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Thunder in the afternoon

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This story is No. 7 in the series "One beautiful morning". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Almost the grand final. Chapters of unequal length, mighty heroes, evil villains. And a purple fungus called Albert

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Harry Potter > General(Current Donor)vidiconFR181465,9793219136,43317 Mar 1314 Sep 13Yes

Chapter 9

 Author’s Note:

Thanks very much to my Betas, Letomo and Cordyfan.

The following ways of notation may be found in this story. This is excluding whatever I need to represent chatting, texting and stuff like that.

Speech: “Who’s on first.”

Thought: *What’s on second.*

Vision: #I-don’t-know’s on third.#

My thanks to Almond for recomending this story.

Chapter 9 Reinforced concrete

 

After the Dark Lord has fallen, and the Chosen One is victorious, then the One Who Might Have Been, will become beloved of the Mother of all Huntresses, and from them will spring great good.

To Exist in Pain and Sorrow, the Life and Prophecies of Sybill Trelawney, by Hermione Granger 

 

“So, where are we going if we’re not going to save Faith right now?” Luna asked as she skipped along the road beside Xander, Joyce holding her hand.

“Council HQ,” Buffy said grimly. “We need to find out how wide and deep the rot goes. Who all’s involved. And we need Slayers. We don’t know what they’ve got and who they’ve got.”

“Are these people likely to attack?” Luna looked worriedly at Joyce.

“Possibly,” Buffy admitted. “I don’t know.”

“We can handle them,” Kennedy said with quiet confidence.

“I have no doubt. But I’d prefer not to put Joyce at risk,” Luna declared. “Someone needs to watch her.”

“Mrs. Weasley would do it, I’m sure,” Neville smiled. “She can then hint broadly to George that he ought to marry Angelina and give her lots of pretty coffee-coloured grandchildren.”

“She really likes children, doesn’t she?” Buffy sighed. “Let’s go back and ask her to take care of Joyce, shall we?”

Luna looked down at the little slayer.

Joyce scowled. “Don’t wanna!”

Willow giggled. “Just like Xander at that age!”

“Or a certain redhead I know. Adorable when she was being stubborn,” Xander rebuffed.

Buffy smiled. Then she turned and faced the little girl with a firm expression. “Joyce? You’re staying with Mrs. Weasley. You’re a Slayer, yes, but also a child. We have adults here who will fight. There is no need for children to do so. Understood?”

Joyce gulped and nodded, wide-eyed. “Yes, Lady Slayer.”

Buffy groaned. Willow and Xander sniggered. Buffy poked them. “That is sooooo not funny! And I’m going to find out what it means too!”

They retraced their steps and arrived back at the Burrow. Mrs. Weasley was in the yard, with Draco and Amy and Nymphadora. Buffy looked around. “They left already?”

“To plan. In the Auror office. Might I ask why you are back?” Molly asked rather frostily, eying Percy with a great deal of disappointment in her eyes.

“We need to go to Slayer HQ. To recruit some slayers to find Faith. And we can’t bring the munchkin, she’s a bit too young in case it turns out we need to fight. So we were wondering if you would be willing to watch her for us?” Xander smiled winningly.

Amy smirked at Draco. “Told you they weren’t abandoning her.”

Molly frowned. “How many Slayers do you think you can find there?”

“HQ? Last time I was there, there were twenty Slayers capable of fighting. We’ve got the off-duty European strike teams there, usually. Giles likes to keep them close. It might make more sense to place them at their stations even when they’re not on call… Hmmm,” Buffy exchanged looks with Willow and Xander. 

“Indoctrination?” Willow suggested.

“Brainwashing,” Xander added.

“Duh duh duh duuuuh,” Kennedy hummed the first notes of Beethoven’s fifth Symphony, The glorious Van.

“Stop showing of your supposedly superior education, Kennedy,” Buffy growled. “We’ve all seen A Clockwork Orange.”

“Only because you wouldn’t read the book,” Willow pointed out helpfully. “Did you ever get through Fahrenheit 451? Or pass English Lit 101?” she teased. 

