: The characters and world of Harry Potter are JK Rowling's, Buffy the Vampire Slayer belongs to Joss. I'm just playing with their toys for a little while.
Willow always did love a good mystery. She enjoyed piecing together the clues, doing research, and the satisfaction of unraveling a tricky problem. So when Giles dumped the file on the elusive ‘wand-wizards’ on her desk and asked her to look into it ‘when you have time’, she immediately set the file to one side so it wouldn’t get buried under the stack of folders that seemed to grow on every available surface.
Instead of going out for lunch at noon like she normally did, Willow locked the door and conjured herself some leftovers from the kitchen. These days, as busy as they all were with the Council, ‘when you have the time’ usually meant ‘when you make the time’.
Half an hour later, she was intrigued. Over half of what the file contained was pure, unsubstantiated rumor. Some of it was almost certainly made up, but other parts might be semi-accurate- loosely based on actual events. Most of the rest was conjecture. There was very little in the way of hard evidence. The Watcher who had started the file originally had done so because he thought that if wand-wizards actually existed, they might be useful allies. That was unusually insightful for the old Watchers Council. Unfortunately, Colin Perkins-Smythe had been one of the casualties in the First’s attack.
Willow pulled out a notebook and started making notes. She tried to avoid marking up official files whenever possible. Oddly enough, she noticed that the further back the historical reference in this particular file, the more plausible it sounded. Recent references were all of the bad rumor variety, aside from the Brockdale Bridge collapse.
When she’d finished distilling what she could from the file, Willow looked over what she had. If she had been a normal researcher, she wouldn’t have been able to get very far with it. However, she was a senior Watchers’ Council executive, and had full access to the complete Council collections. As such, she might actually be able to do something.
She smiled fondly as she headed for the Council library. Somehow, the library- at least when she wasn’t visiting it to avert the latest apocalypse- was soothing. It took her back to a simpler time, when the weight of the world hadn’t been on her and her friends’ shoulders, and master vampires had been the worst of their worries. Back then, they’d even believed the library might have all the answers.
Her first stop was the map section. She wanted to create a visual representation of the locations mentioned in that file. She also wanted to check some of the London references more closely against the Council archives. She had a hunch…
Several hours later, she peered at the results of her research. There were quite a few properties that didn’t seem to exist on official maps from recent centuries, but were mentioned in older records and had never been documented or referenced as destroyed or merged with other properties. There were several concentrations of them throughout the British Isles, but the largest number seemed to be in the Southeast.
Then there was the fascinating discrepancy in central London, straddling the border of Westminster and Camden just above Covent Garden. She’d found references to far more properties than should physically fit in that space. Time to get out of the library and do some on the scene investigation.
As she walked up Charing Cross Road, Willow frowned. She was used to assessing the level of magic in any area she found herself in. Cities tended to have far less than countryside as a rule, but what she was feeling at the edge of her senses was a massive confluence of magic. The closer she got to the area of her anomaly, the more magic she could feel. Someone was definitely hiding something here.
That was when she spotted the girl walking toward the pub. It was a grubby little place, of the sort Willow hadn’t thought still existed in the center of tourist London. It looked strangely out of place sandwiched between the newer, cleaner shopfronts to either side.
Willow hurried to catch up as the blonde disappeared into the pub. She was pretty sure this place was connected to the mystery she was trying to solve, but she always felt a little strange walking into ‘local’ pubs. If she needed to explain her presence, she could at least claim that she thought she’d recognized the other girl, who looked to be about her own age.
As Willow pushed open the door of the ‘Leaky Cauldron’, she realized she had definitely found evidence for the existence of wand-wizards. The sight that met her eyes inside couldn’t be explained any other way. A wide variety of obviously magic folk unlike any coven she had ever encountered populated the pub. The boy behind the bar was eying her nervously.
“Luna, you haven’t gone and brought a Muggle in here, have you?” asked the bartender.
The blonde turned to regard Willow with slightly startled blue eyes.
“No, at least, I don’t think so. Muggles can’t see the entrance, Owen. So she can’t be Muggle, can she?” She turned to Willow. “You’re not, are you?”
“Um, I’m not sure. What’s a Muggle?” Willow asked in confusion.
Judging by the sudden hush in her vicinity, it wasn’t the right thing to say.
“A Muggle is someone who’s not magic,” Owen replied cautiously, as if everyone should know it.
“Oh. No, not a Muggle, then. Just not from around here,” Willow said brightly.
you from?” asked an older woman suspiciously. “You sound American, but I was under the impression the Yanks also called them Muggles.”
“Maybe some Americans do, but I don’t,” Willow replied firmly.
“You’re American?” the girl called Luna asked. “We don’t get many Americans in here. Usually if they come all the way over here, they prefer to see Hogsmeade.”
“Well, I might check out Hogsmeade later,” Willow said, neatly covering up that she had no idea what else there was to see here other than the pub, as well as the fact that she didn’t know where Hogsmeade was.
“Do you know anything about the magical beasts native to America?” Luna asked with interest.
“A little bit,” Willow admitted, although she wouldn’t want to talk about most of the ‘beasts’ she knew of. “Why?”
“Oh, I was wondering if there was any truth to the rumour that New Jersey has a colony of cockatrices, and that’s how the Muggle legend of the Jersey Devil got started. It was mentioned in the April edition of Modern Magic.”
“Honestly, I don’t know. I’d never heard that one before,” Willow replied. At Luna’s disappointed look, she added, “It could be true. I’ve never been to New Jersey. I’m from California.”
“Would you care for a drink?” There was nothing but friendly curiosity in Luna’s eyes. “Or if you’d prefer, we could always head to Florian Fortescue’s if you’re more an ice cream person.”
“I think an ice cream might be an idea,” Willow said with a smile. “I’m Willow, by the way.”
“Luna,” the blonde replied with a pleased smile. “Come on, let’s hit Florian’s. They have the best ice cream selection in Britain, and I’m dying for a pumpkin-butterscotch sundae.”
As a beaming Luna led the way out a different door, Willow decided this could be the beginning of a wonderful friendship. It wasn’t every day you met another witch who liked ice cream, magical beasts, and mysteries.