Title: Brothers in Arms
Rating: PG-13 (for potential swearing and violence)
Spoilers: BTVS through the end and HP through OotP.
Summary: While Dumbledore and Giles are attempting to establish a high-level alliance between the Watcher’s Council and the Order of the Phoenix, the heroes of each side join forces to save Hogwarts from a powerful monster. Set in 2004, with both timelines as they actually would have occurred.
Author’s Note: This is a one-shot short fic, written because, basically, I felt like writing something where everybody gets to whup ass without engaging in heavy emotional subplots. Also, the idea of a joint Order of the Phoenix-Watcher’s Council task force appeals to me.
Disclaimer: It’s not mine. None of it. No copyright infringement is intended.
1: Nights Off
“I think that would be an excellent idea, Albus. Let me just tell them, and we can be off.”
Buffy heard Giles’ voice and the thumping of his feet through the closed door. Willow and Xander didn’t hear, but looked up from the tv when the door cracked open and Giles stepped into the room.
“Something brewing, Giles?” Willow asked from the bed. She and Xander were laying on their stomachs facing the foot of the bed. She had a handful of Buffy’s hair twirled mid-braid. Xander was mindlessly munching on a bag of English Cheetos.
Giles had to smile. His charges hadn’t seemed so at ease in years. It was comforting to know they could still relax. “It’s been a rather productive day, actually. We were about to grab a spot of supper – Albus knows a pub with superb shepherd’s pie not far from here. Would you all like to join us?”
The three Scoobies looked at one another and simultaneously shook their heads.
“We can’t leave now, Giles,” Buffy said from the floor.
“Yeah, I mean, this girl’s about to start sleeping with her doctor,” Xander added, pointing an orange finger at the screen. “We can’t leave before her husband finds out.”
“Husband? I thought it was her brother.”
“Nah, Wills, her brother’s the guy with the shaved head. Her husband wears that green hat.”
“I don’t think so, Xander. I thought the guy with the green hat was her sister’s husband.”
“No, her sister’s husband is wearing the fez, right?” Buffy half-turned to see his answer, then yelped when Willow accidentally yanked her stretched hair.
Willow dropped the half-finished braid and cringed, biting her lower lip apologetically. “Oh! Sorry! Sorry, Buffy.”
The Slayer patted and rubbed her hair. “No, it’s okay, Will. Bald is in this season.”
“Yes, well…” Giles said from the door.
Albus Dumbledore came up behind him, his flowing white beard framing a grin to match Giles’ own. “I think we had best leave them to their entertainment, Rupert.”
“We don’t mean to be rude, Professor,” Willow said, “it’s just that the Indian tv is way better here than it was in Sunnydale, and we’ve missed out on it for awhile now.”
“I understand perfectly, Miss Rosenberg. It was never my intention to interfere with your night off.”
“No big, Professor,” Buffy responded. “We know it’s important. We’re all for a team-up. It’s not like we’ve never had a night off interrupted, you know?”
“I do, my dear.” He smiled his grandfatherly smile.
“Well, we’ll be going then. I’ll have my cell phone, should something turn up,” Giles said. The Scoobies dutifully nodded, not really listening, their eyes already tuned back to the television before the two older men exited.
“So,” Buffy said thoughtfully, her eyes flicking briefly back to the door, “you think the guy in the green hat is her husband?”
“Uh huh. Remember at the beginning, she made him feed the dog? That was when she met the pool guy.”
“Pool guy?” Willow gave Xander a questioning look. “That wasn’t the paper boy?”
“He had the giant hose, Wills. What’s the giant hose for if not cleaning a pool?”
“Oh, good point.” She nodded and picked Buffy’s hair up again. “This would be easier with subtitles, huh?”
Giles led Dumbledore out through the hallway and down the stairs of the large townhouse the Watcher’s Council called home. Both remained silent for the first few blocks of their walk to the pub, but Dumbledore spoke first.
“You would almost think they were normal young adults with normal jobs on a normal night off.”
“It’s why they’ve survived so long.”
“I suspect you’ve had a great deal to do with that as well, Rupert.”
Giles shrugged, slightly embarrassed. “One of the reasons we are working so hard to reestablish the Council is to try and provide the slayers with some semblance of a normal life. The previous Watchers failed to understand that, and I think it shortened the lives of their charges immeasurably.”
“There are those who would wish to see Hogwarts turned into a military academy. Did you know that?”
Giles raised his eyebrows. “No.”
