The Question of Quirrell
Disclaimer: BTVS owned by Joss Whedon, et. al.; HP by J.K. Rowling. This work is for fun, not profit. I own none of the characters. Any failure on the humor front is, of course, mine.
A/N: Maybe 5 years post-Chosen for BTVS. Ignores Season 8-9 comics. Starts with HP Book 1 and is mostly AU, non-canon after that. All significant action takes place in the Potterverse.
MUGLTECH's raging success had taken the elders of the Wizarding world totally by surprise. The most fervent technology adopters, just like in the non-magical world, trended young. Before anyone quite knew what to think or say about it, all four Hogwarts Common Rooms had become dominated by large TV sets with game consoles plugged into them and many of the wealthier students had laptop computers in their dorm rooms and cell phones in their pockets. 'Muggle movie nights' were hugely popular as the MUGLTECH VCRs were sold with floo-order lists of the most popular franchise series in the non-magical world. James Bond, Dirty Harry, spaghetti Westerns, the Godfather, Back to the Future, and a huge array of 'chick flicks' were becoming the staple diet and slang inspiration for a new generation of Hogwarts students.
As a Muggle-raised videogame addict, Xander became an iconic figure in Hufflepuff and beyond. He knew all the tricks to the most popular games, and could be relied on to reveal the cheat codes which allowed truly epic scores to be put up by the most dedicated gamers. While the children of more traditional witches and wizards often looked on in some mixed degree of longing and horror, Hogwarts was being transformed into a highly Muggle-influenced magical playground.
The idea to organize a videogame tournament was Xander's but had been taken up enthusiastically by his fellow Puffies Ernie MacMillan and Justin Finch-Fletchley. They had become his protégées in pushing the glories of Muggle gaming and ran with the word of mouth contest, which was eventually held in the neutral territory of a deserted dungeon classroom. Some 100 participants battled it out over a series of Saturdays, competing in three areas -- racing, fighting, and sports -- for a place in the final. Xander did not compete, but served as an impartial judge on the rules and gaming strategies of the contest. The Hogwarts professors were oblivious; Dumbledore dismissed it as yet another student fad, though McGonagall was worried about how much study time was being cut into by these new distractions.
Outside the school, MUGLTECH's influence was almost as widespread. Witch and wizard tots too young for Hogwarts were now being baby-sat by the Disney classics, just like their Muggle counterparts. Grown-up housewitches were becoming obsessed with their daytime 'stories,' while on Saturday afternoons more and more wizards were huddled around the set cheering on their new favorite Muggle sport, professional football. While Quidditch attendance was still high, the Wizarding world had never really gotten the hang of broadcasting a sport that moved at such high speeds. Football on the telly was played at a pace that was readily followed and the wizards found themselves amazed at what a mere Muggle could accomplish with a ball using only his feet. The skills themselves seemed magical, as almost all reported when they surreptitiously obtained a football and tried something seemingly as simple as a 'keepy-uppie' session.
When the final rolled around, the two participants were, to say the least, completely unexpected. Draco Malfoy, anti-Muggle Slytherin of the worst sort, had shown rather awesome skills at gaming. He had whipped the best in his own House since Christmas, and cruised through his half of the draw to the final. The Gryffs, in particular, were stunned at his abilities with the racing game selected for the contest; the last thing anyone would imagine Malfoy to appreciate was Muggle Formula 1.
He merely shrugged and said, "I've got a cousin in France who lives for hot sports cars and can afford to buy them. What can I say? I'm rich and that's part of it, even for wizards."
The other contestant was even more shocking. He'd been a late entry, as he was literally pounding on the door of the classroom as they were about to begin. In fact, he'd been about to hand out detentions to all of them until he saw what they were up to. The second finalist, to everyone's amazement, was none other than Argus Filch.
