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Lessons

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This story is No. 3 in the series "Three Years Long". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: The war is approaching, that much, is inescapable.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Harry Potter > Buffy-CenteredAmaiFR151033,39325313,99526 Sep 0910 May 11No

Chapter One

Thanks to CharmedChick for not only being patient while I did nothing, but for giving me an extremely encouraging first review, and cleaning the chapter up to be presentable. Please note, that part three is going to get a bit weird. And canon for book 6/7 are going to be fairly disregarded. Even so, all Harry Potter things and Buffy things, remain not mine. Now I'll just shut up, and segue to...


Chapter One

Buffy shifted against her bedmate, the sheets rustling softly against her skin, and she sighed, but neither of them woke.

Inside her head, a scene was whirling. Composed of firing neurons, images pressed against her skull in Technicolor until she forgot any other world but the one strung inside her grey matter.

The room where her mind languished was dark, and had a certain dampness to it that was reminiscent of a cave, or at least a stale basement below the waterline. There was no light peeking in from the walls, the only illumination was a set of twin torches by the door, and globes that were strung at regular intervals across the ceiling that threw shadows downwards on the figures moving below, turning their faces into ghastly greyscale images.

Between the torches, was a high throne, the color of bleached bone in the dim, although it had a fine grain running through it, indicating it was probably wood. The walls were bare, and there was no mould to back up the sense of moisture. The floor was smooth, and dark grey, but there were dark patches of anonymous stains that flitted in and out of the shadows, and didn’t bear dwelling on.

Sitting on the throne, claw white fingers paler than the armrest; body draped in endless black folds of cloth; head high and proud: was none other than Lord Voldemort. A far cry from Tom Riddle, he was pale as paper, his eyes burning embers, and his face distorted, flattened, and showing all the aspects of the snake that was better hidden inside.

The serpent in him was even more evident as he spoke in long silable ridden words that no one dared to mock him for. “Who is she?” He demanded, voice like oil; black and thick and slippery.

No one met his stare. No one spoke. Several sets of shoulders quivered slightly, before the motion was repressed. Voldemort’s thin lip curled back, and finally someone stepped forward. The man’s lengths of pale hair gleamed in the room, that would have made him resemble an extra for a Lothlorien crowd scene, if it weren’t for the dark bruise that climbed his neck in the shape of spidery fingers.

“She is… Harry Potter’s sister, My Lord.” Lucius head was bowed but his voice didn’t waver even as those spared from speaking flinched as the words were let out into the room.

Voldement’s eyes flared, and it seemed for a moment that their heat, their crimson anger would burn the air, but they merely lit his face in a terrible red glow.

“I heard them call her by name, as they left the Ministry,” Lucius swallowed convulsively, as he dredged up his own failure, “A rather unique thing. The same thing that nasty little girl the Mont-Vikes took in used to insist on screaming.”

“What name?” Voldemort hissed, having been dead at the time.

“Buffy, My Lord.”

“According to sources within the school, she is… unusually familiar with several of our number. And she claims that Harry….” Lucius flinched as Voldemort’s face twisted even further, “Is her older brother.”

“Buffy.” Voldemort spat the word, and considered.

Lucius ducked his head, and pressed on, the bones of his spine rising through the curtain of hair against his neck from the awkward angle of his submission. “According to one of the Loyals held in Askaban, the attack on the ministry was foiled by… a young blonde girl… capable of seeing the future. She is a student at Hogwarts, and stayed close to the headmaster. She has been dreaming our secrets, and whispering them into his ears.”

Voldemort’s wand flashed out as he stood, and Lucius fell with a sharp crack that echoed in the corners of the room, and sent the other lurking Deatheaters flinching away again. The Dark Lord's voice was sickeningly comforting. “Too little, too late. Malfoy.”

He turned, pacing a few steps, and paused. “At least we know now. To get the boy, we have to get past a little girl, who knows our every move, as well as that old fool of a headmaster.” His expression was fervent when he turned back towards his minions. “No matter. Once Harry is dead, the resistance will crumble. Hope will fade and the tides will turn. When the boy dies, the war will be over. I will stand over his mangled corpse, if each one of you is to be sacrificed for it to happen!”

Voldemort looked down at the crumbled heap that used to be his right hand man. “It’s a shame we can’t use your boy; have him gut the girl in the night.” He looked at the next closest man, “Take him away. Lock him up and clean the blood.”

The man nodded, mask slipping slightly in his haste, and hurried to do as instructed.

