Absolutely wonderful maps of the Wizarding world are found on the HP Lexicon: http://www.hplex.info/gate/places.html
I'm using this layout for Hogwarts as Xander and Hagrid go into the castle:
June 13th, 1999
King's Cross Railway Station
"Xander, do you have your train ticket?"
"Yes, Giles, I have it here," Xander replied to his mentor with a long-suffering eye-roll.
"And you have your cell phone?"
Xander pulled the phone from his shoulder bag and showed the Watcher with a grin. "Right here, though don't be surprised if I'm in an area where there's no signal. MinMin said Hogwarts is pretty remote."
"Well then check your voice messages as often as you can," Giles noted as he glanced around at the crowds flowing into and out of King's Cross Station. "I know Willow and Buffy both have your number and were planning to call you."
"I will, Giles."
"And check in with me often, Xander," the older man stated firmly. "I know you're going to your grandmother's school but once you leave, let me know where you are staying."
"I will, Giles. I have your number programmed in so I don't forget what it is. I'll call if anything happens." Xander carefully put his phone back in his bag before he stepped over to the Watcher to give him a quick hug. "Thanks for worrying, G-Man. I'll be fine."
"I should really see you off from your platform," Giles anxiously pulled his glasses off and cleaned them, not even responding to Xander's annoying nickname for him.
"Nah, don't worry about it, Giles," Xander tried to look strong and confident and able to board a train by himself. He really couldn't show Giles Platform 9 3/4. MinMin would have a fit if he showed up with a Watcher in tow. "Your cab meter is running and Wesley is looking a little fidgety."
The Watcher glanced back at the younger Englishman who was impatiently waiting in the cab.
"Oh, sod Wesley." Giles jammed on his glasses and tucked away his cleaning cloth. "He can wait. Are you certain you have everything?"
Xander grinned at the older man. "I'm sure, Giles. I'll be fine. I have my passport, my train ticket and my roller luggage. Plus, my train leaves in about 30 minutes so I won't be waiting long."
Giles sighed and glanced back at his taxi. "Very well, Xander." He gripped the young man's shoulder and gave him a faint smile. "I know you can take care of yourself. I also know that you're carrying a stake somewhere on your person, correct?"
"And a cross and some holy water." Xander motioned to his shoulder bag. "Don't leave home without it. I dug it out of my luggage as soon as we landed."
"Good," the Watcher replied. "There's not much activity in the rural areas of Britain but you never know what you'll run into." Giles looked at him sternly though the expression was somewhat softened by the obvious affection in his eyes. "Be careful, Xander."
"I will, Giles," Xander nodded. "You too, okay? The Watchers weren't too happy with you the last time you had a pow wow and I'm not sure Wesley will be much help."
"I'll be fine, Xander, don't worry," Giles' faint smile strengthened for a moment as he gave his young charge a final look over. Then he stepped towards his taxi. He hesitated a moment before he opened the door and glanced back at the young man. "You've grown into a fine young man, Xander. Your grandmother has plenty to be proud of."
Xander felt a blush flow over his skin and he beamed at the Watcher as the man got into his taxi. Giles waved once and Wesley grimaced wildly as the driver shot into traffic, leaving Xander behind with an extremely pleased smile. He sighed happily before turning to walk into King's Cross Station pulling his luggage along behind him.
An hour later, he was relaxing on the Hogwarts Express, watching the London scenery slowly turn into the English countryside. He knew he had several hours to go before he arrived in Hogsmeade and he planned to snooze a good portion of the trip away. However, what he was waiting for now was-
"Something off the cart, Luv?" an older woman inquired as she pulled open the door. Before her was a cart full of the sugary goodness he'd been craving for hours.
"Do you take English pounds, ma'am?" He pulled out his newly exchanged pound notes hopefully. "Or maybe American dollars?"
"American, are you?" she asked with a delighted chuckle. "Well, we don't take dollars but we do take English pounds."
"Great!" Xander looked over the cart with a hungry gleam in his eyes. "Then I'll have five chocolate frogs and a pumpkin pasty please. And two Cokes, if you have them."
He handed over the money and she gave him the requested sweets. Then she leaned down and opened a cooler at the bottom of her cart.
"Not many requests for these," she noted with a smile as she handed over two chilled cans of cola. "Mostly the muggleborn want them or a few wizards and witches who've acquired the taste." Her slightly wrinkled nose said that she wasn't one of the aforementioned witches.
"Nothing better for a caffeine fix," Xander grinned as he popped open a can and set the other carefully into his bag. "I'm going to have one now and then save one for later. I just got off a plane from America this morning and I have a feeling the jet lag will be catching up with me this afternoon."
"You have been traveling awhile then, lad," she said with a motherly tone. "There are blankets and pillows under the seats if you want to sleep a bit. I'll be sure to wake you if you're still asleep when we get to Hogsmeade."
"Thanks a lot." Xander happily eyed the chocolate frogs in his hands. "LAX was a *long* time ago and I didn't sleep much on the plane."
