Sometimes It's Both the Journey and the Destination
*~* Sometimes It's Both the Journey and the Destination*~*
Giles was having the best time just watching the girls in Diagon Alley. They seemed to both be frozen with wide eyes and dropped jaws. Giles had to admit he was doing a bit of gaping himself. They were in a real place of magic.
They had seen real goblins today. At Gringott's, the wizard bank. The ride to their vault had been kind of trippy. Giles had been given a key to a vault that would be supplied with his, Tara's, and Willow's wages. Hagrid had explained the monetary system to them. Willow, of course, picked it up instantly. They'd taken a bag of coin and set out to shop. A prospect the girls were quite excited about.
They'd purchased books and cauldrons. Willow and Tara had taken forever to choose their cauldrons. They'd also gone to a shop that sold familiars. Giles had picked himself out a lovely little gray owl with nice yellow eyes. Willow had picked herself out the cutest little black kitten. Tara had amazingly picked out a bat. Giles thought it an odd choice but did not comment on it. If the girl wanted to keep a bat, the girl could keep a bat.
Hagrid, he'd insisted they call him Hagrid, had been talking ninety miles an hour. He'd gone on for quite a while about dragons. Willow and Tara listened eagerly. Giles was quite proud of how genuinely nice the girls were to the giant. He'd figured early on there was giant blood somewhere in Hagrid's bloodline. They didn't seem to notice there was anything different about Hagrid. Not that Giles thought Willow or Tara would be terribly rude, but they were being very charming. They tended to walk on either side of the man holding on to his beefy arms while asking him question after question. It was quite a sight.
The last things they needed were robes and wands. Hagrid had suggested wands first. So they headed into a place called Ollivander's. The girls were chatting nonstop and giggling as the bell clanged signaling their arrival in the store. The conversation stopped when an elderly man on a ladder came sliding out from his stacks of wands. Tara jumped.
His eyes were so bright. Like moonlight. His hair was just a bit on the Albert Einstein side, and he dressed like something out of a Jane Austen novel.
"I wondered how long it would be until I laid eyes on you three." He smiled.
"Hello, Mr. Ollivander." Hagrid said.
"Good day, Hagrid. So glad you brought me these three."
"You know us?" Willow asked.
"Of course. New teachers are news around here. You're Willow Rosenberg. That's Rupert Giles. And you..." He eyed Tara. "Are Tara Maclay. Elizabeth Belladonna Maclay's daughter. Finally."
"You knew my mother?"
"Sycamore. Six inches with the hair from a unicorn's mane in the end."
Tara smiled. Her mother had never told her she'd owned a wand.
"Now, Professor Giles, why not you first?"
Giles walked to the counter. Mr. Ollivander went to the back and began digging around. He came back with a box.
Mr. Ollivander held the box out to him. Giles lifted the wand out of its velvet lining.
"Well." Ollivander said.
"Give it a wave."
Giles did. A small burst of energy rippled in the room sending Willow and Tara stumbling into Hagrid. The giant managed to catch both girls with little difficulty.
"I'm so terribly sorry!" Giles said in mortification. He placed the wand back in the box as if it had bitten him.
"No, no." Mr. Ollivander said. "It's the only way to know. Happens all the time. It's why I never bother dusting." He went to the back again and came back with yet another box. "Try this."
Giles took the new wand reluctantly. A warm glow and a breeze that smelled of sandalwood filled the shop.
"Ah yes. Nine and a half inches of ash with a dragon's heart string inside. A bit of the wild for the teacher within. Some fire."
"Curious." Giles commented as he turned his wrist and studied the wood. It was as if the wand was supposed to be in his hand. He vaguely entertained the notion that the wand could double as a physical weapon in Sunnydale. Pointy and wooden.
"Indeed. The wand chooses the wizard, Professor Giles. Step up, Miss Rosenberg."
Willow walked to the counter. He handed her a wand. Willow waved it. The ladder Mr. Ollivander had slid in on exploded sending splinters of wood everywhere.
"Oh!" Willow sat the wand on the counter and jumped back.
"Quite all right, my dear, quite all right." He walked to the back and brought her another wand.
Willow waved it. The front glass of the shop shot out into the street narrowly missing passersby.
"Oh!" Willow sat the wand down. "Sorry!"
"Oh dear. Definitely not." He walked to the back again. "Hmmm. I wonder." He reached down and brought out another box. "Try this. And dear, try not to wave so hard. There's a lot of power in your touch."
