The Surprising Discovery
A Mid Year Fic-a-Thon Story for lizey
Genre: Stargate, Anita Blake, Harry Potter
Characters: Jack, Jean-Claude, Snape, Ginny
Type: Romance, Humour, PWP...not picky
Want To See: Canon!Snape, as opposed to SecretlySweet!Snape or bashing
Not Want To See: Slash
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters involved in this story. They walked into my head of their own free will. If anything, I should be suing them for distraction and unmannerly consumption of my time.
Spoilers: Buffy post Chosen, Angel the ep where Andrew visits, HP post Order of the Phoenix
Summary: It’s summer 2003, the hellmouth is sealed, Voldemort is back, and the work is only beginning as the good guys rally for the next battle. But Ginny Weasley may already be the next target.
AN: I am borrowing the ideas of Wild and High Magic from Mary Stuart’s the *Dark is Rising Sequence* in order to resolve the differences between universes. Also I adjusted part of the Buffy timeline by a few weeks for poetic reasons. If you don’t spot it, don’t worry about it, it doesn’t impact on the story at all.
The Surprising Discovery
******************************* Prologue ********************************
The year of 2003 began with a bang. More specifically it began with a bang in Muggle London when an old stone building a mere two blocks from the British National Museum exploded taking half the street with it. Parliament called it an attack akin to those that had destroyed two office buildings in America and sent half the world to war, but the two Aurors sent to investigate on behalf of the Ministry of Magic saw past the dust and debris to the pattern etched into the ground in the shape that made their blood run cold. The Dark Mark. Another war had just begun. None of them noticed the smirking priest in the shadows who whistled as he walked away, heading for the airport.
The Ministry was suitably abuzz with frantic bureaucrats rushing here and there. The Department of Aurors was hastily emptied, owls clouded the skies, and the next day speculation was rife with He Who Must Not Be Named. So frantic was the Wizarding World about his flagrant attack on the Accounting Office of Bryce, Field, and Garr, that only two low level pencil pushers ever remarked on the Ministry’s files on the company. And how it wasn’t a company at all but an organization dedicated to the magical creature known as the Slayer. Of course, they thought it must be some mistake. It was a muggle organization after all, and the date on the file was a mere year after the creation of the Ministry in 1088. That and given the fact that there hadn’t been an English Slayer in so long that as far as the British Ministry of Magic was concerned she was a myth, the two young men privy to this information failed to report it. After all, how would muggles recognize a magical creature unless it came up and bit them?
Five months, two attacks, and three Death Eater arrests later, rumblings from the United States were barely a blip on the British radar. Unlike their muggle counterparts, what happened in Britain, not America, was cause for concern. Besides, thought all of ten people who actually read the Daily Prophet blurb on the last page of the paper the day of the trials, who cared that there was another magical upwelling in Southern California? It happened all the time but nothing ever came of it. Every country had its hotspots after all.
Nevertheless, while the European wizards and witches concentrated on matters closer to home and the American Department of Magic contacted their liaison with the group that had earned their heartfelt respect by living in a little town in Southern California for the past seven years, news spread like wildfire around the Shadow communities of the globe that the Slayer had taken on the First and won. No one familiar with Wild Magic, the raw demonic and pure Earth forces that pervaded their world, could have ignored the shock wave of that battle even if they had wanted to. Very few of those of the High Magic of the Wizarding World noticed. Albus Dumbledore was one of them. He thought it was a touch of indigestion at the time.
And so the Shadow world remained in the shadows of both the Muggle and Wizarding worlds it had coexisted with since the beginning of time. Quietly, girls awoke the world over to a new power in their blood while the survivors of Sunnydale slowly recovered. The witch in their midst worked long and hard to locate the new slayers and give them some margin of protection while they waited unknowingly to be found. Then when money allowed, the survivors began to disperse over the Americas and Europe to find them, train them, and offer them a chance to make a difference for the world.
Meanwhile, Albus Dumbledore told a grieving fifteen year-old young man about his destiny and sent him home to the relatives he hated. Then the weary Headmaster returned to London to help with the aftermath of the attack on the Ministry and to set the wheels of the Order of the Phoenix into frenzied motion. And so began the summer of 2003.
************************ The Senile Grandfather Clock **********************
Molly Weasley felt like she hadn’t slept at all during this horrid week, and that was what it was, simply horrid on top of a horrid year. First the uproar at Hogwarts with that dreadful Umbridge woman and then Fred and George up a quitting school! Molly hadn’t had a chance to yell at those two yet about it, but now after the two days of sheer terror because of Harry, Ron, and Ginny, and the attack on the Ministry, and You-Know-Who’s return to his deadly glory, Molly only wanted to take her two boys and hold onto them as long as she could. The twins had already found themselves a flat in London and the house felt empty without them home. Upstairs Ron and Ginny were tucked safely away in bed, as exhausted from the past two weeks as they should be. And even though Molly should have been able to finally relax a smidgen she couldn’t. Arthur was out on Order business and hadn’t yet returned home.
To keep herself occupied while she waited up for him, Molly set to work on the dust and untidiness that she had neglected in the past few weeks. She started in the living room, making her way slowly to the kitchen. She was halfway through putting the pantry back in order – Fred and George had left a mess when they had come back to pick up their things – when she noticed it. At first it was just a flicker of movement, but when she instinctively looked up her blood ran cold.
