: The characters are not mine, owned by JK Rowling and Joss Whedon. The Scooby scenes were gratuitously imitated from 'Bargaining Pt. 1'... you know the part.Timeline:
For Buffy, after the events of "The Gift". For Harry Potter, he is entering his seventh year at Hogwarts. The events of his sixth year will be referred to as the story progresses. Just enjoy. ^_^Thanks:
David for pre-reading this even though he's not familiar with Harry Potter and has barely seen any Buffy. I appreciate muchly. ^^
"Are we really going to do this?" Xander's voice sounded harsh in the stillness of the black night. The moon was new, and thus the group gathered in the cemetary was deprived of its dull glow. The only light that pierced the darkness was the dim flickers of candlelight. Tara had placed the tall taper candles carefully around them in a small circle, just big enough to fit the four people inside.
Willow smeared the dark blood over her face carefully, determination shining in her eyes as she stared ahead. She was at the foot of the grave, facing the headstone that proclaimed who lay six feet underneath them in a coffin she and Xander had both helped pick out.
Mahogany. Dark blue satin lining.
"We have no choice," Willow replied blandly, pouring the remainder of the fresh blood onto the ground in front of her, drawing a crude symbol with the crimson liquid. She placed the Urn of Osiris in the center of the drawing and leaned back on her heels, looking around her at the others. "Are we ready?"
Anya was the only one wearing a smile. "Sure thing!" The ex-demon had been assured that no harm would come to her during the resurrection spell, so she was completely gung ho about the endeavor.
Tara nodded, looking apprehensive. Her hands were clutching her skirt so tightly they were shaking with the tension. She knew what was coming next.
Xander hesitated, taking everything in with a quick turn of his head. "Are we gonna die?" he asked Willow comically.
"No," Willow answered, gazing at him serenely. "Buffy is going to live."
Xander finally nodded. "Ready as I'll ever be, then, I guess."
Willow took a deep breath. "Let's begin."
Harry watched James shuffle his feet and glance around awkwardly. He saw so much of himself in his young father that it sent shivers racing across his body. He felt lightheaded again and forbid himself from fainting. Don't mess this up, Harry!
"I suppose I should explain some things," Harry began, taking a sip of water from the glass on the bedside table. He enjoyed the liquid as it traveled down his rather parched throat. "You, um, that's okay, right?"
"I'd probably better sit down, then," James replied, taking the seat from against the wall and scooting it over to the side of Harry's bed. He twisted his hands in his lap nervously. "So, um..."
"Well, um--" Harry was sweating. He'd never imagined talking to his father would be so hard. Then again, he'd never imagined a situation where his father would have no recollection of his existence. He was beginning to wonder if "Skold" was merely a synonym for "Satan", if indeed this was his twisted realm. "Hi, Dad," he finished lamely.
James's eyes widened behind his glasses. He stared at Harry in surprise for a few long moments, before managing a small smile. "Hello, son," he said, chuckling at his own remark. "Now doesn't that just sound peculiar?"
Harry nodded. "I agree, this couldn't be more unusual. I think my mum and dad had me when they were in their twenties, but I'm not exactly sure. So you're kind of four years early, I suppose."
James's head was bobbing up and down rapidly. His shaggy hair was all over the place, just barely keeping out of his eyes. "Yes, I can see that."
Letting out a deep sigh, Harry covered his face with his hands. "This is just too much," he mumbled. "This--this is horrid."
He felt a hand on his shoulder and looked up to see James reaching out to him. "It's pretty bad," he agreed. "Or at the very least, terribly awkward. Maybe we should just admit that we have no idea how to handle the situation, and we can try something else."
James pondered the question, dropping his hand from Harry's shoulder. "Well, let me ask you some questions on what confuses me."
"Wouldn't that be everything?" Harry asked with a sardonic smile.
Laughing, James nodded. "Well, a bit. First question would be, who's your mother?"
"Her name was Lily," Harry said quickly. "I believe you know her."
The laughter died on James's face, and he looked like he had been shot. What did I do wrong?
Harry wondered as the silence descended again.
"Hold hands," Willow said in a softly commanding voice, grasping Tara and Xander's hands tightly as she waited for them to take hold of Anya. When the circle was complete, she took a deep breath and began to recant the Prayer to Osiris softly, waiting for Tara's voice to join hers. When Tara finally began to speak, the wind picked up around them, and Willow saw Xander's eyes shoot open.
