Chapter Five: London Calling
Disclaimer: I own nothing. Don't sue :)
Author's Note: Thanks to everyone who recommended and reviewed. It's what keeps my muse going. The Poem 'Christabel' can be found on Wikipedia.
The swamp came alive at night.
Gators sloshed through the water, mosquitoes swarmed the air. Frogs croaked and the underbrush rustled.
She reached up a dark hand to wipe the sweat from her forehead. The air held an awful kind of wet heat this time of year.
Her prey was somewhere up ahead. She could smell their scent. Death and Rot.
Chastity picked up her pace, the stolen breeches allowing her to move faster than her normal skirts. She had to be back before dawn. She couldn’t afford to let the Master find out about her nightly excursions.
She had just breached the last line of trees when she saw them. The Zombies had found a meal, a lonely traveler, and were feasting. The gore and matter that stained the ground made her stomach roll.
She lowered herself closer to the ground, peering through the bushes.
It was the rustle that heralded her death.
Out of the corner of her eyes, she caught the movement. A lone Zombie, hidden in the brush next to her.
Her last thought as his teeth tore into her flesh, was of her infant daughter asleep back home.
Buffy sat upright in bed, sweat soaked and chest heaving.
She stared blindly into the shadows of her room, the palest light of dawn creeping in her window. She drew her knees up to her chin and wrapped her arms tightly around herself.
She wanted, more than anything, her mother.
Her mother would make everything alright.
Buffy just stared straight ahead as the tears fell.
The bright sun was streaming through the curtains when she next moved. She stretched, somewhat languidly, and headed downstairs.
Breakfast was already underway.
Lindsey and Ann sat at one end of the table, dressed in bathrobes. They nursed steaming cups of coffee as Mary bustled around the kitchen, stopping periodically to load more food onto plates and bowls. Piper, Penny, and Poppy crowded around the other end of the table, wolfing down bowls of cereal and pieces of toast.
Buffy plopped herself down in a chair between both groups and reached for a pitcher of orange juice. She poured herself a small glass and took a drink.
A moment later liquid spewed across the table, blanketing Lindsey’s face, cutting him off mid-sentence. There was a silent moment before everyone else erupted in laughter.
“ Gughh!! What the hell was that?” She choked. That was definitely NOT orange juice!
Ann was laughing so hard, tears were forming, “ T-That’s pumpkin juice! I-It’s the--” she couldn’t even finish.
Mary explained, chuckling,“ It’s the wizarding equivalent of Orange Juice, dear. Takes some getting use to if you’ve never had it before.”
The table was calming down and Lindsey was wiping his face with a napkin. She shot him an apologetic look but he just rolled his eyes, “ Thanks, shorty. And I thought I’d be taking my shower after breakfast…”
The twins and Piper giggled and Buffy huffed, “ Whatever. You know you liked it.”
She took another sip from the cup. It wasn’t bad, just really different. And not what she’d been expecting at all.
Mary brought a steaming bowl to her and set it on the table. It looked like oatmeal but had been doctored up with fresh berries and spices.
Buffy started in on it as Piper scooted towards her and started firing questions about the night before. She answered in mostly monosyllables and grunts until the Innkeeper sent the younger girls upstairs to get ready for their day.
Ann cleared her throat, “ So Buffy, Lindsey and I thought we should go over what will happen today so that there won’t be any surprises. Okay?”
Buffy nodded, “ Yeah, okay. Sounds like a good idea.”
Ann smiled at her but Lindsey was the one who elaborated, “ Well, you have an appointment to meet with a FBM agent at eleven. Now, he’s going to question you. He’ll probably ask some very personal questions about you and your Mom… even Hank. It’s his job to find out about certain details of your life. Ann and I will be there with you, however, so you don’t need to be worried. It’s our job to look after your best interests, okay?” he waited for her nod, “ Now, after that, You and I will pay a visit to Gringotts, the wizarding bank. Since you are your mother’s sole heir, you’ll need to sign a few forms so that her assets will be in your name now. And it’ll give us a chance to store those things we shrunk of hers in one of the vaults. That way when you’re older you can go through and decide what to do with them. Sound good?”
“ Yeah.” she agreed.
Ann chimed in, “ Then you have time to stop and break for lunch. Your Uncle is scheduled to arrive at 1:00 pm through the Floo Network from the British Ministry--”
“ The what now?” Buffy was confused, “ The Flu network?” Sounded really gross to her.
“ The Floo Network.” Mary offered, “ is a method of wizarding travel. You throw Floo powder into the flames of a fireplace, step inside the flames, and state clearly where your destination is. It will then transport you to that place’s own Floo opening.”
Buffy looked back at Lindsey wordlessly. Amusement danced in his eyes as her reassured her, “ It’s totally safe. I think you’ll like it better than the port keys.”
Ann picked up where she left off, “ So we’ll meet with Mr. Malfoy and Lindsey will go over your mother’s will with him as well as some paperwork. Then, well, you’ll depart with him to the British ministry where he will turn in the form showing his guardianship of you. And, um, that’s it.”
Buffy looked into her oatmeal and half heartedly stirred her spoon, “ And that’s it.” She took a deep breath, then released it, “ Okay. Well, I guess I better get ready then.” She pushed away from the table, giving them a steady smile. They returned it but there was something disturbingly close to pity in their eyes. She wanted no one’s pity.
She turned and headed upstairs.
Getting ready wasn’t quite as easy as she’d imagined.
For one thing, she had no idea what to wear. She had her clothes of course but now she also had robes. As nervous as she was, Buffy really wanted to make a good first impression. She held up a black silk blouse in one hand and the sea foam robes in another, taking turns holding them to her body as she peered into her reflection.
Bernard wasn’t talking to her today. She figured he was sulking over some imagined grievance and although she normally would have pestered him out of his current mood, she was simply too preoccupied right now to do so.
The door to her room was open but Ann knocked anyway, “ How it going?”
