The question of House Elves
Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer belongs to Joss and his. Harry Potter belongs to J.K. Rowling and hers. They are not mine.
The Question of House Elves
Snow swirled over the ground, buffeted by the wind, making patterns like snakes slithering over the courtyard. She had gotten a call over the floo from the Watcher’s Council Headquarters inviting her and Severus over the Thanksgiving dinner. Actually, Giles said that she and a guest were invited. Guest being said in that significant tone that indicated that Dawn had blabbed about the door that had been magicked in between she & Severus’ rooms. She hadn’t yet told Severus that they were expected for dinner. It was the end of November. She had been at the castle for a little over two months and still no threat from the big bad of the wizarding world.
Dumbledore had given Faith run of the castle and grounds. She trained daily and even with the sudden snow storm last night, Faith had pulled out some warm clothes, gone for a five mile run, did some weapons forms and was now finishing her tai chi exercises in the courtyard. About ten minutes into her sword work, Faith noticed a young girl in a Hogwarts uniform with a red and gold badge watching her from one of the archways leading to a castle door. Faith chose to ignore her, finishing her work out routine. She was used to this by now, the curious stares of the students, the whispers and wide eyes. Although the sun had come out from behind the clouds, the temperature had not risen. “You must be cold,” Faith said companionably to the girl who had stood watching for the last half-hour of Faith’s work out.
“Warming charm,” was the neutral reply. The girl tilted her head to the side continuing to watch Faith curiously, “I’m Hermione Granger.”
“Ah,” Faith said even though she knew who the girl was. Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger had been pointed out to her the first day she arrived, along with a number of their friends and enemies. Part of her job at Hogwarts was to protect the students who were targets for the Dark Lord and his servants. “Faith,” she extended a hand and watched as the girl shifted two or three large tomes in her arms before taking the hand. The young girl might have felt warm under her cloak, but her hands were like ice. “You wanna talk about something? You waited for a reason, right?” The bushy-headed girl nodded, and Faith said, “Come on, then, the batty-eared little guys usually have a snack for me at the end of work out.”
Faith strode through the corridors of Hogwarts with confidence as she led the way to the portrait of the pear. She tapped on the painting instead of just tickling the handle and going in. Hermione was about to tell her how to open the door when a house elf opened the portrait from the other side. With a low bow it addressed the slayer, “Misses Faith has come for her afternoon tea?”
“Heya, George, tea for two today, I’ve got a friend,” Faith said indicating Hermione. Then, she blinked in utter surprise as the house elves, which had been nothing but wonderful, polite and helpful to her, let out a screech and began to push against Hermione’s legs.
“No! No! Not her in the kitchens!” The house elf said loudly, “She is the bad one. Always leaving clothes everywhere for house elves to find to tries and frees them. Bad she is.”
“Woah, woah, little guy,” Faith said amused as she plucked up the house elf and held him up at arms length, “What’s all this?”
“They don’t like me much,” Hermione said, “I rarely go into the kitchens, although Harry, Ron and Ginny come down here pretty often.”
“Huh,” Faith said a little perplexed, “well, is there somewhere else we can talk?”
“The prefect’s meeting room should be empty now,” Hermione said pointing to a room just down the hall.
“Prefect’s room, George,” Faith said putting the house elf down and giving it a rub across the top of his head, “Tea for me and Miss Granger, please.”
The elf ducked with a shy smile and squeaked, “Yes, Misses Faith,” and with a loud crack was gone, the portrait door closed.
Faith swept her arm, indicating that Hermione was to lead the way to the prefect’s meeting room. She was extremely curious about the house elf’s reaction to seeing the Gryffindor girl. Following Hermione into the meeting room, Faith broke into a grin seeing what the house elves had sent, before hopping up onto the table next to the food and drink laden tray. She picked up a small roast beef sandwich and bit into it, waving for Hermione to take a seat. “Man, I love these guys. Have a seat, grab something.”
Hermione screwed her face up into a pout. “Don’t you find the slavery of the house elves degrading?”
Faith, mouth full of sandwich, blinked at Hermione, “Slavery?”
