In Which the Sunnydale Students Settle In
Albus Dumbledore and the Tri-Wizard Tournament from Hell (2/?)
By Susan Anthony (LdyGossamer@aol.com)
Chapter Two - In Which the Sunnydale Students Settle In
As he led the newly arrived students down the stairs towards their assigned dorms, Professor Snape began considering which potions he could sneak into the Headmaster's tea without detection as revenge for sticking him with this job. The barmy old coot liked his tea lemon flavored and there were many potions which would be disguised by the taste if Severus could distract the old man enough that he didn't check his tea before he drank it.
Hummm, perhaps the balding potion. A hairless, beardless Dumbledore might be an amusing sight. He hadn't dared try it before but Severus was rapidly coming to the conclusion that his boss' cauldron wasn't quite full. Or even half-full and perhaps he ought to be looking in other directions for employment.
"Xander, we're going *down*," the sharp voice of the Chase girl commented testily, bringing his thoughts back to the present situation.
"I see that, Cordy," the boy replied with a calming tone.
"We just came *out* of a Hellmouth," she noted in an even shriller tone, "I don't want to go right back down into another one."
Severus stopped and turned sharply on the leading students, his eyes narrowed.
"Do you mean to say that the tunnel you just emerged from - the one you left open not fifty feet from the entrance to Hogwarts - is a *Hellmouth*?" he asked in a strangled tone.
The students just blinked at him.
"Of course not," the perky redhead who looked somewhat like a Weasley said brightly. "We'd never leave the Hellmouth open." She tilted her head slightly before she turned with a worried expression to the blond slayer. "I did turn the Hellmouth off before we left didn't I, Buffy? I'd hate to leave it running the whole time we're here. We might not have a Sunnydale to go back to."
Severus froze. He didn't know how to react to that statement as Buffy nibbled her lower lip thoughtfully.
"I think you closed it," she finally said before she looked at the tall teenager beside her. "Xander?"
"We'll ask Giles when he gets here, Willow," Xander responded with a shrug. "He'll know if Sunnydale is still there. If you didn't, you can always turn it off from here."
The other students around them nodded and shrugged off the thought that their town might have been swallowed by a Hellmouth that the Rosenberg Witch had left running while she trotted off to Merry Old England.
"So," Severus began solemnly again, "the tunnel that opened outside Hogwarts is *not* a Hellmouth entrance?" he asked, trying not to worry.
"Not at all," the redhead replied happily. "It's just an offshoot of the Hellmouth. Kinda like a Hellgate. Not a Hellmouth at all."
Severus blinked at the casual reference to another feared phenomena of the Wizarding World. A Hellgate. From which the hoards of Hell were supposed to emerge and corrupt the sterling magical folk of Wizarding Britain.
As the potions Professor looked around at the mostly smiling young faces of the students from Hellmouth High, he thought that might be an appropriate comparison.
Then he turned and began to walk down the hallway again at a brisk pace. He would definitely be warning his Slytherins to stay away from that tunnel but couldn't decide if he should warn anyone else.
Perhaps he would tell Minerva. Not because she would warn her Gryffindors but because it would be one more reason for her to scalp Albus for bringing these students here. Of course, then he'd have to use a different potion to get back at the Headmaster.
"We're still going down, Xander," the Chase girl stated flatly.
"I know, Cordy."
"We'd better not be in a dungeon or someone will be paying a heavy, painful price."
Severus was hoping it wouldn't be himself paying the heavy, painful price. The Chase family had a reputation that had reached over to Britain. Severus had even heard Lucius Malfoy mention the current head of that family with admiration.
As he passed the entrance to the Slytherin Common Room, he began to really worry. This area was even more run down than he remembered. The dorms that Albus had assigned these students were abandoned more than a few centuries ago and hadn't been used since. He certainly didn't want to be on the receiving end of a tantrum by the Chase princess. Even across the pond, they'd heard about the ability of that family to throw a tantrum.
He slowed as he approached the end of the hallway, bringing up his occlumency shields to full strength as he prepared himself to hear the unpleasant comments that the Chase girl would undoubtedly bestow upon him.
