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Harry Potter and the Mystical Key

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Summary: -Update Interlude - A chance meeting and dark alliances lead Buffy, Dawn and the Scoobies into the world of Wizards, Witches, and assisting in the Second War against Voldemort.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Harry Potter > Dawn-Centered > Pairing: Harry PotterCBrownFR15851,56954419,72619 Apr 055 Sep 08No

The Date

Author's Note: I never meant for this chapter to take so long to write. I thought Chapter One was hard, but this was harder, which just shows how rusty I am writing fiction. Hopefully, as I go along, I can get the next chapters out much quicker, but these first couple will probably be the hardest and the longest you wait for. (Writing only from Harry's POV - like J. K. Rowling does - is really hard, but I'm determined to do it that way.)

Thanks for all the reviews! Again all reviews welcome, including criticisms. (Only OMG YUR STORIE SUX!11! type comments will be ignored.) Replies to feedback are at the end of the chapter.

Final Note: This chapter has been slightly edited to fix a few grammar mistakes.

* * * * *

Chapter Two: The Date

"Contrary to popular Muggle mythology, this world did not begin as a paradise. For untold eons vicious demons walked the Earth. They made it their world, their domain. However, in time, they lost their purchase on this world, and the way was made clear for mortal animals. For man. All that remains of the old ones were vestiges; certain creatures and certain magicks …"

-- from A History of Magic, First Year Textbook



"She just ran off the stage?"

"Yep! Right in the middle of the scene. And Xander was saying his lines so fast you'd think he was in a race or something!"

Harry laughed heartily at the story Dawn was retelling about her sister and friends disastrous rendition of the play Oedipus Rex for their High School Talent Show. Dawn had only been 10 years old at the time apparently, attending the event with her mother. However, she seemed to remember the incident down to every small detail, as if she'd told the story repeatedly many times, and she told it to Harry now with great aplomb.

He and Dawn were sitting in the same Café where Harry had been in before, when he'd spotted her heading into the bookstore across the street, treating her to dinner after the afternoon the two of them had spent at the movies.

It was now a little over a week since the incident with Dudley and his gang, and he and Dawn had been meeting regularly every afternoon since. One day they had even taken a trip into London, and the two of them had visited many of the sites of the city that Dawn had tired of after two weeks, and Harry had rarely gotten to see at all, even with having lived so close to the city all of his life. She hadn't seemed bored, however, visiting some of the places she had already been to, and they'd both had fun acting like visiting tourists that day.

They had taken to meeting each other by the bus stop that Dawn took to and from the rail station, instead of having Dawn meet Harry at the Dursleys. She has called the house the day after they'd first met and, after that incident, Dawn had said she had to no desire to meet his Uncle Vernon face to face.

Harry had assumed that, being that Dawn was a Muggle, she of course would know how to use a phone, and not shout over the receiver as Ron once had at his Uncle if he happen to answer the phone first again. (Which Harry knew he more than likely would.) And, with the order from Moody and the others to treat Harry decently having put a little fear into his Aunt and Uncle, he figured he wouldn't be denied a simple phone call.

Unfortunately, the "treat Harry decently" order, (which, for his Aunt and Uncle translated to completely ignore his existence when at all possible), did not extend to his friends.

His Uncle had accosted her - in a harsh voice - when he'd answered the phone, asking her if she was one of "those people," and then hung up on her without even calling Harry the phone to talk to her. (Though he had overheard his Uncle's end of the conversation from the top of the stairs, and knew it was her who had called.)

"What did he mean by that?" she'd asked Harry, when he'd secretly called her back an hour later. "One of what people?"

"Oh. Um, he meant one of my parents friends. He and my Aunt didn't really like my mom and dad, or any of their friends. Remember?" he asked, referring to what he'd told her the night before, and why his Aunt and Uncle treated him as they did.

"Oh. Yeah. Well, as long as I don't have to meet that Ogre, want to hang out or something this afternoon?"

Harry chuckled. "Absolutely."

Since then, Harry's mornings mostly consisted of staying in his room after breakfast, either staring at his summer lessons that went undone every day, or brooding over the latest non-news story about "The Return of You-Know-Who," as the Daily Prophet had come to call it.

