Note: I would like to thank my new betas CBriggs1019, Inachis and Hawklan for their help in writing this story.
(Halliwell Manor, San Francisco)
Xander looked up as Prue, Leo and Phoebe returned and almost shook his head in shock as he saw the state their newly found cousin was in. It was clear to him that Harry had been beaten, and badly at that.
He fought back the memories this summoned of his own beating at Buffy's hands when she had found out about his lie seven months ago, causing his and Amy's exile. This in turn led them to meet up with Faith and Jessica, only for them to be forced back to Sunnydale to confront their past and their friends.
The events continued to pour through his mind, their currents running so deep s and nearly overwhelmed him. His mind flashed through moments as he remembered that first tense meeting when he revealed his return to Buffy and the others, how his anger and hatred had fought with his former bond of friendship with them. The events from there on had only caused more trouble and conflicting emotions. This was especially so when they brought Janna back, although how they had done that, he still had no clue. It was this, which had led the motley crew to seek out the sisters in the first place.
Shaking free of the past he looked up as Amy took his hand and squeezed it, comforting him. As he looked in her eyes, he noted the dark shadows present and he knew that she was thinking about how close he had come to death from such a beating. He smiled at her reassuringly and nodded in understanding, as he noted Prue almost radiating anger and guessed that whatever they had stepped into when they went to find their cousin was worse than he or they had imagined.
"What happened?" Piper asked, as she saw the bloody stains on Harry's body and noted that he was unconscious.
"His relatives were beating him," Phoebe answered as she noted Prue was still too angry about what they had seen to respond. "I don't think it was the first time they had done it either, from what the woman said," she added, her face filled with distaste at what she had witnessed and heard.
"My god!" Piper said, horrified that any family could turn on one of their own, before noting the darkening eyes of Xander and Faith as they heard Phoebe's response. "Is something wrong?" she asked them, causing everyone's attention to shift and look closely at them before Xander and Faith both excused themselves and left the room.
"Are they alright?" Leo inquired as he again checked on Harry's condition, nodding as he felt Harry's strength return to him, although he was surprised by how fast it seemed. Oddly his magic felt different from the magic of the sisters or the other witches under the elders, and that confused him.
"Both Faith and Alex have had bad childhoods," Jessica answered reluctantly. "Neither has truly put it behind them, but then I wouldn't expect them to, as something like that is bound to fester," she continued with a shake of her head. "Plus, with what Alex has just gone through with the beating he took from Buffy, I believe seeing and hearing what happened to your cousin brought it all to the surface again," she explained, before noting that Janna looked ill. "Janna, are you okay?" she asked.
"It's not me Jessica," Janna said as she sat down, clutching her head in her hands. "It's the bond. It's projecting Xander's emotions and memories to me and it's a little overwhelming," she informed them, as Amy knelt next to her and sighed.
"It was worse than we knew, wasn't it?" she asked, fearing the truth, but needing to know anyway. The sisters and their Whitelighter looked on while they moved Harry onto a nearby couch.
"Much worse," Janna replied, struggling to block out the images of Xander's childhood she was seeing through the bond, but they continued to flow, making her feel even more ill. "I don't know which is worse. His memories or his emotions," she added.
"We'll get a handle on this bond Janna, I promise," Amy replied, not wanting to see her former teacher and friend being so affected. "You'll just have to handle it the best you can for now," she added.
"Amy is right, Janna. Until we can learn why this bond formed in the first place and just what it does exactly, you're going to have to just go with it for now," Jessica said, placing a hand on Janna's shoulder. "I daren't try anything magical on the bond lest it backfire on us, causing you and through you, Alex, harm," she added with a frown. "There's also the fact that we don't know what the trinity spell actually did to you. Without that or how it was able to return you to life, we can't know how magic would react to you right now," she explained.
"Leo, I want you to go see the elders and find out what you can about the bond and this trinity spell they did," Prue finally broke her silence, as she concentrated on something other than what she had witnessed happening to her cousin. She pulled the stick from her pocked and put it on a nearby table only for Leo to grab it.
"Leo, do you know what that stick is?" Piper asked, as she noted how Leo was looking it over.
"I do, it's a wand," Leo replied, just stopping himself from groaning as he realized why Harry's magic felt different from the sisters and the other witches under the elders. This could only mean trouble was on the horizon. "Now I think I know why you never knew about Harry. Its doubtful your mother knew she had a cousin either Prue, because they're a different breed of witches and wizards who are hidden from the world by a series of powerful spells. These spells can hide entire towns from ever being found by normal people and we ourselves have had little to do with them in our long history," he explained to the sisters' confused stares. "You mother's cousin was most likely secluded in the magical world as soon as she was old enough to go. They lost contact to the point that your mother forgot her and vice versa," he added, running his hand through his hair. "The last I heard, the magical world wasn't too keen on being connected to our world," he stated.
