A/N: Disclaimer's in the first chapter.
September 27, Hogwarts
The 'extra' Defense Against the Dark Arts class was packed out today, a fact that made Faith grin. Not that she really blamed the kids ... after all, they'd spent the better part of a month hanging out with a vampire, and two weeks hanging out with one Slayer or another. More than long enough for them to notice that Spike was ... not your typical vamp, and for those that knew more than that Slayers existed to realize the Slayers were ... different ... than the books said.
There was also the fact, at least for the older boys, that they'd heard she would be there. Faith had had more fun than she knew what to do with over the last two weeks. Most of the boys ... even the so-called Muggleborns, couldn't help but stare, but the purebloods were fucking hysterically funny. They'd clearly never seen a girl strutting her stuff wearing the sorts of clothes Faith preferred to wear, and they couldn't seem to figure out whether to be completely scandalized or totally smitten. Either way, they were funny as hell. Even the adults didn't seem to know how to handle her, for the most part. Well, except for two of them.
Sirius alternated between playfully flirting with her and appreciating the mayhem she sowed among the kids just by existing. Faith had no idea if he was serious with the flirting, either, because he always had a glint in his eye that said he was up to no good. At any rate, he didn't have problems sparring with her verbally in the least. The other one who didn't have a problem with her one way or another was Moody. He didn't give a damn what she looked like. All he cared about was whether or not she could kick ass and take names, and since she was well covered in that area, that was good enough for him.
Once the last of the kids had arrived, Spike stepped forward. "Right sprats, time to shut up and listen. Vamp 101's about to start."
Faith glanced over at where Xander was standing, leaning against a wall next to an amused looking Remus, and the two of them shared an equally amused look. Unsurprisingly, everyone quieted down pretty fast. After all, testing a vampire's temper was ... not the smartest thing to do. Especially when you'd seen what said vampire was capable of when it came to fighting.
"Right. First thing's first. There's three different sorts of vampires. Minions, childer, and Masters. Minions are the ones you'll see the most of." Spike said. "They're dumb shits, no brain to speak of, and while they're faster and stronger than a human, it's not by all that much, and a well-prepared human can kill 'em without too many problems. Childer are the next step up ... they're smarter, stronger, faster, and harder to kill ... a really fucking lucky human might manage it, but generally, only a Slayer can deal with childer. Then there's Masters. They're the smartest, strongest, and hardest to kill. They also are the bosses of the vampire world. Minions and childer bow to their wills and curry favor with 'em."
"What makes the difference between the three." Spike continued. "Is blood, plain and simple. A minion gets only a sip of their sire's blood. Just enough to turn the victim, but that's it. Minions can and have become childer, if they survive long enough or prove to have a skill their sire finds useful ... the sire just feeds 'em more of his own blood, but it's not usually done, because minions are basically canon fodder. Childer get more blood when they're turned, and continue to get it, off and on, from their sire. At some point, usually after a century or so, the childer will be strong enough to strike out on their own and become Masters in their own right."
"Vampires generally work in family groups ... a Master, who's also sire to the rest of the group, one or more childer, and a handful or so of minions or even un-turned humans to do stuff that can only be done during the day. Some families get pretty big, with several Masters and their entourages, but that tends to get messy, as the Masters end up fighting each other a lot to determine who's in charge. Y'do get vampires who're Master level but prefer to be on their own, and the entire vampire chain of command goes tits up rather spectacularly on the hellmouth ... that's nothing but minions who make more minions, and at one time, a batshit crazy Master, but he got staked about a year after Her Blondeness got to Sunnydale, and after that, it was pretty much just minion central."
Of course, Angel and he had been there, but neither of them had been worried about more than their own asses. They'd neither of them wanted anything to do with becoming the Master of the Hellmouth, even though the original Master had been the head of their line. Plus, they'd both actively been hunting vampires and demons, which had put them both at odds with the demon community. If you could call the collection of psychopaths and crazies the hellmouth attracted a community.
