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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 > ActionDavidBMorrisFR1320112,33179833,8727 Apr 1120 Sep 12Yes

Chapter 8

In retrospect, Harry should've realized that something was up when none of the others seemed remotely concerned about how one of the most dangerous vampires in existence was standing not ten feet away from two Slayers. But when you see someone you were told was one of the biggest bogeyman in the world, you react first.

He lifted his wand, and yelled 'incendi----"

Harry never got a chance to finish, because Buffy, moving with agility of a cobra, slammed into him, landing him on the floor for the second time in less than five minutes. Under other circumstance, it would have been laughable.

"What the bloody hell's wrong with you?!" Ron shouted.

"Don't you know who that is?!" Buffy shouted.

Ron decided not to answer, choosing to fire on Angelus. Again, he never got a chance to finish, because Willow ran right into him. Even though she was only a Muggle, she was enough of a problem, and he nearly lost hold of his wand.

"Know him?" Ron snarled. "I wrote a goddamn essay on him! That's the Scourge of Europe! He's killed thousands!"

It was Harry noticed something strange: Angelus had done nothing to dodge either blast of energy, nor had he made any effort to try and kill anybody else. "What the hell's going on?" he demanded.

"I just spent the better part of my Christmas saving him from destroying himself," Buffy told them. "I am not letting you take Angel out!"

Hermione still hadn't moved. She looked like she was trying to remember how to make a particularly difficult potion. "Why would you want to save him at all?" she demanded. "Why'd you call him Angel?"

"That's the name he's had, ever since he got his soul back," Buffy replied.

Harry wasn't sure he'd heard right. Everything they knew about vampires what that they were soulless demons--- it said so in every book on the subject. He knew that a soul was important, but could it be enough to make a difference in a monster with such a track record?

Ron didn't think so. "Oh, I see. Well, then he should get a refund, because it was clearly wasted on him," By now, he had managed to shove Willow aside. "Did he have a soul when he brought the Judge back? Or murdered Jenny Calendar? Or tried to summon Acathla?"

Harry noticed something else. Willow and Buffy seemed very concerned about stopping him. Faith seemed mildly annoyed, but was taking no action, and Xander and Giles hadn't moved an inch since this conflict had started.

"Hell, I always knew Deadboy had a reputation, but you--- you've got world wide status, man," Xander finally remarked "They put it like that, I'm starting to think they might have a point!"

"We didn't go through all this just to have them kill him," Buffy demanded. "Why the hell did you think it snowed?"

This seemed completely out of nowhere, but it was enough of a distraction for Ron to drop his guard. Willow tackled him again, and this time managed to get his wand from him. "Little help," she demanded.

Hermione decided to take advantage of the chaos, and walked right up to Angelus. Had he chosen the vampire could've broken her neck without a thought, but he still hadn't moved. "You have one minute to explain why I shouldn't turn in you into a pile of ash," she demanded.

Finally, they got a reaction out of the vampire. "Maybe you should," he said simply.

Buffy didn't drop Harry, but it was clear that she'd been blindsided yet again. "Angel, no,"

"I've killed thousands of people Buffy, I've drunk the blood of dozens of wizards," Angel replied. "These people know what I've done better than anyone else. I don't know why I came back, why I'm here, and if I can't justify it to myself, how can I possibly do it to strangers?"

Buffy put Harry on the ground. She didn't even bother to warn him this time; just ran straight to Angel. "Somebody up their just sent a message that your life is worth something. How many miracles is it going to take before---"

Finally, Hermione seemed to get the solution in her head that she needed. "Are you telling me that the cold front that hit only Sunnydale two days ago was there only to save Angelus? That particular weather front was basically sent down to keep a vampire who has been nothing but a monster for centuries from killing himself?"

There was a long pause. It was clear that whatever had happened on Christmas had not been analyzed very thoroughly by the Slayer and her friends. Faith considered this and added: "I saw it and I still don't believe it."

"Not helping!" Buffy shouted.

"Why should she?" Xander demanded. "You're not exactly putting up a banner case for the defense. Or does being your boyfriend still trump all other rules?"

Every time Harry felt he'd reached his limit on how shocked he could get by these people, they kept upping the ante. Ron looked like he'd just learned that Buffy was Snape's illegitimate child. Hermione's expression, however, hadn't changed an iota.

"I think that's it time you did some explaining," she told them. "And it had better be a damn good reason."

