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This Slender Thread

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Summary: AU after Chosen. Buffy is transported through a portal to a different time, and must face an unexpected enemy while attempting to avert yet another apocalypse.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Harry Potter > Buffy-Centered > Pairing: Tom Riddle/VoldemortuleanblueFR18414,7675203,73113 Nov 139 Feb 14No

Chapter 3

A/N: Of course, I own nothing and take responsibility for any screwups, plot holes, abuse of italics, or general suckage. Many thanks to Nerys and Miya for looking over this. Enjoy!





Chapter 3


October 2003



With barely a whisper of displaced air, three cloaked figures materialized in the center of Hogsmeade cemetery.

The men stood in the moonlit darkness; alert, poised in a defensive triangle, wands held aloft as they assessed their surroundings. Apart from the soft breeze rustling the leaves of a large oak tree that guarded over rows of ancient, timeworn headstones, the atmosphere of the cemetery appeared to be one of hushed, unbroken tranquility.

Several long seconds ticked by as they remained silent and still, intensely focused as they each scanned back and forth across the long rows of shadowed headstones. Only when it became clear that no attack was immediately forthcoming did the tension in their postures subside.

The silence was broken when Ron groaned quietly and muttered, “Merlin’s Bloody Beard! What is that smell?”

Harry nodded, trying not to gag at the eye-watering stench that had hit him and his fellow aurors in the face the moment they’d apparated. There was something terribly off here, though, and it wasn’t just the repulsive odor of decay that hung in the air like a blanket.

All around him, the air itself was charged with magical residue, heavy and electric, like after a storm, only....dark. Tainted. It prickled sharply over his senses, leaving him tense and uneasy.

Glancing at Ron and Cormac he said, “You feel that?”

Cormac made a face, squinting into the darkness as if trying to see an object off in the distance. “Feel it? I can almost taste it. Bloody awful.”

“Right, then. Let’s do this. Look sharp.”

They each took a single step forward, then another, expanding their circle, flicking their wands in unison with the rhythmic, effortless precision of a well oiled machine. Instantly, waves of sparkling energy swept outward from where they stood, illuminating the graveyard in a bright blue glow as light cascaded over carved headstones and mossy crypts.

It was a mess.

A large circle of burnt grass smoldered nearby, and a number of guttering braziers lay scattered amongst a layer of windswept leaves, broken twigs and small bits of debris, as if a tornado had whipped through part of the cemetery. He paused, noting a few pieces of statuary nearby had toppled off their bases. Tracks scored the soft earth behind each one, as if the statues had been dragged toward the circle.

Just ahead Harry could make out a dark mass sprawled on the ground.

As the three of them approached, it became clear that whatever lay there wasn’t human. The corpse of the creature was large, bloated and grayish, with horns coming out of its head that vaguely resembled those of a bull. It wore brown leather armor over tough, scaly looking skin--and it had a gaping wound in its chest.

Ron coughed, hard, his face scrunched up in distaste. “Well, mates. Here’s our lovely smell right here,” he rasped out.

“What manner of beast is that, do ya think?”

Harry eyed the enormous, long handled axe next to the corpse. “Don’t know. Dark creature, possibly? Never seen one that carries that kind of weaponry, though.”

Ron approached the body and knelt, directing his lit wand toward its face as he examined the creature, then commented, “Either way, our boy here’s clearly not local.”

“You sure it’s even a boy? Cormac tossed out as he methodically swept over the area with his wand.

“You’re welcome to flip up its kilt and find out for y’self.” Ron fired back without looking up from his work.

Harry shot Cormac a stern, disbelieving look. Bloody Hell. Brilliant aurors as they were, at times they were like a pair of twelve year olds. He really did not want to have to have a discussion regarding proper investigational protocol with them again.

Cormac had the decency to appear suitably chastened. “I’ll take your word for it,” he mumbled.

As Cormac moved past them to inspect the scorched remains of the circle more closely, Harry dropped to a crouch next to Ron and studied the creature’s armor. He gestured to its torso, observing, “Looks like something was painted here on his chest, but I can’t make it out.”

Cormac’s voice carried over the short distance to them. He was bent over, scrutinizing the markings, all business once again. “There was some sort of ritual performed here, I’d wager, but I’m not familiar with the runes on this circle at all.” He paused, then added, “Some serious shit went down here, lads. Feels off just lookin at it.”

Harry and Ron quickly exchanged a look.