Buffy spun and gestured wildly, giving the universal sign for ‘Help me’.
The social worker entered and inspected Buffy’s choices, “ You’re thinking of wearing robes? I didn’t think you liked them much.”
She ran a hand through her uncombed hair, “ Well, I don’t not like them. I mean, I like mine. And I know I’d be more comfortable in my regular clothes. But, well, my Uncle comes from a very old wizarding family, right? And wizards wear robes. At least most of the ones I’ve seen do. I just want to make a good impression.”
Ann sat on the bed and picked up Mr. Gordo, “ Buffy, people like your mother and your Uncle are what we call ‘Purebloods’. That means they come from a very old and established magical family. For you, who has been raised Mundane, well, it’ll probably be something of an adjustment when you go to live with him. But from what I know of you, I think you can handle this. And I have no doubt that you’ll pick up magic like that. But just be careful when it comes to trying to fit in. I’m not saying don’t… just don’t lose sight of who you are. Don’t hide parts of yourself away. It’ll always come back to bite you in the end.”
Buffy nodded and gave her a tight smile. Ann didn’t know her at all if she thought she had to tell her how peer pressure worked.
The social worker looked uncomfortable and rose, “ Well, I’d better get ready myself.” She pulled the edges of her ratty blue bathrobe closed, “ Can’t go to work looking like this.”
She watched the older woman leave the room and turned back to the pile of clothes on her bed. A thought occurred to her and she upended her overnight bag, spilling even more clothes and objects all over the bed. Buffy riffled through, selecting a few choice pieces and grabbing the green robe before heading into the bathroom.
When she emerged - washed, dressed, and carefully made up and coiffed, Lindsey was sitting at the desk chair paging through her wandless magic book. He was already dressed in a crisp suit with shiny shoes and carefully combed hair.
He glanced up at let out a long low whistle, “ Well, look at you. That look suits you.”
She smiled and did a little turn, striking a pose, “ Why thank you. I think it suits me too.”
And so it did. She’d chosen to combine both choices. She wore the sea foam robe, the top buttons unbuttoned a bit to show the edges of her black lace camisole and had left the buttons starting at her hips undone so that when she walked, the edges swirled open and close to show her legs, sheathed in charcoal gray tights and her silver ballet flats. Buffy had left her hair down, long straight and shining. The only accessories two small silver combs placed to keep the hair out of her face. They’d belonged to her mother and just having that small a piece of her, comforted Buffy a lot.
She moved to her bed and began sorting her belongings to place them back in her bag. She shot a glance at Lindsey, “ Finding anything interesting in there?”
He closed the book and stood up, “ Actually, yes. But I’ll tell you about that in a minute. First, I wanted to give you something.” Lindsey reached inside his jacket and pulled out a small brightly wrapped box, “ I told you I’d get you something good, didn’t I?”
Buffy grinned and caught it when he tossed it to her. She loved presents, “ And here, I figured you forgot. I guess I should have known better.”
He gave a fake Huff, “ Yes, you should. As if I’d forget the great Buffy/Lilah incident. Never!” Mockery, thy name is Lindsey.
She laughed, “ Yeah, yeah.” Sitting on the bed, she tore through the colorful paper. Underneath was a box slightly bigger than the palm of her hand. She lifted the lid and gaped, “ A Muna mirror!”
He raised an eyebrow, “ Where did you hear about them?”
Remembering her small tussle in Centurian Instruments, She thought fast, “ Oh, well, I uh, saw a display at the mall. Aren’t there supposed to be two?”
He pulled something out of his pocket. It looked identical to hers, thin and rectangular. The frame was made of a dark colored steel, with strange runes marked on it, “ I have the other one. I wanted you to know that you can get a hold of me anytime that you need me. And I’m afraid I’m going to have to insist that you contact me periodically so I know you’re okay.”
She felt a tear well up in her eye but rapidly blinked it back least it smear her carefully applied mascara. Instead, she crossed the room and hugged Lindsey, “ Thanks, tiny. I’m really going to miss you.”
He pulled back, frowning, “ Hey now. We’ll be seeing each other again. We have the mirrors and I travel to London all the time for business so you better believe I’ll be coming by to see you.”
She gave him a wistful smile, “ Promise?”
He patted her shoulder, “ Promise.”
Lindsey stood and headed over to her bed, carefully avoiding looking at any unmentionables. He gestured to her things, “ Now, I have the boxes that I shrunk of your mother’s and those we’ll take to Gringotts. But I was thinking about your things that we shrunk. I didn’t want you to have to ask someone else to do it for you so I’ve been trying to think of what we could do and I finally figured it out thanks to that book Lorne gave you.” He waved her closer, “ Go ahead and repack everything you don’t want to have to carry on your person. Go on.” He prodded her when she simply looked puzzled.
Buffy began gathering her things. Everything she’d originally packed plus her recent purchases went inside the bag, including the Muna mirror. She kept out the purse of gold coins Lindsey had given her, sitting it next to the compact on the dresser.
“ That it?” he asked.
She nodded and he took out his wand, “ Okay, so what I’m going to do is going to be a little different. I’m going to shrink the entire bag but basically tune it to a certain word, so that when said, it will unshrink. You don’t have a wand yet or training but I’m certain that the magic will respond to you anyway.” He focused on the bag and did a complicated little figure eight with his wand. They both watched it grow smaller and smaller, “ Now, when you‘re ready to unpack your things, place your hand over it and say ‘Augeo’. Go ahead and try it.”
She gave him an uncertain look but did as instructed. She placed her hand over the now tiny bag, “ Augeo.”
The next second they were both ducking as her belongings blasted out of the rapidly inflated bag. They gave each other startled looks and burst out laughing.
“ Well, that worked well.” she teased. Buffy started gathering her things again.
Lindsey gave a sheepish expression, “ Well, it’ll work until you get your own wand… just make sure to be ready to duck before you say it.”
