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Harry Potter and the Mouth of Hell

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Summary: The Ministry has fallen, and Harry and his friends are on the run. In a desperate attempt to stop Voldemort and find the remaining Horcruxes, the bedeviled trio is led to track down the help of the Slayer

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Harry Potter > General > ActionDavidBMorrisFR1320112,33179834,7637 Apr 1120 Sep 12Yes

Chapter 7

When Harry had been going to 'normal' school in England, he had never given much thought to what the teachers did when students went on holiday. God knew that things had been bad enough at the Dursleys’ that if he'd been offered the opportunity, he probably would've stayed around.

So when Faith told them that they were going to Sunnydale High, and then shrugged off the fact that winter break was still going on, Harry wondered whether this was an American quirk or whether this had some more sinister aspects. Faith didn't think much of it.

"I think Giles' actually gets his rocks off by cross-referencing. Dude probably wishes that there were more months on the calendar."

Hermione clearly didn't approve of this---- it no doubt fed into her already slanted position on what the Watchers should and shouldn't be doing. She was stopped cold, however, when she walked into the library.

Harry was pretty sure that Hermione's eyes had all but fallen out of her sockets. The library wasn't nearly the size of Hogwarts', but judging from the titles and the conditions the books were in, it was probably a fair rival to just about any collection of magical tomes in the country.

"Ah--- buh---- wha---" was all Hermione seemed capable of saying for a good couple of minutes.

Faith actually seemed amused by her reaction. "Girl must be really repressed if this is all it takes for her to get off."

Before Harry could even react to something that off-color, they heard someone approaching. "Faith, what have we told you about picking up strays?"

Harry and Ron looked up (Hermione seemed incapable of doing anything that involved taking her eyes off the bookshelves) to see a young man about their age with dark hair, looking at them amused. "Not that we mind someone admiring the library. Giles hasn't had a customer since--- ever."

Faith looked up. "Speaking of the G-man, where is he?"

"Aren't you going introduce me to these little lost lambs?" Xander replied. "Who I hope at least have a pulse."

"The boys are Harry and Ron; the girl who looks like she's going to come any minute is Hermione," Faith tossed off. "They're the three pyros that the living impaired have been bitching about the last couple hours."

"But Giles, according to the Chronicles, fire breathers walking the earth is not unheard off in the end of Millennium cults!" a female voice argued firmly.

"We're still a year away from that by any calendar."

"Maybe they're, um, getting an early start?"

"Willow, how much of this is residual worry about Y2K?"

There was a slight pause. "I'm telling you, Giles, one failed computer clock, and..." The conversation trailed off, as the speakers entered the room and got a good look at the people in the reading room. The female speaker, a teenage girl with hair so red that it made Ron's look dingy by comparison, did a double take, and began to sputter herself. "Um, thank you, Mr. Giles, for helping me with my, um, English assignment. This story will surely---"

"Relax, Will," The young man--- obviously Xander Harris--- replied. "Faith brought them in. They seem to be friendly. " He pointed at them. "Harry, I'm not sure, but I think your friend has to remember to breathe."

"An original copy of the Witch's Hammer," Hermione now seemed capable of forming words again. "Hobson's Treatise on Undersea Demons." She all but gaped. "The Pergamum Codex! Most people thought it was myth."

Faith looked a little impressed. "Check out Willow 2.0," she replied. "Giles, you sure that they don't start turning out Watchers this young?"

By now, Giles had gotten a good look at the three of them. He was giving Harry the kind of look that he'd been receiving from strangers ever since he'd become a wizard. "They're not Watcher's-in-Training, " he replied slowly, as he took of his glasses. "If I'm not mistaken, they're wizards."

Willow's expression went from confused to fascinated very quickly. "Wizards, as in Gandalf and Saruman? As in David Eddings and Piers Anthony? That kind of wizard?"

"Saw their wands and everything, Red," Faith replied.