“Anyway, Mrs Weasley, we’ve got lots of nasty stuff to deal with,” Buffy declared, pointedly ignoring Willow and getting back to the point. “Which we would prefer to do without having to worry about keeping this young lady safe.”

Molly nodded, smiling slightly though her eyes had widened when she heard the number of slayers. “Very well. I’ll watch her. And give her some food. She’s far too thin.”

“Mama! She already ate half a pig barely half an hour ago!” Fleur teased from the doorway, smiling broadly in approval, Victoire on her arm.

“She’s a growing girl. She needs plenty of food,” Molly stated firmly, putting an arm around Joyce.

Buffy frowned. “That’s probably more true than you know. I used to eat a lot when I was a Slayer and still growing.”

“Oh that explains it. We didn’t feed you enough,” Xander smirked.

Buffy very slowly turned, her eyes flashing.

Willow sighed. “Xander, you did not just make a joke about her height? Do you really want to die young?” 

“You are an idiot, Xander who-admits-to-no-middle-name Harris!” Luna scolded. “Now apologize!”

Xander was about to protest when he saw Luna’s face, set in a firm, unyielding expression. He winced. “I’m sorry I made fun of your height, Buffy. It suits you perfectly and is in fact one of your many stellar qualities.”

“Hmph,” Buffy grunted, hardly mollified. “We shall talk about that later. Mrs. Weasley? We need to get going, but ummm...”  She looked at Neville. “Would you look after Albert too?”

Molly smiled. “It will be a delight dear. That has to be the best behaved fungus I’ve ever encountered. How ever did you breed him, Neville?”

Neville flushed slightly and glared at Buffy, who snickered. “Pure talent. At being a slob. Go get him, would you Nev?”

Neville nodded and apparated out.

Luna knelt in front of Joyce. “You will be good for Mrs. Weasley? You’ll not run off and try and get to London?” Her face was set in the same lines as when she’d addressed Xander earlier.

Joyce nodded and then hugged Luna. “I’ll be good. I promise,” she released Luna and hugged Xander around the middle. “You be careful, please.”

“We will be. Even Xander will be. He’s run through his danger quota for the day, haven’t you, luv?” Luna smiled up at him. “Commenting on Buffy’s height has to count as that, doesn’t it?”

“I promise I’ll be careful,” Xander ruffled Joyce’s hair.

Buffy smiled as she took in the scene.

Joyce looked at her. “Can I play with Albert?” she asked shyly.

Buffy laughed. “Of course. Albert loves to play. I’m sure Vicky and Teddy will love playing with him too, so you have to promise to share, okay?”

Joyce nodded enthusiastically as Neville reappeared with a squirming purple tube in his arms.

“C’mere Albert!” Joyce called out.

With a strange rolling motion and a slight push against Neville’ s chest Albert was airborne, and then he was bowling over the young slayer, sliding all over her in his enthusiasm. Joyce laughed.

“Okay. That ought to keep both of them occupied,” Buffy noted.

There was a coo and Vicky was trying to escape Fleur’s arms, little hands reaching for the fuzzy purple thing rolling on the cold winter grass.

“That fungus is a child magnet,” Molly smiled indulgently.

Buffy nodded, looking wistful as the two children played with her pet and then she turned on her heel and strode away. Xander and Luna dropped kiss each on Joyce’s head. Molly Weasley held onto the little girl for a long time as Joyce wept and looked in the direction they had left in, Albert squirming in her arms, Vicky jumping up and down in an effort to reach him.

BtVSBtVS HPHP BtVSBtVS HPHP  BtVSBtVS HPHP BtVSBtVS HPHP

London, Slayers’ Council HQ, Canary Wharf

Buffy looked up at the building, her face blank. “Will?” There was a weight of pain and uncertainty in the way she spoke the name.

Willow was looking at the building through a crystal she’d taken from her bag. “They’ve interwoven a lot of mind-affecting spells into my Wards. Very cleverly done,” she admitted almost grudgingly. “I wouldn’t have noticed if I hadn’t searched for them.”

“Can you take them out without removing the protection?” Xander asked.

