I don't own BtVS or Harry Potter. Not even a little.
Everything was not
ok. Harry was terribly confused. Severus Snape had saved his siblings. He had siblings. Dumbledore didn't know everything. How could any person survive having their world turned on its ear so many times in one afternoon? The last two revelations were the most world-view-altering, as Snape had already proven himself capable of protecting a Potter, though it was still surprising every time it happened. The concept that Dumbledore wasn't omniscient, however; that would take some serious getting used to. The headmaster's all-knowing status had been firmly drilled into Harry since his first year. And now... everything had started out alright. Dumbledore had known who the strangers were in relation to Harry and Voldemort and Snape. But once the newcomers left his sphere of influence and expertise, he started to flounder. It would have been amusing, if it weren't so horrifying.
With a shudder, Harry wrenched his mind to an equally shocking revelation: the existence of his pleasant, joking, sweet-faced family. They were everything he had wanted to find growing up—well, it would have been nicer if they had been a few years older and could've taken custody and taken him out of the Dursleys', but he was a beggar, not a chooser. Not that he had to beg. They'd offered hugs and familial conversation freely.
He just had to hope they wouldn't have a delayed breakdown with all they learned today, and go off the deep end. If he had found out that Hermione was his sister... well he would probably walk around for a few weeks bumping into walls while he tried to process everything. And he hadn't know Herm nearly as long as Xander and Willow had been friends. Maybe, in the end, the whole kindergarten buddies thing would be more boon than burden. Harry hoped so. He had enough crazy relatives to be getting on with. Three was plenty. Speaking of which, maybe sneaking a little news would help him take his mind off his confusion...
His world was confusion. The universe, evidently, was not done making Snape pay for his past mistakes. It seems the children who embodied Snape's defection from the side of evil were back east of the Atlantic. And who do they run into while innocently strolling the streets of Surrey? Potter. Well, Potter the youngest anyway. So now Potter, who couldn't keep a secret to save his life, knew about the twins—twins that may actually be more magical than previously assumed; It all added up to one thing: eventually, the wizarding world would be exposed to Willow and Xander Potter, and when that happened, Severus Snape's days as a spy would be over. There was no way that the dark lord could fail to recognize the children, and so there they were: living, breathing proof of his disobedience. Now, just as he had turned to Dumbledore for protection from the ministry, so must he do again, this time for protection from his old master. When they slayer turned up, Severus Snape would have some words for her. This was all her fault.
Within a few days, Xander was getting used to the idea that Wills was more than just the best friend type of family. It probably should have been a longer process, but Xander had already harbored some distinctly brotherly feelings for his best bud before all this started. Which reminded him.
“You know, Willow, Oz is going to have to resubmit his application to be your boyfriend.”
“Well he passed muster when I was just the best friend, but now that I'm the brother, let me tell you, the standards are going to have to be way
harsher. I fully intend to throw my brotherly weight around and be all intimidating.”
“Um, Xander? I'm pretty sure 'werewolf' ranks higher than 'brother' on the intimidation scale.”
She considered asking him where he got off thinking he could decide whom she could or couldn't date, but she knew this stop on the Xander-line well, the misguided, if grudgingly appreciated, need to protect her. She probably should have guessed the whole sibling thing would exacerbate the issue, but really, it didn't bother her too much. It was nice to know someone cared. Just as long as he didn't actually
antagonize her boyfriend.
The owl, an honest-to-goodness owl arrived that day and gave Giles a very British, very funny heart attack. Xander had never heard so much spluttering as he did when the owl flew through the open window and landed on the table next to the newspaper and Giles' cup of tea. Willow had already seen the demonstration from when she had interrupted his resorting the card catalog by walking through the library wall, so she could grant him more graceful soothing, rather than raucous laughter. It just didn't have quite the same novelty for her.
Giles was quick to recover his presence of mind, however, and gently untied the scroll from the leg of the owl. It hooted politely, before flying over to land on Willow's shoulder, giver her a baleful look and glancing at her bacon, which she obligingly fed to it. “Owls can do the puppy dog eyes? Wild.”
Xander chuckled, but Giles was more interested in reading the missive. He cleared his throat. “Apparently, we are to meet in London to pick up transportation to a more secure location to discuss, ah, our intentions and plans.”
“Transportation to where, Giles?”
“Well, Scotland, actually.”
“What! The trip is going to last longer than the meeting!”
“So it would seem. Our hosts must have some reason to want to go so far.”
And so they left Giles' flat and proceeded to London, lightly armed, as per Giles' request. He would not lead his young friends blindly into potential danger. As well as a few pencils and a dagger, each carried a satellite cell phone, courtesy of Willow's online connections, so that any of them could call for help if need be. If the meeting left the realm of donuts and spreadsheets they would be prepared.
