The Hunt Begins
Thank you to everyone still reading and reviewing, I really hadn't expected so many reviews per chapter. And extra special thanks to spikesplayfulpet for recommending the story :)
Chapter 4: The Hunt Begins
They appeared together with a pop, instantly looking over their new surroundings as they let go of one another.
They'd all been to the Burrow before, but this was unlike anything they had ever seen. The fields that surrounded the magical house were no longer empty and overgrown. Instead the grass had been cut back until it would have been considered suitable even in Privet Drive. A small pathway of stones crossed from where they were standing to a make-shift white tent that had been erected in the middle.
From the outside it looked small, but Remus instinctively knew that it would be bigger on the inside. Still he had to wonder at why there was a tent there in the first place.
“Come on! We don't have a lot of time!” Harry urged as he gestured to the tent, “She's inside.”
Remus felt his breath hitch in his throat as the three of them started forwards, dreading what they might find on the inside.
Harry and Buffy had been visiting the Weasley family for the day but their time had been cut short by some sort of attack. Harry had used the floo network to get back to Grimmauld Place and tell Remus and Tonks that they were needed, although he had yet to explain much about the actual attack, just that Buffy was inside the tent and would need their help.
He was slightly suspicious, after all he had been sure the Burrow was protected from the death eaters. And if it hadn't been Voldemort who attacked, then who had it been?
Tonks seemed to be thinking along the same lines as the pair of them rushed down the pathway, ignoring how their frantic footsteps kicked the stones in every direction. Harry followed after them, but he kept a small distance between them.
As they reached the entrance Tonks gave Remus a nod and together they pulled back the fabric curtain, the pair of them holding their breath and expecting the worst as they peered into the darkened space inside. It was pitch black inside, and there was no one waiting there for them...
Remus turned back to Harry who had now caught up with them, “Uh, Harry are you sure-”
A click sounded, and instantly the tent was lit with a flash of light. Various magical lanterns snapped alive and a crowd of smiling people jumped out from behind tables and chairs.
They let their eyes wander the room, quickly adjusting to the difference in light. The entire tent was decorated in cream and pink with great, coloured balloons dotted around the room. The tables were covered by silk sheets and garlands made of various flowers hung on the walls.
And just above where they were standing was a giant banner that spread from one side of the tent to the other. It read 'Congratulations on your engagement!'
“Oh, you guys!” Tonks laughed as the crowd gathered around them, everyone with happy smiling faces as they came to offer their congratulations.
Remus' mouth hung open in surprise as he stared around him. “So, there was no attack..?”
Buffy stepped up to them and put her arm around Harry's shoulders, the both of them grinning. “Nope, it was all part of the plan. Great work by the way, Harry. You make quite the little actor.”
Their grins only widened when they noticed that Remus was glaring at them, although there was no fire behind the expression.
“You two? You organised all of this?”
“More than just pretty faces, huh?” Buffy said with a laugh.
She quietened as Harry nudged her in the ribs with his elbow, “Yeah, we wanted to do something special for the two of you. It's about time we all had something to celebrate, don't you think?”
Remus' answering grin told them his reply before he had even spoken a word.
Buffy couldn't stop smiling.
She had been scared at first, the thought of having to act happy to all her friends and family had quickly drained on her good mood. But she had surprised herself. She was actually enjoying her time at the party and having fun.
She'd only felt guilty for a few minutes before she'd reminded herself that she was there to celebrate, and she could feel guilty later. Right now, she just wanted some fun, and the small amount of alcohol she'd consumed was beginning to help with that too.
The tent was decorated beautifully, thanks to Hermione and Ginny who had spent all morning making everything and putting it all up, and the food that Molly had cooked was amazing as usual. She had even been pleasantly surprised by Harry's choice of music. He'd picked some muggle music, but everyone was still enjoying it even if they'd never heard of it before.
Sitting at one of the tables, unconsciously swaying to the beat of the music, Buffy laughed as she watched the people around her. Remus and Tonks were up and dancing together, even if Remus looked a little self conscious.
Harry and Ron were standing over at the food table, piling their plates full with snacks while they pulled faces at the various styles of dancing they could spot. Ginny, Hermione and one of the twins were dancing together, laughing as they twirled around one another. Luna and a few of the other students who had come were chatting in a circle, bobbing their heads to the music. A group of teachers, Chasity, Minerva and Pomona being among them, were sitting together in the corner of the room drinking and toasting to the happy couple.