"What's happening?" he whispered, the first inkling of fear in his voice. The candles had flickered out due to the strength of the wind.
"I think they're summoning Osiris, keeper of the Underworld or whatever," Anya replied in her most helpful tone. "He's the one who can open the gateway and bring Buffy back."
Xander shivered as the cold wind whipped his hair and clothes into a frenzy. "Hope he's in a good mood," he muttered.
Willow closed her eyes and took in everything around her, breathing deeply and chanting "Osiris" with each exhalation. She continued this for what seemed like hours, until she felt the change in the air. The hair on her arms stood on end, and she opened her eyes slowly, gritting her teeth together. "This is it," she told her friends. "He's here."
"Lily? Lily Evans?" James asked finally, blinking his eyes in disbelief.
"I think that was her last name," Harry said. "Eyes green like mine, red hair." He's shell-shocked
, Harry thought. It was the only phrase that seemed to describe the look of stunned joy on his father's youthful face. Like something he had been fondly wishing for had finally come to pass.
"Lily," James murmured, lost in a world behind his eyes.
Harry smiled gently. He recognized the emotion shining in James's eyes. He loved her even at sixteen.
The thought filled him with great pleasure.
A question that had been bothering the back of his mind surfaced. "Is Lily here?"
James's attention returned to Harry, and he frowned, shaking his head. "I don't know where she is," he mumbled. "You say she's dead?"
Harry nodded. "She died to save me," he said. "Voldemort killed her."
"Then she should be here. It was a mystical death," James muttered. His brow furrowed. "I just always figured she was alive, somewhere."
Harry realized then how stupid the system was. What was the point of regressing to the happiest point of life if it meant the loss of so many memories? He also wondered why was James happiest at sixteen when he had later had a wife and son to enrich his life. Had he secretly longed for his carefree days of youth, even with a beautiful wife and a young son to care for?
His inner thoughts sent his emotions into turmoil. He scowled at James, who still appeared to be entranced in his own introspection. "Maybe she was too good for this place," he said rather cruelly. "I mean, I got to see you and Sirius in action in the Pensieve, in some of Snape's memories. Lily seemed like a much better person than either of you."
To Harry's surprise, James nodded earnestly. "I don't deny that. Lily Evans was goody-goody, but she really did care about other people. I really admired that about her, sometimes, when her scolding wasn't aimed in my direction." He laughed at the look on Harry's face. "I have to believe there's something more than this out there," he said. "An actual paradise, instead of this limbo. If there is, I know Lily's there."
"But her portrait was in Skold's palace," Harry said. "Doesn't that mean she'd be here?"
James shook his head. "I don't have the answers," he said. "Skold probably knows where she is. I'm sure you can ask him when he calls to see you again."
"And when will that be?" Harry asked. "Can't I just go see him?"
James shrugged. "You'd have to ask Lovey. She's one of Skold's favorites, and she knows more about him than anyone else. But hey, I'd like to know more about you, Harry. How's Hogwarts? You're in your seventh year?"
"Yes. It just started."
"So how was your sixth year? Mine was just rough. 'Course, I spent way too much of my fifth year focused on Quidditch and goofing around, so my O.W.L. scores weren't the best."
"What did you get?" Harry asked eagerly, wishing to compare his own scores to his father's.
"Let's just skip the gory details and go with Lupin's description of 'dismal'," James said, grinning widely. "I'm sure yours were much better."
Harry figured they must have been, since his had all been 'acceptable' and above, even in his worst subject of Potions (how he had managed it was still a mystery to him and to his friends). "My sixth year was... pretty rough, too," Harry said evasively.
James tilted his head. "How so?" In his mind, he saw Neville's body swinging back and forth, a dull glaze making his eyes look cloudy and grey. Ron was beside him, and he was bent over, retching. He vomited up the dinner he had just eaten, and Harry could barely hang on to his. Rational thought escaped him in that moment, and all he could manage to choke out was, "Why?"
No one answered.
He saw Hermione shrieking in pain as Luna shot her with the
Crucio curse over and over, until there were too many tears in his eyes to see through. Hermione was shouting his name now, sobbing, and Luna was laughing, taunting him with the fact of his powerlessness. He felt something surge within him, and the bonds that held him broke.
Her laughs turned to screams.
