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Snake Charming

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This story is No. 2 in the series "A Drop in the Ocean Series". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: The sequel to "A Drop in the Ocean".

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Harry Potter > Multiple Pairings > RomanceechoFR1552170,344124848383,58323 Jan 036 Feb 06No

You Have to Believe We Are Magic

*~* You Have to Believe We Are Magic *~*

Dumbledore stopped before he walked into the room. For an older gentleman, he certainly could walk quickly when he wanted to. He'd caught up with Severus, Giles, and Buffy before they made it to the room that the ‘attackers’ had been kept in. Dumbledore made the three of them wait while he took out a quill and some parchment. He scrawled a brief message on it then handed it to a house elf who seemed to be waiting for him to do so.

"Please take this to Deputy Headmistress McGonagall. She is in the infirmary."

The house elf nodded once, took the folded parchment handed to him, and scurried off rather quickly.

"What was that?" Severus asked.

Dumbledore regarded him with a mischievous smile. "Insurance."

Buffy and Giles exchanged a look. Though they didn't know what was going on, they both knew they'd think it was very clever and awesome when it came out. Dumbledore was very smart and crafty. Perhaps he was a bit of a loon, and people didn’t always understand that there was method to his madness. But he was still very clever. That much they knew of him. That much they trusted him to be.

The group entered the room then.

Only to find a surprise there.

*~*~*~*

McGonagall's eyes bugged when she read the note the house elf had passed to her. It only had six words on it, but she knew exactly what they meant. It had been discussed before. It had been discussed again when all this mess in Hogsmeade had come about.

The time to hesitate is through.

Minerva McGonagall rose slowly and took a deep breath. This wasn't going to be easy, and she had a feeling she didn't have a lot of time.

"Poppy." She called.

Madam Pomfrey looked up from where she was checking on the still-out Anya. Most of her ’patients’ had awoken at least once so far. Even Professor Wyndam-Pryce had tried to sit up. He’d mumbled something very gibberish-y then went immediately back to sleeping. No so with Anya. She had yet to rouse

Poppy stiffened at the look on McGonagall's face.

She nodded once and set to work.

*~*~*~*

There were Aurors in the room questioning the two men who‘d been taken in Hogsmeade.

Nymphadora Tonks and Kingsley Shacklebolt were among them. Kingsley threw Dumbledore an exasperated look. He was not participating in the questioning. His look said he thought the questioning was a waste of time. His look also said he was sorry, but there was nothing he could do to stop them. Kingsley knew how Dumbledore felt about his school and his students. The right to start the questioning should have been his.

Cornelius Fudge was also there. Snape rolled his eyes at that... and he wasn't as concealing at Kingsley had been. Percy was standing not too far from the Minister. He looked a bit panicked.

"Mr. Weasley?" Dumbledore asked.

"Forgive me, sir, but Ginny..."

Buffy smiled at that. She knew that 'worried about your annoying younger sister' feeling. "She's gonna be fine. Your mom, dad, Ron, Hermione, and two hottie older brothers were fussing over her when we left."

Giles looked at her oddly.

"What?"

Dumbledore brushed past Buffy then and whispered ‘diversionary tactics are nice’ in her ear without even moving his lips, and she knew she was the only one who‘d heard him. Buffy scowled. Then a big old fatty light bulb when off in her brain. The corner of her mouth twitched up to a bit of a smile, and she raised both brows at him.

Severus signed loudly and began circling one of the men who was magicked to a chair. "What have we found out? Anything?"

Buffy folded her arms and leaned back against the nearest wall. "That's my thinking. What do we know?"

Fudge spoke up. "They're after some Faith person. She's a murderer."

"You say toe-MAY-toe and I say toe-MAH-toe." Buffy muttered.

"What was that Miss..."

"Summers. Buffy Summers... the vampire slayer."

"V-vampire slyer?"

"You don't know anything."

"I beg your pardon?"

"And you should. You don't know anything about Faith except what you've been told. You don't know what she went through." Her voice started to crack with emotion. "You don't know what it was like for her, so how DARE judge her!"

Giles grabbed Buffy as she pushed off the wall and started to advance.

"What is this obviously violent young woman doing at the school, headmaster?"

“Faith came with her watcher, Professor Wesley Wyndam-Pryce, and I have only seen violence from her when provoked.”

“Not her. “ Fudge gestured to Buffy then. “THIS obviously violent young woman.”

Buffy’s lip curled back at him. Giles held her still.

Dumbledore kept his face blank as he looked at Fudge. "Miss Summers's sister Dawn is currently in her sixth year here. Dawn was among those attacked in Three Broomsticks, as Dawn's legal guardian, naturally Buffy was informed of the incident. Naturally she came to see for herself that Dawn was all right… like many of the other parents and guardians of those involved in this assault."