She knelt to pick up the silver bell ankle bracelet she’d taken off before going to dinner last night. She smoothed it carefully before placing it back in her bag, “ So do you--”
“ There you are!” It was Mary with a box the size of a shoe box. She hurried into the room and placed it in Buffy’s arms, “ This is for you dear. A little going away package. I thought you might get a little homesick over at first so I took the liberty of packing a few things to remind you of home. Don’t look inside till later, okay?”
Touched by the gesture, She smiled sweetly at the older woman, “ Thanks Mary. That’s really nice of you.”
“ Don’t think anything of it, I’m happy to do it.” the innkeeper briefly inspected the room, “ Have you got everything packed away dear?”
She nodded, setting the box and last bundle of clothes back into the bag. She struggled briefly with the zipper until Lindsey steeped in and gave another wave of his wand. The zipper closed itself and the bag once again began growing smaller. Once it had finished, she picked it up and placed it in one of the hidden pockets lining her robe.
She moved to the dresser as Lindsey and Mary discussed their coming departure. Buffy placed the coin purse in another of the pockets, then palmed the compact. She’d been meaning to bring it to Mary’s attention before she left but well, hadn’t. She turned away then back, frowning at the dresser mirror. She tapped the glass faintly and hissed, “ Bernard?! I‘m about to leave!”
Buffy waited but there was still no response. She mumbled a small “ Bye.” and turned, walking over to the talking adults.
It turned out she didn’t need to ask Mary anything as the sharp eyed woman spotted the treasure in Buffy’s hand, “ Why isn’t that the prettiest thing!” she took it from the startled girl and opened it, “ Oh, but it looks like it had a small accident. Well, here,” taking out her own sturdy looking wand, she pointed and said clearly, “ Reparo.”
The glass miraculously became smooth and unblemished. The innkeeper handed it back to Buffy, “ It really is lovely. Beautiful quality. Very Old World. Must have been your mother’s…” she trailed off, looking at Buffy expectantly.
Buffy avoided Lindsey gaze and nodded. She placed the compact in the last pocket of her robe, and gave it one last caress. She knew she should be honest but Mary had pretty much already confirmed that it didn’t belong to any of the Pendletons. And the innkeeper had obviously never seen it on any of her guests as she would have remembered the unique object. Any lingering doubts vanished when she touched it. It felt like it belonged to her. Like she’d always had it.
She gave the room one last look, checking for any of her possessions left behind.
“ Ready?” Lindsey asked. He waited expectantly at the door.
Buffy turned and squared her shoulders, “ Yes, I am.” She was ready. It was time to look to the future.
They left the room together.
After a tearful goodbye in which Buffy received hugs from all of the Pendletons, She, Lindsey, and Ann had boarded the awaiting carriage and set off into the depths of the city.
Ann was dressed strangely again today in severe black robes, clunky black shoes, and a furred briefcase. Buffy slanted her a glance and inched a way. No way did she want to catch whatever fashion disaster disease the social worker had.
Lindsey was currently lecturing her on Floo travel, a highly boring subject. She’d picked up the basics fairly early and while the concept did wigg her out a bit, she had faith that the experience wouldn’t render her a smoldering pile of ash. But Lindsey seemed convinced of the need to explain the finer points of the process.
While she pretended to be paying attention, Buffy was actually watching the scenery as it went by. They were entering a part of the colony she’d hadn’t seen before. The architecture of the buildings were growing even older the further they went. Many were made from the porous rock that appeared throughout the city, only these building were bedecked from head to toe in Ivy. It grew thick and luxurious down their sides. It seemed like this was where many of the important offices were. There was actual traffic, carriages backed up as people crossed the streets in a hurry to get to work and vendors toting freshly baked bread and fruits.
When the carriage finally rolled to a stop, it was in front of a incredibly large building. It stood many stories and seemed made from every material she’d seen through out the city. Rock, wood, stone, brick. Wizards and Witches walked up and down the immense stairs in front of the massive front doors.
Lindsey stepped out of the carriage quickly, turning to assist Ann and Buffy. Ann, once again, took the lead. They followed her up the stairs and through the metal doors. They came into a huge lobby with marble floors and counters. There was a large symbol printed on the floor. Circular, with the image of an eagle, two wands, and a bunch of smaller symbols that she wasn’t familiar with, filled the space. The words Federal Bureau of Magic was scrolled across it.
Ann gestured this way and that, pointing out interesting bits of information as they walked. They passed the counters and lines of people waiting to be helped and came to a row of elevators set in the back. Pressed in between Ann and an old woman that smelled like cats and licorice, Buffy tried not to glower.
The elevator ascended a few floors and a female voice announced, “4th Floor - Department of International Magical Affairs.”
“ This way.” The social worker chirped.
They exited and she led them down the hall.
“ So why are we meeting with an agent from here?” Buffy asked, dodging around the people hurrying about.
“ Well, your mother was from Britain but you were born in America. Basically, that means you have dual citizenship. Unfortunately, that means everyone wants a say in what happens to you or where you go. Your mom was pretty thorough, she left no wiggle room in what she wanted for you. Trust me, that’s a good thing.” Lindsey advised.
They came to a stop outside of a large wooden door. Ann rapped sharply twice before ushering them inside.
The office was rather on the small side. The walls were lined with overfilled bookshelves and filing cabinets. A few chairs were scattered here and there. A large L-shaped desk was situated in the middle of the room, and a mountain of a man sat behind it.
He was a large man but not fat. More like the physique of a football player slightly gone to seed. His gray hair was short, cut in a military type buzz cut. His face was hard and craggily, as if he was chiseled from rock. He wore slacks, a white button down shirt and tie, and a shoulder holster that contained his wand. He was currently smoking a strange looking black cigarette, sending dark red smoke out to cloud the air, as he chatted to what Buffy could swear was a head in the strangely out of place fireplace that stood next to him.