Filch was a Squib. It was suspected and bandied about by rumor but most students at the school were not 100% sure of his Squib nature. Certainly, he had a way about him that seemed unnatural -- as did his cat Mrs. Norris -- that made him a hardy opponent to any students who ventured out into the hallways past curfew. Whether this was magical or merely maniacal was a topic of debate within the Houses. To rediscover Filch as a video-gamer of wide experience and undeniable aplomb forced a re-evaluation of the previously detested maintenance man.
He would discuss it with no one, but it was obvious to Xander that here was a man who'd dropped many coins into the hungry maw of arcade games in the '70s and '80s. He had the grim focus of an arcade jock that was down to his last life with no more change in his pocket, and his stand-up style in front of the game screen was a dead giveaway compared to the typical sprawling approach used by the young wizards. This was thought to give him a big advantage in the final, as it was to be contested in three longish sessions playing console versions of arcade classics.
So it was a bit against form when Malfoy won. Filch was outstanding in the first two rounds, but he faltered badly in the last when he tired after nearly 3 hours on his feet. Malfoy had stayed in touch the first two rounds and floored it for the third, squeaking out a victory by a few hundred total points out of hundreds of thousands won by both players. Malfoy was gracious in victory and admitted that Filch would've had him beat except for the age factor.
As an offshoot of this, Argus became a bit of a minor hero to the Hogwarts videogame addicts, who often gathered in his office afterwards to listen to him reminisce about classic games, while taking turns on the 4 different consoles he'd wired up in his private retreat. He was still a feared man after curfew, but the new Filch often gave a nod and a wink free pass to his favorite gamers, and he'd stopped blatting on and on about torturing the students. And any gamer who did draw detention with him found themselves spending their evenings battling Filch in two-player RPGs where he let his ferocious nature loose on their digital opponents, and not their tender hides.
Malfoy had walked away with the lion’s share of the Honeydukes loot that had been the contest entry fee. Filch, unknown to all, was extremely happy with 2nd prize: practical lessons in Wiccan magic offered by Willow. Xander suspected he may actually have thrown the contest when he heard what the prizes were. Willow had stepped up to offer the 2nd prize because she was trying to be subtle in teaching wizards about the need for magical balance.
Giles had been furious at Willow for the were-pig incident. He lectured the Scooby trio long and hard about staying on mission, not coming off all high and mighty, and judging only those that required judging under their mission parameters. Willow felt the most remorse; she’d been there before, running and/or ruining people’s lives with magic and making eye-for-an-eye judgments that had been hasty, to say the least. She’d felt the weight of mini-G’s anger and she hoped to make it up by at least getting Filch up to scratch in Wiccan. Then maybe the poor man wouldn’t feel so downtrodden in a Castle overrun with magical talent.
But Buffy had a different problem for them to focus on first.
“Hate to say it, Wills,” said Buffy shortly after Giles let up on them, “but you’ve got a bigger problem than Filch to deal with now.”
“What do you mean, Buffy?” asked Willow. “I’m not going to deal with Mrs. Norris, she’s Filch’s problem. I’m just going to teach him Wiccan and if Wiccan can make him feel better about himself then it will be good for all the students ‘cause he won’t be chasing them around so much and that will make things less tense around here and maybe Mrs. Norris will stop following us around at night…and…I’m babbling, right?”
“Yep,” said Xander, “classic case. Glad to see it’s still good ol’ Willow in that 11-year old suit.”
“Very much of the babbling,” agreed Buffy, “but your problem isn’t Filch or his cat, it’s Neville.”
“Neville?” asked Willow wonderingly.
“He’s got a crush on you, Wills,” smirked Buffy. “You’re too good in Herbology and he’s obsessed with it. Now he’s transferred that obsession to you.”
“She’s right, Willow,” laughed Xander. “He’s apparently been nosing around Hermione asking her all sorts of questions about you. You’re lucky he hasn’t dropped any mash notes on your desk during class.”
