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This story is No. 2 in the series "Three is a Pretty Good Number". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: "...and he was just starting to get past the weirdness involved with the paintings to the point where he doesn’t twitch at the movement in his periphery when he walks down the hall now – well, most of the time anyway..." Carlos-centric

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Harry Potter > Other BtVS/AtS CharacterssmolderFR1512,1680386029 Feb 1229 Feb 12Yes
Disclaimer: I own nothing. Buffy the Vampire Slayer belongs to Joss Whedon and David Greenwalt. Harry Potter belongs to J.K Rowling.
A/N: Reviews are Good. This has been a subtle hint from the author - Please return to your regularly scheduled reading.

“Just look at him,” Carlos heard one of them sneer from over to his left – not far enough away or really toning their voice low enough to actually be whispering. “He’s digging in the dirt with a stick. No wonder they’re called Mudbloods.”

“Is he using his wand?” another voice screeched, actually sounding scandalized and he fought not to smirk, to keep his face blank. “What kind of dirty, uncivilized….”

Carlos completed carving the symbols in the cold hard ground and turned around and faced them - the group silenced immediately. Without looking he lobbed off a silent fire spell – making sure to flick his (dirt covered) wand or whatnot so they all thought he was channeling though that useless stick.

The overlapping sun and moon burned merrily in the ground and he walked off towards the castle without once looking back at the now confusedly whispering group. He really didn’t care though; he felt the familiar relaxation within him now that the flames were burning.

And honestly though he had been using a spell he had learned early on from Willow as a treat of sorts. Willow had been a fucking great magic teacher all around – so much better than the ones here (and all the ones he had back in high school at Sunnydale) that it feels stupid to compare – she understood all sorts of magic and, unlike here, was utterly non-judgmental about them. She understood the cravings that came with all this and showed him how to control them instead of simply fear them.

Shit the cravings.

He had started smoking in middle school (half of the slips in his permanent record were for teachers catching him smoking) not because he thought it was cool or some other inane reason – fuck, Carlos knew the dangers, the health risk. There had been people coming to his schools telling them not to do drugs as long as he could remember. But the thing was even before that, even before he started school he remembers having cravings. Those feelings deep inside (clawing, dark, destructive) that scared him so bad (but also made him so ashamed, way to ashamed to talk to his family who didn't seem to feel this - had never mentioned this sort of thing to him) and so when he had heard about the addiction drugs brought in the long list of side effects the health teacher stated in an uninterested monotone he had perked up. Hoping to use one to dull the other. Wanting something (anything) outside of himself, something that he could physically see and touch to be the cause instead.

And shit, Carlos is so grateful that he found Dawn and Kit when he did (and through them Buffy and the Council – which eventually led to Willow – the only teacher that ever really mattered to him) because as his powers built cigarettes weren’t cutting it and he knows he would have been willing to go stronger (how much stronger he isn’t sure) to hide, to deaden that feeling.

(Or even worse, the thing he barely allows himself to even contemplate, if he had simply given up. Let go of all of that inside of him and let it rule him. Become one of the monsters.)

But he had been taught how to manage it instead through lesson that were somehow fun despite how dire (and full of the uniquely Sunnydale brand of teenage angst) this all felt to him inside. Because you could tell she loved this, that if this all hadn’t been Willow’s path – if she wasn’t Willow the Wicca – she would have become a teacher of some sort instead. And she understood him, understood this; held her own form of darkness too. Plus she got the teenage boy mind - years of being best friends with Xander (and Jesse) would do that he supposed – and she constructed lesson plans where if he went on along with learning meditation, something that was a struggle for him, there was the promise of wonderfully destructive spells at the end – like a carrot dangling pervasively; and for some reason with the promise of release in the future his powers always seemed more apt to settle. They were never empty promises either, she would gladly teach him how to blow shit up with the same amount of excitement and control she showed him how to find his inner calm.

Like he said, fucking awesome teacher.

It’s one of the reasons he hated it here. (Carlos understood why he was here, the good work he was doing – the enormous responsibility and trust he (all three of the younger gen Scoobs) had been given but that didn’t mean he didn’t hate it.) They taught as if magic, as if power, was a singular and utterly understood thing with clearly defined lines of light and dark.

It wasn’t. He had seen more than enough to know that. To be able to flat out bluntly state that as fact.

But that wasn’t even the biggest part of this world here made no sense to him. He made meticulous notes for the Council (to document his time here observing this stagnant society and the growing threat of War surrounding a single prophesy child that all hope was pinned upon to save the day yet again apparently – and shit did it feel weird to do that, to be considered a Watcher) but a lot of the time it seemed like he was making the notes for just himself, just so he would realize that this messed up place was real. And because he had quickly realized how useless and biased so many of their books and newspapers seemed to be.

Because it wasn’t the magic or the stupid prophesies that baffled him it was the society itself. The way that this place that should be a world of wonder was instead simply many levels and types of ingrained racism (classism, specieism; the names – despite their love of them here – seemed so unimportant to him).