"And where are you coming from, if I might ask?" the cart lady leaned against the door for a moment, her blue gaze curious. There weren't too many passengers on the Express for this trip and it was rare to find an American taking the train.
"I'm from California, Ma'am," Xander said as he carefully set his stash down on the seat beside him. "Specifically, I'm from a small town called Sunnydale. It's about two hours northwest of Los Angeles." He smiled up at the wide-eyed witch. "This is the first trip I've ever taken away from that area and may I say this train is just the coolest."
The witch blinked her eyes a few times, opened her mouth to say something and then decided not to. She settled for a nod.
"Many of the first years who ride the train think the same thing," she said absently, "though they're a mite younger than you, my lad."
Xander leaned back into the seat, his shoulders a bit slumped. "I was supposed to come when I was eleven but my Dad didn't want me to." His tone was wistful as he glanced out the window. "But I suppose things worked out for the best in the end," he finished with a grin. Then he held out his hand. "I'm Xander Harris, by the way."
The witch blinked again and then gave him a wide, beaming smile. "So you are." She shook his hand rather vigorously. "My name is Elvinda McNarrie and I certainly never thought to meet someone from Sunnydale, California."
Xander nodded as he took a sip of his soda. "It is a *way* long trip and I'm sure I drove Giles nutters after ten hours on a plane but it'll be *so* worth it." He took another sip of the dark, sweet, caffeinated goodness in the can and sighed happily. "I'm going to see my grandmother and I haven't seen her in five whole years!"
"Your grandmother lives in Hogsmeade?" Elvinda's eyes were wide and her tone was extremely curious.
"Nah," Xander replied. "She works at Hogwarts." He brightened and sat forward. "Hey, maybe you know her. Professor Minerva McGonagall? She teaches Trans-figure-skating or something like that. Turns things into other things."
Elvinda just stared at him for a long moment before she spoke.
"You're Professor McGonagall's grandson?"
"Yep!" Xander gave her a proud smile. "The one and only!" He stilled for a moment and looked thoughtful. "That I know of."
"*You're* Minerva McGonagall's *grandson*?" Elvinda's words were shrill and Xander deflated a bit.
"Well, yes. I know it's kinda strange, her being so Scottish and me being so American but really - "
"She must be *so* proud of you, dear!" the witch finally gushed with a beaming smile that relieved Xander's anxiety even as he worried about what exactly she was referring to. "Such a fine young man, you are."
"Well...ah...thanks," he said, blinking at her enthusiasm.
"And so polite!" Elvinda happily backed out into the hallway. "Now you just make yourself comfy, young man. I have to finish my rounds but if you need anything, you just let me know, all right?"
"Sure, thanks," Xander replied even as she was slamming the door shut. He watched warily as she pulled her candy cart away from his window.
"That was weird," he muttered under his breath. Polite was just not something people usually accused him of being.
After a moment, he stood and opened the door to look out in the hallway. A few doors down, he saw an abandoned candy cart - just waiting to be pillaged! - and Elvinda's back as she trotted down the hallway towards the front of the train.
"Hummm." Xander eyed the defenseless candy cart just a few doors away and then sighed heavily. He was an official white hat and he couldn't just highjack the nice lady's candy. He made himself go back into his cabin before all those chocolate frogs started calling to him.
He spent the next several minutes gleefully opening his newly purchased frogs. He bit the first one's head off as he glanced at the Wizard Card. He smiled to get the coveted (according to his grandmother) Harry James Potter, Destroyer of Voldemort, card. A cool collectable Wizard card and yummy chocolate eaten on the train to Hogwarts. It just didn't get any better than this.
Xander consumed two more of his chocolate frogs, nibbled the pumpkin pasty to death and finished up his can of cola. He studied his new wizard cards with a grin. He got a Dumbledore card (of which he had two already) and strangely enough, a Minerva McGonagall card, which detailed a few exploits that hadn't made it into the letters she'd sent him about the war.
He and his grandmother were definitely going to have some words about not getting in the middle of wizard wars. She should know better than that.
After he tucked his new cards away, he pulled off the jacket he'd purchased especially to meet his grandmother and laid it carefully aside. A moment later, he pulled out a blanket and a pillow from beneath the seat and despite the fact that he was almost vibrating with a sugar high, Xander fell asleep within moments.
"Wake up, Mr. Harris." Xander shot up, his eyes darting around before coming to rest on Elvinda who was standing in the doorway. She was still smiling at him with an odd gleam in her eyes. "We're almost to Hogsmeade and I thought you might want to freshen up a bit."
"Thanks, Miss McNarrie." Xander stood and stretched and then grimaced at a twinge from his back. "Train seats do not the most comfy beds make."
"You'll sleep well enough at the castle, I'll warrant," she said with a motherly look. "Professor McGonagall will see to that."
"Is there a bathroom on the train?" he asked hopefully.
Elvinda nodded and gestured down the train. "All the way down on the left, dear."
