Recommendations and Storytelling
Albus Dumbledore paced through his office, his eyes flicking over everything contained there, attempting to seek the answers to the questions taking root in his brain. Upon his return nearly three hours ago, Severus had given him a brief and vague recount of his experience on the Hellmouth. He was due to return with a full report inside of an hour and what he had told him was troubling.
Rupert Giles had not been present and he got a distinct impression from Severus that the Slayer wasn’t there either, though the Council of Watchers had assured him that the Hellmouth was under constant supervision. In the Watcher’s place had been two children, about the age of a seventh-year if Severus was to be believed. However, the Weasley twins were there as well and highly protective of the female.
Apparently, she was the Lost Weasley.
Albus was smoothing a hand over his face when he was distracted by a soft clack. He looked over to his desk and noted a raven there. It snapped its beak together, producing the clack again, and held its leg out. The Headmaster hurried to the bird, untying the ribbon and offering it a hard candy. The ravens were a common bird messenger of the American Commitees of Magical Use. It wouldn’t do to leave a bird that had literally “hopped the pond” waiting.
He glanced at the stamp at the top of the letter and sighed. It was from the New York Committee of Magical Anomalies. This was certain to be interesting and he was sure if it was good or bad.‘Dear Headmaster Dumbledore of Hogwarts,
It has come to our attention that two residents of Sunnydale, California, known in the community as merely the Hellmouth, are of wizarding ability. As you know, all Hellmouths within the States are bound with powerful circles of protection, to resist the entry of newcomers and to keep those within oblivious. This magic does not work on magical creatures or magic users and instead does quite the opposite, drawing them and sometimes trapping them.
We have heard of your Lost Weasley situation and allowed many of your wizards their massive searches in this country. Mostly, we stayed out of it. However, one of the residents seems to fit the description, if not the average power, of a Weasley and her name is Willow Rosenberg. The other resident is a Muggle-born wizard by the name of Alexander Harris. We are only aware of this because they were recently Apparated out of Sunnydale and their true power can now be felt.
Something you may not know about the effects of the Hellmouth is that it tends to suppress the powers of magic users once within the circle. As both Miss Rosenberg and Mister Harris had yet to have left their hometown beyond the hundred-mile buffer zone, their powers must have been completely suppressed to almost nil. Our trackers put their current location in England at the Weasley home. Our diviners have put forth the possibility of the Lost Weasley as your new professor and our spies on the Hellmouth confirm her use to the Slayer, especially in the last year.
The Slayer, the Watcher, and their so-called Slayerettes have not been aware of our young Aurors in the area. It seems Miss Rosenberg picked up the slack several times when the Watcher was… less than exemplary. Additionally, when the vampire with a soul lost said soul through an act of consummation with the Slayer, she remained calm and collected for a person of her age. We highly recommend her for the job alongside Mister Giles’s own recommendation.
With the greatest regards,
Chairman of the Committee of Magical Anomalies’
Dumbledore blinked dumbly at the letter, his mouth open like a gaping fish. He would never get used to this, America and their divination techniques. For some reason, they had a firmer grasp on the future and many of their “prophecies”, small though they often may be, put Professor Trelawny’s oddly accurate but truly vague visions to shame. That thought alone made him almost completely decide on Willow Rosenberg as his new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, especially alongside Rupert Giles’s glowing opinion of the girl.
Additionally, she was a lost relic of the British wizarding community. She belonged here in this school, as a student if not an instructor. Which brought to mind the other thing – she needed to be taught.
Well, he thought to himself, that might make for a sticky situation.
“Albus?” The older wizard looked up to see Severus peering at him from around the doorway. He waved him inside as he took another look over the letter. It was amusing that they referred to their Aurors within the Hellmouth as spies, as if they were across enemy lines. Well, that was a bit true, he guessed; the Hellmouths, active or now, belonged to the demons and half-breed hybrids.
He held up the letter for Severus to read when he approached the desk. “The American Committee,” he answered to the other man’s arched eyebrow.
Severus took the letter and his eyes darted left to right several times, likely reading the letter a few times over. After a moment, he looked up at the Headmaster, his face clearly skeptical. “Albus, you know how I feel about the divining arts.”
“And yet,” Albus pointed out, “these are likely the same witches that foretold your alliance with me the moment you were given the Dark Mark. You may not like it but their visions often come true.”
“You intend to hire the Lost Weasley on the word of a couple of flighty American
witches?” Albus could clearly hear the spite and derision in the Potions master’s voice. “I find that to be highly irresponsible.”
The Headmaster’s lips curled into a smile. “You recommended her as well, didn’t you?”
Severus went very still but the older man knew that was as good as seeing him squirm in place. “Quite,” he answered simply. “She seemed to deal with the new information of her parentage well, although she still seemed to hold herself separate from the Weasley family, and she contains knowledge about the dark arts that not even I may know.”
