I've nicknamed this part "The Exposition Chapter." Because it's long, involved, gives the reader a bunch of info about people they already know but some of the characters don't, and the end of the second half of it is basically "a bunch of people standing around talking."
Not to mention also having to move the story along while it does all of the above too.
You know how I said Chapter Two was harder to write than Chapter One? Well, this was worse than both of those.
I'm never going to get this whole story finished before Half-Blood Prince
renders it completely AU, but :shrug:. I guess I'll just have to adjust. :D
Again, all replies to feedback, and any credit notes that need to be given, are at the end of the chapter.Final Note:
This chapter has been slightly edited to fix a few grammar mistakes. I now have a beta reader (two of them!), so no one should have to suffer any of my grammar slip-ups anymore. :D
* * * * *Chapter Three: Skirmishes
"'In every generation, there is a Chosen One. She alone will stand against the vampires, the demons, and the forces of darkness. She is the Slayer.'
Such is the calling of the mystical being known as The Vampire Slayer. Where she is, how she came to be, how each slayer is chosen, still remains a mystery. A mystery closely guarded by The Council of Watchers, keepers of all the histories and legacies regarding the Chosen One . . . ."-- from Defense Against The Dark Arts, Year Three Textbook
Harry felt his stomach clench and drop as he turned around, and looked in the direction where Dawn was staring. His eyes locked on the two hooded figures that were now directly facing them, as he and Dawn stood, exposed, in the entrance of the alley.
One of the Death Eater had lifted his wand, pointing it directly at them.
Harry didn't stop to think. He grabbed Dawn, and threw them both down onto the ground, just missing the trail of green light that whizzed right over them, and exploded against a stack of crates as it connected with them; knocking the crates over with a loud crash.
Dawn, having had no prior warning about what Harry was going to do, hadn't been holding on tight enough to her cell phone. The small electronic device went flying out her hand at high force as Harry knocked her to the ground, breaking into a few pieces as it hit the pavement.
Harry snatched out his wand from his back pocket and, grabbing Dawn by one arm, stood back up as fast as he could, pulling her along. The only thing on his mind was getting Dawn away from there any way that he could, and keeping her safe. She was a Muggle. If any of the Death Eaters got her, he didn't even want to think what they would do to her. Images of what had happened to the Muggle Mr. Roberts and his family during the Quidditch World Cup event two years ago flashed through his mind; Voldemort followers levitating the entire family in mid air and moving them around in a grotesque fashion, treating them as if they were nothing more than amusing puppets.
He had a feeling that what the Death Eaters would do to her, now that Voldemort had risen again, would be substantially worse than that.
"We have to go!" Harry said urgently, pulling her to her feet.
She glanced for a second at the wand in his hand, but she didn't argue. They both ran as fast as they could down the alley, even as they could hear the Death Eaters quickly approaching. Glancing behind them, Harry saw the form of the Death Eaters standing just inside the entrance to the alley, their wands both raised.
"What do we do?" Dawn panted as they ran, clearly panicked.
"Down!" Harry shouted, again grabbing her, but this time pulling her to the ground against the wall on the left side of the alley. He hid them behind one of the many stacks of old wooden crates that were pilled high in the place, and they both crouched down, ducking their heads just as both spells connected with the crates. Dawn screamed as debris of wood, splinters and hot embers rained down on them, as the crates exploded.
Coughing, Harry leapt up and shouted, "STUPEFY!" pointing his wand back at the mouth of the alley where the two Death Eaters were. One of them was hit square in the chest with the red bolt from Harry's wand, and flew backwards with great force when it connected. Harry didn't waste time bothering to see where the Death Eater landed, but pulled Dawn up from where she was still crouched, and they continued running down the alley as fast as they could.
Suddenly, there was a loud crash, and Harry turned to see a large group of highly stacked crates Dawn had deliberately toppled over as she'd been running - and directly into the path of the other Death Eater. The Death Eater hadn't been expecting what she'd just done, and was now being hit with most of them as they fell to the ground.
Harry knew that it would only delay the Death Eater for a few moments, however, as he and Dawn reached the back wall of the alley. There, the path forked. To the right lay a visible dead end. To the left, the alley extended further behind the other buildings that faced Charing Cross Road.