“So that’s why he’s been coming over to me and Hermione so often,” replied Willow. “I would never have guessed it. What do you think he’d say if I told him I was gay?”
“Well,” snarked Buffy, “technically you’re probably neutral at the moment. No gonads, no glory.”
Not that there’s anything wrong with that, she thought, rolling her eyes in memory of the skanky hell-goddess. No glory was definitely of the good.
Giles was looking at them with his eyebrows raised. “In the magical world, it is not uncommon for witches to favor other witches as sexual partners. However, given that the poor boy is barely into adolescence, if at all, he probably has never stopped to consider you might have a preference either way.”
“The problem,” said Xander, “is that he knows Hermione is hanging out a lot with us. He has no idea about us coming up here and then going off to Diagon Alley to use the training room. But he keeps bugging her to include her in our ‘study’ sessions.”
“Maybe we should,” said Willow. “Neville’s a solid citizen. I bet he could keep his mouth shut. And Hermione could use some help with the Gryffs. She’s got a lot of trouble over there keeping Harry and Ron reined in.”
“I can train anybody,” added Buffy. “If Will doesn’t mind having a love-sick puppy hanging around.”
“Better than an angry one,” joked Xander.
“I would advise against it,” interjected Giles. “The boy may have talent but it’s not showing itself yet. And he is very susceptible to intimidation by both his peers and the more unscrupulous professors, such as Quirrell and Snape.”
“Ah, Quirrell,” said Buffy with a look in her eyes. “Did we do the right thing by Quirrell, Xan?”
Xander knew that look. “We made our decision, Buff. There’s no reason to change it. You know what we did and why. Now we have to live with the consequences.”
“I know,” sighed Buffy. “It’s just, I’m action girl. You know that. This feels more like the Cruciamentum. And you know how much I enjoyed that.”
“Leave it, Buffy,” said Giles with some finality. “I know Wesley would agree.”
That clinched it, he could see. Buffy had a huge respect for the ancient Watcher. Despite the fact that he’d never had a Slayer, he and Buffy had hit it off from the first. He was utterly fascinated hearing her stories about Sunnydale, and awed by her skills in the training room. She, on the other hand, hugely appreciated his knowledge of Slayer arcana, his understanding of the role of the Watcher through the ages, and his contempt for the Council as she’d described it in her timeline. Wesley would’ve been a brilliant Watcher if they’d arrived even 50 years ago, Giles knew. Even so, he was doing magnificently on the other end with MUGLTECH, managing relationships with Gringotts and the goblins, and identifying key supernatural gatherings that the Slayer and her entourage would need to tour the next few years.
“Ok,” said the Slayer, “but Quirrell is still a question. And let me be the first to go on record and say it, even though it was MY idea, it was probably a BAD idea to leave that question unanswered.”
Quirrell had been utterly gobsmacked when he and his master Voldemort had been ambushed right in the chamber with Hagrid’s Cerberus. That spoke not only of great power but an intimate understanding of what the two were up to. The fact that Voldemort was apparently gone was no relief in that respect. Someone – or some two, at least, by the way he’d been handled – with great power was in or had been in the Castle.
Dumbledore was certainly powerful enough. It seemed unlikely that it was him, however, or else why was Quirrell still teaching? After his little enforced trip to the astral plane, where he’d had his mind and motivations thoroughly worked over by whomever had abducted him, he’d been expecting the pink slip almost daily. It hadn’t arrived. So, the question was, what next for Quirinus Quirrell?
He’d gone looking for Voldemort and not only found him, but survived; that was something no one else of this age of Wizards could say. That he had been possessed and almost destroyed was not relevant now. Voldemort had left him with a wide range of skills and powers that he’d not had prior to his possession. He might not quite stack up to Dumbledore, but he could now easily outstrip almost any other wizard he might meet.
