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Team Alpha - Assault

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Summary: An adventure with Faith's team from my "Revelations of Faith". (See notes) "Surprise" 4-way xover. No sex, little romance. BtVS level violence. Reading the other story not necessary, but the last chapter introduced Team Alpha. 27 Chapters for this one.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Harry Potter > Faith-CenteredLashlarueFR152741,5352408,20526 Jan 1121 Feb 11Yes

Chapter One

Title: "Strike Team Alpha - Assault" Chapter One
Pairing: Not really that kind of thing
Rating: PG13
Summary: Spike gets bored, he and Angel stir things up a bit.
Warnings:None in particular

A/N: If you read my story “Revelations of Faith” and enjoyed it you should enjoy this one. If you read it and squicked on the sex you might enjoy this one because there isn’t any, although the relationships remain intact. Faith is indeed central because she’s the leader of Alpha, but many characters get substantial involvement. I hope that you have fun with this, and please let me know if you do. If you think it stinks, however, silence is golden imho, 

Here is the link to Chapter 1 of "Revelations of Faith" I apologize for the confusion.
http://www.tthfanfic.org/Story-24139/Lashlarue+Revelations+of+Faith.htm

“Strike Team Alpha – Assault”

Chapter One


“Load of old tosh,” said Spike in disgust as he tossed the book over his shoulder. “Vampires sparklin’ in the sunlight. I sparkled in the sunlight once. Sparkled like a bastard for about two minutes, then – poof! Woke up in a box in Angel’s office, who writes this drivel?”

“Spike, you were actually reading a book?” said an astonished Angel.

“I’m ruddy bored is all, let’s go and kill something,” Spike replied.

“We need a mission all right, things have been too quiet,” agreed Angel.

“We need a damsel in distress to rescue from a tower, or a fortress or something, where can we find one of those?”

Angel and Spike looked at each other, one could tell they were both on the verge of remembering something, but could not quite pin it down.

“Something that ballhog, or whatever the hell he was, said,” began Spike, “while he was chattin’ with his lads when he was taking a break from flaying us with that bloody whip.”

“Right…’barred door? Does that sound right?”

“And concrete, I think, no – cement?”

“Mortar! Something about a barred door, and mortar!” cried Angel as his eyes lit up.

“Right! They have somebody bricked up behind a barred door somewhere. Somebody else the senior partners were pissed at, I’ll wager.”

“Gunn’s dead, so is Wes,” Angel said slowly.

Their eyes met.

“Illyria!” they exclaimed together.

***

“A Balrog?” Hermione said to Draco. “You’re telling me your team killed a Balrog?”

“Dagger saw it too, and Faith, and Spike and Angel had a real good look over ten years or so,” confirmed Draco. “Here, I made a sketch.” Draco handed a piece of parchment to Hermione.

“Well, I suppose that’s as good a name as any for it,” she said as she examined the drawing. “Dagger, is this what you saw?”

“That’s the beast, right enough, Miss Hermione,” confirmed Dagger, “could ‘ave knocked me over with a feather when I saw it. ‘I thinks it’s a Balrog,’ says I, didn’t I, Draco?”

“True enough, that’s what he said. And it did have a fiery sword, and Angel and Spike swear to the whip. Merlin knows there was enough evidence of that on the pair of them,” affirmed Draco.

“Small world after all, I suppose,” mused Hermione, “it’s not impossible that Tolkien actually saw one of these things. Do you suppose there are more?”

“Dunno, but the backlash from killing it was vicious,” Draco said, “there’s no doubt it was powerfully magical.”

“No match for my boys here though,” Faith said as she looked over Hermione’s shoulder, “that’s the ugly critter for sure, though. Nice drawing, Draco.”

“Spike and I have a mission!” announced Angel as he strode into the room and handed a sheet of paper to Buffy.

“Right, and – where the hell did that picture of the ballhog come from? I’ve seen more‘n enough of his ugly kisser,” Spike shivered.

“Balrog, we think,” Hermione corrected automatically.

“Yeah, well you might agree with me if it’d been your balls he was whippin’ for a decade,” muttered Spike.