After lunch, however, he would leave and meet up with Dawn, and they'd spend the rest of the afternoon and evenings together. Harry, for the first time in what seemed like forever, felt that he was really enjoying himself. Everyday, for the past week, he'd found himself looking forward to the time after lunch when her could get away from the Dursleys. To just get away, (as it seemed to him), from everything that was happening (or not happening) with Voldemort, if only for the afternoon.

And Dawn was great. Funny, smart.

And sometimes, the way the fading sunlight hit her hair, like it was doing right now as they sat by one of the windows in the Café, gave it an almost dark golden appearance.

His palms suddenly felt sweaty, and he became so focused on wiping them with his napkin that the sound of Dawn saying his name rather insistently made him jump slightly, and he knocked over his glass of water, spilling it across the table towards her.

"What? Oh, I'm sorry Dawn! I didn't -!"

With a slight jump, Dawn pushed her chair back a little to avoid the water as it made its way to the other side of the table and began to dribble down onto the floor. She grabbed her napkin, and began mopping the water up.

Harry shook his head in frustration, his face growing hot with embarrassment. Just brilliant! He thought bitterly. He started to apologies again, but Dawn waved him off. A high pink color was spreading across her cheeks.

"It's okay Harry. It's just water. Really." she said as she finished mopping up most of the water on her side of the table, moving her chair back closer to the table again.

"Uh - er - did you ask me something before? I'm sorry, I didn't hear what -?"

"Oh. Um . . ." her cheeks still had that high pink color to them, and she bit down on her bottom lip. "I, uh, said Amiee Mann is in town, playing in a club in London? And I thought, maybe, we could, like, go see her tomorrow night. If you want to," she added in a rush.

"Oh . . . uh, who's Amiee Mann?" Harry asked.

Dawn looked at him like he was a sinner primed and ready for a conversion.

"Only one of the best singers ever! She played in my hometown a few months ago. I didn't get to see her, but one of my friends did, and I have all her CDs. She's wonderful!"

"Well, okay. Sure." Harry nodded, and smiled. "Sounds like fun."

* * *

They'd agreed to meet at the Inn Dawn was staying in, instead of her traveling all the way out to Little Whinging, and then them both having to catch the rail back into London.

Harry thought he had started getting ready in plenty of time the next evening, but each time he put on some clothes, he found himself hating what he was wearing, and would change clothes again.

All my clothes are too big, he thought with distain, as he changed shirts for the fifth time. Being that all his clothes were hand-me-downs from Dudley, and Dudley was almost 5 sizes bigger than Harry, Dudley's clothes didn't fit even in a stylishly too big way. All they did was just hang on him, making him look even more the poor cast-off even he had thought he was, before he'd discovered he was a Wizard.

It doesn't matter. Dawn doesn't care about your clothes, even though she always dresses so stylishly, he told himself again, as he buttoned up the fifth shirt he had changed into. It's not a date we're going on, anyhow.

But it would be nice if it was, wouldn't it? A little voice in the back of his mind said.

Dawn and I are friends. That's all, he reminded himself firmly as he unbuttoned his shirt, and grabbed another one.

Because you've never tried to make it anything else, the contrary thought fired back. She's pretty. Really pretty. And she's got such a nice laugh, not that high pitch squeal that lots of other girls, like Pansy Parkinson, has. I like making her laugh. And she's fun, and . . .

Harry sighed, the shirt buttoning suddenly forgotten, and sat down on the end of the bed.

And the look in her eyes. Especially when she talked about her mum dying. I've seen that same look in my eyes, when I've looked in the mirror sometimes.

He had written to Ron and Hermione just that morning, but he hadn't mentioned anything about Dawn to them. Not one word. In a way, he had just wanted to keep her to himself for a while.

Now, however, he really wished Hermione were here, or he had at least told her about Dawn. Because she would know what to tell him, being that she was a girl herself. She'd know . . .

Hermione'd know if there was anyway I could tell if Dawn really fancies me . . . the way I do her.

I like her.

Harry sat there, looking at himself in the dress mirror across from him, a lopsided grin on his face. He noticed that he'd put right back on the same shirt he'd first put on when he'd started getting dressed to meet Dawn over a half hour ago. He said the thought over again, out loud this time, and it gave him a nice, warm feeling:

"I like her."

Does she like me in the same way, however? He just didn't know. For instance, did blushing, like she'd done at the Café yesterday, count? Or was she only doing that because she was embarrassed about the water he'd spilled all across the table, like a total klutz?