No one said anything after that for a long while. Then Fudge started up again.

"I understand, Professor Dumbledore." Fudge began, Percy taking notes on a scroll. "That one of the students was... throwing tables and chairs at these men and their associates."

"They started it." Giles clipped.

"It's true then?" Fudge gasped.

Snape raised an eyebrow and looked at Giles. "Who was throwing tables?"

"Connor." Giles supplied. "After they'd put a tranquilizer dart in Lily's back."

Snape's other brow went up. "Good for him. He may endeavor to deserve my daughter yet."

"Daughter?!" Several people shouted at once.

Fudge blinked. “Professor Snape, I wasn’t aware that you had children.”

“You aren’t aware of a great many things, you hippogryff’s arse.” Snape muttered.

Giles snorted with derisive laughter. Buffy pursed her lips together and tried not to look amused. Willow’s boyfriend grew on you. Sure, he was a sarcastic jerk person, but when he was on your side and against those who would annoy you, he was pretty handy with the dry wit, acidic sarcasm, and accidental comedy.

“What was that?” Fudge said, looking genuinely perplexed. “I didn‘t hear you.”

Snape sighed very loudly. "Willow and I are adopting the other Miss Rosenberg."

Buffy scowled. "When did you two get married?"

"I beg your pardon?"

"Ok, I totally forgive you... because I was wanting to at least be a bridesmaid. No begging necessary. We‘re cool, but I do want to hear some details."

"What the devil are you muttering about, Miss Summers? Do at least attempt to make some sense. It‘s irritating otherwise."

Giles rolled his eyes. "Usually married people adopt children. They seem to have the most success convincing agencies and the proper authorities they'd provide a stable environment. Does Willow know about this?"

"Naturally.”

Buffy sighed. “So when did you two run off and get hitched?”

“We haven’t.”

“But you said-”

“I said nothing of the sort, Miss Summers. You assumed. Assuming about myself and Willow is frightfully dangerous…. because no one has gotten the intricacies of the two of us correct as of yet. Our relationship happens to be rather complicated, Miss Summers.”

“Look, if you’re married to one of my bestest buds, I think maybe you calling me Buffy is the order of the day.”

“Buffy.” Snape started. “Willow and I are not married.”

“Why not?! What’s wrong with her? Why haven’t you asked her yet? You know, I knew you were shifty. What? My Willow isn’t good enough for you?”

“Buffy!” Giles said loudly.

“What?”

Snape glared at her. “Your Willow? Correction, girl…. MY Willow. Not that it is any of your affair, but I don’t think Willow would accept me.”

Buffy went very still. “Yes, she would.” She whispered.

Snape raised and eyebrow.

“All you have to do is ask.”

“I somehow doubt-”

“Trust me, Draculike. I have seen the way she looks at you. You don’t look at somebody like that unless you can see forever with them.”

He nodded. “I’ll bear that in mind in the event that a moment of asking should crop up.”

“Good.”

“And do not ever refer to me as Draculike again, or I’ll hex you.”

Buffy snorted. “You’ll try.”

“Young woman, this wand isn’t here for looks. I assure you I am quite adept in the use of it. Also, I have enough nicknames bestowed on me by the annoying little love of my miserable existence. I do not need those of your make added to the mountain already there.”

“I think your making mountains outta coal hills.”

“Mole hills.” Giles corrected absently.

“Really? Mole hills? It‘s mole hills?”

“Yes.” Giles said.

“Cos that actually makes way more sense.”

“It is not a mole hill of nicknames.” Snape hissed. “It’s the bloody horn of plenty of nicknames. It’s a verbal cornucopia. I suspect she has forgotten my given name due to the fact that more often than not she refers to me as Cranky Pants instead of Severus on so many occasions.”

“She calls you Cranky Pants all the time?”

“Yes.” He gritted.

“But that’s sorta sweet.”

“Of course you think so. You’re just as deranged as she is, the bloody little pixie.”

“But you like her lots.”

“Woman, I bloody well love the little thorn in my side with a damn vengeance, a vengeance the likes of which I have never loved anything in my life.”

“Well, she thinks you’re pretty super yourself, so you should ask her to marry you… and remind her that I look stunning in pink silk.”

“Can we please get back to what’s important here?” Fudge cried.

Buffy scowled. “Willow’s future happiness and my looking kick ass in a bridesmaid’s dress at her wedding isn’t important?!”