The Ginny hand on the Grandfather clock was spinning. She watched, her heart pounding faster and faster as it revolved once, twice, and again, not stopping but going round and round. It wasn’t the frenzied movement of a change in location but rather a steady but quick spin that did not hesitate on any of the places on the clock, not even the Burrow.
Molly clenched her wand in her hand and ran for the stairs not stopping until she was outside Ginny’s door. Catching her breath, she eased open the door and peeked inside. Ginny was asleep in bed, one arm flung over her head and her mouth slightly open. The relief fell like a curtain cast open letting the sun into a darkened room. Quietly, she made her way to her daughter’s side gently brushing a strand of hair off of her forehead to make sure she really was there and safe and not some illusion. Reassured, she left, went and checked on Ron, and then returned to the kitchen to stare at the malfunctioning clock.
What in Merlin’s name was going on?
****************************** The Wild Card *****************************
A week later the dreams began. At first, Ginny hadn’t said anything because honestly she couldn’t really remember them. All she was left with in the morning was a sense of danger and death. She thought it was just nightmares about the Ministry that had been plaguing her since that night, but as time wore on, the dreams slowly changed. Flashes of monsters, of blood that wasn’t always red, of axes and short pieces of wood, and above all of girls her age fighting and dying. She didn’t know what it meant and it scared her.
The week before after their first night home, Mum had carted her and Ron off to 12 Grimmauld Place telling them only that they were going to stay at the Order Headquarters for the rest of the summer. Honestly, it hadn’t really surprised the two youngest Weasleys since they had spent most of the summer before there as well, however, they had barely been there a day when Professor Dumbledore had asked to speak with them. And what he had to say was not what she had been expecting. No, Ginny had not expected to be told that no locating spell of any kind worked on her, that as a friend of Harry’s and a Weasley to boot, she might be the next target of Voldemort. Professor Dumbledore had then cast a scrying charm to see what kind of spell was at work and he had frowned when he was done. Professor Dumbledore frowning was the last thing that Ginny had wanted to see.
“It seems,” he had said with that bloody frown still there, “that you have been touched by Wild Magic.” Ginny had looked at Mum and Dad who were seated to the side, but they had looked as confused as she felt. The Professor had said that she wasn’t in any immediate danger, but Ginny could tell that he was still very worried which had only served to scare her even more. That she let Ron hover around her for the rest of the day was a testament to how shaken up she had been.
Now lying awake in bed, the echo of a terrifying dream, the clearest one she’d had yet, left her shivering. It had been of a fight, not just a flash but a complete fight between a girl and a vampire. The girl had fought brilliantly without magic, fast and strong, but it hadn’t been enough. She’d still lost and her eyes had met Ginny’s as the last of her life was sucked away by the creature of the night, at peace.
Remembering that look sent a chill down Ginny’s back. She remembered Harry’s dreams and where they had led. Was this a warning of what was to come? Was she somehow seeing the future like Trelawney claimed they could? Her dark, uncomfortable room suddenly felt oppressive and cold and Ginny had to leave. Quickly she cast about for a robe, pulled it on over her nightclothes, then slipped out the door and downstairs to the kitchen.
The candle flames brightened as she entered the room making her feel better at once. The shadows banished to the corners, she even felt a little silly, though the emptiness of the night was still oppressive. Now that she was here, she cast about for something to do, her mind lighting on a cup of chocolate as as good a reason as any for being in the kitchen in the middle of the night. She knew where Mum kept all the fixings and soon had the kettle heating on the stove.
“Miss Weasley!” a voiced hissed from the door so unexpectedly that Ginny’s first reaction was to drop the teacup she had chosen with a startled scream as she spun around. The delicate cup shattered into pieces and Ginny found herself staring in utter dismay at Professor Snape. He looked at the broken teacup on the floor then up at her disapprovingly. “Simply not enough trouble during the day, are you Miss Weasley?” he said, one corner of his mouth twisting upward unpleasantly.
“It . . .it was an accident,” Ginny stammered, still out of sorts that her least favorite professor was glaring at her in the middle of an already terrible night. “You startled me.”
“I *startled* you,” Snape mocked. “So that’s what clumsiness is being called these days. If we were in my classroom that would be ten points Miss Weasley. Now, what are you doing out of bed?” he demanded stalking closer. He moved from the dark doorway as if he were emerging from the darkness itself, his pale face in stark contrast to the blackness of his robes and hair. And Ginny was suddenly caught by the image of another man emerging from darkness only unlike Snape, this man *was* darkness and intent on killing her. Ginny stared at Professor Snape, wide-eyed, heart in her throat. “Are you deaf as well?” his voice snapped her out of the living dream. “What. Are. You. Doing. Out. Of. Bed?” He loomed over her.
Ginny looked away from his intense glare feeling suddenly vulnerable. She knew he wouldn’t do anything to her, really she did. And if he hadn’t there and wasn’t practically accusing her of making trouble and she hadn’t just had the scariest dream of her life on top of the worst week of the worst year, she might have believed it. “Making chocolate,” she whispered, her downcast eyes finding the shattered teacup on the floor again. She couldn’t do the spell to fix it. It was summer, she wasn’t allowed.
“Chocolate? Feeling unwell? Did you have a bad dream?” Snape’s voice was again mocking. When she didn’t answer he added, “Potter must be becoming contagious.” She looked up at his scowling face at that, angry at the slight to Harry. It must have showed because Snape sneered, “yes, let’s jump to Potter’s defense. Praise him for his bravery for walking into Voldemort’s trap. It’s a wonder any of you are still alive. I expected better of you, Miss Weasley.”