Xander thanked her again and then scooted down the hallway. Once he found the small room, he did his business and then washed his face with cool water. He looked in the mirror and sighed. His hair was sticking straight up. The young man hoped he would be able to brush it into some semblance of style before he got to the castle.
Eventually, he exited the bathroom and returned to his compartment. He opened up his shoulder bag and pulled out another, hopefully less wrinkled, shirt. It was a dark blue button-up that Buffy and Willow picked out so he was almost positive it would look good.
After he changed, he pulled out his hair brush and tried to do something with his hair. Once he decided nothing further could be done, he repacked his things, including what was left of his coveted chocolate frogs, and zipped up his bag. Then he donned his dark brown jacket ("It *so* brings out your eyes, Xander, and it looks good with jeans!" Buffy had insisted.) and hoped his grandmother wouldn't think he was hopeless.
With a sigh, he popped open his last Coke and stared out the window, his thoughts wandering to how Willow and Buffy and Giles were doing.
Almost ten minutes later, the train slowed to a stop and Xander felt his excitement rise as he made his way down the carriage to the nearest door. He saw Elvinda there waiting with a smile as well as another gentleman.
Xander grinned and nodded at the candy cart lady. "Thanks for getting me up on time, ma'am. I'd have hated to miss my stop."
"Of course, Mr. Harris," she said with another beaming smile. "I just wanted you to meet the engineer of the Hogwarts Express." She gestured to the man behind her. "This is Robert Haskindale."
Xander nodded again and reached out to shake hands. "Nice to meet you, sir. I love your train."
The man smiled back at him. "Kind of you to say so, lad."
"I'd better get my luggage. MinMin's supposed to be meeting me here at the station and I don't want to make her wait."
"Ah, don't worry 'bout yer luggage, laddie," the engineer said. "It'll be sent on up to the castle."
"Really?" Xander brightened at that. He hadn't been looking forward to dragging that big piece of luggage anywhere. "Great! Thanks."
"You're very welcome, Mr. Harris," Elvinda said happily. "Now run along. Your grandmother is probably looking for you."
"Oh yeah!" the young man said, glancing out the door. "It was very nice meeting you both," he continued before he gave them a final smile and jumped off the train and onto the sidewalk.
Behind him, Elvinda smile. "What a nice boy," she said. "Professor McGonagall must be just that proud."
"She must, indeed," Robert replied with a pat on her shoulder.
"And he calls her MinMin," she sighed. "That is so sweet. What a good boy."
Xander glanced around the small train station and noted only a few other passengers disembarking along the train. He looked around hopefully for his grandmother but he didn't see anyone except that HUGE man sauntering along the platform towards him. A HUGE man with lots of hair - did he mention LOTS of hair - and Xander wasn't exactly sure the guy wasn't part (or all) demon except for the large smile on the man's face and the warm expression in his dark eyes.
"Alexander?" he asked as he approached. "Are you Alexander Harris?"
"Yep, I'm Xander." The young man held out his hand which was immediately engulfed in a huge palm and shaken gently.
"Rubeus Hagrid," the giant introduced himself with a wide grin. "I'm a teacher up at the school. Your gran couldn't make it so she asked me ta come meet yeh."
Xander felt a flash of momentary disappointment but it was gone as quick as it came. He'd be seeing MinMin soon enough.
"I appreciate you coming, Mr. Hagrid," Xander said as he picked up his heavy shoulder bag. "I gotta tell you, I'm excited to be here. It's been ages since I saw MinMin and I can't wait to see her again."
"Just call me Hagrid," the big man replied with a nod and a grin. "Everyone does. An' I'm sure yer gran is waitin' ta see you as much as yeh want ta see her. Now, come along Mr. Harris."
"Just call me Xander," the young man said with a cheeky smile. "Everyone does."
Hagrid chuckled and nodded before he led the younger man away from the train platform. "Now, we'll be takin' boats across the lake so's you can get a good view of the castle."
"The boats? Really?" Xander's tone was excited as he followed his large guide. "But I thought only the first years got to take the boats."
"Normally, we only pull the boats out once a year but yer gran asked if I wouldn't mind givin' you a ride across the lake an' I told her I didn't an' so here we are."
"I'll definitely have to thank her when we get there," the teen-ager said happily. "And thank *you*, Hagrid! This is SO much cooler than walking."
The large man just chuckled again as he led the chattering young man down to the shore where two boats waited.
"One fer me an' one fer you, Xander," Hagrid said as he situated himself in his boat. Xander nimbly jumped in the other and settled down, looking around just like an excited first year, Hagrid thought. It was just a shame the lad hadn't been able to come for schooling to Hogwarts.
"Right, now, Forward!" Hagrid called and the two boats zoomed across the lake. Xander let out a loud "Whoooooooooo" that echoed across the water followed by his laughter.
"We're goin' a mite faster than I allow when I'm with the firsties," Hagrid called over to his companion craft. "But I figured yeh wouldn't mind."