The Leaky Cauldron wasn't hard to find, and though Giles had the oddest, slight urge to ignore the pub and keep walking down the street, they were soon safely ensconced in the renowned wizarding establishment. Not that they knew as much. All they knew was that they were in a room full of the most oddly dressed people they'd ever seen, and Giles had been in London at the height of the Punk movement. There were cloaks and capes and pointy hats and hoods, all in myriad colors, though black seemed rather prominent. With such typically loose-fitting garments, everybody billowed when they walked, some more attractively or mysteriously than others. It reminded Willow a bit of Angel.
Forcing thought of soul-restoration spells and run aways out of her head, she noticed their host walking towards them.
“Mr. Giles, Xander, Willow, welcome to the Leaky Cauldron. I see you've found the place alright. Excellent. Now if you'll just follow me...”
Professor Dumbledore lead the Sunnydalers, plus Harry, who had just got a 'hello' hug and handshake from his siblings, into an alleyway behind the pub. Giles stiffened fractionally as he took in the scenery, and his hand migrated slowly to the small of his back where his knife was hidden. People who live on Hellmouths learn to distrust alleyways. Dumbledore, however, did not attack. Rather, he pulled out an empty, slightly squished cereal box.
“Now, if you'd all just grab hold of the box, we'll all be at Hogwarts in no time.”
Harry grasped the box obediently, but the others looked confused and wary. “It's a portkey. It's charmed to, er, teleport people great distances at a given time or cue.”
Harry's eyes looked so clouded with sad memories, Willow and Xander took hold of the box just to make him feel better. With a resigned sigh, Giles grabbed on, a bare second before they all winked out of the alley.
The trip, brief as it was, was vaguely unpleasant. Willow wasn't used to feeling any kind of tugging behind her navel, and the thought of being dragged through space by the belly button was as comical as it was sickening. Still, it was better than flying coach.
It seemed they had landed themselves in a castle. Or really, it could have been any kind of stone building, but castle was the first word that came to the American mind. Willow waved the others on before her into the Headmasters office, allowing herself a chance to catch her breath after the ride. Xander of course, didn't follow the others and stuck by his bud.
Just a moment later, a black shape came billowing around the corner, stopping just short of the long-oblivious siblings. He stared at the with wide eyes, an expression that made the sensitive young woman wonder, “Are you Severus Snape?”
At his stunned nod, her guesses were confirmed: this person before her was a man in pain, full of regrets and sorrow.
'This guy really needs a hug.' Willow thought, and most people would have left it at that. Willow, however, is not most people.
Severus' shock at seeing the young Potters in the familiar hallway compounded as he felt warm little arms wrap around his waist. Over the sound of his pounding heartbeat, he heard her murmur, “Thank you for not killing us.” Before she pulled away stiffly, blushing, evidently because she just realized she'd hugged a complete stranger.
An odd child, surely, but her guileless, familiar face inspired him to mutter, “You are quite welcome, Willow.” contrary to his usual inclinations. He was rewarded with a heartrendingly familiar smile.
“Maybe we should go up with everybody else?” Xander's words broke the moment. The hesitancy in his voice was enough to differentiate the boy from his father, who would never have shown such humanizing weakness, and granted Severus reprieve from his instinct to hex anyone with that face
. He had always had a lot of trouble with that when Harry was about. The boy was an arrogant facsimile of his accursed father. This
one spent years with the strongest girl on the planet, years that taught him his limits, showed him that he wasn't the most powerful, most entitled person in the room.
Severus nodded again, and preceded the twins into the headmaster's office. This was bound to be a very odd day, all told.
“Before we discuss the options available to you, Mr.—ah—Xander, would you please hold this wand, point it at the apple, here, and say, 'Engorgio'.”
Xander did so and the apple began to swell obediently, before blowing up. “Woah!” he yelled, dropping the wand in shock, and was just about to apologize before Dumbledore cut him off.
“Think nothing of it, dear boy. In a squib's hand, the wand would have done nothing. This-” he gestured to the applesauce, “shows that you have power, if not control. Well—not yet anyway.”
That last thought left one apprehensive, two excited, one pensive, and another simply confused. “I would like to invite you, Xander and you, Willow to join the students here at Hogwarts to learn to control your gifts. And to get to know your brother, of course.”
Willow let out a squeal, and if Harry wasn't such a manly 15-year-old, he would have done the same. “A school for magic! For me and Xander! Formalized training for spells and potions with books and classes and professors and lesson plans—“
It was clear to Xander that his best buddy was about to go catatonic with joyful shock, so he took over the conversation before she could talk herself into suffocation. “As much as I'd like to never see Sunnydale High again,” Willow's face began to cloud with doubt at the mention of their Alma Mater, “and the Harrises and the Hellmouth are neck-and-neck for 'things I'd like never to have to deal with', maybe we should go into some more specifics before we jump on the floating pixie dust bandwagon.”
“Plus,” Willow added, looking much more sedate, “wouldn't us having a big old magic coming out party kind of put Mr. Snape there into some major peril? What with us being living proof that you're not faithful-lapdog man?”
