Brits in Sunnydale
NOTE: This chapter hasn't been 'changed'. I've simply added lines for easier readability!!
NOTE: Amy doesn't get changed back. Willow finds Rack by herself and goes to England to recover. AU from there on
NOTE: AtS until Connor. AU from there on. Cordelia accepts demonhood. No Jasmine. AI doesn't own Wolfram and Hart.
NOTE: This chapter goes by very quick so you might want to read it twice.
NOTE: Basic premise - all 'good' witches, even dark wizards avoid the Hellmouth because its negative energies 'twist' intent and outcome of spells and magic.
NOTE: The Coven in England are representatives of wizarding society who failed to completely 'purge' the magic from Willow. They could only 'limit' what she did. Read the chapter to find out more.
~*~ Brits in Sunnydale ~*~
Severus Snape stared incredulously at the sight of so many cemeteries. There had to be something wrong with the town to need so many graveyards. The fine hairs on the nape of his neck rose abruptly. There was something Dark about. An aura, an energy field diffusing from some enormously powerful source. He made a quick note to himself - locate and determine source of negative Dark vibes.
At least the sights of the gravestones stilled Miss Granger's normally agile reckless tongue.
"Here you are folks, 1350 Revello Drive."
The cab pulled up in front of a neat two-story suburban house with a double garage, basement and attic level. Nice normal looking neighborhood.
The driver let off his two passengers and hurried off. The pair walked up the path and rang the doorbell.
"It looks like no one is home. How about we return to Hogwarts?" Hermione spoke brightly.
"Tut tut Miss Granger, abject cowardice from a Griffyndor. What would Mr.. Potter say?"
Hermione glared and settled on the porch chairs. Severus Snape prowled until he found a niche shaded by a large oak and settled down as well.
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
Willow hurried down the street at a brisk jog. The light was fading and she wanted to get home before the sun set. Normally it wouldn't bother her but now she didn't have ready access to her magick to defend herself from mystical and mundane threats.
She was so set on getting home she did not notice the intruders on the porch swing until one of them coughed discreetly. Red hair swung about as she whirled in a panic hand digging into her satchel for a vial of holy water. Then she stopped.
Standing on the Rosenberg porch was a young girl, teenager with wild bushy brown hair and wary brown eyes dressed in a gray pleated skirt and white shirt with knee high black socks and black oxford pumps. Some kind of uniform. She was accompanied by a lean, darkly handsome man in black jeans and green shirt, his hair restrained in some sort of clip. Neither made a move towards her. Of course that didn't mean they weren't vampires...
"Hi, are you looking for someone?" Willow forced her fear down to speak brightly.
"Actually yes." The man spoke. "A Sheila Rosenberg."
"Mom?" Willow was bewildered. Anyone contacting her parents did so by e-mail or phone to touch base directly.
"You are Willow Sarah Rosenberg?" Intense black eyes studied her from head to toe. Willow had the fleeting impression he could see into her soul.
"Yes. Who are you?"
"My name is Severus Snape. This is Hermione Granger. She is your cousin."
"Whaa?!" This was not something Willow expected.
Severus stifled a sigh. This was going to take a while.
"Can we please speak inside and get something to drink. Miss Granger and I have been waiting for sometime."
"Oh. Yes. Inside. Inside is better. Don't want to be outside at night." Willow babbled fumbling for her keys as she quickly opened the door and stepped in. A hint of relief as the girl and man followed her through closing the door without needing an invitation. "Have a seat and I'll put some tea on. You sound English so you'll like tea. Giles always does." She waved through an archway and hurried down a corridor dumping her backpack and bag on a chair near the stairs.
Severus and Hermione followed her directions and entered the living room. It was a large spacious area with comfortable sofas and a high tech entertainment center. A display case featured statues, artifacts, photo frames, certificates and books. An abundance of greenery added to the impression of harmony and peace.
Curious the pair studied the details. Several photos featuring a couple, presumably Sheila and Ira Rosenberg in a variety of foreign locales. Photos of a redheaded girl and two boys at various ages. More recent photos of Willow Rosenberg and others. A tiny blonde, a willowy brunette, a slim blonde, a dark youth, another blonde female. Presumably close friends of Willow Rosenberg.