That someone was bold enough to conduct a mysterious dark ritual in such a staid, secure village as Hogsmeade, and in such close proximity to his beloved Hogwarts--his metaphorical home turf-- was deeply troubling.

He quickly rifled through a number of possible scenarios in his mind, the implications of each becoming more problematic as his thoughts went down the line.

He could probably rule out some random, inexperienced tosser messing about with the Dark Arts right off the bat--the presence of the creature indicated that, though honestly, that brought up an entire set of questions of its own. What the hell was it? Where had it come from, and who killed it?

And why here? Hogsmeade was hardly a hotbed of nefarious activity. No, individuals seeking to explore the darker aspects of magic still tended to gravitate to places like Knockturn.

Harry couldn’t shake the feeling that something more significant was at play here, more than the usual fare of artifact peddlers and suspected Death Eater sympathizers they were usually dispatched to deal with. If he could just put his finger on it.

A message, perhaps?

It could very well mean that someone, or something, wanted to capture their attention.

But who?

Harry’s jaw tightened as he tried to clear his head. Like the angry, dissonant buzzing of bees in his ears, the dark, toxic energy lingering in the air really wasn’t helping him focus.

Ron finished running his wand over the creature, and sat back on his haunches, shaking his head. “This is bloody bizarre,” he said, his tone perplexed, “our bloke here died less than half an hour ago, but look at him,” he said, aiming his wand at its face, “he’s beginning to putrefy, and rapidly. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Sure enough, as though they were watching a strange time lapse video, the creature’s skin turned black and began to peel away from its extremities, muscle and tissue collapsing as its skeletal structure grew more pronounced. Ron, smartly, didn’t hesitate. He jumped up, whipped out his camera and snapped a series of pictures in rapid succession.

Harry, still kneeling, watched in appalled fascination as within minutes, the creature decomposed to a flaky, ash like substance before his eyes, the flash of the camera illuminating the process in garish, lightning like bursts, igniting in his brain like an epiphany.

Suddenly he knew, with sickening certainty, what the unfurling chain of the night’s events would look like.

They would hand all their photographs and evidence over to the Unspeakables, who might or might not be able to decipher some meaning from them. Words such as inexplicable and random and isolated would be ascribed to the appearance of the unknown Dark creature, which meant that unless said creature was actually battering down the doors of the Ministry itself, they couldn’t be arsed to investigate its potential significance.

The Ministry bureaucrats still tended to be rather dismissive towards anything that didn’t fit within their narrow parameters.

Then the case would no longer be in their hands, and without viable leads or suspects the investigation would most likely be closed. All the paperwork would simply disappear into a file, buried in a drawer that would never see the light of day again.

And that would be the end of it.

Of course, he could always make waves. He did, after all, still have clout, despite frequently butting heads with his supervisor Robards. He could push the issue, perhaps enlist Hermione’s help to identify the symbols from the circle. And then…...and then someone would carefully, helpfully suggest that maybe, just maybe, you were adversely affected by certain, traumatic parallels with your past, and were seeing things that simply weren’t there.

Harry scoffed quietly to himself.

If he pursued this, there was a distinct possibility that it would be like Fifth Year all over again.

Well. He’d been right then too, hadn’t he?

A sound came to them, soft and breathy as a sigh, barely audible over the wind, jolting Harry from his thoughts. Cormac abruptly glanced up, his face screwed up in concentration. “D’ya hear that?”

Instantly, wordlessly, Harry flicked his wand in the general direction of the noise. A faint glow appeared from behind several rows of headstones.

Someone was in the cemetery with them. Damnit!

Why hadn’t he ruled out the presence of possible suspects as soon as they arrived? He could curse himself out for being distracted later.

The three aurors stalked toward the glowing spot, casting silencing charms to mask their movements. Harry silently motioned for them to separate as they moved to flank whoever might be hiding. Whoever it was didn’t appear to be moving. Perhaps they didn’t yet realize they’d been detected.

He gripped his wand tight as he approached the gravestone closest to their target. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Ron and Cormac slipping into position.

Wands out, they sprang from behind their respective covers in a swift, decisive movement only to find a young woman slumped, apparently unconscious, against a headstone. Long, glossy chestnut hair partially obscured her face as she sat propped, a large vertical smear of blood on the surface of the headstone behind her. Cormac instantly knelt and flicked his wand over her, assessing the extent of her injuries; deep, jagged lacerations marred her shoulder and belly, as if she’d been mauled by an animal. She stirred faintly and moaned softly as if in distress.

A witness. They’d found a witness.

