Narcissa felt a tiny bit guilty about driving her husband to the Hellmouth. She shouldn’t have said anything until Draco was safely back. Actually, she shouldn’t have said anything at all. Draco would no doubt have had words for his father, in private. She’d have heard about them afterwards and then could have unloaded on Lucius with a clean conscience.
She should have known Lucius’ first thought would be for his children’s safety. That his daughter was included in that concern was no surprise to his wife. That he would fail to think of his own position was equally predictable. If Draco had been anywhere but a Hellmouth, it would have been admirable. As it was… well, she might well have to bail both son and husband out of Azkaban- or whatever prison the Americans used, which would no doubt be worse.
A sudden commotion in the entrance hall caught her attention. She strode from the study, only to stop, utterly dumbfounded, at the sight before her. Rupert Giles, of all people, was helping her son support Lucius into his home, trailed by a slight figure who seemed torn between guilt, aggravation, and awe.
here?” the girl was saying to her son as Narcissa approached. “This is your house
“Rupert, I do hope you haven’t damaged my husband,” Narcissa said, concern driving good breeding right out the window.
Giles turned to face her, leaving Draco to manage his father on his own.
“No, Narcissa, I did not ‘damage’ him, although I suspect he fully deserves it,” he replied. “Any damage inflicted was Buffy’s doing.”
“I said it was an accident!” the girl protested. “It was totally not on purpose, Giles.”
Narcissa gave her husband’s daughter an appraising look. It was horrible, but it made her feel better that she could see Lucius in the girl. If she could focus on that, she could overlook that the girl was not her daughter, but some Muggle’s. There was certainly a family resemblance between Draco and the girl- Buffy, they had called her- though Buffy’s eyes were not the usual Malfoy shade. Narcissa decided that could easily be an inheritance from Lucius’ mother.
“It’s not fair to blame-“ Draco began, only to stop as his mother held up an imperious hand.
“Bring Lucius into the sitting room, if you please.” Taking in the bruises on his head, she added, “And really, I’m surprised neither of you thought to levitate him. I’ve always been under the impression that you should carry a wizard who has suffered a head injury prone until a healer can attend to them.”
She was pleased to note Rupert looked almost as abashed as her son. She had always wondered where he’d disappeared to when Voldemort came to power the first time. He’d more or less vanished from the wizarding world. Glancing at Buffy, who was goggling at the portraits on the walls and utterly oblivious to the excited house elf audience she had acquired, she wondered if perhaps Rupert had fooled them all and taken up with the Order. It would explain his proximity to Lucius’ daughter.
She had them lay Lucius down in the sitting room and directed a house elf to send for their usual healer. Ordinarily, she would have waited with him, but she could hardly do that with guests in the house. Instead, she led her son, his sister, and her old classmate to her private study.
She seated herself before she addressed Rupert and Draco again. Buffy was watching the celestial globe in the corner in apparently rapt fascination, but Narcissa hadn’t lived around Slytherins all her life without recognizing the signs of someone putting on a good show of not paying attention.
“Now. Draco, if you would be so kind as to explain please what happened to your father?”
As she’d expected, her son shifted from foot to foot as he tried to come up with an explanation that got no one in trouble. Out of the corner of her eye, she noted Buffy had folded her arms across her chest and raised an eyebrow at her newfound brother.
“I went to warn Buffy that she and her mother needed to move someplace safer than Sunnydale,” Draco began. “Except she might not actually need to, seeing as she’s a Vampire Slayer. Mr. Giles is her Watcher. They told me it wasn’t safe to take a hotel, so I spent the night at his house. Buffy had just come back this morning and I was coming down for breakfast when Father arrived. Mr. Giles punched him, probably on the theory that he deserves it for his mishandling of Buffy’s mum, and when Father drew his wand, Buffy disarmed him barehanded. Then his wand went a little crazy and sort of blew up Mr. Giles’ living room. Father got the worst of it.”
Now it was Narcissa’s turn to raise an eyebrow. It seemed Buffy was a witch after all. One might expect any wand to react on being handled by a witch, particularly a witch who was a relative of the wand’s owner. That was something any adult witch or wizard would know.