“Actually, it’s something we overheard that thing saying that set us to thinking. We think they have another captive from the LA business. We want to find her,” Angel told the group.

“Who?” asked Faith.

“The Queen of the Smurfs,” said Spike, “Illyria.”

“She’s a God,” added Angel.

“I’ve had bad luck with Gods. Last time I died a little,” Buffy said levelly.

“That’s true,” Spike offered, “but Illyria was coming ‘round rather well. Damned handy in a scuffle, too.”

“She was on my team,” Angel said, “I gotta go after her.” That was something Buffy understood.

“Okay,” Buffy began, having finished reading, “assuming that you two are right, and Illyria is being held by the senior partners somewhere, we’re gonna need more to go on than ‘bricked up barred door’.”

“Right,” said Angel, looking a bit crestfallen.

“Well, the high muck-a-mucks had to get to that place somehow, maybe there’s a doorway or summat,” Spike added.

“Or a dimensional portal!” Angel said excitedly.

“Oh shit, not a portal,” Buffy protested, “nothing good ever comes through portals.”

“Not often, no,” admitted Angel.

“Still,” Spike insisted, “be a bit of a laugh, wunnit?”

Hermione had been sitting quietly, studying the drawing Draco had made. “I think we should go and have a look around that cavern where Alpha found Angel and Spike,” she said decisively.

“We?” queried Draco.

“If you don’t mind,” Hermione replied. “I have a thought here, but I’m not quite ready to share it.”

“Nothing scheduled for today,” shrugged Faith. “Draco and Dagger can get us there easy enough, now they’ve been there. Buff?”

“Check it out,” she said, “but no going through portals just yet, understand? If we’re going to mess around in another dimension we’re going to have to plan. You guys straight on that?”

“You bet boss,” agreed Faith, “Dagger, you’ve been quiet, anything to add?” Dagger looked thoughtful for a long minute before answering.

“I has a funny feeling about this place too, Faith. I says we checks it out. Last time we got Spike, here, might get summat good this time,” he grinned as he ducked Spike’s slap.

“Man love,” Faith explained to Hermione.

“About what I was thinking,” she answered.

“One thing, lover,” began Faith.

“Understood,” interrupted Hermione, “your team, your calls. I’ll keep to the rear until you say different, and I’ll obey orders instantly, even if you tell me to Apparate out.”

“Does Gabby mind that well?” Faith asked Buffy.

“Depends on circumstance, but usually no, be careful, and you’d better all come back. I’m not losing my first team on a sightseeing tour, got it? And I’m in no way up for telling Fleur the two of you are gone.”

“No worries, B. Ready guys?” Faith asked. In reply the team assembled in their standard formation for an assault entry, with the addition of Hermione in the back row between Angel and Spike. “Go,” Faith commanded, and they went.

***

“God, this place gives me the willies,” said Spike with a shudder.

The team looked around the cavern where they had freed Spike and Angel. The only reminder was the petrified Wyvern.

“That was a very nice spell, Dagger,” granted Hermione. “Wyverns are powerfully magical; it takes a lot to freeze one like that.”

“Well, to be fair, Miss Hermione, it was that or fry. So…” said Dagger contritely.

“I quite understand. Nonetheless, well done, Dagger,” answered Hermione.

“This still just doesn’t feel like home,” Angel said.

“Looks clear to me,” Faith announced, “guess with you gone there was no need to guard the place.”

“Where were you imprisoned?” Hermione asked.

“On that ruddy wall,” replied Spike, “the chains are still there.”

“Where was the Balrog standing when you overheard this talk of mortar and barred doors?” enquired Draco.

“By that brazier,” answered Angel, “he liked to keep his tools hot.”

“Sorry,” Draco muttered, “what was it he said again, do you think?”

“He said, ‘She’s in mortar’, best I recall,” Spike replied.

“Yeah, and something about a ‘barred-door’” Angel added.

“This was the Balrog talking?” asked Hermione.

“Yeah,” supplied Spike, “he was talking to this nasty brute with a snuffling nose, Ratshit, I think his name was.”

Hermione and Draco’s eyes met.

“Surely not,” said Draco plainly.

“Tell me,” Hermione began, “could the Balrog possibly have said, ‘She’s in Mordor, in Barad-dur’, by any chance?”

