Disclaimer: I do not own characters inherent to Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Harry Potter. That honor belongs to Joss Whedon and J. K. Rowling, respectively.
Author's Note: This pushes the HP timeline forward by a couple years. Takes place post-2nd season BtVS and post-Order of the Phoenix for Potterverse. For those who might be watching my other stories, I couldn't get it out of my head. My muse is as fickle as the sea.
Her head felt big. Still.
Bookshelves were not something that her body was built to endure the weight of. But she had pulled herself out of the coma just in time to do the soul restoration for Angel. She had felt it work, a feeling not unlike the emotion she felt when she hacked the CIA the first time washing over her.
Now, she just needed to find a spell that didn’t have the Rom gypsy’s spirit of vengeance attached to it…
Willow glanced out the door at the hallway and smiled slightly. No one was manning the desk, a normal thing to happen during the night shift, so no one was watching her room. She swung her legs over the side of the bed, ignoring the small twinge of vertigo that attacked her equilibrium, and shrieked softly when she hit… something.
“Miss Willow Rosenberg?”
The creature was small, barely reaching her knees if she had been standing as had been her intention. Its skin had a beige leathery look to it and there were small wings folded on its back. It was also gaunt, its skin carving out the shape of its skeletal structure, and its claws seemed to be clipped back. If she had to guess, Willow would have said it was an imp.
“Yeah. I’m sorry, am I dreaming?” Willow hoped she was in some funky dreamland created by the painkillers that made her see an imp, of all things. Not that they didn’t exist, of course; she had read some very interesting books in Giles’s personal collection that supposed the habitat in which one could find imps, both the ones that were a part of the fey branch and the ones that belonged to certain hell dimensions.
Funnily enough, the creature’s face collapsed into intense relief. “Thank Merlin. We’ve been looking for you for about fifteen years.”
“We?” Willow echoed uncertainly. “Who we?”
“Well, technically, the Ministry of Magic of Britain and the United Kingdom,” the creature answered matter-of-factly. He climbed onto the pale blue chair near the hospital bed and unfurled his wings to flutter gently to the bed near her side. “It became apparent some time after your abduction that you were in the States.”
“Abduction? What are you…? I’m adopted,” Willow said, her mind reeling at his word choice. She could not picture Jewish Ira and proprietary Sheila as… kidnappers!
The imp shuffled the papers in his hands and, oddly enough, Willow chose that moment to notice that he was wearing thin wire-frame glasses. “Yes, quite. You were abducted at age two and inserted into the American foster system and adopted in the year following. At that time, we were still searching for the Lost Weasley in Europe.”
Willow furrowed her brow slightly. “What’s a Weasley?”
The imp smiled broadly and looked up from the paperwork in his hands. “The Weasleys are a pureblood family living in Britain. You were abducted from their house, a place they called the Burrow, by an individual they assume is a Death Eater. I have been assured that they do not side with Voldemort.”
Willow blinked numbly, shaking her head slightly to make sense of the foreign words and information that spewed from his mouth. “Pureblood?” she echoed uncertainly. “That sounds kind of… elitist.”
A wry smile blossomed across the imp’s face. “It does,” he agreed with a slight shrug. “The Salem Academy of North America takes a more lax position with the non-magical people. Our counterparts overseas are more… fickle about their interactions with those without magical ability.”
“So… Wait.” Willow sighed heavily, clenching her eyelids shut as her painkillers finally wore off and that everpresent headache crept back in. “I actually belong to this family in Britain and you’ve been looking for me for over a decade?” She opened one eye to see the imp nod at her question. “What I really want to know is how it took so long. The spells to locate something missing are easy.”
“The Hellmouth, actually,” he answered smoothly. “The energies that run rampant here can make most magic less than reliable. Outside Sunnydale and without a native resident, it is nigh impossible to find something within the town’s boundaries.”
Her eyes gazing at something far away, Willow pulled her legs under her, very careful of the IV drip in her arm. “The restoration ritual,” she said finally, her voice breath in realization.
