*~* Hogsmeade *~*
It was the first Hogsmeade weekend after the winter holiday.
Spike was sitting in between Dawn and Draco wringing his hands. Harry and Ginny were sitting opposite them in the booth. Ron and Hermione had opted to go off somewhere... likely to kiss. Harry wished he could sneak off with Dawn to do some of that. He was pretty sure Ginny was wishing Malfoy would whisk her off as well. But they understood this was Spike's first big outing, and he needed support.... which was why Harry and Draco had yet to trade insults.
Madam Rosmerta had her hands full today.
Cassie was sitting with Neville and Winifred Burkle. Harry had noticed Faith and Oliver duck into the dimly-lit back hall where the loo was... and they had yet to return. Lily was sitting with Connor and the Creevey boys. Tara and Anya were chaperoning. The two of them were shopping and watching the streets for behavioral problems. Professors Wyndam-Pryce and Giles were also in attendance in a chaperoning capacity. They were sipping butterbeers near the door of Three Broomsticks and eyeing the sway of Madam Rosmerta's hips... like she didn't notice. The new Slytherin girl, Raven Hope, was sitting with Pansy Parkinson and a whole coterie of Slytherins. Harry noticed this Hope girl eyed Malfoy a lot.
More than what made Harry comfortable. Not that he so much cared for Malfoy, but Harry didn't want his peace disrupted just yet. He was getting a funny feeling about today though. Like everything was too open. Like they were too much out in the open here instead of being behind all those wards on Hogwarts. Harry had a funny feeling they should have all stayed behind.
"William, I don't think it's safe here."
Spike turned his head slightly in Edward's direction, but gave no reply to that.
"Something's coming, Will."
Dawn looked at him. "Spike?"
"Take her to the floor, Will! Now!"
Spike grabbed Dawn and tackled her out of the booth. She screamed in surprise. Draco shouted in alarm and started after them. A hex sailed right past the tip of Draco's nose and hit the back of the booth right where Dawn's head had been. It seemed to come from nowhere until Draco saw people start coming from under invisibility cloaks like mad.
Several booths away Cassie Newton gave a great scream of pain and fell to the floor.
"Cassie!" Fred and Neville screeched in unison.
Several loud pops occurred next, and the place was filled with figures in all black sporting masks. Not even seconds after that, the place exploded into chaos.
Suddenly people were screaming and someone was shouting hexes. Draco struggled as someone wrestled him to the ground in the fray. He was shouting quite a bit and trying to get to his wand. Then he was eye to eye with Raven Hope.
"Stay down." She whispered. "They're gunning for you, you know."
Draco just nodded.
"And Dawn. And I doubt they'd kick up a fuss at accidentally hitting Potter. Keep your heads low. I'm going for help." She trailed a finger down the side of his face, like she was memorizing it.
"Who are you?"
"No one to be trifled with."
"Not who you think, darling."
With that, she was gone. Draco scowled. How could she think she was hiding from him? He'd known her all his life. How could she think he didn't know her? How could she, for one second, think he wouldn't be able to see through her ruse?
Connor had upset a couple of tables near the corner. He'd pulled Lily behind them. The Creeveys were with them. Harry and Draco managed to get Spike to let go of Dawn long enough to get their little group behind the tables too.
"What in the hell?" Lily snapped.
Draco was shaking his head to say he didn't know as he draped one arm around Ginny. There was all sorts of shouting going on. Connor popped his head up to see Faith had entered the fight. Oliver was lying on the floor not too far from her.... so that accounted for the rage. Connor started to rise. Lily grabbed his robes.
"What are you doing?!"
"I can't sit here and do nothing."
"Then I'm coming with you."
"And I'll cover you." Draco added.
They both looked at him.
"I'm fairly decent at hexing."
Connor nodded. Somehow he felt secure in the fact that Draco 'had his back'. Connor was pretty sure that shouldn't comfort him, being Draco was a Slytherin and Connor was a Gryffindor, but it did. Connor had the distinction of knowing Draco before he was a Gryffindor, so it was sort of difficult for the two of them not to be friends now. Besides Draco was really good friends with the girl Connor had spent a fair amount of time kissing lately, so that lent him some trust.
