September 1, 2017
Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Harry Potter. All rights remain. Written for fun, not profit. *** "September 1, 2017" ***
"So, we got everything on the list, right?"
"Even the stuff from—"
Dawn raised a hand to stop her husband, her other palm smoothly landing on the swollen bump beneath her stretched-out sweater, as if to sooth the baby inside. "Whoa—when did I become the calm one in this marriage? Also, I don't think we're supposed to discuss this whole magic thing in the middle of a crowded train station. I think that's a rule. And the security guy is staring at us."
Xander waved it off. "Oh and the fact that a crowd of school children carrying strange, covered cages that squawk hasn't ever tipped them off?"
Dawn shrugged. "Noted. Maybe travelling kids travelling with pet birds is popular in London. Trendy even. Speaking of which, where are ours?"
"Our birds? We've only got the one—which I'm going to seriously have to have a talk with Willow about. I know she says they're a 'thing' in the wizard community, but Fido bites. What kind of owl bites
Dawn frowned. She sucked in a calming breath and released it, as if she were back in her Lamaze class. "Our children, Xander. Where are our children
Xander's lone eye widened in shock as he spun a full circle and then paused to run a hand over his chin to cover his panic. "Joy? Jesse?" he called out into the crowd. A few bystanders shot him a look but kept moving.
He turned back to his wife with a forced grin on his face, trying to ease her back down. He knew that look in her eye—the I'm-carrying-a-weapon-and-not-afraid-to-use-it look. She wore it often, even more so when she was pregnant. Christ, the months before the twins were born…Xander shivered, still mentally scarred by the occurrence of the thankfully temporary persona he had (secretly) dubbed 'Darth Dawn.'
"Okay—so, they couldn't have gotten far, right? I'm sure they just decided to go on without us. You know those kids…What's the platform number we're supposed to be looking for?"
"Easy—there's nine and there's…Wait, what?"
Frustrated, Dawn fluttered the piece of parchment in front of his nose. "That's what is says, Xander!"
"Lost your offspring again?"
Xander nearly jumped out of his skin at the sound of his friend's voice. Damn. All these years and Buffy was still sneaky. He spun around, prepared to defend himself, verbally, at least, but the fight went out of him when he saw the matching grins on the approaching Willow and Buffy's faces. Great. They must have seen the whole thing. As good as it was to know the two of them were here for the twins' big day, Xander instantly deflated.
"It's Xander's fault," Dawn chipped in, joyfully.
Xander sighed. "Locating spell?" he suggested, not bothering to argue.
"Or we could just walk the twenty feet necessary," Buffy noted, smiling. "We saw them head to the platform—they were probably tired of hearing their dad go into panic-mode."
"Can you blame me?" Xander asked. "We went to school on the Hellmouth—school equals danger."
Willow nodded sagely, and the tiny form clinging to her skirts peeked her head out from between her mom and Buffy's legs, smiling up. "Hi, Uncle Xander," she said softly before dodging back out of sight and giggling.
The kid loved hide and seek. And Xander was taken aback, the way he was always taken aback when he got a fresh look at one of his kids. It didn't matter if he'd seen her yesterday or a month ago.
"Hi, Tara, sweetie," he said. "Did you see where your cousins went?"
Cousins. Family. It was what they were, and what they'd chosen to be. Six years ago, when Willow had approached Dawn and Xander, the couple hadn't even thought twice before agreeing to help her find what was missing her life. A bit of mojo and sample from Xander later, and Willow had got what she wanted, needed. She'd become a mother.
For other people, the links tying the group together might have been a bit too nontraditional, but not for the remaining Scooby Gang. This was their life, the sum of all that was their past. And if it came down to their children being the solid ties that held them together for decades more to come, so be it.
Xander felt Dawn's hand on his back, rubbing a circle into his jacket. She must have been reminiscing too. "Can you believe how grown up she's gotten?" Dawn asked, but he heard what she wanted to say, "Can you believe we've made it this far?"
Xander didn't have to answer what he always answered: "Never in a thousand years."
Willow whispered something to her daughter and a second later little Tara, her long red braid flopping against her sweater dress, flew out, at a dead run toward the brick column dividing off the train platforms. He tensed, ready to call out, but before she hit the rock, she seemed to disappear. Right into the wall.
"Nifty," his wife added.
"What's with these people and magicking bricks into doors?" Buffy threw in.
