This has been slowly growing over the past few months. The only cure seems to be posting it. So here it is.Warnings:
Contains a large amount of exposition to move the story forward. Not much physical action. Also may contain hints of spoilers for events that may occur in earlier stories in the series that I haven't written (or finished) yet.Continuity:
There may be errors. I should really be working on NaNoWriMo.Disclaimer Update:
A certain fictional vehicle may (or may not) appear in this chapter. I claim no ownership and make no promises about its appearance leading to anything plot-wise.
"So… you're a witch," Dawn said, frowning at her new roommate. "The wand waving kind, to be specific," she added.
"There are other kinds of witches?" Perci asked, not denying Dawn's claim, her breath gradually slowing down, and color returning to her face.
"Right. Hogwarts," Dawn grumbled under her breath. "They don't teach you about other kinds of magic. Stupid, secret keeping stupids."
"You know about magic?" Perci asked. "Is that why my sister wanted us to room together?"
"Couldn't tell you," Dawn said, standing up, "but I know just who to ask!"
"Aren't you forgetting something, babe?" Faith asked.
"What?" Dawn asked, turning to look at her, raising an eyebrow at the sobriquet.
"It's planning week," Faith said, pausing for a second to add, "babe", with a wink.
"Oh. Right," Dawn said, flopping back down on her chair with a loud thud. "Why aren't you there with the rest of them?"
Faith grimaced, taking a pack of bubblegum out of a pocket. "I'm on call," she said.
"I won't ask how you managed that," Dawn said, smirking. "But didn't Buffy wonder how you managed to get out of that again this year?"
"Nope," Faith said, blowing a bubble. "She trusts me to keep things under control while she's out of contact."
"Yes, but…" Dawn said.
"No buts," Faith said. "And as big cheese for the week, I'm assigning this little problem to you," she said, waving at Perci. "She's all yours."
"You're being very generous with my time," Dawn grumbled.
"Just think how impressed the old guy and your sister will be if you figure this out," Faith said.
"I'm not a problem," Perci said faintly.
"Your big sis seems like the puzzle solving type," Faith told her. "Do you want us to call her?"
"You've met her?" Perci asked, an unhappy expression on her face.
"We had a big thing last spring," Dawn said. "She got dragged into it."
"Hermi didn't need to be dragged into anything," Faith said. "She was getting up in the whole thing like a pro."
"Okay. Not dragging," Dawn said, laughing. "But yeah, we all met her. She's probably at the manor watching the planning."
"Is there that other kind of magic?" Perci asked. "At this planning meeting?"
"Willow's there, so, yeah," Dawn said.
"Willow?" Perci asked.
"Looks like your new project could use the 411," Faith said, pulling out her phone and looking down at it. "And I've got some juniors to go calm down. She's all yours."
"When will you be back?" Dawn asked, watching Faith open the door.
"I'll be around," Faith said, nodding at them. "Ladies, don't do anything too crazy. Yada, Yada."
"Yada?" Perci asked, frowning at them.
"Faith speak for 'Don't do anything that will get her in trouble with Buffy, Willow, or Giles'," Dawn said.
"You got it, babe," Faith said, before closing the door behind her.
"She thinks she's so funny," Dawn grumbled.
"Who are Buffy, Willow, and Giles?" Faith heard the newbie ask as she stepped away from Dawn's suite.
Laughing to herself, Faith made her way out of the building, slipping between bodies in the crowded hallways.
"Great timing, F!" Buffy said, frustration clear in her voice. "Could use your input on something. Hang on a second while I put you on speakerphone."
"Hold on a sec, fluffy," Faith said. "Our deal was that you'd make all the decisions for the slayers at the Watcher party."
"Yeah, but I need backup," Buffy grumbled. "So, why'd you call? Is Dawn all moved in? Is Oxford a totally vamp-free zone now?"
"Yup. Not a bloodsucker in sight. Did you know the whole place is one of those magic holy ground places? A few neutral demons hanging around but nothing more evil than a bunch of lawyers."
"Umm… no? Giles never mentioned it," Buffy said. "How's Dawn doing? Not homesick yet is she?"