She was dressed in Muggle clothing, though, which raised a number of troubling questions. Who was she, and what in Merlin’s name was she doing here?

After a moment, Cormac said briskly, “She’s lost too much blood to treat here. We’ll need to get her to Mungo’s right away.”

Ron was scanning the ground beside her. “I don’t see a wand. She a Muggle, you think?”

Her eyes snapped open, then, wild and slightly unfocused. She lurched upright into a sitting position. She stared blankly ahead, and for a second, Harry wondered if she even registered their presence-- until she swung her fist in a wide, flailing backhand arc that caught Cormac directly under the chin.

And sent him sailing backward a considerable distance through the air.

The woman surged unsteadily to her feet. She was highly agitated, disoriented, her dark eyes darting around, searching. “Buffy!” she cried out, her voice urgent, desperate. She clutched her bloody abdomen with her left hand, stumbling toward where the circle of burned grass lay.

Who the Hell was Buffy?

With his hands held out in a placating gesture, Ron advanced toward her. “Hey, Miss. Easy now.”

Faster than he thought possible given her injuries, she whipped around, slamming into Ron’s middle with a powerful roundhouse kick. Harry watched, horrified, as Ron flew back several meters, hitting the ground with an audible Oof!, then rolling like a ragdoll until his body smacked into a headstone.

“Ron!”

Witness or not, Harry wasn’t taking any more chances. He jabbed his wand toward the woman. Stupefy. She staggered, grunting loudly, but she didn’t go down.

He did it again. Nothing.

Bloody Hell.

She whirled on him, dark eyes blazing and ferocious, face set in a snarl, and he felt his insides go absolutely cold.

Pointing his wand once more, he desperately focused every molecule of his being on his casting and prayed it would work.

Like a puppet with its strings cut, she collapsed, face down, onto the ground.

By now Cormac had regained his footing. “What in the Bloody fuck is she?” he growled. His lower lip and chin were dripping with blood; he must have bitten himself hard when she punched him. He swiped at it angrily with the back of his gloved hand, then tapped his wand to his mouth, vanishing the cut.

“She’s no Muggle, that’s for sure.” Harry stated with certainty as he made his way over to where Ron was slowly, painfully raising himself onto his hands and knees.

”Maybe she’s in league with that thing we found.” Cormac said accusingly, as he followed Harry. Standing on either side of him, they each looped an arm under Ron’s elbows and helped hoist him to his feet.

“We won’t know anything until we question--”

“Bloody Hell, Potter! She attacked us!” Cormac cut him off, his tone growing louder and progressively more strident.

Harry raised his voice in turn. “Calm yourself, McClaggen. We’re not jumping to--”

The sound of screeching brakes suddenly cut through the air, loud and jarring, followed by the slamming of car doors.

Ron swiveled toward the sound, alarmed. “Is that a car? Here?” The movement made him wince, and he gingerly rubbed his side. “Awww, think I cracked a bloody rib,” he muttered.

From the narrow lane that wound along the grassy border of the cemetery they saw two young women, a tall, willowy redhead and a shorter, powerfully built black woman sprinting up the hill directly toward them, trailed by a tall, middle aged man with glasses, wearing a backpack. Like the dark haired woman laying unconscious on the ground, they too wore Muggle clothing.

Catching the glint of a silver blade in the moonlight he could also see the women rushing at them now were armed, however, the man following them held no weapon; in his hands was a small, intricately carved wooden box.

In Harry’s mind, the needle on the giant scale of Things That Could Possibly Go Wrong suddenly shot into the zone that hovered precariously between Potentially Awful and Completely, Irredeemably Buggered.

Cormac stared at them quizzically, as if he was having difficulty processing what he was seeing. “Is that a crossbow?” He readied himself, raising his wand, and Harry tensed, remembering then that Cormac had far less experience with Muggles than he and Ron. None of this was adding up at all, though. It was impossible for a Muggle to even find Hogsmeade…His mind raced.

But are they even Muggles? How did they know where to…..And with a flash of insight, it clicked.

Without preamble, he blurted, “They’re here for the woman.”

“What?”

Merlin, they were fast. There was no chance for him to even reply, for in seconds the two females were on top of them.

Harry heard the black woman shout, “You! Get away from her!” as she positioned herself between the unconscious woman and the three men. She radiated a fierce, potent hostility, levelling the crossbow at Ron and Cormac; they both stood defensively, wands raised.