She didn't act like any of the girls at school sometimes did around him. More than once since he'd arrived at Hogwarts over five years ago, he'd see a group of girls looking his way, smiling and then turning to giggle with their friends. He knew most of the girls who admired him like that only did so only because he'd managed survive an unblockable curse that should have killed him when he was a baby.

And I didn't even do anything. It was only because of a prophecy that I wasn't killed.

He knew the reason Dawn didn't act that way around him was because she didn't have the slightest idea who he was. At least, the way girls in the Wizarding World knew who he was. To Dawn, he was just Harry Potter; the boy who she'd met near the play park one evening, the guy who had a beached whale for a cousin, and an Ogre for an Uncle.

Harry, whose parent's were just tragically murdered, not killed by a dark wizard.

Not "The Boy Who Lived."

To Dawn, he was just Harry.

And, after everything that had happened at the Department of Mysteries, and with Sirius and finally finding out about the Prophecy what felt like years ago - but was only just a few weeks ago - he really liked that.

He really liked her.

He just had no idea how she felt - which, again, was the problem.

He smoothed down the front of his shirt, made on last attempt to tame his wild black hair, and headed out of his room at a short clip. If he didn't hurry, he was going to miss the bus to the rail station. Yet, as he headed by the living room, a voice called out, telling him to stop. It was his Uncle Vernon.

"Where're you off to then?" he asked, as he lowered his newspaper, in a sour voice.

Harry knew his Uncle really didn't care, and had probably only stopped him because had rushed by the room in a hurry. Harry glanced over at the clock near the door. If he didn't leave in the next five minutes, he was going to be late.

His Uncle, and now his Aunt Petunia and Cousin Dudley as well, were all looking at him each with different type of snide look on their faces, waiting for his reply.

"Well?" Vernon asked testily.

Harry sighed. "Out." Then, couldn't help smiling, as he said, "I have a date."

Their absolutely dumbstruck expressions caused Harry's smile to grow more smug. His Aunt and cousin were just blinking their beady eyes at him, as if they hadn't quite processed what he'd just said. His Uncle Vernon stared at him and sputtered, stupidly.

"A - a date?"

"What, with a girl?" Dudley scoffed, finally finding his voice.

"Yes." Harry knew the smug look on his faced was growing, but he didn't care. "You know her. 'Bout this tall, long brown hair, American. Has a brilliant right cross."

Dudley scowled, his face turning an almost beet red color.

"You know the girl he's talking of Dudders?" Petunia asked her son.

Dudley snorted, still scowling. "Meh. She's nothing special. Not like Nancy."

"I'm sure she isn't!" Vernon bellowed. "Great girl that Nancy is! You hold onto her son. This girl you're going to see," he looked at Harry, peevishly. "That the same girl who called here before?"

He was definitely going to be late. "Yes."

"Don't say 'yes' in that tone with me boy, or you won't be goin' anywhere. This girl. She one of - your lot?"

"No. She's a Muggle." Not a Muggle like you though, Harry thought.

"You mean to say - this girl's normal?"

Harry didn't bother answering, just stared at his Uncle icily.

Petunia looked back and forth between her husband and nephew. "She's American you say?" she asked, snidely.

"Yes. From California."

"Hm! Well, that explains it then!" Vernon exclaimed, as if being from America - and California to boot - was the equivalent of being from the Wizarding World in his eyes. "Although - does she know what you are?"

"No, she doesn't know I'm a wizard," he said pointedly.

"Thought as much." Vernon paused for a moment, and then sniffed in distain. "Well, she'll probably pitch you anyway when she finds out what you are, even if she is American," he said, lifting his newspaper back in front of his face again.

Harry rolled his eyes as he made his way, finally, to the front door. "I'm going now," he said, leaving without even a glance back, without bothering to say when he'd be back.

In the end, because of his Uncle's hold up, Harry had had to sprint to the bus stop, but he just made it with no time to spare, winded and slightly parched from the muggy heat of the afternoon. At the rail station, he caught the train into London, and got off on the street where the Inn Dawn and her sister were staying was. It was a very nice, split-level, old-fashioned building, with no elevator. He walked up the short flight of stairs, and quickly found the door to the room she was in.

There were muffled voices coming from behind the door, as he raised his hand to knock.

"- ridiculous Xander. That's the only way someone could have gotten them out of there," a female voice said quite adamantly.