Angel and Spike whipped their heads around to stare at each other for a long moment.

“That’s it, innit?” Spike asked.

“To the letter,” confirmed Angel.

“Merlin’s drawers,” said Dagger reverently.

“Could you see where this creature came from when it arrived?” asked Hermione.

“Afraid not, we were a bit distracted, and blood kept running into our eyes.”

“Well, it’s not that big a place, let’s look good,” said Faith, “but we stay together. Can one of you magic-users give us some real light?”

“Delighted,” replied Hermione, and with a flick of her wand she set the entire cavern roof aglow.

“Nice one, Hermione,” Draco complimented her, “can you teach that one to me so I can spread it to the other teams?”

“Glad to. Where to first, boss?”

“The darkest spots, I guess,” Faith replied, and she lead the way towards the wall where rocky projections cast shadows on the floor.

After some time spent in fruitless searching, they came upon a darkness that was more than a mere dimple in the wall.

“Draco, Dagger, take point and be ready,” commanded Faith. The pair advanced shoulder to hip into the darkness.

“Light?” asked Draco quietly.

“Might as well, if something’s back there it has to know we’re here. But don’t pinpoint us.”

Draco sent a tiny spark from his wand that went around the corner ahead before it bloomed into a bright light. He and Dagger took advantage of the sudden brilliance and rounded the corner quickly, wands raised.

“Well,” Draco called back over his shoulder, “you don’t see that every day.” The rest of them joined the pair.

Before them was a whirling, boiling, wall of color.

“Not every day, no” agreed Angel. “But that is a standard-issue dimensional portal.”

“I don’t like portals,” announced Spike, “what now?”

“Back to base and work on a plan,” Faith answered, “just because it’s there doesn’t mean we should use it. That thing gives me the wiggins. Let’s go.” She led the way back into the main chamber, and after finding no further portals or passages, they Apparated back.

“Portal,” Angel announced.

“Wonderful,” said Buffy wearily. “I’ll contact Giles; we need him in on this. Tomorrow morning, back here, if Giles has a problem coming then I’ll let you know. Meanwhile get some rest. If we go, you’ll need it.” Buffy portkeyed off.

“I’m going to go to the library,” Hermione said, “see you at dinner, love?”

“Sure will,” confirmed Faith, “Fleur’s making her bouillabaisse. Fresh bread too.”

“I’ll just go and catch up with Ron and Harry then,” Draco said as he left the room.

“Faith,” said Angel slowly, “I know you didn’t know her, I appreciate your being willing to try this.”

“It’s not for sure we’re going, Angel. Remember that. But we’ve been through some stuff together, and if you think she’s worth going after then she is, that’s all. Later boys,” said Faith as she activated her own portkey.

“I is going home as well,” Dagger said, “might catch up on some reading. So long Angel, Spike, see you tomorrow.” Dagger vanished.

“Think she’s alive?” Angel asked.

“Likely, they weren’t in any hurry to kill us then, were they? We’d better shag out of here too, we need to get din-din ready for Amanda.”

“You’re so whipped.”

“And you’re not?”

“Domesticated Vampire.”

“Pleb.”

“Mama’s boy.”

“That one was pretty weak, Angelus.”

“Yeah, my heart’s not in it. Let’s go home.” They left.

***

“I don’t like zis idea,” said Fleur flatly. “Dimensional Portal sounds like a no-return ticket to me.”

“Angel has had some experience with them. He got back,” Faith pointed out.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to see something I never imagined was real,” Hermione added.

“You see me every day,” Fleur persisted, “would you have imagined me?”

“She’s got us there ‘Mione,” Faith admitted.

“I accept that Faith is a slayer, and that her business is perilous,” Fleur explained, “I know zat you are far from helpless, Hermione my love. But you do not know where zis portal may lead, or if you can get back, or even if your magic will work zere. And for what? Some God you don’t even know?” Hermione and Faith shifted uneasily in their seats.

Fleur had a point. They were risking much, and the real risks were unknown.

“We'll wait untill after the meeting, then,” Hermione said. “Giles may know more, or at least have an idea how we can see where the portal leads.”