Instead of a dark, dim hallway and a small, creaky door, however, the hallway had been cleaned and brightened with several globes of white light illuminating a large double doorway built of solid golden wood and heavy metal beams. Standing to either side of the massive doors were two rows of house elves, all looking the same as the odd elf who had greeted them outside; blonde, golden-skinned and most with numerous odd piercings.
"Master Xander, Mistress Chase," one of the elves caroled as he stepped forward and bowed. "We's is ready for yous to survey the dorms."
"Hey Biff." Xander smiled weakly as he glanced at the girl beside him. She didn't look happy as she glanced around.
"This must be the very bottom of the castle," she said in a short tone.
"Oh, no, Miss Chase," another elf spoke up, bouncing happily. "There be several floors below this one."
Severus made a mental note to interrogate that elf a bit later. He only knew of one level below this one, the hallways which he used for his office and classroom.
"Well, it looks like the very *end* of the castle," Buffy grumbled and she looked just as unhappy as Cordelia.
"Miss Buffy and Miss Chase will be liking it though," Biff assured them. "The dorms was in terrible shape when we arrived but we had the most fun putting them to rights again!" the elf enthused. "The castle, she gave advice and when we told her how many students would be coming, she even made it into a tower for us! Seven floors!"
Severus blinked and tried to remember his last glimpse of the castle before he'd escorted the students into the school. Another tower? Dumbledore would be frothing at the very thought of *his* school being rearranged by *house elves* of all things.
The potions professor quietly smirked.
Xander looked a bit hopeful at that. "That sounds great," he replied in a happier tone. "Seven is a good number and Hogwarts is very kind to accommodate us. Please pass along our thanks, Biff."
"Of course, Master Xan," the elf said, beaming happily while Cordelia just sniffed next to him.
"Come on, Cordy," Xander said in a coaxing tone. "If the castle is helping the elves, it must be pretty nice."
"We'll see," she said with a stubborn glare at the golden doors. "We might as well check them out before I call my father."
"We's been told to set up a password for the doorway so only some can get in," Biff noted as the group moved forward.
"Oh, Xander!" another voice called out excitedly as a young blond student pushed forward to Xander's side. "Do we have to have a password? Couldn't we ask the school if the doors could open automatically? Like on the Enterprise?" The teenager bounced as he gestured with his hands, showing how the doors would part. "I bet the school could make it so the doors recognized us automatically and opened by themselves. The doors could slide right into the walls! Just like in the movies! Wouldn't that be cool?" The blond was beaming at Xander hopefully.
"I don't know, Andrew," the dark-haired teen said hesitantly though he eyed the doors with speculation. Beside him, Cordelia rolled her eyes.
"Puleeeeease, Xander?" the blonde begged, his eyes getting very wide and watery. "It would be very secure. I bet the school could recognize us by our magical fields and only open for those it recognized. No one else could get in unless they were with one of us."
"Or had a password," Willow said thoughtfully as she tapped her cheek. "That might be a good idea, Xander. We could set up a password for those who aren't from Sunnydale. And maybe a magical data field that records who comes and goes and who uses a password to get in."
"See? Even Willow agrees," Andrew said, bouncing again. "Please Xander?"
Alexander glanced at the girl beside him and Cordelia shrugged.
"The geeks are your responsibility, Xander," she said as she studied her nails. "But I'm not bothering to remember some dumb password so the door had better open when I walk towards it."
Xander grinned at Andrew and Willow and nodded. "You two figure out the data field and who will maintain it. From what Giles said about this school it's probably a good idea to know who is coming and going," he said and then turned to the waiting house elf. "Would you ask the castle if that would work, Biff?"
Severus had been quiet during this discussion and watched, wide-eyed as the house elf walked up to the wall and laid his hand on the stone. The professor wasn't quite certain what the blond boy had asked but having the doorway recognize the students by their magic was an ingenious idea. And were they going to set up a spell to monitor who came and went and identify the person by their magic?