“That not fair, sir,” Ginny bit out, squelching the desire to punch him in the nose. Unfortunately he was still her professor for the next three years and he’d never forget it.
“No, it’s the truth!” Snape hissed stepping into her personal space. “And if you are having nightmares, Miss Weasley, you would do well to remember that it is because of Potter’s brashness and inability to consider the consequences of any action he takes that Black is dead.”
It was too much. His hateful words, the dream, Sirius’s death, the vampires in the shadows, the girls dying, Voldemort after her, and the bloody smashed teacup. Ginny shoved Professor Snape away from her, fled the bright kitchen, ran up the stairs, and after a split second decision ran into Ron’s room and burst into tears.
************************** The Much Interrupted Letter **********************
The letter from Maria Holcomb of the Bath Coven was on the top of the mail stack on his desk. Giles smiled broadly when he saw it, relieved it had finally arrived. They’d been in England for three weeks and had yet had success in locating exactly where the new slayer was. This was the only British slayer that hadn’t been in Sunnydale in May and it had been quite puzzling at first for Giles to learn that a Potential had gone unnoticed by the Council in its own country. Now after having searched for himself he wasn’t quite as surprised.
They’d received Willow’s map of England with the slayer’s location two weeks ago and then a second map of London a few days later when she had apparently moved. Xander and Andrew however, hadn’t found her at all when they had gone looking, knocking on every door of the block where she supposedly was, and it was only now that a solution seemed to be in sight to this most vexing problem.
It took a moment for Giles to find his letter opener underneath a list of books he needed replaced but soon he was reading the letter from Maria. Quite a pleasant woman, he thought as he read through her news and thanks for asking about her niece who was doing much better now. And then at the end she got down to business with the spell he had requested. It wasn’t too complicated though it did require the essence of radish. Regardless she said it would do the trick, adding that the Sender spell had gotten a care package to her son at university when he had forgotten to tell her his new address at the end of term. Giles was hoping that it would get his letter to the elusive slayer.
“Andrew,” he stepped out into the outer office where the young man was writing something in the blank Watcher’s Journal Giles had given him. No doubt it would be worthy of the fiction section when he was done with it. At the computer desk, Xander sat where he had been for the last two days surrounded by travel books and brochures on Africa, actually doing research for a change. Now that Willow had finally sent a slayer map of the Dark Continent, Xander was reading up as much as he could.
“Yeah?” Andrew looked up from his writing eagerly. Readable or not, giving him a journal to work on had certainly saved Giles’s sanity.
“Could you run out to the grocer for radishes?” he asked. “I need them for the Sender spell.”
“The one for the slayer letter?” Xander looked up from the book he was reading.
“Yes,” Giles nodded going to the cabinet to make sure they had the rest of the ingredients. Assured that they had everything, Giles sent Andrew on his way and returned to his office to write the actual letter. He had gotten as far as ‘Dear Miss’ and was debating with himself if he should cut the salutation altogether when Xander walked in with his book.
“Hey Giles, should I get a gun?” he asked without preamble.
“I beg your pardon?” Giles was startled by the question to say the least.
“Willow’s map has one of the slayers in Rwanda. I’m thinking it’d probably not be a good idea to go into an old war zone unarmed,” Xander explained flipping open his book and flashing him a page that read ‘Genocide’ across the top. “There’s still fighting in the northwest.”
“Yes, well,” Giles spluttered, it all of a sudden hitting him again that demons weren’t the only monsters on the planet. Xander nodded thoughtfully and wandered out before he could give him a reasonable answer. Shaking off the unsettling thoughts, Giles returned to his letter.
‘Please do not be alarmed by the sudden arrival of this letter. I realize that this is rather abrupt and mysterious, perhaps even frightening, but I do not wish to alarm you. I am writing on behalf of the Watcher’s Council and we would like to offer you answers.’
“Hey Giles, would you get an M-16 or an AK-47?” Xander leaned into the room, his hands braced on both sides of the doorway. “Somewhere in my head I know how to field strip an M-16 so I’m leaning that way but the AK-47 fires faster.” Giles blinked at him. His experience with guns was limited to shotguns, rifles, and pistols. He had no clue what the one-eyed man was talking about. “They’re automatics,” Xander explained when he told him so.
“Go with the one your more comfortable with,” he said. Xander nodded and pushed himself back into the other room. Giles reread what he had written so far.
‘By this point I am sure that you have noticed a few startling differences in your life such as excessive strength and disturbing dreams of young women fighting monsters. I would like to assure you now that you are not crazy and that it is perfectly normal.’
“Damn!” he heard Xander say in the next room. “Hey Giles,” he called. “Can I get the Council to pay for my gun as a business expense?”
Giles sighed. Really! They’d only gotten a hold of so much money thus far, and with the children on salary and plane tickets the new Council was stretched a bit thin. “How much?” he heard himself ask nevertheless.
“$2500,” Xander called back.
“What?” That was ridiculous!
“Black Market prices,” Xander replied, understanding the tone of incredulity.
“It better be worth it,” Giles grumbled, but a hearty ‘thanks’ from the other room let him know he had been heard. He closed his eyes and tried not to think of Xander going into a war torn country alone. Maybe he should join the peacekeeping troops or another organization that would give him some margin of protection. He looked back at the letter on his desk but it took a moment to gather his thoughts away from tribal warfare.