He growled out one last comment to the head before the strange green fire dissipated and he turned to face them. He waved them forward, “ Steele. Good, you’re right on time. Let’s get this over with.”
Buffy felt hugely annoyed. This was the agent that would interview her? This smoking mammoth?
Lindsey didn’t look impressed either. He examined the room and the man and obviously found the situation wanting. Ann, however, strode forward briskly to claim a few chairs. Gone was the bright bubbly woman they had come to know. Instead, she had transformed back into the bland professional social worker they had first met.
Buffy glanced at Lindsey but he simply guided her to one of the chairs that Ann was standing in front of.
The social worker spoke up, “ Buffy, this is Agent Hudson. He’ll be the one going over the forms and asking a few questions.”
The agent nodded briskly to her and ruffled through a drawer, pulling out a file folder. He squinted suspiciously at Lindsey, “ Mr. McDonald I assume?” His voice was deep and rough.
Lindsey nodded and shook hands with Hudson, “ Agent Hudson. Nice to meet you.”
Ann and Lindsey took seats on either side of Buffy.
Hudson examined her through narrow eyes for a moment before bringing forth a tiny vial of clear liquid, “ Here. Drink this.”
Ann gaped in astonishment and Lindsey stiffened, “ Now wait just a minute! Is that--”
“ Veritaserum. Yes It is. It’s standard issue in these kinds of cases.” he puffed on his cigarette, “ Look, I’m not saying anything against Miss Summers or doubting her word. When it comes to matters of international--”
“ What is Veritaserun?” Buffy interrupted.
Agent Hudson just looked at her so it was Lindsey who answered, scowling,“ Truth Serum. They want you to drink it before answering their questions.”
She gaped, “ Truth Serum?!” she turned to Hudson, “ But why?”
He shifted and looked like someone who didn’t get questioned all that often, “ It’s just procedure, Miss. We’ll only be asking questions pertaining to the matter at hand. Nothing too… personal.”
Buffy glowered but there really wasn’t anything she could do. “ Fine. Give it to me and let’s get this over with.” She couldn’t freakin’ believe this.
Lindsey laid a comforting hand on her arm and murmured to her, “ Don’t worry. If they ask things they shouldn’t I will intervene. Just stay on topic, okay?”
She nodded and brought the tiny vial to her lips and took a tiny sip. It was clear, odorless, and tasteless. It was even blander than water, if that was possible. Buffy waited to feel if she felt any different but there was nothing.
“ Okay,” Agent Hudson brought out a packet of paperwork, “ I’m going to ask you some questions. Answer to the best of your ability. Do you understand, Miss?”
Buffy took a deep breath, then released it, “ I understand. Shoot.”
“What is your full legal name?”
“ Christabel Anne Summers. But I prefer to go by Buffy.”
He raised an eyebrow and snorted. She glared at him and he quickly continued his line of questioning.
“What is your mother’s name?”
“ Joyce Marie Summers.”
Hudson gave her a look, “ Her real name, Miss Summers.”
Buffy felt nonplussed for a moment then, “ Oh, you mean… Josceline Malfoy. I, um, don’t know if she had a middle name…”
“ What was your father’s name?”
She stiffened and glared, “ If you mean my stepfather… the one who murdered my Mother? The bastard‘s name was Hank Summers.”
He paused for a moment, cleared his throat, and then continued, “ And your biological father’s name?”
The answer was out before she thought about it, “ I don’t know.” She froze when she heard her own words then glanced around the room to see if anyone noticed. Ann had a quill and paper out, studiously taking notes. Lindsey was scowling at Hudson, tapping his fingers against the arm of his chair.
Her mind raced and it took all her control to keep her face expressionless. While she hadn’t lied exactly, she certainly hadn’t told the truth. The only single thing she had of her real father was a mumbled nickname she’d overheard her mother saying when she’d had a little too much to drink. But the Veritaserum should have made her say even that, right? But it hadn’t. It was probably a defective batch.
“ Date and place of birth?” the Agent continued.
“ Uh, Sunnydale, California. August thirteenth--”
The agent interrupted, “ Sunnydale? You were born in Sunnydale?”
She frowned at his rudeness but answered, “ Yeah. Mom moved us to L.A. when I was two years old.”
Ann was gawking at her and Lindsey was outright glaring at the Agent, “ I think, Agent Hudson, that you should move along with this line of questioning.”
Hudson returned Lindsey’s glare but continued with his questions, “ Miss Summers, did you ever witness your mother performing magic?”
“ And she did not, at anytime, tell you of the wizarding world?”
“ Was Mr. Summers ever violent with you or your mother?” he asked her in a monotone voice so it took a moment for the question to sink in.
“ No.” she all but growled out.
“ Mr. Summers did have you committed to an institution last--”
Lindsey’s voice was murderous, “ Agent Hudson, that is enough. That has nothing to do with the matter at hand and if you continue along this path, I will take measures. Take my advice. Move on.”
The two men were locked in a stare down but eventually the government agent looked away. He handed Buffy few pages of paper, “ Miss Summers, I need you to read over this summary of events of what happened the night your mother and Mr. Summers died. When you finish, if everything is correct, please sign and initial it.”
Lindsey snatched it out of Hudson’s hands and skimmed through it first. A moment later he handed it to Buffy. With a sinking stomach, she read it. It was very dry, just the facts so it didn’t take long to read through. She signed and initialed quickly, practically throwing it back to the agent.
Clearly he didn’t appreciate it because now he was glowering at her, “ Now, Mr. McDonald said you showed interest in getting your last name changed?”
Buffy threw Lindsey a thankful look. She had told him that she wanted her last name changed back to what it was before Hank had adopted her. But… considering that it was a name her mother had made up when she came to the U.S., well…
“ Actually,” she stated calmly, “ I have decided to change my last name. To Malfoy.”
