Compared to what had happened those first two days, the rest of the year was a lot calmer. Of course, that was by Hellmouth standards, which meant a lot of vampire stalking, magical training and computer hacking, but nobody who could've been considered an agent of Voldemort appeared immediately following that first attack.
This didn't ease the tension more than an iota. When Harry told the remainder of the Sunnydale gang that Voldemort was apparently seeking out Spike and Drusilla, Buffy went on a demon-slaughtering spree. The rest of the crew, however, walked around in an awkward silence for the next several hours, going quiet whenever anyone mentioned what kind of mess would occur when their nemesis blew back into town.
Eventually Giles had to tell them that Spike had been so piss drunk that he hadn't been much of a threat (even Mrs. Summers seemed to be sympathetic to him). However, his mere presence had basically torpedoed everybody's relationship, and had left Cordelia (who had been back in town for a couple of days, but still wasn't talking to anyone else) effectively estranged from Buffy and her friends. No one was looking forward to seeing him and Drusilla again, least of all Angel.
Harry was more concerned about why there had been no further appearances of the Death Eaters, considering how close they had come to succeeding on their very first try. He considered the possibility that Voldemort was coming to finish the job himself, which led to the question why he hadn't done so already. His scar had not so much as twinged in the past three days, and, although he'd never admit it, he had found himself wishing for a vision, anything that might make him feel like he wasn't sitting on a powder keg.
The process of training Faith and Buffy was going a lot slower than anybody --- especially the Slayers ---- would have liked. Neither of these girls was patient under the best of circumstances, and, considering what had happened, they were even more keyed up about their difficulties than Hermione was. After a few tests supervised by Hermione and Giles (who seemed to be remarkably forgiving of all the vitriol she had spewed when they first met), they were agreed that both Slayers definitely had magical powers within their grasp. What was not clear was what kind of magic it was, and with no wand maker within a hundred miles of the Hellmouth, both girls absolutely refused to leave to try and get one considering the nature of the crisis.
Nor were they making much notable progress with Willow, who was still demonstrating the kind of fragility associated with bone china. She had not gone near any kind of magic since the day of the attack, and had refused the Trio’s many offers to teach any further spells. Everybody understood why, and Willow certainly understood the severity of the situation, but the girl had a resolve that had only grown harder.
It was on the last day of the year that she finally managed to take a step in the right direction, and it was the use of her other major skill that ended up saving the day.
"All right," she told them, finally looking up from her laptop. "I've had to go through almost every major building in the city,, but I think that I know where the other Horcrux is."
Harry was impressed. He had a couple of ideas on how to finally destroy the locket that they'd been carrying, but given the excitement and the overall need to train, he'd let it go. Now he was glad to see that Willow hadn't quit on them after all. "Where is it?" he asked.
"The museum had it on display for the better part of six months--- not that odd, considering the lack of demand in Sunnydale," she told them. "What was odd was that the thing was under armed guard twenty-four hours a day, considering that no one had been willing to give historic or fiscal value to any of them."
"So someone knew it was important, but not enough to remove it from public display," Hermione replied. "Are we certain that there' was no one connected with the Death Eaters before a week ago?"
Buffy shook her head. "I've tossed Willy's place so often the guy asked me to set up a tab," she told them. "If Moldywart's setting up grounds here, he's staying away from demon establishments."
"Anyway, as of January first, the museum, like many across the country, will do a complete inventory before deciding which exhibits remain visible for the coming year,." Will hesitated. "As of January second, the four cups which bear the houses of Hogwarts are going to be transferred to the British Museum. But until then, they’ll be housed in a small warehouse in the factory section of Sunnydale."
"Please don't tell me,…" Xander started.
"Not the same one Spike used, but it's within walking distance." Willow looked at him. "Now I don't know if this is happening because of your Ministry --- someone really needs to tell your colleagues about computers---- but whatever the reason, we've got a window. Thank God for the holidays."
"How long?" Harry asked.
"Roughly sixteen hours from now," Willow replied.