Voldemort walked to his throne, standing behind it, his fingers curving around the back, and he smiled to himself; to nothing. “Can you see me now girl?” He lifted his chin, tipping his head one way, and then the other. “Do you shiver in your sleep? Knowing I will spill each drop of your blood, leaving you broken and mangled, and forgotten? That your brother will suffer the same fate, because in my new world there will be no more like your mother? Your family name will be treason. I will rule. And never die.”

His eyes shown, with malicious cast, and unmistakeable madness.

“Do you see me now?”

Buffy’s eyes flew open, and for a second the room appeared painted over with blood, a red haze imposed on everything she saw, but as she blinked it faded.

She turned slightly, checking her boyfriend, and finding him sleeping peacefully. She drew his arm tighter around her, and huddled under the covers, feeling a chill seep into her bones, despite the warmth of his embrace, his body and their bed.

Restless, she turned, lying towards him, head tucked up under his, and the skin of his neck absorbed her words as she muttered: “He’s not getting Harry.”

Draco mumbled as he woke slowly, and his chin dug into the top of her head as he tried to look down, finding her pressed and wrapped around him like a desperate child.

“Buffy?” He asked, bewildered and hoarse from sleep.

She looked up, and he was surprised to see such ferocious intensity in her eyes, so early in the morning. “He’s not getting Harry.” She swore.

“Of course not.” He blinked and his jaw cracked as he yawned. “Who isn’t?”

“Voldemort.” Draco didn’t even start at the name. “He. Is. Not. Getting. My. Brother.”

Draco kissed her forehead. “I know.”

“He doesn’t.”

“Who doesn’t?”

“Voldemort.”

He looked down at her, craning his head awkwardly, and for a moment she was reminded of Lucius cowering, but the concern in her eyes was for her, not himself, and when she reached out, the strand of white blond hair that she pushed was no longer than her pinky, rather than the length of her forearm. “You were dreaming again?”

The dreams had been more frequent that summer as Voldemort grew stronger, and his plan wound deeper into the future of everyone she loved. “He figured out who I am. Knows what I can do.”

Draco frowned, a line of concern appearing between his brows.

“He was speaking to me. In my dream. Just in case I was listening. Promising he’d tear me into little bits. Threatening the same for Harry.”

“He won’t.” Draco assured. “He’ll want to, and he’ll try, but he won’t. Blood will spill in this war, Buffy. It might be mine, and,” He paused, sucking in a ragged breath, “It will probably be yours, the way you’re going, but Harry is going to survive. Partly, because is the luckiest S.O.B ever made an orphan, and partly because he has you. And Dumbldore. And Sirus. And a whole bloody brigade of white knights and cavalry. The tosser will be fine.”
“Don’t call him a tosser.” Buffy chastised with a mock frown, but the effect was ruined by the smile that wobbled through it.

“We’re going to win, Buffy.” Draco repeated. And she could see it in his eyes. How he half believed that, and half had to desperately hope it was true to keep his world from falling apart. So she snuggled closer and clung tighter, and his hands on her arms holding her to him would have left bruises if she was easily marked, but oddly, she found it was easier to breathe when there was no room for it.

Slowly the moonlight, and safety of the house, and the proximity to Draco, lulled her back to sleep, until she was drowsy, and then she was awake, and the sun shone yellow through the high window of their room, and all she could remember of the time in between was a deep blackness that tried to suck the marrow from her bones, and a blood red sun risen high in the sky on a day she would never see with her eyes, where thousands of wizards knelt, bound, under the red light of that terrible sun.

Draco poked her forehead. “Stop thinking deep thoughts, and roll off of me. I have to pee.”
She snorted, but obliged him, sliding from their nest, and standing out of the way as he shambled from their room, disappearing into the dingy hall beyond. Buffy changed quickly, stepping into a pair of jeans, and pulling a thick knit sweater over her head. It might be summertime still, but August in Britian was a very different climate than California at any time, and the places where her bones had broken when she was young, too badly for even the strength of the slayer essence to completely erase, still twinged when the temperature dipped below ten.

Harry popped his head in the door, his dark hair rumpled, but other than that fully ready for the day. “Malfoy nearly killed me, running by in the hall.” He complained.

“Had to pee.”

“That was information I really didn’t need to know about him.” Harry frowned.

“That he pees?”

“Any information, really.”

Buffy sighed, and rolled her eyes. “What do you want, Har?”

“Breakfast is ready. And Lupin is here.”

Buffy grinned. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I did. That’s why you know.” Harry grinned, and relented as he watched her race furiously around her room, finally finding an elastic and dragging her hair back into a semblance of a ponytail, and shove one foot into a boot, before starting a hopping hunt for it’s mate. “I only just saw him a minute ago, when I went downstairs. Sirus forgot to mention he was coming.”
“Again.” Buffy laid flat, face down, half under the bed, and squirmed, arms stretched out in front of her, and then wiggled back, the boot victoriously clutched in her hand. Harry decided not to mention the fluff that had come off the bottom of the spring, and was perched on the top of her head. Buffy straightened; both feet shod, and shot him a look. “Well, are you coming?”