"Of course, sometimes you get oddballs." Xander said, sounding amused. "Spike, for instance. He managed to reach Master status at about the age of fifty ... a lot younger than is normal ... and without his sire anywhere in sight, because Angel got himself cursed by gypsies and ran off. Then, after he came to Sunnydale, Spike decided he preferred for humankind to keep existing, so he started helping Buffy, Willow and I kick ass and take names."
Oh, there was more to the story than that, of course, but it was basically the truth. Xander may not have trusted Spike as far as he could throw him back then, but there was no escaping the fact that Spike didn't have to fight on the side of the good guys. He'd been more than clever and resourceful enough to figure out a way to survive despite the handicap of the chip. Besides, telling people that invariably got Xander a death-glare, because even now, Spike disliked being called a white hat of any variety. Xander took his amusement where he could get it, and this sort of thing was his (admittedly petty) revenge against Spike's various stunts.
And there went the death-glare now. Xander snickered in amusement. "Hey, it's not my fault it's the truth."
"Pet, you're asking for an ass-kicking." Spike warned, though he didn't sound anywhere near as mad as he looked.
Xander gave Spike a wolfish grin. "Bring it." He taunted. Oh, Spike could kick his ass, no question, but Xander took great pride in the fact that Spike never walked away from their bouts undamaged.
The kids, of course, watched all of this with a mix of horror and fascination. Remus, the spoilsport, decided to break it up before things got bloody. "Perhaps you should continue, Spike?"
Spike glowered at Remus a moment, then nodded and turned his attention back to the class.
September 27, Ministry
"Welcome, everyone, to this gathering of the Wizengamot." Amelia Bones said, greeting the gathered men and women. "We are here today to begin reviewing the laws currently on the books. Speaking as the DMLE head I was until recently, I can say this review is sorely needed. There are a stunning number of laws on the books that make no sense whatever, and need to be abolished."
"Laws like what?" A suspicious-sounding male voice called.
"Hmmm ... how about the law passed in 1273 that makes it illegal to not wear a hat?" Amelia offered.
More than one person blinked in surprise at that.
"Make no mistake, ladies and gentlemen ... if I win the election next month, there will be a review of all laws. Right now, however, I'll settle for ridding the books of the laws that are stupidly outdated or make no sense." She waved her wand, and copies of the law book appeared in front of everyone. "We will be meeting daily for the foreseeable future in order to deal with this mess."
They got started, with the very first page, going over everything, looking for outdated and silly laws that just needed to be abolished. Amelia, having done her homework, was able to guide them to most of the to-be-abolished laws, but a few keen-eyed Wizengamot members spotted ones that she'd missed in her (admittedly hurried) perusal. Around about the fifth law governing how human slaves and servants were permitted to act, and what they could wear, the complaints about doing this stopped ... because the wizarding world hadn't had human slaves and servants for a very, very long time. It was, in point of fact, now illegal to have a human slave at all, and people who could afford or needed a servant used house elves. Clearly, there were laws on the books that were outdated as hell.
Around about ridiculous law number fifteen (this one decreeing that women could not wear red), amused, exasperated commentary about their ancestors began to accompany the discovery of each silly law. Amelia made no attempt to stop it. Heck, half the time, she was right there with the rest of them with the amused exasperation. She really didn't know what their ancestors had been drinking to pass some of these laws.
By the time they'd wrapped up for the day, they'd abolished some thirty laws, almost equally divided between 'outdated' and 'silly'. There was more than a little animated discussion about what they'd find in the coming days, as they culled the law books. Amelia was fairly sure she heard bets being made as to what they'd find. Given how long the British wizarding world had been around, they had a lot more ground to cover before they were anywhere near done, but it was a good start.
September 30, Hogwarts
Harry was currently discovering the benefits of having both Sirius and Remus in the castle teaching. To whit ... being able to hang out in their quarters and spend time with them, getting to know them. Granted, he'd spent most of the summer with them, but they'd been so concentrated on learning everything they could in preparation for the upcoming year and anticipated battles that there'd been little time for relaxation and just hanging out.
The three of them were currently in Sirius' quarters. Remus was sitting at Sirius' desk, working on correcting and grading a last few essays from the DADA class, while Sirius was chattering animatedly at a dictaquill, working on ideas for his upcoming classes.