"So we're planning a heist," Xander replied. "Why does this remind me of an old movie?"
"Everything does." Buffy turned her attention to Willow. "What's the security like in this warehouse?"
"I'm downloading the blueprints from city planning right now."
Harry knew less about computers than Buffy, but even he knew enough that what Willow was doing should pretty much impossible. Maybe this was the real reason the redhead was ignoring magic ---- hacking came far easier, and had much more potential for payoff than wizardry.
Within five minutes, Willow had a complete layout of the floor plan. "Bad news,; it looks like this place has better security than half the banks in this town," she told them. "Three guards on each entrance, security cameras at each corner covering a half mile around the place, couple of what look to be electronic doors with a couple of pass codes, and the whole thing is wired with infrared…"
"So what's the good news?" Ron asked.
"I don't see anything that probably couldn't be overcome by two Slayers and three wizards," Willow gave a small smile. "After all, Buffy's been doing this kind of thing for years, and you three managed to get into the Ministry of Magic, which I imagine is harder to get into than some nuclear missile silos."
Harry didn't think that it would help to mention that, in their case, they'd almost been caught. "What would we have to do?" he asked instead.
Willow was starting to look nervous for the first time. "A lot less than you'd think," she told them. "For one thing, if you give me half an hour, I think that I can hack into Sunnydale's power main."
Now Giles was starting to look genuinely concerned. "Willow, I realize you're very gifted with that infernal machine, but isn't that a little risky even for you?"
"I've been hacking into the city morgue, the hospital grid, and even the police server This would almost be a cakewalk. Besides," she managed a genuine smile, "I've already managed to blackout a city block this year. Only difference with this, it'd be a lot quicker to turn it back on."
Harry was not entirely sure that he wanted to hear about this particular story, and neither was Buffy. "Say you kill the power. How does this get us past the guards with the guns?" she asked.
"You've taken on vampires, zombies, and a couple of snake gods," Faith countered. "Don't tell me a couple of rent-a-cops have you buffaloed."
"We could probably incapacitate them with no real problems," Hermione replied. "What bothers me is that all this floor plan does is list the Muggle precautions."
"You're right," Giles told them. "Considering the nature oft these, um, goblets, and how this town tends to function in general, there's a very good chance there will be some kind of magical protections."
"Way to kill the buzz," Faith replied, turning to Hermione. "Aren't there some kind of, ya know, background spells you could cast, show us what we're dealing with?"
"There are rudimentary spells that could tells us if magic is about," Hermione conceded,. "What it wouldn't tell us is what kind of magic it was."
"What about the spells you think were used at," Buffy paused, "I want to say Gringos?"
"Gringotts," Hermione replied. "We can only guess there, and for all we know, on your side of the ocean, you've got a complete list of American spells that we have no experience with."
Faith looked at her watch. "I think we're just going to have to risk it," she told them. "We can't exactly plan a perfect heist in less than half a day. Not to mention the fact that we're gonna have to do this at night, which opens the windows to all those nasties that might be there."
"Faith's right," Buffy agreed. "We've got to move fast, and worry about the risks and dangers we'll face when we get there. This is not how I wanted to spend the New Years either, " she held up a hand to Giles, who seemed poised to object, "but we've got to do this now. "
"I was only going to ask how we should proceed," Giles replied.
"It's just past three," she told them. "Which means sunset's in two hours. We need to start working, be ready to move by six at the absolute latest."
"Right," Ron replied. "Because it's not like the danger level in this town goes up when the sun goes down. Hell, for all we know, they've got some vamps on their security detail."
"That's the reason two of us are going in," Buffy replied. "One Slayer, one wizard. And even though I know you have issues, we're probably going to need Angel."
"Of course," Xander chimed in. "Can't commit a crime in this town without Deadboy's help."
Though none of the wizards had been determined to shoot Angel on sight since their disastrous first meeting, their collective opinion had not improved a great deal. Even allowing for the things he had done with a soul, the fact remained that he was a killer. And none of them was wild about him being around Buffy, all their words to the contrary that they were just 'friends'.