But to put her husband’s wand- which had been used not only by him in his Death Eater days, but also by Voldemort- into the hands of a Vampire Slayer
witch who had never tried a wand before… and on a Hellmouth to boot? It didn’t take an Albus Dumbledore to work out that the results would be best observed from a safe distance- say several miles away, and possibly with omnioculars. It was a bit like casting incendio at a cauldron of oil surrounded by jars of assorted potions and ingredients. You had no idea what the ensuing explosion would do.
“I’d say you’re bloody lucky the living room is all that was blown up,” she told them coolly. “Draco might not have known to stop her, but Rupert, you certainly should have known better!”
She ignored her son’s shocked ‘Mother!’ She rarely swore in front of him, but she realized even if the rest of them didn’t that she could easily have been dealing with the American authorities right now to recover the remains of all four of them for interment.
“Rupert, do stop standing there like you’ve just been called onto the carpet in Dippet’s office,” Narcissa said with some asperity. “And yes, that’s exactly what you look like right now. Have a seat. And tell me all about how you came to be on a Hellmouth with a Vampire Slayer.”
“Short story,” Buffy said, speaking to Narcissa directly for the first time. “He’s my Watcher. And how is it that everyone here seems to know about Slayers? I thought we were supposed to be all about the secret identity!”
Narcissa chuckled. The sound of it seemed to disarm Buffy more completely than any threat could have.
“My dear, Slayers are part of the curriculum in the advanced Defense Against the Dark Arts course at Hogwarts,” she said. “Many witches and wizards are aware of Slayers, though most tend to discount them as legendary creatures.”
Turning to Rupert, she turned serious again.
“Rupert, you’re a Watcher now? How old is she?”
As she’d suspected, he shifted uncomfortably in his chair. They both ignored Buffy’s indignant ‘she can hear you!’ and Draco’s ‘shush!’
“Nearly eighteen,” he replied reluctanty. “Draco’s discovery may be serendipitous.”
Narcissa nodded. The Cruciamentum was also covered in the lecture on the Slayer. Every witch in her class had been outraged to hear how the Watchers betrayed the trust of the girls they trained, condemning most of them to an earlier death than necessary.
“How do they manage it?” she asked, curious. The Hogwarts professors had only been able to say that the Watchers restricted information about their activities, and since no witch was ever subject to the Council, they had no way of knowing how the Slayers’ powers were bound.
“A potion, I suspect,” Giles replied. “I don’t know if it’s ingested or injected. They don’t give out the information ahead of time.”
“What are you talking about, Giles?” Buffy demanded.
“Mrs. Malfoy is referring to the Cruciamentum,” Giles told her slowly. “The Council compels each Watcher to administer the test to their Slayer on her eighteenth birthday. The Slayer’s gifts are bound, so for a night and a day she fights with only human strength.”
Buffy looked to be somewhere between shock and outrage. Narcissa spared Giles the necessity of stating the obvious.
“Most do not survive the test, dear,” she said. “Rupert, how on earth did they get their claws into you? They’re the last people I would have expected you to fall in with. Especially given your mother’s opinion of them…”
“My father,” Giles replied grimly. “He found out what I’d been up to. He gave me a choice- join the Council, or he’d denounce me to them. After the Eyghon debacle, I couldn’t count on the wizarding world to shield me. I thought the likelihood of being assigned a Slayer was so slim I never took the possibility seriously until I was sent to Sunnydale.”
“Giles, you would have done that to me?” Buffy asked, sounding as hurt as if he actually had.
Giles looked down at the floor.
“I suspect I would have, Buffy. The Council gave me a choice- I could do as they demanded and you might survive, or they would kill you and you’d definitely be dead.”
Buffy was shocked into silence.
“That’s not going to happen,” Draco said firmly. “We won’t let it. Right, Mother?”
She had no idea what Buffy saw when she looked at her brother, though there was surprise written on the girl’s face. She suspected Rupert saw a decisive young man. She saw the small boy who wanted Mummy’s assurance that everything was going to be all right. She had never yet failed her son.
“Of course we won’t, darling.”