For a long moment, it seemed as if Buffy was reconsidering taking on the whole bunch of them. Then she started talking.

Most of the story they already knew second hand. But apparently the Prophet had completely missed out on some events that had taken place a century earlier. After feeding on one of their, a Gypsy had cursed Angelus with a soul. He'd spent the last century in seclusion, trying to hide from the horrors he had enacted. Then he'd came to Sunnydale, in an effort to atone. He had tried to prove he was worthy by killing his sire. Harry actually went a little cold hearing how he managed to dispatch the second part of their history homework.

It was when he began telling him what happened last year that Harry began to have his doubts about what he was hearing. He knew that the Gypsies were not classically trained wizards by any means, but this was a hole that could be seen from a mile up.

He wasn't alone. "One moment of true happiness, and the curse is removed," Hermione replied. "Only someone incompetent or untrained would cast a curse of this magnitude with that big a loophole."

"You do the things that I've done for as long as I've done, you're not going to feel good about yourself," Angelus replied.

"I have known some Death Eaters who have managed to work around those particular problems," Harry told them. "And as far as I know, they don't have the excuse of having a demon taking over their body."

"So what are you saying, you don't believe what happened?" Buffy replied. "Writing off this whole curse as just shoddy work?"

"I am saying that for a century, you went through existence feeling the burden of all this guilt," Harry replied. "What changed to turn to back to who you are?"

For the first time, Buffy seemed genuinely ashamed. "It was my fault," she told them. "We fell in love."

"We got that much," Ron clearly still wasn't buying this. "What I don't get is how this leads from him turning---"

"They had sex!" Xander finally interjected. "And then he screws us!" The young man was beginning to sound as angry as the rest of them. "It's not enough that he tries to destroy the world the morning after. No, the two of them have to spend the rest of the semester dancing around each other. You knew he was a soulless monster, and you still couldn't just kill him and be done with it. No, he has to kill Miss Calendar, and God knows how many other people, before she finally gets up the balls to do it!"

"Xander, so help me," Buffy started.

"What, you're telling me you, of all people, can't handle the truth?" Xander replied. "The Powers may have decided he's worth saving. Far as I'm concerned, the jury handed in its verdict a long time ago. " He gestured towards the three of them. "The magical world clearly seems to think so. And, not for nothing, he's supposed to have his ear to the ground when it comes to big monster. How come you didn't know that Voldemort was back in power? Slip your mind?"

"Enough!" Buffy looked like she was going to start whaling on somebody.

Harry tended to agree with Xander on this, but he didn't want to get into a fistfight with a Slayer. "So how does this end?" he asked Buffy. "How do you go back from being mortal enemies to wanted to save this son of a bitch?'

"He has his soul back, " Willow replied. "That was Jenny's last wish: to save Angel. And after everything we went through giving it back to him---"

"Wait," Hermione suddenly looked like she was solving another problem in her head. "How did he get his soul back?"

Willow suddenly looked like she wished she'd kept her mouth shut. "Um, well, you see, after she died, I found the original spell on a disk. When Buffy was fighting Angel, I----"

"Who performed the spell?" Ron suddenly got it, too.

"Um, it was me" The redhead looked like she was about to shrink.

You wouldn't have thought it possible for three people to exchange a glance, but that's what Harry, Ron and Hermione did right then.

"Now what?" Faith demanded.

"The day Acathla was rendered dormant, there was a blast of energy from Sunnydale so strong, it sent ripples throughout the magical world" Hermione told them. "And it happened exactly when Willow cast her spell."

There was a long moment as they all digested this. "So you're telling me, you sensed a disturbance in the force?" Xander replied.

"Not us, but yeah, that's what happened."

"I was kidding," Xander looked genuinely concerned now. "Are you serious?"

Ron looked at Willow. "Are you a practicing witch?"

"No!" Willow responded so quickly that they knew she was lying. "Well, not practicing, I mean, dabbling with the dark arts is super dangerous, I wouldn't really want to infringe on anyone's turf, and I wouldn't have done that spell, unless I really thought I had to---"

"Will," Buffy finally turned her attention from them to her friend. "Breathe."

For a few seconds, it looked as though this might actually be a problem. "But it, but it was only my first spell," Willow continued to stammer. "I mean, I never even considering practicing black magic before then."

"Only a wizard of incredible power could have a spell that strong," Harry replied.

Giles was starting to get a worried look on his face. "But, if Willow had any kind of magical power in her, your people would've sensed it..."

