Author's Notes: I've actually been working on this chapter for a few months. Not exclusively of course (oh work), but I wanted to open the world a bit in this chapter, bring in some other characters. Hopefully you all enjoy the update- thank you for continuing to read this. :) Please remember that while I don't write graphic, this is a much darker what-if world than either the Buffy or Potter universe really are. Also, I continue my disclaimer- this is a fan piece not intended to infringe upon the intellectual property holders for either Buffy or Harry Potter.
George Wesley didn’t exactly think of himself as a pessimist, even living in the world Voldemort and Harry had made for them. That being said, he wasn’t exactly feeling good about his immediate future. Not only was he being routinely tortured for fun and information, mostly fun, in dungeons under Rome, he was locked up with bloody Draco Malfoy.
Days and days of Unforgivables and the ferret chittering at them all as leering Death Eaters laughed.
So despite his naturally sunny disposition, George had pretty much resigned himself to a horrible, wretched death by the hands of his enemy. So he was a little surprised when the far wall to the dungeon blew in with sheer destruction that would have done him and Fred proud in their better days.
He blinked blearily from his chained position on the opposite wall. The blood in his hair was darker than his shaggy hair, and he could see both, since the blood had dried his hair into his eyes. Draco, chained a few feet apart from him, didn’t look a whole lot better. Actually, he probably looked worst, since his blood had dried darker on his white blonde hair.
They were both pale though, and judging by Draco’s bruised and battered face, George surely looked as hellish as he felt. He forgave himself, in the din of the tumbling bricks and smoke, and, well torture, for not immediately figuring out what exactly was happening. His eyes saw the two slender figures hurrying into the room, even if his brain didn’t register that no matter who their intrepid explosive experts were, they definitively weren’t Death Eaters.
The most striking of the two was dressed literally in black motorcycle pants. Painted on black leather pants, with studs. Little silver studs. Even as she strode into the dungeon she moved with dangerous liquid grace. Silk sheathed in leather. Her hair was long, longer than most people kept it these days- it was too distinctive. It flowed as well, waves of black that was entirely silk.
They were likely not British.
The younger of the two was taller, but hardly gangly. She moved with a willowy grace all her own. Her ash brown hair was cropped short, a pixie cut that highlighted sharp cheekbones and full lips. She was cursing as well as she held her wrist, blood streaking the hand applying pressure. “Did you have to maul my wrist? Geeze Faith, it was like giving a Fledgling a knife and saying “slice in.””
The older woman snorted and ignored the younger, not even remotely fazed as she pulled up short at the sight of the two men chained to wall. “Names?” she asked, eyes flickering between the two prisoners.
George coughed once, and cast a furtive eye towards Draco who, aside from two black eyes and a split lip, looked his mulish, snobbish self. Names were a dangerous thing nowadays, when you were featured prominently on Voldemort’s Most Wanted List. Names could get you chained to a wall with Bellatrix’s name carved along your broken ribs.
He paused for one heartrendingly frightened moment, and the older woman’s eyes hardened in the beat of their silence. George spoke, croaked really, as she turned heel to stride away. “Wait!”
Her shoulders twitched as she paused, and the younger woman watched with wide eyes. “Please,” George said hoarsely, “please wait.” He coughed, a great wracking gurgle that highlighted in sharp relief that staying as a guest of the new world order wasn’t exactly good for personal health. He knew it was better he wasn’t coughing blood yet, but the wheeze in his lungs was possibly pneumonia, which frightened him almost as much as the Death Eaters did. Tonks had been his partner when they got caught smuggling a few squibs out of Italy. She hadn’t lasted through more than a few days of torture until her lungs filled.
Some days George thought that was best, when he didn’t wake from nightmares of her labored breathing.
The American women stood in place, waited as the fit passed, and George decided to take one last suicidal bet. “My name is George Weasley. And that’s Draco Malfoy.”
“Weasley!” Draco hissed, obviously not thrilled with taking that same risk.
And George didn’t know who the hell their unlikely visitors were, but he would have happily kissed their feet when the older nodded to the younger with a grim, pleased smile. “Let’s cut them down.”
The younger woman snorted and held her bandaged hand to her chest. “Just don’t hack their hands off when you do it.”
Hermione finally felt warm, with dry flannel pajamas and a worn blanket wrapped around her shoulders like a cloak. She also felt significantly less nauseous and significantly more human. It was working its way to morning outside and although Xander’s house, like most, had long ago boarded up their windows against looting and the like, it was cheering to see streaks of light filter past cracks in the boards.
