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The Lesser of Two Evils

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Summary: AU With moments to spare, the monks decided to send the Key in human form to someone who would protect it: Harry Potter. Now, Harry must protect his younger sister from both new and old foes alike while trying to be a big brother. Detailed summary inside

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Harry Potter > Dawn-CenteredfuturesnlwriterFR151063,6684267,97228 Dec 107 Dec 13No

Starts with Goodbye

I'm so glad that the first chapter was met with such positive responses! Between this site and ff.net, I got seven reviews, which to me is a lot. Thank you all! (Especially cyberia for helping me with a dialectical issue.)

Instead of relying upon Dawn to provide her back-story (as in Real Me) or simply ignoring it, there will be flashbacks in the story (the large blocks of text at the beginning of the chapter is intended to be a flashback). They may raise questions as well, but those will be answered in due time. Also, if anyone was wondering about the timeline for both shows, I believe I make it clear in this chapter, along with relevant changes to the Key's history and past.

Disclaimer: While I own neither franchise, a portion of this chapter are derived from the episode "No Place Like Home" of Buffy.

Chapter 2: Starts with Goodbye



"Goodbye Harry!" the young girl screamed out from the platform as the Hogwarts Express pulled away. "Don't forget to write!" She yelled as she ran up the platform, her brown air whipping in her face as she ran. "I'll miss you!" She continued running until she ran out of room on the platform. There were tears in her eyes as she dropped to her knees.

Very few witches and wizards were still on the platform. The only ones that hadn't disapparated or left were the parents of first years, wanting to get one last look at their children before they left for the first time. Those that remained stared at the scene that the girl was making, unsure of what to do. They were relieved to see another young girl with fiery red hair walk up to her and kneel beside her.

"Hi Dawn," the red-head said meekly. "Do you remember me?

Dawn looked up slightly, and her blue eyes met the red-head's browns. "Yes," she choked out between smiles.

Ginny smiled. Her mum, as Dawn's godmother, had taken Dawn and Ginny out for ice-cream a few times, usually to celebrate Dawn's birthday. They had become friends, but her mom's Tongue-Tying Charm had kept Dawn from saying anything to the Dursley's and Harry, lest they think that she had a good time and forbid her from going on those trips again.

"So, Harry's on the train?" Ginny asked, trying desperately to curb Dawn's tears.

"Yeah. I miss him already."

"Really? My brother Ron's on that train and I'm glad that I have the house to myself until I go to Hogwarts."

Dawn was silent for a moment before she began sobbing harder. Ginny sighed, as apparently, the thought of having more attention from her aunt and uncle was terrifying. Attempting to change the subject, Ginny asked Dawn a simple question: "Who brought you to King's Cross Station?"

"My Uncle Vernon. But I think he left already," Dawn said, loudly enough so Molly Weasley could hear. After Arthur had disapparated to go to work, they were the only three left on the platform.

"Honey?" Molly asked gently. Both girls turned around. "Would you like to go home?"

Upon hearing that request, Dawn broke down into tears again. Although she had one of the four bedrooms in the house, she could consider no worse a fate than being left alone, without Harry, in the house of people who didn't even want her around. Ginny wrapped her arm around Dawn and hugged her tight, as though they were long lost sisters.

Her heart breaking at its seams, Molly knelt down next to the two girls. "Dawn, you remember that I'm your godmother, right?" She nodded, urging Molly to continue. "Well, I think I can arrange it so you can spend the school year with us at the Burrow, our home. Again, only during the school year, but that's probably better than living with your muggle relatives, right?" Dawn smiled wildly and hugged her godmother as tight as she could. "I guess that's a yes then?"

..::..

Arthur arrived home from the Ministry late that night, mumbling about a bewitched peeber that was causing him trouble. By that point, Molly had sent both of the girls to bed, tired after a long day of the two young girls' "reconnecting."

After a brief kiss, Arthur looked into her eyes and noticed her weariness. "I take it things went as you planned?"

"Yes," Molly nodded, motioning him to sit at the table for dinner. "I was able to bring Dawn home."

"Good, she'll spend the next two school years with us instead of those muggles. Did you set up Bill's room for her?"

"No, I didn't. They asked to sleep in the same room."

Arthur looked up from his meal. "That's wonderful! I'm glad that they're such fast friends. Did you move a bed or a cot into her room?" He noticed that she was fiddling with her ring, something she only did when she was nervous about divulging information. "Did you move a bed from the attic and break something? I don't know why you would be nervous about telling me."

"Well, they said that they wanted to sleep in the same bed like a sleepover, and I couldn't say no when they looked so cute in their matching jammies. So, I enlarged the bed. They'll probably want the room to stay like that, but the Engorgement Charm won't last that long."

