'O's for 'A's
“Dawn!” Mrs. Weasley’s voice called from downstairs.
Dawn winced. Right now she was lying comfortably in her bed reading a textbook titled “The Language of Spells” that covered the history of spell-casting and the reasoning behind why different languages (Latin, Egyptian, etc) are used for different spells. She really didn’t want to do any more cleaning. After all, it was almost ten o’clock at night! Mrs. Weasley was a task-master, for sure.
“Yes?” Dawn called tentatively from her bedroom.
“There’s an owl here for you. Looks like a Hogwarts owl!” Mrs. Weasley called back.
Dawn sat up so quickly that she felt dizzy for a moment. An owl! A Hogwarts owl! Several days had passed since her entrance exam (which, ugh
, she never wanted to go through with that again! Professor Snape was seriously cranky) and she had been dying with curiosity to know the results.
Jumping out of bed, Dawn ran down the stairs, her feet sounding noisily throughout the house (thank goddess Xander had cut down that creepy Mrs. Black portrait or she would have been screaming like a banshee at the ruckus Dawn made!). Skidding to a stop in the dining room, Dawn found Mrs. Weasley, Mr. Weasley, Xander, Remus, and Anya sitting around the table. Discretely, Remus hid a piece of parchment (it looked like building blueprints) under another piece of parchment.
And there, in the center of the table, was an owl. Plump, with brown and black plumage, and a letter tied to his neck.
Dawn nearly ‘squeed’ from excitement.
“Better open it up Dawnie!” Xander encouraged her. “I’m so excited for you that I almost opened it myself! After all, it took you a whole 2.5 seconds to run down here,” he smirked.
“And I told him,” Mrs. Weasley sniffed, but a smile was on her face, “that it was important for every child to read their own Hogwarts letter.”
Dawn grinned, too excited to speak, and went over to the owl. She unfastened the letter and marveled at the brilliant red wax seal on the parchment, bearing the Hogwarts crest. The owl hooted impatiently and Remus went over to grab some owl feed and then gave the messenger some.
“Man, I can’t believe our little Dawnster is going to be all grown up,” Xander remarked fondly. “Heading off to boarding school and—”
“Don’t get your panties in a twist – which, ironically enough, I do remember you wearing mine once,” Anya interrupted. Xander’s eyes bugged out at her reveal. “But Hogwarts never allows wizards and witches to just jump into a random year so Dawn may not even get accepted. Don’t raise the little girl’s hopes only to crush them into nothingness. After all, if she doesn’t get into Hogwarts, good luck learning how to wield a wand and join wizarding society.”
Dawn balked and stared up at the former demon with wide eyes.
“Anya!” Mrs. Weasley admonished in a loud hiss, echoed by Xander. Remus just sighed softly.
“Er,” Dawn squeaked. “Maybe I’ll go open this up somewhere else.” Suddenly, the prospect of being stared at while she opened up a letter that determined her fate was incredibly intimidating. Dawn scampered off into the den which was, fortunately, empty. A single light was on in the corner of the spacious room, but it was still very dark and made her feel a bit calmer.
Taking a deep breath, Dawn traced her fingers over the Hogwarts crest. This was no big deal, right? She had been studying like a beast with Sirius and Remus, not to mention Hermione who was barely edged out as ‘Evil Task Master of School’ by the experience Dawn had with Snape. She would get in.
And if she didn’t…well, to be honest, Dawn had not really considered that. It seemed like everything was good for her to go. She had the connections, the knowledge, and it just felt right
. Plus, the prospect of attending a boring normal school in London while her friends (Fred, Harry, Hermione, etc) either went to Hogwarts or were all at the Slayer Academy. Dawn frowned. She really hated the thought of being left out, of being alone.
“Dawn?” A male voice asked softly. “What are you doing over there by the front door, standing in the dark?” A moment later he said, “Lumos
” and Dawn that Fred had found her in the den. “You trying to leave?” he asked curiously.
Dawn took a couple steps from the front door. “No,” she shook her head. “I just wanted to be alone.”
“Oh.” Fred eyed her critically, and she couldn’t help but noticed that he looked a little hurt. Although they had almost kissed the other day, before stupid Snape interrupted, they hadn’t really had a chance to be alone since then. Somehow they were always with other people – usually George and Ron, who shared suspicious, snickering glances with one another.
“No, wait,” Dawn spoke urgently when he turned to leave. “You can stay. I just, um, I just got my Hogwarts letter and I didn’t want to open it up in front of your parents and Xander and everyone.”
“Oh!” Fred’s eyes lit up. “Well, open it then!” He grinned.
Feeling encouraged by his presence, Dawn nodded. “Okay.” Dawn took a deep breath and broke the seal on the letter. Unfurling it, she gasped as she began to read it.