Willow shook her head regretfully. “No… at least… I don’t think so. Someone was working on them from the moment I started on them.”

“They’re absolutely overflowing with Wrackspurts and there are more Nargles here than I have ever seen before,” Luna stated gazing at the building through a set of weird paper glasses.

Xander smiled tolerantly, Hannah sniffed, Percy rolled his eyes and Neville looked thoughtful.

Willow raised an eyebrow. “Wrackspurts? Nargles? What are those?”

Luna fished in her purse and handed Willow a set of spectrespecs. “The Nargles are clustering around the foundations. I assume you used mistletoe to set the basic mystic wards? And the Wrackspurts are just floating along the main ward supports. You can see them using Spectrespecs. I need them to see your wards. Which are very nice, I like the interlacing of the protective lines with the magic strengthening ones.”

Willow blinked, then put the glasses on. “Holy cow!” she whispered. “Who makes these things?”

Luna smiled sadly. “My mother and I invented them… she wanted to prove to me that Nargles didn’t exist. She changed her mind, but the Specs don’t work for everybody.”

Xander put an arm around Luna’s shoulder. “You can see them, Will?”

“I always thought they were just fluctuations in the magic!” Willow spoke excitedly. “It’s like Star Trek! Life, but not as we know it!”

“Wait, are you saying that Luna is right? That Nargles exist?” Percy sounded stunned and Hannah was gaping.

“Obviously!” Willow was almost jumping with joy, then her face fell. “But is still doesn’t help us get in or remove the confusion charms.”

“Nargles are mischievous, Wrackspurts cause confusion,” Luna frowned. “Or maybe they thrive on it? I don’t know…”

“They exist?” Percy repeated.

“Yes, yes, they exist,” Willow pushed the spectrespecs up her nose and tilted her head. “But how do we get rid of them? I don’t really want to hurt them. They look so pretty.”

“Nargles can be repelled by a mixture of cork and hops,” Luna replied absently. “Wrackspurts are a little more difficult. Daddy constructed a siphon on his replica of Rowena Ravenclaw’s diadem to keep them off, but I don’t think it works.”

“Okay…” Willow sighed. “I don’t suppose that diadem really exists?”

“Existed. It was destroyed,” Luna sighed. “Voldemort had made it into a Horcrux. I love Harry, but I do wish he was trifle less destructive with priceless cultural heirlooms.”

“Ugh. Horcruxes. Nasty things,” Willow grimaced. “What do you know about it? What was it made of?”

“Platinum and sapphire, among other things,” Luna replied. “Why?”

“Sapphire,” Willow muttered. “Dammit. I don’t have one of those with me. At least nothing large enough. I don’t suppose any of you have a sapphire the size of my thumbnail with you?” she asked whimsically.

Neville coughed and raised a hand. “Errr… I might have.”

“You do? Why?” Willow sounded confused. “No matter, can I use it?”

Neville shuffled his feet. “Errr…”

Hannah’s mouth quirked. “I think he needs to know it won’t be damaged, Willow.”

“Oh, it’ll be fine, don’t worry,” Willow waved a hand.

Neville sighed and reached into his pocket, drawing out a small, square box. He carefully opened it and removed a large, antique looking ring, the band made of filigreed gold and set with a single, huge sapphire the size of his own thumbnail, surrounded by four heart-shaped diamonds.

“Wow,” Xander whistled. “Nice bauble to carry around…” his voice trailed off as he looked from the ring, to Neville, to Buffy. Willow and Dawn were doing the same. Dawn was obviously suppressing a squeal of glee and Willow was making little ‘eep-eep’ noises.

Buffy was as pale as a sheet, and trembling. Then she turned to face Willow. “Willow? If you damage that ring? I’ll make you sing opera at Speakers’ Corner, I swear!”

Willow gasped. “You wouldn’t!” she gulped when she saw Buffy’s face. “Okay. You would. Ummm… Neville? Can I have that now?”

Luna shook her head. “No. No. This is all wrong.”

Xander cleared his throat. “W-what do you mean?”

“Neville can’t let Willow use the ring like that. It would be wrong. And it wouldn’t be as powerful. Neville?” Luna pointed towards a small park. “There.”