"The kid is doing okay," Faith said, leaning against a blue police box. "I even found her a watcher thing to do."
"Really? What?" Buffy asked.
"It's a surprise," Faith said.
"Faith!" Buffy whined. "Not even a hint?"
"And ruin the surprise?" Faith asked. "It's nothing bad, B."
"I don't like surprises that involve Dawn," Buffy grumbled. "Give."
"Got to practice my slayer Jedi-mind-control trick today," Faith said, jumping back in surprise when the police box seemed to shake.
"Jedi mind-control trick?" Buffy asked, sounding puzzled.
"You know. Calm the savage beast and all that shit," Faith said.
"A slayer went critical around Dawn?" Buffy asked. "Who was it?"
"Nobody you know," Faith said. "It's all taken care of."
"Faith…" Buffy said, her demand for an answer clear. "There are no slayers I don't know."
"Sure there are," Faith said. "G has a list of slayers we haven't found yet. On that magic list of his. We met one at the last shindig."
"Fann? She's got that half-Fae thing going on," Buffy said. "But her name is on the list now," she protested. "And so are all the other unknowns. They fixed it. We're already contacting them."
"The brain-trust missed one," Faith said, laughing.
"And you just met her in Oxford?" Buffy asked. "And Dawn was there."
"Roommate," Faith said.
"Can't be a slayer," Buffy said. "She's a witch. Though Hermione did say she hates magic. Only went to Hogwarts because they made her. Which would make sense," she muttered.
"Something you want to tell the class, Miss B?" Faith said.
"Wand magic goes wonky around slayers," Buffy said. "Someone needs to warn Dawn. We don't really want them experimenting. Something bad could happen."
"Too late," Faith said.
"What do you mean?"
"You put me in charge," Faith said.
"So, I gave Dawn a job to do," Faith said. "Told her to figure out the deal with this Perci chick. Sort of made her Perci's Watcher."
"You know she really wants to be one," Faith said. "It'll be good for her."
"If anything happens to her, I'm blaming you!" Buffy grumbled.
"Blame away," Faith said. "But you get to call her about this magic thing. Or your pet witch can talk with her."
"Now I have to tell her sister," Buffy said. "That isn't going to go over well."
"Don't," Faith said, frowning. "Not a good idea. The vibes when we mentioned her sister weren't good. I don't think she gets along with Hermi."
"And if that blows up in our face? And you know it will," Buffy said.
"Give me a head start before you make me the fall guy," Faith said, smirking.
"Gladly," Buffy said. "Now, excuse me while I talk with our newest slayer watcher pair."
"Will do, Boss," Faith said, before closing the call. "Ah, I love the smell of chaos in the morning," she muttered to herself with a laugh. Shaking her head, she headed off to the pub she'd noticed earlier that morning. She was going to need something stronger than coffee if she was going to deal with that pipsqueak slayer and her crazy Watcher in Paris.
"In order of importance, Giles is the boss. He's in charge of the money and knows where all of the bodies are buried, metaphorically speaking. Willow's our head magic practitioner. And Buffy…" Dawn paused.
"What's that sound?" Perci asked.
"My laptop," Dawn said, sighing. "Looks like our little chat is going to have to wait. If I don't answer that, we'll have company of the big sister kind, probably both of them."
"Hermione is at some retreat," Perci said. Her sister hadn't mentioned where the retreat was or why she was going. It might even be this planning meeting her new roommate had mentioned. And she didn't really care.
"Yeah, probably with my sister and the gang," Dawn said, flipping open her laptop. "You might want to move, unless you want people to see you." She pointed at the camera.
"Oh. Right." Perci moved out of camera range, which unfortunately meant she couldn't see the screen on Dawn's laptop.
"Hey Buffy," Dawn said. "Shouldn't you be in a meeting?"
"Snack break," a feminine voice Perci didn't recognize said. "Thought I'd check to see how you're doing."
"Not doing much," Dawn said. "Just barely moved in. Why'd you call?"
"I can't call my favorite sister?"
"Using Skype? You usually use your cell," Dawn said. "Why'd you really call?"