"Not on a Hellmouth," Hermione replied. "Particularly not on one as strong as this.

"So, she's got magical power," Buffy was trying to buoy up her friend. "So do a lot of people. That doesn't make her that strange."

"There is a layer of darkness so deep around a Hellmouth that most magical energy can't penetrate it," Harry recited the explanation. "According to Dumbledore, the day it happened, it was like a searchlight penetrating a fog. He didn't know who you were when it happened, but he knew that only a very strong wizard could've done it."

"How strong?" Giles asked.

"Strong enough to mean the difference in the war," Hermione replied. "And if Voldemort were to find out who did it--- and there's no way he couldn't have noticed----"

She didn't finish her sentence, because that was the moment Willow fainted.

Even though Buffy was on the other side of the room, she still managed to get there fast enough to catch her friend, Xander arriving a split second later.

Harry tried to get over to them, but Angel stood in their way. "I think you should leave now," he said, in a voice that was a lot firmer than it had been dealing with them.

"We just wanted to help," Harry told them weakly.

"I'd say you've done enough," Buffy responded icily.

This was not how Harry had wanted this encounter to end, but they seemed to have played this particular hand out Hermione and Ron seemed to realize this, and without any further argument they left the library.



They'd spent a lot longer in the library then Harry had thought; the sun was just begin to appear over the horizon as they began the long walk back to the motel. Harry wasn't sure that this was a good thing; the last hour had left him with the immense desire to blast the hell out of something that couldn't fight back.

None of them felt much like talking; they'd pretty much said all they had to when they were telling their story to Buffy and her friends.

"They're going to help us, right?" Ron finally asked. "They may not have liked what they heard, but they're not going to be so petty that they'd just ignore the whole threat that we're facing."

"They've all got their own battles to fight," Harry said dully. "There are demons trying to end the world on a regular basis. Why would they want to handle a headache halfway around the world?"

"Mainly because there isn't a hell of a lot to keep me here."

Even knowing that Slayers could move quicker and quieter then them, it was still a shock to hear Faith's voice come from out of nowhere. She was on their left, looking a little amused.

"I thought your friends didn't think that much of us," Hermione stated.

"I don't know if you could tell, but we're not exactly sharing all the warm and fuzzy," Faith replied. "They've had to deal with a lot of bullshit over the past few months, and I still feel like a goddamn outsider. I'm guessing you feel the same way. Plus, you guys probably don't know Sunnydale that well. Safety in numbers, or all that shit."

Hermione and Ron exchanged another glance. Harry shrugged. "All right," he told us. "but first you tell us the real reason you're here."

"Fair 'nough," Faith gave a shrug of her own, then looked at Hermione. "Your little speech that all Slayers have magical powers, can you prove it, or were you just talking out of your ass?"

Faith certainly had a directness about her that was refreshing. Hermione decided to be equally direct. "There's probably some kind of definitive test I can use," she told her. "But I think the energy that is being directed in ways that are a lot more subtle than being able to perform spells."

"Like?"

"From what I read, and maybe you can confirm this, it would involve an enhanced mental capacity in order to enable to make the right choices."

"Why does that sound like more bull...." Faith trailed off. "That ability to make the right kind of choices, would that come out, if you were to, say, take a standardized test?"

"I'm not sure I follow," Hermione replied.

"Couple of months ago, everybody took their SAT's, and B, who if she studied one night for it I'd be shocked, got scores so high, she pretty much has her choice of colleges." Faith shrugged. "First, I just figured those tests were screwed. Now I'm beginning to wonder."

Hermione considered this. "What about you? How did you score on the test?"

Faith nearly chuckled. "I dropped out of school two years ago. I haven't sat in a classroom since junior high," she admitted cheerfully. "Now if it was the kind of school you and your friends went to, I'd probably have stuck around." She sobered up. "Still might, if I get a chance.

This wasn't exactly how Harry and his friends had expected to carry the day, but then they hadn't been expecting there to be more than one Slayer either. "Are you saying you really want to do this?" Harry asked.

Faith went still for a moment. "As the Scoobies would be the first to tell you, I've got major issues. Trust isn't something I do, mainly cause the people who offer to help me tend to die or try to fuck me over. I don't think I had as crappy a childhood as Harry, but I bet I could run it a close second. On top of it, you haven't entirely sold me on the fact that some of your wizards are entirely worth saving." She held up a hand. "Hogwarts, yes; the Ministry, no. It goes against almost everything I am to just sign on to this." The dark-haired Slayer took a deep breath. "Which is why I'm going to agree to a trade. You help me figure out this part of me, I'll help you with your problem with Voldemort."