"This is SO awesome, Hagrid!" Xander shouted back even as he saw the castle come into view. The sun had just set and was splashing the castle with brilliant evening colors and for a moment, the young man was silent. "That is one *wicked* cool castle!"
"That it is, Xander," Hagrid agreed as their boats approached the cliff and the tunnel leading to Hogwarts' harbor. A few minutes later, the pair was stepping out of the boats and heading towards the great front doors of the castle.
Xander was straightening his jacket and checking that his hair wasn't sticking up as they approached the doors. Hagrid glanced sideways at him, smiling at the younger man's worry over his appearance, before he opened the door and the pair walked into the main hall. Xander trailed along behind Hagrid, his head swerving from side to side as he tried to take everything in.
"This here is the entrance hall," Hagrid explained as he watched Xander gawk. "It were blown up last year in the last battle against You-Know-Who but it looks good now, don't it?"
"It sure does," Xander agreed as he glanced around. "You can't tell at all that this was a war zone. That means I'm one up on the old HP," the young man crowed happily as he beamed up at Hagrid. "When I blew up *my* high school, it *stayed* blown up."
Hagrid blinked at his companion for a moment. He opened his mouth to ask a question but Xander's attention had already shifted elsewhere.
"Wow, the pictures move!" he exclaimed as they moved across the hall.
"Yeh, and they speak too so don' be surprised if they answer back."
Xander gave him a look of disbelief that quickly changed to curiosity when he remembered where he was. Of course the pictures would talk. This was a magic school after all.
As they approached another large set of doors standing wide open, he noticed a low noise that was steadily getting louder, which Xander identified as a "lunchroom roar".
"Er, Hagrid?" The huge man glanced down at him and Xander smiled warily. "How many kids actually go to this school? I always thought it was kinda small from how MinMin describes it."
"We have around 400 students here this term but next term there'll be a lot more." The large man looked sad for a moment. "We lost a lot of kids when you-know-who attacked the school."
Xander's eyes darkened as he glanced away. "Yeah, I know how that can happen."
Hagrid looked at the young man with a puzzled expression before he gestured towards the open doors. "Yer lucky, now, though. It's dinner time and Hogwarts' house elves make some of tha best food in the country."
The young man beamed up at him. "Food is definitely of the good. I think I could eat a whole pig all by myself." Xander blinked for a moment, thinking back on his hyena possession when he *had* eaten a whole pig. "Maybe that wasn't the best analogy."
"Well, I donno 'bout roast pig but I know there'll be somethin' you'll like," Hagrid said as he led the way through the huge double doors and into the great dining hall.
Xander followed, trying not to lick his lips at the wonderful smells coming out of the great hall. As he crossed the threshold of the doorway, he stopped for a moment and glanced around the bright room.
Four long tables spread across the length of the hall, all filled with kids his age and younger and the ceiling was just as cool as his grandmother had described it. A grin spread across his face as he trotted after his huge guide.
Hagrid had turned left on entering and now strode towards the table sitting on a dais at the end of the hall. They walked between an ages-old stone wall and a long table of kids who stopped talking and stared at him as he passed by. He smiled and nodded at the ones who met his eyes until he got about halfway up the hall. Then he spotted his grandmother beaming at him from the teachers' table and he returned her smile and waved happily. He held her gaze until Hagrid led him around the teacher's table to where Minerva was standing to greet him. The giant sat down at the end of the table, watching as Xander made a beeline to his grandmother.
"MinMin," he breathed out happily as he leaned down a bit to hug her tightly. "I missed you so much!"
"Alexander. I missed you too," Minerva said with a smile as he stepped back, still holding her hand tightly. "You've gotten so tall!"
"Mom says tall runs in the family," he said with a goofy grin. "You look wonderful! This teaching thing must agree with you."
"Indeed," another voice commented from behind his grandmother. "Minerva is one of our finest instructors."
Xander glanced up into intelligent blue eyes in a kind, wrinkled face. His brows rose as he took in the length of the beard that flowed down the old man's chest before his eyes crossed at the sight of the orange and pink robe the man sported.
Xander suddenly understood completely why Buffy and Cordelia scoffed wildly at his own wardrobe selections.
After he blinked a few times to clear his eyesight, Xander held out his hand to the man who could only be the Headmaster Minmin boasted so much about.
"Xander Harris," he introduced himself with a nod. The Headmaster extended his hand with a smile and Xander shook it gently.
"Albus Dumbledore," he returned. "Welcome to Hogwarts, young man."
"I'm glad I finally get to see it," Xander said with a glance around the great hall. "It's totally amazing!"
"Yes, it is," the old man replied as he looked over his glasses sternly. "And we would like it to stay that way. I trust you didn't bring any explosives with you from your last school?"
"Albus!" Minerva said in a scandalized tone. "I'm sure he didn't bring anything that would be a danger."
Xander blinked at him for a moment. "Er...you heard about that?"
"Indeed," the old wizard stated, his eyes twinkling.