‘You are also not alone. You are one of many young women who have been chosen for a specific cause. I would like to explain everything to you in person at a location of your choosing. Please feel free to bring with you whomever you wish, in fact I encourage it.
“Hey Giles,” Xander once again was at his door. Giles sat back in his chair and took off his glasses, just managing not to snap, ‘now what?’ “Is there a simple spell to prevent bleeding?”
“To prevent bleeding?” Giles repeated, wondering what had provoked this question.
“Or to purify blood of STDs?”
“What is an STD?” he asked.
“Sexually transmitted disease. Like AIDS, which you can also get from someone bleeding into a cut on your arm,” Xander answered the obvious question before it was asked. “Which a lot of people have in Africa.”
“How many?” Giles sat up at this news.
Xander shrugged. “Some countries it’s as high as a quarter of the population.”
“I don’t know,” Giles said, but his mind was still on AIDS and Africa and the new danger that was suddenly presenting itself. “Maybe Willow can come up with something?” he suggested.
“Good idea,” Xander nodded and left again. Giles stared at the spot where he’d been standing for a moment longer wondering how Xander could be so calm about mini wars and diseases, because he certainly was becoming more and more worried and Xander hadn’t even left yet! Rationally, he knew that the young man was more than capable of taking care of himself but he was entering a whole new world that he essentially knew nothing about. No need to borrow trouble, Giles told himself with a deep breath, he wasn’t there yet. He replaced his glasses and went back to his letter.
‘Please call or send your response within the week to the number or address below. All I am offering are answers. I hope to hear from you soon. Sincerely, Rupert Giles, Head Watcher.’
He signed his name and reflected that they really needed to come up with a better name than ‘watcher.’ It sounded stalkerish. That done, all he had to do now was wait for Andrew to return with the radishes. Giles stood and went into the other room.
“Are you certain you still wish to go to Africa?” he asked Xander who was once more at the computer.
“Pyramids, elephants, lions, slayers,” Xander grinned. “Who could ask for more?”
“Xander – ”
“Giles,” the young man cut him off, his expression turning serious. “I’ll be careful. I promise.” Giles’s two eyes met his one in a long heartfelt moment before Giles smiled sadly and nodded, accepting the empty reassurance for what it was, hope for the best.
Andrew returned a few minutes later and Giles let him help set up the spell. A half an hour later, the letter was off to the slayer and all they had to do was wait.
************************* The Unexpected Proposal ************************
Albus Dumbledore reread the letter before looking up at a very anxious Ginny. She had not been sleeping well, he knew, and since the night she had sent Severus flying she had been hesitant about everything. They had thought it was her magic getting out of control from all the stress, but if this letter were true then there was another, mysterious, explanation.
“You said the letter simply flew in the window to you?” he asked just to sure. “No owl at all?”
“No sir,” she said softly. “It just hovered and waited for me to take it.”
“I see,” said Albus. It was most unusual but not impossible of course. Someone went to a lot of trouble to make sure this letter came to Ginny, however this Rupert Giles who wrote it didn’t appear to know her name. Or he simply forgot to write it down, those things do happen, but Albus doubted that was the case here.
He also doubted that it came from Voldemort or one of his Death Eaters. First, they would have still used an owl to carry the letter, secondly they would not have offered so open a meeting, and thirdly they would not have warned *Ginny* of the attack for the only purpose her death would serve would be to get at Albus himself or Harry.
Frowning, Albus passed his wand over the letter and envelope, a curious Muggle envelope further discrediting Death Eaters as the source, and felt the hum of Wild Magic in the last traces of the spell that had been cast upon it. Interesting.
“It seems, Miss Weasley, that whoever is behind this letter is the same person who cast the anti-locating charm,” he said gravely, his eyes flickering from her to her brother as they looked at each other.
“Vol . . .Voldemort?” she asked hesitantly.
Albus smiled. “No, I think not.” Her relief was palpable. “I believe I may have been wrong about that.” He briefly explained why he didn’t believe Voldemort was behind the letter. “Yet it was sent to us with Wild Magic,” he concluded. “And since the anti-locating charm was Wild Magic that indicates that the source was the same. Ron, before we go any further, would you fetch your mother and Severus please. I believe they are in the dining room.” Ron went off as told, his face scrunching in displeasure at having to find the potions master. “I’m afraid that we cannot rule out the danger just yet,” he said to Ginny. “Wild Magic can be dark and unpredictable if not handled with care. Thank you for showing me the letter and telling me about the dreams.”
She shrugged. “They’re not as bad now. I think I’m almost used to them,” she said.
“They still must be frightening,” he said consolingly.
“Do you know what they mean?” she asked hopefully.
“No, I’m afraid I don’t,” Albus sighed. “But I intend to find out.” Ginny smile a bit, reassured by his confident tone. And Albus would find out, he looked at the letter again. Of that he was certain.
***************************** The Muggle Office **************************
Severus cursed Dumbledore ten ways from Sunday all the way to the address listed on the envelope. As much as he respected the old wizard, he was daft as a first-year sometimes. Sending him off on a fool’s errand to some unknown office in Muggle London. Severus hated Muggles the same way he hated first-year Gryffindors, because they were stupid, up to no good, and he was forced to suffer through them.