“Well? Well?” Fred asked anxiously.
Dawn shot him a beaming smile and began dancing around. “I got in! I got in!”
“Yes!” Fred cheered. He grabbed her around the middle and lifted her up, spinning her. They were both laughing when he stopped and set her down; but he didn’t release her.
Feeling suddenly warm in his embrace, Dawn bit her lip for a moment as she looked up into Fred’s eyes. His smile lessened and his look became more intense.
“I’m—” Fred cleared his throat. “I’m really excited that you’re going to be at Hogwarts, Dawn.”
She flushed at the way he said her name. It was like a velvet caress and Dawn’s fingers splayed over the center of his chest. “Me too. For a few reasons,” she confided with a soft smile.
Fred grinned. He bent his head down and brushed his lips tentatively against hers. Soft, so soft. Dawn captured his lips and made a tiny noise of contentment at the feel of him. His scent, his lips, the firmness of his lanky but athletic body, and the realization that she was finally kissing him
, Fred, made her so happy.
So happy that she barely heard the sound of the front door creaking open.
Fred and Dawn broke apart like the guilty teenagers they were. Willow, Sirius, and – wait, Harry?! – were standing in the doorway. Harry – who Dawn thought was arriving tomorrow – stood with his owl Hedwig, his trunk, and a look of surprise and dismay.
“Hi,” Fred smiled, a red flush staining his cheeks.
“Um, hi!” Dawn greeted brightly – too brightly; she was suddenly feeling so anxious. Having parent-types catch her kissing Fred was embarrassing…but there was something else too. Harry’s expression sent her emotions reeling. As Sirius glanced quickly to give Harry a concerned look, Dawn knew suddenly that she had just hurt Harry.
He was just a friend. A good friend. They weren’t…like that. No matter how many jokes Xander and Faith liked to make.
“So, um, I got into Hogwarts!” Dawn quickly said, struggling to cover up any awkwardness, by holding up her acceptance letter.
“Really? Congrats Dawnie!” Willow said proudly as she gave Dawn a hug. “That’s awesome!”
“Looks like my teaching skills really are awesome,” Sirius smirked as he gave Dawn a hug.
“Your teaching skills?” Remus snorted as he, Xander, Anya, and Mr. and Mrs. Weasley came into the den to see what all the commotion was about. “We all know that it was really me,” he grinned. “Congrats Dawn,” he said as he gave her a hug.
Soon Dawn was getting hugs from everyone, especially as the rest of the Weasleys plus Hermione came downstairs to see what was going on.
“Harry?” Mrs. Weasley interrupted suddenly as she spied the Boy-Who-Lived standing still by the front down, in the shadowy part of the den, looking grim and angry. “What are you doing here, darling?” She ran towards him and gave him a huge hug and then began to inspect him. “Oh Merlin, I need to fatten you up. Here, let me make something in the kitchen for you.”
Then she paused and gave Willow and Sirius a scrutinizing look. “The Order was supposed to get Harry tomorrow
. Why is he here today?”
Sirius’ expression soured at her words and Willow rushed to answer them. “We were patrolling and thought it was time to bring him back. Dumbledore was only waiting to cover some things with the Ministry. This way, it is a total surprise so no one could have done an attack, like they maybe would have if we had planned it. I mean, what if the Order had planned it and Voldemort—” Several people winced at the mention of the Dark Lord’s name. “—had found out and then attacked. Now Harry is all safe and sound!” Willow was nearly panting by the end of her babble and everyone was staring at her.
“Yup, that’s me. Safe and sound,” Harry stated scornfully.
“Oh, well, let me go whip some dinner for you, Harry,” Mrs. Weasley said in a quieter voice, taken aback at Harry’s tone.
“Never mind. I’m fine,” Harry said abruptly. “I’m tired. I’ll head to bed. Ron?” he asked with a pointed look. “Where are we sleeping?”
Ron, looking bewildered by Harry’s bad mood, gestured towards the stairs. “Uh, right up here, mate. C’mon, I’ll show you.”
As the boys went up the stairs, Hermione quickly followed.
Dawn watched Harry’s retreating steps, feeling like an awful terrible person and not quite knowing why – or rather, not wanting to know quite why.
Anya observed the interior of her new shop with beaming approval. Since arriving in London with Remus, she had become the Director of Development for the Watchers Council but there was still something missing. Although she was excellent in coercing – er, building relationships and brokering deals with foreign governments and industries to invest millions of dollars in the Council (“Apocalypse Prevention Insurance” is what she called it during investor meetings) , it didn’t satisfy her as much as originally presumed. And yes, while Giles was able to pay her an excellent six-figure salary (rightly so, Anya mused to herself, considering she got the bills paid!) and she was a multi-millionaire thanks to the thousand-year interest on her Gringotts account, she missed sales. So, Anya decided to open a magic shop again.