Connor looked back at Lily.
"You are not talking me out of this, Connor. Don't waste time. I'm going. Let's go."
He didn't want her to, but he knew there was no talking Lily out of it. The two of the burst from behind the tables, hexes flying. Draco was popping up and throwing some serious stuff to clear their way. Their foes seemed to be a mix of wizards and muggles somehow. All of them were in black with their faces masked. It was off-putting. Some had wands. Some had... guns?
Tranquilizer dart guns apparently. Because Faith took a feather dart to the neck. She gasped and gagged something horrible, grabbing at her throat before she started to fall. Connor rushed forward and caught her about the waist before she hit the ground.
Everyone turned. Professor Wyndam-Pryce certainly had a mighty voice when upset. But his jumping to his feet in outrage only made him a target. Someone got him with a hex. He was blown back to the wall, then slumped to the floor. With that Giles busted out like a madman. He just started hitting people with one hand and hexing with the other. It was even more spectacular that Madam Rosmerta busted up shortly after to aid him. She looked just as ticked off. Harry, Dawn, and Ginny had recovered from their shock and were now offering cover fire.
Lily was doing some spectacular things like running up walls and slayerific flips. Then again, she had been a vampire, and some of them were fairly spry. When she was angry or threatened, the agility of her vampirism usually came back to her. Connor still had Faith.
"By order of the Watcher's Council, I demand that you hand that woman over."
Connor snorted. "You demand? Shove it up your ass. You aren't getting her."
"By order of the-"
"Listen, buddy, I'm not a slayer or a watcher, so I really don't think I have to comply here."
"I order you-"
"I don't care if you get down on your knees and pledge to be my eternal slave. YOU. ARE. NOT. TAKING. HER! PISS OFF ABOUT IT!"
"You leave me no choice then." The masked figure in black took out a tranquilizer gun.
Connor dodged the first dart. He wasn't really sure HOW he did, but he did. He moved backwards with Faith's limp body propped against his hip fluidly... and quickly. He crouched and slid her to the floor next to the unconscious Oliver before the next dart was even at him. He moved just in time, though the trajectory had the dart hit the hardwood floor in between two of his fingers. Too close. Connor snarled and jumped away. The third dart was caught by the seat of a barstool he lifted in front of his chest. He then threw said stool at his attacker, slowing the man up considerably. Connor grinned. He knew he could take getting hit with a piece of furniture. Normal people could not.
"You didn't leave me any choices here either, man. I told you that you weren't getting her. It's not my fault you didn't take my 'piss off about it' seriously."
Something stumbled into his back. Connor spun around to attack and was shocked at Lily fumbling against him.
"I do not think now is the time for making out, Lily."
Her eyes were rolling in her head.
She was reaching with one hand behind her back clumsily. It worried him because Lily was rarely clumsy.
She came up with a dart. "Shit." She passed out against him.
The blonde boy was up and running before anyone could stop him. Not even Ginny's cry of 'no!' gave him pause. He made his way to where Connor was, grabbed Lily to him, and settled to the floor near the prone forms of Faith and Oliver. Draco's wand was out, and he hexed anyone who got too close.
There were so many though.
But they'd just made a grievous error.
They'd made Connor Angel mad. You didn't mess with his almost girlfriend.
He took three of them out by picking a table up over his head and hurling it in their direction. Then he started throwing chairs and barstools at people. That slowed a lot of them down and thinned the herd considerably. Connor wasn't the only one who'd had enough though. Spike came out roaring. He cracked two of the black figures' heads together, twitching his head in pain... the chip must have been acting up due to them not being in Hogwarts, and then proceeded to render people unconscious right and left.... ignoring any and all shocks he was getting from his chip. It was as if he were completely beyond the realm of pain.
And only Spike could hear Edward's shouted words of encouragement.