Her brain was still muzzy, and she didn’t think she could hold down much in the way of food though. All in all she felt… better than she had in ages. Since, well, before she had taken to calling herself Helen. It was exhilarating, in a way, to claim her wand, reclaim her name, and declare herself part of Summer’s Night, one of the last resistance groups.
Frightening, too, but then she had been afraid for so long. It was funny, how in those early years, fighting Voldemort with Harry and Ron, she thought so little of her own death. It had seemed so heroic, so necessary, to sacrifice everything she held dear just for the chance, one moment, for Harry to be the Boy Who Lived. But that wild eyed, youthful optimism had died on the floor of a dungeon with her husband, killed by the Boy Who Still Lived. Who always might, as the right-hand of Voldemort.
She knew now, that she would die. For a while it had seemed that her death wouldn’t be anywhere near glorious. That one day she would slip, move her lips in a spell that felt like second nature and be taken, or that somehow, one of the Death Eaters, an old schoolmate, would recognize her on the streets of Cleveland and spirit her to Harry. To her own death, convulsing on a cold stone floor. Summer’s Night couldn’t be equipped to bring down the Dark Lords. But she would rather die in battle, Ron’s name on her lips, wand raised, then begging for her life.
Hermione took her time slowly exploring the living room. It was light enough that she could clearly see the pictures on the walls. Some were newspaper clippings, from right after Harry went to Voldemort’s side, documenting the early purges of magical folk. No few were paragraph write ups of Slayer’s, standing, and too often dying, in opposition to the new world order. But a few of the pictures were something a bit different. A few were battered photos, torn in places, singed in others. One definitely had dried blood on one corner. All prominently featured a blond-haired woman and a red-haired woman.
The photos were still, obviously muggle, but the women almost shone through the photos anyway. The blonde was smiling widely in most of them, sharp cheekbones highlighting sunny eyes and white teeth. There was a shadow that lurked at the edges of the smile though, the corners of her eyes. A sad focus Harry used to have, before he turned to hunting old friends for sport. The red-haired woman smiled more shyly in the photos, but her eyes sparked with good humor and mischief. There were other people in the photos- many had Xander in them, or a tall slender girl with ash brown hair several years younger. A few had an older man who looked distinctly British, down to the tweed jackets with elbow patches he wore.
Hermione frowned as she studied them. It had been years since she was considered the Smartest Witch of her Generation, but she had always had a great memory for faces. There was no conceivable way she should recognize people in Xander’s photos and yet… She made the connection suddenly, to the women in the pictures. She hadn’t recognized them at once mostly because she had indeed never met either in real life, just seen their faces plastered all over the front of the Daily Prophet for weeks.
Buffy Summers and Willow Rosenberg. It wasn’t too often that muggles saved the world with enough flash and magic that even the Wizarding Community sat up and took notice. Although it was hard to ignore the demons that had roamed Los Angeles three years ago, wreaking havoc along most of the West Coast until the last of them had been routed or and destroyed months later.
A lot of people had died fighting them, but no one died with as much martyring glory as the blonde human and the red-haired muggle witch.
They looked younger in the pictures on Xander’s wall than they had in the paper when they had been streaked with blood and dirt and soot as they battled legions of unspeakable demon in the streets of LA. They looked happier. Not so grim as they faced their deaths, mere months before Harry had killed Ron.
Calloused fingers gentle touched the frame as she studied one in particular. It must have been taken years ago because Buffy, Willow, and Xander all looked to be no more than sixteen or seventeen, grinning from ear to ear as they sat in brilliant sunlight on the edge of a fountain, outside of a building. Even in the still lifelessness of muggle photographs, she could almost feel their radiant happiness.
She jumped as Xander entered, a first aid kit in one hand, iced tea in another. His single eye assessed her position and he smiled, though it lacked any real emotion. What else could he say? They exchanged secret identifies and shared a common cause and yet knew nothing about each other. “You recognized them.” It wasn’t a question.
Hermione nodded anyway, and slowly lowered her hand, wincing as the torn muscles in her abdomen were strained in the process. “Yes.” She paused and looked up at him before deciding to continue. “You were friends with them?”
Xander smiled wistfully, expression far away, and in that moment he looked so much lighter, unburdened by his darker memories. Hermione wondered if she ever looked the same way when she thought about Ron, or the Harry she used to know. Not many people had been in the position to tell her.
Most of them were dead.
“Yeah,” he replied finally, drawing her from her thoughts, “my best friends.”
Draco Malfoy had never really thought much of America beyond vaguely held beliefs about ignorant colonial savages. After all, no true
witch or wizard of any note had ever come out of the magical schools in the West. Willow Rosenberg had been a freak of nature, and hardly classified as a real witch.