Hermione looked at her. "You do know that Voldemort isn't going to be as simple as a stake through the heart?"

"Granted, I haven't been doing this as long as B, but I get that not every problem can be solved with violence." Faith smiled. "Just the fun ones."

Remus would have definitely liked Faith. There was definitely a bit of a Marauder's spirit to her. Or did she have some kind of attitude about werewolves? Harry was about to ask her, when suddenly, his scar began to tingle. It had been so long that he'd actually felt it that the pain nearly doubled him over.

"Harry? What is it?" Ron was saying, But Harry hardly heard him, as all of a sudden he began to hear a voice---

"Tom, Tom, the piper's son has stolen the pig. You'll get a beating when you get back."

For a moment, Harry thought that he was looking at Bellatrix again. The dark hair and the lilting voice sounded a lot like her, along with the disconnect that was the voice of someone clearly insane. It took a moment for him to realize otherwise. This was the voice of someone much younger --- or as Harry would quickly realize, seemed younger.

"It has been a while, hasn't it? A lifetime, it seems."

Once again, Voldemort was trying to sound congenial --- an effort that the Dark lord just couldn't pull off.

"Why so nice? You were never nice to me before."

"I've always been an admirer of your work. And I like to think I can respect my elders."

"What a crock!"

A male voice. If the woman had been faintly dismissive of Voldemort, this one didn't even put up the pretense of being polite.

"You've never had a use for any of us undead unless we were willing to serve you. Come to think of it, wasn't that the real reason that your last little attempt to take over the world went completely to shit, Tommy boy?"

The speaker was now visible--- a tall young man with hair so yellow it had to have been dyed. He took out a cigarette, and lit it defiantly.

Once again, someone seemed to be deliberately baiting Voldemort. And just like at Wolfram & Hart, Voldemort just took it "William."

"Thomas."

"I heard that you and Drusilla had come to a parting of the ways."

"And once again, your intel on the ground is sloppy." He blew smoke rings in Voldemort's face. "That's the problem with only using sycophants as your power base. They only tell you what you want to hear, so you only get good news."

"I think you doubt the authority I have."

"Really? The last time we met, you told me that you had a place for me at your right hand, if I would swear allegiance. I told you to go to hell. Would you like me to remind you why?" William got close enough for Voldemort to rip his head off. "You and your people are idiots. Successful idiots, to be sure, but a moron by any other name. Know why?"

"Tread carefully, vampire," Voldemort's tone would have commanded absolute silence in anyone else. William didn't seem to care.

"It's a bad idea when cousins marry. Every royal family in the world came to that realization just before their empires went poof. You think you're better cause you got magic. Makes you different. Not better."

"I could say the same thing about vampires."

"I know." William looked more amused by this critique. "Which is why I don't go sunbathing. Or mention Sherman in Savannah. Or fight against an enemy I can't possibly beat."

"We will control the Muggles," Voldemort had gotten quiet again.

"I hear things. I know the strength of your numbers. You couldn't take over Manchester with your armies. Bloody French could kick your ass. But," he held up a hand. "since you're here, I'm betting you know that."

"I could crush you with a thought."

Now William's face changed. "Idle threats never suited you, Tom. So, having completed the pleasantries, why are you here?"

Voldemort looked at him. "Drusilla possesses great power. I heard tell that she knew the prophecy a scant hour after it was in the Department of Mysteries."

Drusilla, who had been watching these proceedings with the interest of a spectator watching a Quidditch match, finally spoke up. "The stars have sung about me about the boy. Much power within his grasp."

William looked at her with what appeared to be genuine love. "Easy Dru, let's hear the deal before we tell him everything." He turned back to Voldemort. "This is a toll bridge, sport. You want our help, you pay upfront"

"What do you require?"

"Think you already know the only thing I want." He bore his fangs. "And if you give it to me, I think we could have ourselves a gay, old time."

Harry? Harry?"

All of a sudden, three very worried faces were looking down at him.

Harry managed to get to his feet, waiting for the questions that came twenty seconds later.

"I thought you'd stopped having these flashes," Hermione replied.