"Harry?" James was shaking the bed-bound boy, trying to provoke a reaction. "You okay?"
"Nothing," Harry said quickly, pushing the dire memories back into the recesses of his consciousness. "Sixth year was tough, but pretty dull. That's what I meant."
"Oh," James said, looking confused. "I guess the work was
Thankfully, a knock sounded on the door. "Who is it?" Harry asked a bit too eagerly.
"Sirius. I gotta sleepy Buffy out here. Is she staying or what?"
"Just give her the guest room," James said, sounding distracted.
"Uh, yeah, you're in it, mate," Sirius said, laughing heartily. "Shall I place her in the bed with Harry boy, then?"
Harry felt his cheeks flush as James shot him a quick look. "Sirius is a tad peverse," he explained hurriedly.
"Hey, I belong here, right? Dead and all." Harry heard Buffy's tired voice protest. "Don't I get my own mansion or suite or whatever?"
"Dunno," Sirius replied. "You can probably get whatever you want from Skold, but you can stay here. We can always just make another room for you. Unless you'd rather stay by yourself."
"I'd rather stay in luxury," Buffy retorted. She opened the door a crack and peered in. "Hi," she said, seeing Harry sitting up in bed. "Are you okay?"
"Still okay," Harry said, gesturing for her to come inside. Anything to keep from being alone with James.
"You look so good without your glasses on!" Buffy gushed.
Harry reached for his frames on the bedside table and hurriedly slipped them on. "I forgot," he mumbled.
Buffy's mouth was twisted in contemplation. "You should really get contacts. Those glasses just scream nerd-boy."
Harry and James exchanged humored glances. Both bespectacled boys turned to look at Buffy, and she looked at them cluelessly, until it finally dawned on her. "Oh! You both have the same pair! So it's like a bondage thing, then?"
Sirius was struggling not to laugh. "I think you meant bonding."
Buffy shrugged. "Sure, whatever."
"Eh, I just never wanted to touch my eyes," James said. "That's why I never got contacts."
"I'd like them, but they're too expensive," Harry explained.
"Well, I guess the intellectual look could make a comeback," Buffy said seriously. She flipped her hair over her shoulder and turned to Sirius. "Now, I assume I get my own bathroom, wardrobe, and cosmetics supply?"
"Ye-ah," Sirius said slowly, casting a helpless look in James's direction. "Can we do that?"
"No," James said, laughing. He stood and walked over to Buffy, patting her shoulder. "You may have to 'rough it' for a little bit, until we can get some things from Skold."
Buffy sighed in defeat. "Being dead sucks."
"Osiris, keeper of the gate," Willow began, raising her voice to be heard over the howling wind. Clouds gathered in the sky above them in a most unnatural manner, and she could hear her friends murmuring anxiously around her. She concentrated, tuning them out and continuing her plea. "Hear the call of our hearts. Your power extends beyond the reach of time, and can touch the edges of the universe. Accept our offering, and grant our prayer."
Willow doubled over in pain as long gashes appeared on the insides of her arms, oozing thick blood. She steeled herself against the agony, forcing her breathing to be regular and steady. She caught sight of Xander's panicked face, and she tried to convey to him with slight gestures that she was fine. Tara was talking to him, explaining that she was being tested, hopefully easing his fears. She found herself unable to speak, staring down at her bloody limbs in a sort of stunned horror. It hurts! It hurts!
she screamed in her mind, wanting more than anything at that point to stop, to end it. She knew she was feeling now what Dawn had felt standing up there, on that tower, while the battle raged on below her.
Somehow, she managed to speak aloud the next part of the spell. "Osiris, beneath us is the warrior of the people! Her death was premature and cannot stay! Bring her back to the mortal realm! Bring her back!"
Buffy eyed her bed skeptically. The sheets couldn't have been more than 250 thread count, and she was used to the luxiourious 300 or more sheets. She traced an experimental finger over them and nodded as her suspicion was confirmed. "Feels like sandpaper," she pouted, jutting her lower lip out and folding her arms across her chest.
She was alone in her room, but that didn't dim her urge to complain. She pulled the quilt back up and lay on top of it. "That's a little better, I guess," she muttered, laying back so that her head hit the pillow. She stared up at the ceiling, her arms still crossed over her chest.
It didn't occur to her that she was positioned just as someone would have been in a coffin.