Harry rolled his eyes good naturedly, and followed as she, much like Draco before her, blew past him, and then came up short, accidentally ploughing into her aforementioned boyfriend, who merely righted himself from where he had impacted in the wall, dusted a smattering of plaster from his sweater, and reached out quickly, snagging the fluff from Buffy's head as she continued by at a dizzifying speed.

They listened, matching grins on their faces, for the two heavy thumps that signified she hadn’t bothered to take the stairs again, and covered their ears in preparation for the first of Mrs. Blacks screams.

They didn’t, however, expect to hear Buffy eep in surprise. Without a glance at each other, they reacted the same way, tearing down the hall, pulling their wands out. Malfoy slid down the banister, agilely missing the rough spot that ripped pants, and Harry thundered down the stairs, skipping three steps altogether, because he couldn’t remember which one was the bad one, and they dropped to the lower landing in accidental unison.

And smiled.

Buffy’s hands were up, and had they been faster, they would have caught her in a defensive stance, fists at the ready, if a little bit too high. Her face was still slightly startled, although it finished regulating itself as they watched. In front of her, Kreacher was bowing.

“Miss Buffy.” He said gravely, his voice like rocks grinding together.

“Kreacher.” She greeted back, tightly. “You startled me… coming from nowhere.”

“My apologies, Miss Buffy. That was not Kreacher’s intention. He will go find the lash.”

“No. No, that’s… just no lash.”

“As you wish, Miss Buffy.” Kreacher frowned slightly.

“Alright. Good.” Buffy edged along the wall, staying as far as she could from the house elf.

“I’ll see you… later then.”

“Of course, Miss Buffy.” Kreacher gave another deep bow, his long nose dragging across the floor, and then still bent, he disappeared with a crack.

Buffy shuddered, and Harry and Draco grinned at each other, before Draco loped forward, and slung an arm around her shoulders. “He ambushed you again, huh.”

She glared. “Like that wasn’t obvious from where you were grinning.”

“Hey, we thought we were under attack. We came to protect you.” Harry puffed up his chest, still grinning, and had he been closer, she would have whacked him.

“You’ve been spending too much time with the twins.” She groused. And then her eyes narrowed. “And each other. Remind me again why I’ve been trying to get to two together?”

“Masochism?” Draco offered, and he was close enough to hit.

“Sure, mock the girl who was just… besieged by house elves.”

“A house elf.” Harry corrected. “And I think he likes you.”

Buffy shuddered again.

“Come on, cheer up.” Draco tightened his arm in a half hug. “Lupin’s still waiting in the kitchen.”

She brightened. “Right. Well, are you coming?”

She didn’t wait for an answer, or pause to watch the synchronized eye rolls, but grabbed Draco's hand from her shoulder and hauled him along as she bounced ahead.

Just inside the kitchen door, she stopped, confusion reshaping her face. “Hey Sirius.”

He looked up from the sink, and smiled brightly at the three of them. “Hey. Porridge?”

“Where’s Remus?” Buffy asked, glancing around, her senses flicking out instinctually to look for his particular signature. On her slayer sense, he normally showed up glowing. The lyconthropy registered with her inner slayer, but even with her other senses she could have found him. His heart ran slower, his breathing ran smoother and his body temperature was always at least three degrees higher than any one else around him not running a fever. Plus he carried with him a certain scent of woods and wet fur.

Sirus’s smile dropped on one side. “He had to leave. There’s… something going on, although no one will tell me quite what, and the Order has been running itself ragged. Although Remus was slightly ragged to start with.” His brows drew together, and the comment came off less humorous and more worried.

Harry shot his sister a sympathetic look, ignoring that Draco squeezed her hand, and turned his attention to Sirus. “Porridge?”

“Right.” Sirus brightened. “Remus wouldn’t have any before he left, so there’s lots.” He grabbed a bright blue bowl off the counter, and filled it with two heaping scopes of the still steaming goo, stuck a spoon in, which remained upright, and handed it off to his godson.
Harry smiled hesitantly as he took it, turning away to try and move the spoon carefully in the mix, and took a seat at the table, carefully taking a bite off the gob stuck to his spoon.

Sirus handed Draco a sparkly pink bowl full of the same, and watched for Harry’s reaction. Harry smiled, swallowing heavily. Sirus’s cooking as always a little to similar to Hagrid's for anyone’s taste.