"Sorry about you waiting outside but I didn't know you were coming." Willow babbled as she set the tea tray down and poured three cups. "How do you take your tea?"
"Cream, two sugars."
"Black, one sugar."
Willow made the cups and handed them out before making one for herself. Severus sipped the tea and raised a brow. This was the good stuff.
"Are you a regular tea-drinker Miss Rosenberg?"
"Not really but hanging around Giles it has sort of rubbed off." Willow explained shyly. "There is something soothing about the ritual of making tea. I took some classes on the Art of the Japanese Tea Ceremony and started making my own blends. Do you like it?"
"Yes." Severus was startled to hear she made her own blends of tea. "Did you add anything extra?"
Willow smiled. "Yes. You must have a sensitive tongue to catch it. Lavender, rose hips and orange peel."
"Calm, healing, energy." Severus translated. "You know of herb-lore?"
"Some." Willow admitted. Her first forays into Wicca resulted in an in-depth knowledge of herbs, mineralogy and astronomy.
Severus studied the young woman appraisingly. It seemed as if there were hidden depths to Willow Rosenberg. He took a few sips of tea to organize his thoughts.
"Not that I don't mind the company and all but do you mind telling me what this is about? I know Mum has a sister in England but that's all."
"Had a sister Miss Rosenberg." Severus corrected bluntly. "Rachel and Kevin Granger died a few weeks ago. Their will named Sheila Rosenberg as their daughter Hermione's legal guardian."
"What?!" Willow panicked. "I'm sure you're nice and all and having a cousin would be great. Better than Dawnie being a pretend little sister but there must be some mistake. Mum and Dad can't be anyone's guardians. I mean they are hardly ever home. I get a phone call once a month to get a new contact number and reminder to pay bills and stuff. They spend a lot of time traveling."
Severus winced. This was not something he planned on.
"I'm sorry Miss Rosenberg but Mark Malkin said your parents would be willing to take on the responsibility. Perhaps a phone call or letter...?"
"Yes. Letter. Hold on." Willow fled and reappeared with a large bulging manila envelope. She upended it on the coffee table and started going through it. "Dentist. Hospital. Video store. Hotel. Cable. Telephone. Sears. Association. Insurance. Bank. Credit card. Hah. Lawyer." She caught sight of their startled looks. "This is my parents mail. I forward the personal stuff to them and pay the bills at the end of the month."
Willow tore the envelope and pulled out several sheets of paper and scanned through the print. Her face paled several shades.
"What is it Miss Rosenberg?"
Her voice was thin and reedy. "My parents made out a power-of-attorney for me. They made me Hermione Granger's legal guardian."
"That is all right, isn't it?" Hermione felt a rush of tears. She was unwanted. Passed about like a parcel from hand to hand.
Willow glanced up and caught sight of the younger girl's expression. "Of course sweetie." She rose swiftly and joined Hermione on the sofa and wrapped an arm around the younger girl's shoulders. "It is just a shock. I mean I never knew I had a cousin and now I'm her guardian. I guess this is how Buffy felt when she had to look after Dawn after Mrs. Summers died and her dad refused responsibility. It is a shock but a pleasant shock all right?" Hermione nodded blinking back tears. Willow met Severus' dark eyes. "I'm sorry for the whole mix-up. I put off going through the mail because I had a whole lot on my plate for a few months now." Willow heaved a sigh. "I'm so sorry. Please stay here while I get everything sorted out. I'll call Mark in the morning and get the details settled." Suddenly something clicked. "Do you have a motel room? I'll drive you guys to pick up your luggage if you want. Or do you want to stay at a motel?" Willow hesitated glancing at the two faces hesitantly. "Do I need
to travel to England? I'm not sure I can afford the plane fares right now. I have some commitments I can't abandon."
"No, that is not the issue." Severus hesitated not certain how to broach the issue. "The matter is Miss Granger's schooling. She is attending a select boarding school in England and wishes to complete her studies there."
"Boarding school?" Willow blinked. "What about the fees? Can the estate handle it? Otherwise I don't think I can afford them right now."
"Fees are not the issue. Miss Granger is on a scholarship of sorts." Severus explained delicately.
"Really? I'm so proud of you!" Willow smiled brightly.