He was about to open his mouth to speak, but the collar of his robes were abruptly twisted and jerked upward, constricting his neck as he found himself staring down into the angry face of the redhead, and he realized his feet were no longer touching the ground.

And that she was holding him suspended in the air with one arm.

The man had a wary intensity to him, though his appearance was nondescript-- benign, even. He opened the wooden box and withdrew a clear glass orb slightly larger than his fist. He spoke a single word in a deep, clear, commanding voice, and the orb began to glow.

They have magic.

The next few seconds unspooled with the sharp, surreal quality of a dream.

There was a chaotic burst of shouting from Ron and Cormac. Harry thrashed, uselessly, struggling to dislodge the woman’s steely grip on his clothing when a few colorful jets of light flared at the edges of his vision.

The redhead yelped and recoiled as if absorbing a blow; they’d managed to strike her with a hex, yet she was still standing, gripping him by his robes as if nothing had happened. Just like the dark haired woman had. Blood began to hammer in his ears like a drum, and he fought to contain a spiraling sense of panic. This was…..this was bad. Very bad.

Right. Buggered it is, then.

Holding the orb in front of him like a talisman, the man edged his way over to the prone figure of the woman; he carefully placed the orb back into the open box, then set it on the ground where it continued to radiate like a beacon. He reached down and checked the woman’s pulse, then gently turned her over and cradled her in his arms, his face etched with worry.

“Faith. Faith...Can you hear me?”

There was no response at first, then a faint moan.

The redhead jerked Harry closer and shouted in his face, “What did you assholes do to her?”

Stunned, he locked eyes with her, her expression a turbulent mix of rage and fear. He shook his head and croaked, “Nothing!......Nothing... We just got here!”

“Bullshit!” She shook him, as if to emphasize her disagreement; his head snapped back and his teeth clacked together painfully.

“We didn’t touch her, ye bleedin psychos!” Ron yelled back raggedly.

That caught Harry’s attention instantly. Ron’s voice sounded so very off.

Craning his head around as far as he was able, he saw Ron on his knees, his hand clasped around the shaft of a bolt protruding from just below his collarbone. Cormac knelt next to him, grim faced, his arm on Ron’s shoulder. Their wands were on the ground in front of them, just out of reach. Oh shit.

The black woman still covered them both with her weapon. She looked decidedly pissed off.

A thin, feminine whisper reached Harry’s ears. “Giles?”

“Faith!” Giles breathed in relief. “What happened? Where is Buffy?” One handed, he slid a first aid kit from his pack and rifled through it, producing a small brown bottle. Giles murmured, “it’s going to sting a bit” before pouring the contents over her abdomen.

Faith hissed and struggled to sit up, but Giles held her in place. “B’s not here?” She rasped out, distraught.

He shook his head, his mouth a thin line. “We’ve seen no sign of her...yet.”

Faith wore a pained grimace. “There were demons,,,in, um, a circle, and….I dunno, some magic dude with….bad headgear. Looked hardcore, so B said to call for backup. I got...torn up.” She angled her head up to look up at Giles. “I gave her my sword.”

“A circle, you say?” Giles repeated distantly, his brow scrunched up in concentration.

For a moment Harry wondered if he was delirious from oxygen deprivation, because he wasn’t entirely certain that he’d actually heard Faith correctly. Demons? Backup? Who in Merlin’s name were these people? Had they…….had they actually been hunting that creature?

Giles nodded toward Harry. “Perhaps these men here know what happened. They could have--”

Faith squinted up at him, interrupting, “Men? What?, Wait, that was real?

“Nah, you just imagined smashing me bloody teeth in.” Cormac retorted, disbelieving. Throwing a distrustful glare at Rona, he asked, “Who the bloody hell are you people?” He paused, then gestured toward Faith, “And how is she even conscious?” he added, a confused, sullen undertone creeping into his voice. Though he sat in stoic silence next to him, Ron was getting progressively paler. “I get you lot aren’t Muggles, but her vitals were….they were damn near nonexistent!”

Giles’s head snapped up at that, his face shifting in dawning comprehension. His voice rang out then, an unmistakable edge of authority in his tone. “Vi! Let him go…..and Rona, stand down.”

“What?”

“You heard me.”

Harry nearly sank to the ground in relief as the pressure was abruptly released from his throat.

Cormac swiftly focused his attention on Ron’s shoulder; Giles gently eased Faith down onto her back, sliding the pack under her head as a cushion. “I must confess, I haven’t heard that term since….well, since I was a schoolboy.” He eyed Harry speculatively. “You’re from the Ministry of Magic, am I correct?”