Neville gulped. “Luna, I-”

“No. Now,” Luna pointed again, her face implacable.

Neville nodded heavily and took Buffy’s hand. She let herself be drawn away, her eyes wide.

Neville led her behind a hedge. He smiled at her wryly. “I was planning to do this in a more romantic way. After a candlelit dinner. Or maybe take you to Hogwarts, like I’d promised, walk in the grounds. Or even the afternoon Harry summoned us, when we were walking by the river.”

Buffy stood mute and pale, her green eyes wide and biting her lower lip.

Neville sighed. “But we both learned the hard way that sometimes you just have to seize the moment. Look, I know this isn’t really the time or place, but we’re going into battle and it may be dangerous and-and, ah Merlin,” Neville fumbled with the little box and fell to one knee, opening one large, calloused long-fingered gardener’s hand to show the ring again. “Will you marry me, Buffy Anne Summers?” 

Buffy slowly held out a hand and Neville put the ring around her finger. “There. Now it’s official. That’s the Longbottom Lady’s ring,” he proclaimed with satisfaction.

Buffy nodded, just looking at the ring. Neville got up, giving her a worried look. “You okay, love?”

Buffy opened her mouth. And then she squealed, hugged Neville, dragged his head down, kissed him and took off, waving her hand with the ring on it. “Dawn! Will! Xand! I’m getting MARRIED!”

Neville grunted and gingerly felt his ribs where he thought her embrace might have cracked or bruised a few. Then he smiled at Buffy’s excited squeals and jumps. “Guess she is.”



“Okay. So why did you want Buffy to get the ring before I used it?” Willow held the ring in the palm of her hand, feeling the solid weight of it. Her gaze was focussed on Luna, who was looking strangely unsettled.

Luna was uncharacteristically evasive. “I didn’t want it to be used for this before it was hers. It seemed wrong. And… Well, they love each other. It can’t but help, can it?” she added ingeniously.

Xander frowned. “Is there a reason you’re being Miss Inquisitor, Willow?”

Willow raised an eyebrow at him. “Yeah. I’ve got what I think is a fully fledged Seer right in front of me, and she knows something and she won’t tell me. So that makes me curious. So? Gonna tell me, Luna? Gonna tell us?”

Luna had paled with every word Willow spoke and now she was trembling. Xander reached out and embraced her. “Luna? Easy love. I’ve got you. Now, tell Willow what you Saw.”

Luna sighed. “The wards… they tied them into a girl. A slayer. I don’t know her. B-but what you’re going to need to do… It may hurt her. Badly. The love will help. The link with Buffy.”

Willow’s eyes narrowed. “Right. I should have expected that. But why didn’t you tell me?”

Neville spoke up. “Because seers and prophets aren’t treated very well by many in our world. We may believe in the prophecies, but we don’t like them.”

Buffy pursed her lips. “And she’s together with Mr. Prophecy Smash himself. Who no doubt told you what he thinks about them… Luna? Can you look into your own future?”

Luna shook her head.

Xander sighed, closing his eye. “Luna? Remember I told you about Cordy? She had visions. They used them to prevent nasty things from happening. Slayers get dreams. I don’t mind seers and prophets. I just don’t buy that the future is carved in stone

Luna gulped. “Oh,” she said in a tiny voice.

Willow smiled and took the blonde’s hands. “Now tell me what you saw. Please, Luna? Tell me everything.”



Vi was Slayer in Charge at HQ, reporting directly to Watcher Rookwood with the absence of Director Giles. She scowled rather blackly at the three young Slayers, who were making a ruckus in the hallway outside the library. There were Watchers in there, and Watchers were not to be disturbed by mere Slayers.

She stalked towards her cubicle, past the offices that the Watchers had been assigned. The large, cubicle divided room where the Slayers worked together was not conducive to quiet and contemplation. But only Buffy had been granted the dignity of her own office. No other Slayer at HQ had that, so Vi and any other slayer in residence sat in this room and studied the records, memorized her patrol schedule and filled in the forms for her designated watcher.