"Considering that we're dealing with body sensors, we're probably better off with somebody with no body heat," Buffy countered, looking at Xander. "I've seen the same movies you have."
"And we don't know magic spells that could probably counter that,." Ron was probably the most openly hostile towards Angel.
"Everybody's going to have a job," Buffy reminded them. "This has to go smoothly, or..."
She didn't have to finish the sentence. Instead, she turned to Hermione. "How much of the stuff that you used to get into the Ministry did you bring with you?"
"Most of it's still at the motel, assuming the rooms haven't been looted by now."
None of them had gone back to the motel since the attack, choosing instead to camp out at Buffy’s and Willow's houses. (Xander told them that his parents wouldn't like visitors, but refused to reveal any further details) They had paid up through the end of the week when they had come in, and Buffy had done a few strolls by since then, but none of them had been willing to risk more than that.
"I think it's time that one of us took a chance," Harry replied. "At the very least, we need to know if we've still got any Death Eaters still on our tail." He turned to Hermione. "Do we have enough material to whip up some paralytics?"
The town’s biggest magic shop had been closed ever since the proprietor had been murdered in November. Considering that she’d been the second owner to die in less than a year, there were a scarcity of buyers, even in a town like Sunnydale. Fortunately, no one had been in a hurry to move the remaining inventory. Hermione and Buffy had paid a visit two days earlier, and while a fair amount had been eye candy, there had been some materials suitable for everyday spell-casting, mainly basic level potions. That left quite a bit out, though- there were some ingredients (along with devices that Fred and George had made) that they weren't going to be able to replace if they didn’t retrieve the bag.
"It'll take a few minutes, but you're not going alone," Hermione told him bluntly. "Not until I can whip up a decent Polyjuice."
"The undead community already knows I'm here," Harry reminded him. "For that matter, I'm willing to bet whatever American Death Eaters are here do too. "
"Yes, but we don't have to telegraph to them your exact location," Buffy pointed out. "I'm not even sure it's a good idea for you to even go."
"Motel's not going to let anybody in who didn't have the room in the first place," Harry pointed out. "Security was light, but it wasn't that light."
"I'll go with him," Faith finally volunteered. "That enough protection for you?"
"This isn't just about keeping Harry alive," Ron reminded them. "Either of you gets caught, this entire plan will go down the toilet."
"Which is why they're not going to catch us," Faith gave a smile that meant nothing good to any monster. "I've got an idea that will simultaneously freak them out and keep the bastards on their toes."
She turned to Hermione. "Can you make a potion for each of us?"
"Yes," Hermione said slowly, "but it won't last for as long. Couple of hours at the utter maximum."
"If we do this right, it'll be all the time we need," Faith told them.
"Who exactly do you intend to disguise yourself as?" Buffy asked.
"That's the beauty part." Faith replied. "We're not going to be using disguises."
Then she unfolded the plan. When he heard it, Harry realized he had underestimated Faith yet again. There was enough risk in this plan to keep her adrenaline pumping, but even if they got caught, it would throw a hell of a shock into the Death Eaters.
Even by Sunnydale standards, the turnover service at the motor lodge was pretty bleak, and considering how much trouble he’d caused in just one day, Harry expected a bit more trouble at the front desk. But the clerk didn't so much as blink, just handed him the room key.
Harry knew that the room was a trap; the only question was whether it was magical, people were crouched inside waiting, or both. The fact that the clerk was still alive was no guarantee of anything--- for that matter, the clerk might be another disguised impostor. Hell, for all they knew, the bag of goodies they'd come with wasn't even there anymore. But retrieving it was the reason they were there, so stopping now was out of the question.
Of course, that didn't mean they were going to make it easy. There was a window on the far side of the room. Harry took a route so circuitous, the most dedicated Death Eater would have trouble following. Upon reaching the room, Harry very carefully peeked inside.
