parts 39 to 41
After the second lesson for third years, this one with Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs, Willow had slouched her way to Professor Flitwick’s office for her charms lesson. She was making excellent progress on the theory side, and felt quite confident in the idea that she was past accidentally blowing things up or setting them on fire. But the professor still cast spells to protect everything from fire before her lessons. Almost depressing, but she was getting better.
“Good afternoon, how has your day been so far?” asked the cheerful little Professor.
Willow smiled, recognizing the small motions with his wand to be his fire-prevention spells. He was casting them silently, but she could still feel the magic. “I wound up instructing the third years today while Wesley was doing some important research.”
Willow paused, wondering just how much about the mess with Spike in the Forbidden Forest and Drusilla kidnapping Alacia’s grandmother as part of a plot he knew about. “You know what’s going on with Alacia and her grandmother, right? How much do you know about what’s going on with Spike?”
“That you and young Mr. Malfoy went searching for him in the Forbidden Forrest after he attacked those children, and you found him. That trip is why you and Mr. Malfoy are in detentions with your uncle and Professor Wyndham-Price. Headmaster Dumbledore has spoken to him, reaching some sort of agreement. That half the students are convinced that the vampire in the forest is a Malfoy. Is there something else that is important to know?” Professor Flitwick looked at her, folding his hands on the top of his desk.
“He said that Drusilla and her boy-toy are trying to bring back the Great Serpent. Probably a plot to either destroy the world or start the conquest of England. Her boy-toy is Lucius Malfoy, by the way. We’ve been worrying about what Spike said – who’s this Great Serpent, what’re they going to do, how can we stop them… the usual sort of worries. This morning brought up a horrible suspicion that won’t be settled until Friday,” Willow sighed.
“On a slightly related note, I want to learn the spell my uncle used when he decided I was babbling and it made it so there was no noise, and I want to learn the patronus charm mentioned in some of the books I used to prepare for the third years’ defense lesson,” Willow looked at the Professor, “Please?”
“The silencing charm is fairly simple, and we can cover it in today’s lesson. I doubt that you’ll have much trouble with it,” Professor Flitwick paused, one hand lifting to rub his chin. “As for the patronus charm… A very difficult spell. One that many adults never master. It requires more than correct wand movements and a clear incantation, there is a very important emotional component.”
“You’re saying most people have a lot of trouble with the emotional aspect,” Willow considered his words, and what he hadn’t said. “And you probably think I should cover more basic things first?”
“Indeed, though you are making excellent progress,” he assured her.
With a sigh, Willow concluded that he wasn’t going to teach her a very complicated and demanding spell when she still had so many ‘basics’ to learn. Which meant that she’d have to learn it somewhere else. She’d been sorted into Ravenclaw, the house of people who studied without being dragged into the library and beat about the head with books first. If none of the rest of her house could teach her that spell, then they should be able to point her towards someone that could!
Willow figured that she could start her efforts over dinner. Ravenclaws had a habit of discussing ‘interesting magical trivia and spells’ over their meals. She’d just need to consider how to bring up the matter.
As it turned out, she’d barely had the chance to sit down before hearing, “Nice job with the third years today, Rosenberg.”
“What was their lesson about, Diggle? Not all of us have third year brothers to fill in the details,” asked Jasmine.
“Mostly boggarts, but there was discussion about other emotion-feeding creatures. And apparently, that includes puffskeins,” Diggle laughed, “I never thought that there was anything a puffskein had in common with a boggart.”
“Not anything?”giggled a girl down the table. “They are both magical.”
“Oh, I guess I’ll give you that one,” Diggle agreed.
“Boggarts weren’t the worst thing in that category,” Willow mused. This seemed like a decent opening for her patronus questions.
“No? They can be quite nasty,” insisted a seventh year girl named Eleanor.
“No arguments about that! But the feeds on emotion category includes Dementors, which sound much worse than a boggart. Especially since they can do something worse than killing you – sucking out your soul,” Willow shuddered at the very idea.
“True, but there’s some wards, and the patronus charm,” countered Julian Bell.
“Not that most people ever manage to cast it,” grumbled a sixth year called Ty.
“So, is there anyone at Hogwarts that can cast the patronus charm?” Willow asked. “I’m assuming that Professor Flitwick knows it, but is there anyone else?”
“Headmaster Dumbledore can, he cast one when they attacked the Quidditch match,” offered a scrawny looking fourth year that answered to Dal.
“Harry Potter can, he cast it at those idiot Slytherins who put on a dementor costume and tried to scare him at the next Quidditch match that year,” offered a sixth year with a lovely calico cat.
“McGonagall might,” suggested a voice down the table.
Willow listened with interest. McGonagall probably wouldn’t teach her the advanced spell when she was still learning basics, even if Willow was a fast learner. There was a bit of uncertainty about whether the Transfiguration Professor even knew the charm. But Harry Potter… she could probably trade some simple wandless magic lessons for patronus lessons and they’d both be happy.
End part 39.