Behind them, Harry could hear the feet of the other Death Eater, refusing to give up his chase of them, despite the small obstacle Dawn had knocked in his way. The noises coming of the battle still happening on Charing Cross Road were not becoming any quieter, as shouts and screams seem to continue coming from the main road almost relentlessly.
There was no way they could outrun the Death Eater forever in the alley. And leaving the alley wasn't any better of an option either.
Dawn began to head in the direction of the left fork, but Harry pulled her the other way - towards the right one.
"What?" Dawn gasped. "But that way's a dead end!"
Harry didn't answer her, but quickly surveyed their surroundings as he pulled her in the alley. There was a large dumpster along one wall, next to more crates, and some old wooden planks with rusty nails still stuck in some of them near the front. There were more boxes and crates stacked near the back, slightly hidden by shadows and darkness.
"Get down," Harry told Dawn, pushing her behind the nearby dumpster and wooden planks. "Hide here. And if anything goes wrong, don't wait, just run!"
"What -!" Dawn started to argue, but Harry didn't bother being patient with her. There was no time for that.
"Dawn, hide! Trust me!" he said urgently, slightly snapping at her.
Her eyes narrowed slightly but she did as he'd asked, and ducked down behind the dumpster and planks, just as Harry heard the Death Eater approaching. He ran and hid himself in the shadows towards the back of the alley behind a few crates, just as the Death Eater finally appeared. From what Harry could see of him now, he had a very muscular build as he turned and slowly headed into the alley where they were.
"Come out, both of you," the Death Eater said in a low voice. "I know you're in here."
He took a few more steps further into the alley, just a few yards away from where Dawn was hiding. If he headed over to look around the dumpster right across from him, he would see her.
"There's no point in hiding," the Death Eater said again, evenly. "Now, come out like good little children, and I promise not to hurt -" he was starting to head over to the dumpster where Dawn was hiding.
Harry pointed his wand over at a box directly across from where he was hiding, and whispered the mobilus
The wooden box fell to the ground with a loud clunk.
Immediately, the Death Eater's snapped head up, his attention drawn away from where Dawn was still hiding, to further back in the alley where Harry was - just as Harry had planned.
Now, if the rest of his plan went wrong in any way, she'd at least have some chance to escape.Just a little closer,
Harry thought as the Death Eater did just that, heading directly to where the fallen box was laying.
Pointing his wand directly at the back of the Death Eater, Harry yelled "STUPEFY!" as he jumped out of hiding, knocking some of the crates over as he did.
The Death Eater spun around, wand raised, but he wasn't fast enough. The red light struck him square in the chest, and he crumpled to the ground, out cold.
Harry exhaled the breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding, as he looked down at the Death Eater. He glanced over to where Dawn was still hiding, crouched down, peeking out from between the wooden planks. He looked back down at the man on the ground before him. The dark hood he was wearing still covered most of his face. His eyes were visible, though now closed.
Harry had thought he'd recognized the voice when the man had spoken, but he hadn't been sure.
But he could find out.
Keeping his wand on the unconscious form below him, Harry stooped down over him and reached down to pull off the Death Eater's hood -"Expelliarmus!"
Harry spun quickly as he heard the words - just as his wand went flying out of his hand.
Standing at the entrance was - Harry knew it was - the other Death Eater, the first one he'd knocked out near the alley entrance to Charing Cross Road. He'd either been quickly revived by his companion - Harry having been too busy running to notice - or he had just finally come to.
Harry's eyes flew to Dawn's hiding place. She was still hiding, though Harry could just make out her blue eyes between the planks, now wide with fear. He quickly glanced back at the Death Eater, who was now steadily coming towards him, taking no notice of Dawn's hiding place - his attention was focused on Harry before him.
"Well. It looks as if I've caught a wonderful prize," the Death Eater sneered in an oily voice. "If it isn't Potter himself. The Dark Lord will be most pleased when I bring you to him, along with the other things he requested tonight."
Harry was trapped. He knew it. His wand was in reach, slightly behind him on the right, but laying on the ground. There was no way he could try to pick it up without being noticed. The only thing he could think of was trying to get the Death Eater out of the alley with him as soon as possible, so Dawn wouldn't be discovered. Images of what had happened to Cedric Diggory when he's been transported to the graveyard along with Harry during the night of Voldemort's resurrection flashed through his mind:"Kill the spare" . . . Diggory laying on the grass . . . his gray eyes fixed, dead . . . .