Hermione blushed deeply. "It's not what I know it's what I can do." She tried to explain vaguely.
Willow sharply took note of this. "Do? Do what?"
The pair glanced at each other. Severus took a deep breath.
"Miss Rosenberg... What do you know of magick?"
Willow had a sense of foreboding. "Magick? Like vampires and demons. Like witches and warlocks and chaos mages. Like prophecies and apocalypses. Like sacrifices and Hell-Goddesses. Like thy-will-be-done spells screwing up and making everyone blind?" Tears filled her eyes as she blindly stumbled to her feet and wandered around the room before stopping before a picture frame of a group of people. "Like losing a loved one and trying to end the world?"
Severus and Hermione stared at the weeping woman in shock as she sank to her knees pressing the heels of her hands to her eyes in an attempt to still the tears. Was she...? Did she...?
Willow rocked back and forth balancing on her heels much like a bewildered toddler. Was she cursed? Doomed? Destined to be forever entwined with magic? She spent so much time fighting her magick addiction and going cold turkey, limiting the spells she cast, magickal research she did. And now she found herself guardian to a teenage witch that reminded her of her younger self.
"You are a witch." She spoke in a thin reedy voice.
"Yes. I am." Hermione was strangely hesitant. Any wrong words would wound and scar. "I go to a school in England, Scotland really, called Hogwarts. They train witches and wizards. I'm planning on attending Colfax, a wizarding university when I graduate. Professor Snape is a teacher at Hogwarts. He teaches Potions." She added helpfully.
Willow shook her head dazedly. There was a place to get proper training, lessons, schooling. Was there a bureaucratic set up? She rose to her feet hands on the mantle for support.
"Do you have some sort of government? One that taxes, makes laws, funds and pays the costs of hospitals, law enforcement, schools like Hogwarts?" She asked in a too calm voice.
"Yes." Snape was disturbed by the direction her mind was taking her. "Most countries have one or several wizarding enclaves and are governed by a Ministry of Magic. Our version of policemen are called Aurors. We have our own financial concerns and commercial sectors. Our banks are run by goblins. Our parks are protected sanctuaries for various so-called mythical creatures like dragons and unicorns."
"Ahh. I see." A nail tapped a sharp staccato rhythm on the carved pine mantle. "And do you have a system to keep non-magical humans from finding out?"
"Yes." Snape was bewildered.
"Do you know of the Slayer?"
"Slayer?" Hermione was startled. "She is a myth. A Muggle Auror for boggles."
"And the Council?"
"Council of what?" Snape was getting impatient.
A hum of power, a static discharge of electricity, filled the air.
"They knew." Quiet rage deepened Willow's voice. "They fucking knew. They knew and didn't do a Goddess-damned thing about it. They let it all happen."
"Miss Rosenberg. I haven't the slightest idea what you are referring to. If you would calm down and explain perhaps we can put the pieces together." Snape snapped irritated. "Besides you are a Muggle, you do not know anything of wizarding society. Why are you so disturbed?"
"Know nothing?! Know nothing?!" Willow growled furious. She had suffered the joys of heaven and the lowest depths of hell, loss and loneliness. She watched her friends die, had killed demons wearing bodies of people she knew, closed the fucking Hellmouth, fought a bitch of a Hell Goddess to a standstill. Who was this, this, this man to gainsay her?
Then she deflated. They were properly trained witches and wizards. They didn't screw up and learn by trial and error like she did. They would never have resurrected the dead or messed with memories of people she loved. They would never have gone addicted to magic and try to End the World because their lover died a senseless death.
"Yes. I know nothing." She sank onto a couch tucking her legs under her hugging a throw pillow close for security. "I know nothing." She whispered blankly as the relentless gnawing pain of memories stung her into compliance. Others knew better. Others were wiser.
Snape was disturbed by this abrupt about face and change in personality. It vaguely resembled a specific Imperious curse. But how could, why would anyone hex a Muggle, a complete stranger to the wizarding world?
"Red? Are you in? Do you wanna--."
The familiar cocky British accent of the bleach-blonde vampire trailed off as he entered the living room and caught sight of the two strangers.
Jet black eyes widened. Snape flicked his hand and his wand fell deftly into his hand from the special wrist harness he carried it.