After a few seconds, the double doors flared and a white light flickered from the doorway over each student waiting in the hallway. After a few seconds, the doors soundlessly opened, each side sliding seamlessly and silently into the wall.
"Cool!" the blond chirped as Xander grinned again.
"Thank you, Hogwarts," he said as he held his arm out to Cordelia and escorted her through the now wide-open doorway. "Coming professor?" he asked Severus with a backwards glance.
"What about the password, Master Xan?" Biff asked. "We's needs one for the school."
"How about Twinkie?" the boy replied and Biff nodded happily.
Beside Xander, Cordelia sighed. "Always thinking with your stomach."
The teenager just patted his stomach happily. "Old reliable."
Severus waited until all the students had filed into the double doors before he followed. If the elves hadn't performed a miracle then he wanted to be as far away from the Chase girl as possible. What he found inside the doorway, however, was nothing short of amazing.
The Common Room was huge and spacious with multiple couches and huge, comfortable chairs scattered around. There was a large fireplace wherein a fire flickered merrily while several students stood around it holding their hands out to warm them. The overall color scheme was a rather smooth maroon with a wide golden border running along the ceiling and floor. There were thick rugs carpeting the stone floor and the walls were adorned with what Severus could only describe as colorful modern art.
Severus looked closer at a few of the pictures and decided art might be too strong a word.
"Like the posters, Professor Snape?" Xander asked from just beside him and Severus had to keep himself from jumping.
"They are certainly...colorful," he said in a neutral tone. Xander chuckled and shrugged.
"Most of them were printed in art class so I'm not too sure of the value but they remind us a bit of home." He gestured towards a large glass cabinet against the far wall that was filled with what looked like plaques and sports trophies. "Those are from our school too. We also brought our library. Biff just told me Hogwarts was kind enough to add a room just for that as well."
Professor Snape's eyebrows rose. "Hogwarts does have a rather large and varied library, Mr. Harris," the man noted in a dry tone. Hogwarts' library was world famous and scholars were always requesting access to it throughout the summer months. "There was no need to bring your own."
Xander just shrugged again. "We wanted to save as much as we could from the High School without alerting the mayor. We knew pretty early on that we were going to have to blow the school to get rid of him. But to make it less suspicious, we put out the word that we were bringing lots of stuff with us to Hogwarts so we'd feel more at home."
Professor Snape once again found himself without words to respond to the boy's casual reference of blowing up his school.
"Xander!" the Chase girl's imperious voice called across the room and the pair looked up to see the young woman descending from the girls' dorm followed by several other beaming females.
"Excuse me, Professor," Xander mumbled and hurried across the room to stand at the bottom of the stairs. Conversations in the room died off to nothing as Miss Chase stopped a few steps up and glanced thoughtfully around the Common Room.
"Well, Cordy?" Xander asked his voice obviously nervous. "Will the rooms be all right?"
She studied Xander for a moment before she called out for Biff. The valley elf appeared beside Xander and gave the girl a brief bow.
"Yes, Mistress Chase?"
Cordelia nodded to the elf and gave him a small smile. "The rooms are adequate, Biff. You and the others have done well."
The elf stood straight and bowed again. "Thank you, Miss," he said and popped away as the remaining teens in the room breathed a rather loud sigh of relief.
"That's great, Cordy!" Xander said happily as the girls stepped down to the main floor. "Was there anything that needed correcting?"
"Amazingly not," the girl replied, her demeanor a little less stiff. "The elves did a wonderful job and Hogwarts was very kind to allow us to use these dorms. I won't mind staying here for the school year."
"Excellent," Xander said as he clapped his hands together. Then he turned back to the room. "Okay everyone, listen up, confab time!" he called out and the students settled onto the couches and chairs and even on the floor where they had large pillows available. Severus was still staring at the huge, comfortable, rather airy common room that easily seated the hundred or so students from Sunnydale.
"Cordelia?" Xander asked as he looked at the pretty brunette.
