The Jersey Two-Step
See Chapter 1.Rating:
See Chapter 1.--- --- ---
Tonks looked down into the courtyard in amazement. She'd gotten up early, hoping to spend some time talking with Ginny and had run into Dawn Summers instead. In response to Tonks' request for Ginny the tall brunette had taken her to the office they were now standing in. From there they were able to observe the activity in the courtyard without being seen themselves.
"What are they doing?" she asked, puzzled at the almost dancelike qualities of the movements of the two women down below.
"T'ai Chi. She seems to really get it," Dawn told her quietly. "They work well together. "
"Is something going on between them?" Tonks asked with some concern for
"Not that we can tell." Dawn sighed. "But we're really hoping it will. Buffy hasn't connected like that with anyone in years. And all of the signs are there."
Tonks looked at the tall brunette curiously. "Signs?"
"Things like this. They've been doing it every day since Ginny started here. And Buffy is a very private person. She doesn't talk to very many people about her personal life. But she'll tell Ginny things she hasn't even told her best friend."
"How do you know that?"
"It's my duty as nosy younger sister to know these things." Dawn giggled, the sound surprising Tonks after the tone of her earlier statements. "I occasionally eat breakfast with them. They usually forget I'm there so I hear things."
"How'd they meet?" Tonks asked. "I didn't even know she wasn't in London anymore."
"I'm not sure. Buffy was in London in October for a bunch of meetings and they met in some pub. And then Willow, she's our head witch, had to go do some wiccan thing for a while and we needed someone to sub for her. Somehow Ginny got the job. No one will tell me how that exactly happened." Dawn grumbled, pouting slightly. "I think only Ginny and Willow know the whole story. You should have seen Buffy's face when Ginny showed up on Valentines Day. She was so surprised." Dawn grinned.
"So, do you use a lot of magic around here?" Tonks asked, fishing for information.
"Not if we can help it." She gave Tonks a look. "I'm not sure about the kind you use..." Tonks started but didn't say anything. "... but the magic we use around here is usually too dangerous for casual use. We leave it to the professionals, like Willow and Ginny. There are always consequences to using wiccan magic. And not always good ones."
"Oh." Tonks turned back to the window and watched Buffy and Ginny, no longer doing T'ai Chi together. She noticed that Ginny seemed to be sitting quietly, deep in thought, but Buffy was doing something completely different. "What's your sister doing now?"
"That's job related training. It's even more impressive when she has a sword or she's working out with the others. That's just her morning warm-up."
"Swords?" Tonks squeaked in surprise.
"You don't have any idea who Buffy is or what we do here, do you?" Dawn stated, as if confirming something she'd suspected.
"No. And no one seems to want to tell me." Tonks grumbled. "They keep saying "Maybe later." Turning away from the window and leaning against a nearby wall she asked "Any chance at breakfast?"
"Sure. It looks like they're done. We can meet them in the cafeteria." Dawn headed for the door. "It's still too early for most of the staff so there shouldn't be any crowds."--- --- ---
It had been a long night for Hermione. While she wasn't too happy with Tonks at the moment because of the problems she'd caused with her accidental trip to Cleveland, how it had happened in the first place was a fascinating puzzle. Blindly apparating that kind of distance to a place you'd never been without getting splinched was unusual. That Tonks had ended up in some place known to her unconscious travelling companion seemed to indicate that it was more than an accident.
She knew that if this hadn't involved one of her department's chartered magical muggle organizations someone else would have gotten the problem to solve so she planned on enjoying the opportunity to figure it out as much as possible.
She'd spent the evening and much of the morning looking for answers in the Ministry libraries without much luck. There were tantalizing clues in the records of the Department of Magical Transport hinting at unintended side effects when apparating in the presence of certain things but no solid answers.
Minister Dent had given her carte blanch to fix any problems Tonks' actions caused between the Watchers Council and the Ministry. Whatever it took and as quietly and quickly as possible was his suggestion. So after a quick lunch she was off to Hogwarts to talk with Professor Dumbledore and several others and hopefully she could avoid personal entanglements while there. Somewhere in the Hogwarts library's extensive collection of restricted tomes should be the answers to her questions.