Lindsey and Hudson looked unsurprised. Ann, however, looked surprisingly judgmental. Buffy figured it was because of the talk she’d given her earlier this morning. But she wasn’t doing this to fit in. Her name should have always been Malfoy.
The Agent wrote down a few things before handing the form to her, “ Now, all you have to do is sign your previous full name then your new full name. Then initial, with your new initials, here and here.”
She did as he asked and passed it to him. He pulled out his wand and tapped it and they all watched as it folded itself up and zipped out the door.
He spoke, “ Congratulations, Miss Malfoy. That’s all you need to do. Mr. McDonald has the rest of the paperwork that your Uncle will need to sign and date.”
He turned to look at Lindsey, “ You do have the paperwork, don’t you Mr. McDonald?” the tone of his voice wasn’t very friendly.
The lawyer gave a particularly sharp toothed smile, “ Of course. I’ll make sure you get it as soon as possible.”
Hudson nodded, “ See that you do. I’d hate to have to track you down to the big shiny office of yours. Hate to.”
They glared at each other.
Ann cleared her throat, “ So we’re done, then? I believe Mr. McDonald and Buffy have a few more things to take care up before Mr. Malfoy arrives.”
The agent stood and shook Buffy’s hand, “ Miss Malfoy, it was nice to meet you.” he turned to Lindsey, “ McDonald. I‘m sure Steele will show you the way out.” He completely ignored Ann, just turned and buried his head back in his paperwork.
Lindsey opened the door and ushered Buffy back out into the hall.
The air was much better out here, away from the stinky smoke. She took a few deep breaths, enjoying it.
Ann looked slightly awkward, “ Well, I’ll met up with you two later? I know you two need to run errands and I need to drop off some documents at my own office…”
Lindsey nodded, “ We’ll see you a little before 1:00.”
She gave them a little wave and disappeared into the crowd.
Buffy and Lindsey glanced at each other and moved towards the elevators.
Gringotts stood in the distance.
It was an immense snowy white building a few blocks over from the FBM headquarters. They were walking the short way.
“ So, I’ve been meaning to ask you… Christabel? Buffy? Not really seeing the correlation.” Lindsey smirked.
Buffy rolled her eyes and sighed, “ You ever heard the poem ’Christabel’ by Samuel Taylor Coleridge? Well, Mom always said it was her absolute favorite, like ever. It’s all about Changelings and stuff. I always thought it was cause she was going through this artsy phase when she had me. She called me Belle when I was little but when we moved to L.A., ‘Buffy’ just seemed to fit in with all the Aura’s, Harmony’s, Cordelia‘s, and Tiffany’s. So I’ve almost always just been Buffy.” she gave a humorless chuckle, “ Guess that makes us a pair, huh? Josceline and Joyce, Christabel and Buffy.”
Lindsey laid a hand on her shoulder, “ It’s a beautiful name Buffy. I think you should be proud of it.”
She gave him a smile. He just didn’t understand, “ I am, Lindsey. I am.”
They crossed the street.
“ So what was the deal with the whole Sunnydale freak out? He acted like I was born in a crack house or something.” she asked. It’d been bugging her since they’d left.
Lindsey actually looked uncomfortable, “ Okay, I’ll tell you but it really isn’t a big deal. The town of Sunnydale is actually located on a hellmouth--”
“ A Hellmouth?” she repeated dubiously. That really didn’t sound good.
He nodded, “ A hellmouth. There are certain ’hot spots’ of supernatural activity in the world. Places where the barriers between dimensions are weak. Some places are… darker than others. Places like hell mouths. They’re focal points that serve as portals between earth and hell. They tend to attract demons and other supernatural creatures because of the dark magic that they emit.”
Her face scrunched, “ So that’s why he acted that way? Because it attracts stuff?”
He hesitated, “ Well, generally people of the magical persuasion that are born on such places like hell mouths… well, some people believe it leaves a taint… from the dark magic. But Buffy, that’s not true. I don’t want for you to even believe that for a minute. Your mother was a smart woman and you came first in her life. She wouldn’t have had you there if she thought for one second that it would harm you.”
She nodded, lost in thought. Her mother had loved her, that was for certain. She might be upset at the lies and half-truths her mother had told her whole life but Buffy had never once doubted her mother’s love. Not once.
“ Well, here we are.” Lindsey said, gesturing to the large bronze doors.
She let him go first, following behind. It really was impressive, paved marble floors and long counters that stretched the entire length of the walls. Strange little creatures sat behind said counters, counting large piles of gold and gemstones.
Buffy leaned forward and whispered to Lindsey, “ Um, what are these things?”
“ Goblins,” he whispered back, leading them toward the front, “ They’re extremely clever and can make the most beautiful and dangerous of things. They control Gringotts and in effect a large portion of the wizarding economy, so you should always show them respect and treat them as equals. A lot of wizards think goblins are beneath them. I don’t want you to.”
“ Okay, don’t piss off the tiny people. Got it.” she mimed making a check in the air.
In fact, she decided as they arrived in front of an available goblin, that it kind of looked like a small, vaguely demonic Albert Einstein. With it’s small spectacles, hooked nose, and fluffy white hair it totally looked like a tiny mad scientist. She was this close to reaching out and pinching his little cheeks. She refrained since Lindsey had advised her to treat them as equals but it was hard.
Lindsey spoke to the goblin, “ I have an appointment to meet with Bannok. Will you let him know we’re here?”
The goblin grunted and hopped down from his stool, disappearing. He reappeared a few minutes later with another goblin. This one had more wrinkles and poofier hair and Buffy couldn’t help but grin. They were so cute!
He climbed up on the first goblin’s stool, “ I am Bannok. You are Mr. McDonald?” the Goblin inspected him closely as Lindsey nodded.
He turned to peer at Buffy with deep black eyes, “ And you must be Miss Christabel Summers.”
She simply couldn’t resist. She jumped forward and grasped his long fingered hand, pumping it in a firm handshake, “ My last name is Malfoy now. It’s very nice to meet you Mr. Bannok. Please, call me Buffy.”