"Vampire!" He pushed Hermione Granger behind him and moved between Spike and the others. "Incendio!" A gout of flame flew from the tip of the ebony wand
"No!" Willow screamed and sprang into action. She tackled Snape like a football quarterback. He went sprawling on his belly with the redhead on his back. She scrambled off him and flew to the vampire who was beating the flames on his denim jacket out. She pulled the denim off and used it to beat the flaming tapestry into smoldering charred bits of cloth. The wall would need to be repainted, before her parents dropped in, Willow noted clinically before she frantically checked the vampire who had become her sole support in recent weeks. "Spike, are you okay?"
"I'm fine Red." Spike answered warily as he moved himself and Willow away from the dark haired wizard who was regaining his footing. "Didn't know you were pal-ly with a wizard though."
"Spike! I'm not pal-ly with Mr. Snape." Willow scolded the bleached vampire. "All that bleach is getting to your brain. Must be really pickled by now."
"Red, you wound me." Spike covered his chest with crossed hands. "Make it, stake me. A near stake-miss though." He added judiciously.
Severus Snape was furious. A Muggle defended a vampire. She was a Demon play toy.
"You are not a fit guardian for Miss Granger." His voice was a silken lash that stung Willow on the raw. "When I return to Hogwarts I will be making my report to the Headmaster and the Ministry."
Tears filled Willow's green eyes turning them into shimmering emerald pools. Spike burned. He didn't care he couldn't kill or hurt humans, including this wizard. He hurt Red with words so Spike would have to hurt Snape with words too.
"Hey, don't go dissing someone without getting the whole story pal." Spike hissed as he reached out to hug the redhead reassuringly stroking her hair like a frightened kitten. "Red is a witch. But she did some major mojo a few months back to deal with Glory. It frightened the others. They hexed her. She can't do major magic without it hurting."
Snape felt slightly sick. "Imperius curse?"
"Like that. The Watcher took her to a few of his pals in England. They couldn't remove the magic she absorbed to defeat Glory. The only thing they could do was limit what she could do. Red agreed to it. She felt it was necessary. But it's not right." Spike spoke fiercely rocking Willow in his arms. She had turned her face into his chest and was weeping softly.
"It was the only way to stop that bitch." Willow whimpered.
"What bitch?" Snape was beginning to get a sickening feeling of the situation.
Spike barked sarcastically. "What rock have you been hiding under wizard? Guess the Daily Prophet has really cut down on international newsies in the past hundred years."
"What bitch?" Snape repeated.
Snape paled. Hell Goddess. Things were starting to make a sickening sense.
"How did she get here?" He asked feeling queasy. This was worse than Voldemort. HWSNBN had at least been human, once. Glorificus had never been human in the first place.
"Don't know, don't care. She came looking for the Key."
"Did she find it? Where is it?"
"It is a fifteen-year-old teenage girl called Dawn Summers." Spike bit out sharply. "Forget about taking lil bit into protective custody. Her sister gets mighty testy when Brits try to kidnap her friends."
"The Slayer." Willow replied shaking with suppressed sobs. "Buffy."
"The Slayer is in Sunnydale? Why?" Snape was getting a sickening feeling about the situation.
Spike gave him a strange look. "You really don't know do you? You're on the fucking Hellmouth. Well, not on it. It used to be in the library of the old high school before Red and her friends blew it up to stop an Ascension. It is in the basement of the new high school."
"The Hellmouth?" Snape was terrified of the situation.
Willow began to laugh hysterically. "Yep. Spike here tried to open it. Master tried to open it. Tiamat got lose. Angelus tried to wake Athalca. Mayor Wilkens tried to become a first level demon. Stopped them all. Stopped each and every one. And you know what? Wish we didn't. Wish we aired the dirty linen in the sun. The sun is warm you know. The night is cold, but not. It is alive, it tries to eat those who aren't strong, those who refuse to see. But it is not evil, it is alive, just trying to live. Evil is evil. The First is the worst. It comes creeping on padded feet watching waiting lurking hiding. It won't give up, it never gives up. It is the Source of all evil. Can't destroy it. Just like a magnet, opposite polarity. With good you get bad."
Spike was panicking. Red was sinking into one of her hallucinations again.