"I can't talk with our newest Slayer Watcher team?" Buffy asked.
"Not a Watcher," Dawn said.
"That's not what Faith said," Buffy said. "According to our problem child you have your first assignment."
"Perci isn't on our payroll," Dawn said. "She might not want to be."
"My roommate," Dawn said.
"Ah. Not Perciphone?" Buffy asked, mangling Perci's name.
"Persephone," Dawn correct, "though apparently only her sister calls her that."
"Good to know," Buffy said. "Have her move so I can see her."
Perci shook her head. She had no idea what a slayer or a watcher was but if it involved her sister she didn't want to be a part of it.
"Why not?" Dawn asked. "Buffy doesn't bite. Unless you're Ginny Weasley."
"Hey!" came loudly from the laptop.
"You won't tell my sister?" Perci asked, filing away the Weasley comment for future reference and possibly bribery purposes.
"She'll find out eventually," Dawn said, "but she's not part of our thing."
"You haven't explained anything to her yet?" Buffy asked. "Does she even know what a slayer is?"
"No," Perci said, stepping closer to Dawn so she could see this sister on the screen.
"I haven't had a chance," Dawn said. "Faith just left. Though apparently she had enough time to call you," she groused.
"She thought I should know," Buffy said. "So, no telling the sister?"
"No," Perci said with as much firmness as she could to someone who was a face on a computer screen. "It's none of her business."
"Actually, if I understand it, it is her business," Buffy said. "Our organization, which you know nothing about, though Dawn will correct that shortly, has an agreement with your Ministry of Magic. It's convoluted and you really don't need to know the details right now but at some point she will find out."
"It's not my Ministry," Perci said. "Going to Hogwarts wasn't my idea."
"Okay… knew that. Seems to be quite the scandal with your sister's friends," Buffy said. "You can explain all that to your Watcher, while you're filling out the paperwork."
"Paperwork?" Perci asked. "For what?"
"You're a slayer, or at least Faith claims, and Dawn will confirm," Buffy said. "That means a bunch of things, some good, some not so good. But to get that good stuff, you need to fill out some paperwork. Which Dawn will help you with."
"I've never done the new slayer paperwork," Dawn said. "Can't we come up to London for that?"
"Don't you have classes?"
"Monday," Dawn said. "Orientation is tomorrow."
"Which you said you couldn't miss," Buffy said. "See? I do pay attention!"
"Ugh! Okay," Dawn said.
"Snack time is over," Buffy said, looking off camera. "Gotta go. Nice to meet you Perci, we'll talk in a couple weeks. Get to know each other better. And Dawn?"
"Don't forget to do the parental meet-n-greet. Perci is an adult so she doesn't need their permission but they are next of kin, so it might be a good idea."
"Me? I've never done that!" Dawn said.
"There's always a first time," Buffy said. "Xander is busy this week but he's good at the whole schmooze the parents thing so you might want to talk with him before you talk with them."
"No prob," Dawn said. "I was going to call him next week anyway."
"Oh, and before I forget," Buffy said. "Perci? Try not to do any of the wand stuff if you can help it. Slayers make it go wonky."
"Wonky?" Perci said, puzzled.
"Ooh… that's kind of important," Dawn said, excitedly. "I've got that all under control, Buffy. I've got a copy of Hermione's report."
"Good. I'll call you at our regular time, Dawn."
"Okay," Dawn said, waving her hand at the screen. Once it'd gone blank she turned to Perci. "And that was a Buffy," she said sighing.
"Wonky?" Perci repeated.
"Long story. But she's right. Avoid using your wand unless it's an emergency. The Slayer thing and the wand thing don't mix very well."
"What does that mean?" Perci asked.
"You still want to know what a slayer is, yes?" Dawn asked. Perci nodded reluctantly. "Then we need to start at the beginning," she said, "so we should probably get comfortable."
"Let's start with the general concepts," Dawn said, once they'd clear a space on the floor and were sitting on large pillows Dawn dragged out of her room. "We both agree that magic is real, correct?"
"Yes," Perci said, twisting the top off of the water Dawn had supplied.