As her eyes came back to where they had started, she noticed that Tonks was now alone and was looking out through the crowd in search of something, or someone. When their eyes met the younger witch broke out into a grin and waved, beckoning the slayer over to her side.
Buffy gratefully rose from her seat and made her way through the throngs of dancing people until she reached her friend's side, and the pair began to move to the music together.
“Hey, where's your dancing partner?”
Tonks shrugged, “He doesn't like dancing. I think I embarrass him.”
Buffy couldn't help but laugh, Tonks' dancing was a bit over the top, but at least she was having fun.
“Thank you so much for organising all of this!” Tonks laughed, “I'm having such a great time!”
“I'm glad. And it wasn't just me, pretty much everyone was involved at one stage.”
“Still, I know it was all your idea.” Tonks said with a smile, grabbing Buffy's hands so that they could sway their arms from one side to the other.
“Well, maybe.” Buffy replied with a grin, her eyes catching sight of her brother standing over with the boys, helping himself to food just like the students. Together she and Tonks rolled their eyes, some things never changed it seemed.
A sudden crack sounded around them, and Buffy spun at the familiar noise just in time to see three men apparate into the tent, right into the middle of the dance floor.
Instantly the crowd parted around them, people gasping and backing away to get as far away from the men who were so obviously not there for the party. For one thing they were dressed in immaculate grey suits, and for another their expressions were cold and emotionless. They had a job to do, and they were there do get it done.
Buffy's eyes locked with the man in front, all her happy thoughts slowly draining out from her mind, her smile fading away. The man smirked, and that was all the information she needed to know.
They were there for her.
Tonks tried to grab her arm as she stepped forward, but the slayer shrugged off her hand, stepping forward to face the three men.
The music now seemed a lot quieter than it had a moment ago and the guests had all fallen into silence. Everyone was staring at the newcomers, shocked and fearful looks on their faces.
The man at the front, the leader Buffy supposed, was looking her up and down, as if he was assessing her. “Isabella Lupin, yes?”
She saw no reason to deny it when they obviously knew who she was already. Not everyone else in the room knew of course, but at this point there was not much point in trying to hide her true identity.
The man laughed under his breath, “That's not the way it works, Miss Lupin.”
She shrugged, “Why not? You obviously know who I am. I have no idea who you are.” Of course she did have an idea, or at least an idea of who they worked for.
“You are quite right about that, but I'm afraid you have no reason to know our names. All you need to know is that we are from the Watchers Council and we have orders to-”
“Let me guess, to kill me?” She sighed, “That never gets old, does it?” She let her eyes take in the frightened people around her. She could fight these men, she could probably win against them too, but she couldn't risk anyone else being caught in the fight. There were too many people around and she couldn't possibly protect them all while fighting off the Council.
As her gaze swept the room a familiar face popped up right at the back of the crowd. Alastor Moody had arrived at the party long before anyone else had turned up, taking a seat in the far corner of the room, keeping to himself as he watched out for any trouble.
Her eyes met with his from across the room and he sent her a discreet nod, knowing exactly what she was asking of him.
“No, actually. We have orders to bring you back to Headquarters for questioning, and it will be up to our superior to decide your fate...” The man continued on, missing the silent exchange between Slayer and Auror. “Though I wouldn't get my hopes up if I were you.”
“You're mistaken if you think I would actually come with you willingly.” She replied, unconsciously flexing her hands into fists at her sides.
“I thought you might say that. Very well, I guess we have to do this the hard way after all.” The smirk on the man's face vanished as he nodded to the two men behind him.
All too suddenly for Buffy's liking, chaos erupted within the tent. Shouts and screams filled the room as the two men rushed forwards, wands in their hands.
As the first spell flew towards her, Buffy jumped to the side, unintentionally barging into a few of the guests. At the same time she heard Moody's yell for everyone to get down, and everyone around her dropped to the floor, hands held over their heads.
She righted herself and helped to pull up the young woman she had knocked over while digging into her pocket and grabbing her wand.
Another set of spells rushed towards her but she easily ducked out of the way, trying to draw the men away from the frightened guests.
All around her people began to move. Moody and a few of the other Order members were ushering people out, but most of the older guests were apparating away themselves, their bodies disappearing in a flash until only a select few remained. And even though those few refused to leave willingly, Moody soon dragged them away too.