"I don't see any problem with having them sleep in the same bed," Arthur exclaimed happily. "And you're an excellent witch, I'm sure your charm is very strong. So what's bothering you?"

"I hope she likes living here. It could be a long two years if she doesn't," Molly was nearly babbling, still fidgeting with her ring.

"Why wouldn't she like it here? You're getting yourself all worked up over nothing."

Molly sighed, though Arthur wasn't sure if it was out of relief or frustration. "I should probably check and see if they fell asleep. If they're going to stay up all night, she's going into Bill's room." Molly got up from the table and walked up the stairs to the Ginny's room. She pressed her ear to the door but heard nothing. As silently as possible, she opened the door a crack and peeked in.

Sure enough, the two girls were asleep. Ginny was snoring slightly, though the sound of her breathing was obscured by Dawn's outstretched hand, which covered her mouth. Unconsciously, Ginny knocked Dawn's hand away.

"They sure are something," Arthur whispered from behind her. As he spoke, Dawn rolled her arm over and smacked Ginny's head lightly. "It's as though…"

"It's just like old times," Molly said quietly, tears rolling down her face.

..::..

Although it was Ron and Hermione's turn to patrol the Hogwarts Express, Harry offered to accompany Ron instead so she could continue reading the paper. To everyone in their compartment's surprise, she agreed. They had mostly stuck to small talk about Quidditch and their summer plans, but Ron felt that a certain subject needed to be breached.

"So, going back to the muggle relatives?" he asked.

Harry looked at him incredulously, appalled that he even mentioned the unfortunate situation. "Yes, you know I have to. I told you what Dumbledore said."

"Yeah, I know. Wards and all," Ron replied.

Harry put his arm on Ron's shoulder and pulled him aside into an empty compartment. "What do you mean by that?"

"Well, you have wards protecting your home. It seems simple. Even a third year could understand the concept."

Harry paced around the room. "I know what you're getting at! And it's not going to work!"

"I don't see why you can't tell Dawn. She has a right to know that her home is protected. She has a right to feel safe."

"One day she'll know," Harry conceded.

"When?"

Harry stopped his pacing and looked at his friend. "Why is it so important to you that Dawn knows about the wards?"

"I asked you first."

"I don't know," Harry admitted as he sat down. "She was so freaked out this summer after the Dementor attack. She was convinced that the only safe place was our house. She swore that she was never leaving again!"

"And it was the only safe place."

"She shouldn't be worried about going outside!" Harry shouted, though he quickly regained his composure, as he knew that he forgot to cast a silencing charm. "She shouldn't have to spend all of her days cooped up like I do."

"But don't you think she'd feel safer all around if she knew that she was protected?"

"I'm not answering another question until you answer mine."

Ron sighed. "You know that we think of you both as part of the family. And it breaks Dawn's heart, not to mention my mother's, every year when we have to tell her that she can't spend the entire summer."

"It's only two more summers…"

"That's not the point!" Ron interrupted. "You know why she can't join us! You know that living in that house with multiple members of your family that share your mum's blood strengthens the wards. And she doesn't!"

"And she won't," Harry threatened.

"I won't tell her. But you should. She deserves to know that the people who love her and want to take her in can't because she's safer with you in your home."

They sat there in silence, until Ron got up and opened the door. They resumed the small talk, both content to mull over their conversation instead of acting on it

..::..

Later, they reentered their compartment on the train, having returned after an eventful confrontation with Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle that ended with a few hexes being thrown by various members of the DA. However, their conversation was still fresh on their minds, especially as Dawn turned away from them as they sat down.

"I take it she's still mad at me," Harry said to Ginny. It wasn't even a question, as Ginny had been acting as Dawn's messenger to Harry ever since they had returned from the Department of Mysteries.

"I am," Dawn said sullenly, "but I'll talk to you. It would be a long summer if I didn't." Harry sighed; it would certainly be a long summer.

Ginny and Dawn were sitting side-by-side, doing a crossword puzzle. If their tradition held, they would hold hands from the time the train stopped until Uncle Vernon grabbed her and forcibly took her off the platform, just as he had done for the past five years. Hermione pulled out the Daily Prophet and snorted occasionally at the ridiculous things they printed while Neville was caring to his Mimbulus Mibletonia. Ron and Harry began to play Wizard's Chess when Hermione interrupted the silence.

"So Harry," Hermione began, "what now?" Her question was so simple, yet carried so much weight. All the eyes in the compartment turned to her.

"Well, I don't know. Umbridge is out of the picture, so I won't need to worry about Dementor attacks. Dumbledore just told me that I would be safe at the Dursley's and not to worry about it."

"Yeah, because we're so safe there," Dawn muttered. Harry sighed, wishing that he could tell her the truth about the protection spells surrounding the house they called home, but he knew that this was just another thing better kept from her.