"What I suspect you didn't know is that there are a number of different kinds of magic. They only teach wand magic at your school," Dawn said. "Correct?"
"Wizarding magic," Perci said, nodding.
"Some of it is understandable," Dawn said, nodding. "Very few people can learn to do more than one kind of magic. We generally classify magic by the source of the magical power and the intent of the user."
"The purpose and orientation of the wielder. Good, evil, neutral," Dawn said. "Though that's a very simplistic approach. There are different degrees or shades."
"Wand… sorry... 'Wizarding' magic is somewhat genetic. If you aren't born being able to do it, you can't learn it. Your source of power, your magical core, is internal. And wand magic itself is generally neutral, though an individual might be good or evil."
"Another kind of magic, Wiccan magic, can be done by almost anyone, with enough training. Unlike your magic, the power is external. A Wiccan draws their power from the environment." Dawn paused for a moment to drink her own water. "Now, although anyone can learn it, some people have more talent for performing this magic than others. It's like sports. Some people are just better at it. One of the drawbacks of this kind of magic is that, with a few rare exceptions, even the most talented Wiccans still take years to learn it. And, of course, it's dangerous because some of that external power might belong to a powerful creature or being that expects payment for use of the power."
"What kinds of creatures?" Perci asked.
"Elementals, gods, that kind of thing," Dawn said.
"Gods? They exist?"
"Oh yeah, though the lower level ones don't usually interfere with humans. There is a group of higher beings that are big with keeping the Balance but we'll get to them later. Much later. Wiccans tend to be religious, worshipping the Goddess, their patron."
"Can you do this Wiccan magic?" Perci asked.
"A few tricks. Simple stuff," Dawn said. "Willow's the one with the Wiccan power. Gobs of it."
"Are there any other kinds of magic?"
"A few more," Dawn said. "Demonic magic, which only demons can do. Their source seems to be internal. And they're usually at the evil end of the scale. Umm… shamanistic magic. Sort of like Wiccan in that their power comes from nature but more subtle. They're mostly neutral. Sorcerers have some internal power but mainly get their power through some of the darker gods and demonic entities. They tend towards the evil end of the scale. There are some others but those are the ones you'll most likely run into."
"Okay," Perci murmured.
"Oh, and one more thing. All of these different groups of magic users have their own traditions and societies. And they tend to avoid each other, though your wizards are a bit extreme with the whole hiding from everyone else."
"What did you mean that the 'Slayer thing' and wizarding magic don't mix?" Perci asked.
"They aren't very compatible," Dawn said. "Something about the source of slayer magic makes wizarding magic unreliable."
"So wizarding magic and wiccan magic don't mix?" Perci asked.
"Wiccan magic and wizarding magic? What makes you think that?" Dawn asked.
"Well, wouldn't slayer magic be Wiccan magic?"
"Oh. No. Sorry," Dawn said. "Slayer magic is a special case. A very special case. It's closer to the magic of the Fae, than Wiccan. Which is a recent revelation. All the old books, if they mention slayers at all, say the source of their power is demonic."
"But it's not?"
"Nope. Not to say it isn't any less powerful or dangerous than demonic magic," Dawn said. "Not that we know a lot about the real Fae or their magic, since they've died off or left this dimension. Mostly. Your sister thinks those house elves are Fae, but she can't prove it."
"So, if I'm this slayer person, I have this Fae-like magic and it makes my Wizarding magic go 'wonky'?"
"Well, you aren't 'the' slayer. Buffy was the last The Slayer. Now there are so many it feels like you can't go anywhere without tripping over one. And Slayer magic isn't so much something you use as it's something you are. But the wonkiness? Very true. Dangerously true. The first known example was when some witch in London, one of those wizarding cops, tried to apparate while touching a slayer. She was trying to get her to a hospital, I think. They ended up in Cleveland. Knocked the slayer out for hours."
"Apparating makes me nauseous," Perci said, "though I've only been sick once."
"Well, don't do it," Dawn said.
"I don't," Perci said. "I don't usually have problems unless I try to do things to myself," she admitted.
"I wouldn't think magicking yourself would be a good idea in the first place," Dawn said. "I know the Wiccans frown on it."