Percy pursed his lips tightly to keep from snickering. He’d never been so entertained by another person. For some reason the way Miss Buffy Summers was causing Cornelius Fudge’s face to mottle red in irritation with very little effort on her part, was making Percy want to giggle like a first year girl. He was thinking that there must be something hideously wrong with him because lately he got this immense and borderline perverse amount of satisfaction whenever Fudge got completely flustered.

“She’s trying to keep you busy!” One of the attackers barked. “Don’t you see?”

Buffy rolled her eyes. “What ARE you babbling about?”

“You’re stalling!”

“Shut up!” Giles snapped, punctuating that with a punch to the man’s face.

“Mister Giles!” Fudge gasped.

“Just getting him back for this.” Giles gestured to his black eye.

“Are you stalling, Miss Summers?” Fudge asked.

Buffy gasped and put a hand to her heart. It was almost overkill. “I’m offended by the accusation.”

“Shacklebolt, perhaps we should go get Miss Faith and bring her here… since she is the person these men wished to acquire.”

“You can not just turn her over to them.” Buffy said slowly.

“I can, and I am. The Ministry of Magic has always kept a close and amiable relationship with the Watcher’s Council.”

Buffy stepped in front of the door. “You wanna fight me for her?”

She and Dumbledore locked eyes.

“Miss Summers, I am sure something to your satisfaction can be worked out.”

Buffy nodded and stepped aside. Several of the Aurors moved to the door. Kingsley included. He and Nymphadora Tonks led the way.

“Miss Faith is in the infirmary.” Dumbledore offered. “She was rendered unconscious by our ‘friends’ at the council.”

Fudge scowled at that.

The group of Aurors took off to fetch Faith.

Buffy and Dumbledore locked eyes again. Percy noticed and was curious about it. Were they stalling? It was so subtle that it didn’t seem as if they were, but Dumbledore was crafty. And as for Buffy Summers… anyone who saved the world and had averted as much apocalypse as she had, could not be ignorant about subterfuge.

“What are you guys gonna do to her?” Buffy asked.

The man from the council replied. “She’ll have to be… eliminated.”

“You’re gonna kill her.”

“What?” Fudge gasped. “I can’t allow you lot to just-”

“It is not for you to decide!” The council’s man barked. “It will be quick and painless.”

Buffy was shaking. “She doesn’t perform like some trained pony, so you just put her down like she’s a mutt with rabies?”

“I wouldn’t categorize it like that.”

Giles started pacing. “How would you categorize it then? Because any way I look at it, you’re murdering her.”

“She must be kept from harming anyone else. It’s for the greater good.”

“The greater good?!” Buffy shouted. “The greater good?! She hasn’t harmed anyone who didn’t deserve it since she’s been here! She’s saved people!”

“That doesn’t erase-”

“Who said erase? It can never be erased, what she did, and it’ll stay with HER the longest, but can’t amends be made? She’s trying to be right. Atone, and you guys aren’t even gonna let her see if she fails or succeeds at it. That’s not fair.”

There was some commotion outside the door.

“Well, Miss Summers.” The man said with a sneer. “No one ever said life was fair.”

Her eyes narrowed maliciously. “No. They sure didn’t.”

The doors burst open.

“She’s gone!” Kingsley said almost breathlessly.

“What?!”

“Faith! She’s escaped!”

The council man turned to Buffy. “What did you do?”

“Me? How could I possibly have done anything? I’ve been here.”

The council’s people were unbound, and the whole group headed for the infirmary to have a look.

*~*~*~*~*

Faith was still a bit groggy when she woke up.

Then she freaked out and nearly toppled both herself and Oliver from the air. He had her on the front of his broom. They were making a very fast getaway from Hogwarts. Oliver had his instructions tucked away in his robes. He and Faith would never be found. They would not be seen until this mess with the council was cleared up… or until they were needed.

But Faith had been frightened at being so high in the air. Then she latched onto Oliver like her life depended on him… and in a way it did.

“What the shit is this?!”

“Remember, Faith? We had to run. Remember?” Oliver rasped.

“What are you talkin’ funny?”

“You’re crushing me.”

“Oh, right.” She let up a bit. “Sorry.”

“Fully awake then?”

“Sure.”

“What do you remember?”

“Fighting. I’m always fighting.”

“Well, now, you can rest a bit… until they call for us.”

“There is no rest for the wicked.”

“Stop talking like that. You aren‘t wicked.”

“Only in your deluded mind.”

“Faith-”

“Oliver, I think we have to be realistic here. They want me dead, and they won’t stop until I am.”

“Then we’ll be dead together.“ He said viciously “Because the only way I’m lettin’ them at you is over my dead body.”