Cordelia moved up a few steps so she could see everyone and looked around at the now quiet students. "The dorms are quite acceptable. Boys, keep your rooms clean. Nothing had better come creeping down those stairs into the Common Room. Also, stay out of the girls' dorm on pain of castration," she said firmly and Severus saw several boys flinch and cover their privates. Obviously, the girl meant business.
"Girls, keep your rooms clean as well and if you mess about with the boys, both of you take precautions. This isn't Sunnydale and there aren't contraceptive spells everywhere."
The potions professor actually coughed at that statement and cleared his throat as Cordelia and Xander glanced over at him.
"We're strangers here and evidently our reputation has preceded us." She rolled her eyes and sighed. "Some people are such big babies! Blow one school up and we're branded for life."
"What about Salem?" one teenager asked and Cordelia crossed her arms.
"Does that count? They were barely singed."
"And Denver Fine Arts?" another student asked with a grin.
The brunette just sniffed. "That school was standing when we left. What happened afterwards was completely *not* our fault. They were just mad our Quidditch team crushed their pansy of a team."
Severus really started to worry when there were cheers and hoots across the room and various smug-looking, athletic-looking types were patted on the back.
"In any case," the girl continued, holding up her hand for silence, "we obviously have a bad rep here so no one goes anywhere alone. Who knows what these kids have been told and what they might do? British people are odd, so watch each others' backs and report any weird happenings."
The teacher vaguely wondered what *this* group would construe as weird.
"Keep your eyes open, especially around Potter and Longbottom. Giles said there is some prophesy about them and that Dark Lord Morty Zits and it might be contagious. The *last* thing we need is for some of us to be roped into *that* mess."
Severus just blinked at the casually offered knowledge handed to these students. Knowledge that Dumbledore was sitting on like it was his youngest daughter's virtue.
"And finally," the girl continued sternly, "there will be absolutely *no* blood magic or sacrifices in the hallways! We don't have any way to clean up the mess without the specially trained janitorial staff and you know we had to leave them behind to clean up the rubble that was Hellmouth High. We're guests here so try and behave."
Severus had thought himself prepared for anything these children had to say but found himself choking at that last statement.
"Professor?" Xander asked in an inquiring tone as the potions teacher coughed even more violently than he had before. "Do you need some water?"
The man just waved his hand and shook his head as he glanced over the teenagers Albus Dumbledore had allowed...nay, *invited* into Hogwarts. Severus predicted that Minerva was going to skin Albus with a spoon before the end of the year. He hoped he was around to watch.
Xander looked him over for a moment and then nodded before he turned to the students.
"All right, then. Cordelia has spoken, so now it's my turn. I'd just like to remind you these are British kids and not nearly as advanced and resilient as the Hellmouth raised so be careful with them. No poking fun at them because most of their juniors and seniors still have to use wands."
"What about those German putzes? They looked pretty hardy," a student called out. Xander just shook his head.
"Leave them alone too," he stated firmly. "Sending any of these guys on a quick round trip to the netherworld will not be taken as lightly as it would be at home." The boy grimaced. "I understand the Headmaster is quite prissy about everyone following his rules unless you're one of those Gryffindork guys Giles mentioned and you know how the British Aurors get around anything they think is..." Xander held up his hands and wiggled his fingers menacingly, "...daaaaark magic so keep it to a minimum."
The kids around the room started making mocking hoots again and Severus found himself sitting down quite abruptly. Fortunately, there was a chair behind him or he would have ended up on the floor.
"ANYway," Xander said calming the room with a wave of his hand. "Now, you all probably noticed this is Scotland, the Great White North and all that. Being from Southern Cal, most of us probably aren't prepared for the weather change. If you don't have the proper gear for spelunking in this castle in the winter, please see someone from the transfiguration club to change what you have into what you need. Andrew has some good spells to keep everything transformed until next Summer so check with him and his crew if you need additional help."