Hopefully she could find something before she had to call Ginny. And if she was lucky word wouldn't leak out before she could deal with Tonks.--- --- ---
An exhausted Hermione stared up at the imposing building she'd been dropped off in front of. She hadn't tried to duplicate Tonks' feat and had gotten to the Cleveland airport by a confusing combination of floo and public portkey before taking a taxi the rest of the way. It had taken just over an hour, which while preferable to flying, either by broom or airplane, wasn't something she planned to do very often.
Walking into the lobby she approached what seemed to be a very young receptionist behind a long counter. She put down her overnight bag, and smiling in a friendly manner, spoke to the receptionist, who was looking at her oddly. "I'm here to see Ginny Weasley."
"Is she expecting you?" the young woman asked.
Hermione noticed she was wearing a badge with a name on it. "No..., Aimee is it?" at the woman's nod she continued, "she isn't. Could you tell her that Hermione Granger is here to see her? If she isn't around could I speak with Buffy Summers instead?"
"If you don't mind waiting I can check." Aimee told her, picking up the phone.
Hermione smiled at her. "Thanks."
After speaking quietly into the phone for a minute, Aimee put it down and addressed Hermione. "Someone will be down for you in a minute. You'll need a visitor's badge. And visitors aren't allowed weapons in the office so you'll have to leave your wand here. How do you spell your name?"
Hermione frowned at the obviously rehearsed speech Aimee had quickly rattled off, wondering how she'd known about the wand and why she'd called it a weapon. "Hermione - aitch - ee - ar - em - eye- oh - enn - ee. Granger - gee ar aye enn gee ee ar. Just the way it sounds." she told her and watched her enter it into some kind of computer behind the counter before carefully handing over her wand.
"Thanks." Aimee smiled at her. "We'll take good care of it. You can have it back when you leave the building." She then handed Hermione a badge with her name on it and was showing her where to wear it just as Ginny entered the lobby.
"Hermione! All you had to do was call. You didn't need to come in person." Ginny scolded her, taking in her overnight bag, before turning to Aimee and thanking her.
"It seemed like a good idea at the time." Hermione told her with a slightly sad smile. "We should be able to take care of this quickly."
Ginny looked at her long-time friend. "Hogwarts?" she asked wisely.
"Hogwarts," Hermione admitted with a sigh. "Some times I just wish..."
"Please don't!" Ginny interrupted her quickly. "You never know who is listening. Especially around here!"
"Where's Tonks?" Hermione asked as Ginny led her out of the lobby.
"She's with Buffy and her sister. I'm assuming you'll want to stay the night. Let's get you a room and then we can meet them in the cafeteria. Have you eaten anything for dinner?" Ginny asked her.
"Yes, but it was a long time ago." She readjusted her bag on her shoulder. "Something light would probably help." Something suddenly occurred to her. "Ginny? What was that about a weapon?"
"Weapon?" Hermione made a swishing motion with her free hand. "Oh... that. I'll explain later, if you don't mind."
"Okay. Where is this room?" Hermione asked. "And you can tell me what's happened when we get there."--- --- ---
Tonks watched Hermione curiously as she ate. She hadn't spent much time with her since Harry had defeated Voldemort. She didn't remember her being so quiet. She seemed to be in her own world, spending a lot of time watching Buffy Summer and her sister. Tonks leaned over to Ginny and asked her in a whisper "What's wrong with Hermione?"
"She was just at Hogwarts."
"I thought she loved it?" Tonks asked. "She used to say she wanted to teach there."
"It's not my story to tell," Ginny told her. At Tonks' frown, she added "You don't always get the family you want." and refused to say more.
"She reminds me of Willow," Buffy commented quietly from the other side of Ginny. "Willow's parents were never there and she had to make her own family out of her friends. She's okay now but for a long time you could tell she knew she was missing something. She used to be jealous of Dawn because our relationship is different from what she and I have. Hermione has the same look Willow would get."--- --- ---
"We should probably get this over with." Buffy told the others once everyone was done eating. "Unless you want to do this in the morning?" She directed that question at the obviously tired Hermione.
"No. Now would be best." Hermione told her. "This shouldn't take very long. We can sleep afterward. Tonks and I have an important meeting in London tomorrow."
"We do?" Tonks said nervously.