“Jesus Christ, Ollie.”

Faith rested her head on his chest and tightened her arms around him. They were very high from the ground, but she knew he’d never let her fall. In more ways than one.

As she closed her eyes, bits and pieces of their escape started coming back to her. McGonagall had rushed and gotten Oliver’s broom. She’d kissed his cheeks and handed him a bit of folded parchment. She’d told him to head south. She’d said the parchment had more specific instructions, but that there wasn’t time. He needed to get Faith and go. Faith recalled Oliver lifting her body from the bed. He’d told her to stand, to hold on to him. Not to ever let go.

She didn’t plan on it.

Oliver had cast a spell on the infirmary. Like the one in the alley that day with Tara. Everyone had slowed. The two of them had jumped from the window right as the doors were opening. There was the horror of freefalling, then Oliver somehow swung them both onto that broom.

They had nothing, but Faith had been without nothing most of her life. She could survive. It was what she did best. She just didn’t understand why such a decent guy like Oliver would forsake all that he currently had just for her. She didn’t deserve such loyalty, such protection. Faith burrowed against his chest for warmth.

“Shh, now. We’re nearly there.”

“Where?”

“Somewhere they’ll never think to look for you.”

“What about Wes?”

“He’s safe. Dumbledore would never let anyone touch one of his professors.”

“He’ll know I’m all right?”

“Of course. He naturally won‘t know WHERE you are, but he‘ll know you are all right.”

“It wouldn’t matter if Wes knew where I was or not. He’d never tell. They couldn’t torture it out of him. That man can take a bout of torture like no one I have ever seen. Wes doesn’t look so tough, but he really is. He doesn’t know how to break anymore.”

“Oh?”

“I tortured him for a couple of hours once.”

Oliver swallowed. Sometimes he forgot who she used to be. He just wished the Watcher’s Council would forget. Close-minded zealots. They didn’t have to go through what a slayer did on a day to day, so who were they to judge?

But he could keep them from it. He could hide her. In Oliver’s eyes this was likely the most important thing he had ever done... even more important than his upside-down hanging from his broom by his legs quaffle save.

And for a quidditch tyrant, that was fairly important.

*~*~*~*

The talkative man from the Watcher‘s Council was livid. “Where is she?!”

“This is an infirmary. A hospital wing.” Madam Pomfrey snapped. “Do stop shouting. There are ill people here.”

McGonagall gasped, looking genuinely horrified and as if she had not just helped the two of them out of the window not five minutes before. “Good heavens! Wood’s gone too!”

“Wood?!” The council man barked.

“Shouting.” Poppy snapped.

“Yes, yes. Oliver Wood.” Percy added. “The assistant flying instructor.”

Narcissa walked up then. “What’s all this fuss? My Draco’s trying to recover. Every time you shout, he flinches in his sleep. I won’t have it, you hear. You’ll pipe down, sirrah… or I’ll hex the everlasting piss out of you.”

The man blinked.

“Is that my sister the viper I hear?”

Everyone turned as Andromeda Tonks and her daughter glided into the infirmary. Well, Andromeda glided. Nymphadora Tonks misjudged the door frame and bumped her hip on it. Percy scowled. He could have sworn that Tonks had left the other room with the group of them, so why was she showing up now with her mother? Odd that.

“Andy, what are you doing here?” Mrs. Malfoy asked.

“I can’t be worried about my nephew? I heard the one of these cowardly bastards hit him in the face with a hex. I was most anxious to see that he was all right.”

“You arrived in a timely manner.”

Andromeda smirked and tucked an errant strand of black hair behind one ear. “Yes, well… I have my ways.”

“You certainly do.”

“Seems as if we interrupted a bit of a fuss, Cissa. Do tell.”

“These wankers lost their prey… and after they hexed and shot all those innocent bystanders in an attempt just to acquire her. She jumped out the window looks like. Quite spry those vampire slayers. Now they’re making a scene about it. Very petulant child. It reminds me of Lucius after his little diary ploy failed a few years ago. And people think I’m the one who hexes the vases in the Manor into smithereens. No, no, that’s my darling husband. He even ‘incendio‘d a throw pillow once in a fit of rage.” She shook her head. “It was rather amusing at first, but I just got so BORED. I also got tired of shopping for new vases and throw pillows and other such things all the damn time.”

“If we could get back to the matter at hand.” Fudge said impatiently.

Both Narcissa and Andromeda turned full blast of glare his way. Fudge stumbled back a bit involuntarily due to the intensity of it. The Black girls had been raised to do one thing exquisitely… freeze someone with a look.

“I can’t believe all of you let her escape!” The man from the council screeched.