The young man glanced guiltily at his grandmother. "I did bring a few stakes in case of an undead emergency but nothing else. The airlines frown on anyone bringing explosives through customs, not that I would have!" he stammered quickly. Then he grinned. "Besides, I understand Harry Potter already exterminated your particular pest and found out the same thing we did in Sunnydale. Drop enough concrete on a demon and that usually takes care of the problem."
There was a snort from nearby and Xander glanced over to see a black-haired man with dark eyes seated at the table next to an empty place beside his grandmother. He was looking at the new arrival with an odd expression that quickly changed into one of disdain. Xander just grinned.
"You must be the Potions Guy," he said, stepping down the table. "MinMin speaks very highly of you. She says you're the man to come to if you need stuff mixed up." Xander held out a hand. "I'm Alexander Harris."
Behind him, Xander didn't see his grandmother covering a snicker at his choice of words. The potions professor, however, did and transferred his glare briefly to Minerva before he hesitantly reached out and shook the American boy's hand.
"Severus Snape," he said in a flat tone. "And I am a Potions Master. Not a...potions guy."
"I was hoping to chat with you about that wolfie tonic MinMin mentioned you make. I have a werewolf friend and we used to just trank him on his days of the month and put him in the book cage in the library and read to him all night. But since the high school blew up we don't have anywhere to put him and MinMin mentioned the wolf tonic would help him not go all growly during the full moon. Any chance of me getting some tonic or learning how to make it? Cause Oz would be just so grateful. He'd probably say 'cool' twice."
Professor Snape just blinked at the babble coming out of Xander's mouth and halfway through the boy's question, turned a somewhat baffled gaze to Minerva who was trying to hide her smirk behind her hand. Finally, when Xander's babble ended with his question, Snape just looked at him for a long moment.
"You have a werewolf friend who needs the Wolf's Bane potion?" he asked slowly, hoping he'd translated the boy's words correctly. Minerva had mentioned her grandson before but never that the boy was a babbling dunderhead.
"Yeah. Oz. His nephew bit him when Oz was babysitting him. He's pretty cool. He's only killed one person and she was a werewolf who, like, tried to eat his girlfriend. Oh, and he ate a zombie once but that was absolutely gross and he doesn't really know about that. Totally blech."
The potions master blinked again and then nodded as he turned back to his dinner, hoping the boy would go away. "Come see me later and we shall discuss it."
Xander beamed at the back of his head. "Thanks, potions guy!" he said happily as he turned back to his grandmother and completely missed when Professor Snape's head snapped up to glare meanly at him.
"Sit down, Xander," Minerva instructed as a place setting appeared on the table beside her. "Have some dinner."
"Wow," he said as he seated himself with a grin. "Food never appeared like that in my cafeteria," he stated as he reached out for a dinner roll. "And it never smelled this good either."
"Help yourself, I'm certain you're starving after such a long train trip," Minerva said in an affectionate tone.
"Definitely," Xander agreed as he started loading his plate. "But there was Miss McNarrie, who saved me from starvation on the train. Thank goodness she took British pounds or I'd have never made it to the castle."
"Miss McNarrie?" Minerva asked curiously.
"The very nice lady with the very nice candy cart," Xander explained as he poked inquisitively at the potatoes lumped onto his plate before he covered them with gravy. "She saved me with a pumpkin pasty and some chocolate frogs and a couple of sodas."
"I didn't know that was her name," his grandmother said absently. "I suppose I never asked."
"She knew who you were," Xander pointed out. "She asked me who I was going to visit and I told her that you worked here and that you taught trans-figure-skating and she knew right away who you were."
There was a snort to his right and the teenager glanced over at the pale professor seated beside him.
"I'm sure she did," was all Snape said.
Minerva watched as her grandson began eating with the same gusto she observed in most teenagers his age though she was happy to see that he still kept the manners his mother must have drilled into him when he was younger.
She was grateful to see he was safe and unharmed after the last fiasco in Sunnydale. She knew now that Xander had been deliberately vague in his last several letters concerning 'the yearly apocalypse' as he called it. He knew exactly what was going to happen and hadn't wanted to worry her. He had no way of knowing that the Daily Prophet would be reporting exactly what happened.
The newspaper had actually put out a special edition to cover the fight against the sorcerer who had ascended to become an Old One and then was destroyed by the Slayer and her friends with help from most of the graduating class of Sunnydale High School.
Minerva had almost had a heart attack when she opened the paper the afternoon after Xander's graduation and saw the pictures on the front page. There were two moving photos just below the huge headline, "Sunnydale Slayer Defeats Ascended Old One!" One was of a small, blond girl running away from the school and it exploding. The other was of Xander, standing on a chair among a crowd of students, holding an ax and screaming "FIRE" while many of the people around him let loose with some kind of flame throwing devices along with arrows and crossbows at a huge, evil-looking snake-like demon.