He was seriously starting to revisit his opinion of American muggles though. Or whatever the hell their inadvertent rescuers were. They weren’t quite humans… but they sure as hell weren’t witches. At least, Draco didn’t remember there being quite so much blood in his classes at Hogwarts. Not that he was complaining, since the younger woman’s blood seemed to be doing interesting things, like opening portals out of the shithole he had spent the last six months in.
He was trying not think about the fact that he was holding bloody George Weasley upright as the two women murmured to themselves and waved bloody hands around and ripped a hole
in the "fabric of reality." He was really trying not to think about the rattling Wesley made as he breathed in, or that Draco knew what his screams sounded like. Draco wouldn’t have quite the souvenir from his Aunt that Wesley would, if they both survived this little unexpected escape attempt, because he was fairly sure his fingernails would eventually grow back. It was somewhat warming to know without a shadow of a doubt that if they both survived he would have a stalwart companion to track his Aunt Bellatrix and put her down like the rabid, crazed bitch that she was.
It was nice to have something to live for.
The portal shimmered, then stabilized. Draco could see stars and a night sky through the portal, and some sort of open field, before the dark haired woman grabbed them both by the scruff of their necks and tossed them through.
Draco hit the ground, rolled through wet grass, and came to a stop with a painful pant on his back. It had been years since he had been stargazing, probably before he had first went to Hogwarts, a priggish prat full of purity nonsense and pride in a heritage that had helped bring down the bloody world. That being said, while he recognized some of the constellations in the sky, none of them were quite where he would have expected them.
Wherever “here” was, it almost certainly wasn’t Europe anymore. Bloody hell- it might even BE Kansas.
For the first time in years, Draco felt an overwhelming sense of relief. Pain, from months of torture, but relief. Wherever they went from here, it was steps forward, away from the dungeons of Rome.
The younger of the two women, short hair spiked wildly, leaned over him and squinted her eyes as she studied him. “Still alive?”
Draco smiled wanly as he stared back at her. “Apparently.”
That brought a smile from her lips and she held down a hand to help him up, the hand she hadn’t been using for bloodletting. He winced as he clasped the offered hand, his own fingers stiff and torn and missing fingernails
. Fucking Bellatrix. The woman, who had to be a few years younger than him, chattered as she pulled him upright with surprising strength. “My name is Dawn. You guys are lucky we found you when we did. We were about to call the raid a bust but then, whammo, two of Voldie’s Most Wanted showed up. Hanged up. I don’t know what the verb is for Chained to a Wall and Being Tortured in a Dungeon in Rome.”
Draco let the words roll over him, confident that his fogged brain would sort them out in due time. Instead he concentrated on not passing out and asking the first question that came to mind. “Where are we?”
Dawn hummed as she eyed his unsteady sitting position but answered as her hands ghosted, without asking, over the vital areas of the body- head, kidneys, ribs- checking for breaks and damage. It was humiliating, but in a recusing do-gooder type of way. Draco tried not to respond when she touched his kidneys but the spasm of pain on his face told enough. “We’re in Ohio, United States. A few miles outside of Cleveland. In a fallow farm field actually. Our transport will be here in a bit- we arrived back earlier than planned because of our unexpected passengers.”
“Do you always
talk this much.”
Dawn grinned cheekily at that question, obviously pleased both in his gall as well as his ability to ask the question without puking. Draco assumed that George was nearby but he still wasn’t certain he could turn his head. It didn’t make much sense for the other older woman to be rattle breathing and pain puking though so, Weasley was once again his companion for some strange and unpleasant journey.
It was oddly comforting, in a way.
“Well,” Dawn said as she grabbed his hands again and carefully pulled him to his feet. “If there’s one thing having most of my loved ones murdered by the Dark Lords taught me, it’s always say what you mean because you might never see people again.”
Draco was mildly surprised that he was taller than her. Dawn had looked taller, but she had the gawky proportions of someone not quite finished growing, even though she had to be in her late teens. She was definitely
stronger than he would have guessed though as she threw his arm around her shoulders and took most of his weight for the walk over to the dark haired woman and Wesley.
Draco’s brain finally caught up to her words though and he almost missed a step, overbalancing them both. Dawn corrected for the tilt but she shot him a reproachful look as they toddled onward. Draco didn’t even care. He was staring at her with open mouthed shock. “Are you Dawn SUMMERS? Of Summer’s Night? Buffy Summers' sister?”
She snorted. “What other Dawn did you think would be stealing prisoners from the Dark Lords?”
Draco slowly shut his mouth. Steps forward indeed.