Madam Pomfrey took offense at that. “In case it has escaped your notice, and I’m not shocked since you seem most singular, I have a whole infirmary full of patients here. Patients who need rest, I might add. I can’t be everywhere at once, you odious little man… and if you do not heed me and keep your voice down, I will hex you silent.”

“Madam Pomfrey!” Fudge gasped.

“With all due respect, Minister, that goes for you as well. I must insist upon quieter tones. This is my domain. My rules apply within this wing. My patients need rest. Mrs. Malfoy has already said you are disturbing her son.”

“Now see here-” The council man started in a not at all quiet tone.

“SILENCIO!” Poppy Pomfrey moved her wand again rather quickly. “PETRIFICUS TOTALUS!”

No one even breathed for a second.

“I did warn you.” Madam Pomfrey said sweetly before taking her still-extended wand and poking the man in between the eyes causing him to topple over. She turned and faced the crowd in the infirmary. “Anyone else want any?”

No one said anything. they didn’t even move.

“No? Good.”

She tucked her wand away and hurried off.

Angel, Willow, and Connor were sitting in chairs by Lily’s bed. They hadn’t moved during any of the drama that had unfolded.

Connor was slouched rather low in his chair. “You know, I am starting to like Madam Pomfrey.”

“Me too.” Willow said.

Angel nodded in agreement. “She’s polite too. She warned him and everything. That‘s classy.”

“What have you done with Faith?” The other man from the council asked Professor Dumbledore… in a much quieter voice.

“How could I have done anything with her? I was in the room with you.” Dumbledore said innocently.

“Before then.”

Narcissa shook her head. “She was here until a few minutes ago. She was here when I first came in to see my Draco. She was here still when Professor Dumbledore left to meet with you. She was in view of everyone until Madam Pomfrey pulled the curtains around her bed. We all saw her here. You have a whole wing of witnesses that can say she was here when Dumbledore left.”

“You’d swear to that?”

“Of course. As I said, that girl was here when the professors and Miss Summers left. I‘ll swear to it as many times as you like. It‘s not going to change my version of events.”

“Why was she placed by a window and behind a curtain?”

Lorne walked by then, his arms full of fresh bandages. “She closed it for privacy. Faith looked like she was sleeping to us. How was Poppykins to know that the loony would jump out of the window? We are really high up. That fall would have killed an ordinary person.”

“That’s just the point. She isn’t an ordinary person.”

“Well, excuse the heck out of us for just trying to treat the wounded here. It’s only a hospital wing, for crying out loud.”

“There, there now, Lorne.” Poppy said, walking by with her two trays of vials in her arms. “This gentleman will speak nicely or fall victim of the same fate as him friend.”

“Professor Dumbledore.” Fudge hissed. “I must insist you control the school’s nurse.”

“My dear Minister, I control no one. We are all free thinkers here with wills just as free as our minds. The infirmary is Madam Pomfrey’s terrain. Her first priority is to those in her care. If she feels were are jeopardizing any of her patients’ recovery, she is well within her rights to put an end to that jeopardy.”

Madam Pomfrey smiled at him. Dumbledore winked at her.

“Now perhaps Madam Pomfrey would be so kind as the counter-curse our friend here.” He gestured to the council man who was still prone on the floor. “And we can adjourn to my office where people can raise their voices to their hearts’ content.”

“Must I?”

“Poppy…”

“Just as well. He’s in my path.”

Connor snickered loudly and tried to mask it with a hearty cough.

The council people, the Aurors, Fudge, Dumbledore, Buffy, and Giles made to leave the infirmary once the counter-cursing had been completed.

Dumbledore placed a hand on Buffy’s arm to keep her back from the group.

“Never let anyone refer to you as a dumb blonde, Miss Summers. You are no such thing. Well done.”

“Hey, some of that kudos goes to Will’s man. He’s pretty quick on the uptake. He knew what I was after without even skipping a beat… and all the feigned misunderstanding was great. He plays along beautifully. Didn‘t I hear that he used to be a spy? I bet he kicked ass at it.”

“Actually, Miss Summers, I think Severus was honestly baffled by your subterfuge.”

“Really? Oh, well, that’s disappointing. Still worked out well. Go us.”

“Not to say he isn’t excellent as masking when needs be. He just didn’t know he had been cast as one of the leads in your little play.”

“Lucky for me old Cranky Pants is a natural then.”

Dumbledore chuckled. “I do not believe I have ever heard Severus referred to quite like that before.”

“As Cranky Pants?”

“No.” Dumbledore laughed. “As a natural.”

*~*

end part

AN: Yes, there will be more on the great escape later.
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