He wouldn't let that happen to her. Would not
let that happen to Dawn -
Who, apparently, had decided to give up her hiding place and was now, as quietly as a cat, moving out from behind it.What the bloody hell does she think she's doing?
Harry thought in total panic, trying desperately to keep his eyes off of her and on the Death Eater so the man wouldn't notice her.
As Dawn moved further out, Harry noticed she was holding one of the old, thick wooden planks in her hands.
"Going to take me to Voldemort then? What are you all doing attacking the Leaky Cauldron anyway?" Harry asked quickly, taking a slight step back as he did so. Dawn was still moving very cautiously and quietly. If he could just keep the Death Eater's attention on him . . . .
The Death Eater laughed snidely. "Oh, we weren’t attacking the pub. That was just the most convenient way out of Diagon Alley. And it gave the demons a chance for a little fun," he said, his tone one of sinister amusement.
Dawn was now only about a yard away, the plank raised in her hands like a very large bat.
"Diagon Alley? What were you doing there
then?" Keep him talking, keep him on you . . . .
The Death Eater laughed again, just as Dawn turned slightly to give the swing she was about to deliver as much force as she could -
And one of her feet scuffled on the ground as she finally began to swing.
The laugh of the Death Eater cut off abruptly as he spun around, wand still raised, and shouted "Petrificus Totalus!"
just as Dawn finished swinging her makeshift bat directly at the Death Eater's head.
They both connected.
The plank hit the Death Eater square on the side of the head, just as Dawn's limbs completely locked up and she began to fall backwards.
Harry hadn't wasted any time either. When the Death Eater had turned away from him, he immediately dove for his wand, scooped it up and shouted "Stupefy!"
just as Dawn hit the ground.
The second Death Eater, who was still holding the left side of his head where Dawn's very strong blow had hit him, crumpled to the ground next to her, out cold.
"Dawn!" Harry exclaimed, though he knew she couldn't answer him. He rushed over to where she was laying on the ground - eyes still open - and completely stiff as a board.
Even though Harry knew she wasn't dead, the fact that she almost looked as if she was made his heart skip a beat in fear.
"Don't worry Dawn. I'll get you back alright," he said quietly, lifting her up off the ground in one of his arms. He pointed his wand at her with his free hand and said the reversal spell. Her body immediately relaxed, and she let out a huge breath of air.
"Oh, I hate being frozen stiff," she sighed. Then she smiled up at him, gratefully. "At least you didn't just stick a remote in my hand and leave me here though," she noted.
He had no idea what she was talking about, and decided it was best to just ignore it. "Are you okay?" he asked, still slightly worried.
She sat up and rubbed the back of her head. "Yeah, if you don't count slightly hitting my head as I fell, and the few splinters I got from that wooden board, I'm just peachy," she said with mock-joy. Then, turning more serious, she asked, "What the hell was
"Full Body Binding spell," Harry told her as he helped her to her feet. "It's pretty harmless in the long run. You should be okay now," he added - more to himself than to her.
Dawn didn't say anything for a moment, just looked at him and again glanced at the wand in his hand. The, she looked over at the two Death Eaters who were both still out cold.
"So what do we do with them?" she asked, nodding at the bodies. "I mean, they're still alive, right?"
"Yes," Harry said with a slight frown - then shook his head. How would she know that a Stupefy
curse couldn't kill someone?
"So what do we do? Just leave them here?"
Harry thought for a second. "We should probably keep them here and let an Auror know where they are," he decided.
"Okay. What's an Auror?"
"They're people who catch witches and wizards who are into the Dark Arts - like them," he told her, noting the unconscious Death Eaters.
"So - they're sort of like cops? For dark magic?" she asked, curiously.
"Yeh. You could say that."
Harry walked over to the unconscious forms and, pointing his wand at each in succession, put a full body bind on each of them. "That should hold them until we can get someone," he said. "Come on."
* * *
The alley was quiet.
Charing Cross Road, however, wasn't. Not completely. Harry could still hear some commotion coming from the street, as he and Dawn walked, ever cautiously, back down the long alley. Dawn was still clutching the wooden plank she had whacked the Death Eater with in on hand.
"I though you said that thing gave you splinters," Harry said in a quiet voice. They'd both thought it best to speak in low voices as well, just in case.