Albus nodded, though he thought that young Willow’s separatist attitude was probably point-worthy in Severus’s book. “And yes, hiring her on only the recommendation of witches from a different country would be tremendously careless of me. So… I want to meet her.”
Severus looked down at the letter, scowling before his eyes fully completed the journey. “The Burrow? Headmaster…”
The shutters closed over his face and Albus’s face became cold and serious. “Yes, Severus. We will be flooing to the Weasleys’ home and you will be attending me. After all, you’ll need to tell Voldemort something soon, won’t you?”
With a lengthy and dramatic sigh, Severus nodded and waited for the Headmaster to precede him to the fireplace. Albus almost rolled his eyes. This was certain to be interesting.
Willow sat on the couch beside Xander, who was in a slightly catatonic state. She knew well enough that he didn’t take change quite as well as she did. Not that she always took change very well, she admitted silently, but since meeting Buffy and Jenny’s more recent murder, not much could shock her.
“What’s wrong with him?” Ginny asked softly.
The question itself, said aloud instead of spiraling silently in her brain, allowed Willow to relax. “He’ll be fine. In fact, he’ll probably be cracking jokes in no time.”
“How can you not know you’re a wizard?” Ron scoffed. “I mean, it’s not like he’s Neville. He’s got enough power for the broom to knock him to the ground.”
“I daresay it’s an effect of living on the Hellmouth,” a voice said from the doorway to the corridor that led to the bedrooms.
“Hi… Arthur.” Willow shifted uncomfortably in place and pasted a smile on her face. She forced herself to watch as his face fell slightly as her use of his actual name. “Sounds likely, I guess. There’s all kind of forces at work there. It could have been suppressing our powers all our lives.”
“Very astute, Miss Rosenberg.” This time, the new voice came from a different direction. She must have been distracted by her biological father in the exact moment that it happens because there was a tallish, very much older man in very flamboyant robes – purple with silver accents in the shape of starbursts – stepping out of the fireplace.
“Will, I’m losing it, finally and completely. Gandalf the Purple just walked out of the fireplace!” Xander exclaimed softly. At least he was sitting up straight and focusing now.
“Shh, Xan. I see him too.”
The older man frowned slightly. “I don’t understand the reference.”
Willow arched an eyebrow. “How far removed from humans are you?”
Severus stepped into place beside the man. When he noticed her confused and slightly alarmed expression, he made an expression that might have been meant to be a comforting smile but it came across as a ghost of a smirk. “Very much, actually. The witch hunts in the Dark Ages and since has made it quite clear that the wizarding community makes humans very uncomfortable.”
“Right,” Xander scoffed. “Because being burned at the stake really screams discomfort.”
Willow grinned at her sister, causing Ginny to giggle. “See?” She directed the next part to the older wizard. “Anyway, it’s a Lord of the Rings reference. You kinda look like a character – a wizard called Gandalf the Gray or Gandalf the White, depending on what book you’re reading.”
“Ahh, of course,” the man answered, inclining his head in a nod and moving to take a seat near Willow and Xander. “My name is Albus Dumbledore, the Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. I understand you are aware that I am in need of a new professor.”
“Yeah, I got that,” she answered. “I just figured… I mean, aren’t I kind of young? I can’t possibly be what you’re looking for.”
Dumbledore looked at Snape. “Did you tell her what the position was?”
“I didn’t feel it was prudent at the time.”
Xander made a sound somewhere between a choke and a gurgle. “C’mon, what class do you want the Great and Powerful Willow to teach?” With a grin, he looked at his best friend. “See what I did there? ‘Great and Powerful’ and you date Oz and, oh, never mind.” His expression was losing momentum but then she giggled, maybe more at his behavior than the horrid joke itself, but it was enough for the dark-haired teenager to finally shake off the last of the catatonia.
With an indulgent smile, Dumbledore continued. “We call the class Defense Against the Dark Arts, something for which I understand the Hellmouth has given you many lessons.”
George glanced over at his twin and then arched an eyebrow at Willow, whose eyes were wide with some kind of panic. It was then that he noticed his mother hovering in the doorway to the kitchen. “Wait, what? What are you talking about, Albus?”
The Headmaster looked at Willow and Xander, confusion clear in his expression. “Did you not tell her about your friend?”
Molly looked from Dumbledore to Willow, her eyes wide in fearful anticipation. It made Willow wonder: would her adoptive parents look like that if they knew what her night consisted of? But she flicked her eyes back to Dumbledore, somehow finding that to be a safer location. “We kinda lied to them about… you know, the vampires.”
Xander leaned forward, darting a glare at the older wizard. He was always more comfortable with expressing his anger toward authority figures than Willow herself. “They don’t know we knew Buffy.”
“Who?” Ginny asked softly.
“Buffy Summers,” Willow clarified. “The Slayer.” She looked to Molly. “I’ve known about demons and vampires and apocalypses since early last year.”
“Apocalypses?” Fred asked.
“As in, plural?” George added.