The lights were out and the curtains were drawn, and Harry suspected it wasn't because of the turn down service. The smart move would've been to retreat, and try and find another way. But they hadn't come here to be subtle.
If the people at this motel aren't already pissed, they'll sure as hell be angry now. Harry picked up a sizable stone, and heaved it through the window.
There were a series of loud pops, and by the time Harry could focus his vision, he was surrounded. This time, the Death Eaters looked a lot younger and tougher. It was going to be hard to scare them.
Harry liked a challenge.
"You know, for someone his Ministry considers to be Undesirable Number One, this wasn't nearly as hard as I thought it would be." This Death Eater had a pronounced accent --- probably from the Southwest. Not that it mattered much.
"Well, the Ministry's never been known for having the sharpest knives in the drawer," Harry replied just as coolly.
"This time there are five of us, and you're alone," the second replied. "Now we're going to interrogate and," she coughed, "debrief you, one way or the other, but the people who took out the remainder of our first response, who are they?"
"Don't know," Harry shrugged. "Could be some of the bloods in this town don't cotton that kindly to having their territory invaded."
"It doesn't matter," the alpha Death Eater replied. "Eventually, the Dark Lord will take care of them."
A small smile crossed Harry's face. "You really don't know what your boss is up to, do you?"
The look they exchanged did seem to indicate that they were a bit clueless as to this. "The Dark Lord's plan are not our concern," the second Death Eater said. "What matters is we captured Harry Potter, and we didn't even have to get our hands dirty."
"Only two things wrong with that. First," Harry rubbed his hands in a way that few wizards would, "you're going to get your hands dirty."
"What else?" The wizards reached for their wands, which led them to a major surprise, where Harry abruptly did a scissors kick and knocked a wand out of one of the others hands.
"I ain't Harry Potter, dumb-ass," 'Harry' replied before knocking the second Death Eater back with a roundhouse that would've KO'd George Foreman.
Had the Death Eaters been more experienced or known anything about current events, they might have been able to still at least stun the person in front of them, perform an Imperius Curse, and get a better idea of where Harry Potter actually was. If they'd been at least a little better warned about Sunnydale, they might even have been able to reason out who they were fighting, and have responded accordingly.
However --- and Faith had been eerily prescient when she’d described this part of the plan to Harry --- they were not thinking at all. Fundamentally, wizards were not that different from the average vampire or demon, in that they didn't expect anything after the first part of their plan worked. They were too busy trying to mentally rewire their brains to counterattack, and this would invariably lead to them getting their asses kicked.
They didn't think; they simply reacted. And while they were still trying to deal with a Harry Potter who apparently had the moves of your average UFC competitor, "Faith" emerged from the shadows, where 'she' had been waiting
Harry had been relieved that Faith favored quasi-masculine attire. Even though he'd used Polyjuice Potion in the past, he had never tried disguising himself as a member of the opposite sex. Hermione had offered to go in his stead, but Willow had admitted that she needed her brains to help figure out the next part of the heist they were planning.
So, focusing his attention on the attackers (and desperately trying not to think about certain parts of him which had been transfigured) 'Faith' fired a series of "Expelliarmus!" spells into the already panicky Death Eaters, one of whom was seriously getting his clock cleaned by... him.
"I really don't like it when people threaten my friends," 'Harry' said, whirling on the once and no longer alpha Death Eater, "and I'm not that big on the average criminal either!"
After saying those last two words, 'Harry' heaved the death eater through the already broken window.
"Sorry," 'Harry' said quietly to 'Faith', "but I think you can pretty much kiss your deposit goodbye."
"Were you planning to leave this motel standing?" There was genuine curiosity in 'his' voice --- he still wasn't sure what this Slayer was capable of.
It was rare to see an expression on your own face that you couldn't identify. "The day is young," was all 'Harry' would say. And then they had no more time to react, because the three Death Eaters who were still capable of moving under their own power resumed their spell casting.