"Yes Red. I believe you."
"I know you do Spike." Willow spoke in a strangely childlike tone. "You are the only one who does. You know it is true. Did Drucilla tell you? Now I understand why she has Miss Edith. Too many voices, too many possibilities, too much. It is easier if they stay away, like the stars. It hurts Cordelia also. To see, to know. But she is strong, so much stronger than me. She won't break. She didn't break when she found of Xander and me. Or when she got a rebar through her stomach. Or when Mr. Chase filed for bankruptcy. Or when Angelus came back."
"I know Red." Spike spoke reassuringly, evenly, but his eyes were filled with anguish as he sought the gaze of the Potion Master begging him to do something.
"Morpheus." Snape flicked his wand at Willow. A blue mist flew from the tip of the wand and enveloped the young woman.
"Won't work." Willow mumbled drowsily. "Tried sedatives. Took a dozen pills to knock me out, and the dreams woke me up. Spent a fortune at Willies trying to get drunk."
Considering her words Snape used a stronger spell. "Hypnos Morpheus Majorus."
The darker blue mist enveloped the redhead and put her to sleep. Spike continued to rock her in his arms until he was certain she was asleep. Carefully he carried her to a long couch and placed her on it. He arranged her legs and arms so she would be more comfortable and covered her with an afghan throw.
"What happened to her?" Snape asked his voice shaking slightly.
Hermione was bewildered. She had stayed out of the situation and conflict. She didn't understand a lot of the things talked about - Hell Goddess, Glory, Slayer, Key, Hellmouth, Master, Athalca. She made mental notes determined to research them in more depth.
Spike sighed. "Sit down. It is gonna be a long story. Red is in no shape to remember." He watched the fellow Brits settle down while he micro waved a bag of blood from Willow's fridge. He ignored the slightly horrified look on the girl and settled down to consume half of it before starting. "Red is mates with the Slayer. Helped her when she didn't know any magick. She taught herself and did research for the Slayer's Watcher. The gypsy witch taught her a bit too. Managed to resoul Angelus when the poof lost it boinking the Slayer. Did it from a hospital bed too." Spike was faintly proud of it. "The Watcher wasn't really worried about her dabbling. He never tried to teach her or stop her as a teen.
"When the Slayer got herself killed Red cast the Rite of Osiris to bring her back after being three months dead. That scared the Watcher shitless. Didn't have time to rein her in because Glory was in town looking for the Key. They couldn't do a damn thing to stop her so Red started delving into the Dark Arts. She managed to fight Glory to a stand still and protect lil bit too. Not that those ungrateful sodding bastards remember that." Spike was bitter.
"What happened?" Snape asked respectfully.
"Red got addicted. Dark Arts can control the user if unrestrained."
Spike glanced at him sharply.
"Personal experience huh? You can compare notes with Red then." He shook his head. "Anyway it took a lot of support from the gang and her lover to help her get through it. Then Tara died."
"Tara?" Snape was having a bad feeling about it.
"Her lover. She didn't take it well." Spike shuddered. "She absorbed everything in the Magick Box. Books, scrolls, tomes, artifacts, potions, talismans, everything. All that magick. It drove her slightly crazy. She went after the guy who killed Tara and offed him." Hermione felt slightly sickened but listened in horrified fascination. "It didn't change anything off course. Tara was still dead. Then she got a bright idea about destroying the world. Not Sunnydale, the whole fucking planet." He clarified watching their expressions turn to horror. "Chubs managed to stop her. Best friend since they were little so he got through her rage and pain. She stopped and let the Watcher take her to England. They tried to purge her of the magicks but they couldn't. It is part of her, blood and bone, flesh and soul. So they did the next best thing, they hexed her. She felt, still feels guilty enough to allow them to do it. She can't do complex powerful spells without a lot of pain."
"How did you become friends?" Snape asked.
"The Initiative chipped me." Spike explained. "A bunch of commando guys hired by Uncle Sam. Their mad scientist doctor had this bright idea of making Frankenstein of lots of demon parts. An ultimate super soldier. Of course he went psychotic killed Doctor Frankenstein Walsh and tried to kill kill being Sunnydale of course. The Slayer had to go primal kill dear old Adam."
"Muggles know of magick?"