Lindsey coughed to cover his laugh as the goblin pulled his hand away. The look on Bannok’s face clearly said he didn’t know quite what to say, except, “ Ah, yes. Please, uh, follow me this way.”
And so they did. Passed the countertops and into a side hallway, were torches actually flicked and sputtered with life. He led them into his office, an odd circular room that inexplicably reminded Buffy of a hobbit hole. Both Buffy and Lindsey took seats in front of a little desk, Bannok climbing up behind it.
“ Now, let’s see.” he read from a paper that appeared on his desk, “ Yes, everything seems to be in order. Mr. McDonald, you have the documents that I requested?”
Lindsey nodded and passed over a few pages, “ Yes, I did. Death certificate for Josceline Malfoy and a copy of her official will naming Buffy as her official heir.”
Bannok nodded, “ Yes, I see. Well, Miss Malfoy, this is for you.” He handed her an old fashioned leather notebook, filled with thick parchment paper.
“ These are finance reports for your accounts here at Gringotts. Every month they will update automatically, while still keeping records. As outlined, your mother’s former accounts are now in your name. This includes her own two personal accounts and the account she had opened as a trust for you when you came of age at seventeen. Everything but the trust will be opened to you now. The trust will continue to remain closed until the mentioned birth date, unless in case of emergency. Understand?”
“ Uh, Yeah,” she turned to Lindsey, “ I come of age at seventeen?”
He nodded, “ In the magical world you do.”
“ Huh, cool.”
The Goblin continued, “ Now, as you requested Mr. McDonald, the money from the sale of the house, life insurance, sale of the Gallery, and full amounts from the deceased’s Mundane accounts have been deposited into Miss Malfoy’s personal accounts as of this morning. These amounts will show on the finance reports.”
Buffy flipped open the notebook and gulped. That was a lot of money.
“ So,” she questioned, “ if my accounts are over here, how do I get access to them when I live in England? I don‘t think you guys have ATMs…”
“ No, we don’t.” Bannok explained, “ While there are different branches around the world, all of our vaults are accessible at anytime or place.”
“ The vaults are set on a dimensional loop.” Lindsey offered, “ They share time and space. The vaults you’ll see here, you can also see at any other branch. It’s a complicated piece of magic, pretty impressive actually.” Turning to look at the goblin, Lindsey tapped his fingers against his leg, “ We’ll be wanting to make a few deposits before we leave. Objects and such.”
“ Of course.” Bannok agreed, then rifled through papers on his desk, pulling out a pamplet, “ But before we procede to the vaults, I thought of something that might interest Miss Malfoy.” He handed the brochure to her.
She flipped through and Lindsey peered over her shoulder. Once what she was reading registered, she looked back up at Bannok, eyes wide, “ Really? You can do that?”
His tiny little chest puffed out, “ Indeed we can. We’ve only recently started giving them to… select clients. Clients who can appreciate such a thing. With you having grown up in the Mundane world and entering the wizarding… I thought this could be something that would appeal to you.”
Lindsey raised his eyebrows, “ A debit/credit card?”
Buffy and Bannok both scowled at him, before the goblin elaborated, “ Its usable in both the magical world and the Mundane. In the Mundane, it reads as a simple debit or credit card. In the magical… well, although stores will not advertise the fact that they take it yet, they do accept it. It’s a bit easier than caring your gold around. Safer too, with all the pickpockets out there. You don‘t have to worry about exchange rates either. Truly, one of our best ideas. ”
She gave him a hopeful look, “ So all I have to do is fill out an application and I can get one?”
Bannok nodded and handed said application and a quill to her, “ Just fill out your basic information and I’ll take care of the rest. You’ll have it before you leave today.”
She beamed at him and began filling out the form. As soon as she finished, he zipped it off and reappeared a moment later. He stood and headed for the door, stopping to hand Buffy two tiny gold keys, “ Follow me please. We’ll head down to your vaults.”
He turned and headed out into the hall.
She glanced at Lindsey curiously and held up the keys.
He chuckled and walked over to her, “ Those are the keys to your vault. Don’t lose them.”
She nodded and they followed Bannok to the vaults.
The ride down was fun. They’d descended underground, moving at a death defying speed that whipped her hair back and had Lindsey looking violently green. When she’d playfully thrown up her arms and shouted to him “ Look! No hands!”, Lindsey nearly had a stroke, grabbing her by her shoulders to secure her to her seat.
Buffy huffed and rolled her eyes. Grownups.
Her vaults were side by side, numbers 768 and 769. The doors were large, metal, and circular. Bannok led them up to the first one and turned to her, “ Keys please.”
She handed them over.
Bannok placed a key in the lock, turned it, then ran a long finger down the center of the door. Runes glowed briefly before turning invisible again. A light push and the door swung open. He waved them forward.
Buffy’s mouth fell open as she entered. The vault was huge and filled with Gold. It covered every surface. She moved forward and cupped a handful of coins, letting them trickle out between her fingers. She turned to Lindsey, “ This is all mine?”
He nodded, “ This is the money vault. Your mother had the second vault so she could store certain possessions, artwork, that sort of thing.”
“ Oh.” She looked back at their goblin guide, “ Can we go to the second vault please?”
“ Of course.” he herded them back out, locking the vault back up. He turned to the door next to them and repeated the procedure.
This vault was even larger than the last. It was filled with boxes, statuary, and paintings. There were large old-looking chests and shelves filled with various items.
Lindsey glanced at Bannok, “ Could you give us a moment?”
The goblin sniffed, “ Of course. I’ll be outside when you’re done.” he disappeared through the open door.
Buffy moved further in, peering in boxes and looking at the things her mother had stored away. She recognized nothing. Where had her mother gotten all these things?