'Did they say 'A La Peanut Butter Sandwiches too?" Xander's grin faded as he saw what Ron and Harry were holding. "I gotta quit when I'm ahead."

Willow actually looked a little hurt, and turned to Giles. "You told me that studying the black arts was very dangerous. That it shouldn't be done by people our age."

"There may be a very good reason he told you that." Hermione suddenly sounded like she had snapped back to reality. "You're Rupert Giles, their watcher?"

Xander now looked a little amazed. "How do you know that?"

"He's not the only one who can read a newspaper," Hermione fixed Giles with a determined stare. "So you're Faith's watcher. Forgive me for saying this, but not very pleased to meet you."

Harry knew Hermione had it in for Watchers in general, but he thought she was going to at least hold it in until they could speak with Buffy and Faith. "We need this guy on our side," he started.

'Even someone who is guilty of flagrant abuses of the wizarding world?" Hermione's voice got colder. "Possession of this many magical texts is illegal without clearance from the Ministry, which I'll bet any amount of money that you don't have."

Xander and Willow looked a little concerned. "But this can't be that serious," Willow responded. "Couldn't you just let him off with a fine and probation?"

Ron and Harry now pulled Hermione aside. "Could we hold off the formal charges until after we've got the Slayers on our side?" Ron asked. "I know you've got it in for the Watchers, but still----"

"They've never exactly been my biggest boosters, either."

Everybody in the room looked up. The pictures of Buffy Summers didn't do her justice. If anything, she looked taller and more majestic than the Prophet had given evidence of. One thing that the photos had left out was her eyes. They were the eyes of Sirius Black and Remus Lupin; the weary and exhausted look of a warrior constantly involved in strife. Harry imagined that his eyes might look just the same to an outsider.

"I mean, just once, couldn't they let me get through one vacation without needing me to save the world?" Buffy said. "I mean, I've been through so many apocalypses, I should get frequent flyer miles for my Slayer card. But seriously folks," and she very casually reached towards her pocket "who are you and what are you doing in the library after school hours?"

"We're not sure, but they say they're wizards from England and that they've come looking for you," Xander replied. ”I say we dunk them into water and see if they float."

Buffy spent the next minute looking at them. It was an uncanny feeling under her stare that reminded Harry a bit of Mad-Eye. "Let me guess --- you're the 'demons' who spent the last few hours randomly burning vampires?"

"They clearly don't know what they're doing, B," Faith replied. "They'd 've been vampire party mix if I hadn't helped bail their ass out a few hours ago."

All three of the wizards were a little insulted at being lectured at, but none of them particularly wanted to offend women who could probably break them in two with their little fingers. "Look," Hermione replied, "I realize that it's in your nature not to trust new people, but you have no idea how long a trip we've been on just to see you."

"What am I, the La Brea tar pits?" Buffy replied. "Doesn't anybody from England know how to use the telephone?"

This argument might have had weight if Harry and his friends had been Muggles. Giles, however, seemed to understand their situation and gestured to Buffy. "I believe this situation actually is rather dire," he said.

"You said that when I walked and chewed gum at the same time," Buffy replied.

Apparently, this byplay was old hat to them, because Willow and Xander moved inside the room. "I think this is the part where we learn about the 'grave peril' that hinders our land," Xander replied.

"Please, sit down," Giles indicated. The three of them did, reluctantly. "Go ahead and explain."

"I'm Harry Potter."

Harry had just been starting to get used to people not recognizing his name. He had not, however, expected that the current Slayer(s) would be among them. "The Boy Who Lived," he tried again. Nothing. "The Child Who Defeated Voldemort?" He thought he could hear crickets chirping.

"Giles, this is some kind of twisted dating program, right?" Buffy finally said. "Boy Who Lived, meet the Girl Who Died? She pokes vampire with a sharp stick, he burns them with the same stick?"

"We're the most wanted fugitives in the wizarding world," Ron tried, with a hint of desperation. "We're wanted dead or alive by the Ministry of Magic."