Once she got past her fear and panic and started reading the article, Minerva had become so angry she'd had to leave the great hall lest she say something she really hadn't wanted to say in public. Albus had kindly followed, escorting her to his office where she had paced and screamed and let loose with language even the Headmaster had never heard before.
When she had calmed enough to write, she'd sent her grandson - and her daughter for letting this happen - such a Howler that she was certain Xander's ears would be smoking. Fortunately, Albus had intercepted the Howlers and waited until she was calm again before he allowed her to decide if she'd wanted to send them. By then she had gotten Xander's chatty post-graduation letter and knew he was coming to visit. She'd decided that a Howler in person would be much more effective and started planning exactly what she was going to say when she got him alone. She had a list of things to cover.
A very long list.
She had not been the only one affected by the huge incident in Sunnydale. It had struck a deep cord in the Wizarding world, especially at Hogwarts, given the similar happenings almost a year ago when Harry Potter destroyed the Dark Lord Voldemort. So many students had chosen to fight and had died in that final battle between the Dark and the Light and many of the survivors read about the Sunnydale incident and remembered.
Again, a small group of students led the charge against an old evil, this one even older than Voldemort and as large as a dragon. Worse, there had hardly been any adult help and none at all from the local law enforcement. At least Harry had had the Order of the Phoenix behind him, which included many trained and experienced Aurors. The Sunnydale students had only their two watchers and a souled vampire to aid them.
Minerva had also heard that the magical reporters in Sunnydale had nearly been arrested by the American Aurors for withholding information that indicated a sorcerer was about to become an ascended demon so near to one of the largest US Wizarding communities in Los Angeles. Most of the British Wizarding world thought that perhaps the Americans should be paying closer attention to their own shores. After all, they had a Slayer in their backyard and hadn't they been keeping an eye on Sunnydale?
Minerva thoughtfully tapped her teacup. A moment later, it filled with her favorite hot tea and she dropped in a spoonful of sugar before she took a sip. She glanced at Xander who was still single-mindedly emptying the platters of food around them.
Perhaps she could convince him to stay with her and begin his neglected magical education. It was rare to find a wizard who hadn't gone to a magic school but it had happened. There was a precedent of teaching older students and Xander's bloodline was certainly impressive enough, even considering the matter of his father. With the amount of accidental magic he'd displayed when he was younger, Minerva had no doubt that the boy could be powerful and he could certainly use that power if he planned to continue fighting vampires and the like, though she dearly hoped he could be talked out of that nonsense.
She glanced at him again and noted he still wore the carefully faceted emerald that she'd given him for his seventh birthday. The jewel had been especially chosen for her grandson by Albus and had helped to keep Xander's magic under control. The boy wore it openly on a short gold chain along with a gleaming gold cross and, oddly enough, a Star of David. She made a mental note to ask him about the additional charms on his chain.
As dinner continued, Minerva relaxed and sipped her tea, happy to have Xander beside her at last. She noted that as his eating slowed down, he started to glance at the students from time to time. The children continued to stare at Xander as they gossiped among themselves and Minerva wondered if Xander would notice their attention. After a several minutes, she had her answer as he turned to her with a rather baffled expression.
"Do you not get a lot of visitors here? I swear all those kids are staring at me. Do I have something on my face?"
Minerva just smiled at her grandson but on Xander's other side, Professor Snape snorted.
"Of course, they're staring. As if you didn't know why." Snape's flat glare made Xander even more confused.
"He doesn't know, Severus," Minerva replied in a stern tone as she caught the man's eyes.
"Know what?" Xander asked warily but before his grandmother could reply, the Headmaster stood and cleared his throat, tapping his glass lightly. The louder-than-normal buzz of conversation died down immediately as everyone turned curiously to the Headmaster. Dumbledore just smiled.
"As you can see, we have a visitor this evening. His name is Alexander Harris and he has traveled to us all the way from Sunnydale California."
The Headmaster would have continued but the students had jumped to their feet and broken out in cheers, whistles and loud applause. Xander gaped at them and after a few moments, Albus raised his hands. The students quieted again and sat down.
"Alexander is here to visit with his grandmother, Professor McGonagall, and will be with us the remaining weeks of the school term," the old wizard continued, "and I'm sure he'll be happy to answer any questions you may have about Sunnydale and his activities there."
Xander looked at the Headmaster in shocked surprise before he turned a questioning gaze to his grandmother. Minerva just put a reassuring hand on his arm as Dumbledore continued speaking.
"Perhaps Professor McGonagall along with Professor Lupin might also be able to persuade young Alexander to speak in his Defense Against Dark Arts class," Albus said, gesturing towards a sandy haired older man on the other side of the table and the students again cheered. "But that is a conversation for later," the Headmaster stated loudly. "For now, let us finish up our dinner. We do have final exams coming which I know you will all pass with flying colors."
With that, the Headmaster sat down with a pleased smile. Xander, however, just looked at his grandmother.
"What's going on, MinMin?" he asked in a quiet tone. "Do they know about...about the Hellmouth?"