"I had. This is the first one in awhile," Harry said honestly. "Not even as bad as usual." He still had a headache, but in comparison to his earlier flashes, this one just didn't have the same bite.

"Now that you're better, would you mind telling me what the fuck you saw?" Faith replied.

Hermione and Ron shot her a dirty look. Strangely enough, Harry didn't mind. Even his friends had (gently, of course) always wanted to know what the Dark Lord was trying to o next, or advise him to try and protect himself. Faith was the first person who thought that what was happening might be useful.

"I think Voldemort just had a meeting with the other half of Remus' homework assignment," Harry replied. Hermione and Ron instantly got it. Faith clearly needed clarification. "Voldemort was meeting with Drusilla and Spike."

Faith's eyes almost bugged out. "Talk about your meeting of the sick and twisted minds," she told them. "I'm guessing that since you know all the shit Angel was up to, you've got a good idea what those two crazy kids were up to last year."

"Pretty much," Hermione agreed. "Except how the two of the managed to get in a fight with Buffy and live to see another day."

Faith thought this over. "Way B tells it, Spike was never really sold on bringing back Acathla. That, and he was going through some major out with Drusilla after Angel lost his soul. Basically agreed to sell out Angelus to B in exchange for walking away. Then he basically ran out on both of them. Gave them an extra reason to take him out next them they saw him."

This was news to the three of them. Unfortunately, Faith said she'd been stalking a nest on the outskirts of town, and had pretty much missed Spike's two-day 'return' to Sunnydale little more than a month ago. The one thing she had been absolutely sure of, though, was that Spike had been on the outs with Drusilla, and considering the journals had them together pretty much every day for the last century, this was a big deal.

"Well, if he and Dru are all chummy again, the lovebirds have obviously worked through their problems," Faith told them. "You have any idea where the three of them were having this evil meet and greet?"

"Not a clue," Harry admitted. "But the last time I got a message like this, Voldemort was looking for them in Brazil. Maybe they're even closer."

"Nah, that's basically what Red said he told her while she was being held hostage by him."

"Is this kind of behavior typical of every vampire who takes up residence on the Hellmouth?" Ron asked, a little astounded. "Are things that bad that they can pretty much talk a victim to death?"

Faith decided not to answer this. "Voldemort, do you think the two of them knew each other before this?"

"Yeah, they'd met before. He pretty much told Voldemort he was a glorified idiot with delusions of grandeur."

Faith's eyebrows went up. "I knew the vamp has brass ones; I just didn't think they were that big. Why the hell didn't Voldemort rip him in half?"

"I don't know," Hermione replied. "But according to the last vision Harry got before this one, it isn't the first time this happened." She then filled Faith in on the meeting Voldemort had attended with Wolfram & Hart. "I'd like to say this shows us he has a weak spot, but I don't think these are people we should have on our side."

"Why is Voldy going to see Drusilla in the first place? Computer dating?" Faith demanded.

"Based on what I saw, and what I remember from my assignment, Drusilla had some kind of psychic ability," Harry told them "There must be something our future that she can see that Voldemort wants to get his hands on."

"There aren't better sources in the magic world?" Faith asked doubtfully. "Saner ones?"

"Voldemort likes dealing with the mentally unstable," Ron told them.

"Including ones who kill vampire slayers with a flick of the wrist?" Faith managed to say this with a level tone, but she clearly looked a little unsettled.

"She murdered your predecessor," Harry replied. " If he knew that Voldemort would probably consider it a bonus."

"Whatever his next step, it has to involve Sunnydale in some way," Hermione reasoned. "You don't pick up two of the most dangerous vampires in existence --- who've killed three Slayers between them---- and not use them for this."

"Shit," Faith muttered. "As if we didn't have enough problems already." She wavered for a moment, then plunged ahead. "How long would it take your Dark Lord to get people here? You said something about the Hellmouth making getting here difficult."

"It took us two months to get here, and we had to take the bus the rest of the way," Ron told them. "I'm guessing Voldemort won't be nearly as subtle."

"Do you think he's chasing us?" Hermione asked Harry.

"No, but I'm sure finding us would just be an added bonus," Harry replied. "Faith, Buffy and the rest of your friends need to hear this."

"Right now, I don't think Giles and B would be inclined to piss on you if you were on fire," Faith replied. "You gotta give 'em some time to get through this. Better to come back tomorrow."

"They can process that fast?" Ron asked doubtfully.