“D’accord,” Fleur said after a moment, “I understand your loyalty to your team, Faith, but I don’t think zis is precisely a Slayer duty.”

“I can’t promise I won’t go,” Faith said slowly, “but I will think carefully about it. Buffy or Harry could sink the whole mission anyway. I won’t go if they don’t authorize it.”

“Very well,” Fleur agreed. “Now, the two of you shall take me to bed and drive these morbid thoughts away.”

“That, I can promise,” said Faith as she scooped Fleur up in her arms.

***

“You’re going to another dimension? For another woman?” Amanda asked incredulously.

“Oh, she’s not just another woman, pet,” Spike corrected, “she’s a Goddess.”

“That didn’t help, Spike,” Angel groaned. “Look, Amanda, she was part of my team. Wouldn’t you go in after Philippa, if she was captured?”

“Maybe… probably…ok, yes. But if you don’t come back, I’ll never forgive you, and if you come back with her, I’m not sharing.”

“Deal,” Spike said, “now come and get your din-din.”

***

“Mordor?” said Giles incredulously. “You can’t be serious.”

“Hermione is,” Buffy replied, “and I wouldn’t bet the farm on her being wrong.”

“Indeed,” muttered Giles. “I believe there may be something on dimensional portals in one of my more obscure texts, I’ll check, and I shall be delighted to meet with you all in the morning. Apolline dear, you can spare me for a few hours tomorrow morning, can’t you?”

“Go, Rupert, I know how you miss that sort of thing. I will undertake to assure Antoine that the morning dew is not rust,” she assured him.

“Splendid then, will you stay for dinner, Buffy?”

“I’d love to, but Gabby has reservations for us at some new place she’s been dying to try.” Buffy rose, kissed Giles and Apolline, and dug a portkey from her bag. “See you later Mom and Dad, I love you.” She vanished.

Giles embraced Apolline.

“How I love to hear her say that,” he whispered to his wife.

***

“Mordor?” said Harry, “You can’t be serious.”

“My very words, in point of fact,” Giles commented, “however, Hermione seems to think it’s possible.” That made Harry sit up straight. He knew full well that without Hermione, he would be the “Boy-who-got-buggered-by-Voldemort”.

“Given that it’s possible, and damn near anythin’ is, how can we tell where this portal leads?” Ron put in.

“I’m not sure that we can,” Giles said gravely. “Portals can be conjured, and in that case one can reasonably expect them to lead to the desired dimension. But we didn’t conjure this one, so we have no way of knowing where it leads. In point of fact, we have no way of knowing if it even works in both directions, though the traffic Spike and Angel recall argues that it does.”

“I’m not sending a team through a portal we don’t know works both ways. That’s flat,” Buffy stated, and the look on Harry’s face echoed the opinion.

“So,” said Harry, “can anyone come up with a safe way to find out?”

“I’ll have a shufti,” Spike said, “if I don’t come back straight away, don’t follow.”

“No,” said Buffy, Faith, Angel, Draco, and Dagger.

“Don’t let’s be hasty,” Giles said hopefully.

“Thanks Rupert,” drolled Spike.

“We go as a team or we don’t go at all,” Faith said flatly.

“Right then,” said Spike sulkily, but in his heart he rejoiced; he had a family now.

“It hinges on whether or not we can get through and come back,” Buffy summed up, “can anybody come up with a way to be sure?”

“I can,” Luna announced as she appeared in the room. No one was ever surprised any longer at anything concerning Luna. Startled perhaps, but not surprised. “You have a dimensional portal in question, yes?”

“That’s right,” Hermione confirmed.

“My sprites can span all dimensions, even if the portal is one-way, they can get back to me. Fidget would be delighted to go through, she loves portals. Where do you think this one goes?”

“Mordor,” Hermione said, wondering what Luna’s reaction to that would be. It wasn’t any that she expected.

“I was afraid this would come up sooner or later,” Luna said tiredly, “still, no need to borrow trouble. When do we go?”

“When can you be ready?” Harry asked. In answer, a tiny light appeared on Luna’s shoulder.

“Just now,” she said.

Buffy stared for a moment. “It’s gonna take us a bit longer than that,” she explained.