“Yes. There have always been such people in the wizarding community, and at times they have gained considerable influence. I despise that. It is one of the reasons we teach only Defense Against the Dark Arts, and not the Dark Arts themselves.”
“It does sound like an extraordinary place. I should like to visit, if you wouldn’t mind?”
“Absolutely. Any time.”
“Excellent.” Giles stopped then, looking the taller wizard intently in the eye. “I have to tell you, Albus, that this meeting has gone quite a bit differently than I expected it would.”
“Oh?” Dumbledore looked at him quizzically. “How so?”
“I would have thought wizards would be resistant to the idea of aiding the Council, or accepting help from us, such as is it is.” They both understood that it would be years before the Watcher’s Council had been rebuilt enough to provide the Ministry with any noteworthy amount of aid.
Dumbledore sighed. He folded his arms into the sleeves of his robe and shook his head.
“They will be, Rupert. The Ministry is … the people who govern our world fear change. They fear it more than I can possibly express. Had you only seen Cornelius Fudge during the Death Eater crisis … but I digress. Change is inevitable. Some of us greatly fear the day when muggle technology will detect our magical countermeasures.”
“That day is far off.”
“Certainly. But it will happen, Rupert, make no mistake. And when it does, the wizarding world will need allies, people willing to bridge the gap between wizards and non-wizards and show them how much each world can offer the other.”
“I agree. As someone who has lived his life straddling both worlds, I most definitely agree. It is a large task.”
“The people we must convince first are those on the working level. The aurors and younger department heads. They will be more receptive, I believe, to working with the Watcher’s Council. Many of them studied at Hogwarts. At the very least, I am certain we can establish a working relationship between your slayers and many of the aurors. Anything more than that will take a long time.”
“I understand,” Giles said, nodding. “Perhaps over dinner we might discuss how to introduce them, then? Perhaps a task force or some such, something to allow our forces to get used to one another. Nothing like a good scrum to build trust, and there’s always more than enough evil to go around,” he added with a rueful smile.
“Without a doubt,” Dumbledore responded as they resumed their trek towards dinner.
Gray static covered the screen.
“Can you say, underwhelming?”
“Right on, Xand. Worst. Ending. Ever.” Buffy started to shake her head, then remembered Willow was finishing the last braid and settled for an additional grunt of agreement.
“English tv is like English food. Blech.” Xander paused for a second. “Who’s up for dinner?”
Both Willow’s hands were occupied, so she kicked his calf instead of hitting him.
“You just ate four bags of Cheetos, Xander. No more for you.”
She had been insisting Xander be more careful about his eating for weeks now. Somehow, the disappearance of Xander’s parents after Sunnydale’s collapse had reawakened Willow’s maternal instinct towards him. He knew there was no fighting her, but he usually protested anyway.
“C’mon, Wills. They were crappy English Cheetos, and besides, I ate healthy for lunch.”
“What’d you have?” Her tone was more than skeptical.
“Better tell her, Xand. She’ll have you eating twigs and rabbit food for a week again.”
He mumbled something that neither Buffy nor Willow could hear.
“What was that?”
“I think he said Twinkies, Will.”
Willow glared at him. Xander tried and failed to look innocent.
“I can’t eat that stuff, Wills. I’m always hungry.” His voice bordered on a whine, and he was looking at her with puppy dog eyes.
“Don’t you use those eyes on me, mister. You’re gonna blow up like a blimp if you don’t start …”
Before she could say ‘eating better,’ the door between the living room and Giles’ office burst open and slammed loudly against the wall. An older woman came through it at a run and skidded to a halt in front of them.
“I need to find Albus Dumbledore right away! Where is he?”
The three Scoobies stared blankly at up at her from their spots on the bed and floor. She looked to be Giles’ age or older, and despite the bruise forming on her right cheek and the stray dark wisps of hair peeking out from the severe bun she had it in, she managed to maintain an air of British dignity. Buffy saw the panic in her eyes right away. She knew that look – mostly she saw it on people who had stumbled into vampire-rich alleys without stakes.
“He and Giles went to dinner,” Willow said.
“Can we help you?” Buffy pulled her hair free of Willow and stood up. The older woman shook her head impatiently.
“No, no, of course not. I need Albus. Where is he? Dinner, you say?”
Xander nodded. “And you are?”
“Minerva McGonagall,” she said impatiently. “Where did they go to dinner?”
“We don’t know,” Willow answered. She could feel a substantial amount of power radiating off of this McGonagall woman, and the name clicked in her head. “Wait, you’re Professor McGonagall, right? You teach at Hogwarts.” Xander and Buffy turned questioning stares on Willow. “Giles gave me the rundown earlier, in case I had to do something for the negotiations.”