It was then that she felt it. The Wards around the building were the strongest Willow’s magic could contrive and tapped right into the leylines that ran beneath it. The Isle of the Dogs stretched into the Thames, and the location of the new headquarters had been carefully chosen, the building’s foundations constructed to be a receptacle for the power of the Earth and Water leylines that crossed each other right where it stood. Willow had helped design the building, and she had integrated features that allowed her to use both leylines to create far more powerful wards than the old Watchers’ Council building had possessed. Not to mention it was bombproof and was fitted with dozens of high-tech defences.

Vi as the resident Senior Slayer had been tied into the wards by Director Giles. To keep the Watchers safe. And the Wards were being manipulated. They were being torn at. And it hurt.



Willow held the ring in both hands, her arms stretched in front of her, her eyes closed. She was murmuring words so fast that it seemed a single continuous one.

She frowned. “Now!”

Buffy and Neville disapparated. Willow smiled grimly, took a deep breath and started the next part of the ritual.       

*************************** 

Vi was screaming. Blood flowed from her eyes, mouth and nose. Someone was attacking the Wards. Someone powerful. *I have to hold on. I can’t allow the Watchers to be hurt!* She was surrounded by other, younger slayers and a Watcher was looking on with disdain.

Suddenly, with a pop, Buffy appeared within the embrace a tall, broad shouldered man. She was carrying the Scythe. And around her was an aura of power and fury.

With a single blow she knocked Vi unconscious, then gripped the Scythe and made a slight cut on the inside of her bare arm, rubbed the glowing blade in it and slammed her bloody weapon into the pool of blood surrounding Vi. “I claim a mother’s right to protect her children!” She called out in a voice like a bell. “I claim a mother’s right to reveal and punish those who would harm her own! I am Buffy Anne Summers! Lady and Mother of Slayers! May the pain you caused my daughters be inflicted upon you a dozen-fold!”

The Watcher suddenly screamed, clawing at his arm. His face twisted in agony and he fell to the ground. He started shuddering and shivering and then a gush of blood flowed from his mouth as he bit through his tongue. More blood burst from his eyes and ears and nose. Neville flicked his wand. “Accio wand,” he murmured with a satisfied expression.

There was a booming noise and then the great glass doors that led into the building blew open, vibrating and clanging like great bells and Willow floated inside, surrounded by a nimbus of white light, her hair surrounding her like a halo, her eyes like twin embers of white fire. Hannah clung to her, looking rather stunned.

There was a slight kerfuffle as Kennedy knocked out two security guards and then Luna was kneeling by the fallen Vi, her eyes hard. “This is absolutely vile! If I catch who did this, I’ll feed him to the Crankypoots!”

Willow coughed and looked at Xander. “Crankypoots?”

“It’s what she and her father call Glarghk Guhl Kashmas’nikdemons. They described one in a Quibbler of two years ago, complete with sketches” Buffy looked at the younger blonde thoughtfully. “Very detailed sketches. As if they dissected one.”

Luna wasn’t paying attention, instead moving her wand over Vi’s head again and again, all the while muttering. The young Slayers were standing around looking confused, dazed. Horrible screams were emanating from various rooms and hallways around them.

“Let’s go round up these bastards,” Xander kicked the still screaming Watcher hard in the groin and the man curled up around himself as Xander stepped heavily on his hand, breaking several bones.

Willow and Buffy gaped at him in shock. Xander leaned down and removed a second wand from a narrow pocket on the inside of the man’s jacket and made to snap it but was stopped by a look from Luna.

Xander shrugged. “Check them for secondary wands, too.”

Buffy nodded. “Right. YOU LOT!” she yelled at the stunned Slayers. “Bring everyone who is screaming here. If they’ve got these little stick thingies, take them off them, but be careful, they can cast nasty spells with them. Search them, in case they have more than one. IS THAT UNDERSTOOD?” she thundered.

There was a chorus of ‘Yes Ma’am!’s and then the younger slayers, Kennedy included, were off.

Buffy blinked. “O-oka-ayyy.”

Xander sniggered. “Full Metal Buffy?”