Willow shot her a look. "None of that 'these people' talk—you need to blend in. By law, I don't think you're even supposed to be here. But I think that witch who registered you as a muggle-in-the-know godmother didn't want to question the whole 'having two godmothers' thing…"
Buffy pursed her lips thoughtfully. "Hey, do you think she thought you and I were—"
Xander felt Dawn's hand in his. A moment later she was tugging him to a fast walk toward the bricks. They slipped through the hidden gateway, and he shuddered at the odd sensation of finding himself in the train platform, a cloud of white steam billowing out to block his way. He squinted his good eye, making out the looming form of a bright red train.
"No kidding," Buffy chimed in, she and Willow appearing behind the couple.
The station was roaring with noises, laughter, talk, even a few shouts. Families were gathered in groups, socializing as they said goodbye to their kids. And there, near the last carriage of the train, he made out Tara's braid, a stark contrast again the head of dark brown hair pressed against her neck. His daughter, Joyce Anne Summers, was on one knee, hugging her little "niece" for all she was worth, and beside her, Jesse stood, rolling his eyes at the pair and then turning to talk to another boy, just as dark haired as him and a maybe a year or two older. From the devious smile on both their faces, they were already making plans.
Jesse looked up, as if he felt his parents' presence, and met his father's gaze. He let loose with a goofy grin that let Xander know too many of his genes had obviously passed on to his son. The twins had his darker hair and eyes, but they also had their mother's long bodies and delicate facial features. As for their behavioral tendencies? That was up for debate. Xander instinctively locked his arm around his wife's waist at the sight of them standing together.
"I can't believe we're letting them go off to some school we've never seen," he said. "What if—"
Dawn pressed a kiss against his lips. Always a sure way to calm him down.
The group made their way through the crowd, getting there just in time for the other boy to run off back to, presumably, his own family. A man in glasses, likely Jesse's new friend's father, gave Xander a polite smile and nod.
"That was James—he just caught his cousin making out with a boy. It was totally gross. He said I should sit with his brother 'cause he's a first year too," Jesse said, a proud smirk on his face, as if he already knew his mom and dad were happy to see him socializing. And maybe he did
know—the twins had an uncanny ability to do just that: to know. Apparently, it had something to do with their relatives' magical abilities. Xander had always known his family was weird, but, whoa, his mom's side really
topped the crazy cake.
"They've probably got magical kooties now. Yuck." Xander chuckled at the sour face his son made. "Get over here, kid, and give your aunts some love."
Another roll of the eyes from Jesse—who knew that phase started at age eleven?—but he threw himself at Buffy, giving her a tight hug.
"Daddy, we already loaded our trollies—you guys are so
slow," Joy said, smirking, as if that in any way hid how excited she was to going to magic school.
She ushered Tara to Dawn with a pat on the back. Joy, not having to be told, mimicked her brother's move, wrapping her arms around Willow. And so began the circle of hugs. Xander told himself there was no reason to get worked up. He'd see his kids in a few months. They'd be safe until then. This wasn't a Hellmouth. And supposedly it was super protected. Still…If anyone could find trouble, it had to be his kids, right? They were genetically doomed. Was it too late to grab one under each arm and take off running? Magical-homeschooling was highly underrated, and, sure, he, like his mom, was a squib, but Willow could come over and train them a few times a week and—
The impact of two bodies hitting him nearly threw him backward. While he was musing, it appeared his kids had finished with their mother, leaving her with mascara running. He leaned down, holding them tight for a long breath before letting them go, his hands splayed on their shoulders to keep them near.
"Remember the rules?" he asked.
The twins nodded.
"—Don't fraternize with demons unless they're on the list—"
"—Always have your weapon at arm's reach—"
"—And family comes first."
Xander lowered his head, waiting. "And…?"
The pair huffed. "Do your homework…"Jesse added, glumly.
"Or you'd show up at the school wearing one of the Forbidden Shirts," Joy finished, wincing, as if she was mentally picturing her least favorite of his Hawaiian collection of button downs.
Jesse frowned. "Don't you think it's punishment enough that we have to take a class with Aunt Sybill?"
Xander bit his lip to stop from laughing, but he could hear Dawn snort in agreement. He gently patted his kids, pulling them in one last time for a hug. "Don't give the crazy lady a hard time," he warned. "She means well. I love you guys. Make us proud."
Watching them load the train tore at his heart, but he held his grin, waving at them as they shuffled aboard. His family stood back, watching the last of the students join them and the wheels start to move.