"Yes we do," Hermione told her firmly. She turned to Buffy. "Is there somewhere we can have a private conversation?"
"My conference room can hold all five of us." Buffy told her. "No one will bother us there."
"Okay," Hermione told her, getting up from the table. "Lead on."
Buffy led the way to the conference room. "Let me get some things out of my office," She told them. "Then we can start."
The four women found seats at the conference table and waited for Buffy. Hermione took a small object out of a pocket. "Ginny could you take care of this for me?" She placed it on the table in front of Ginny. "I didn't know I wouldn't have my wand when I shrunk it."
"Sure." Ginny muttered a few words and touched the object. "There you go." She said as it expanded into a small portfolio.
"Whoa!" Dawn exclaimed. "That looks like a useful trick."
Hermione thanked Ginny and started removing a number of things from it.
Buffy walked into the room and after closing and locking the door, twisted a small crystal and placed it in the middle of the table. "All set. No one can hear us now." She looked at the papers in front of Hermione. "How did you want to do this?" she asked.
"I think we should get the legalities out of the way first." Hermione told them. "The best option is a confidentiality agreement between the Council and Tonks. Your charter already has provisions for things like that in it."
"What is this charter for?" Tonks asked.
"You can read it later if you want to know the details." Hermione told her. "But at its simplest it allows the Council to operate in England and a few other places without interference from the Ministry. That includes using magic when necessary. In exchange for that the Council agrees to provide assistance in an emergency if requested."
"Why didn't I know this?" Tonks asked her.
"You know now. The Council wouldn't agree to the charter unless we kept their existence a secret." Hermione responded. "Only people who work with the Council directly are allowed to know about them. This is just the first time we've had to invoke that provision."
"We aren't that bad." Buffy protested. "A lot of people know about us. We just want to be the ones to tell people." She shrugged. "If the wrong people found out it would make our job harder."
Hermione looked at the three Council members before handing several documents to Buffy and Tonks. "There's a confidentiality spell on it that affects everyone who signs it. Once Tonks signs it..." Hermione looked at Tonks, letting her know that there wasn't a choice, "she won't tell anyone anything she learns about the Council."
"Who else should sign it?" Buffy asked.
"At least one witness from each side." Hermione told her. "I'll sign it and someone from the Council needs to also."
"I'll do it." Dawn announced. "We don't sign it in blood do we? And what are the side effects?"
"No. Nothing like that. And there shouldn't be any side effects. But it does mean that Tonks is now your liaison with her office." Hermione took the documents from Buffy and a startled Tonks and handed them to Dawn to sign. She then signed them also.
"Thanks." She put the signed documents away. "I'll give Mr. Giles the Council copy when I get back to London."
"Okay. That was the easy part." Buffy announced, taking charge. "What about Fred and Tonks not-so-excellent adventure? What caused it and how do we prevent it from happening again?"
"Ginny told you about apparating and explained the basics about wizards. Correct?" Hermione asked Buffy and Dawn.
"She didn't go into great detail but yes, we now know there are people called wizards who can do magic with wands. And they don't like people who don't use wands to know about them." Buffy said. "And we agreed not to tell anyone."
"And they have a way of traveling that is sort of like wiccan teleporting." Dawn added. "Also, you, Ginny, and Tonks are part of that. I could be wrong but it's my guess that this Ministry is mostly run by wizards."
"I didn't say anything about that!" Ginny protested when both Hermione and Tonks looked at her in surprise.
"You didn't have to." Dawn told her before addressing all of them in her best pedantic Giles voice. "All three of you have wands, even if Ginny doesn't need hers, and you all worked in the same building. I just put two and two together. Someday you'll have to tell us the real story because even I can come up with something better than what we've heard so far."
"All this is interesting, and something we can discuss later" Buffy interjected, hoping to avoid getting side tracked, "but it doesn't tell me what happened to Fred and how to prevent it from happening again."
"Buffy, there really isn't a lot of information about this kind of thing." Hermione told the impatient woman. "Apparating from London to Cleveland should be almost impossible. It's just too far. And Tonks did it blindly. It's like closing your eyes and stepping into the middle of the street at rush hour. Very few people can do that and live to talk about it." Hermione shuddered at the thought. "The only thing I could find were references to apparating tests someone did several hundred years ago. Apparently, some objects or living things can affect apparating. But I couldn't find information about the tests themselves. So I don't know what objects they tested."