After Spike joined the fight, no one was holding Dawn back any longer. Not even Harry. She kissed his cheek then came out kicking. Those long legs of hers were just lethal. She did manage to remember after a minute or two that she had a wand and started using it too. When Draco took a hex to the face that sent him backwards and into the wall, Ginny came out swinging... her wand. Harry, Colin, and Dennis joined her. Harry made his way to Draco to check that he was ok. Ginny was too busy administering the magical smackdown on the witch who'd dared to hex her boy.
Edward was screaming at him to move or turn or something, but Spike was far too busy fighting. Ginny screamed his name. Spike felt some horror as he was shoved out of the way, and poor Ginny caught the crossbow bolt meant for his heart with her shoulder. One of them had a crossbow... which meant they expected some vampires along today. Specifically Spike because he was the only one who had protection in daylight. Spike howled with rage. Not because of the crossbow, but because it had gotten Ginny. Spike considered her part of his family now for the way she was with Draco. Her eyes were wide in shock. Spike lowered her to the ground gently near Colin and Dennis. Colin immediately had a handkerchief out and was pressing it around the wound to stop the blood.
"GINNY!" Connor was more than a little mad now.
He cleared a path to where Ginny was fairly quickly. It involved lots of shoving, punching, throwing, and some bone breaking. Someone even went through one of the windows and out into the street. It looked rather painful.
"I'm all right. I'm ok. Draco... is he... all right?"
Connor looked to where Draco was. Harry was bent over him checking. Harry looked up and nodded at Connor.
"Draco's ok." Connor replied, chewing his bottom lip. "I'll be right back."
Ginny just nodded. Her shoulder was starting to hurt.
"You're gonna be ok. So is Draco. I won't allow it to be any other way."
Ginny provided him with a weak smile. Connor brushed his bruised knuckles against her cheek, then he was up and doing damage again.
Draco was all right. Harry couldn't believe he was checking on Draco Malfoy. He was out, but still breathing. His face looked like he had a bad sunburn, and his hair was a bit frizzy and sticking straight off his head. He tried moving the bodies they were accumulation more off to the side where Draco had landed. Harry got them in a nice little row. Draco, Lily, Faith, Oliver... He was moving towards Professor Wyndam-Pryce when Tara nearly burst the door off it's hinges. She certainly knew how to make an entrance.
She was hovering about a foot off the ground, her hair was swirling off her head in wind that was nowhere but on her, and her eyes were like pitch. Several darts were fired her way immediately... only to have Anya take them all in her chest for stepping in front of Tara.
"Couldn't let them hurt the baby." Then she stumbled and fell.
Ron and Hermione came in behind them. Ron Managed to catch Anya before she hit the floor. He grabbed her and dragged her to where Harry had piled up some of the wounded. Hermione was already hexing people a lot. She made her way to Connor and placed her back near to his. The two of them made a fairly lethal team because now no one could try to sneak up on Connor from behind. That had been one of the things slowing him down a little bit before.
Tara was fairly upset about Anya. She let out this screech that would have busted some eardrums, but Spike ended it when he touched her. He plucked Tara from the air, wrapped his arms about her, and fell behind one of the many upturned tables where Ginny was lying.
Harry looked up at another booming voice shouting hexes. Neville? And Neville was pissed. He seemed to have come from nowhere. His face was a bit speckled. Blue speckles, and Harry wondered what hex he'd gotten.
Then it occurred to Harry that he really ought to be helping here. For some reason a strange thought occurred to him. He pried Draco's fingers from his wand and stood. Harry had a wand in each hand. He wondered if it would work. There was this voice in his head telling him that just as Willow didn't need a wand at all to harness her power, he could regulate his between two wands.
So Harry started hexing.
With deadly accuracy. His arms were swinging and flicking in every direction. Curses were flying out as fast as he could speak them. He was spinning in a slow circle, careful not to hit anyone. Giles took a fist to the face for staring in awe at Harry.
It did not go unnoticed by Harry Potter, despite his busy state, that Raven Hope slipped back into Three Broomsticks. She threw a very worried look at Draco before she assumed her place next to Pansy Parkinson's unconscious form just before Dumbledore and a whole group of professors burst into the place.