"But why Leo?" Prue inquired, not understanding how anyone could want to be separated from the rest of the world in such a way. "It doesn't make sense," she added.
"They're a strange bunch of people, controlled by a ruling pureblood class the last I heard," Leo answered as best he could. "These are families comprised of full blood witches and wizards that have existed for ages without any intermarrying with non-magical families or ones that are half-bloods. They believe that they're better than those who are half blood or first generation," he continued as he remembered what he had learned from his friends and mentors about the magical world. "The magical world is stuck in this kind of limbo of Victorian times with the purebloods refusing to allow new ideas into their world. Those who try and oppose them usually lose and are punished for it," he said with a sigh.
"Sounds like this magical world could do with a shake up," Amy said, intrigued by the culture, while also disgusted at the backwards thinking of the pureblood witches and wizards.
"As fascinating as this all is, maybe we should get Harry to a bed where he can rest and recover," Phoebe finally spoke up after a moment of silence had descended, trying to move things back to what was most important right now.
"Good idea, I'll help," Xander said as he re-entered the room. While the others could still see the dark shadows in his eyes, they noted that he seemed to have clamped down on his emotions and memories, as Janna was looking much better. "Where do you want him?" he asked. He and Leo gently lifted Harry up and followed Phoebe as she led them to her bedroom, all the while still holding the owl cage from which the snowy owl watched them all and seemed to be listening to what they were saying.
"I better go and check on Faith," Jessica said before getting up and heading out of the room to look for her charge.
Amy sat down next to Janna and watched as Piper returned to look through the Book of Shadows. Meanwhile, Prue sat down across from them and rubbed her eyes and tried to stem the whirling emotions she was still feeling from seeing her cousin in such a brutalized state. Phoebe returned with the owl on her shoulder and Leo.
"Prue, I think we should send a note to these others that woman spoke of. Let's see what happens when they realize Harry is missing," Phoebe said, determined to learn how her cousin had been allowed to live in such an abusive environment.
"Phoebe, we have to be careful how we move with this," Prue warned her sister with a look before acknowledging the point. "But you are right. Maybe if we can get their attention we can find out some answers as to just how our cousin ended up in such a situation without anyone knowing about it," she added a second later, as she quickly wrote a note out.
Turning to the owl, who regarded her with a sharp look before sticking her leg out, she attached the note. "This is a weird way of communicating," she said with a small laugh as she attached the note. She then watched as Phoebe, Leo and the owl orbed out back to England so that the owl could be released as it was clear that it knew where the letter was meant to go.
(12 Grimmauld Place, London)
Sirius Black sat at the dinner table alongside his friend Remus Lupin and his cousin Nymphadora Tonks, talking about the growing situation at the Ministry and what its effects would be on the war to come. Meanwhile, in the back of his mind, he wondered how his godson Harry Potter was doing. He wasn't happy that Dumbledore had refused to allow any posts to him this summer from anyone, meaning Harry was cut off from everyone who cared about him. He was sure it wasn't doing Harry any good after what he had witnessed at the end of the Tri-Wizard tournament a month back.
He was feeling more and more frustrated by this lack of communication as Harry too had been told he could not send any posts. So they had no idea how he truly was and if the Dursley's were behaving themselves this summer, which he doubted from the few dark comments Harry had dropped in their short talks. He was fearful that Harry might do something foolish in retaliation to this order from Dumbledore or that Harry would allow the memory of watching a fellow student die consume him. He banged his fist on the table in anger at the thought, startling Tonks and Remus.
"Is something bothering you Padfoot?" Remus asked his old friend, concerned by the look on the man's face, which was slowly recovering from his longs years in Azkaban Prison.
"I'm worried about Harry, Remus, and I'm annoyed at the old man for locking him away from anyone who can help him come to terms with what he witnessed at the end of term," Sirius answered with a dark look at both of them. "How can he do it with so little care? Without even thinking about what kind of impact that event has had on Harry's mind and soul?" he asked almost in a growl. "God damn it, Remus, Harry has been through one bad year after another ever since he came back into the Wizarding world and Dumbledore don't seem to care what these events are doing to the child. No one can take what Harry has been through without snapping or giving up. So why the hell has he done this?" he spat, releasing his anger and frustration.