“Yes, they work and are given no wages. They have no rights in the wizarding world. The are often treated inhumanely,” an unholy gleam lit in Hermione’s eyes, “I have started the Society for the Preservation of Elvish Welfare. We are trying to secure elf rights and free them from their oppression.”
Faith’s eyebrows rose and a smirk graced her features, “Oppression?”
Hermione continued as if Faith hadn’t spoken, digging into her bag for a flier. “It’s just a few sickles you can join the organization. The dues go to publishing fliers and producing clothes to free the elves.”
“Woah, back up. I don’t think you understand what slavery is,” Faith said, “Those house elves, they aren’t slaves. They are doing what they were born to do. That’s not slavery. It is fulfilling a purpose. I’ve spent time with those little buggers. They are full of magic. They are powerful, probably more powerful than some wizards. If they chose to unite and walk out, they could,” Faith watched the confused girl, then smiled, “Come on, have some tea. Let me tell you a story.”
Hermione sat primly in a chair and poured herself a cup of tea. Faith took a last bite of her sandwich and popped a biscuit in her mouth before rearranging herself on the table sitting Indian-style looking down at the girl in the chair next to her.
“Once upon a time,” Faith started grandly before cracking a smile; “there was a young girl, beautiful, popular, a cheerleader. Her parent loved her and o.k., maybe not the brightest light bulb in the box, but generally good hearted. Then, somewhere in the world, a slayer dies, and this girl becomes the slayer. At the beginning, she fought against destiny. She refused to give up her friends; she refused to just follow her watcher blindly. She fulfilled her calling, but on her terms. She lasted through apocalypse after apocalypse, bent the rules, and ended up changing the world for good. She chose to stand and fight and led an army of slayers against the first evil.
“There was another girl, beautiful, young. As a child she was raised by her watcher, for being a potential slayer was a great honor to her family and they gave her up without question. She obeyed her watcher, trained alone, worked alone, and believed all the propaganda. She even read the handbook. She lived, breathed, ate slayer. Then, somewhere in the world, a slayer dies, and she was called. Her world was black and white, all vampires were Evil, she was Good. She almost ended the world. There was a prophecy, that a vampire with a soul would play a major part in a world-ending apocalypse. This slayer, in blind righteousness, almost killed him. Didn’t question, didn’t think.”
Faith paused looking at Hermione before asking, “Who do you think was the slave?”
“Which one were you?” Hermione asked quietly, the house elf debate temporarily forgotten.
“I was the slayer called after these two girls. The first became a sister-in-arms; the second was stopped from killing the vampire. Eventually, that vampire saved my life, I saved his, and he saved the world.
“You believe in destiny, right?” Faith asked, “You believe that Harry Potter is destined to stop Voldemort.”
“It’s his purpose.”
“Did he choose to be chosen? Does he have the option to not fight?” Faith caught Hermione’s eyes. “Do you have the option to walk away? Will you take it?” The slayer smiled kindly, suddenly grateful for all the time spent with the baby slayers, “I tried to walk a number of times. Hell, some days I still want to. I’ve been self-destructive, homicidal, suicidal, trying to escape what I was called to do.”
“How do you do it? How do you go on?” Hermione asked remembering back on the years with Harry and Ron.
“You have people who believe in you. You get forgiven. You forgive yourself. You chose to not stop fighting the good fight. You pray. You live,” Faith assessed the girl, “You would have made a good slayer.” Hermione blinked, startled and a little flattered.
“When this is all over, if you are interested in being a watcher, let me know. You’re smart, you work hard, you’re brave, you want to do what’s right. You feel, have compassion. You would make a good watcher.” Faith jumped off the table, “Thanks for the snack, George,” she said aloud to the room.
“George?” Hermione asked.
Faith shrugged, “The batty-eared things. I couldn’t tell them apart, or remember their names, oh, except for the wacky one with all the hats and socks, Dobby. So I call them all George. They seem to think it’s funny.”
Hermione stood gathering her books. “Could I talk to you some time, about the watcher thing?”
“Yes, when this all ends, I have to chose something.”
Faith’s eyes narrowed and she grabbed Hermione at the elbow and steered both of them out of the room, “Let’s go talk to Dumbledore. There’s this thing tonight at the Watcher’s Council. I can bring a guest. Wanna go?”