When Dumbledore had explained the situation, Severus had already been aware of most of it. Both he and Dumbledore had agreed when the situation with Miss Weasley had arisen that it was unlikely that Voldemort would deign to dabble in Wild Magic in so obvious a manner. The Dark Lord, Severus knew, tended toward augmenting his own power with the often unstable Wild Magic, but he never relied on it completely for a spell, especially one as relatively simple for one of his power as an anti-locating charm. However they weren’t about to put it past the clever bastard, and so precious Miss Weasley had been bundled up and put into protective custody at 12 Grimmauld Place.
Despicable Weasleys. Though he had come to tolerate the parents who at least afforded him respect he held no love in his heart for their spawn that hadn’t ceased to appear in his classroom. And now because of the youngest of the lot, he was out in Muggle London wearing Merlin knew what trying to ‘blend in.’ He was going to poison the Headmaster for this. He picked at his black muggle shirt that was buttoned to his neck. If this was a Death Eater trap he was going to be a dead man. Cursing Dumbledore again, he stormed into the office building at the correct address and ignored the elevator in favor of stomping up two flights of stairs to the first floor. ‘Watcher’s Council’ was neatly printed on a card and stuck to the last door on the hall. Severus rapped firmly twice and hoped that whoever was on the other side was in a good mood he could ruin.
The door opened and a gangly youth stared up at him. Blond hair, casual muggle clothing, stupid expression. “Hi, can I help you?” he asked. American accent. Brilliant. This just kept getting better and better. At least the Headmaster had been right about one thing: there were no Death Eaters here.
“I am looking for Mr. Rupert Giles,” Severus growled lowly. The boy gulped as his eyes widened a fraction but to Severus’s amazement he didn’t look away.
“Do . . . do you have an appointment?” he stuttered.
“No,” said Severus shaping the word until it suggested torture and death at any moment. The boy gulped again, nodded jerkily, and backed away slowly.
“I’ll be . . .be right back.” He darted from the door without another word. Severus rolled his eyes and followed him in. Stupid bloody Americans. The office was small and spare. A standing cabinet stood across from the door with a coat stand next to it. A sofa rested along the wall of the door and at the end by the window was a desk with a box and books covering it. Opposite the couch was another door, this one open and leading to an inner office. He could see the boy’s back from where he stood by the door.
“Giles, there’s a man to see you,” said the boy.
“Did he say what he wanted?” a British voice answered relieving Severus of the fear that he would be dealing exclusively with Americans. As bad as muggles, they were.
“No, but he was glaring,” the boy whined. Severus smirked to himself, pleased he had managed to upset him. Maybe he could have him sniveling by the time he left.
“So glare back,” another man said, another *American*. Severus wanted to see him try.
The Englishman, presumably Mr. Giles sighed. “Very well show him in,” he said. “Xander would you . . .”
“Sure,” the second American said as the boy returned. And shouted in surprise at seeing Severus already inside. The other two came running, much to Severus’s amusement. He pegged the older one as Giles and only took in the fact that the younger one wore an eyepatch before addressing the boy.
“One would think that your mother would have taught you manners,” he said coolly, raking his eyes up and down his body in a scathing assessment that set the boy squirming. “But can I see not. Close your mouth, boy, you look like a blathering idiot. I assume you are Mr. Giles,” he addressed the grey-haired man. He was perhaps a few years older than Severus himself, a pair of spectacles perched on his nose. He wasn’t dressed as dreadfully as his younger companions but still casually with the sleeves of his sweater pushed up past his elbows.
“Yes, I’m Rupert Giles,” he said, gently moving the boy out of his way and offering his hand. Severus looked at it disdainfully until it was pulled back. There was a wary note in the man’s eye when Severus looked back up at him. “Who are you?” he asked.
“Severus Snape,” he introduced himself. “I am here on behalf of Albus Dumbledore.” He paused, but the old muggle didn’t recognize the name, which only increased Severus’s annoyance. Sighing dramatically, he pulled the letter out of his coat pocket and offered it to the man. “You sent this letter to a person that is known to us,” he said. “I want to know why.”
Giles took the letter, obviously recognizing it. “You are her father?” he asked. “Or your friend?”
“No!” he said sharply. Severus unconsciously shuddered at the thought that was too disturbing to contemplate. He heard a snicker from the office doorway where the two boys were watching. He glowered at them but Mr. Giles spoke before he could say anything suitably stinging.
“As I said in the letter I am offering answers.”
“And what would those be,” Severus said with exaggerated patience.
“I’m sorry, but until I hear from the girl herself, I’m afraid I can’t tell you anything more.”
Severus turned his cold gaze to Giles who met it evenly. “You expect us to entrust her safety to a complete stranger without a single reason for why you wish to see her?”
“How ‘bout her life,” said the boy with the eyepatch. He smiled sweetly when Severus turned his glare to him. Like Giles he was unintimidated which only increased the potions master’s irritation.
“I have no proof other than your word that you know the girl,” Mr. Giles drew his attention back to him. “I also don’t know what you will do if you don’t like what I have to tell her. You are of course welcome to be at the meeting at the time and place of your choosing as I said in the letter.”
“I’m afraid that is unacceptable,” Severus hissed dangerously.
“I’m afraid it will have to be,” Giles replied. “Now when and where would you like to meet?”
“I never agreed to a meeting,” Severus snapped.
“Then why did you come?” Giles said infuriatingly smug. Severus glared at him but the man’s gaze never faltered.
“*If* we agree to meet, I will let you know,” he said disdainfully. With a final sweep of the room he turned and swept out. He was going to poison the Headmaster for this.