It was Remus who suggested that she open a shop in Diagon Alley. Anya was a wand witch, after all. Mind you, not a very experienced wand witch – she had forgotten everything from when she was a human witch during the 900s but she was slowly learning, thanks to Remus’ tutelage.
Anya grinned. She did not like to do things without payment but since Remus ‘paid’ her for her successful studies with many orgasms, their studying was going quite well.
Anyways, back to her shop. Hmm. Anya walked around the tables and shelves, straightening jars of potion ingredients in the ‘Apothecary’ section and adjusting the promotions display for the ‘Quills Query’ section, featuring the brand new quill of the same name that automatically answered questions written by the user. Of course, it only answered basic questions, but still a very handy tool. Anya was particularly proud of this display. An old demon associate of hers – a Kwinzi demon from Portugal that was recently handicapped by bad bar fight and created this quill after a couple years of boredom – had made her the sole establishment to sell these quills. Bob, the demon, was crestfallen when he found out there were no buyers for her quill because everyone answered basic questions through Google, but luckily Anya had talked him into selling her the quills at-cost.
Silly demon didn’t realize that these Wizarding World fools didn’t use the internet.
Humming happily to herself, Anya moved on to the other stations to check out her merchandise. Besides apothecary products and quills, she sold beauty supplies, magazines, books, brooms, robes, jewelry, and some furniture. Thanks to her immense supply of Galleons, Anya was able to purchase three empty shops in Diagon Alley – the ones right by the exit to Knockturn Alley that people usually avoided had gone out of business at one point or another – and then gut their insides, creating just one giant shop.
It was like her own little Wal-Mart. Except not evil.
The bells above the door jingled and Anya had to smash down her excited money-loving reaction. The shop didn’t open until tomorrow (just in time for a back-to-school sale!) so whoever was here would not be a customer and thus not exciting. Sigh.
“Anya?” Remus called. “Are you here?”
Well, maybe exciting. Anya smiled and exited from behind a stack of brooms. “Remus! You are just in time! I cannot reach the top boxes and I just realized a few of the series 1000 brooms got mixed in with the series 5000. Plus, that shipment of pixie dust and cauldrons just came in. Can you help me?”
Remus drank in her appearance, which was quite nice, if she did say so herself. Anya’s best color was red, after all, and today she wore a red v-neck summer dress that came to mid-calf. A pearl earring and necklace set contrasted with the red nicely, and her strawberry blond hair hung in waves right past her shoulders.
Of course, Remus looked very handsome today as well, in his brown slacks and olive green shirt. Anya was personally glad that Remus had a real job nice teaching at the Slayer Academy because, while she liked him regardless of what he wore, it was nice to see him wearing tailored clothes that did not have holes in them. Remus had been poor all his life and he seemed to enjoy having money for once – although he did not enjoy it as much as her. That was fine. She liked money enough for the both of them.
“Fortunately, I’ve brought you help today,” Remus smiled. He gestured towards the door as it opened again. “I’ve decided to take Connor, Rona, and Vi on a field trip.”
Connor, Angel’s super strong but fortunately less-broody son walked in flanked by the two slayers from the Sunnydale battle. Anya saw little of the girls but saw Connor fairly often since he was Remus’ Teaching Assistant. The two had developed a strong bond during their brief time together in Sunnydale and it had continued since the move to England.
“Dude, this place is wicked,” Rona said in a gasp as she took in the sight of hundreds of items lining the walls and floor.
“Anya, you’re like the new queen of retail,” Vi grinned. “Can we get free samples?”
“No, because nothing is free in this world,” Anya stated immediately with a frown. “Don’t pull a Dawn and steal things or I will have to treat you like they did back in my day and put you in the stocks.”
“Dawn stole things?” Connor inquired curiously. “She doesn’t seem the type.”
“Hhhmmmp Just ask her about the dancing demon,” Anya recalled bitterly. While she was over it and understood that Dawn was all messed up in the head at the time because Joyce died (Anya still missed her) and Buffy had been acting like a zombie, the revelation of Dawn’s stealing had been hurtful.
“Well, I mean, we are
going to get paid, right?” Rona asked. “I mean, you can’t expect us to stock things for free when you’re going to make money off our work.”
Anya eyed the self-righteous slayer. Hmm. She rather liked this one, even back in Sunnydale. Rona spoke her mind and was straight-forward, just like Anya. Apparently she was also as capitalistic as Anya.
“Rona, the agreement was that you three were coming here to see Diagon Alley and experience the Wizarding World in exchange for helping Anya,” Remus reminded the girl.
Sighing loudly, Rona shrugged her shoulders. “It was worth a shot.”