Dawn shrugged. "You've got a weapon," she noted with a nod at his wand. "I need something. And it came in pretty handy, splinters or no."
He glanced at the thick plank she was holding with an air of confidence. She had really come through against that Death Eater, but -
"Dawn, listen. If any more Death Eaters come at us again, I think you should -"
"No," Dawn said firmly, cutting him off, guessing what he was about to say. She stopped walking and pulled him around by the arm to face her. "Listen Harry, I may not be able to make with the magic like you can, but I'm not gonna go hide out, or run away if you're in trouble, or risking your neck for . . . ."
She didn't have to finish. He knew she was about to say for me.
She gave him a quiet grin. "I've got your back, okay?"
Harry blinked. He was very grateful for what she'd just said, but -
"I just don't want you to get hurt," he murmured.
"And the best way to avoid either
of us getting hurt is if we stick together," she declared with a short nod.
Harry didn't say anything. He knew his face was betraying how much he didn't like this, but Dawn - for whatever reason - chose to ignore it. "Come on," she said, heading down the alley again, ahead of him. "Let's find some of those Auror guys before -"
And, as if she had given some sort of ironic cue, at that moment a green skinned demon burst into the alley, going right for them, and Dawn screamed in alarm.
It was one of the demons from before, the one Dawn identified by name. Harry quickly lifted his wand, but had no idea what spell would work on such a thing. Dawn ducked as it came at her and she whacked it with her board -
Which broke like thousands of little splinters against it, not harming the demon in the slightest.
The demon, more than angry, turned back to make a grab at her.
Harry, closer to her than the demon was, pushed her out the way. Wand still raised, he began to say, "Stupe-!"
when the demon, in one movement knocked the wand from his hand and grabbed him, turning Harry around, his neck now trapped under the demon's huge and thick left arm.
Harry's hands flew up and grabbed at the arm that was locked around him, struggling, trying to pull the demon off of him.
"Well, looks as if I caught myself a wee little wizard!" the demon chuckled with glee. Harry was too busy trying to break free to register any shock that it could speak.
"LET HIM GO!" Harry heard Dawn scream. She hadn't run, but was still there, a few yards away, her face flushed, scared but angry.
The demon just sneered at her, and began to move towards her.
Quickly, Dawn stooped down, scooped up Harry's wand where he'd dropped it, and quickly straightened back up, facing them. For a moment, Harry though he saw a bright green light receding in her eyes as she stood, pointing his wand at the demon's chest. The next instant however, it was gone and only fearful but angry blue orbs confronted the monster holding him."Let him go!"
she demanded again, stabbing the wand in the direction of the demon for emphasis, as a threat.
The demon laughed, and tightened its grip on Harry, causing him to gasp at the pain of it. The demon was holding him so tightly now, he could only struggle feebly against the hold it had on him. He was trapped.
"What do you think you're going to do to me with that,
little girl?" the demon asked with a sneer.
"Let go of him or I - I'll, I'll curse
you!" Dawn exclaimed, trying to control the tremble in her voice.
The demon laughed again, as if she'd just told him the funniest joke he'd ever heard, and Harry began to gasp deeper as the demon tightened its arm around his neck even more. He was having trouble breathing.
The thought hit his mind like a sledgehammer that the demon was choking him to death.
"Alright little girl!" the demon said, patronizingly. "One
chance now. Remember, the boy here is counting on you," he said, giving Harry a rough shake, and stroking his hair as if he were nothing more than a cat tucked under its arm. Harry gave a slight shudder at the feel of that hand on his head, knowing the demon could probably take a good hold and snap his neck, if it so wished to.
"Come on little girl. Show me what you can do!" The demon laughed again in that same sneering way. Harry's eyes glanced to Dawn, and the two of them locked gazes for a moment. She was looking at him desperately as sweat now began to trickle down his brow.
All Harry could think was that if the pain around his neck became anymore intense, he would pass out from it, if not from the lack of air.
Before they were both killed.
Because he knew what Dawn was about to try to do wasn't going to work.Ron. Hermione. I'll never see them again. Dawn, I'm so sorry. . . .
The look in Dawn's eyes changed from desperation to angry determination, her face remaining as steely as she could make it as she raised Harry's wand. . .
. . . and, as she brought it down with a sharp slash through the air and yelled, "STUPIDFIE!" it seemed to Harry as if, at that moment, everything happened all at once.