************************ The Disgruntled Escort Service *********************
The next day, Xander was reading about the latest pre-election violence in Nigeria when there was a knock on the door. He couldn’t believe it, why did all the slayers have to live in violent countries? He was more likely to get shot than eaten by a vampire at this rate. Maybe Giles was right and he should get some real military training first.
He answered the door to find Mr. Snarky-in-Black glaring at him. Xander stepped back and let him in with a cheerful ‘hey!’
“Are all you Americans uncivilized?” Severus Snape asked in a voice that dripped with disdain. “Or is that a distinction unique to your heritage?”
Xander sat back down at the desk and blinked at the guy. Was that the British equivalent of a ‘yo mama’? “What can I say? I love people with attitude,” he replied recovering. For all his bark, the guy sure didn’t have a lot to back it up with. And he clearly didn’t like getting as good as he got.
“Where is Mr. Giles?” asked Snape, deciding to get to the point.
“At the library,” said Xander. “I take it you want to meet?”
Another withering glance as if he had just stated the obvious. “I shall escort you,” he ground out, making it sound like the last thing Snape wanted to do.
“Cool,” Xander said cheerily because he knew it would annoy him. He grabbed his cell phone and hit the speed dial for Andrew since Giles still refused to carry a phone with him. It was the reason Xander had made Andrew ask to go to the library too.
“Yeah?” Andrew answered the phone in a whisper.
“Hey, tell Giles that Mr. Tall-Dark-and-Grumpy is here to take us to the meeting.” Xander grinned a little at the glower he got for the nickname. A brief mission accomplished from Andrew and he hung up. “Feel free to sit down,” he gestured at the somewhat, ah, depressed couch but Snape remained standing. Xander saw how it was, couldn’t accept anything given. Xander went back to the newspaper article he’d downloaded. Yep, either shot or blown up, that’s how he was gonna go. He made a note to never get on a bus. Public transportation was *way* overrated.
Xander tried to ignore Snape, and managed it for almost ten minutes, but it was difficult since the guy wouldn’t stop staring at him. He had almost Spike’s intensity when it came to staring and infinitely more patience. Unable to take it anymore, he looked up and asked, “You ever been to Africa?”
Snape’s eyebrows shot up at the unexpected question. “No,” he said in a tone that clearly asked why-the-hell-would-I-even-want-to-you-idiot.
“Probably a good idea,” Xander nodded as if he had said it anyway. “Some party chairman just got himself shot in bed.”
“How unfortunate,” said Snape in a tone that clearly didn’t care.
“You know, you go to all the trouble of fighting back the darkness, saving the world, and what do people do? Shoot each other. The world really sucks, you know?”
Snape gave him a look that was a cross between what-the-hell and shut-up. The what-the-hell face won. “What are you blathering about? Of course, the world is a rotten place. That’s what human nature is all about.”
“No, it isn’t,” Xander disagreed. He realized he was contradicting what he’d already said but now that he’d gotten a conversation going he wasn’t about to let that deter him. Besides, he did believe people were better than that. “All the bad stuff just gets in the way, sometimes so much so it’s all you can see.”
“And I suppose you know all about that from growing up twenty odd years on this Earth, safe and cozy in your little house with mummy and daddy at your beck and call,” said Snape snidely.
Xander had to laugh at the image that so wasn’t what his home had been like, or his life for that matter. “You have no idea what I see,” was all he said though.
“Can’t be much,” Snape replied easily, making Xander stiffen, the conversation going sour. It was still a raw subject despite the constant half-blind reminder that he had lost his eye. Lost, such a funny word for it. Taken, stolen, ripped away, though in reality it had simply been pushed out of his life like a mere nuisance.
“More than you think,” said Xander coldly. Snape regarded him carefully but said nothing. Instead he sat down on the couch, so Xander put two points under his name, one for having the last word and one for getting him to sit down. The rest of the wait for Giles and Andrew was in silence. Xander went back to reading about Nigeria while Snape ignored him. When Giles and Andrew returned the three of them followed the creepy guy through London on foot for at least an hour. Snape wouldn’t say anything about where they were going at all, ignoring all the questions they asked until the three of them simply stopped asking questions. Xander passed the time being as annoying as possible.
Finally, just when he thought Snape’s face couldn’t twist any further into a scowl, they arrived at a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant that Xander only saw after Snape told him where to look. He could have sworn it hadn’t been there a minute ago. They followed Snape in through to a private room in the back and immediately stopped short.
“Oh my!” said Giles softly looking around.
Said Xander softly, “I’ll see your ‘oh my’ and raise you a ‘what-the-hell?!’” The group of people waiting for them, with the exception of the teenage girl, were dressed like clowns in a circus.
********************* The History of a Magical Creature **********************
Ginny stared at the three men who followed Professor Snape into the private room Dumbledore had arranged for them at a muggle restaurant down the street from *The Leaky Cauldron.* They were muggles just as Professor Snape had said, that was easy enough to tell from the clothes and the way they eyed the group of fashionably challenged wizards. She had begged Dad not to wear the light purple suit and the orange ducky tie, but her arguments that the two colors clashed horribly had fallen on deaf ears. Sneaking a look at him now, she saw his face brighten up considerably at their arrival, despite the danger they potentially presented. Dumbledore however, decked out in a suit of charming beige and pink, simply regarded the newcomers with an absent smile that effectively hid whatever it was he thought of them.