Finally alone, Buffy knew she could fight properly without worrying about anyone else getting hurt. She wasn't getting anywhere by standing still and letting them shoot spells at her, and now that she was alone she could let the Slayer loose.
She sent the men a dark look as she walked towards them, purposefully slowly. With every spell they sent her way she dodged it or countered it with a spell of her own.
When she was within an arms length of the first attacker she pulled back her fist to strike, eyes widening when his arm instinctively rose just in time to block the blow.
“Huh, that's new.” She commented as she took in the man’s strength. Obviously these council operatives were no strangers to hand to hand combat as well as magic...
The man grinned at her until she used his moment of distraction to swipe his feet out from under his body, sending him sprawling to the floor. He might be able to fight the same way as she did, but that didn't mean he was any better or smarter for that matter.
Instantly she was forced to jump to the side to avoid a jet of orange flames that flashed past her, spinning to grab the second attacker by the arm and twisting it until the bone snapped. He cried out in agony, his wand falling from his now useless hand.
The leader of the group stood back and watched, almost as if he was studying her moves, learning the way she fought. And while he was staying out of her way, she was quite content to leave him be.
The other two were quick to regroup and start the attack again, this time working together. One man grabbed her from behind and hauled her off her feet, while the other came at her from the front.
With a growl she let all her body weight transfer onto the watcher holding her, grinning as she felt his body strain to keep upright. While she was practically lying on her back, she kicked out her legs with as much force as she could, hitting the other watcher in the chest and sending him flying backwards into the tent wall, ripping the fabric as he fell straight through it. With the added weight from both her and the movement of her kick, the watcher holding her from behind finally fell backwards, his legs crumbling underneath him.
She rolled away from his body and crouched to the floor, staring up at the leader and waiting for him to make his first move.
His wand rose ever so slightly and Buffy leapt to the side, his spell soaring past her. It hit something behind her with a bang and the music that had been playing shut off abruptly, leaving the tent in complete silence. Buffy grinned as she finally stood back on her feet and stared up at the man.
“You can keep shooting spells at me all day, and I'll just keep dodging them. You're not quick enough to-”
The tiniest of smirks appeared on his lips before he vanished from sight, and Buffy let her words trail off, her eyes scanning the tent around her in suspicion.
Seconds later the leader re-appeared behind her, taking her by surprise and knocking her to the floor. He laughed out loud until she hooked her foot around his ankle and pulled, bringing him to her level where she could easily grab him by the collar of his perfectly smooth suit and slam his head back.
He tried to pull up his wand but she got to it first, easily pulling it free from his hand and holding it, pointed at his neck. “Now you listen to me closely, Mr Watcher. You know full well what I am and what I could do with this wand of yours-”
He laughed, struggling against her hold, “Go ahead and kill me then, Slayer.”
“Yeah, well that's not really my style.” She lifted his head until he could see the unconscious bodies of the two watchers he had brought with him. “You see your friends there? I'm gonna let you go and I'll even let you take your buddies with you, but I don't ever want you coming after me again. Got that?”
When he laughed again she backhanded him across the face. “Got it?”
“I'm not promising anything, Slayer. And if you let us go you'll be making a huge mistake. There's plenty more men out there willing to take you down.”
She sighed. He was right of course. They definitely knew who she was now and they were not going to just stop coming after her. It would be easier if these men never made it back to their Headquarters but there was no way she was about to kill them in order to protect herself.
She let a small smirk play on her own lips and watched the man's eyes become fearful. “Not if I have my way.”
She gave him one last punch to the face, strong enough to knock him unconscious before she stood and threw down his wand, crunching it under her foot until it snapped into little pieces. Then she pulled out her own wand again and pointed it at the man.“Obliviate.”
She repeated the spell on the other two watchers, sighing as she let her wand arm drop back to her side. At least they wouldn't remember anything that had happened there, and perhaps they would forget about her too. Still that didn't mean that her troubles were over, the Council would send others after her once they realised she was still alive.
She grimaced as she stared around her. The tent was trashed, tables had been overturned and decorations had been ripped to pieces. There was a hole in one side of the tent and another was almost burnt away, charred pieces of fabric littering the ground. The great banner that hung across the room had fallen down at one side and was now half slumped on the floor...
With a sigh she stepped outside where Moody was standing guard at the entrance, trying to stop Remus, Tonks and Harry from barging straight back inside. The Weasley family as well as Hermione and a couple of the teachers remained there too, but they at least were standing back.
Everyone looked up at her approach.
“We have a big problem...”