“Oh, shut up Xander,” Buffy glared at him half-heartedly. “How’s Vi, Luna?”

Luna kept moving her wand, her face set in a near scowl of concentration. Percy looked at her and then nodded. “I‘ll be right back, I’m going to get some help,” he ‘popped’ away.

Dawn smiled at Buffy. “He’s probably getting Madam Pomfrey. Or Bill. Both would be really helpful right now.”

Willow pouted. “I need to get some healing spells under my belt, but the Coven wouldn’t teach me! Too dark they say!” 

Hannah gave her a look. “Willow, really. I think that with very little persuasion we could get you three or four dozen qualified Healer instructors-”   

There was another ‘pop’ and Percy reappeared with a rather flushed looking Poppy Pomfrey on his arm, who after a quick look around immediately knelt by Vi and Luna.

Buffy looked at the group. “Xander? Would you set up something to hold the prisoners and some sort of defensive line? Keep them safe?” she waved at the three women trying to heal Vi.

Xander nodded. “A prison pen and a perimeter, check. Don’t worry Buff. I’ll keep them safe.”

Buffy nodded her thanks and grabbed the scythe more firmly. “Neville? Would you come with me. I want to hurt some people pretty badly right now, and that’s not something I want to make a habit of.”

Neville nodded. “Sure. And maybe you can prevent me from slaughtering them myself.”

Willow took Hannah’s hand. “Come on, Han-Hon. Let’s go round up some Death Wieners.” 

Hannah looked at the mercifully unconscious slayer on the ground. “Yes, let’s,” she answered grimly.



Buffy looked around the hallway and frowned. “Odd…”

“What, love?” Neville asked, from the doorway of the office he’d just searched. There was a stunned, bound and bleeding Death Eater/Watcher laying on the floor behind the desk.  

“When we designed this place, we added a large basement. I just realised I didn’t see any access to it,” Buffy answered.

Neville pursed his lips. “Hidden, you think?”

“Most likely. Which doesn’t…” Buffy gulped. “I really don’t want to think what they’ve been doing down there. I’m really getting Initiative vibes.”

Neville winced. The Initiative was one of Buffy’s major nightmare inducers. That and her numerous deaths, and abandonment. “I’ll tell Luna,” he swished his wand.

Buffy blinked. “Luna?”

Neville shrugged. “She got to be very good at finding things, and hiding. I’m pretty sure she knows more about the secret passages of Hogwarts than even Fred and George did.”

Buffy smiled darkly. “Remind me to have a few words with some of her teachers. That Flitwick guy especially.”

Neville grinned weakly. “Errr… He’s a very powerful wizard and a very good dueller, love.”

“And I’m Buffy Summers, Lady and Mother of Slayers,” Buffy told him firmly. “And that school is even worse about bullying than Sunnydale High. Come on; let’s finish the rest of this floor.”

Neville nodded and cast another stunner at the unconscious Death Eater. “Let’s.”

************************************ 

Luna skipped down the corridor, letting her senses play over the walls and floors, trying to feel where things were different. Xander was watching with a smile and Buffy with a certain amount of scepticism. “What’s she doing?” she whispered at Neville, who was standing just behind her. She had to firmly tell herself not to move into the circle of his arms. She had to keep her mind on clearing headquarters.

“I don’t know exactly. Back in school most people thought Luna was bonkers. Once I got to know her, well let’s just say there’s a lot of method to her madness. I think the humming and skipping is some sort of meditative trance,” Neville whispered back.

“NO-HO!” Luna hollered. “I just like humming and skipping!”

“She heard us?” Buffy asked, astonished.

“I’ve long since ceased wondering at some of the stranger things that Luna can do,” Neville answered with aplomb.

“And boy can she do some strange and wonderful things,” Xander quipped.

Neville stifled a snort and Buffy elbowed him, but softly.

Luna’s hum changed a little, and her skipping too suddenly becoming quite more thoughtful. She tapped the wall. “Here. But I don’t think I could get through, the wards are very well woven and strong.”

“I’ll call Willow and Hannah,” Buffy got out her phone.