“Yes.” The imp straightened the paperwork absently and then set it aside. “I was wondering about that. Since the human soul is so difficult to separate from the flesh, to what were you restoring a soul?”
“To Angel,” she answered, her eyes tearing up at a memory. “A vampire.”
The imp looked slightly surprised. “A fledgling, someone you knew?”
Willow shook her head firmly. “A master vampire over 200 years into the change.”
The creature inhaled sharply, his wings fluttering excitedly on his back. “Really? That’s quite a feat. You’re a stronger Weasley than I’ve seen in quite a while.”
“I’m not a Weasley,” she replied sharply. “My name is Willow Rosenberg.” She stressed her adopted parents’ surname with a hard glint in her eye.
He bowed slightly. “Certainly. Returning is your choice, of course, but I can’t remain long." He scratched his upper arm gently. “It dries out my skin, you see.”
“The Hellmouth?” When he nodded, she continued. “Can you give me a few days? I need to think about it.”
With a decisive nod, he turned back to his paperwork and retrieved a business card that had been held there by a paperclip. “Fredrick Orsen,” he finally introduced himself as he handed her the card. “Just say my name when touching the four corners and I’ll be proper summoned.”
“Like a demon?” she asked, a cringe forming on her face.
“No,” he snorted softly. “More like a… butler, okay?”
She nodded but didn’t speak again. In fact, the will it had taken her to stay awake seemed to have taken its toll as she sunk into a sleep. The imp circled around her, surprised how easily she’d fallen into unconsciousness. He finally noticed the bandages about her head and snatched the medical chart at the foot of her bed.
A bookcase had fallen on her? Pushed, more likely, but the few natives of Sunnydale he’d managed to find before her soul restoration had broken through the barrier surrounding this forsaken town showed a tendency toward selective memory. She had also pulled herself out of a coma in order to do the spell.
Persistent, intelligent and Fredrick could swear that a mischievous streak lay close to the surface. Just like her brothers.
He stepped close to her face again, noting that her expression was slightly pinched in pain. In response, he touched a claw gently to her forehead. “Soothe,” he murmured softly. “Remember.”
A flutter of leathery wings and he was gone.
Fred rubbed the front of his forehead for what had to have been the millionth time that day, cursing his wizard magic for its inability to spell the headache away. George was suffering from the same pain, so he didn’t feel too bad. Forcing himself to keep to clenching his eyes shut, he turned a corner in Diagon Alley, making a note in his head about the other properties that seemed promising.
That was their agenda today: to find the perfect location for their joke shop, Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes. He took one side of Diagon Alley while George had taken the other and they were to meet at Gringotts when they were finished.
“Arthur, are you sure about this… creature?” At the sound of his mother’s voice, Fred instantly went on guard, though it couldn’t be physically seen in the line of his body. He crept forward and peered around the building nearest him. His parents were in the center of a small outside café across and to the left of the bank.
“It’ll be fine, Molly. Imps might be notoriously mischievous but I’ve been assured that this one is all business.”
“I just want my baby girl back home,” Molly told her husband in a soft voice.
Fred took a step forward, unable to control himself. Had something happened to Ginny? He was lucky that his parents were mostly focused on each other, so that he could regain his composure. He squinted his eyes, trying to translate their expressions. They didn’t look crazy with worry, just tired. So, no, not Ginny.
But she was his mother’s only baby girl, wasn’t she?
Before he could ponder this contradiction any further, a small creature popped into existence on their table. He recognized it as an imp even as he tried to hide himself behind the building. His parents may not be able to notice him but an imp… That was something else altogether. He knew next to nothing about imp, just that they preferred warm, humid places and that they were highly mischievous.
“I found her,” the imp started. His parents relaxed instantly and both opened their mouths to ask questions. However, the imp held up a single clawed digit and they quieted. He pulled up a sheaf of paperwork, which Fred realized he had been holding in his other hand. “As we knew, she was living in Sunnydale, California. Until sometime within the last twelve hours, we had no way to ascertain a perfect life match and none of your prior investigators or American witches would step foot near the Hellmouth.”