Particularly Snape... who gave the most uncharacteristic roar of outrage upon seeing Lily lying on the floor. It was sort of disconcerting to watch him start checking her for damage... like a great mama bear or something.
That caused a lot of stillness, but it was Willow's supersonic bellow of rage that completely stilled the room. Followed by Dumbledore's hexing the pants, figuratively, off of the remaining black-clad attackers that finished the fight.
"Good heavens, Potter." McGonagall said nervously as she entered and saw the damage. "I had no idea you were ambidextrous. We'll certainly have to see about getting you another wand and training that left hand up a bit more, won't we?"
A few people looked at her oddly for that statement, but Willow completely understood. She was known for making weird and semi-innocuous statements when things got a little crazy too.
"Where's Madam Pomfrey?" Came the weak voice of Fred.
"Miss Burkle?!" Neville shouted and went shoving through bodies to get to her... in a way Neville Longbottom had never done.
Fred had this bleeding gash on the side of her head. Neville scowled as he whipped out a handkerchief and pressed it to her temple. Fred hissed in pain.
"I think Cassie's bad. Where's Madam Pomfrey?" Fred was holding Cassie in her arms.
Cassie was taking very quick and shallow breaths.
"Let me through! Let me through!"
"Poppy!" Fred cried, sounding broken. "She's bad. You were right. You were right. She should have stayed. It wasn't safe."
"Shhh, Winifred." Madam Pomfrey cooed as she started tending Cassie.
Madam Pomfrey forced a vial of something down Cassie's throat. Cassie started coughing and sputtering, then she opened her eyes. Her breathing was still a bit rough, but she certainly looked better.
"You gave us a bit of a scare, Miss Newton. I thought I told you not to overtax yourself."
"Vision. Bad. I-"
"Don't try to talk, Cassie. It's all over now."
With that several magical stretchers started floating in through the door.
"Who did this?" Snape snarled, looking around the place.
"They were after Faith." Connor murmured.
Dumbledore let out a great sigh. He'd had a feeling it would come to this, but having a feeling about something and having that something actually come to pass were two separate things. He sighed again seeing a bleeding Ginny Weasley with a very pale Ron fawning over her float by on a stretcher. He had parents to notify.
Once again, the infirmary at Hogwarts was quite full.
Madam Pomfrey had her hands full trying to check everyone for damages. Lorne was there, once again wearing his nurse's hat and apron, to help her out. Angel was talking to Connor off to the side. They kept shooting meaningful glances at the still-unconscious Faith. Several of the Weasleys were there for Ginny, including her parents and her two oldest brothers. Sirius was actually in Tara's bed WITH her, holding her and rubbing his hands over her belly. Remus was sitting with his professor's assistant. Anya was still in a deep, deep sleep. They'd pulled five of those darts out of her chest. Madam Pomfrey had said she'd likely saved Tara's baby's life. If Tara had taken those darts, the drugs in them could have cause her to miscarry. Sirius was murmuring about how he REALLY liked Anya now. Spike was nearby with Draco. Snape and Willow were sitting with Lily. McGonagall was keeping an eye on Oliver.
The door flew open then as Buffy rushed through them. She found Dawn immediately and hugged her. Then she hugged Harry. The next thing Buffy did was walk over to where Faith was and have a seat. Giles walked up behind her and placed a hand on her shoulder. Buffy absently put a hand over his hand.
Fred was rushing around trying to help. She was a bit wired due to being upset. She fumbled nervously and tripped over something... likely her own feet. Fred tried to correct herself, but it was in vain. She ended up sitting in someone's lap.
"I'm so sorry."
All the Weasleys there turned to look at the tall, thin Texan currently sitting on Bill.
He just smiled. "You look like you took a knock to the head. Maybe you best have a seat, have a rest, and let others do the helping."
He lifted her up, stood, then placed her in his chair. "Sit. Stay."
"Makes me feel like a puppy."
"Well, you're the cutest puppy I've ever seen." Bill said with a wink.
Fred turned bright red and giggled. Then she pulled her legs up into the chair with her and wrapped her arms around them.