As soon as he knocked, the talking inside abruptly stopped, as if a radio had been playing, and someone had suddenly switched it off. Then, there was a few muffled sounds - pairs of feet moving quickly - before the door finally swung open part-way, (just as he'd finished running a hand through his mussed hair one last time in an attempt to flatten it down), to reveal Dawn smiling up at him.

"Hey Harry! Ready to go?" she asked . . . almost a little too brightly.

Harry blinked. "Uh, yeh. Are you?"

"Yep! Let's -"

"Dawn? Aren't you going to invite him in?" a voice said from inside the room, using almost the same bright and sunny tone Dawn had.

Harry watched as Dawn's face contorted, and she rolled her eyes. "Do I have a choice?" she said in a sarcastic voice, as the door finally swung fully open to reveal a petite blond girl, also standing in the doorway next to Dawn.

From all Dawn had told him of her, Harry knew right away that the girl must be her sister, Buffy. She was fairer in appearance than Dawn was, with a peaches and cream complexion, (as opposed to Dawn's more rosey one), and hazel-green eyes. She was shorter than he was, even shorter than Dawn was. Yet, she seemed to radiated strength, and an air of being in charge, and knowing it.

She looked up at Dawn with a wry expression, and gave a small shrug. "Not really. You know I have to meet him. It's, like, written in the big-sister laws or something." She turned to face Harry, and stuck out her hand. "Hi. I'm Buffy. I'm sure Dawn's at least mentioned me, even if was just to complain to you about me," she said smiling with a sidelong glance at Dawn, who was now leaning against the doorframe with her arms crossed.

Harry swallowed nervously, and took her outstretched hand. "Um, yeh Dawn's mentioned you a lot. Not that she's complaining about you a lot or anyth - I mean," Harry sighed. Well, this is going just great. "I'm Harry. It's, uh, nice to meet you - Buffy."

Buffy just smiled back, clearly amused, as they shook hands. Then (not letting go of his hand), she turned to Dawn. "See? That wasn't so bad."

Dawn just eyed her unbelievingly, and said, "Oh, like you're not going to make him come inside, so you can give him the third degree."

"No, I'm not," Buffy said firmly.

Then, suddenly, Harry found himself being yanked forward - quite strongly - into the room by the hand she had not released yet. "Xander and Willow will do that."

* * *

Willow Rosenberg and Xander Harris were every bit as great as Harry had imagined them to be from the stories Dawn had told him of them. They both introduced themselves pleasantly and, even though Buffy had said they would be doing her big sister work of giving him the third degree, Harry didn't feel uncomfortable at all by any of the questions they asked, most of which were very general in nature.

At any rate, it didn't feel like they were prying, or trying to be overly intimidating. And Xander was making a great show of over-acting like a stereotypical overly protective father, or older brother.

"So what is it you do - Harry, is it?" Xander asked, leaning back in his seat, peering at Harry with one brown eye. (Dawn had mentioned that Xander had lost one of his eyes in an accident, though she hadn't elaborated on the details. His left eye socket was covered with what Harry thought was a wicked-cool eye patch.)

"Xander, he's sixteen. I can pretty much guess what he does," Buffy said in a deadpan.

Harry suppressed the snort of laughter that had bubbled up. "I, ah, I go to school." He glanced over at Dawn. "Boarding school actually."

"Which means he's there every day. Even weekends!" Dawn noted dryly.

"Dawn," Buffy said in a warning tone, and Harry saw the two sisters share an almost guarded glance with each other.

Xander was rubbing his chin, as if deep in thought. "School. School." He shook his head. "Can't say I think much of such places."

"That's 'cause we went to Sunnydale High Xander," Willow said, her tone indicating that that was all that needed to be said.

"True. True. The only thing I ever learned there was to be afraid."

"Okay, are we done?" Dawn asked sarcastically, but Harry noted the warm and amused look she had on her face.

Buffy looked over at Willow, who had spent most of the time looking at Harry, her bright red hair framing her face, as if contemplating something. If anyone had asked him, he would have to admit that it was Willow, not Buffy or Xander, who was making him slightly nervous, with that rather intense look she was giving him.

As if she was trying to figure something out.

She looked at Buffy after a few beats and nodded, although rather slowly.

Taking that however she need to, Buffy gave a short nod to Dawn. "Yeah. We're done." She looked at Harry. "It was nice to meet'cha Harry."