"Now, Giles said we'd be taking classes with the Brits so be prepared for the teachers to be a little...different. If you don't think the teacher will welcome your questions, write them down, we'll go over them as a group. Oh, and make sure all your pens look like quills and your regular spiral-bound notebooks look like that parchment stuff. Giles said these guys have a thing about using the 'traditional' implements of school torture so be prepared to turn in assignments on parchment. Again, see the transfiguration committee if you need some help with changing your paper into parchment."
There were quite a few groans and quiet grumbles at that. Xander just smiled sympathetically.
"We'll have a gathering each evening for the first few weeks and I'll see if we can get a staffer to help answer any questions or address any issues we might run across."
Severus abruptly cleared his throat again and Xander glanced in his direction.
"Mr. Giles said you'd be taking classes here?" Professor Snape asked and the young man nodded.
"Yes, Professor. He said Hogwarts had plenty of room in the classes and not many of our teachers will be able to join us." The boy grinned and he stuck his hands in the pockets of his jeans. "He said he had spoken with Mrs...er...Sprout?" Severus just stared at him so Xander kept talking. "He said Mrs. Sprout didn't mind if we tagged along with her kids to their classes."
Severus just blinked a few times, feeling his mind fog up as his lips tried to twitch into a wicked smirk.
"Ripper wants you to take classes with the Hufflepuffs?" slipped out before he could stop the words.
"Ummmm," Xander looked confused. "What's a Hufflepuff?"
Severus did smirk then. "Professor Sprout is the Head of Hufflepuff House even as I am Head of Slytherin House," he explained as he wondered what Ripper was up to, palming these lunatics off on Pomona's faint-hearted flower children. "Her students are called Hufflepuffs."
"Oh, well then, I guess so," Xander said before he mouthed 'Hufflepuff?' to himself. Then he looked thoughtful. "So that must mean there's a Gryffindork House too?" he asked. "Giles was going on about avoiding them like the plague."
The professor had to restrain himself from grinning openly. "They are called Gryffindor and Professor McGonagall is their Head of House. There is also a fourth Hogwarts House called Ravenclaw and Professor Flitwick is their Head."
"Oh," Xander replied with a confused nod. "Okay." He shrugged and then turned back to his fellow students. "In any case, we're supposed to be paired up with Professor Sprout's umm Hufflepuffs," he paused as several snickers worked their way across the room. "Giles also said that though we'd be with Mrs. Sprout's kids, that Professor Snape here would be our liaison to the staff of Hogwarts."
Severus blinked again as Xander continued.
"Now, Giles went to school with Professor Snape and Giles respects him." The room, which had been getting restless suddenly quieted as the students turned to Severus with calculating but somehow admiring gazes. "So do not piss him off and do not put Professor Snape in a position that would require Giles to step in."
There was silence again as the children all shivered. Severus was still bogged down on the "Giles respects him" comment.
"One last thing," Xander said into the silence. His expression was the most solemn Severus had yet seen. "You were all issued "Goblet of Fire: A History" before we came over here so you know what the tournament is like. In a normal year, it was dangerous. In a Potter year, we know it'll be worse as evidenced by his previous three years here. We also know there are portents and visions all over the Wizarding World - except in Britain, of course - indicating that next Spring might be when Voldemort returns to harass the British. So keep a sharp eye out for trouble, especially around known sympathizers of that Nazi nutcase."
Xander looked around at the sudden grins that decorated his fellow students' faces. "Don't start anything," he stated bluntly and there was a general disappointed groaning. "If you need to, step in and protect each other and any other student fodder in the way of those inbred idiots but don't start anything yourselves. Just report any incidents or gossip to Willow's Ops team so we can keep our information up to date."
Severus was really trying to get his brain to work again after the last several minutes but he was having a hard time of it. He decided to not think about anything he'd just heard. Later he would have to sit down with a glass of fire whiskey and a pensieve to study his memories of this evening.
His lips curved in an evil smile. Perhaps he would invite Minerva to view his memories as well.
One of the more athletic types held up his hand and asked, "What about Quidditch and Quodpot?"
"I don't know, Larry," Xander said as he glanced towards the professor. "Professor?"