Severus nearly chuckled, despite the fact that she was right about his very unfunny, delicate situation. Harry was clearly horrified that she had so little regard for her own life and limbs as to speak of Professor Snape in such terms to his face. That was beyond Gryffindor bravery.
“I think perhaps Professor Snape's spying days are at an end. There is another ready to take up the mantle, and, as I dare say all you Potters will want to remain in contact now that you've found one another, with lines of communication open it's only a matter of time until the enemy discovers the good Professor's defection.”
Snape was so stunned by the words he had wanted to hear for so long, he almost missed the soft-spoken Brit in the corner saying his piece.
“If I may council you both, I think this is an opportunity you should not allow to pass you by. Untrained magical talent is quite dangerous, as I'm sure I've demonstrated. You will be missed, but with proper training, you could be an even greater asset than you are now.” Here was an opportunity for two of his “children” to be safer than he ever could have dreamed: away from the dark pull of untrained magic, and a comfortable distance away from the Hellmouth and it's constant peril. Now if only there was a way to get his slayer off of the Hellmouth without endangering the planet...
Willow knew that Giles was right about the usefulness of trained magic-users. She herself had recently proven the need of skill and speed in spell casting. If only she had been a little faster, maybe Buffy wouldn't be... wherever she was. She vowed to be quicker on the draw than Clint Eastwood in that cowboy movie, next time she was needed. But something was still nagging at her—“How do you guys feel about werewolves?”
That brought the Hogwarts crew up short. “Why? Are you—“
“Would it matter if she was?” Xander saw this question as more important than the “can Oz visit?” that Willow obviously meant. If they were going to be all discriminating because a guy got a little too much testosterone around the full moon, maybe these weren't the ones they wanted to hang with. Picking on werewolves was a sure sign of being an asshole: that Cain guy? QED.
“No, not at all, in fact this school had a werewolf professor not long ago.” Snape's face darkened at the mention of Lupin, which Willow picked up on, and directed worried eyes at him.
“I didn't like him.” Snape explained. “But not exactly because he was a werewolf.” The girl relaxed.
“I'm not the werewolf.” Eyes turned to Xander. “No, neither of us are. I was asking about my boyfriend Oz, to see if he could come visit. But now that I'm thinking about it, I don't really like the idea of making Buffy and Giles be the ones to lock him up around the full moon. And he always gets so growly when Buffy's there, on account of her being all alpha-predator girl, and who would read to him while he was stuck in the book cage? When he's ignored he does some serious property damage and I'm pretty sure we've voided the warranty on those bars...”
“Wills—rambling. I thank that they get the point: you'd feel bad leaving Oz back in Sunnydale to deal with being furry solo.”
Willow nodded, looking as though someone had just told her she won a car and then drove away in it before she could even enjoy that new-car-smell.
“Being a werewolf while managing to function in polite society is a challenge, or so I've gathered. A werewolf with no mentor, no older werewolf to understand what they're going through, to show them the ropes, so to speak—it can be quite dangerous. And the last thing we need is a rogue werewolf running about now that Voldemort seems to have returned.” The Sunnydale gang stiffened—that sounded like a threat. Didn't that sound like a threat to anyone else? “All in all, I think it would be best if young Master...?”
“Ah, if young Master Osbourne came here, to study the art of being a werewolf under the tutelage of our Professor Lupin.”
“Lupin? Is that like a title you give to all your werewolf professors or something?”
“No, no title. It's just a very ironic surname.”
Willow was going to turn inside out with unmitigated glee; Severus was not. Lupin coming back to Hogwarts? The day was so steeped in nostalgia that the venerable potions master felt the urge to pout. He did however maintain some wits about him, and he would sooner drink Longbottom's latest potion than pout in front of Harry Potter. The temptation was strong, though.
Willow looked at Harry, at Giles, and at Xander. Three clear votes yes, from most of the important men in her life. If her surrogate father, brother/best friend, and long lost/recently found sibling thought she should stay, who was she to say no? Besides, however much she liked high school, a school for magic would always rank higher on the nift-o-meter.
She looked finally at the man who had been her first savior, long before Buffy, long even before Xander kicked sand at Cordelia for pulling Willow's pigtails. This plan had more potential to ruin his life than anyone else's. If he was violently opposed to her staying, she would go back and live the life she knew. He had too much to lose for her to just casually decide how his life should or shouldn't change. But when she caught his eye, he didn't scowl, didn't glare, didn't curse her into a million messy pieces. His face was impassive, but his eyes held a hint of warmth, the breath of a smile—and that was all the answer she needed. She turned to Dumbledore and nodded solemnly.
“Well then, Willow and Xander Potter, welcome to Hogwarts.”
Since they already had their return tickets, and they really needed more time to talk before two of their number left for an unspecified amount of time, the slayerettes and watcher declined the offer of a portkey back to the states. They used the hours at 40,000 feet to discuss their shared history, their present excitements and dilemmas, and their wild near-future. They said all they'd wanted to, quietly, so as not to disturb the other passengers, and left the plane feeling content, which other airport denizens noticed, envied, and hated them for.