"On a Hellmouth, you pretty much have to react fast or you end up dead. Even the life-changing news you gotta process fast."

"That why Buffy ended up being a waitress in LA this summer?" Harry asked. He hadn't meant in as an accusation.

"In roughly twelve hours, she was accused of murder, expelled, thrown out of her house by her Mom, and had to send Angel to hell to stop the apocalypse," Faith apparently took it that way. "I'm amazed she ever came back, considering how fucked up her life was."

It took them a few moments for that last bit to sink in, and when it did, Ron took it the wrong way. "If he went to hell, how'd he get back? Wouldn't they want him there?'

"He doesn't know, either," Faith asked. She didn't seem willing to give Angel the benefit of the doubt. "Either some great evil power wanted him to kill Buffy, or some higher power wanted him to fight for good. Pick your poison. Long story short, you're not going to get anywhere knocking B's boyfriend."

Harry didn't like this at all, but Faith's idea about taking some time to absorb this didn't seem to be the worst idea for them, either. "Where exactly do you live?" he asked gingerly.

"Broken Arms Motel. Bed sucks, but I can hear my neighbor fuck through the walls," According to Faith, it was about three blocks away from where Harry and his friends were staying.

"So you can't afford better accommodations either?" Hermione replied.

Ron took it a different way. "They must not think much of you to let you live there," he replied.

For the first time, Faith actually appeared a little sad "I've heard some stories. 'Cept for Buffy's mom, most of the parents in this town could give a rat's ass whether their kids live or die. Not sure I'd be much better off."

"Well, we might as well as get back," Ron replied. "We've been up for nearly twenty-four hours; we don't get some rest, we're not be any good to anybody."

Harry had an idea that Faith might be able to hold up on her own --- she had to be keeping later hours then them, and looked like she was ready to go ten rounds with Fenrir Greyback--- but she didn't put up any objections. He had an idea that whole processing thing might apply to her as well.



It wasn't until they had gotten back to their various motels that Faith revealed just how deeply concerned she was.

"This little psychic connection that you share with Voldy," she began. "You sure it doesn't go both ways?"

"I haven't exactly had much of a chance to ask him," he told her. "But if it did, I'm pretty sure we'd know about it. He'd have sent someone to the states by now"

"There's been no evidence of it in the past," Hermione added.

"I'm not sure how reassuring to find that, " Faith told them. "Besides, I don't care if you've been fucking invisible the last two months. His reach is as long as you think it is, he's got to have eyes on the Hellmouth somewhere."

The truth was, this had been worrying Harry for months. Ever since their encounter with Bellatrix, they'd seen neither hide nor hair of anybody who even looked like a Death Eater. But they had left a trail while they'd been in the states, and he was positive that Voldemort hadn't given up searching for them. Hell, for all he knew, he might use suspicions that they were in America to justified going in after them full force. And Harry didn't care how relatively small the Dark Lord's force were; they would be dangerous.

Harry thought that he'd kept his expression completely blank, but some of it must have leaked through, because Faith put her hand on his shoulder.

"Rule one of living on a Hellmouth, HP," she told him. "You don't go around carrying the world on your shoulders. Not in a town with two Slayers in it. Case you haven't noticed, we can handle a lot of weight."

Harry so wanted to believe her.. God knew she had demonstrated a lot of ability saving their lives. But being able to out-punch and out-kick creatures of darkness might not be enough against a battalion of Death Eaters, even if she had the added power of a full-grown wizard.

"Man, you're another one of those broody types, aren't you?" Faith asked. "Let me put it in a way you'll understand. We're going to destroy these Horcruxes, then we're going to face Voldemort, and kick his ass into next week."

At this, Harry found a smile crossing his face. The Slayer just seemed to radiate confidence and self-assuredness that it was hard to imagine her not winning any battle.

He turned to Faith, only to find that she had already left his side, and was returning to her motel.

"No one can say she lacks confidence," Ron replied before turning to Hermione. "Please tell me that you have some idea on how to basically cram seven years of magical training in a week. Especially since we're probably not going to be able to find her a wand."

"That much, no," Hermione admitted. "Enough to make her an even more formidable force against what's coming--- I've got a few ideas. Get inside, and we can start figuring them out."

By the time they were inside and had reapplied the Mufflato charms, they wouldn't have heard a sound. Faith did hear a sound faintly resembling a balloon popping, but thought little of it.

None of them knew that this was the first sign of the battle that was about to begin.
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