Harry grinned. "You too." Guess I passed - whatever it was I had to.

"Wait, what?" Xander said, sitting up in his seat, disappointment lining his face. "We're done? Oh, come on guys! I didn't even get to make the guy sweat yet. I've been practicing the 'Dawn's First Date Intimidation' thing since she was a kid, and I didn't get to use it before, because we didn't even know she was out the last two times, and now I've got the eye patch to work with it and - "

"Okay, well!" Dawn interrupted, turning Harry away from the others in the direction of the door. "The mock-inquisition was fun guys, but we've gotta go now!"

"Have fun. Nice meeting you Harry," Willow said with a wave.

"Nice to meet you too," Harry said over his shoulder as Dawn kept moving them in the direction of the door.

"Be careful," Buffy called after them. "You have the cell I gave you, right? Call me if you're going to be late. On second thought, don't be late!"

"The-phone's-in-my-purse-don't-call-me-good-bye!" Dawn said hurriedly, as she closed the door.

Dawn's face was a scarlet red as she faced Harry, who had given up trying to hide his amusement. "Sorry about all that."

"About that?" Harry asked, gesturing back to the door, still chuckling. "Don't be. Really, I think they were great." Obviously, Xander and Willow weren’t just friends with Dawn and her sister. They all acted more like family, which Harry admired . . . and slightly envied.

Dawn gave him a slightly embarrassed look. "I just don't want you to think I told them - I mean, I didn't. You know, what Xander said about this being - you know," she gestured awkwardly, not meeting his eye.

Harry paused, trying to decipher what she was talking about. Then it hit him, and he felt his face start to grow warm. "Oh. About it being a . . . a date?"

"Yeah. I mean, I know it's not. I don't want you to think I, I mean unless you think it - but if you don't that's okay too, ya know? It doesn't have to be, is all I'm saying, but I'm not saying I wouldn't like it if it was, and I'm being babble-girl, aren't I?"

There was an awkward pause as Dawn stopped babbling, and the both of them found themselves trying to focus on anything other than each other as they stood on the pavement.

Harry took a deep breath. Then, in a soft voice, he said, "I don't mind."

Dawn's eyes suddenly snapped to his. "You don't? I mean, I - I don't mind. Either. I don't mind either. "

Harry tried to keep the goofy grin that was threatening to explode across his face in check. Maybe she does fancy me. "Okay."

"Okay," Dawn smiled, and they started down the street.

They walked along in a nice comfortable silence for a bit, Harry stealing little glances at her out of the corner of his eye and, after a bit, saw she was doing the same with him.

Presently, she spoke. "So, um. You go back to school in September, right?"

"Yeh, September 1st."

Dawn nodded. Then, after a short pause, she told him, "I got my acceptance letter yesterday."

"Acceptance letter?" he asked, and then remembered. "Oh. For school. In Italy."

"Yeah. St. Frances School for Girls. Buffy says she's going to find a apartment near there, so she can be close, and we can spend the holidays there if we want," she said in a voice that was obviously trying to sound happy, but her face kept betraying her real feelings about it to him.

Suddenly, she stopped on the pavement, and looked up at him, worry lining her pretty face.

"You'll write me, right? I’m leaving sometime in mid-August and . . . I'm not going to know anyone let alone speak their language, and . . . ." her voice trailed off, and she bit her bottom lip.

Harry didn't even need to think twice about. "I'll write you Dawn. Don't worry."

Dawn smiled at him, a look of shy gratefulness on her face. "And I'll write you back," she promised, reaching out and taking his hand. Harry felt pleasant little prickles of warmth suddenly run all through him at the contact, and he tried to exhale the air in his lungs, but he felt as if it were permanently caught in his throat.

"Come on," she said, still smiling shyly. "Let's go."

* * *

The concert was even more fun that Harry had hoped it would be. Amiee Mann was just as good as Dawn had raved to him she was, and Harry found himself really enjoying her style of music.

He had worried, of course, about at some point having to ask Dawn to dance - seeing as he still didn't really know how. However, she'd taken the initiative there, as Harry was beginning to see was her style, and asked him. He had warned her that he hadn't ever danced much, but she hadn't cared, and Harry had just forced himself to relax as she rapped her arms around his shoulders and behind his neck, smiling up at him.