“Yes, I am.” McGonagall slouched slightly, as if tremendous fatigue all suddenly settled on her all at once. “Oh dear. Oh dear.”
“Maybe we can help, even if they aren’t here,” Willow offered.
“Not unless you know something about magic-resistant monsters and how to kill them.”
The three Scoobies looked at each other for half a second. Then Buffy took charge.
“Xander, weapons. I want a sword. A big one. Also stakes, multiple, wooden, and domestic.”
“I’ll grab my boomstick, too.”
“Area binding spells and ability enhancement charms. The stuff’s in my room.” Willow and Xander ducked out the other door at a run.
McGonagall watched them go, a blank look on her face. The look moved from the door to Buffy. “I don’t understand.”
“I’m sorry. We haven’t been properly introduced.” Buffy gave the Professor her sweetest smile. “I’m Buffy, the Vampire Slayer.”
“All right, Harry?”
Ron’s voice broke Harry’s reverie. His eye shifted from the empty space he had been staring at to his friends across the table. Ron’s arm rested on the back of Hermione’s chair as his hand idly stroked her shoulder; both of them were watching Harry with concern.
“Sorry. Just a bit spacey, that’s all.”
“Still thinking about her?” Hermione asked. Ron reached down and grabbed a spoonful of his ice cream sundae, but he kept his eyes on Harry as he ate. His best friend nodded so slightly that Ron almost missed it anyway.
“Don’t let it get you down, Harry.”
“Little late for that,” he mumbled through a bite of his own ice cream.
“Honestly, Harry, you’re focus should be on the job, anyway. There are still stray Death Eaters about and …”
“He’s got every right to be upset, ‘Mione! Hell, she’s my sister, and I’m upset!”
“I’m just saying we’ve got business things to attend to, Ron, and I don’t think his head should be in the clouds. I mean …”
“Enough!” Harry shouted, stopping their argument before it could pick up any steam. He knew they meant well, but he wasn’t going to be getting over Ginny any time soon, and listening to them fight about it and preach to him wouldn’t help matters.
Both of his friends looked abashed.
“Sorry, Harry,” Hermione said. Ron nodded his agreement.
“Look, Hermione, it is what it is, alright? I can do the job fine. I always have before. It isn’t like when … it’s not as bad as when Sirius died, and I did the job then. Don’t worry about me.” He turned his intense green eyes on them. “It just wasn’t meant to be.”
“Leavin’ you for bleeding Malfoy, though,” Ron said without thinking. He took an elbow in the side from Hermione. “I mean … damn. Sorry, Harry.”
Harry shrugged. It wasn’t as if the same thing hadn’t been running through his mind for weeks.
“We should go soon,” he said, casting a glance up and down Diagon Alley. The streets were practically empty, and Florean Fortescue didn’t have any other customers. “It was nice o’ you guys to take me out with you, though. We don’t do enough stuff outside of work anymore.”
“Tell me about it. A’course, we don’t get that much time off as it is,” Ron added sorrowfully. All three of them loved being aurors, but full-time job didn’t quite cover the amount of their lives they had to surrender.
“At least we have tonight. We should get back to our flat, Ron. I need to do some more research on the Aucupium spell. It could help us find the rest … what?”
Ron was watching her, a half-smile on his face.
“Nothin’. I jus’ think you’re sexy when you get into know-it-all mode, that’s all.”
She smiled shyly. The thought that Ron found her sexy still made her tingle all over, even after four years of dating.
Harry grinned as well. Unhappy though he might be about Ginny and Draco Malfoy, the sight of his two best friends in love always made him feel a little better. Even if, he occasionally admitted to himself, he was a little jealous of what they had these days.
“I think that’s my cue to bid you two a good night,” Harry said. “I’ll see you bright and …” He stopped mid-sentence, his eyes focused over their shoulders.
“What is it?” Hermione spun in her seat; Professor Sprout was sprinting towards them as fast as her stumpy legs would carry her.
She was gasping for air when she reached them. “Harry … quickly … monsters … Hogwarts … and Dumbledore’s away!”
“Monsters?” Ron asked, his eyebrows rising.
Sprout nodded. “Some sort of … vampire, I think … very strong … resists magic. It came through … giant portal. Your sister … said you’d be here,” Sprout gasped out.
Harry drew his wand from inside his robes and cinched his black auror’s cloak around his neck.
“We’re wasting time, then.”