Even while all this was happening, there was a part of Harry that was enjoying the violence and chaos. Faith had told him that she seemed to get a charge fighting demons and monsters. Harry, who'd been doing it slightly longer, and at a much younger age, had never taken any thrills in at all. How could you get excited when the possibility that death was imminent? But it clearly wasn't bothering Faith, and her mood was infectious.
The smart move for the remaining Death Eaters would have been to apparate anywhere but here, but none of them seemed able to think straight. Apparently, this particular brand of ass kicking was not something they were used to, and now the other part of "fight or flight" wasn't occurring to them. Faith had no intention of giving them time to consider it. It was still working for them, because in a matter of minutes, Harry was able to stun two of them into semi-consciousness.
Finally, they were down to one wizard who looked to be on the verge of soiling himself. Before Harry could cast a spell, Faith slammed her fist into his gut, and when he doubled over, she grabbed him by the balls. Just seeing it was enough to make him almost feel sorry for a Death Eater.
"Obliviate the sonofabitch," 'Faith ordered.
Now was not the time to tell 'himself' that this had always been a tricky spell for him. However, he had a feeling these wizards would not be that hard to override. In a matter of two minutes, all the Death Eaters were under his control.
"Now listen very carefully, 'cause you don't want me to repeat myself," 'Faith told him, barely raising her voice above a whisper. "This town is off limits to you Death Eaters. This little ass-whupping I just handed you, for me, it was the equivalent of getting warmed up. Your Dark Lord sends any more wizards here for any reason, I will truss their asses like they were Thanksgiving turkeys, and send them out to the nearest nest, ringing a little bell. And if Moldywart gets the idea that he can just handle this particular berg by himself, you be sure to tell him that this is a two-Slayer town, and this particular can of whoop-ass was opened by the less-experienced Slayer. He doesn't need to deal with this particular shit, got it?!"
The Death Eater nodded his head as eagerly as if a nervous puppeteer was handling it.
"Now get the fuck out before I reconsider my generosity," Faith whispered. Harry had trouble hearing this, but the wizards had none. Less than a minute after she finished her statement, all of them had finished dis-apparating.
By the time the last pop had finished, Faith was looking through the room for the bag of goodies that had started this entire sojourn. Harry was far less serene. There was electricity in the air, and he was pretty sure it wasn't all from the recent blasts of magic.
Which just seemed to show what he knew, because less than a minute later, there was a popping sound, and the effects of the Polyjuice potion---- diluted down due to the limited materials Hermione’d had from the start----- had just worn off.
Harry barely noticed this, apart from his immense gratitude that the one part of him that he had been most afraid of losing before this little excursion was back---- and working just fine.
Suddenly all of the problems that they'd had on this journey seemed very far away, and the memory of kissing Ginny Weasley seemed like a dream.
Faith apparently felt the same way. "Remember when I said a good Slay left me hungry and horny?" she told him.
"Kind of stood out," Harry replied.
"I ain't hungry."
Harry wasn't sure who made the first move---- him or her--- and he didn't care. All of a sudden, he and Faith were locked in an embrace, Their hands darted around, cupping, pressing, stroking targets underneath their clothing like they were being choreographed.
"This is a bad idea," Harry said when they came up for air.
"Very likely," Faith replied.
"Nothing good can come of this."
Faith actually seemed to consider this for a second. "You care?" she finally asked.
Harry answered by crushing his mouth to hers again. Faith responded by trying to all but mount him against the wall. Unfortunately, this only worked in movies, and the two collapsed against it.
"You've never done this before," It wasn't a question.
Harry just nodded. "Is that going to be a problem?"
Faith heaved him into the bed with such vigor he was amazed it didn't splinter at the effort. "And you thought your time in Sunnydale was memorable before," she said as she peeled off her clothes.
We're in the middle of a crisis of epic proportion, the fate of the world may be at hand, and all I care about is losing my virginity went through Harry's mind. Then Faith finished undressing. On the other hand, if the world does end, I may never get a better chance.
Harry decided to stop thinking just for a while, and be in the moment.