All through the concert, however, Harry couldn't help but think back to the last thing his Uncle had said before he'd left: She'll probably pitch you anyway when she finds out what you are.

She'd be leaving in little more than a month. And, things being how they were, he didn't even know where he would be come the Christmas Holidays, when they would both be off from school, let alone if they would be able visit each other.

And Harry had no idea how he would be able to write to her, as he'd promised. There was no way to use the Muggle Post from Hogwarts. Everything was done by Owl Post there, as well as in Hogsmead, the nearest village.

And Computers, and other digital equipment used to send electronic mail, didn't work at Hogwarts at all.

The only thing would be to send the letters by Owl Post to someone, who would then mail them using the Muggle Post. He knew, however, that the Dursleys would never consent to such a thing.

The even bigger problem, however, was - where he'd have to tell her to send her letters. She would most definitely think it strange if he told her to send them to someone's house - like Hermione's, whose parents were both Muggles - and that they'd get the letters to him.

So, Harry had decided. As they were walking out of the club, and Dawn had noted that she was hungry, Harry suggested they go to The Leaky Cauldron.

"The Leaky Cauldron? What's that?"

"Oh, it's a pub. It's pretty nice, and they have pretty good food."

"Are we old enough to be let into a pub?"

"Oh, yeh. First time I went there I was eleven."

"Cool. Okay, let's go."

He knew he was pushing - though not exactly breaking - the rules by doing this. The Leaky Cauldron was a Witches and Wizards pub. Not only that, but it was also the place that held an entrance to Diagon Alley, where Harry and his classmates went to every year to buy their new school supplies, as well as where all the Wizards and Witches in and around London went to shop.

However, because The Leaky Cauldron wasn't hidden - not the way Diagon Alley, or St. Mungo's Hospital was - on occasion, Muggles would sometimes stumble into it. Most who did, found themselves wanting to leave after only a few minutes, the whole pub giving off the feeling of being unordinary.

Muggles who witnessed something unordinary, knew nothing about the Wizarding world, and didn't handle what they had witnessed well, were usually given a memory-modifying potion to drink by Tom, the owner, and a few minutes later, happily went on their way, remembering nothing of what they may have seen.

Taking Dawn to the Leaky Cauldron was the only thing he could think of to gauge how she might react to the knowledge that a world of Magic actually existed without having to tell her that he was a wizard himself.

At least not yet.

And if she reacted badly . . .

Well, he didn't think she would.

I hope she doesn't, Harry thought as they walked along, and tried to ease his mind by imagining Dawn reacting in surprise and delight at learning what he was, as they made the turn onto Charing Cross Road.

"Nice neighborhood," Dawn noted wryly as they walked down the road. The street was dark and damp, and the buildings all looked even shabbier than they usually did.

Harry smiled. "It's really not as bad as it looks."

"Really, huh? Well then I'd hate to see the place around here that is as bad as it looks."

The cheeky reply Harry was about to make was cut off as she suddenly felt someone grab his arm from behind, and almost yanking him off the pavement.

Next to him, Dawn screamed, and began to struggle against their unknown attacker as well. "Let go of me!" she shrieked.

Before Harry knew what was happening, or could grab his wand from out of his back pocket, the person pulled him into an alleyway, Dawn pulled in right next to him. Harry twisted and turned, struggling against whomever it was, trying to see who their attacker was, but couldn't see anything as whatever it was tried to pull them further into the alley, behind a dumpster and among some old, broken crates.

"Who are you? LET US GO!"

"'S'okay Harry! S'okay, it's just me," a familiar voice said, as Harry felt his arm finally being released. Dawn, having also been let go of, backed up next to Harry as the figure suddenly became visible, right before their eyes, as if out of thin air.

"Mr. Fletcher?"

It was indeed Mundungus Fletcher, the man who had been Harry's bodyguard last summer, and a member of the Order of the Phoenix. The same strong smell of tobacco that was always with him filled the air as he came forward, his bloodshot eyes fixed on Harry and Dawn in evident worry. He hastily folded up his invisibility cloak, and tucked under one arm.

"What - what are you doing here?" Harry asked, more than slightly annoyed. "Are you guarding me again?" He had looked around for the man a few times since returning to Privet Drive for the summer, but hadn't seen either him or Mrs. Figg about anywhere.

"No. If I 'ad, you and the girl wouldn't be 'ere, of all places, right now," Mundungus said, shaking his head.