Bill started to head off. He looked back at his brother Charlie and nodded. Charlie sighed and followed him. Fairly soon they were asking Madam Pomfrey what they could do to help. Molly Weasley was giving Fred a very approving look.
Angel left Connor to go sit with Lily and wandered over to Buffy. "Who's patrolling the Hellmouth?"
"Justine and the guys can hold down the fort for a little while. I trust them."
"You trust Lindsey."
"Please don't start that again."
"Sorry. Sorry. Old habits die hard."
Buffy grinned at him. "So who's watching Hell-A?"
"Gunn and Cordy've got it."
The doors opened again. It was several people. Most of them were professors or students from Madam Pomfrey's upperclassmen healing classes here to help. But one of them was neither. One was Narcissa Malfoy. She made a beeline for Draco. She sat on the edge of his bed and ran one finger down the reddened side of his face. Spike leaned over to her and started speaking to the woman in low and soothing tones. Narcissa was just nodding. She even took one of Spike's hands and gripped it tightly.
"I think you've got mean little Cissa coming 'round on her opinion of you, William, my boy." Edward said quietly. "I have to wonder what made her ditch little Lucy and his grand ideas of being a minion in the world domination that is trying to get started up again here though. I have an idea it's that boy you're both so worried for. She is after all a Black, and the Blacks are as old a family as the Malfoys... if you recall, William. The Blacks always walked a different path... be it a dark one or one of light. And a woman is always allowed the prerogative of changing her mind."
Neither he nor Spike noticed that, despite her fawning over Draco, Narcissa turned her head slightly at the sound of Edward's voice.
One of the other people in the group that entered was Professor Flitwick, and the tiny professor quickly made his way to Dumbledore.
"Two of them are awake." Professor Flitwick said to Dumbledore. "They're bound, but they've come to. They're from that Watcher's Council."
"Bloody hell!" Giles kicked a chair.
"Rupert." McGonagall chided.
"I suppose I should-" Dumbledore started.
"No, I'll go and speak with them." Giles offered.
"Because you're so cool, calm, and collected just now. No, no. Allow me." Buffy said in a deadly even tone. "If they think I'm just gonna let them mess with Faith like this, and hurt all kinds of innocent bystanders in the process, then they've got another think coming. Yes, she's made mistakes, bad ones, but THEN isn't NOW. And I really hate it when people are so close-minded that they can't see the forest for the trees. I also really hate it when people get so focussed on a goal that they start thinking the end justifies the means... because I so don't see the justification in attacking a bunch of school kids."
She started out of the infirmary.
Giles was right behind her.
Willow started to rise, but Severus placed a hand on her shoulder. "Stay with Lily. I will go."
"Surely we agree that I am the more emotionless of the two of us. I think it would behoove this group to have a cool head amongst them."
"But these are the people that hurt your... our... daughter."
A muscle in his jaw twitched. "I know."
"Just remember that torture that ends too quickly isn't torture at all." The she immediately slapped her hands over her mouth in shock.
Severus got an odd look in his eyes before he tucked some of her hair behind one of her ears. "You are right." He murmured almost inaudibly. "I do love you."
And then he was going through the door, robes billowing out behind him.
Dumbledore sighed and hurried after them. He really didn't think he wanted a slayer not known for keeping her fists in check, a man who used to go by the nickname Ripper, and a former Death Eater questioning people who had hurt those they cared for.
Plus, he wanted some answers himself.
For instance, why did there appear to be wizards mixed in with the watchers? Why had the first hex come for Dawn Summers? Who had hexed Pansy Parkinson?
Albus Dumbledore wasn't exactly pleased that these people had attacked students and those under his protection and care. A displeased Dumbledore was the thing that most needed to be worried about here. After all, the dark wizard Grindelwald hadn't just thrown up his hands and said 'I give' when Dumbledore had faced down with him. He'd put up a fight. Granted, Dumbledore had put the fight right back to him, but that was the whole point here. When provoked, Albus Dumbledore was no slouch in the meting out of smackdowns.
Tempers were a bit high today, so there really was no telling what was going to happen when the four of them got into that room with the aggressors.
Someone was likely to get smacked.