"No. They know of demons. Didn't believe in magick until they met the Slayer and Red here. Don't worry about them though. The Slayer leveled their entire base of operations. Red wiped out every bit of data they collected."
"Chipped?" Hermione ventured.
"Chipped? Oh, yeah, chipped. They put this bit of metal in my head. I can't hurt any humans without hurting a great deal. I can hurt demons though." He added happily. Spike's expression soured. "Red was the only one who treated me decently after they found out I couldn't bite. Why do you think I'm eating out of a cup?" Spike raised his glass in a mock salute.
Snape was horrified at the implications of the situation. The question now was did anyone at the Ministry of Magick know about this? Did they silently condone it?
"I have to contact Albus." He muttered.
"Your boss? Feel free to use the phone." Spike offered.
"I need a fire."
This intrigued Spike to show them Red's workroom and the brazier she used. Snape used the fire spell to start a small controlled blaze. He tossed a pinch of pink powder into it. A puff of pink smoke plumed into life.
A disembodied head of the older bearded wizard appeared in the smoke. He looked surprised.
"Severus? Did you find Sheila Rosenberg? Is something wrong?"
"Yes Headmaster I found the Rosenbergs and something is very wrong." Snape bit sarcastically.
Albus was disturbed. "What is it Severus?" He asked carefully.
Snape decided to hit the high shocking points. "Sheila Rosenberg's daughter Willow is Hermione's guardian. She is an untrained wandless witch who works with the Slayer. Sunnydale is over the Hellmouth requiring a Slayer. She cast some major spells including resouling a tainted vampire, closing the Hellmouth, the rite of Osiris, practiced the Dark Arts to fight off a Hell Goddess, absorbed enough magick to try to end the world." The last words hit a high note of restrained rage. "How could the Ministry allow this? Allow such a powerful wandless witch to run around untrained? On the Hellmouth no less."
"Hellmouth?!" Dumbledore squeaked in shock. "Sunnydale harbors a Hellmouth."
"Yes Albus it does." Snape quipped sarcastically.
"But that's not possible. Only expelled mages, Dark Art practitioners go near a Hellmouth."
"Well Miss Rosenberg was raised here. When the Slayer came to town she decided to help her. Very much like Miss Granger here." Snape glanced at Hermione who blushed. "She ended up teaching herself magick."
"The Slayer, does she have an associate...?"
"Oh you mean the Watcher. Yeah, the arseholes sent him here. You don't know anyone named Travers, do you? If you do the Slayer is going to rip you a new a-hole. Doesn't like anyone from the Watchers Council, especially after the Crusitialeum thing." Spike said breezily.
"Crusitialeum?" Dumbledore was looking faintly sick. "They revived that barbaric praxes?"
"Yep." Spike responded happily. "Depowered her and trapped her with a vamp who used to be a serial killer in a haunted frathouse."
Dumbledore began mumbling under his breath. Words that shocked Hermione, impressed Snape and Spike. Finally he made a decision. His normally mild twinkling blue eyes were hard.
"The Ministry has been hiding certain facts from me. Severus I want you to bring Miss Rosenberg to Hogwarts. She is going to need a crash course in control."
"More than you suspect Albus." Snape responded evenly. "The Watcher took her to Britain to purge her of the Dark Magickal energies and failed. She has been hexed with a modified Imperious curse to limit the magick she can channel. As far as I know Ministry Mages are the only ones with access to resources to do something like this."
Dumbledore muttered furiously. "Stay in Sunnydale until I have a talk with Fudge. Teach her what you can while I handle things out here. When you feel she is ready bring her to Hogwarts."
"And Miss Granger?"
"She will stay in Sunnydale and return with you and Miss Rosenberg."
"Very good Headmaster."
The head dissipated and the smoke faded.
Snape glanced at a wide-eyed Hermione and then at Spike and made a few quick decisions.
"Miss Granger and I will be moving into this residence for the next few weeks. Can you run interference with the Slayer and the Watcher?" He asked Spike.
"Miss Granger you will not be sending any owls describing this situation to any of your friends including Potter and Weasley." Snape spoke sharply. "Your cousin will need as much peace and quiet as possible to recover. Do you understand?"
Hermione nodded wide-eyed.
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