"Forget it, Ron," Hermione was speaking again, and she sounded even angrier than before. "It's clear that the current Watcher has the same kind of indifference towards the magic world that they all have."

This got a reaction. Giles finally blinked a couple of times. "The Slayer has many threats deal with the Hellmouth," he began. "We have to hold the line here---"

"And when exactly were you going to tell them about Voldemort?" Ron was starting to sound angry for the first time. "When the Dark Lord showed up on the bloody doorstep?"

Faith spoke for the first time. "How bad is this situation? We talking apocalypse?"

"Yes," Harry replied.

"No," said Hermione simultaneously. "Potentially, this is far more serious."

"Um, end of the world, kind of trumps everything else," Xander replied.

"The situation is dangerous because the last thing Voldemort wants is the world destroyed," Hermione told them. "It would act counter to his long term plans."

'Which are?" Buffy asked.

"To completely rule the magical world, which he believes will allow him to command the rest of it," Harry told them.

There was a long pause. "This Dark Lord wouldn't happen to be a white mouse with a huge head, would it?" Xander replied.

Buffy seemed to ignore this. "This Volatile---"

"Voldemort," Giles quietly corrected.

"How close is he to doing what you say he is?" She was suddenly all business.

"He already has control of the Ministry of Magic, and probably most of the wizards under its command," Ron replied.

"Which amounts to what; fifteen wizards in a Humvee?" Faith asked almost breezily.

Up until now, Harry had been taking their attitude as ignorance; he was now starting to get angry. "I realize you're a very powerful girl," he began," but that doesn't give you the right to mock what's going on in our world. People are being killed."

"People are being killed here, too," Buffy's tone hadn't changed one bit, but she sounded a lot harder now. "No matter what I do anywhere, people are going to die. Now, I don't like this anymore than you do, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that there are more wizards than there are Slayers."

Harry was about to argue that if there were two Slayers, they might be able to do more than any wizard could, then realized that this was the reason they had come to the library in the first place. '"Then I guess this is where we have to explain what the exact problem is," he told her.

"Hey, it's Christmas vacation. I don't know how your schools work, but we have to deal with long assignments over ours," Buffy replied.

Somehow, Harry thought teaching a long assignment about the History of Magic would be easier, but he opted not to say so. "I'm not sure where to begin," he added.

"Then I'll start," Hermione replied.

For the next three hours, they tried to give a summary of who Voldemort was, how the first war had begun more than a quarter of a century earlier, how the wizarding world had been engaged in a conflict with Voldemort that had ended suddenly after the Dark Lord had murdered Harry's parents, and had tried to kill Harry, only to somehow be destroyed by the reflection of a Killing Curse.

He told them how he had spent the first half of his childhood not knowing of his magical heritage, until his eleventh birthday when Hagrid had come to the house he had shared with the Dursleys, who had spent every moment of their lives trying to diminish him. (Xander and Willow seemed particularly fascinated by this section, for some reason). About his trip to Hogwarts, how he had met Ron and Hermione, and the adventures that the three of them had had over the past three years, about his parents’ friends Remus and Sirius, and how they had tried to make his childhood easier.

Then he told them about the rise of the Death Eaters, and how Voldemort's servants Pettigrew and Barty Crouch had separately maneuvered Harry within the Tri-Wizard tournament, how Voldemort had been resurrected, and how the Ministry had spent the better part of a year trying to pretend that everything was status quo.

The story then got a lot more personal and exponentially more painful. Harry told them about the prophecy about himself and the Dark Lord that had been given after his birth, the one that said, only one could live. It didn't, however, provoke the reaction he'd expected, as all the teenagers in the library kept saying things like: "Yeah, cause things that are written are always right." They did, however, become far more solemn when they heard of Sirius' murder at the hands of Bellatrix Lestrange.