The two witches arrived minutes later, both frowning. “The Wicca training room does not feel nice. Not at all,” Willow growled. “When I catch whoever has been working there, there will be words!”

“Yes, Will. But first do some of your mojo on this door we can’t see or go through,” Buffy pointed at the wall.

Willow tilted her head, frowning. “What door?”

Luna put a hand on her arm. Willow blinked. “oh. That door. Hmmm. You know, I think that spell might have been created just to fool me? Don’t know if I should feel honoured or very worried.”

“Considering the things these people have been doing, I’d go for very worried,” Buffy answered. “I want everybody on alert when we open this. If there’s someone in there, I want them down before they have a chance to hurt anyone.”

“Check,” Xander hefted a large, broad bladed axe and checked his two revolvers.

Luna held up her wand, as did Neville and Hannah. “All ready, luv,” Neville told her. 

Willow nodded. “Okay, let me see… twist like this and lift like that…” Willow moved her hands in an intricate pattern while murmuring odd phrases under her breath. A smell of death and decay filled the air, and hot metal and then suddenly there was a green, metal door that gently opened on silent hinges.

“Ugh,” Willow wrinkled her nose. “That doesn’t smell good.”

“No. Not good at all,” Buffy’s face was hard. “Come on.”

She led the way down the stairs. The stench got worse, a smell of urine and faeces mixing in with the rot and decay.

The steps ended in a large room, with several doors set into the walls. There was a table in the centre of the room and around it four men were lying, screaming, with blood running from every orifice. Unlike the others, these were dressed in long, dark robes and wore heavy silver and steel masks. Xander and Neville quickly disarmed them and Luna bound them tightly with magical ropes.

Buffy in the meantime had been exploring.

One of the doors stood open. It showed what looked like an operating theatre from hell. The metal tables were covered in dried blood and there was hair and skin caught in them.

Buffy growled. It was a frightening, animalistic noise, from deep within her, a sound that sent shivers down everyone’s spines.

“Buffy?” Neville asked, a soothing tone in his voice.

“That’s Slayer blood,” Buffy whirled around, her eyes flashing with fury. “And not the blood of one Slayer either!”

Luna, already pale since she came down the steps, paled even further. “There are potions and rituals…”

“Many that use Slayer blood and other… parts,” Willow added in a clipped, angry voice. “They hurt our girls, Buffy. They will pay for that.”

Xander had opened one of the other doors. It led into a corridor lined with cells. A glance into the first cell made him turn round, his face pinched. “We’ll need doctors. Healers. A lot of them.”



There were piles of Watchers and Death eaters, or both, lying on the floors of the entrance hall, surrounded by about fifty-odd dazed junior Slayers.

“Okay. So now what?” Buffy asked as she took in the situation. “How do we control this lot?”

“We shall strip them naked, do a full body cavity search, make certain they have no wands or potions, give them a check for curses and such and handcuff them each in one of those cells they kept the girls in,” Xander smiled grimly. “I’d like to break their arms to make sure, but I’m sure that would upset people.”

Buffy gave him a look. “After what they did to my girls? I’m not gonna protest even if you chop their hands off.”

Willow smiled rather grimly. “And I’m sure I can find a potion or spell or two that uses them. And I read something somewhere about wizards’ balls…”

One of the downed men whimpered at her words.

Buffy was about to kick him when Neville stopped her. Buffy muttered something under her breath, then looked up and shook her self. “I need to get out of here. We need to deal with the bastards who did this.”

Xander looked around, taking Luna’s hand. The blonde witch was very pale and seemed to be going into shock. “Maybe you should-”

Luna turned to him, her large, silvery eyes narrowing. “Join you in defeating the people who did these horrible things and make sure they never do it again? Nor hurt anyone? Like maybe the children of a Pureblooded witch and a non-magical man?” 

Xander gargled and looked at his girlfriend’s abdomen. “Children?”

Luna rolled her eyes. “Not right now, but eventually, yes.”

Xander opened his mouth, a gleam in his eye, but Luna stopped him with a look. “And no, we are not calling any of our daughters Twinkie!”

 

 

 
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