With great power always comes a choice: use it for good, or use it for evil? Voldemort had chosen his path early and had been so powerful there was no real room for a competing Dark Lord. It was join him and be a slave or fight against him. Dark Lord. Quirrell admitted to himself that he liked the sound of it. Lord Quirrell. Dark Lord Quirrell. Or, take a page out of Voldemort’s book. Word scramble, yes? Lord Relliquir? Lord Quirller? Hmm, not much there, to be frank.
Nevertheless, Dark Lord Quirrell had an appeal that teaching these unsophisticated brats did not. He would need resources, of course. And he would need followers. For the latter, he thought he could probably recruit existing Death Eaters. From Lord Voldemort’s vast knowledge, much of which was left in his brain, he knew how to bind those with the Dark Mark to him. For resources, why, he could start where they’d left off.
The Sorcerer’s Stone, the ultimate dream of alchemy, was worth a fortune in the right hands. They’d almost cracked how to get past all the obstacles before being so rudely interrupted. Now, as long as he could avoid that greasy Snape character, ready-made cash could be pouring into his hands almost as soon as he possessed it. He could snatch it right at the end of the year, then leave Hogwarts for good. Bless Dumbledore for being such a fool as to bring it here. Lord Relliquir. He tried pronouncing it a few times, with various intonations. Maybe it’d grow on him.
Harry was still steaming about the were-pig prank weeks later. He couldn’t let it alone. Who would do that to Hagrid? He’d made it back from the Forbidden Forest in one piece, but obviously he’d been shaken by the whole thing. He couldn’t stop himself from ranting about it in the Gryffindor Common Room to Hermione and Ron. He was sure her Hufflepuff friends were behind it. Hermione had just asked him to drop it for about the hundredth time, making a joke about how the Puffies had to save Hagrid’s bacon, but Harry wasn’t taking no for an answer.
“Hagrid could’ve been killed, Hermione!” he cried. “How can you make light of it?”
“Yes, yes, it was a terrible thing,” she rolled her eyes back and forth. “However, I noticed you were laughing quite hard while he was talking in pig-Latin, and even harder when he started oinking instead.”
“That was brilliant,” said Ron, “I was blowing pumpkin juice out of my nose at that point.”
“Even Hagrid was laughing, Harry,” chimed in Fred who had just walked up with George, “well, pig-laughing, but he seemed heartily amused.”
“And Dumbledore and the rest of the staff were practically rolling on the floor,” added George. “It was probably the best prank against a staff member we’ve seen all year.”
“Right up until the point the moon shone on him, anyway,” amended Fred.
“Exactly!” yelled Harry. “Who puts a spell on someone to turn them into a were-pig? That berk Harris, that’s who! He was behind this, I’m sure of it.”
“Oh, Harry, would you climb down a bit!” snapped Hermione. “Hagrid is fine. Don’t blame it on Xander. He wasn’t in on it.”
“How do you know that, Hermione? Was it you with those Hufflepuff maniacs?” questioned Harry heatedly.
“Do pipe down, Harry,” said George uneasily. “You are talking about state secrets here at the top of your voice.”
“That’s right, mate,” added Fred. “Let’s not show the inner workings of the Department of Mysteries to the rest of these yobs.”
“What!” hissed Harry. “Don’t tell me you were in on it, too!”
“Harry,” said Hermione in a low tone. “A complicated prank like this requires a variety of actors in order to succeed. Willow and I made the potion, Fred and George distracted the Great Hall with those firecrackers they put under Malfoy’s chair, and Buffy slipped up and put the potion into Hagrid’s mug of ale.”
“It was perfect, really,” said Fred, reminiscently.
“Magnificent timing, like clockwork,” agreed George.
Ron interjected, “No one saw anything. It was one of the higher moments of my life when Hagrid started babbling in pig-Latin like that. Unbelievable really. A blistering good joke, it was.”
Harry gritted his teeth and bitterly addressed the twins through them. “I know Hermione is tight with those Puffies. But I thought the two of you were too scared of that Buffy girl to help her out with something like this.”
