to it, then,” he said. “It’s not like Xand’s got a lot of time to waste on us getting this done.”

With equally hesitant nods of agreement, the others rose wherever they had been sitting or resting and began stripping off their clothes, Ron helping Xander (who was still in Harry’s body – something he still really hadn’t gotten accustomed to, he thought to himself, despite everything that had happened lately) up off his cot, helping him to undress and then stagger over to seat himself at the westernmost position at the edge of the ritual circle, with Hermione, Ron and Sabrina spacing themselves at the other cardinal points inscribed around the circle’s circumference. The fact that they were all nude didn’t bother any of them in the least, not when you considered the various circumstances that they had all experienced over the course of the past several years.

“All right then, guys,” the one-eyed Harry-in-Xander’s-body announced as he took up his position at the center of the circle carved into the strangely-not-at-all-chilly stone floor, “just remember, if this doesn’t pan out, I love you all very much.”

With those words said, he then began the first canto of the Dark Ritual the amalgam had discovered when he/they had ripped from his mind the knowledge and experience Voldemort had accumulated over the course of his exceedingly depraved life.

“Spirits of Time, we beseech you, hear our plea!” the Boy-Who-Lived intoned as he lifted the silver-alloyed knife in his right hand.

“Chronos, Lord of Eternity, grant us this boon we seek, that we can rectify the wrongs of the evil we seek to destroy!”

As he spoke, Harry slashed his left wrist and held his hand above the series of glyphs he and the others – including Xander – had inscribed within the circle earlier, allowing his blood to fill and color the carefully carved runes. Around him, he could hear the others repeating his words, like the refrain from some song, as they, too, duplicated his actions.

“Lachesis, you who apportion the length of our life’s thread, we beg you for the opportunity to reweave the threads we have been presented!”

With those words, Harry-in-Xander clumsily transferred the knife to his left hand and slashed his right wrist, then held it out to drain into the symbols so painstakingly engraved into the floor of the room.

“Antevorte, mistress of the future, we implore you to allow us to recast ours, so that the pain and suffering of your children might be averted!

“Ashima, look with favor upon us and our boon, that we might recast that which has occurred for your greater glory!

“As we entreat you, smile down on us, oh mighty ones, and grant us this blessing!”

Fortunately, the spell was quite short, since the rapid blood loss was making him quite woozy and the area around him was becoming hazier and more indistinct with each passing moment Xander-in-Harry vaguely noticed, something he attributed to the ongoing loss of his blood, which he could see was rapidly filling up the shallow channels he and the others had carved into the floor earlier that day.

The spell was definitely accomplishing something.

Just before he finally lapsed into unconsciousness, Xander Harris honestly wasn’t sure whether or not he imagined seeing several unfamiliar faces looking down at him from up above, but then he heard the voice.

It was a very familiar woman’s voice he’d once heard whispering sweet nothings in his ear, right before shouting ferocious insults directly in his face. Needless to say, he recognized it immediately.

“Listen up, dweeb. This is the only chance you guys are going to get.

“So don’t screw it up, you big doofus.”

~~~
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