"What do we know actually happened?" Buffy asked them. "Dawn? What did Fred tell you?"
"Well, Fred was fighting the apocalyptic-demon-of-the-week in an alley off of Charing Cross Road."
"Down near the Leaky Caldron?" Buffy asked. Dawn gave her a blank look.
"Several blocks from there." Tonks supplied before realizing what Buffy had said. "You know where the Leaky Caldron is?" she asked in surprise.
"Yes, I met Ginny there. Why?" Buffy asked in a puzzled voice. Dawn's eyes widened at the admission.
"Non-wizards shouldn't be able to see it." Hermione told her. "We never did figure out why you could see it. Unless it's because you're classified as a magical creature."
"I'm a what?" Buffy sputtered.
"She's a magical creature?" Tonks mumbled in surprise.
"Yes. Though that's classified." Hermione looked at the other four woman. "No one is supposed to know that."
"Oh. Because she's a slayer?" Dawn asked.
"Yes." Hermione confirmed. "It's known that certain magical creatures can cause strange things to happen to wizarding spells and charms. And since Fred is also a slayer..." She left the thought unfinished.
Tonks looked at Buffy, "What's a slayer? Does it have to do with that blue demon this Fred was fighting?"
"A little." Ginny replied after looking at Buffy for permission to speak. "They are young women with mystically enhanced strength and senses who fight evil creatures. Every thing the Council does centers around them. They're demon hunters."
"So when I saw Fred fighting that creature?"
"She was doing her job. It's nice that you wanted to help but she was quite capable of dealing with it herself." Buffy told her. She directed her next question at Hermione. "Is that a reasonable explanation?"
"If Tonks was touching Fred when she tried to apparate and if wizarding magic doesn't work correctly around slayers." Hermione thought for a minute. "It's possible, though we would need to experiment."
"Let's not." Buffy firmly told her. "At least not until Willow gets back. I don't want to have to explain to Giles that I lost slayers playing with magic. Is there anything else?"
"Not that I can think of." Hermione told her, followed by a big yawn.
"Okay. Let's call it a night then. Tonks?"
"I'll let the front desk know you can have your wand back in the morning when you leave with Hermione. And Tonks?"
"The next time you decide to help out a slayer... try not to be touching them when you apparate or use your wand."
An embarrassed Tonks answered "I won't."
"Dawn?" Buffy said quietly in a voice only her sister could hear, as they all left her conference room. "Hermione can take a look at the library in the morning before she goes. If you take her now she'll fall asleep in a book."
"Okay." She smiled at her sister. "Oh magical creature."
"Uh, Dawn?" Buffy raised an eyebrow at her sister's comment.
"If I'm a magical creature," she threw at her sister, "what does that make you?"
"Sorry." Dawn said sheepishly. "Got it. No magical creature comments from the mystical green ball."--- --- ---
Tonks paced impatiently in the lobby, twirling her wand between her fingers under the nervous gaze of the girls behind the counter. Hermione had been in a hurry to get back to London until she'd caught sight of the Council's Cleveland library.
She sighed with relief when Hermione appeared. She was being dragged into the lobby by a grinning redhead. "You can always come back." Ginny was telling her. "Your taxi will be here in a minute." No sooner had Ginny said that when there was a honking noise coming from outside. "That must be it now."
"Tell me again why we aren't just apparating back to London?" Tonks grumbled as they climbed into the taxi.
"As I told you this morning, your apparating license is suspended until we get back to the Ministry and you file a report with my office and Magical Transport.
"But no one will ever read it!" Tonks whined. "Why go to all of that trouble?"
"So the next time something like this happens we have some idea of what caused it." Hermione told her as the taxi began to move, not budging on the issue as she stared out at the city passing by. Already missing the sharp sense of purpose that had seemed to permeate the Council's Cleveland office, and a little jealous at the place Ginny had made for herself there, Hermione groaned when she suddenly realized that she still hadn't found out why they'd kept referring to wands as weapons and how they'd known she had one in the first place.-The End-(For now)