“That’s fine,” chirped Luna, “I have a meeting with the Bulgarian Minister at one. Shall I meet you here at two then?”

“That’ll work,” Harry said, “thanks Luna.” Luna smiled and disappeared.

“What the hell is she, exactly?” Spike asked in wonder.

“I don’t think we really know,” Hermione said softly.

“I don’t thinks we do either,” Dagger spoke up reverently, “but I knows I loves her, that I knows.”

***

“Right then,” said Harry, “we take as few chances as possible. Full assault entry into the cavern, just in case they know we’re coming.” Harry and Buffy had assembled five hunter/killer teams to go in with Alpha to secure the cavern against any possible incursion. “Luna, please let the teams go in first, and come straight back if there is fighting, okay?”

“Of course, Harry,” Luna agreed, “I can follow orders, you know.” The sparkle in her eyes cast the statement in doubt; nonetheless, she was still there after the teams had shifted. In a moment, Dagger appeared.

“The cavern is clear, Mistress Luna,” he said formally, bowing.

“Thank you Dagger,” she said, extending her hand, “you come along too, Mr. Giles.” Luna caught Giles by the hand as Dagger Apparated them to the cavern.

“Dad!” cried Buffy.

“I don’t think I’d worry, Buffy,” Harry told her. “Even after all this time, there is more to Luna than we know.”

“And we know plenty,” Ron put in, “Luna Lovegood is beyond all of us, I think. If she took Giles along, he’ll be safe.”

Dagger, Giles, and Luna appeared in the cavern and Dagger lead the way to the tunnel where the portal was.

“What do you think, Luna?” asked Hermione. Luna turned her face to the sprite on her shoulder.

“Fidget says that this is indeed a dimensional portal, and she believes that it is stable and functions in both directions, but she will check and be sure. Go ahead, sweet,” encouraged Luna. The sprite leapt from her shoulder and sped through the portal, there was a miniscule flash, and she vanished.

“Tiny little thing,” said Spike, “you sure she’ll be allright?”

“Sprites are eternal,” assured Luna, “Fidget has been here since the beginning of things.”

“Does she know everything, then” asked Hermione in wonder. Luna giggled.

“Of course not! Sprites don’t concern themselves with many things. They love me, and they will do anything for me, but they are creatures of emotion rather than thought. The ages of mankind are nothing to them.”

“Well I like the little niblet,” Spike declared, “she’s got style.”

In a moment, Fidget had returned to Luna’s shoulder. Luna inclined her head towards her, but no one else could hear a thing.

“We can all go through,” Luna assured them, “the portal is quite stable, and the entry on the other side is empty.” No one thought to question Luna; they simply arranged themselves in the proper order and stepped through the portal.

“Extraordinary,” said Giles as he took Hermione by the hand and followed Luna through the portal.

They emerged in a soaring cavern lit by the very fires of Hell, behind them was a vast chasm, and in its depths the land boiled.

Hermione and Giles gazed around in awe, and their feet, unbidden, carried them down a path to an enormous opening in the wall of the cavern. Before them spread a scene of desolation, and far away, cloud-shrouded, there rose an enormous black tower, crowned with a great, red, eye.

“Sauron,” breathed Hermione.

“No, Sauron is gone,” said someone very like Luna.

Hermione and Giles turned, and their mouths dropped open.

Before them stood Luna; almost.

She was taller, and she seemed lit from within, and her beauty was beyond speech, even for Hermione who daily was surrounded by it.

“What is this place?” Giles gasped.

“This is Samath Naur,” Luna said, “and we will not now walk this path. Come.” Luna turned and headed through the portal, followed in awe by man, woman, elf, and vampire.

“That was quick” Buffy said when the voyagers returned.

“Umm, yes,” Hermione struggled to say, still a bit overwhelmed.

“Luna,” began Giles slowly, “you said that was Samath Naur, but you also said Sauron was gone. Was Barad-dur' not destroyed then? What of the story we know and love was true? And how do you know?”

“I know because I was there,” Luna began. “The tale you know as the Lord of the Rings is virtually the unvarnished truth. What the author did not know is that Mordor is a pan-dimensional locus of evil. It waits for someone of sufficient power to call it up and claim it, and then it is reborn in all its misery.”