Remus sighed as he listened to his friend vent his anger and frustration. He had to concede that the man did have a point. No, more than a point, as everything he said was sound. He was just as worried about how Harry was doing after this latest event. Harry must be near the end of his rope with what all he has seen and being forced to do in the past four years. He had faced more dark wizards and beasts than most fully grown witches and wizards. He had survived through a combination of luck, skill and his amazing strength of spirit and heart, but this latest event almost cost Harry his life, as again he came face to face with Voldemort, the man who had murdered his parents and made Harry an orphan. He rubbed his eyes and wondered how to answer his friend without elevating the frustration and anger he was feeling and maybe causing him to take a risk and go check on Harry.
"The guards haven't noticed anything too bad Sirius," Tonks spoke up before Remus could speak. "They've seen Harry a few times in the last three weeks since he went back to the Dursley's and we set up the watch system," she added, still a little unsure around her cousin as she was still coming to terms with the fact he had been innocent of the crimes he had been sent to Azkaban for. "I'm sure that Harry is okay," she said with what she hoped was a hopeful smile, as she was not too keen on the Dursley's after viewing them during her own guard time.
"He better be Tonks or those Dursley's and Dumbledore will wish they'd never been born," Sirius promised in reply. "I also want to know why the old man wants to keep any and all information about what Voldemort and his Death Eaters are doing from Harry?" he asked a few seconds later. "After everything he has been through, I think he has earned the right to know exactly what is going on," he added, frowning.
"I agree," Remus said, "but there is nothing we can do Sirius. If we disobey his orders, we will most likely be kicked out of the Order and you know most of the others agree with Albus about this point, especially Snape and Molly," he continued.
"Don't even get me started on Snape, Remus," Sirius growled. Just thinking about the man brought forth a surge of anger and hatred. "As for Molly, she's naive if she thinks Harry is still just a kid after the things he has seen and done," he spat, again overcome with frustration as he remembered the many arguments he'd had with Molly over Harry and what was best for him.
Before either Remus or Tonks could reply they were surprised when Hedwig, Harry's owl, flew into the kitchen through an open window and landed onto the dinner table before sticking out her leg so Sirius could take the note. Tonks got up and grabbed some owl treats and placed them in front of the owl along with some water and watched in amusement as the owl quickly tucked into the meal, hooting once in thanks. Turning her attention back to her cousin she watched as his faced clouded in anger and then confusion before he put the letter down. He quickly began to write a reply after grabbing some paper and a quill from the next room.
Remus took the letter and read through it, ignoring Tonks as she read it over his shoulder. When he put it down he was filled with the same anger and confusion as Sirius had displayed, while Tonks looked conflicted. They watched as Sirius finished off the letter he had just written and then hurriedly tied it to Hedwig. They watched as she hooted once before flying out immediately.
"Should we inform Albus about this Sirius?" Remus inquired.
"Not on your life Remus," Sirius shot back, annoyed with his old friend for even suggesting that right now. "You read what those filthy evil muggles did to him. Knowing the old man, he would suggest either it was a misunderstanding or Harry provoked them into acting, and in either case he'd send Harry back," he snarled. "Well, I won't have it Remus. I'm his godfather and I have been stupid to listen to that man's suggestions, instead of what my gut was telling me and what we both knew from what Lily told us about her sister," he added, banging his fist again on the table. "If these people are family to Harry, then he is safe with them and we will soon find out what occurred. We'll be meeting them tonight, if they agree to what I wrote in my reply. I want your word that neither of you will tell Dumbledore or anyone else about this until we have met these people," he demanded, looking them both in the eye and making sure they could see he was deadly serious.
Remus and Tonks exchanged looks before nodding and giving their word that they would wait until after meeting these people to tell Albus about this new development. They watched as Sirius gathered up the note and began to exit the kitchen.
"Be ready to go and make sure you don't give anyone reason to suspect something is up, okay?" Sirius told them before exiting, leaving his friend and cousin to think over what they had read in the letter, while wondering if they had done the right thing in agreeing to Sirius's request.
(Halliwell Manor, San Francisco)
Prue looked up as Phoebe, Leo and the owl returned and wondered if they had managed to contact Harry's friends. Xander was sitting beside her, looking out of the nearby window, while Amy and Janna were standing next to Piper, who was still going through the Book of Shadows, looking for anything that might explain what the trinity spell had done to Janna or the bond that now existed between her and Xander. Jessica and Faith were downstairs, obviously still trying to overcome the dark memories that had surfaced when they had brought Harry here and learned what had happened to him.
"We waited around, as we didn't want the owl to tire herself out while trying to fly to San Francisco from England," Phoebe said with a smile before handing the reply to her eldest sister and watched as she read through it.
"It's written by Harry's godfather apparently," Prue informed them, noting she had everyone's attention. "He says he wants to meet us to determine if we are who we say we are. It'll be just him and two friends, one of which was as close to Harry's parents as he himself was. He says that if we are family to Harry, there's a lot we have to discuss, and that Harry is in danger in the open, but he can't go further into it in a letter," she said, telling them what the letter said.