“At least two,” Xander said, covering his mouth in a mock-yawn. “So far.”
“Tell me about it,” Dumbledore said softly.
Willow looked at the Headmaster searchingly and saw the sincere look on his face, so much like Giles in his best moments. She glanced at Xander, who nodded. “I guess the first one might have been when Buffy first came to town. A name like the Harvest, it seems apocalypse-y. But we helped her avert it. Not a lot, granted. It was the same as the real apocalypse the night of the Spring Fling, Buffy doing all the work while we sit and watch.”
“She is the Slayer,” Snape added in a dry voice.
“What about that… thing, Will? With the fangs and the tentacles? It gave you nightmares for weeks,” he added.
Willow glared at her friend but the expression was somewhat lessened by the memory in her mind. She could never explain to this wizard the fear of that demon, when knowledge of the hellish dimensions informed her that it was likely the smallest of such creatures, or her desolation at the sight of the ruined library. She ducked her head and let the memory wash over her so that it could pass away from her mind.
“What was it?” Again, the Headmaster’s voice was soft, entreating her to tell a story she had as yet only recounted to a friend that was long since ash.
“A demon, of course.” She smiled broadly, her grin obviously fake. “The Master getting free opened the portal to the Hellmouth that happens to be in the library. In the end, it was all okay.”
There was a long pause, one in which Snape interjected himself once again. “While we are very aware that is not the whole story, you said there were two?” Though his behavior didn’t seem out of any range of normal to Willow, she couldn’t help but notice how her twin brothers gawked at him.
Shaking her mind loose of the thoughts, she continued. “Angelus had gotten control of the town. Probably wasn’t that hard, now that I think about it. Hellmouths might be magnets for all sorts of demon but with a town controlled by the Slayer, I guess most of them either didn’t risk it or tried to keep a low profile. And Angelus found Acathla.” She wasn’t surprised when the only looks of recognition were on the faces of Snape and Dumbledore.
“Did he attempt to awaken it?” the Headmaster asked, his voice as serious as she expected.
“He might have,” she conceded. “But obviously it didn’t work. Buffy was there fighting him.”
“How do you know it didn’t work?” Arthur asked curiously.
“Acathla is a demon of stone and, like the Judge, can’t really be killed.”
“You’ve dealt with the Judge?” Snape leveled his question with a nice dollop of surprise.
“With a rocket launcher,” Xander snorted. “ ‘No weapon forged’, my foot.”
Willow smiled slightly. “Anyway, as Acathla wakes, he will breathe the world into Hell. Some long hours of research told us that the hell dimension on the other side of the portal, or whatever it is that Acathla’s breath creates, is the worst kind of hell. We don’t know exactly what happened but we know that the world is still the same.”
“What did you
do?” Molly asked suddenly. “Fredrick said something about a soul restoration?”
Willow sighed. Even though she was keeping the information pretty vague so as to not disturb her biological parents too much, the little information she was giving was still enough to force those memories of fear to the forefront of her mind. “When we first met him, Angelus was just Angel, the vampire with a soul. Then he lost it.” She shifted in her place, discomfort clear in the movement. “I found a translation of the original spell to return that soul. However, because of the circumstances, I returned Angel’s soul to him while he and Buffy were probably fighting. Maybe it was too late, maybe he was already dead,” she ended in a whisper.
Dumbledore looked at the Weasley family in the silence that followed, noting the way Arthur and Molly maintained a painful distance from their daughter, the way Ronald looked at his long-lost sister with something akin to suspicion and the way the twins and Ginny watched both Willow and Xander with a kind of protective comfort. Ron would come around, he knew, and the newest addition to the family would eventually accept her parents.
Finally, he clapped his hands together and stood. “I have to say, I believe you will make a wonderful addition to the Hogwarts staff,” he told her. “Especially with Severus’s recommendation.”
“Really?” Willow looked at Snape, who merely inclined his head in a small nod. “But… high school… and Xander…”
“C’mon, Will,” Xander interjected. “You’ve got enough credits to graduate now.”
“In fact,” Dumbledore said, “the American wizarding community has given their leave for Xander to be taught here.”
“So I really am a wizard?” he asked. “It’s not some weird fluke?”
Dumbledore winked at the boy. “I cannot say it is not a fluke but I opine that it is the best kind. Muggle-born magic wielders are often quite powerful.”
“Yay?” Willow and Xander said simultaneously. While it was quite a nice turn of events, there was still one problem that kept them from being completely enthusiastic. Without Buffy, they just couldn’t leave the people in Sunnydale to fend for themselves and they were the only ones left.
Willow cleared her throat. “What about Buffy?”
Snape gifted her with a rare smile. “I believe I may have a solution to your predicament. It will take a week, however. Location spells can be somewhat tricky.” His expression dropped back into that familiar blankness. “Perhaps even before those vampires return.”
“Oh, crap,” Willow muttered. “I’d forgotten.”