All she needed to do now was find an excuse to talk to Harry Potter and offer her lesson exchange. Something that could be easier said than done, even if she did take the things that Draco and Uncle Sev said about Harry Potter with a chunk of salt. He seemed rather wary about people, even those who had been here at Hogwarts for years. But the idea of something that could rip someone’s soul away from their body… She didn’t have words for how creepy and evil that sounded. And those things should be kept as far from Angel as possible.
She shivered at the very idea of a dementor getting to Angel, unleashing Angelus again. Then she wondered if it would be possible to modify the Soul Restoration to help dementor victims. “That might be a good project to work on after the whole mess with Drusilla is taken care of…”
Slipping away from the table, Willow left some of the other Ravenclaws to continue with dinner. She made her way up a couple flights of stairs and over to the library. First, there should be information about this patronus charm. Second, there would be other books that might help identify magical creatures that could be used as defensive measures near or inside a magical home, and books were always good for identifying those things. Third, Madam Pince would make certain that things were relatively quiet while she flipped through books for information.
Willow found a nice table, and began stacking promising books on it to further her research. Research that would be recorded in a spiral bound notebook and jotted down with a pencil, as parchment seemed a bit too much like animal cruelty to use for random notes and quills made her handwriting almost illegible.
“… honestly, Harry, just because there’s a vampire….” The girl’s voice quickly lowered, perhaps in an effort not to aggravate Madam Pince.
Willow looked over, noticing the wild mane of Hermione Granger, and the bird’s nest of Harry Potter’s hair. For a moment, she wondered what sort of mops the children would have if those two got together, and decided that obviously a lot of magic would be needed to tame the resulting hair… then again, if magic could do that, why would those two have such wild hair?
This could be her opportunity. Willow slid out of her chair and walked towards them, part of her mind thinking that they – especially Hermione – looked so young, and another part insisting that she was that age when she started helping Buffy.
“But there has to be a good way to get rid of a vampire,” Harry insisted.
“Magic isn’t always the best answer,” Willow offered. “Sorry, you were a little loud.”
“But considering a vampire’s incredible strength and bloodlust, getting close to one is a terrible idea,” Hermione insisted. “Of course you’d want to use magic. How else could you keep your distance?”
“Crossbows work well, as do squirt guns filled with Holy water,” Willow replied. “We’ve used them for years in Sunnydale.”
“And did you run into very many vampires in Sunnydale? California doesn’t really seem like prime vampire terrain according to my research,” Hermione sniffed.
“Considering that Sunnydale is home of the Hellmouth, lots of them. Most of them behaving very badly, and more than a few that were all about the end of the world, which I could never figure out – I mean, where would they go if they destroy the world?” Willow shook her head.
“Other than crossbows and Holy water, what did you do?” Harry asked, looking very serious.
Willow looked at him, considering that he looked a bit too thin. He also had that not quite hidden enough stressed look that Buffy got all the time. “A really bright light won’t kill them, but it can keep them from seeing right and let you run away, or maybe stake them while they’re seeing spots. Fire spells are good if you can control them. Levitating some wood works pretty well, especially if that wood is a stake.”
“And how do you prevent the vampire from just… taking your wand and attacking you?” Hermione frowned.
“It helps if you can do your magic quickly, not needing a wand keeps them from being able to take it away from you, and not being alone means you’ve got someone else to help you kill it or run away,” Willow grinned. “Sunnydale has taught me that if they are trying to kill you, the best strategy is to kill them first – then you live. And the first rule of living in Sunndyale is Don’t Die. We all try to follow that one.”
“The wandless thing sounds useful, but none of my classes have covered how to do that,” Harry sighed.
Score! Willow grinned, thinking that he’d just given her the perfect opening. “I could teach you. If you’d like.”
“Really?” He blinked, and then frowned, “Is this because of my scar?”
“Doubt it. It’s because some of the birdies at the Ravenclaw table said you know how to cast the patronus charm, which is apparently the best way to get rid of the most vile sounding things that I’ve heard of – dementors. I’m not sure when or why you learned that, and maybe that had to do with your scar. You teach me the patronus, I teach you to do some magic without the wand and you keep applying that to other spells that you know, and we both benefit. Considering the way everyone seems to expect a lot out of you on account of Voldan the Destroyer, I figure you probably get all sorts of special training. But wandless seems to be pretty unusual over here.” Willow shrugged.
“You’d expect a lot of extra training, wouldn’t you?” Harry muttered.
Willow looked at him, wondering just what was going on with the boy. “It wouldn’t be very good to stick a lot of expectations on you and give you no help in preparing for them, would it?”
“No, not good at all,” Harry murmured. “Only a bunch of idiots would think that was a good idea…”
“Harry!” Hermione glared at him.
“You have a deal, Miss Rosenberg,” Harry smiled at her.
“Call me Willow if I’m not in the front of Wesley’s classroom! I’m not used to all the formality that seems so big over here,” Willow laughed. “Miss Rosenberg makes me feel like I’m teaching computer class again.”