"Make-up, hair color, hair trimming," Perci said. "Most witches do their own hair, and can do some amazing things with make-up, but it takes magic. My hair turned purple the last time I tried to style it with magic."
"Some people like purple hair," Dawn said, laughing.
"I don't," Perci grumbled.
"Well, I can see why you aren't a huge fan of magic," Dawn said, nodding. "Don't worry, we don't expect slayers to do their own magic. It's too much of a distraction."
"Distraction from what?" Perci asked.
"Not dying," Dawn said.
"What, exactly, is a slayer?" Perci asked, staring at her roommate in horrified fascination.
"We haven't covered that yet, have we," Dawn said, nonchalantly putting down her bottle of water. "We can come back to the other things later."
"Yes, let's skip right to the important things," Perci said.
"What do you think of evil and creatures that are inherently evil?" Dawn asked. "What should be done about them?"
"Evil isn't good. What kinds of creatures?"
"Demons, and the demon infested, like vampires," Dawn said.
"Are werewolves evil? Giants? Centaurs?" Perci asked.
"We distinguish between creatures that are evil, like demons, and creatures who can do evil, like humans, and werewolves. I've never met a giant or any centaurs," Dawn said. "Also, there are different shades to being evil. We've occasionally run into creatures we would call demons, but who aren't evil."
"That sounds confusing," Perci said. "How do you keep them straight? There are known vampires and werewolves in the Wizarding community, but they aren't considered evil."
"Yes, it can be confusing," Dawn said. "Not sure about Wizarding vampires, but werewolves are werewolves, no matter what magical beliefs they follow. Which brings us to slayers. And the Council."
"Support organization for slayers," Dawn said. "Really old. Dates back millennia, but not as far back as slayers."
"And you're part of this Council?"
"The new Council, slightly different than the old one," Dawn said. "A very important distinction."
"Not if you don't explain the difference," Perci said, shaking her head.
"Oh, right. Background helps," Dawn said, nodding sagely. "Used to be only one slayer at a time. Going back to the beginning of known slayer history. The Council got used to the idea and rich, and very inflexible. Because most of them never had contact with that lone slayer, they forgot she was a person, the reason for their existence, and not just a tool to move like a chess piece."
"That doesn't sound good," Perci said. Frowning, she added, "Why would I want to be part of that?"
"Exactly!" Dawn said excitedly. "Who wants to be a tool of a bunch of stuffy old men and their little demon cataloging club. Of course, they trained most of the slayers so the poor things thought it was normal."
"So, that was the old Council?" Perci asked hopefully. "And the new one? How did that happen?"
Not all at once," Dawn said. "Took a few years to change."
"It started with Buffy. Think of her as a 'free range' slayer," Dawn said. "The Council didn't find her until after she became the slayer. So she didn't have any of their training. None of that blind obedience to the Watcher."
"Job title. The official name of the org is the Council of Watchers. The ones who helped the slayer out in the field, and trained potential slayers, were the Field Watchers. A very pragmatic bunch, but still steeped in stuffiness. Buffy's first Watcher, Merrick, was the one who found her and tried to train her. But it didn't go so well. Have you ever seen one of those '90's teen movies where the main character was a so called 'Valley Girl'?"
"Yes, though Hogwarts had some like that, without the American accent," Perci said. "Thought they were special. Liked to remind everyone else."
"Oh yeah, ran into a few like that myself," Dawn said, grimacing. "Some do get better. But anyway, Buffy was a real one. A real Valley Girl. And then Merrick died, and she ran away after killing the Master vampire. By the time we moved to Sunnydale, after the divorce, she was a lot better. She can still pull off Valley Girl, but that's not really her thing anymore."
"Then what happened?" Perci asked.
"Sunnydale had it's own Master vampire. Buffy died, though obviously not permanently," Dawn said. "Xander, I'll explain him later, did CPR and brought her back. What we didn't find out until later was that she was 'dead' long enough for whatever magic turns a potential slayer into a real slayer decided to activate the next in line. Which we didn't find out til months later when she showed up in Sunnydale hunting some big evil. So, suddenly it wasn't just one slayer anymore. It was Buffy and Kendra."