“How did Tolkien learn of it?” asked Hermione. Luna sighed deeply.

“J. R. R. Tolkien, was Gandalf,” Luna said bluntly, “he wrote his memoirs. Do you really think anyone could have written the Silmarillion without having access to huge volumes of history? “

“But Gandalf went to the uttermost west,” protested Draco.

“Indeed, and where do you think you are just now? You should know that there are worlds within worlds in every dimension,” Luna replied.

“But…” began Hermione, “wasn’t Gandalf sort of immortal?”

“By no means, he was saved by the Powers That Be, to complete his task. Once that task was finished, he was granted the blessing of death in his time.”

“And you?” Giles asked.

“Will explain later, when it’s needed. The portal is stable Harry, but if Alpha is going in, I don’t recommend they go in that way just now. There is another way, and I can help them that way. What Angel wants to do is possible, but fraught with peril. But loyalty sometimes demands risk; the decision however, is of course yours and Buffy’s.”

Buffy and Harry exchanged looks.

“Angel, is this Illyria worth risking Alpha for,” asked Buffy plainly. Angel and Spike stared at each other. Not only was Alpha at risk, they had Amanda to think of.

“I’d rather go alone,” said Angel, “or just with Spike.”

“You would have no chance of success that way, Angel,” Luna said, softly, but with authority. “Alpha might succeed, but never the two of you alone.”

“What do you know, Luna?” Harry asked.

“I know the nature of Mordor, though not yet the nature of its current Master. That I can discern from the place I recommend that we start, if we are to start at all.”

“Will our magic work there?”

“Yes, at least at the starting point. Until I see who or what is installed in Barad-dur', however, I won’t know what will prevail within the tower itself. Whoever it is, they don’t seem to be making use of Orodruin except for its portal. That is a hopeful sign.”

“Can’t you be more plain?” requested Buffy.

“I would much prefer that this had never come up at all,” Luna told her. “If Alpha is to go, I will tell them more once we arrive at the starting point; otherwise, no. I don’t mean to be rude, but I am quite resolute in this.”

“Can the mission be aborted safely once you’ve crossed over?” Harry asked.

“The starting place should be safe enough. The portal there I know is reliable, and once there I can gather more information. So yes, until Alpha actually leaves me, they can easily return.”

“Faith…” Buffy began.

“I won’t risk my team for sentiment, Buff. Not without a real chance of success. I have a lot to lose now. We all do.”

“Volunteers only, then,” Harry announced, “who’s for it?”

Angel stepped forward, joined immediately by Spike. Faith strolled casually ahead and stood in front of them, Draco stepped to his position slightly behind her.

“I can’t very well let Blondie Bear go without me,” Dagger said as took his place beside Draco.

“I told you not to call me that,” muttered Spike. Dagger blew a kiss over his shoulder.

“Strike Team Alpha, ready for orders, boss,” announced Faith.

“Okay, give us a minute,” Buffy said as she rose from behind her desk, leading Harry out into the hallway. “What do you think?”

“The teams go into danger all of the time, this doesn’t sound much worse. Luna says they can get back right enough if it looks like too much. I think we should allow them to try, they aren’t pets, and this seems important to Angel and Spike.” Buffy nodded.

“You’re right; I just wish Luna would be a little more forthcoming. But all I know of her tells me that if she says a thing is a certain way, then that’s the way it is. Dagger said it best; we might get something good this time.” She re-entered the room.

“You’re cleared to proceed with Luna to her starting point. What do we need to do to prepare?”

“I’ll need to clear my schedule,” Luna said, “that will take about a week, and we should plan to be gone for about a week on the other side. I think that if it takes longer than that, it will mean that it can’t be done at all.”

“What does Alpha need to take in the way of equipment?” asked Faith.

“Your usual weapons and such, and Spike and Angel should take enough Vampire nutrient for the trip. There will be nothing that you should feed on at the start, and once in the Black Land… well, I’ll just say that you wouldn’t care for the blood of the creatures of Mordor. Anything else you need we can pick up on the other side,” Luna answered. “I’ll be in touch,” she added as she left.