Harry hesitated a bit about telling them the next part --- if he hadn't been about to tell Remus, who was far closer to them, about the Horcruxes, why should he tell these complete strangers? But Hermione and Ron had reminded him that they were going to need their help to get a hold of the Hufflepuff Cup, and they probably wouldn't accept 'magical relic' as an excuse. So he told them what he had learned of Tom Riddle's childhood, his time at Hogwarts, and how he had learned to split his soul into seven pieces. Two had been destroyed, but the price of obtaining the third had led, indirectly, to Dumbledore's death at the hands of Snape.

After baring his soul this broadly, it was almost a relief to explain the fall of the Ministry, and why they needed the Slayers help in the first place. He stopped short of revealing the true reason for their journey here; he wanted to hear if they would be willing to go along with them.

Buffy and her friends asked a few questions for the purposes of clarity, but for the most part, they had remained respectfully silent. The silence remained for nearly a minute.

Buffy asked the first question, and it was not one that Harry had expected. "This prophecy--- how convinced are you that's it's accurate?"

"Dumbledore was very sure of it," Harry told her. "He didn't think much of Trelawney's talents normally, but he did believe it had to play out like that."

"Lesson the first, kiddo," Xander replied. "Don't believe everything you're foretold. Buffy's literally living proof of that."

"What are you talking about?" Ron asked.

"You seem to know a lot about what's been going on in Sunnydale," Buffy replied. "Which, side note, I find a little creepy, a little flattering, and very frustrating. Therefore, maybe you know who the Master was, and how he was supposed to rise."

"We do," Hermione replied. "I can't speak for Ron and Harry, but I'd love to know how you survived the prophecy."

"I didn't."

That was not an answer any of them had expected. "But the prophecy said---"

"I died. I did." She looked at Xander. 'See, it never made clear for how long that death was going to last. Thanks to Xander, it was less than ten minutes."

Hermione did a one-eighty in her chair. "One dies; another rises," she whispered. "Buffy was dead, even for a few minutes, and the power of the Slayer was transferred into another girl. That's how come there are two of you."

"There's a bit more to it than that, but yeah," Buffy replied.

"Well, this confirms it. There's no other way for it to happen." Abruptly, she whirled around to Giles. "And I suppose it never occurred to you to ask your colleagues how an event of this magnitude could've happened without considering the consequences?"

"Easy, mama," Faith replied.

Hermione got out of her seat, and began to march towards Giles "You're either willfully ignorant or exceptionally careless, Frankly, I don't know which possibility is worse."

Buffy whirled around, and got directly into Hermione's path. "You don't want to do this," she told her, in a tone that would have sent a normal person running.

Hermione had stared down a basilisk when she was twelve, and been dodging Death Eaters for the last three years. And even though she should have known better, she kept going.

"You should be angry," Hermione replied. "You, of all people, you don't realize the crimes that these-- these ignorant old men have perpetrated on you!"

"What the hell are you talking about?" Ron demanded.

"Magical energy!" Hermione replied. "That is the only way that the power of the Slayer can be sustained. Every time a Slayer dies, their power is transferred to the next girl in the Slayer line. The only way that a transfer this magnitude is possible is with a huge displacement of magical energy. Which means that the essence of that power is magical in origin."

Giles recoiled as if he'd been struck even though Hermione hadn't laid a finger on him. Harry felt like he'd been punched in the gut. Willow and Xander still seemed to be processing. So it was Ron was asked the only logical question.

"You're saying that Buffy is part witch?"

"I'm saying that every Slayer is, and always has been."

The two Slayers reactions were complete opposites. Faith looked around for a moment, smiled, and said: "Wicked." Buffy completely forgot Hermione and turned to her Watcher, looking like she'd been gutted.

"Is this true?" she asked, in a much smaller voice than she'd been using before.

It was then Harry got his first look at Giles' face. He looked nearly as stunned as Buffy. Either he was the world's most convincing actor (which Harry wasn't prepared to rule out; Watchers had to lie to the world every day to protect their charge) or he'd been as blindsided by this as his Slayer was.

"Why---- how could they not tell us this?" Giles managed to say.