"So, he didn't say anything about going to the Burrow or doing work for the Order?" Hermione asked.

"He just said that I was safe at the Dursley's," Harry replied. "What are you trying to figure out?"

"Nothing," Hermione said unconvincingly.

"Come on then Harry," Ron urged, "let's go back to our…"

"It's just that there are all these stories in the Prophet," Hermione began. "You-Know-Who seen here, such-and-such Death Eater interrogated, how to defend against Dementors. There almost seems to be a panic, but the war hasn't even started."

"No, it's started. But there's nothing we can do right now," Harry said. "We're lucky the Trace wasn't activated in the Department of Mysteries. We would've been expelled. We can't do anything except recover our strength and wait until the next term starts."

Hermione sighed. "Dumbledore didn't even give you anything to research though? He's back, and I feel like we need to be doing something."

"Nope." But then Harry noticed something peculiar about the way Hermione was asking. "You didn't take any initiative, did you?"

The brown haired girl shrugged and pointed to a rather large stack of books on top of her trunk. "I may have taken a few volumes out of the library…"

"A few?" Ron snorted.

"Well, just in case he needed us to do some research."

"Us?" Ron snorted again.

Their conversation was mercifully interrupted when Michael Corner passed their compartment on the way to the bathroom. "I'm so glad you dumped him," Dawn said. "He was so annoying after that Quidditch match."

Ginny shot her a look for mentioning him and nearly pulled out her ward, but Ron interrupted her. "You mean you rid yourself of that git?" Ginny nodded. "Thank goodness!"

Dawn giggled when Ginny turned to look at her. "I guess we can't find our soul-mates in our third year now can we?" she pointed out as innocently as she could. Dawn elbowed her in the ribs, but the damage was done.

"What now?" Harry asked suddenly. His hands reflexively clenched into fists.

"Oh nothing," Dawn mumbled.

"You… you fancy someone, don't you?" Harry stammered. "Who?"

"No one."

"Don't be modest about your relationship Dawnie," Ginny teased.

"Who?" Harry asked again.

"Cullugh…" Dawn muttered beneath her breath.

"Who now?" Ginny prodded.

"Colin," Dawn whispered as softly as she could.

"Colin? You mean Colin Creevey? Since when?" Harry groaned.

"For a couple of weeks," Dawn admitted. "He's really nice."

"Nice," Harry scoffed. "Bloody hell, couldn't you be seeing someone less annoying?"

"And who is less annoying then Colin?" Dawn asked innocently.

"I don't know—anyone!" Harry moaned. "Besides, you're too young to be…"

"Someone like Dean?" Dawn asked, cutting off his train of thought. Ginny caught wind of what she was doing and gave her a small shove.

"No, not Dean," Harry said to Ginny's chagrin, "he's too old for you. At least Colin's only a few months older than you. Dean's older than me!"

"Lighten up Harry," Ron said with a laugh. "Dean's a great guy."

"I'm glad you said that Ron..." Dawn started before Ginny stomped on her foot. Hermione covered her face with her paper to keep herself from laughing. "What was that for Ginny?" Dawn asked.

"Shut your mouth!" Ginny exclaimed.

"I don't know what you're…" Dawn began.

"You're ruining this train ride. Ron, I'm seeing Dean. Now are we even Dawn?"

"Yes," Dawn replied, and the girls attempted to return to their crossword as though nothing happened.

"WHAT!" Ron exclaimed loudly, overturning the chess set in the process. His exasperation wasn't noticed by the two girls, who had returned to their sullen ritual.

"Lighten up Ron," Harry sneered

..::..

The rest of the train ride was largely uneventful. Sure enough, as soon as the train came to a halt, Ginny and Dawn grabbed each other's hands and held on tight. When they disembarked, they were surprised to see such a congregation of people there to greet them. They never even laid eyes upon her though, as moments after their arrival Arthur led Mad-Eye and Tonks over to intimidate the Dursleys, leaving the girls alone with Molly.

"Hello dear," she said as she hugged each girl individually, careful not to break their link. "I assume that the last few days of school were less eventful?"

"Yes mum," both girls replied in a subdued tone.

"Good," she said with a chuckle. "Now listen Dawnie, if you behave I'll see if I can't force Dumbledore to move you to the Burrow or something for the last month of summer."

"Okay," Dawn replied meekly. She was hoping to go there for the whole summer, but seeing how Harry kept insisting that they would be safe at the Dursley's, she could see how Dumbledore wouldn't allow it.

"Hurry up girl!" Uncle Vernon hollered. "We're leaving!"