“Thank you for including me in this meeting,” Giles spoke up. “This is absolutely fascinating, I’m afraid that I am still having a bit of trouble getting my head wrapped ‘round it all.”

“Right there with you,” Harry said, rubbing his temples.

“Luna,” said Hermione carefully, “could she really be…”

“No point in speculating,” Draco answered, “we’ll find out more when we get to wherever it is she’s taking us. God, things have changed since Hogwarts. Who would ever have imagined that Luna Lovegood would tell me she’s taking me to another dimension, and I’d be saying ‘Right, then, let’s pop off.’ It’s not her that’s changed though, is it?”

“Luna may be the only one of us who hasn’t changed,” Harry put in, “it’s just taken us a while to catch up to her a bit.”

“I’ll wager there’s more catching up to do yet,” Hermione added.

“I thinks you’re right,” Dagger agreed.

“Okay guys,” Faith said briskly, “training time. We need to be sharp for this.” Alpha headed out, and Hermione and Giles left for home.

“We need to work on a contingency plan,” Harry said, and he and Buffy got to work.


***

“I will go with you,” said Fleur flatly when Hermione and Faith filled her in.

“But-“ began Faith.

“No buts. I will go with you to the place Luna takes you. Beyond that I acknowledge that I must defer to your experience and judgment, Faith. I will be safe with Luna, and I may be of some help.”

“She’s right Faith,” said Hermione, “it’s not like Fleur is helpless. Besides, we are strongest together. This is the great unknown, we should face it united.” Faith had to acknowledge that.

“Okay, you both make sense,” admitted Faith, “do you think Giles will want to go?”

“Likely,” said Hermione.

“Oui,” Fleur said slowly, “he has a thirst for knowledge.”

“Then let’s go to Mom’s and talk to him,” said Faith directly.

“D’accord,” Fleur said, and they joined hands and Apparated.

“Mom, Dad, we’re home!” cried Faith, she dearly loved to do that, now she had a Mom and Dad.

“My darlings!” Apolline said joyfully as she rushed into the family room.

“Where’s Pop?” Faith asked.

“Off reassuring Antoine that the vines are fine,” sighed Apolline, “Antoine is such an old lady, but a genius.”

“Oui,” agreed Fleur, “has Rupert told you of the upcoming adventure?”

“Of course,” Apolline assured her daughter, “we were discussing it when Antoine’s latest panic attack struck.”

“I assume he wants to go with us,” Hermione said.

“Well, yes, but…” said Apolline hesitantly.

“But what?” Hermione asked.

“I would be a liability to you,” Giles said upon entering the room. “I would love to see the place, but I simply cannot keep pace with you lot. I do not have the magic that you and Fleur have, nor the speed and strength of Faith. I am not precisely feeble, but I am no longer young, and no longer rash, and I find the idea of spending my remaining years here with my beloved Apolline far more appealing than any adventure. I hope this is not a disappointment to you,” he added uncertainly. Fleur enfolded him in her arms, and kissed his cheek warmly.

“Non, Papa,” she said softly, “Maman could not bear to lose you, although I deny that you would impair us.” Giles’ eyes overflowed, this was the first time that Fleur had called him Papa.

“Besides,” Faith declared, “it will likely be dull as Hell.”

“I certainly hope so,” Giles said plainly, “but I wouldn’t count on it. Any being powerful enough to call forth Mordor is likely to be singularly unpleasant. I do however, expect a full report. And your mother and I insist that you stay for dinner and spend the night with us.”

***

Chained to a wall in the great dungeon of Barad-dur’, Illyria stood silently. She had been overcome in the human realm, in her compromised state, whisked off and bound magically by the current masters of the tower, who were intent on torturing her. They had not counted on the fact that being in this dimension would restore her to her full might, however, and only the magic of the tower itself held her helpless in the chains.

She was immortal, and her power was far beyond her captor’s own strength. The only torture they could visit on her was the captivity itself.

That was torture enough.


Disclaimer: Some of these characters belong to JK Rowling, Joss Whedon, and JRR Tolkien and are from BtVS, ATS, Harry Potter, The Lord of theRings.
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