He might have second-guessed his efforts had he known what was happening at the city line, not half a mile away.
A Plymouth Fury was driving into Sunnydale. The previous two times, it had plowed into the 'Welcome to Sunnydale' sign--- the first time on purpose, the second because it's driver had been absolutely hammered. This time, having been warned of the need for greater subtlety, Spike actually slowed down when he drove by it. The police in this town were complete morons, but if what Riddle had told him turned out to be on the level, there was no need to alert their boss to his presence.
So the Mayor of Sunnydale was a heavy, and judging from how nervous Tom had been when he’d mentioned dealing with them, he was a pretty big bad in his own right. Of course, if certain dates were to be believed, the Mayor’d begun consolidating his power back when Spike had killed his first Slayer. And considering the free-for-alls that had been going on the first time he and Dru had come to Sunnydale, the Mayor had seemed remarkably unconcerned about what they'd been doing---- including Acathla. But then, Tommy Boy had to have known about it as well, and he had similarly done jack shit.
In the hundred and eighteen years ---- fuck, it was going to be nineteen in less than seven hours---- Spike had managed to stay a force in the undead circles, for two reasons. First, he'd never made an effort to destroy the world. Second, he had stayed out of territorial disputes. Well, he'd violated his first rule last February, and he was now returning to Sunnydale about to piss all over the second. Not to mention that this was a town where his ass had gotten kicked repeatedly, and his relationship with Dru had nearly self-destructed. A more reflexive vampire might wonder whether this was a particularly self-destructive part of his nature.
They would've been doing the same thing that Slayers and the Anointed One alike had done time and time again ---- seriously underestimating him. He’d listened to Tommy's little spiel, and while there had been some minor variations, it was clear that the time he’d spent dead had not caused him to change much. Riddle thought he'd come close enough to winning the last time to run the exact same plays all over again, and win. So he was this close to running the magical world. That and a pound would buy him a cup of tea. He didn't have the manpower to win, and he was too focused on smaller goals to realize the larger flaws. Reality would end up crushing him, and probably without any additional influence.
The Mayor didn't seem to be much different. Just because he'd built Sunnydale for demons to feed on, and he was this close to getting his payday, didn't mean there weren't serious flaws in his makeup. Riddle had made grandiose claims that the Mayor didn't see the bigger picture (and if that wasn't the pot calling the kettle black), and the fact that he had caused more significant crises in the last couple of years would seem to indicate that was true. The Mayor thought that because he controlled Sunnydale, the rest of the world would be a snap--- that was the same stupid thinking Riddle was using.
Spike had never been much of the 'sit back and let other people fight' school---- when he wasn't fighting, he was bored--- but for once he was thinking about letting this particular tape play out a little. These two might think themselves to be King Kong and Godzilla, but letting these two monsters whale on each other for awhile seemed like it could be... productive. And the idea that Tom Riddle could 'handle' a Slayer --- it had taken an amount of restraint he hadn't known he was capable of not to burst out laughing at this. Can handle a Slayer? Bloke couldn't handle a fucking toddler!
The very fact that Riddle had come to him and Dru---- when they knew he considered them the magical equivalent of white trash --- meant that his plans were already starting to spin out of control. Spike would bet any amount of money that the Mayor was planning things the exact same way. And neither seemed willing to take the Slayer into consideration, which he knew from personal experience was a huge mistake. Riddle might not be able to be killed, but he knew this bloke could get hurt, and seeing him getting whaled on by a Slater --- that alone would be worth the trip.
So, even though taking the passive approach was usually the last thing that he would do, sitting back and watching this would probably provide better entertainment then that Telemundo he'd been seeing for the last month.
Spike briefly turned his attention to Dru, who had spent the majority of this trip the same way she'd spent their first visit ---- in a psychic daze. Up until now, she hadn't said a word.
"Who's eating, luv?" Spike asked.
"All sorts," Drusilla was whispering. "Snakes, preparing to swallow themselves. Only to be eaten by the lions. And the lions are hungry."