Harry, rubbing a particularly tender spot on his neck where his robes had been bunched roughly against his skin, was striding toward Ron but stopped short at Giles’s words.

Cormac stiffened; his hand twitched and tightened around his wand in an apparently fleeting, abortive impulse to hex the man. “What makes you think we’re from the Ministry?” he asked coldly.

Giles caught it too; though he remained crouched next to the woman, his entire frame was tight, corded with tension. Slowly, he rose to his feet, brushing his hands on the sides of his jeans. His eyes flicked back and forth between the three of them, as if measuring their reaction. “When he said Muggle, I realized at last who you were.” Giles explained, “Well, that...and the, uh, matching cloaks were a bit of a clue. My name is Rupert Giles, and these are my associates; Violet, Rona and Faith. We must apologize for our conduct--we received a call from Faith, and..when we arrived we thought you were attacking her. Obviously we were terribly mistaken.”

Clearly, Cormac wasn’t prepared to let Giles and company off the hook just yet. “That’s all well and good, but that still doesn't explain what the lady was doing here in the cemetery.” He fairly bristled with indignation.

“Cormac,” Ron cut in, clamping a hand firmly on Cormac’s shoulder and shooting him a look that said don’t be a prat. “I’m Ron Weasley. That’s Harry Potter,” he said, nodding in his direction. To Harry’s relief, some of the color had already returned to his face.

“No, no, it’s a fair point,” Giles conceded. “We are, to put it simply,” he said, appearing to choose his words with care, “professional demon hunters.”

“Demon hunters?” Cormac sounded skeptical.

“Demons, vampires, creatures who would spread their evil on the--, “He broke off. “Look, I’d be more than happy to discuss this more thoroughly over a pint by the fire, but right now one of our colleagues--a young woman-- is missing, and may be injured. We need to find her. Quickly.”

“This would be Buffy--the one you asked her about?”

“Now just hold on a bloody minute!” Cormac interrupted. He stared at Harry, incredulous. “You don’t seriously believe him, do you?”

“Excuse us a moment,” Harry said to Giles tersely, steering Cormac and Ron a few steps away. With a few sharp waves of his wand, the faint buzz of muffliato enveloped the three men. “What are you doing, Cormac?” Harry crossed his arms and fixed him with his best Head Auror glare.

The slow simmer of Cormac’s temper threatened to erupt into a full boil. “I don’t like this!” he bit out, stepping right up until he was almost pressing his chest against Harry’s. “Those women are not human,” he emphasized loudly, gesturing towards Rona and Vi.

“No, but Giles probably is. I could always hex him to find out.” Ron interjected excitedly. At Harry’s appalled expression he quickly muttered, chagrined, “It was just a thought....I mean, come on! No way is he being straight with us.”

“He’s right. For all we know,” Cormac continued, “this Faith woman participated in this ritual or whatever it was, something went wrong--and now her friends have come ‘round to collect her and cover her tracks.”

As much as it galled him to admit it, Harry couldn’t deny Cormac had a point.“You may be right.” he admitted grudgingly. And Cormac was a decent sort. Really, he was. Of all his finer qualities, though, critical thinking was sadly not among them.

Harry sighed, then said, “But it’s my call, and I say they’re the closest thing we’ve got to having any idea about what happened here. So we play along for now, see if we can learn anything.” As Cormac opened his mouth, Harry pressed on, overriding his protest. “I’m not ready to send for reinforcements just yet.”

Cormac deflated a bit and eyed Harry pensively. “Robards will have our heads for this. Hope you know what you’re doing, mate.”

His mouth creased into a smirk. “Never stopped me before.”

“Wait, where’d he go?” Ron asked, puzzled.

So engrossed were they in their conversation, they hadn’t immediately noticed that Giles and Vi were nowhere to be seen. Rona sat on the ground, crosslegged, with Faith propped against her. They rushed over, surrounding the two women. Rona tilted her head up to look at them, flatly unimpressed.

“While you boys were over there having your little circle jerk, Giles and Vi went to get a lead on our missing person...or did you forget about that part?”

“Did you hear what she just said?” Cormac’s obvious display of outrage seemed rather dubious, given his own often inappropriate flippancy.

Harry’s nerves were beginning to wear thin. “Merlin’s Beard, Cormac. Let it go.This is getting us nowhere.”

Harry simply stared Rona down until finally, she rolled her eyes and huffed out a sigh. “Fine. They’re right over there.”