“Hellmouth?” Fred whispered to himself. Knowing that of itself sounded suitably dark, he found himself wishing he’d paid closer attention to his Defense Against Dark Arts textbooks.
“The nonmagical records, which were much easier to access, note that she was adopted by Ira and Sheila Rosenberg in 1984, close to a year after her abduction from your home. That would have three years of age at the time. The Rosenbergs have lived in Sunnydale since then.”
Molly huffed angrily. “We already know all of this. What did you find out?”
Fred could tell that the imp bristled at her tone because his feet shifted dangerously and his wings lifted very slightly. He almost put his face in the palm of his hand at his mother’s behavior. Maybe it was her time with the Order or just in her nature that she tended to forget the power that the smaller creatures could wield.
“As I told you two years ago, I would not breach the boundary into the Hellmouth without proof that she was truly there.”
“I thought you said the location spells indicated that she lives in a town over an active Hellmouth?” Arthur inquired softly.
The imp laughed but Fred heard no humor in it. “Are you truly this naïve?” Shaking his head, he continued, “Sunnydale is a Hellmouth, not the Hellmouth.” He sighed heavily and continued. “It takes pretty strong magic to break through the barrier surrounding these towns, so I waited. Two days ago, a soul restoration spell punched through. I analyzed the magic immediately and it was your daughter at the source, though the spell itself was that of the gypsy shamans. When I teleported to her location, she was in a hospital.”
“What?” Molly bit back a sob. “What happened?”
“A bookshelf fell on her at the high school library. The head trauma sent her into a temporary coma. When I left her, I made sure that her healing increased. I plan to teleport back and keep an eye on her, should she make her decision.”
“Can’t you just… make her come back?” Fred bit on his tongue at his mother’s words. He could see where she was coming from, in a way, but it was still slightly appalling.
The imp sighed but refused to answer her question. The look of his parents’ faces, it wasn’t the first time they’d asked something that the creature found offensive. “Have you told her brothers?”
“Well, we thought it might be best until everything was settled before telling our children,” Arthur hedged.
The imp waved a hand dismissively. “Not all of them, just the ones she was born with. Have you told, um…” The imp paused then, shuffling through the paperwork quickly for the pertinent information. “Have you informed Fred and George that they are not twins but triplets and that Willow is their missing sister?”
Molly shook her head solemnly. Arthur placed a hand on his wife’s shoulder. “It’s been a hectic year. We didn’t want to disturb them further.”
Fred arched an eyebrow at that. Yes, it had been a bit stressful, he would grant them that, but to not tell them about a sister they weren’t aware they had? He knew they were just excuses.
“Why are you spying on Mum and Dad?” George asked from behind him.
Fred whirled around, lacking the energy to pretend that his brother hadn’t surprised him. “We have a sister.”
George arched an eyebrow and gazed at his brother as if he could see the crazy stamped on his forehead. “Yeah, we call her Ginny. You cracking up on me?”
Fred glanced back at his parents, who were busying themselves with gathering their things in preparation to leave. The imp was already gone. “No. I mean, we have a missing sister that’s our triplet.”
“What? Since when?”
“Since you were born, actually,” a voice answered. Instinctively, Fred looked down and saw the imp. “I saw you listening.”
“Did they?” Fred asked, his voice pinched slightly with worry. When the imp shook his head, he continued. “Her name is Willow?”
The imp nodded again. He began shuffling through his paperwork, obviously looking for something specific. After a moment, he withdrew two pieces of paper: one was a map of California, Sunnydale’s location clearly marked, and the other was a sketched map of the town itself.
“What are these for?” Fred asked.
“Why didn’t they tell us?” George asked almost simultaneously.
“These maps are for, what do you call it, Apparition.” The imp shook his head wryly. “Teleportation can be somewhat limited for wizards, I know. As for your parents, I cannot begin to understand why they would want you to remain in the dark and I have to say that I do not condone it.” With that said, the imp stepped away. “My name is Fredrick. If you have need of me, she has my card.”
Fred looked to George, his eyes asking the question silently. George nodded very slightly. Fred took another look at the maps before folding them carefully to fit in his pocket.
Then they were gone.