"What should we do Prue?" Piper asked, not liking this, but knowing if they were to get to the bottom of this latest personal mystery, they might have to take the risk.
"If I may," Xander interrupted them. When Prue nodded, he went on, "I think that it's in your own best interest to meet these people and to find out just what kind of danger Harry might be in, because if someone or something is after him, then it will come here for him, if it can. That means that you are now in the same danger," he advised them. "I suggest that we meet them in England, so that they don't know where Harry is until we're sure that they aren't a threat. From there, we can decide what move to make next," he added.
"We?" Prue questioned his use of the term.
"If you'll accept the help, some of us will come with you and some will stay here and help keep an eye on Harry," Xander said, pausing only for a few moments as he tried to find the right words to reply with.
Prue shared a look with Piper and Phoebe before nodding as they built up a small amount of trust with their new friends. Prue wrote out a reply with a time for the meeting before sending Leo back to release the owl.
"If we're going to do this, then we do it right," Prue said. "Phoebe, you'll stay here and look after Harry, Faith and Jessica," she added. "The rest of us will go and meet these people. We'd better be prepared for the possibility of a trap," she warned, as Amy went to tell Faith and Jessica what was going on.
"Don't worry. We're very good at what we do, Prue," Xander said as Janna walked over and joined him before waving her hand. Prue, Piper and Phoebe were surprised to see weapons appear on Xander, including a sword tied to his back in a scabbard. He also wore two stakes and a long knife in his belt. "We never go anywhere unarmed, but we've learned to hide our weapons so that no one notices them," he said when he noted their looks.
"Nice collection," Piper said, at a loss of anything else to say as Amy returned with Faith and Jessica. The sisters noted that now they could see that all of them were armed, mostly with stakes, but Faith and Jessica both had a sword tied to their backs, same as Xander. They wondered just what kind of things they fought on the Hellmouth when Leo finally returned. While he looked uncomfortable at the weapons their new friends were wearing, he didn't say anything.
"They've agreed to meet in London, near the city centre," Leo told them. "They will look for the owl, which by the way is named Hedwig according to their reply, so she will be coming with us so that they can spot us," he added as he stroked Hedwig, who seemed to love the attention.
"Then let's get this show on the road," Janna said as she watched Faith quickly move forward and kiss Xander as hard as she could before stepping back and telling him to watch his back. Janna tried to ignore the feedback she felt over the bond before they were orbed out of the manor.
(London, City Centre)
When Prue looked around after they had orbed in, she noted that they were in an alley and that Janna had obviously reapplied the spell which hid the weapons Xander and his friends were wearing. Following the others out into the city, she found herself impressed by some of the tall statues that she saw. She had never been to England before, and she decided to have a good look around while she was here. They headed to a big circle wall which held a large collection of flowers and sat down as they waited. They noted that no one looked at them oddly, which was somewhat surprising as they did have an owl with them. Hedwig seemed antsy, she noted with amusement, and was looking around before she hooted three times and flew off, only to land on the shoulder of a man of mid height with dark hair and a beard and two cold grey eyes, which spoke of terrors witnessed and cunning intelligence.
They watched as the man reached up and stroke Hedwig before walking towards them, followed by his two companions.
One was another man, who sadly looked like he had seen better days as he looked both worn and tired. His eyes seemed to convey wisdom and deep pain. The other was a young woman who had shockingly pink hair and brown eyes, which showed confusion and a sense of awareness as they closed the distance to them.
"Hello, my name is Sirius Black. I'm Harry's godfather," the first one said. "This is Remus Lupin and Tonks," he added, knowing better than to try and say his cousin's first name and not being in the mood to tease her right now, as this was a deadly serious matter.
"Nice to meet you," Prue said looking them over. "My name is Prue. This is my sister Piper, my brother in law Leo and our friends Xander, Janna and Amy," she added, introducing her group in turn. "So, how do you want to do this?" she asked.
"There are two ways that we can do this Prue," Leo interrupted before Sirius could reply. "One, we can summon Harry's parents to speak on their behalf, but that means taking them home and risking alerting them as to where Harry is. If they are a threat, that is not acceptable. Two, I can check in with the Elders and see if they can give us anything," he added.
"Check with the Elders then Leo, but be quick," Prue said after thinking it through. "I got a bad feeling about all this," she added.
Leo nodded and turned to kiss Piper before walking back into the ally and orbing out. He knew the Elders wouldn't be happy about them getting caught up in the magical world, but he also knew that the sisters wouldn't turn their backs on their newly discovered cousin, no matter what the Elders said and he only hoped things would turn out okay.