As they turned and strode away, Faith, who until that moment had been reclining, body slack and eyes closed as if sleeping, broke out in weak, wheezy chuckling. “Girl, you really gotta work on those people skills.”

“Yeah, yeah. You’re one to talk.”





Vi waited anxiously off to one side of the circle, the silvery moonlight highlighting her pale features. Giles didn’t look up or otherwise acknowledge them as they approached. He was pacing the circle, almost manic, eyeing the symbols with undisguised dismay.

Striding up to him, Harry bluntly demanded, “You know what these runes mean, don’t you?”

Giles attention snapped to him at once. In his eyes was naked fear. It took him a second to compose himself enough to respond. “Yes….yes,” he said, pointing to a specific spot. “These markings represent Eryishon.”

“I don’t know what that is.”

“It’s not a what, it’s a who. Eryishon is a demon who holds power over time. The circle is an invocation….beseeching him to….throw open the door, as it were.”

Harry stared at him, aghast. “Are you saying someone opened a doorway in time?” A cold sliver of dread curled through his gut. This was even worse than he’d imagined.

“Precisely, though….they would have needed a willing blood sacrifice to complete the ritual and activate the portal.”

Thinking quickly, Harry said, “We found was a body when we got here. It wasn’t human.”

Ron’s voice carried from where he stood on the opposite edge of the circle. “So that thing we found--that was a demon, yeah?”

“Was its throat cut?”

Harry shook his head. “Chest wound.”

Giles yanked his glasses off and rubbed his hands over his face. For a moment, he looked absolutely wrecked. “Buffy,” he whispered, anguished, “she couldn’t possibly have anticipated--” The trepidation in his features transformed into a mask of fierce, paternal anger. “Clever bastard.”

“So you believe she went through this..portal?” Merlin, it was difficult to wrap his brain around the notion that someone had opened a hole in time. The Unspeakables would have a field day once they learned of it.

“Considering the manner in which it was carried out, it may have been their plan all along…” He hesitated, then went still. “She…bloody hell...This is what she saw….this...this is where it starts.”

Cormac, who had been avidly watching their exchange, stepped in. “Look, mate. I’m man enough to admit I’m out of my depth here. I’m just not following ya.”

Giles’s tone was grave. ”Whoever invoked Eryishon has set into motion a chain of events...that could jeopardize the very fabric of our entire world.”

Cormac scoffed, “That’s...that’s bloody ludicrous!”

“Tell me, Cormac,” Harry swung around on him sharply. “What did you feel when we first got here?”

A painfully long beat passed where Cormac’s face was frozen in concentration; when he replied, it was in a low, halting murmur. “Like….like I was going to be sick.”

“What you felt was the residue of evil so incomprehensibly potent it--well, there’s a reason it no longer exists in our dimension.”

Cormac was silent for a moment as he absorbed what Giles had said, then he began to shake his head, as if he could ward off his words with the sheer physical force of his denial. “No. It’s ridiculous. I can’t…..!”

“Cormac. Listen,” Ron argued, “I know it sounds absolutely mad, but..what’s happening here..you felt it yourself. We all did.”

Cormac looked lost, as though he’d been set adrift in an endless, unnavigable sea. “I...I just don’t know.”

“You’re right, of course.” Giles spoke up unexpectedly. “You don’t know me, and you have no reason to believe a single word I say--and given our introduction, I can’t honestly say I would blame you. But let me make something perfectly clear.” His tone hardened. “I intend to find whoever is responsible for this. I will deal with them, and one way or another I will find Buffy, and neither you nor your Ministry had better interfere or--”

Harry cut him off. “I can help you.”

Giles stuttered to a halt, staring at him for an instant in surprise. He nodded, then said somberly, “If this means what I think it does, we’re going to need all the help we can get.” Turning his head he called out, “Vi. Help get Faith to the car. I’ll be along shortly.”

“Where can we find you?”

Giles reached into his jacket, withdrew a card and handed it to Harry before turning to leave. “There’s an old bookstore just off Buchanan Street in Glasgow. “I’ll be there tomorrow at about half past ten.”

A small half quirked smile graced Harry’s face. “I think I might know this place. A friend of ours shops there from time to time.”

“Very good. It’s one of the few places I can go to once in a while to escape the demands of the raging horde.”

“Demons?” Ron asked, curious.

“Teenagers.” Giles moved to leave. “Now, if you’ll all excuse me, I must go tend to Faith. And...there is someone I need to contact at once.”
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