She figured she wouldn't be tired until a bit later. Though there had been no mention of time here, of day and night, she assumed it was the same as when she had been alive. The sun had been shining earlier, and the boys had headed off to bed, so sleep was still obviously necessary. But eating wasn't. Maybe it's one of those things they just do because they're used to it.
She really didn't feel the least bit tired.
Buffy closed her eyes, hoping sleep might come if she just lay like that for awhile. Her breathing deepened, until it almost seemed to stop.
Eyes shooting open, Buffy turned her head to see who had spoken her name.
The room was empty.
"Huh. I must have been dozing," Buffy muttered, turning her head back to face the ceiling.
A low laugh seemed to permeate from the walls, echoing softly. She opened her eyes, sitting up slowly.
She felt a sharp pain in her skull, blinding her with its ferocity. It intensified quickly, until it became too much to bear in silence. She screamed.
"Oh my God," Anya said, looking surprised as she craned her neck around wildly. "What is making that noise?" Even the hisses and howls of the wind weren't loud enough to drown out the noise to which Anya referred: a loud, tortured scream.
"It's Buffy! It's Buffy!" Xander yelled, dropping all pretense. His complete and utter fear was plain on his face; his hand went limp in Willow's grasp.
She tightened her hold on him, trying to drown out everything except the power flowing inside her. "Bring her back to us!" she shouted. The cuts on her arms deepened, blood pouring more freely, and her heart skipped several beats.
Willow felt herself flying through the air, arms outstretched, though she, in reality, had not moved an inch from her spot at the foot of Buffy's grave. Her fall was stopped with a jolt, as searing electricity roved over every part of her body. She screamed soundlessly, feeling that she was being ripped apart into a million pieces. There wasn't a part of her that wasn't aching.
Somehow, she spoke again, her voice filled with resolve. "Bring her back to us, Osiris! Release her!"
"Buffy, Buffy what is it?" Suddenly the room was full as James, Sirius, and Harry crowded around the girl, who was curled in the fetal position on her side, hands tightly clutching her head as she screamed.
"What do we do?" Harry asked in a panic, looking to Sirius and James for help.
For an instant, as his eyes met Harry's, Sirius looked older, beaten by life but still hanging on to every moment with stubborn resolve. The moment was broken as Sirius shrugged helplessly, looking frustrated. "I don't know what's going on," he replied.
James was shaking Buffy, trying to get her to move from her position. "Buffy! What's wrong?"
She started, looking at them with horrified, dull eyes. "They're calling me," she said, her voice strangely reserved.
"Who?" Harry questioned.
Her gaze became distant, and her body relaxed. "I--I don't know them."
Harry felt a strange tingling at the back of his neck. On a whim, he reached out and placed a hand on Buffy's shoulder. "Who are they?" he asked again.
Her eyes met his. Her green seemed to mirror his own. She opened her mouth, but it wasn't her voice he heard.
He couldn't believe his ears, but he had to ask.
"I think I've got it!" Hermione said to Ron excitedly as he hurried down the corridor towards the Department of Mysteries. She had left him a simple message in his room to meet her at the Ministry, which he had received after a particularly grueling Quidditch practice during which he had been questioned ceaselessly about Harry's whereabouts. Ginny had filled in as Seeker for the second time, and the team had been none too pleased about it.
"I'm going to kill that Potter when he comes back," Tory Wells, the new Gryffindor captain, had hissed angrily. Get in line
, Ron had thought grimly. He and Hermione had faced nothing but angry questions regarding Harry's disappearing act, from teachers and students alike, for the past four days.
Ron hurried to Hermione's side, sneaking a look at the parchment in her hands. "What's that?"
"A series of spells that should enchant the archway to spit Harry back out," Hermione replied. "Now, I can't guarantee this will work, but I think we've got a smashing chance."
"Spit?" Ron asked, wrinkling his nose. "Really?"
Hermione gave him a withering look. "Of course not. You know what I mean. Now come on." She grabbed his hand and led him through a glowing door. "I sought out the correct one with the Hide-and-Seekith
charm," she explained breathlessly.
"I thought that charm was a joke," Ron protested as he let Hermione lead him down into the depths of the pit.
"It's actually pretty useful," Hermione replied. "You ought to practice it later."
"Let's just get Harry back," Ron said, changing the subject.
Hermione nodded eagerly. She dropped his hand once they were at the base of the archway, and she pulled out her wand. "This is going to be tricky. You may want to stand back," she advised Ron.