Lindsey had walked to a slightly cleared space and was setting the shrunken boxes that held her mother’s things on the floor. He pulled out his wand and muttered a quick word, watching as the boxes began growing bigger. Once they reached normal size, he gestured to Buffy, “ See anything you might want to take with you?”
She shook her head, “ No, nothing right now,” she glanced back into the depths, “ I wouldn’t know where to start. There just so much.”
He placed a hand on her shoulder, “ Don’t worry about it. You can always come back some other time and go through things. Anytime. Okay?”
She nodded and gave him a weak smile, “ Bannok’s waiting.”
Lindsey sighed, “ So he is. I think he’s a little taken with you.”
Buffy laughed, “ What’s not to be taken with?”
He rolled his eyes and lightly bopped her on her head, teasing, “ That’s just because he doesn’t know you.”
She glared, “ Haha…Ha.”
Bannok was indeed waiting for them outside. He quickly locked the vault, and placed both keys back in Buffy’s hand. He ushered them into the cart and back towards the lobby of the bank.
It was there he placed the card in her hand. It actually looked like any other debit/credit card she’d ever seen. It gleamed as white as the outside of the building, with edges that were rimmed fancily in gold and silver. The word Grigotts, a long account number, and her full name ‘Christabel A. Malfoy’ were listed in black.
Buffy gave the goblin a mega watt smile, “ Thanks, Mr. Bannok. It’s been a pleasure meeting you.”
Bannok actually turned a little pink around the ears, “ You as well, Miss Malfoy. When you visit our branch in Britain, be sure to ask for my cousin Griphook. I’ll be sure to send word that he’s to take special care of you.” He turned to Lindsey and said curtly, “ Mr. McDonald, till next time.”
They watched amusedly as he marched off, disappearing into the back.
Lindsey grinned, “ Aw, he wants his cousin to take ‘special’ care of you.”
She playfully punched him in the shoulder, “ Shut up.”
They grabbed lunch at a vender on the corner between Gringotts and the FBM official building. Two hot dogs with everything on it and two bottles of something Lindsey called butterbeer firmly in hand, they headed to a empty bench to sit.
They ate quietly, just people watching. Buffy sipped her butterbeer and peeked at Lindsey from the corner of her eye, “ So… What are you gonna do when I leave?”
He glanced at her confused, “ What do you mean?”
She sighed and toyed with her napkin, “ I mean… are you just going to head home? Are you going to stay in Roanoke for awhile? What are you going to do?”
He frowned, “ Well, I guess I’ll just head home.”
She watched the ground, “ Yeah, I figured that’s what you would say.”
He glanced at her, “ Nervous? About meeting your Uncle?”
She shrugged, “ A little. I just wonder what he’s like. Guess I’ll be seeing for myself soon enough.”
He smiled, “ It’ll be okay.” he glanced at his watch, “ Its time for us to go. Ready?”
She threw her garbage into the trash can. Buffy turned back, “ Ready.”
The walk back to the FBM building was quiet and quick. Ann met them at the door and escorted them to a part of the building they hadn’t yet seen. It was a long, wide hall lined with Fireplaces. Green Flame burned brightly in all of them and people arrived and departed with flare and whoosing sound effects.
The social worker didn’t stop at these, however, just continued past them before taking an abrupt right. Another hallway stretched out before them. It was slightly smaller than the one before but the fireplaces were fancier.
She stopped in front of a particular one. It was made of multicolored stone and gilded with gold accents. A metal plaque labeled it as the Floo opening for Britain’s Ministry of Magic.
The social worker gave Buffy an encouraging smile, “ Your Uncle should be here in a few minutes.”
Buffy gave her a wan smile before pulling the compact out and checking her reflection. The last thing she wanted was to greet her Uncle for the first time with lunch debris on her face. She checked her hair and makeup but everything looked exactly as it had when she’d left Mary’s Inn this morning. Perfect.
She snapped it closed, slipping it back into the pocket she’d kept her bank things in. Buffy glanced at the two grownups. They actually looked more nervous than she felt. Ann kept throwing anxious looks around and Lindsey was starting to pace, muttering to himself.
She scowled. They were supposed to be calming her
The fireplace suddenly filled with green flames. They all stepped back a few feet. The flames grew taller and brighter and then a man stepped out.
Buffy stared wide eyed. He was tall and wore sharp black robes that looked tailor made. His hair was long and a silver-blonde so light it looked almost white. His face was quite handsome; high cheekbones, a firm jaw, an aristocratic nose. It brought to mind the roman statues her mother had stocked for a time. He carried a cane topped with a gleaming silver snake head. He exuded confidence.
The man stepped forward, giving Ann and Lindsey a passing glance before settling his unusual silver eyes on her. For a moment, they simply studied each other. She hadn’t missed the slight widening of his eyes when he’d first seen her face. And She didn’t miss the parts of her mother that she could see in him. They shared a similar chin, her mother’s far more delicate of course. Same with their nose. Same with the brow. There were enough signs for her to recognize him as family. A first for her, considering she’d never had
He moved closer, and spoke directly to her in an elegant English accent, “ I am Lucius Malfoy. You must be Christabel.” He took her hand and Buffy couldn’t help but notice how small hers looked inside his. He was still inspecting her and Buffy fought not to squirm.
“ I go by Buffy, actually.” she corrected.
His nostrils flared slightly but otherwise showed no reaction to her comment.
He spoke, “ I am deeply sorry about your mother. Josceline and I haven’t spoken since she left our home. The news of her passing came as a great shock to me.”
She gave him a small sad smile, “ It’s still something of a shock to me.”
His hand tightened briefly on hers before he released it and took a step back. He finally turned and addressed Lindsey, “ Mr. McDonald I presume?”
The lawyer moved forward and held out a hand. When her Uncle simply ignored it, Lindsey let it drop. In a cool tone, he replied, “ Yes. I believe Ms. Steele is going to escort us somewhere private so we can talk.”
Ann gave a somewhat jerky nod, “ This way please.” She turned and began to head back down the hall.