And the initial curiosity over “transfer student from America” wore off almost as soon as he was placed in Hufflepuff (a placement that made sense to him latter since the Hat didn’t seem to feel the need to differentiate between where or who in particular he was loyal to). And for some reason, the entire school seemed to find the whole House dull (they even seemed to be unimpressed with themselves most of the time). Carlos just found it weird, even of itself, to start people (children) off by typecasting and separating them into very separate groups. But honestly to be able to fade into the background suited his purposes just fine here.

The worst part though, the absolute worst was - well…..he missed his girls (he missed his family, his actual blood family, too but that seemed like a normal sort of homesickness. Not as sharp and desperate as his girls. He felt so adrift without them sometimes, like he was missing limbs.) And Dawn and Kit had become family to him and letters weren’t the same – he couldn’t even fucking call them here, another minus for this world. But what he really wanted anyway was to actually see them with his own eyes, have them both squeal, run, and hug him like they had seen him for the first time at Christmas break.

They were his sisters. Sunrise and Moonrise (Dawn’s nickname was obvious and in his head Kit’s should be it’s dark match, but she would never be a sunset. That evoked too much mourning and she had already had too much of that in her life. No, Kit was Moonrise.)

Carlos didn’t explain any of this reasoning to her but when he first called her it, she bit her lip and smiled in the shy way she did when she was truly pleased. And after a pause, looking him straight in the eye, (perfectly level with him that day wearing the shoes Dawn had gotten her for her birthday - black boots with bright blue laces and tiny polka-dots on the heel) she solemnly dubbed him, Eclipse. (Eclipse. Unique, blinding, a combination of moon and sun.)

(What was currently burning on the lawn beside the Quidditch Pitch as he made his way back inside the castle and through the halls.)

Just the remembrance of it made him feel warm and fuzzy inside. Made him feel complete. Gods and goddesses he loved his sisters.

When he got back to the Hufflepuff Common Room, Carlos flopped next to one of the few people he got along with here. Her family had seen great loss but never wavered and she continued in the tradition of strength (and he might as well continue with his habit of surrounding himself with strong women as well). She was smart but not uppity about it and knew her World inside out without seeing it through any sort of rose-colored glasses. Having one of her closest relatives be a judge in the highest courts they had here would give anyone a unique perspective and she had no problem explaining and discussing the oddities, intricacies, and history (most of which didn’t turn up in the history books but was well remembered – and talked about for years within the family of - by those that sat in the courts) of it all to him down to the tiniest details.

“Want to go get some tacos,” Susan asked without looking up from her book.

Carlos slanted his eyes over at her, she really wasn’t the type to make any jabs at his race (even playfully) but his mind still lingered with the idiotic purebloods earlier.

Noticing this, she sighed and rolled her eyes before closing her book. “Don’t get all stupid Carlos – I just like tacos and I think I finally found one of the house elves that knows how to make them. I honestly just wish they had a Common area where they let us cook independently if we wanted to. I really miss baking,” she frowned.

He smiled at her feeling all of his remaining tension drain away. And then she set her book down on the sofa beside her before getting up and for the first time he noted the cover – it was “Firestarter” by Stephen King and something in him cackled.

“Are you talking about Kiney?” he asked getting up as well and not mentioning what had caught his eye (or what he had been doing a few minutes ago). At her questioning looking he started walking towards the portrait hole even as he elaborated and she followed him. “The house elf who knows how to cook tacos – did you mean Kiney?”

“Yessss,” she responded taking the arm he offered as they started to walk towards the Kitchens but eying him suspiciously none the less – she knew him a bit by now, knew this tone of voice. (He kinda wondered too if she sensed his mood, his happiness borne of minor vandalism, and was just going with it.)

“Then I hope you don’t mind, um – eccentric – ingredients,” he stated not able to keep the grin off his face.

“What did you do Carlos?” she asked leaning against him a little and already smiling a bit even before he told her.

“Wellll”, he dragged out. “There are a few recipes that have been passed around and are just legendary with my friends. Joyce’s Hot Coco, Xander’s Twinkie Cake, Willow’s Chocolate Chip Cookies, Buffy’s Turkey Stuffing……..Fred’s Tree Bark Tacos.”

She burst out laughing breaking away from him in her fit of giggles, surprisingly loud in the hallway causing other people to turn and stare (and he was delighted that she took no notice of them). He looped her arm as they kept walking and pulled her back to his side and she slid her arm behind his back to lean more fully against him as she shook with suppressed amusement.

“They actually taste pretty good,” he continued, “…once you get used to the texture,” he said a bit quieter biting his lip to keep a straight face which broke when she snorted. And they shared another grin when he tickled the pear on the portrait to open the hole to the Kitchens (and he was just starting to get past the weirdness involved with the paintings to the point where he doesn’t twitch at the movement in his periphery when he walks down the hall now – well, most of the time anyway).

Carlos let go of her and gave a bow and mock-formally she gave (what looked like, and with her background could very well be, a very authentic) curtsey before climbing through.

It might not be his home, and he sure as hell missed his girls, but it wasn’t all bad here. least until he got another detention (and Carlos was pretty used to that part of school anyway).

The End

You have reached the end of "Burning". This story is complete.

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