He backed up quickly. "Not a problem."
She waved her wand, and a couple of sparks spewed from the end of it. "Now," she spoke, quietly and evenly. "Reflecto.
The veil stirred and seemed to shimmer, like every inch of it had been coated into glitter. It took Ron several seconds of staring at it to realize it had changed texture. Now it was like a wall of standing water.
Hermione waited for a few seconds, observing the effects of her work. She lifted her wand again. "Now the veil is a two-way gate," she said back at Ron. "Harry. Harry, can you hear me?"
She waited again, but there was no response. She glanced back at Ron. "Maybe if we call together, he'll hear us. On the count of three."
She counted. When she reached three, she and Ron yelled at the top of their lungs, "Harry!"
"Buffy!" Xander was yelling. "Buffy, where are you?"
"Osiris, let her cross over!" Willow screamed, fighting with every last ounce of her strength not to pass out from the sheer pain of everything. Behind her eyelids, all she could see was blue light and surging streaks of ethereal power. She just wanted it to stop.
She just wanted to receive her gift.
She had waited so long to rest.
Xander was in an irrational panic, trying to pull his hand from Willow's vice-like grip. "Buffy!"
"What's happening here?" James asked Sirius as the lights in the room dimmed and brightened erratically. Harry and Buffy were in their own worlds, gazing at things neither he nor Sirius could see.
Sirius looked like a deer caught in the headlights. "I haven't the slightest..." he muttered. "Hey, you two, snap out of it!"
The room's lights brightened and remained static at a luminosity so intense James was forced to shut his eyes tightly and cover them with his hand. "This isn't good, I'd wager!" he shouted at Sirius.
He felt Sirius place a hand on his arm. "I concur, old friend."
A noise came from the walls, from the air around them. A low laughter, mixed with someone's heartfelt cries. "Buffy!"
A girl's voice. "Harry! Hang on! We're getting you out of there!"
"Stop it!" Buffy was wailing. "Just stop it! I don't want to go!"
"Okay." Hermione steeled herself, raising her wand high above her head. She called aloud, in a clear and powerful voice, "Through the gates of time and death, beyond the veil of the Realm of Skold, I beseech the return of our friend. Bring him back!"
"Hermione," Ron said nervously when his friend's body took on an ethereal glow. "Are you sure this is--"
She didn't allow him to speak. "Revertis!
" she called, walking forward briskly and plunging her wand through the veil. Ron finally recognized that it was Harry's wand she held and not her own. "Harry! Take your wand! Hurry!"
"Stop it, Willow! This is stupid!" Xander shouted furiously, wrenching his hand out of her grasp. "You're tampering with things that shouldn't be messed with!"
"No!" Willow screamed as the circle, the spell, was broken. The pain ceased, the wind died, and everything faded again to black. "Buffy!"
Buffy's eyes shot open. Everything was dark. "Willow?" she whispered.
Harry heard Hermione's call. He reached out blindly, still holding on to Buffy. He felt his fingers close around his wand, and a jolt knocked him to the ground.
"Shit," Sirius said.
"Where'd the light go?" James asked.
"Hermione," Harry muttered.
"Where are we?" Buffy asked.
"Wow," Ron breathed.
"Oh, dear," Hermione said, biting her lower lip. "This wasn't part of the plan."
The six were sitting scattered about the archway on the cold stone floor. The archway itself was now shattered, and the veil was puddled beneath the ruins, torn and ragged.
Buffy moved first, crawling forward. She pawed through the rubble as the rest looked on, regarding her with a range of emotions from apathy to concern. She was breathing heavily, her long hair hanging haphazardly in a way that would have made her scream had she been able to see it. She was tossing aside pieces of the stone archway easily, though some of them must have weighed upwards of fifty pounds. She was mumbling something under her breath that none of the others could quite hear, as their own breathing was still rapid and labored.
"God," Buffy said audibly, lifting the veil and tossing it aside. She rested her palm on the cheek of the girl who lay there, unmoving. She moved her hand to press against the underside of the girl's neck, checking for a pulse.
"She's breathing," Sirius said, finding his voice again.
Buffy nodded. "She's alive," she agreed.
"Who is she, Buffy?" Harry asked, moving himself into an upright position.
Buffy looked perplexed. Her hand was absently stroking the girl's bright red hair. "I can't remember."