“Is it quite proper for you to be calling our Defense professor by his name?” Hermione frowned.
“Considering everything that happened when he was with us in Sunnydale, there’s no reason not to call him by his name. We fought vampires together, prevented a werewolf from escaping, banished demons, researched all sorts of icky things, and prevented several apocalypses.” Willow shrugged. After staggering back from patrol splattered with blood and slime and dirt, the whole Mister and Miss thing went away fast.
“Is wandless more difficult than wanded?” Hary asked.
“Mmmm,” Willow considered. “I started with wandless, so I might not be the best person to ask. It’s a lot easier to get something with a wand, and it helps your control, but the spells seem so rigid and narrow in focus. Wandless is a lot more flexible.”
“Sounds good to me, I need to improvise a lot,” Harry admitted.
Willow grinned, “Sounds like you do get into trouble just as often as Uncle Sev tells me you do!”
“I don’t go looking for trouble!” Harry protested.
Hermione sighed, “It just finds him. All the time.”
Willow resisted the urge to giggle. “Okay, let’s figure out times…”
End part 40.
“Dare I ask what you are doing with Potter?” Uncle Sev’s voice radiated disapproval.
“And good morning to you as well,” Willow looked up from a stack of first year essays. “I have more tea.”
“Potter. Explain. I didn’t think you to be the sort to fall into a fan club,” her uncle scowled, and then poured himself a cup of tea.
“You remember that I covered some classes for Wesley. Third years had emotion-reactive magical things. The most common, according to a whole stack of books, is believed to be the boggart. But those aren’t the most dangerous. That distinction goes to the dementor – and I have to say I can’t think of anything that sounds more completely designed for badness. It drags up your worst memories, freezes you, keeps you from feeling happy, exhausts you just to be around, and oh, as if that wasn’t bad enough, they can rip your soul out of your body!” Willow shivered.
“How does that involve Potter?” Her uncle’s fingers were tapping against the desk.
“Souls make me think of Angel. As hard as it was to give him back his soul, the idea that some really creepy magic boogie-man can yank it away is both irritating and terrifying. So I wanted to know if there was a way to get rid of dementors. Being as I can’t set permanent spells, and don’t have one of the nifty amulets that the Ministry is supposed to have, I’m left with the option of a spell called the patronus. Professor Flitwick said I should learn a few more basic things before he’ll teach me that one. But some of the little birdies in Ravenclaw said that Harry Potter can cast it. I agreed to teach him some basic wandless magic in exchange for him teaching me the patronus. As many things as people seem to expect him to handle, knowing a little wandless magic could only help,” Willow explained.
“And was Potter your only option?” her uncle sighed.
“Wesley said he knows the theory of why the patronus works, but he can’t cast it. Flitwick said I need to learn more basics first. Apparently Headmaster Dumbledore can cast it, but I think I’ve maybe talked to him once, and that was when he said I was welcome at Hogwarts… no, twice, he was there for my placement results. Not someone I can ask to teach me a spiffy magic trick. None of the other Ravenclaws ‘fessed up to being able to cast it.” Willow sighed, “I didn’t see any other options.”
Her uncle closed his eyes, his lips moving as he counted to ten. “I suppose your logic is sound.”
“To completely change the subject, is Headmaster Dumbledore talking about how his chat with Spike went? Do the aurors have any information on Alacia’s grandmother? What about this weekend?” Willow asked in a rush.
“No, not that they have shared, and you will be able to visit your grandfather Saturday morning,” her uncle was smirking at her as he answered the questions in order.
“He should be pleased to know that I probably won’t accidentally break, vanish, or set anything on fire if I wave my wand at his house,” Willow gave a weak chuckle. “And does it show that I’m still a bit upset that nobody ever tried to teach me this stuff before?”
“You are making remarkable strides. Considering your analysis of possible defenses on the Bath property, you might have a future as a curse-breaker. I suspect that Sunnydale would be counted as prior job experience,” her uncle murmured.
“I did more than just break hostile magics,” Willow huffed. “Actually, there was a lot more potions and demon-slaying than curses. Lots of rituals. Most of them would probably be considered dark arts.”
“Most likely that experience is a benefit to unraveling Malfoy defenses,” he mused.
“They sound like the Sunnydale sort. Only with more tea and scones,” Willow flipped the essay to the graded pile.
“Do try to avoid picking up any of Potter’s bad habits,” her uncle sighed.
“Oh, fine. But you should try to remember that this one isn’t James Potter that you went to school with. This one’s Harry Potter, and there’s some serious social inequality going on.” Willow looked at her uncle. “I won’t argue about anything you want to say about the Potter you went to school with. But you need to try to keep straight who’s doing what, otherwise you can start making mistakes, and I’m used to Sunnydale, where mistakes can get you killed. With Spike and Dru showing up in this mess, death seems a little too likely here, and I like having you around.”
Her uncle merely snorted, and left the room, teacup in hand.
“And I guess nobody in the family likes to hear that they might be wrong,” Willow muttered. Not that she enjoyed hearing the idea either…
End part 41.