"Did they work together?" Perci asked. "Two slayers?"
"Nope. The old Council kept pretending there was only one slayer, one Chosen One. So, when Kendra died, they didn't tell us anything about her replacement."
"How long was Kendra a slayer?" Perci asked.
"Almost a year?" Dawn said, frowning. "Maybe a little longer. There's a memorial to her at the Council in London."
"A year?" Perci said, echoing her. "Is that normal?"
"For the old Council? Pretty much. Buffy lasted two years before getting killed the first time. Four more before she died again, and Willow brought her back. Old Council slayers didn't have a long lifespan."
"How long did this Kendra's replacement last?" Perci asked, out of morbid curiosity.
"Faith? You just met her," Dawn said. "Though she did spend 8 months in a coma back in the Sunnydale days."
"What about new Council slayers?"
"We've lost a few here and there," Dawn said. "Mostly untrained ones. The new Council hasn't been in operation long enough, really, to know. We're hoping for a decade at least for active slayers, and a lot longer for the rest. But Buffy and Faith are really pushing the average."
"Slayers on one of our demon hunting teams or assigned to a hotspot. It's a volunteer only job so far."
"So, would I have to become one of these demon hunting slayers?" Perci asked.
"Not unless you want to and train for it," Dawn said. "But let's not worry about that now. Let's get you paper worked. If you want to do this."
"Can I change my mind later?"
"Sure, as long as you don't do it in the middle of a fight or the yearly apocalypse," Dawn said, getting up. Leaning over her laptop, she pulled up the Council HR server, going to the section containing the New Slayer forms.
"There's been more than one apocalypse?" Percy asked. "I thought there was supposed to be only one?"
"Most cultures have prophecies of The Apocalypse, with a capital 'A'," Dawn told her. "That one is decades away, according to the Seers. We, in the Council anyway, call any potential world ending event to be an apocalypse, small 'a'."
"Oh," Perci said. "Should I talk with a lawyer before signing anything?"
"Only if you grew up watching too much American TV," Dawn said. "Or you know a lawyer who knows about this stuff. Good luck finding one who doesn't work for or owe something to Wolfram and Hart. Or us."
"Evil law firm. Literally. Their Senior Partners are from some Hell dimension."
"Oh. So no lawyer," Perci said.
"Don't worry, we're the good guys," Dawn said. "If we do something evil it's for the greater good."
"No, just kidding," Dawn said. "Technically, if it's for the 'greater good' it isn't really evil."
"That doesn't seem right," Perci said.
"I don't write the karmic rules," Dawn said, shrugging. "But I think we need to meet with your parents, or your sister, sooner rather than later. This one says nothing is official without a family member as witness. Ugh! Footnotes. Follow the footnotes," she muttered to herself.
"Parents?" Perci shuddered. "When?"
"We have a lot more to talk about first," Dawn said. "Next week? After we’ve settled into our class routine?"
"Okay," Perci said. "What’s next?"
Dawn closed the window on her laptop. "Hungry? You’re a slayer. If you aren’t hungry most of the time you need to see a doctor."
"That’s normal?" Perci asked, perking up.
"For a slayer? Definitely. It takes a lot of energy for fuel your slayer abilities. That’s another thing we need to discuss. Proper nutrition. You won’t waste away but your healing abilities especially require you to eat enough."
"Oh," Perci murmured. She hadn’t even had a cold in years and hadn’t really thought about why.
"And somewhere it’s time for at least a snack," Dawn said. Leaning down, she rummaged through her desk. "Try this." She handed Perci a brightly wrapped object. "That should tide you over until dinner."
"What is it?" Perci said.
"An energy bar," Dawn said. "Some of the newbies swear by them for keeping some of the hungries at bay between meals."
"Hungries?" Perci asked. "There’s more than one kind?"
"Another discussion," Dawn said, blushing. "For later. Much later," she said.
"A lot of those," Perci said.
"You’re a slayer, and I’m apparently your Watcher. There’s more to it than see demon, kill demon. Don’t worry, we’ll figure it out."
"If you say so," Perci said skeptically.TBC