Dawn and Ginny hugged, having said goodbye to everyone else on the train. "Promise to write!" they both said at the same time. Uncle Vernon then came over, and grabbed Dawn's open hand to pull her out of the station, which was rather subdued compared to last year, when he had picked her up and dragged her kicking and screaming to the car.

As Dawn was waving goodbye to her friends, she hardly noticed the tears falling from Molly's eyes

..::..

They ran. For his entire life, the young monk had lived in fear of it, the one thing that could destroy the world. They had all sworn themselves to secrecy, to the protection of the Key.

However, running from it was never part of their vows. Carrying the final books and candles they needed for the ritual, he hurried down the dimly lit corridor as fast as his legs could carry him. Somehow, it had found them, and even as he bolted the chamber shut, he knew they were not safe from it.

"It's coming," he said to his brother.

"Our lives aren't important. We have to protect the Key."

"Hurry!" a third monk motioned. The three formed a circle with their most senior member, an old man who had prepared an outer circle of candles and magical talismans.

"It is time for the ritual," the old man said as something began wildly pounding on the door. "We must hide the Key from it."

"Where?" the young monk asked.

"The Key will not be safe where it lies in wait," the old man began. "We must send The Key to the Chosen One, who will protect the Key from both threats to the world. Now we begin."

After a few moments, a breeze picked up in the chamber, and the monks knew their ritual was working. "Concentrate! Concentrate!" the old man yelled as the pounding intensified. As if on cue, a bright flash of light emanated from the center of their circle, just as the door broke. There was nearly complete darkness as bits of broken wood flew everywhere. The old man tapped the young monk on the back and said, "Run my son. Someone must survive to warn against its arrival. We shall give you enough time to escape."

The young monk opened a trapdoor as it entered the room, threatening the entire universe. He never saw their attacker, as his brethren managed to keep it from following him. He began running through the woods and away from the monastery, not looking back once lest a momentary glance slow him down. Armed with the knowledge to save the world, he prayed that he could safely reach someone who could continue the monastery's last task and protect the Key.

..::..

"Hey, it was you who planted the Dagon Sphere, right?" a female voice asked.

The young woman, who was struggling to free the brother from his bonds, tore the monk out of his semi-conscious state. Although he could not see her, he was certain that this was Buffy, the slayer. His brief capture and torture could all be worth it if he could deliver the message to her.

"I have it," she continued, presumably babbling over the Dagon Sphere, oblivious to the Beast, his tormentor, looming over her from behind. The brother tried desperately to warn her to its presence, but she was unaware of the danger. "We're not alone, I've got friends who can help you. Don't worry. I'm stronger than I look." She was finally able to undo the last of the ropes that kept him to the chair. "I've got some experience with this. And best of all," she then turned to face the beast, grabbing it by the throat. "I'm not stupid."

It managed to pry her hands away from its neck before launching the slayer across the room. "Are you sure about that last part?" it taunted.

Their battle continued for some time, albeit almost entirely one-sidedly. The monk could not move his eyes, let alone his head, fast enough to keep up with their movements. He nearly fell back into unconsciousness when the slayer grabbed him and jumped out of a window to escape.

They hobbled along for a few strides, but the pain was too great. "Stop, please…" he begged.

Buffy set him down on the sidewalk. "We've got to keep moving," she insisted.

The monk coughed, knowing that his last breaths were upon him. Those last precious exhalations needed to be used wisely. "You have to…The Key. You must protect the Key."

"Protect the Key, yeah I know we'll do it together." She continued naively blathering.

"Many have died…many more if you don't…keep it safe," he wheezed out between gasps.

"How? What is it?" Yes, death managed to catch the slayer's attention.

"The Key is magical energy. It can be a portal…open the door." His heart was slowing, there was still so much more to tell her.

"That round glowy thing?"

The brother used some of his last remaining strength to shake his head. "For the last millennium…it had no form at all. My brethren…its only keepers. Then…the abomination…found us…we had to hide The Key…gave it form…molded it flesh, made it human…sent it to be safe."

"To me?" Buffy questioned.

"No…to him…the chosen one…but we are not magical enough to go there…but it is protected…by the magic." His lungs were giving in to gravity and refusing to budge. He forced his muscles to move for the message was not complete. "The beast…can not enter…you can…find the school…protect the Key…for the boy is not strong enough…" His last breath escaped his lips and the monk contentedly slipped away, pleased that he accomplished the goal.

"Wait!" Buffy screamed while shaking the monk. "What boy? What chosen one? What school?" Even as her pleas fell on dead ears, she resolved to find this Key and stop the Beast.



Thanks for reading! Please review and give me feedback! I love hearing from you!

If you're interested, there is a reason why Dawn is in a relationship with Colin. It is more than just a whim. And although I added a glimpse of Sunnydale, it will be a while before we see them again. We're just getting started here!
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