"I'm afraid they do, Xander," she said, patting his arm. "You and your friends have been in the Daily Prophet many times over the past two years."
"Yes, you and that little group that follow the Slayer around are quite the celebrities," Professor Snape added in a snide tone and Xander turned to him with a confused gaze.
"You know about the Slayer?" he asked.
"Of course we know," the professor snapped. "Two years ago, she was nothing more than a myth. Then one of the vultures at the Daily Prophet got wind of an article in one of the American papers and suddenly it's all the idiots can write about!"
"Now, Severus, you know that isn't so," Minerva reproved gently as she sipped her tea. "They didn't really start reporting in depth on them until after Harry had vanquished You-Know-Who."
Professor Snape just sneered at her words and went back to his dinner.
"So..." Xander squeaked and then cleared his voice. "So all these people know what I do in my spare time with the Scoobies?"
Minerva nodded gently and Snape snorted again. Xander blinked.
"And they're what...fans?" the boy asked, his tone wavering between disbelief and worry.
"They are quite excited to see one of the Heroes of the Hellmouth." Minerva hid her mischievous smile behind her teacup again.
"Heroes of the Hellmouth?" Xander squeaked again. He couldn't deny the squeak that time.
"That's how the paper refers to you and your group," his grandmother said serenely.
There were several moments of contemplative silence.
"MinMin, will you do me a favor?" Xander finally asked as he looked at her with wide brown eyes.
"Of course, Xander, what is it?"
The young man reached out and grabbed her arm. "Don't leave me alone with them!" he hissed, glancing fearfully out at the students, who were still happily gossiping about him.
Gossip and giggles and flirty glances, it was all too familiar. The last time he had the attention of that many females, it had all ended in badness and axes and love-struck, nutcase vampires who said he had a face like a poem and wanted to turn him. He hoped MinMin knew a back way out of the hall.
Minerva just blinked at her grandson. "I'm sure you're not in any danger, Xander," she finally answered. Her grandson had acquired a somewhat hunted look.
"MinMin, that many people with their attention on one person, that person being me, is a bad thing. A very bad thing. It leads to badness. And axes."
The older woman looked a bit confused before Professor Snape leaned over with an evil smirk on his lips.
"I believe the boy is having flashback to that love spell he asked that untrained witch in Sunnydale to do."
Minerva suddenly looked thoughtful as Xander stared at the dark professor in horror.
"You *know* about that *too*?" he squeaked unhappily and Snape just looked at him with that wicked grin.
"Of course, we know. The Daily Prophet had a field day with that," the potions master stated in a condescending tone. "The Slayer's White Knight wasn't quite as white as we thought." The man took a long sip of water as Xander considered hyperventilating.
"The American Aurors actually considered taking action against you," Snape continued gleefully and Xander squeaked again and paled, "but it was decided that you'd been punished enough and learned your lesson."
"Ohgodohgodohgod," Xander was mumbling.
"Of course, they took into consideration the reasons behind your actions. Though they were considered somewhat dark despite your affiliation with the Slayer, the majority of the readers thought it all very...romantic." The man looked a bit nauseous as he sneered again. "Love conquers all and all that rot."
"Severus, stop torturing Xander." Minerva gently touched Xander's arm to gain his attention. He really did look quite pale. "It's not as bad as that, Alexander. Although that particular spell wasn't the best idea you ever had, I must say." She gave him a small smirk of her own. "And I definitely don't recall you mentioning it in any of your letters."
Xander looked at his grandmother with wide, worried eyes as he realized just how much she might know about his activities over the last three years. His horror changed from what the American Aurors might do to him to what his grandmother might actually know about the incidents he'd left out of his letters.
"I'm certain the boy wouldn't want you to know quite how stupid he'd been, Minerva," Snape noted as he gave Xander another condescending glance. "Children do tend to hide that kind of thing."
Xander looked back at the smirking, dark-haired man with a narrow gaze. His pale skin slowly colored with anger.
"Oh, and I'm so sure you never did anything stupid when you were sixteen no matter how repressed you look today," he said sarcastically before he turned to eye the slavering female populous of the dining hall.
"Does joining a Dark Lord count?" Snape asked flatly and Xander turned to him with his eyebrows raised.
"Did you do it because of a girl?"
Professor Snape opened his mouth to reply and then shut it just as quickly. His lips flattened out into a single line. "Partially, yes," he finally admitted in a grinding tone.
"Then, I guess it does count," Xander replied with a nod. "So there can be no crowing over the Xan-Man about the spell-that-shall-not-be-named when you did something far more stupid than I did."
Professor Snape glared at him for a full minute and Xander didn't back down, meeting his gaze with the same look he'd had when he faced down Angelus in the hospital last year. Finally, the darker man snorted and turned away, saying nothing.
Xander just glanced back at the occupants of the hall before he turned an imploring look on his grandmother.
"Please can we sneak out of here without going through all those students?"
Minerva just gave him a smile. "Certainly, Xander," she said. "We can go back to my quarters and discuss exactly why I didn't know anything about a demon ascending in Sunnydale before I read about it in the Daily Prophet."