"I'm sorry. It's always bad in the beginning with me and magic."
"Nonsense. You're just a bit green. It'll be fine." He shook the opened box at her.
Willow took the wand. Her eyes went jet black and her hair stood on end. She gasped as she rocked back on her heels a bit. Blue electricity danced over the skin on her hands.
"Yes, indeed." Ollivander said with a smile that was part wicked, part delight.
"Willow tree. Seven inches with the most curious thing in the handle. Vampire's blood.
"It's one of my rarities. The blood was given to me by a notorious vampire who suddenly gained a soul. Very tortured individual. A bit more than a century ago. Most curious he was-"
"Cursed by gypsies."
"You know the tale?"
"I know the vampire."
It was Ollivander's turn to look surprised. "You know the vampire Angelus?"
"So does Giles."
"He still lives, er unlives?"
"In Los Angeles, California."
"Now you Miss Maclay."
Tara stepped up to the counter. Mr. Ollivander plucked a box from under the counter. He lifted the lid and held it out to her. Tara took the wand. Instantly the lamp in the shop glowed brighter.
"Curious. I had a feeling. After the incident with Miss Rosenberg just now the feeling was stronger. This was very nearly the wand I wanted to give your mother until I found the sycamore."
"What is it?" Tara asked with no small amount of wonder in her voice.
Ollivander smiled at the way she went with the wand. "Seven inches of willow with one of the most rare things in the handle."
"A drop of vampire's blood."
"I owned but two with undead blood."
"Is this one Angel's blood as well?"
"No. This one is even more curious. The blood in this one belonged to a vampire named William the Bloody. He went by-"
"Spike." Tara whispered before her eyes rolled up in her head and she fainted.
*She was a drop in the ocean compared to you*
"Tara? Tara, are you all right?"
"Should I get her a glass of water?"
"No, I think she's coming around."
Tara's eyes fluttered open. There were four faces peering down at her.
"Are you ok?" Willow asked.
"I... I'm fine."
Willow helped her sit up.
"Well, I must say..." Mr. Ollivander said as he aided the redhead in helping Tara to her feet. "This is the most excitement I've seen in a great while. When you young ladies are not so overwhelmed, I would ask that you come a visit me for tea some afternoon, so that I may learn what has occurred with Angelus and William since we last spoke."
"I'd like that." Willow said.
Tara smiled. "So long as we could ask you a few questions in return."
"But of course. That would be a perfectly fair trade, I'd wager."
They were on a train.
The getting on the train had been most curious. They'd walked through a wall to get to the platform. Giles was grinning behind his book as Willow and Tara sat facing each other on the seat across from him. The two of them were chatting like teenagers about all the things they'd seen. They loved Hagrid. Mr. Ollivander was fabulous. They couldn't wait to have tea with him.
The door to their compartment opened. A woman stood there looking at them. She wore dark blue robes. Her hair was pulled back in a severe bun. Rectangular spectacles were perched on the end of her nose. She carried a beautiful carpet bag in her gloved hands.
"Might I join you?"
"Of course." Giles stood and moved over. He waited until the woman had sat before sitting again.
She smiled at him and extended her hand. "Minerva McGonagall."
"Yes, I know." She looked at the girls. "And you two are Willow Rosenberg and Tara Maclay. Everyone's quite excited about the three of you. Except perhaps Severus. But you'll get used to him."
Willow and Tara exchanged a look.
"Now which of you is Willow and which is Tara?"
"I'm Willow." The redhead smiled.
"So you must be Elizabeth's daughter." McGonagall said to Tara.
"Quite talented, your mother."
Willow felt Tara stiffen a bit. Why did everyone seem to know Tara's mom? Willow decided to change the subject for her ex girlfriend's sake. "Do you teach at Hogwart's?"
"Yes. I teach transfiguration."
"What's that?" Tara asked.
"It's where you change one thing into another." Giles said from behind his book.
McGonagall looked at him. "That is correct." She looked at the book. Lord of the Rings. "Tolkien, hmm?"
"I'm rereading it."
"You reread books?"
Giles bristled. "I happen to like reading, madam, and if I enjoy a book, I do read it more than once."
"Heavens, Professor Giles, I meant no offense. I am a voracious reader myself when I have the time. Why, I've read Bridget Jones's Diary seventeen times."
Willow and Tara giggled a bit.
"I can't say that I've read the thing."