“Whoa!” breathed the shortest of the three as he took in the room, his eyes arresting on Dumbledore. “You looked like you walked out of a coloring book!” Ginny couldn’t help it, she smiled in spite of herself. Behind the young man Snape muttered something she couldn’t hear, his scowl darkening.
“Andrew, let’s not insult the hosts, okay?” said the man wearing the eyepatch. His accent was American like Andrew’s and he seemed equally disturbed, though quite a bit more wary. Part of Ginny noted that he was cute in a scruffy sort of way.
“Yes, quite,” the third man, British by his accent, recovered himself with a little shake. He of the three seemed the least surprised, though that might have been British politeness taking over. If Ginny hadn’t been so nervous she would have died of mortification.
As it was, the oldest muggle turned to her, the most normally dressed one present and smiled, the expression softening his whole face. “Rupert Giles of the Watcher’s Council,” he surprised her by stepping forward with his hand outstretched to her, completely ignoring the other adults in the room. Startled Ginny looked to Dad and Dumbledore who were both surprised as well, or at least Dad was. Dumbledore on the other hand had regained that little twinkle in his eye and the small smile that bespoke of many things seen but unsaid. He nodded to her to accept the hand.
Mr. Giles’s handshake was firm and warm, and Ginny smiled hesitantly back. “I’d like to introduce my colleagues, Xander Harris and Andrew Wells,” he indicated first the one eyed man then the blonde who both stepped forward to shake her hand as well.
“Also known as ShutUp and GetOut,” Mr. Harris said with a cheeky grin.
“It is such an honor to have finally found you,” said Andrew, pumping her hand vigorously. “We had searched the dark corners – ”
“Andrew, shut up,” Mr. Harris not so subtly elbowed him in the ribs.
“Ginny Weasley,” she introduced herself, still not quite sure what to make of them. She had been expecting wizards along the lines of Death Eaters at the least. Not . . . friendly muggles who looked like they couldn’t hurt a fly much less her. Though Andrew was beginning to make her uncomfortable as he continued to grin at her.
A small throat clearing from Dumbledore snatched her attention from the muggles and back to the situation at hand. The Headmaster lifted his eyebrows expectantly at her so Ginny rushed through introducing him and her parents. The three muggles nodded seriously but didn’t shake any more hands. “And I suppose you already know Professor Snape,” she finished.
“Professor, huh?” Mr. Harris looked curiously at Snape. “Glad I never went to your school.”
“And I am equally relieved that I never had to suffer through your bumbling ineptitude. My classroom would never have survived,” Snape sneered causing Mr. Harris ironically to grin.
“Well, actually –”
“Xander, if you’re quite through,” Mr. Giles cut his eyes at his colleague before Mr. Harris could finish. Dumbledore invited them to sit and it took a moment for everyone to get situated before Mr. Giles continued. “Now,” he said leaning back, “This might sound rather odd, but are you by any chance a part of the English Wizarding Domain?” he asked startling them all even Dumbledore.
“So that’s what’s with the color disas – choices,” Mr. Harris hastily corrected himself.
“Yes, Mr. Giles,” said the Headmaster, glancing briefly at his two younger companions. “May I ask how you are aware of us?”
“The Watcher’s Council has always been aware of the Wizarding World, though few have ever seen it. Our work in America has also caused us to be in contact with the US Department of Magic on a limited basis.”
“As useless as they are,” Mr. Harris muttered earning him another look from Mr. Giles.
“But you are muggles?” asked Dad to clear things up a bit.
“In your terms, yes,” Mr. Giles agreed. “However the Council does deal extensively with the supernatural and magic of a different sort.”
“Wild Magic,” said Dumbledore solemnly. Mr. Giles nodded.
“So what do you want with my daughter? What have you done to her?” Mum snapped in the tone of voice reserved for grave offenses and all three muggles flinched slightly at it.
But Mr. Giles looked at Ginny and spoke directly to her. “In my letter I promised answers,” he began. “If you like we can have this conversation in private . . .”
“It all right,” she said, startled by his offer. Here, *she* was the one he looked to for permission, Ginny who was a fourteen year-old student and the youngest in her family. It was a strange feeling of being in placed in charge. She was certainly no stranger to arguing with authority, be it her brothers, Harry, the odd professor, or when she was feeling really bold, Mum, but to have it given to her was something else all together.
“Very well,” Mr. Giles sat up and looked from Snape to Mum and Dad to Dumbledore and then finally back to Ginny. “The Earth is a far older than is believed and its history is much darker – ”
“Giles, Cliffs Notes version, remember?” said Mr. Harris, but Mr. Giles continued as if he hadn’t said anything, undisturbed by the interruption.
“ – much darker than most people know. In short,” he glanced at Mr. Harris, “the Earth used to be a battlefield of Hell. Demons of all sorts used to walk the Earth fighting for dominion. In time the forces of Good, often manifested in humans, fought them back, using the magical power of the Earth and whatever else to seal the gateways to Hell. Without the constant threat of demons, humans flourished and developed the civilizations we do learn about in the history books. But not all demons were banished, only the most destructive and dangerous. Those that remained kept a low profile and have since, thus most of the world is still unaware of their presence. Some coexist with us peacefully, others see us as no more than food. Vampires are among those that blend in with humans and exploit them viciously – ” – a vision from Ginny’s dreams of a man sucking the blood out of a girl, her dying in his arms – “ – and for that reason there is the Slayer, the one girl in the world with the power and strength to fight them and the creatures of darkness.”