"Unfortunately, the Headmaster doesn't allow Quodpot to be played here and he has cancelled the Quidditch season this year," Severus replied, his voice obviously unhappy.
"No Quodpot?" one voice demanded, incensed, while others grumbled unhappily about the Quidditch season being canceled.
"But can we fly?" the athlete-type called Larry asked as the other teenagers around him quieted and leaned forward to see Professor Snape. "We've heard you have a killer pitch here. Maybe we could organize some informal games? I'd like to see what kind of teams your school puts in the air."
"We brought all our gear," another student said. "We wouldn't need anything but competition."
There were a lot of agreeing voices across the room and Xander stepped forward and held up his hand. The room quieted almost immediately and the teenager turned to Severus.
"Professor? Do you think we could organize some games on your field?" he asked respectfully.
Severus glanced over the hopeful faces and sighed as he stood.
"Not for Quodpot. The Headmaster is set on that. But I don't see why Quidditch games would be a problem as long as you follow the rules Miss Chase and Mr. Harris have set down," he finally said and there were cheers across the room. "I will let you know when you may begin using the field, Mr. Harris."
"Thank you, Professor," Xander said with a wide grin. Obviously, the boy was as much a Quidditch hooligan as the rest of those in the room.
"When will Giles get here, Xan?" a voice cut across the rising noise and almost everyone turned back to the young man beside the fireplace.
"Giles said he would be here anytime between tonight and tomorrow." Xander glanced at Severus for a moment before he continued. "I don't think we'll be in class tomorrow so use that day to get settled in and learn the layout of the castle. Harmony has copies of castle maps so everyone be sure to get one. Hopefully, we'll get our class schedules as soon as Giles settles it with Mrs. Sprout."
The students nodded and began standing up and stretching, obviously thinking the informal meeting was over.
"Oh, another thing I forgot," Xander called out. "Giles said that the Goblet thing for the Tournament is supposed to be lighted tonight. He wanted to be here before that happened but in case he wasn't, he asked me to reiterate that only those that are 17 or older can enter."
There was again some grumbling among the students but Xander continued in a loud voice that was easily heard over the other voices, "Giles said that anyone under the age of 17 trying to enter the contest would be serving detention with him in the library for the remainder of the year. And you *know* he'll find out."
Another deathly silence echoed across the room.
"Right, only 17 or older!" Larry declared as he glared around the room. "And no entering anyone else's name in the pot to get someone in trouble!"
After a few more seconds of silence, Xander clapped his hands loudly. "All right then! The elves will deliver your luggage to your rooms once you choose where you want to stay. Biff said two or three students to a room and Cordy will settle any arguments over rooms." Everyone looked warily at Cordelia who merely replied with a wicked grin. "Everyone find a room and be back down here in fifteen minutes. I don't know about you all but I'm starving!"
Severus watched as the students headed quickly up the stairs on either side of the common room. Xander, however, approached him with a wary look.
"I guess Giles didn't tell you about being our liaison, huh?" he asked.
"No, he did not," the professor replied, "but then I was unaware of the change in schools until this evening."
Xander looked surprised. "But I know Principle Snyder replied to Mr. Dumbledore's invitation a couple of weeks ago." The teenager gave a half-laugh. "He was so excited. He thought at least a couple of us would be caught by the Goblet."
Severus again wasn't sure how to respond to Xander's words so he ignored them.
"Do you recall how to get back to the main hall?" he asked in a neutral tone that he actually had to struggle to achieve. "I can wait and walk with your group but I have some details to see to before the feast." Like giving a quick word of warning to Professor Sprout.
"No, we'll be fine, Professor, and thanks for the escort," the teenage said in a cheerful voice.
The dark-haired professor nodded and turned towards the common room doors.
"Oh, and don't worry, Professor Snape," Xander's voice followed him out as the doors closed silently behind him. "We know exactly who to blame for anything bad that happens in Hogwarts."
Severus blinked at the rather imposing doors to the Sunnydale Common Room before he turned on his heel with a swirl of his black robes and stalked back down the hallway. This certainly was going to be an interesting tournament.