Her Uncle placed a hand on her back, lightly guiding her after Ann. She could see Lindsey from the corner of her eye, frowning at him. After a moment, he followed.
The conference room they arrived at was nice with a long rich wood table and plush chairs. Lindsey entered, then Lucius but Ann grabbed her arm and sat her outside the door. The door snapped closed and the social worker explained, “ Lindsey needed to go over things with your Uncle in private. He was going to be talking about what happened the night your mother died and he didn’t want you to have to listen.”
Buffy nodded and slumped into the chair. This sucked.
They emerged a short time later. They spoke in perfectly polite as well as perfectly cold tones to each other. Both walked toward Buffy and Ann.
Her Uncle came to stand beside her, “ Ready, my dear?”
She nodded, “ Yes.”
Ann led them back towards the Floo Fireplaces. When they reached the one labeled for the Ministry of Magic in Britain, they stopped.
She glanced at her Uncle, “ I’d like to say goodbye first.”
He gave her a tight smile, “ Of course.”
Buffy turned and hugged Ann. The social worker looked pleased and gave her a squeeze back, whispering in her ear “ You’re a good kid Buffy. I know you’ll do great.”
She gave the older woman a wistful smile, “ Thanks for everything Ann.”
She turned to Lindsey. He gave her a short hug, murmuring, “ Just remember the mirror. Call me on it tonight.”
Buffy nodded, moving back, “ Bye Lindsey.”
She moved to stand next to her Uncle. The green flames had sprung back up in the fireplace and crackled merrily. She stared at it for a moment, glancing back up at her Uncle with a shy smile, “ Would you like to go first or should I?”
He chuckled slightly, “ Mr. McDonald has informed me that you have never traveled be Floo before. I think it best you go first so that I can make sure you do it properly. I‘ve already prepared it, all you have to do is step in and say ‘ Ministry of Magic’.”
Feeling a little less uncertain, Buffy stepped up to the hearth. She stared down into the green flames before placing her foot inside. She waited a moment but when her skin and clothes didn’t automatically burst into flame, she moved her entire body inside.
It actually tickled slightly, the flames flickering over her skin. Everything around her seemed cast in an eerie green glow. Casting one last look at the two friends she was leaving, She cleared her throat and said precisely, “ Ministry of Magic.”
She was gone in a whoosh.
Well, on the bright side, it was better than a portkey.
The trip itself certainly hadn’t been a bad one. She enjoyed watching all the different fireplaces flyby, though she’d never been able to get a close look at any of them. She’d arrived with little fanfare. One moment she’d been zooming by and the next she was simply standing still in a large open hearth.
By the time her Uncle had appeared behind her, a strange portly little man in a pin-striped suit, lime green bowler hat, and purple pointed boots had shown up. He had said his name was Fudge and that he was the Minister. He’d gotten rather flustered and put out when she’d referred to him as ‘Father’.
One sight of companion however, had the man rapidly back peddling, showering them both in compliments and general ass-kissery.
Uncle Lucius on the other hand, had simply raised an aristocratic brow and informed the man that they would be leaving shortly, just as soon as he turned in her legal papers documenting his guardianship of Buffy. The man, Fudge, had puffed up and announced that he would escort them to ensue that everything would was done in a timely manner.
And so they had. Getting her official documents turned in and approved went by quickly and her new identity as a Malfoy was confirmed.
Her uncle and Fudge were deep in conversation regarding the escape of Sirius Black. She’d actually seen the posters plastered inside the Ministry. It was pretty horrible to look at… The man looked like a raving psychotic, greasy hair, sunken eyes, and overall haggard appearance. Definitely not someone she wanted to meet in an Alley at night. At least not without her pepper spray.
She’s been standing a little ways down from where Fudge and Uncle Lucius stood talking, staring at one of the posters, watching the man twist and turn inside of it. The door next to the poster opened and a tall red haired, if slightly balding, man emerged. He had a kind face and wore rather threadbare robes. He was speaking with an elderly witch when he saw her. “ Hello, are you lost?” He seemed pretty friendly.
She returned the smile, “ Oh no, actually I was just--”
“ A Yank! How wonderful!” He seemed strangely excited then turned abashed, “ Er, sorry. My wife would murder me if she heard of my manners. My name is Arthur Weasley.” He held out his hand and shook hers.
She smiled, “ My name is--”
“ Ah, I see you’ve meet my niece, Weasley.” Her uncle appeared behind her.
Arthur’s face underwent a rapid transformation. The formally friendly man’s face closed off and he scowled fiercely at her Uncle, “ Niece? You
have a niece?”
Uncle Lucius actually sneered down his nose at the equally tall man, “ As I said. What, you think the great Weasley Clan are the only ones capable of more than one offspring? Hardly. Christabel is my late sister’s child.” he placed a hand on Buffy’s shoulder, “ She’s just come to the country. It’s a time for family after all.”
Arthur’s lips pressed together but he ignored her Uncle. He turned to Buffy and gave her a solemn nod , “ My condolences on your loss.”
She gave him a tight smile, “ Thank you.”
“ If you’ll excuse us Weasley. We have things to do.” Lucius turned and guided them back down the long hallway.
Buffy glanced over her shoulder but Arthur’s back was already disappearing through a door. She glanced up at the man beside her, “ So what happened?”
He glanced down at her, “ What do you mean?”
She sighed, “ Well, it’s obvious you two don’t get along. So I was just wondering why…”
“ Ah,” he was leading them through a large doorway, “ Let’s just say that we have very different views on proper behavior for wizards.”
Buffy tried not to roll her eyes. Like that was even an answer.
They passed the entrance to the Floo network. She turned to her Uncle, “ Aren’t we taking the Floo?”
He smiled, a slight curling of his lip, “ No. I have a much quicker way to travel.” He entwined his arm through hers, “ Well, are you ready to go home?”
Before she could answer, there was a loud Crack and everything disappeared.