“Why are you showing the baby slayers and Connor the Wizarding World, Remus?” Anya asked curiously as she led them back to her storage room. “Aren’t things busy enough over at the Academy?”
Vi snorted. “Too busy. Mr. Crowley has decided that we need lots and lots of training, and all of us Sunnydale Survivors are being assigned newbies to help train. We are so
“Good! Bernard better get you all busy. I’ve been raising lots of money for you all and have been promising that the Watchers Council is the best at defeating demons, so I don’t want him raising a bunch of losers,” Anya told them.
Rona and Vi exchanged eye rolls. “Whatever,” Rona muttered.
“Anya, we try to be encouraging with the students,” Remus informed her quietly.
“What?” Anya stared at him. “That is
encouraging! Now that they know the world is counting on them they will make sure to do a good job,” she explained sincerely.
“Or traumatize us,” Rona added sarcastically.
“You, quiet. Go use your freakish strength and carry cauldrons into the display area,” Anya ordered as she crossed her arms.
As the abnormally strong teenagers began carrying ten to fifty pound cauldrons into the rest of the shop, Anya dragged Remus into the manager’s office. It featured a window with open blinds that were useful for watching the store and her paid underlings, a beautiful black cherry wood desk, and a protective charm that, when activated, prevented shoplifting (which had been very pricey object, but hopefully worth it – no more Dawn-like moments!).
“So. Now that we’re alone…” Anya winked flirtatiously at Remus as she began to unbutton his olive green shirt.
“Anya,” Remus laughed as he gently tugged his hands away. “I have students out there.”
Anya glanced back out the window. “Well, technically only two students. Connor is an employee.”
“Employee technically, but I do like to consider myself his mentor. After all the things he went through in L.A. I want to help him find himself – not find me in a promiscuous position with a beautiful woman,” Remus added with a rakish grin.
Pouting, Anya gave him a sultry look. “But between things with the Order, the Watchers Council, and me starting this shop, we barely see each other alone anymore.”
Remus pulled her against chest and brushed his hands through her hair. “I know,” he whispered. “I miss you, too. The war may have just started but it already seems to be taking a toll on each of us.”
Anya sighed and snuggled closer to him. “Stupid evil. It’s always got to be something,” she muttered.
“We’ll finish it this time,” Remus swore grimly as he thought of James, Lily, the Longbottoms, and other friends lost in the war. “With the Order and the Council together, we can end this before too many people are lost.”
Anya didn’t say anything. In her thousand years of existence she had witnessed a lot of wars and each of them always ended up with a lot of dead people. However, she knew that Remus didn’t need to hear that – she may not have tact most of the time but she tried really hard when she loved someone.
At that thought, her body went rigid. Wait…did she love
“Catherine,” Voldemort greeted his prized follower as she entered the room. He and Wormtail were still living in the abandoned house, but since her rescue from her trophy, Catherine had joined them. Voldemort noticed that Wormtail did not seem very pleased at this living situation but his reluctance only pushed Voldemort to keep her here – Wormtail operated best out of fear. If his sister made him even more fearful, well, that could only be a good thing.
Catherine sunk to the ground and pressed her forehead against the floor. “My Lord.”
She stood up, smoothing the deep purple dress that she wore. Catherine Madison had aged since Voldemort had her in his services. Childbearing, marriage to that ridiculous squib, and being trapped in that spell, had deepened the lines of her face. However, she was still beautiful, although the light in her eyes hinted at madness.
“It has been some time since I released you from your prison. I trust that your body is fully attuned to this world?” Voldemort asked, his voice like cool steel.
“Yes, my Lord. I am ready to do whatever you command.”
The barest hint of a smile graced his face. “Excellent. I need to know more about the Slayer.”
Catherine’s eye twitched. “I will deliver her to you for torture and painful death,” she swore.
Voldemort chuckled, a chilling sound. “Ever the vindictive one.”
“She is the reason I am imprisoned. And the reason why my daughter turned against me and developed some backbone,” Catherine spat. “I want to perform every dark spell possible on that filthy beast.”
“In due time,” Voldemort promised. “First, we must know and understand our enemy.”
Catherine hesitated. “I do know some things my Lord, but I have been gone for a long time.”
“Yes, because of your own foolishness,” Voldemort hissed angrily as he toyed with his wand between his fingers.
“I-I am sorry, my Lord! Please forgive me,” Catherine begged, tears in her eyes.
Voldemort waved his hand in boredom. Honestly, the fear of his minions was usually intoxicating but it did get rather dull after a while. “You will be of no help with intel on the slayer – but I know who would.” Voldemort smiled. “You and I are taking a trip to America, Catherine. I think it’s time for a family reunion, don’t you?”
Another update! See! I’m trying to do better :p
Thanks for reading!References
Diagon Alley: http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Diagon_Alley