But Hermione was not prepared to give him any quarter. Considering what she was saying, she had a right to be angry

"That's your defense. You've spent your entire life studying the dark arts; this just didn't occur to you?" Hermione demanded sarcastically. "As you Americans would put it, this is Magical Theory 101. These girls trust you with their lives, and you don't think this is necessary knowledge?"

"Herm," Harry tried.

"This isn't just these two girls. Hundreds, maybe thousands of women, have gone to their deaths not comprehending the full knowledge of the power they had," Hermione was now moving in. "As far as I'm concerned, you Watchers are responsible for nothing short of genocide."

There was a very long silence before Giles finally reacted to this. He took one of the empty chairs, picked up and threw it into one of the bookcases. Had Faith's reactions not been a bit quicker, she might have gotten clobbered by a treatise on the Polgara demon.

"Those bloody fools," he finally whispered, in a voice that was so quiet even the Slayers strained to hear it.

"I hinted at this, even indirectly, after Kendra appeared on the map, and they all but laughed me out of the room." It didn't seem possible for a person's voice to simultaneously grow quieter and angrier, but that was what was happening. "Said that was just my ill-spent youth talking. Said it was being a bloody squib getting the better of me."

This was clearly not the reaction that Hermione had expected. Buffy and Willow were clearly floored by this as well.

"But Giles, you've always said that the Council----" Willow started

"The Council couldn't find it's collective arse with both hands and a flashlight," Giles said dully. "I've always thought that some of their policies were archaic, if not downright dangerous. But I never expected this."

"You honestly didn't know?" Buffy demanded, her tone softer than before.

"There's no way to apologize for this kind of negligence," Giles took a deep breath. "I've been completely compromised in training you from the very beginning. The only action I can take is to resign from the Council, effective immediately."

"No, no, you can't," Willow exclaimed. "Buffy and Faith need your help. I mean, doesn't this mean that they have a whole new power source to tap into? Who's going to help them with that?"

"Less than a month ago, Buffy and I had a conversation about trust and respect for the job I do," Giles spoke with assurance. "Trust goes both ways. I have been derelict in my duties, especially in regard to the Slayer's life. I owe Buffy and Faith that much, if nothing else.”

Harry knew that Hermione had been planning to drop a bomb, but he was pretty certain that she hadn't tried to play out the ramifications. Why should she? She'd spent much of her life taking the right position and not being listened to because of it. Now the consequences were unfolding, and it couldn't have come at a worse time, for them and the Slayers.

Now the applecart was upset, and they were going to be far less inclined to help.

"You didn't think that this could've waited, maybe a little longer?" Ron whispered to Hermione. "There has to have been a better time."

"And it would've better to wait a few days, and then say, ‘oh, by the way, you've had this extra power the whole time that has been kept from you?’" Hermione didn't bother to whisper. "There was never going to be a bloody good time to drop this. Here, at least, they can deal with it now."

"You call this dealing?" Ron decided to not to bother keeping his voice down either.

Harry decided to intervene before they had a separate argument. "Look, we realize that this is a lot to lay on you----"

"Oh, no," Buffy seemed to have recovered from this particular revelation really fast. "You don't get to drop a bomb of this magnitude, and then just steal away into the night. I'm kind of getting sick of that happening."

"We weren't planning on that," Hermione replied. "Look, I'm sorry for---"

"--- calling Giles a liar and a tool, and basically saying that Buffy and Faith have just become the Wonder twins?" Xander was starting to look a little wound up himself. "Hallmark doesn't write a card for that kind of apology."

"We'll deal with the 'I'm sorry's’ later," Faith retorted. "Explain how exactly we tap into this magical power we've got."

Any surety that Hermione had kept after her confrontation with Giles was gone. "I'm not exactly sure how you would do that," she admitted. "Some kind of testing would probably have to be done, and we have only the barest of qualifications to do it."

"You just told us that your Ministry's under the control of this Voldemort guy. Ditto your high school." Buffy replied. "Where am I supposed to get training? Magic by Mail?"