"What are you talking about?"

"What are you both talking about? What's going on?" Dawn asked, angrily. "You know this guy?" she asked, rounding on Harry. "Who is he?"

Any reply Harry could have given her was cut off by the sound of a loud crashing sound coming from the direction of the street.

"What -!" Harry exclaimed in confusion, and he and Dawn both turned and hurried back to the entrance of the alley to look out on the street, just as loud shouts and screams began to cut through the air.

The sight on Charing Cross Road, where he and Dawn had been standing only a few moments before, made Harry gape in shock.

The front door of the Leaky Cauldron was nothing more than a hole now and poring through it, were large green skinned creatures with horns that Harry had never seen before in his life. Along with the creatures, over dozens of Witches and Wizards ran out of the now destroyed doorway, obviously trying to get away from the creatures. Some Disapparated on the spot. Those that couldn't for one reason or another, tried to run. The creatures, demonic not only in size, but also apparently strength, were stopping them, and appeared to be having great fun in doing so. One grabbed a nearby Wizard and threw the man all the way to the other side of the street.

"Blimey! T'is true then," Mundungus said grimly behind them.

"What's true? What are those things?" Harry asked in shock.

Dawn made as if she were going to speak, but Mundungus cut her off. "Both you, stay 'ere, 'idden, understand me?" he said urgently, pulling them both back away from the street entrance again. "Don't know if any Order members on their way 'ere or not, and I've gotta check. There's no way to get you outta 'ere safe now."

Harry and Dawn glanced at each other, and Harry was surprised to see that Dawn didn't even look really afraid or shocked by what she'd just seen. "We have to do something!" she said firmly.

"We can't just hide!" Harry said in agreement.

"You're not to do anything!" Mundungus said firmly. "Those are demons you two -"

"I know what kind they are!" Dawn exclaimed, sounding frustrated.

"- and we need people 'ere who knows 'ow to deal with such things. Stay 'idden."

And then, with that final warning and a loud crack! he was gone.

"Okay, I've never seen magic like that before," Dawn said after a pause, staring at the place where Mundungus had just been standing. She crossed her arms and eyed Harry. "How do you know someone like that?"

"I -," Harry started to reply, then caught not only what she had just said, be also remembered what she'd said before - about knowing the creatures were demons.

"Wait. How do you know what kind of demons those things are?" he asked, eyeing her back.

A cacophony of loud cracking sounds - like the one that had accompanied Mundungus when he'd Disapparated - coming from the street interrupted Dawn's reply, and the two - forgetting the warning they'd been given - rushed back to the alley entrance. Some people who were wearing official looking robes were now on the street, battling the demons as best they could, curses and hexes flying left and right. Some seemed to work. Many, however, seemed to have no effect on the demons at all.

"Yep. Definitely never seen magic like this before."

Hearing a beeping sound, Harry turn and saw that Dawn had taken out a cell phone.

"What are you doing?"

She held up a hand, quieting him, her face pale but determined.

"Buffy?" Dawn said into the phone. "Harry and I are near this pub or something, in London? And there are a whole group of M'Fashnik demons attacking all of these people, who I think have magic wands or something, on the street in front of it. So I'm going to be a bit late getting back to the Inn tonight, okay?"

Harry stared at her open-mouthed. "Mmm-what demons?"

"DEATH EATERS!" someone on the street shouted, and Harry whipped his head back around to see another wave of people come out of the Leaky Cauldron - this time wearing dark robes and hoods that covered part of their faces. Using the demons as cover, curses and counter curses began being exchanged back and forth with whom Harry now assumed to be Ministry of Magic Aurors.

"Um, Buffy? Some really scary looking guys in black robes have just shown up, and judging by what they're doing, they don't really seem to be on the 'white-hat' side, either." Dawn said into the phone, her large blue eyes growing even rounder.

"They're Death Eaters," Harry told her grimly.

"You know them too?" Dawn asked incredulously.

"Unfortunately."

Dawn lifted her cell phone to speak to her sister again, but then abruptly stopped. "Uh, Harry? I'm guessing with a name like 'Death Eaters,' they wouldn't give us puppies if they saw us here, right?"

Harry blinked at her, unbelievingly. "No, they'd just curse us. Or kill us."

Dawn nodded, her eyes impossibly large, her gaze fixed on something. "Then we should get out of here, because I think we've just been spotted."
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