"Oh, I shall have to loan you my copy then." McGonagall winked at the girls. "It's quite good."
Willow smiled widely. She liked Minerva McGonagall already. And this transfiguration sounded cool.
"So, Giles, what are you gonna name your bird?" Willow asked.
"It's an owl. And I was thinking Gandalf. Since he's gray."
The three women just stared at him.
"The owl is gray." He shook the book at them. "Gandalf the Gray."
"Hmm." Was Willow's only comment.
"Have none of you read the Lord of the Rings Trilogy?"
Willow and Tara shook their heads 'no'.
Giles rolled his eyes. "What of you two then? What will you name yours?"
"You all acquired familiars?" McGonagall asked.
"I got a kitty. I'm calling him Anakin. Because he's all black. All nice and Darth Vader-y."
Giles and McGonagall were giving her the oddest looks.
"So, Tara, what are you calling your bat?"
The strange looks immediately shifted from Willow to Tara.
They were met at the station by Hagrid. Night had fallen, and he was carrying a great lantern.
"But how did you.... you were.... we left you in... oh nevermind." Willow said.
Hagrid chuckled deeply and tapped her nose with one of his giant fingers right before he ruffled Tara's hair.
McGonagall laughed behind her hand, but Giles heard her.
"I'm sorry. It appears Hagrid is already quite taken with your assistants."
"I assure you the feeling is mutual. You should have seen the three of them in Diagon Alley."
Someone exited the train behind them muttering under his breath.
"Hello there, Professor Snape." Hagrid called.
Willow and Tara both whipped around. Willow blinked. He looked cranky. He was scowling at all of them. No one else had exited the train.
"Are we the only ones, Hagrid?" McGonagall asked.
"For tonight, Professor McGonagall. The others will be arriving within the next few days. And since we have the two misses with us, I'd though we'd take the boats across."
"What?" Snape hissed.
"Oh I'm sorry, Professor. I forgot to introduce you to the misses and the new professor. This is Professor Rupert Giles, and these two ladies are his assistants Professors Tara Maclay and Willow Rosenberg. And that there, ladies, is Professor Severus Snape."
"What will you be teaching, Professor Giles?" Snape asked coldly.
Willow noticed a muscle in Giles's jaw tick ever so slightly. Snape better be careful with his haughty attitude, or he might get to meet Ripper.
Giles cleared his throat. "History and Lore of Magical Creatures-"
"-and Defense Against the Dark Arts."
Snape went stiff. "Two courses?"
"Which is why I have two assistants."
"What do you teach?" Willow asked Snape politely.
"Potions." He snapped Before looking at Tara. "So you're Elizabeth Belladonna Maclay's girl. I heard you were coming here. You look like her."
Tara and Willow exchanged a look. Giles was a bit curious himself now. That was the third person that had outright mentioned Tara's mother. As they approached the shore, Willow noticed there were several little boats there.
"Well pick one." Hagrid said as he got into a boat of his own.
Willow and Tara chose the one closest to Hagrid while McGonagall, Giles, and Snape got into a third. Willow noticed Giles was very gentlemanly in helping Professor McGonagall get into the boat. She could foresee the two of them becoming great friends. They both seemed to be all about the rules with a hint of a wild streak underneath. Willow got the feeling McGonagall was stern yet caring. Just like Giles.
"Where are the oars?" Willow asked.
She squeaked as the boat pulled itself into the water and seemed to glide off into the fog that was hovering above the lake. She swore she heard Snape laughing. She looked over her shoulder and glared at him. Nasty cranky pants. Her eyes narrowed.
"Stop." Tara said quietly.
"We've got other things to deal with besides you being irritated with Mr. Congeniality."
"Why everyone seems to know who my mother is."
"Hey, no problem. I'll put my Velma hat on, and we'll solve this mystery, Daphne."
"I am not the Daphne."
"Sure you are. You're way cuter than me."
"I am not."
Tara would have replied, but she was too busy staring. Willow looked up. Her jaw dropped. They'd be spending the next year HERE? This was the school? It was gorgeous. It was a castle of fairly tale caliber built on a rocky crag over the lake. Torches lit the path up to it, and most of the windows were aglow with orange light. It gave a comforting feel, despite being a castle. It was like magic. It WAS magic. Willow could feel it the closer they got. The whole place was alive with it. And it wasn't pulling at her begging her to use more and more. Willow smiled.
So this was Hogwart's.