"We might be able to help with that," Everybody looked at Ron. "What the hell have we doing the last three months? For all intents and purposes, we are practicing wizards. We may not be the most qualified, but we don't need a damn test to say that we are."

There was logic to this argument. What else had the years of training in Dumbledore's army been for? Harry looked at Hermione, then turned back to Buffy and Faith. "Mr. Giles, " he said slowly. "I understand why you feel you have to quit, but right now I think that's the last thing anybody needs."

"This isn't just some empty gesture," Giles responded wearily. "I have no intention of abandoning Buffy at this juncture, but I can't in good conscience work with an organization that has none."

"My father may think that the Ministry's policies are dangerous, and that some of the people are untrustworthy, but he still works there," Ron swallowed. "God knows he might be safer elsewhere, but he knows he's needed. I don't think Buffy or Faith can afford the same kind of problems, particularly now."

Giles looked at Buffy. "I'll understand if you don't wish to keep working with me," he began.

"Stop," Buffy said. "I still need you, Giles. Right now, I feel like taking the first flight to London, and punching quite a few of these Watchers in their hard-to-reach places. But based on what our new friends from England just told us, I'd be better served staying away, at least until we figure out how to handle this evil wizard with the Hitler complex."

"And how exactly are we going to do that?" Xander asked. "According to what they just told us, in order to destroy him, we need to find the rest of these Horcruxes. You still haven't figured out how to do that, or how to even destroy the one you have. That puts you at, what, square minus one?"

How foolish they had been to think that all their problems would be solved now that they were in Sunnydale. Still, at least they had a place to begin.

"What if we were to think of it in terns of a trade?" Harry replied. "The three of us help train Buffy and Faith, the beginners course in realizing whatever magical abilities they have. In exchange, you help us locate the remaining Horcruxes and destroy them."

"And how exactly do you suggest that we find them?" Buffy replied. "I'm betting that they don't glow when you pick them up."

"Maybe." Harry then told them what information they had managed to find about the magical artifacts that had been unearthed a few months earlier, wisely not revealing when exactly Dumbledore had learned of their existence. He didn't want to risk making Buffy any angrier than she already might be.

"How sure are you that these have anything to do with these Horcruxes?" Buffy asked.

"Dumbledore went to an awful lot of trouble to make sure that they were kept secret from everybody but us," Harry replied.

"And this locket that you've been carrying--- you've no idea how to destroy it?" Giles asked.

"We don't even know how to bloody open the damn thing," Ron admitted.

"I want to see it," Faith demanded.

Now they were at the point where trust warred with caution. None of them thought the locket was dangerous, but just handing it over after the last three months carrying it seemed a bit foolish. "I'm not sure that's the best idea," Harry began.

"Is the goddamn thing radioactive?" Faith seemed to be getting more irritated, which was the last thing you should do to a Slayer. "I'm not going to accessorize with it!”

They had lost a fair amount of credit with these people; this might be their best chance to get it back. Harry reached for their cases, and very gingerly removed the locket. Faith walked over to them, considered it, then snatched it up.

"Now she's taking gifts from strangers," Xander muttered. "She clearly didn't go to third grade either."

Even knowing how strong the Slayer was, Harry didn't think for a moment she was going to get it open. Which is why it came as a huge surprise, when after less than a minute of trying to unhinge the thing as if she were opening a jar of pickles with a particularly immovable lid, the sides began to very gently part from each other.

"Um, Faith, maybe you'd better be a bit careful," Willow said gently.

"It's a locket, not a bo---" Faith had gotten extremely quiet. A very small green glow was beginning to emit from inside.

In a moment of horror, Harry remembered what Tom Riddle's diary had done to Ginny just due to her holding on to it. "Put it down, Faith." Without his even being aware of it, his wand had come into his hand.

"Almost got it." The green aura was now starting to swallow her face.

"Expelliarmus!" Harry shouted.