“Well, we may have overstated the part about her beating us black and blue,” admitted George. “A light yellow at best, and not all over.”
“She caught us, like we said, but she recruited us as allies, you might say,” said Fred.
“Some of the most brilliant pranks that we’ve pulled off this year have been because of her,” agreed George.
“She can get into places, climb things, and sneak up on people like nobody’s business,” said Fred, “and there is no way to catch her. Impossibly quick and stealthy.”
“Mad skills. Mad. Must give her due credit,” said George. “And she has access out of the Castle – better access than we do, mind -- for…ah…supplies, you might say.”
“Sorry for taking the piss, old man, but sworn to secrecy, now violated and all,” added Fred.
“So if you want to get us all murdered in our beds,” said George, “just waltz up to Buffy and tell her everything we told you here. I can’t answer for the consequences, myself.”
Harry looked at Hermione dejectedly. “I can’t believe you would betray Hagrid like this, Hermione. Why?”
“Oh, Harry, Xander told you what they thought about what they did to Dudley,” replied Hermione. “Giving him a tail like that was cruel. The potion wasn’t supposed to make him a were-pig. That was something to do with Hagrid’s Giant blood. Willow didn’t realize until it happened that Hagrid was part-Giant.”
“Part-Giant?” said Ron, shaken. “Hagrid is part-Giant? Isn’t it dangerous to have him around here?”
“Stop being a bloody bigot, little brother,” scoffed Fred. “Hagrid is alright by our lights. Who cares what his background is?”
“That’s right,” said George, “you’re part-troll, ickle Ronniekins, at least in the brains department, and we don’t hold that against you.”
Ron threw a punch at him and the three scuffled briefly on the couch, which ended up with Fred sitting on Ron’s chest while George sat on his feet.
Harry waiting until the miniature brawl was over, then spat out explosively, “But why on earth would they want to defend Dudley? Dudley has been the absolute beast of my childhood.”
He went on to explain a great deal of the things the Dursleys had done to him – the broom cupboard, the isolation, the whippings, the menial labor he was forced to, and so forth. He spoke at some length on Dudley’s teasing, his selfishness, and the physical bullying he had performed. They were all silent with horror at this. None of them except perhaps for Ron had realized exactly how poor Harry’s home life had been prior to coming to Hogwarts.
“Well,” said Hermione. “Number one, I had no idea that they had treated you so poorly. Number two, Willow discovered that they had a magical compulsion on them to hate magic and anything related to it. Apparently, you must’ve caught the brunt of it.”
“But that’s insane,” burst out Harry, “who would do something like that to the Dursleys, of all people?”
“Snape would, he hates you badly enough. But any Death Eater who found out where you were living might’ve done it, Harry,” said Hermione quietly. “Maybe even someone who knew your father or mother did it before you were born, just to keep Muggles out of the picture.”
“It’s still crazy,” mumbled Harry. “I can’t believe it.”
“Well, Willow took the compulsion off them. And when they came to our house for dinner over Christmas, they were quite charming. Dudley told us all about the tail that Hagrid had given him. It wasn’t funny to hear about the operation he had to have, believe me. And he seemed quite a nice person, very interested in magic. He’d been looking forward to you coming home for Christmas, now that his parents were no longer dead set against you.”
Harry was still muttering to himself. “What makes this Willow so special?” he said grumpily. “How’d she find out what was going on, then?”
“Harry,” said Hermione very sincerely, “if Willow says something about magic, you’d best believe it. She knows more magic than any of us have heard of, and she’s more powerful than you can imagine. If she says it was a compulsion, it was a compulsion.”
“But why wouldn’t Dumbledore have done something?” asked Harry, sinking further into his bad mood. “Why would he have left me there with them if that was the case?”
“I don’t think Dumbledore really interacted with them, mate,” said Ron, “I mean, you never met Dumbledore before coming here. I bet he didn’t meet them before leaving you there. He probably just didn’t know.”