Mr. Giles paused, his gaze had moved while he talked but now it was once more on Ginny. Her heart was pounding and the rest of the room seemed to be holding its breath. She knew what was coming but she didn’t want to hear it. All those girls in her dreams, they were past Slayers. And they were all dead, not much older than she.
“Now usually there’s just the one Slayer at a time,” Mr. Harris continued startling Ginny out of the heavy silence. “One dies, the next gets called sort of thing. Pretty raw deal,” he smiled humorlessly. “Anyway, the next Slayer gets called out of a pool of hundreds of Potential Slayers that are the right age.”
“This past year,” Mr. Giles resumed, “ we were fighting an evil that was attempting to wipe out the Slayer line for good by killing all the Potentials.”
“So we changed the rules,” said Mr. Harris. “And activated all the Potentials to defeat him.” He looked at Ginny. “You among them. You are Chosen.”
Hearing the words aloud for the first time made Ginny catch her breath. She could feel the difference that had been there for weeks, only this time instead of making her afraid, she felt strong. Powerful, for the first time since the night she’d be shuffled off to 12 Grimmauld Place. Around her she heard Mum and Dad and even Snape explode with questions about the Slayer, and Dumbledore’s calm remark that he had heard of her, but she was thought to be no more than an extinct magical creature, lost so long ago to legend that she was no longer considered human. She heard the explanations of the three Councilmen about why she had never been attacked by the evil they spoke of, (she had been too young,) and why the Wild Magic had been cast over her, (for her protection from other Wild Magic users). But while she heard all this and more, she didn’t really listen to it. Instead she was listening to herself on the inside, looking at the faces from her dreams, the ones that smiled to her, even in death, a smile that said ‘Welcome Sister.’
Ginny smiled back.
**************************** The Dreaded Decision *************************
This was all rather a shock. Arthur didn’t know whether to stand up or stay seated or scratch his head or tear out what was left of his hair. Vampires being real was no surprise, they were sighted every once in a while by witches and wizards. Demons of the kind Mr. Giles spoke sounded a bit more fanciful, and much more terrifying, but he didn’t doubt their veracity. No, what Arthur couldn’t wrap his mind around was that Ginny, his little Ginny, was supposed to be one of these slayers. It was just . . . too much right now. It was bad enough she had been at the Department of Mysteries with Ron and Harry, bad enough she was in danger from You Know Who because of the Weasley’s association with Dumbledore. And now she was mixed up in this Wild Magic.
“No, no, no. Absolutely not!” said Molly, her voice rising in anger. She was giving Giles the look that was usually reserved for the twins’ most outrageous pranks. “I will not have my daughter caught up in this! It is far too dangerous!”
“I’m afraid it’s not up to you,” said Giles becoming slightly annoyed.
“Pardon?” said Arthur, brought up short by the rather tart answer.
“It is Ginny’s decision,” said Giles turning towards his daughter. Everyone else in the room followed his gaze but Ginny didn’t seem to notice at first, a small smile playing around the corners of her lips. Arthur knew then what her answer would be.
“It means fighting, doesn’t it?” she said to Mr. Giles.
“I’m not going to lie. It is dangerous, as your mother has pointed out. As a slayer you will also be a target of the supernatural whether you agree to work with us or not. At the very least you should be trained but the choice is entirely up to you. We’ll give you a few weeks to think on it. I don’t suppose you have access to the internet?”
“The network of putacores?” Arthur perked up, curiosity overcoming the brief relief that no decision had to be made immediately.
“I think that’s a ‘no’,” said Mr. Harris as he gave Arthur an odd look.
“Yes,” said Ginny.
“Yes, you do?”
“No, yes I’ll do it. I want to train.”
Arthur’s heart leapt into his throat at those words.
In Molly’s ensuing eruption and the brief argument that followed between mother and daughter, during which the men remained silent lest either feminine force turned against them, Arthur couldn’t help but think back the Department of Mysteries. The threat of Voldemort hadn’t stopped Ginny then, he doubted now that anything short of imprisoning her would stop her now. And that above all terrified him.
********************************* The Slayer *****************************
Two weeks later Andrew crept out to Giles’s garden hoping that no one would see him. If Molly the Slayer caught him here he was a dead man for sure, but there was no way he was passing this up. She’d appreciate it one day when she was old and her kids said, ‘you never did that.’ Oh yes, one day she’d thank him and wonder how she could have been so mean way back when. But for now, Andrew had to be very, very quiet.
He moved his arm in a slow pan to get an establishing shot of the walled garden covered in ivy. Xander sitting on the bench to the side with another book on Africa that he wasn’t really reading, Giles walking around the periphery of the small plot of grass making comments while in the center two slayers came together in a dance as old as time itself. Punch parry kick dodge thrust duck swing block step twist sweep jump, again!
Where one gave another took. It was Ginny’s first day; Molly was going easy on her through the moves they had spent all day working on, but already Ginny shone. It was clear with every motion that she was born to fight. She was like Rogue or Eowyn or Catwoman or . . .
A sudden swipe by Molly and Ginny jumped and threw herself into the air spinning heels over head in a backflip. A second later she landed on both feet in a fighting stance, startled surprise written all over her that quickly settled into a feral grin of delight. And in that moment she was no longer like anyone. She was the Slayer.
*********************************** End ********************************