No human should've been able to dodge that spell, but somehow Faith managed to toss the locket away a split instant before the spell hit her. The locket went flying into one corner of the library; Faith flew into the other.

Harry and Buffy ran after Faith. Even though he was closer to Faith, Buffy still beat him by a few seconds, without even breathing hard.

"What the hell were you thinking?" Harry didn't know who Buffy was shouting at, and it didn't really matter, because she instantly began trying to rouse her fellow slayer.

She didn't have to try that hard. A couple of seconds later, Faith wearily began to sit up. She shrugged off Buffy's OKs and looked Harry dead in the eye. "Yog-sottoth rules," she mumbled in an off-key voice.

Buffy grabbed Harry by the lapels, and nearly lifted him to the next wall. "What have you done?"

"Hey, B," Faith was now speaking in a normal, albeit exhausted voice. "Made you...look."

It was almost comical how quickly she let go of him. He hit the floor to see that Hermione and Ron still had their wands out.

"Where'd it go?" Harry asked. Hermione gestured towards the corner of the room. Xander and Willow were about ten feet away, and Willow was using a very long stick to try and pick it up from a distance.

'What the hell is in that thing?" Ron demanded.

"Clearly, none of you wizards have seen Pulp Fiction," Xander replied. "I'm willing to bet whatever was in that suitcase is exactly what's in that locket."

While they were trying to fathom that particular response, Willow finally grasped the chain with her stick. Harry momentarily reconsidered taking it back, but only for a second.

"I think that it's a two person job," Hermione replied. "One of the Slayers needs to get the locket open, so that we can use the right kind of magic."

"And how long do you think that's going to take?" Buffy asked, making sure Faith had found her feet. "You've spent the last three months trying to find the right spell. What makes you so sure that you can find it now?"

"These Horcruxes are essentially pieces of Voldemort's soul," Giles replied. "I believe that in the writings of Crowley's Necrominion are passages devoted to just this very problem."

Hermione looked very troubled. "That's darker magic than most wizards ever learn," she said worriedly.

"Dark magic is what is being used to split a person's soul into seven pieces," Giles pointed out. "You may not like it, but we may have to go to dark places in order to have a chance at defeating Voldemort."

Harry didn't much care for this idea --- it seemed to go against everything that Dumbledore had ever taught him, and against how he'd managed to destroy the diary. If only he knew how his mentor had planned to destroy the others. "Do you have access to these materials?" he asked Giles.

The Watcher nodded. "I keep some of the darker materials behind the cage," he told them.

"Then I don't think we have much of a choice," Harry replied to Hermione.

"This professor of yours--- Bumblebore, he have any idea where these other relics were?"

Harry realized he'd barely known Buffy four hours, and he was starting to get used to her mangling of mystical names. "The only one that he talked about was a collection of goblets that had recently come into the possession of someone at one of your museums."

"Museum," Willow corrected. "There isn't a whole lot of town in Sunnydale."

"How recent was this?" Buffy asked.

"Seven months ago. God knows what's happened to them by now."

"Unless, of course, there was this wondrous device that enabled you to see the complete cultural calendar and stock of magic materials," Buffy replied. "Oh, that's right, there is. Willow?"

The three wizards all seemed a little blank, even after Willow went over to a small grey rectangle case, opened it, and began to type into it.

"So you've studied every aspect of magical life, but you've never used the Internet?" Xander asked as they considered this. "Man, and I thought that my childhood was rough."

"There are a lot of great things about being a wizard," Ron argued.

"Yeah; things are a lot nicer in the twentieth century," Faith countered. "You keep your womenfolk barefoot and knocked up, too?"

Harry didn't think that Hermione would stand for this kind of talk, so he turned to his friend, only to find that she seemed to be paralyzed, with her gaze fixed to the entrance. "What's the prob----"

Then he turned around and saw what she had seen. It wasn't quite as bad as seeing Voldemort or Bellatrix Lestrange, but in it's own way, it was equally frightening---- like seeing a storybook picture come to life.

Angelus was standing in the entryway.
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