“And another point to ponder, old chap,” said Fred, “is what Buffy reminded us when she pegged us for this prank.”
“What’s that?” asked Harry.
“Hagrid could’ve got an immediate sentence to Azkaban for doing what he did to Dudley,” replied Fred.
“Yes, and since he’s not even supposed to be using a wand,” added George, “he could’ve been convicted for quite a long term.”
“If someone were to go copper’s nark on him even now,” Fred went on, “he’d likely be in for some real trouble.”
“They’d haul you up to the Wizengamott, Harry, and force both of you to take Veritaserum,” said George. “You’d both be singing like birdies, and Hagrid would get the chop.”
“So, a prank gone slightly wrong. No harm done in the end. Could’ve been worse. Hagrid dodges a giant-sized cursed ending, if you will,” ended Fred. “And Lee Jordan got pictures of Hagrid as the were-pig.”
Hermione was still looking at Harry, who was obviously troubled by the idea of Hagrid getting a prison sentence for what he’d done to Dudley.
“Honestly, Harry,” she said, “he’s gotten off lightly. And Professor Giles knows all about what happened with the prank and has thoroughly laid into Willow and Buffy. You may as well leave it.”
Harry still looked grim, but was no longer demanding any action or raving about injustice. “I don’t like it Hermione, but it’s not worth getting Hagrid into trouble by pushing it. And I can’t believe the Dursleys have changed, awesome Christmas presents or not. But one thing is for sure,” he narrowed his eyes at her. “At some point, you’re going to have to choose between Ron and I and those Hufflepuff friends of yours. I hope you make the right choice.”
Hermione was highly annoyed to hear Harry put it that way. Her eyes crinkled in anger and her face heated up. But she said nothing. She’d been thinking the same thing herself. It was a lot less clear to her than to Harry what that choice should be, however.
Interlude 10: The Quidditch Mafia
“Well met, chaps,” said the Head. “What news of the Eastern Front, eh?”
“This Harris chappie. Beater for the Puffs. Looks like a comer,” said one of the leading members. “Might need to recruit him if he has a few more games like the one against Gryffindor.”
“Ooof! Can’t have that,” said the second oldest member. “He’s a colonial! Rules are steadfastly against that.”
“Well,” said the Head, “he’s on British soil, going to a British school, are we sure he’s not qualified?”
“The record is mixed,” said the secretary. “None have ever joined, but there was a case about a 100 years ago where a Yank was admitted from Hogwarts in a similar situation. He died in a rather unruly match before he was initiated, however, so the precedent is unclear.”
“What do our junior members on the ground think?” asked the Head.
“Our reps at Hogwarts include the current captains of all the houses except for Wood of Gryffindor. He’s too focused on his professional career to take time for us. The others think Harris is potentially a brilliant acquisition, but the company he keeps make him very dangerous, an unknown quantity,” said the senior member.
“Well, what’s that all about then?” inquired the Head.
“He’s been seen with members of the Historical Society in Diagon Alley. And he and his two girlfriends are somehow associated with MUGLTECH,” replied the Secretary.
“MUGLTECH!” exclaimed the Head passionately. “MUGLTECH is the greatest threat to Quidditch that we’ve ever seen!”
“Yes,” said the oldest member. “But there is a quote that was attributed to an American politician once about an unsavory member of their political establishment that may be apt.”
“What would that be?” asked the Head, calm once again and, as ever, polite to the senior partners within their little organization.
“The saying was something to the effect that, it would be better to have this unsavory type in the tent, pissing out, than outside the tent, pissing in.”
All the members roared with laughter at that.
“Yes, well,” said the Head with amusement, “we will consider that. Mr. Secretary, please continue your research on Harris, if you would. Now, next on the agenda, I believe, is the ongoing effort to recruit one Mr. Harry Potter…”
They all hitched forward in anticipation to hear this update.