Xander blinked at her, his face assuming the same worried, hunted look he'd had moments before. He looked from his smug, tea-drinking grandmother to the gossipy, giggling students and decided that perhaps he could catch the train back to London if it hadn't left yet.
Then he remembered the card and he turned back to his grandmother.
"You know, MinMin, I got your chocolate frog card on the train today," he noted in a sly tone. "It mentioned a few things that I don't believe made it back to Mom in those letters you sent."
Minerva blinked at her grandson but had much too much experience to assume the worried, hunted look that Xander had shown.
"Yeah, I just bet if I looked into the back issues of The Daily Prophet, I'd find lots of information *you* didn't pass along to Mom, dangerous situations you were in during your war," he continued. "Does your library stock back issues of the Prophet?"
"Indeed they do, Mr. Harris," Professor Snape replied smoothly before Minerva could open her mouth. "They always have extra issues when there is mention of one of the members of staff." Severus smirked at his fellow teacher. "I think Madame Pinch would even make you copies to send home to your dear mother."
Xander beamed at the Potions professor. Minerva just glared at her fellow teacher before she turned her gimlet gaze on her grandson. Xander's smiled dimmed quite a bit.
Professor Snape studied the young man sitting beside him for a long moment before he turned his attention back to his colleague.
"You know, Minerva, since your grandson was offered a place at Hogwarts, perhaps while he is here, we could have the Sorting Hat see where he would have been placed." Professor Snape gave the Head of Gryffindor a decidedly smug look before he continued. "Of course, at the moment, he is acting decidedly Slytherin."
Minerva looked unnerved if not downright horrified at Severus' suggestion but Xander perked up at his words.
"MinMin that would be so cool. Do you think your boss would give the okay?"
"Well, I don't know, Xander," she hedged before she took a long sip of tea and wondered if she had any of her calming potion left. "We do have quite a bit to do tomorrow."
Xander blinked. "We do?
"Of course," Minerva said with a nod. "We have to go to Diagon Alley and get you some proper robes for the celebration at the end of the week. And I thought we might visit Ollivander's and see about getting you a wand."
Minerva saw the grimace on Severus' face as he turned away at the thought of the celebration of Harry's defeat of Voldemort to be held at Hogwarts at the end of the week and smirked to herself. 'Take that, you old bat!' she sniffed to herself. 'Try and get *my* grandson in Slytherin, will you?'
"A wand?" Xander practically bounced in his chair. "Really?"
"Really, but you must promise *not* to stake any vampires with this one. Your mother was quite upset when you did that to your last one."
"You *staked* a vampire with your wand?" Snape asked, his tone varying between awe and contempt.
"It was either use my wand as a stake or get eaten," Xander shrugged his shoulders with a wistful sigh. "I didn't pull it back fast enough after I'd staked the baddie and the wand dusted with it. Actually, the whole vampire sort of exploded in a really bright light along with the two behind it," Xander said as he fingered the necklace that was holding his emerald pendant along with his cross and star of David. "I think it was the unicorn hair in the wand that did it," the young man continued. "The wand dusted but the core remained." Minerva realized then that a thick, white hair was twined tightly around the gold chain.
Severus just blinked at him for a long moment before he sneered and turned away, muttering under his breath. Minerva patted Xander's shoulder.
"We'll get you a new one and you will make sure to use it properly this time," she stated affectionately. "And I think you will enjoy visiting Diagon Alley."
"But what about your classes?" Xander asked. "Don't your students have finals?"
Minerva gave him a smile. "I only have morning classes tomorrow so we can floo into the Alley for lunch and then spend the rest of the day there." She didn't mention the surprise she'd arranged. Hermione Granger was meeting them for lunch and was very eager to meet Xander.
"Cool! I'm so looking forward to seeing Diagon Alley!" Xander said in a happy tone as he turned to inspect the various desserts that had just appeared on the table. "Maybe we could call Giles to meet up with us. I know he'd like to meet you. I wonder how it will compare to Brighton Way in LA? Have you ever been there, MinMin? It's amazing! Rodeo Drive meets the Wizarding World. When do we have breakfast? Maybe I'll be able to explore the castle a little while you're in class. Can I go out to see the Quidditch Stadium? Maybe I could try flying. Do you think Madam Hooch might let me? That would be wicked."
Xander continued to babble between bites of the chocolate dessert he'd chosen, not requiring an answer to any of his questions, while Minerva tried not to think of Xander on a broom. Her daughter hadn't liked Quidditch in the least but she suspected that Xander would enjoy the sport very much.
She also noticed that while Professor Snape glared at Xander from time to time, the dark-haired man seemed to have an almost wistful look in his eyes. The glare was not unexpected given Severus' disinclination for babbling teens but Minerva didn't know what to make of the emotion flickering in Severus' usually dull eyes. It was a mystery to ponder.
In the meantime, Minerva just enjoyed the presence of her grandson.