“It’s nice and… sweet.” Harry offered, shoving another mouthful in.

“That’s the brown sugar.” Sirus leaned against the counter, and refilled his mug from the stern, watching Harry eat, and taking a long drink of the coffee.

Buffy slid in past him, grabbing another mug and filling it with the dark brew, and leaned beside him, fingers wrapped around the warm ceramic.

Sirus tilted his head to look at her, and Harry hastily scooped as much as he could out of his bowl, sticking it to the underside of the table to clean up later. “You shouldn’t be drinking that. It’ll stunt your growth.”

Buffy smirked, but it was harder edged than it should have been. “My growth is already stunted.”

Sirus frowned, “You’ve got growing years yet.” But he didn’t reach for the mug. He hadn’t tried that since the start of the summer. She tried to smile at the vain attempt at humor, but found her mouth too stiff for the motion. Knuckles white around her cup, she walked a few steps to a blacked out window, her back to the room. It didn’t feel like she had years. It didn’t even feel like she had minutes. She could feel the slayer yowling inside of her to go out, to run, to hunt, to slay. And she did, more nights than not this summer; going to bed, and waiting until Draco had fallen asleep and then slipping away, prowling the back alleys of London, miles of garbage and dingy brick walls and leaving a trail of ashes, and sometimes goop, in her wake. But the slayer was still restless under her skin. There was something coming, and it’s presence pushed against the air, calling to the power inside of her to stand and fight lest the girl decide to run.

“Molly owled.”

Buffy turned from the sink to look at Sirus in surprise. Molly’s owls were nothing new, although they usually came directly to her, a few times to Harry and even once to Draco.

“She wants me to send you kids to the Burrow, from now until school starts.” Sirus spoke to them all, ostensibly, but he watched Buffy carefully, his eyed dogged and determined. “I said yes. I’ll be up to visit both weekends, but for the next two weeks this place will go back to being the Order's headquarters.”

Buffy frowned, Draco frowned, and Harry lit up.

Buffy set down her cup carefully, ignoring the slight fracture that ran along the side from a momentary lapse, where she forget, for a second, her strength. “I guess I’ll go pack.”

Sirus bobbed his head. “Don’t worry. It should be fun. And next weekend, I’ll bring Remus with me. I’ll even make sure he stays there, and eats something.”

Buffy nodded again, but it was distracted, and her eyes didn’t light at the idea of spending time with her godfather as they usually did. On the rare occasions Remus had spent the night at 12 Grimmauld Place they had gone hunting together when the others were asleep. The first night, she’d been creeping out of her room, and sneaking down the hall, careful not to wake Mrs. Black, and had bumped into Remus as he came out of his room. He didn’t seem to mind being pinned to the wall by his neck too much, and had calmly asked her where she was going, all dressed up in muggle clothes with a broad sword strapped to her back. Her answer had been succinct: hunting. Remus nodded, and snatched his cloak from inside the door, his eyes flashing yellow as he followed her from the house into the smoggy night. She had patrolled, nearly at the speed she normally did, and he never faltered for the mileage. For the most part he stayed back from the skirmishes, but ever so often, he’d wade in, savage and bare armed, and cut through their foes with strength borne of the waxing moon.

Never once did he voice concern from any of her minor wounds, or ask her not to go, or to stay behind him when the odds were cast away from their favor.

As the summer progressed, he’d been there less and less often, and when he was, he would sometimes sleep straight through her leaving, although she couldn’t begrudge him the rest, what with the ever increasing bags under his eyes, and gaunt set to his cheeks.

With their cover blown, the Death Eaters were growing bolder, and there was little doubt in anyone that a war was underway, but the Aurors, and the order were still trying to keep the skirmishes away from the normal citizens, who for all their abilities, and powers, were helpless as lambs when a rampaging crowd of Death Eaters marched their way. The order tried to keep the innocents; the average person or the hapless child, from becoming nothing more than another stain on the hems of the Death Eater’s dark cloaks.

But the idea that she’d have another chance to stalk under the stars with Remus was tempered by the fear, still hiding inside her ribs, of the Borrow. While it was to Harry a place of ceaseless wonder, to her it represented loss. And she didn’t want to ruin a year of work, and lose her brother all over again when she crossed their sill. She didn’t want to lose her friendship with Ron or Hermione when she hauled off and walloped a Weasley for insulting Draco one too many times. She didn’t want to lose herself, that spark of happiness that she’d fought so hard for, that the last summer had so easily drained away.

But she was a pawn in a bigger scheme, and she was a brave soldier, so she straightened her shoulders, lifted her chin and went to gather her stuff.





... Well? Any thoughts?
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