Harry was rather surprised by how into being a teacher Sirius seemed to be. He really seemed to enjoy teaching, even when it meant dealing with essays. Of course, Harry figured it helped a little that the class was History, and Sirius was on a mission to make the class as fun as possible, as an antidote to Binns. He'd managed to convince a few of the resident ghosts to come in and talk about the eras they had lived in, what they'd seen and done. It made for interesting classes, that was to be certain. Reading about history was one thing ... hearing about it from someone who had been there was something else entirely. And Sirius filled in the gaps around the ghosts' tales. His current project, judging by what he was dictating, was something about reenacting some battle or other, evidently as accurately as they could, and challenge the students to see if there was a way things could have come out differently than they had. Which sounded like a lot of fun, if Harry was honest.
Honestly, all the classes had improved, mostly thanks to access to newer, better materials and books. According to Hermione, the Muggle Studies class had improved ten thousandfold, now that the teacher not only had access to information about current Muggle technology and society, but an assistant who'd lived in the Muggle world all their lives ... and was, in point of fact, a Muggle themselves. Other classes had improved as well, though to lesser degrees.
By far the most amusing improvement was in Potions. At this point, half the castle was wondering if Snape was actually Snape, and if so, exactly what the hell Willow and Xander had done to him to cause such a change in the man's teaching methods and demeanor. Especially since Snape seemed to be coming down on his own House with the heavy end of the hammer. Harry didn't know details, but he'd seen Snape swooping down on more than one Slytherin miscreant, and rumor had it he was giving the entire House extra homework assignments.
Whatever he was doing ... it was actually having an effect. Even Draco seemed to have decided to sit down, shut up, and not make trouble. Only a couple of the oldest remaining Slytherins were still being fractious. As if that wasn't enough, Snape had stopped being a complete, remorseless bastard to anyone not Slytherin. Oh, he was still grouchy, prickly, and very much intolerant of incompetence, but if you did well in his class, it was acknowledged, no matter what House you were in. Granted, mostly by him leaving you alone, but that was an improvement over what usually happened.
Finally, both men finished what they were working on, and put things away. Sirius plopped down in the chair next to Harry and grinned at him. "Right. So ... folks been all right?"
"Yeah. Everyone here mostly leaves me alone." Harry said, infinitely grateful for that fact. "I know I'm probably going to get swarmed out of school, but at least this time someone other than me will get the worst of it." And Harry was not at all guilty about throwing Xander under that particular bus. He really didn't want people fawning over him.
Sirius laughed. "You have a point there." He agreed. "Remus and I were thinking of checking out Potter Mansion come Halloween. Figured you might want away from here for that."
Harry nodded. "Yeah, that would be ... nice. And now Voldemort's gone, we can live there, so we really need to find out what sort of shape it's in."
"Hopefully it won't be too bad." Remus said from his spot by the desk. "I know some of the house elves survived the battle that trashed the place. In the absence of any other orders, they would have done their best to repair the damage."
"What's it like?" Harry wanted to know.
"It's a grand big place." Remus said. "I spent the summers there most years. Your dad insisted. And Sirius hung out there nearly every summer as well, he only missed part of the summer after first year."
"Yeah, well, Walburga and Orion were complete bastards to me when I went home. Thank god for Dorea. She was more than happy to allow me to live there."
"Dorea?" Harry asked.
"Your grandmother. She was born Dorea Black ... a cousin of mine." Sirius explained. "The family was not happy with her when she married Charlus, your grandfather."
Harry laughed. "I just bet." He said.
"Anyway, Dorea was more or less family, and when I showed up asking if I could stay, she convinced Charlus. At least that first year. After that, he didn't have a problem with me staying." Sirius said. "And didn't even blink when Remus confessed about being a werewolf."
"I wish I could have known them." Harry said with a sigh.
"Well, you can, sort of. They have portraits at the mansion." Sirius pointed out. "It's not quite the same as knowing the real person, but it's a not-half-bad second choice."