Spike knew enough magic talk to know that there was some relevance to the magic houses. It didn't answer the question that they were most interested in. "What about the boy that has old Tom's knickers in a twist? He anywhere to be found?"
Dru began humming a little. "The lightning will be nearby. Waiting to strike," She frowned. "But something is masking him. I can't see him clearly."
Spike frowned. Tom had been very interested in Dru's visions. There was some prophecy that had been written about Tom the first time he'd come into power. But Tom had refused to say what it was, after it had gotten him killed. He had asked Dru in particular, but he had kept the two apart ---- he knew how mercurial both could be, and he didn't want Dru to get hurt. He'd thought the part about masking had been playacting on his love’s part. Now he was beginning to wonder otherwise.
'Is he here?"
He didn't expect a coherent response, which is why her next words came as a surprise. "He will be," Dru smiled. "Before the stroke of twelve he will strike against the snake twice, and both blows will cut deep."
"So finally I'm going to get a look at the Boy who Lived," A smile crossed the bleached vampire's face. "This little jaunt’s already sounding like it's going to be worth our time."
"I'm not going to say it hasn't been seven minutes in heaven, but we have to get going."
Harry didn't know how much time had passed, and for the first time in nearly forever, he really didn't care. Crashing back to reality was not something he'd thought he'd be able to do.
"HP? Ground control to Major Magic, we gotta get moving..."
Harry managed to look and saw Faith dressing. "One of these days, you're going to have to explain to me these references you keep making."
"You and your friends really did live a bubble during your formative years, didn't you?" Faith was actually smiling a little.
"On the plus side, the pictures in our hallways move," Harry replied. "And the chocolate's a lot better."
"These wizarding schools sound like a kick," Faith's expression changed subtly. "Shame I never got to go to one."
Harry knew that in a matter of moments he would begin snapping back to reality. but he wanted to maintain the mood a little longer. "Work's a lot harder. And they pretty much insist that your homework has to be written on parchment with a quill."
"Nothing's perfect in this world. I learned that early." The Slayer actually managed to sigh. "Looks like I'm going to have to play the bad cop in this little story."
Reality was about to snap back. Harry decided he might as well face it fully clothed, and began to find where he had tossed everything. "Faith, I know you think that because of where I came from and who I am that you were taking advantage of me."
Faith raised an eyebrow. "I do remember whose tongue went into whose mouth first." She tried a more serious tone. "Harry, we were both keyed up from the fight. We're literally in a life-or-death struggle every single minute. We both got a lot of issues feeling chosen."
"I'm aware of all that," Harry realized this conversation was going to be awkward, and that he was going to be at a further disadvantage because he was pretty sure he couldn't wipe the smile off his face. "I never wanted to make a lot of the decisions that I had to make, but I've accepted all of them. And," he held up a hand, "this was the easiest one I've had in a very long time."
"You're a teenage boy," Faith tried to keep a light tone, but there was already a bit of pain in her voice. "Any guy, given the choice of getting some, will take it."
"Maybe, but I chose to have sex with you," Harry replied. "And I don't regret it, even if you think that you should."
"You want to know something crazy?" She kept the joking tone in her voice, but Harry could tell that she was serious. "I don't regret it either. And I'm the type who should know better."
"Look, we've got a lot big stuff ahead of us tonight," Harry told her. "How about we revisit this as soon as we finish the heist?"
By now, they had both finished dressing. Faith was walking over to the bag of goodies which had survived the struggles of the last two hours intact.
"All right, but remember, I get in a lot of fights. We might be in this situation a lot sooner than you think."
"I look forward to it."
Faith dropped him a roguish wink. "I might not be fighting next to you next time."
That stupid smirk was going to be impossible to hide from Hermione and Ron. Harry found out he didn't really care about that. He also realized something far more important.
Being with Faith had taken the worry of Voldemort away from him for the first time in months. The day was full of possibilities, and the night hadn't even begun yet.
If only he’d known who he’d be seeing that night.