* * *
Not only had Dawn said the spell incorrectly, she'd also waved the wand incorrectly to properly perform it.
However, even if she had done both things right, Harry had known it wouldn't have worked anyway. He'd known the demon had been right to doubt that Dawn could do anything to it.
Wands didn't work unless the person had the ability for magic inside of them in the first place. As Hermione had told him once, it was something a person was born with. A special magical power that ran though a person, (down to their own blood), and that power was channeled though the wand.
Being able to do magic was almost like walking or breathing for a person who was a Witch or Wizard. It came naturally. There was no magical power that ran though Dawn - or any Muggle - that could be channeled through a wand. Wands were as useless to a Muggle a waving a stick from a tree around, and expecting something to happen.
So Harry was more than just shocked when he suddenly heard a thump!
and the demon abruptly stopped laughing. It stiffened up, its grip on Harry loosening, then finally releasing him, causing Harry to fall to the ground, gasping.
Above him, Dawn was now staring at the demon, wide-eyed in surprise.
He was free . . . and he was still alive.
They both were.
Harry took in huge gulps of air, his neck still on fire in pain where the demon had held him like a vice. "It worked?
" he asked panting, (more to himself than to her), completely gobsmacked.
He got to his feet as quickly as he could, looking back at the demon as he moved away from it, and stood over next to Dawn.
And then, he saw it.
A large arrow was going through the demon's back, and sticking out of its chest.
Dawn glanced at Harry. "It . . . does that spell to do that?" she asked, confused.
The green beast stumbled forward towards them only a step or two, before it gave a final groan, and collapsed to the ground - dead.
"Sorry we're a little late Dawn. I believe you called for some assistance?" a voice said.
Harry looked up, past where the demon had fallen, to see an older looking gentleman with an intelligent face and glasses who was lowering a large crossbow standing just a few yards behind where the demon had been.
Next to him stood Willow Rosenberg.
"Giles! Willow!" Dawn exclaimed. Stepping around the now dead demon, she rushed over to Willow and the older man.
Harry followed her over to them, and Willow gave Dawn a quick hug when she reached their side. "You okay there Dawnie?" Willow asked.
"Are you alright?" The man Dawn had called Giles asked, his voice distinctively British. He didn't hug Dawn as Willow had done, but he looked her over now with obvious concern.
Dawn nodded. "I'm fine."
Willow turned to Harry. "Are you
okay?" she asked him, placing a worried hand on his arm. "That guy was holding you pretty tightly it looked like," she said with a nod over to the green-skinned body just a few yards away.
Harry rubbed his neck. It still felt very bruised, but the pain was much
less than it had been before, when the demon had had him. "I'll be okay - I think."
"What's that?" Willow asked, noting Harry's wand, which Dawn was still holding in her hand.
Dawn looked at it. "Oh, it's Harry's," she said, and handed it back over to him.
"Is that what I think it is?" Giles asked, peering at the object, and then looking back at Harry with a strange look in his eyes.
Harry paused. True, Willow and this Giles person had just saved his life, and they obviously knew what demons were, like Dawn did . . . but why did they know such things? And, more importantly, how?And how did they know exactly where we were?
he also wondered, knowing Dawn hadn't had time to give her sister directions of any sort before her cell phone had smashed.
"Uh - ," Harry hesitated.
Dawn, with a glance at him and a slight roll of her eyes, said, "It's okay
Harry. You can trust them." She turned back to her friends, obvious excitement bubbling up. "It's a magic wand. Harry used it against these two scary guys in tacky black hoods that were after us, who also had wands, and he totally took them both down!"
"Did he?" Giles asked, now frowning down at him in a way that made Harry more than a little apprehensive.
"Uh, Dawn helped," Harry told them, refusing to take all the credit. "You should have seen the way she hit one of the Death Eaters with that wooden plank."
Dawn grinned, obviously proud of the part - however small - she'd played. "Yeah. I did kind-of have his back," she noted saucily.
Willow was still back on the first bit of news Dawn had given them. "A wand
? You can do magic?" she asked, but didn't wait for a reply as she exclaimed, "I knew
I sensed something from you!" She gave a nod of pleasure at having obviously guessed correctly.
Harry just blinked at her, growing even more confused than he had been. All he did
know was that this night had gone far beyond simply taking Dawn to the Leaky Cauldron to gauge her reaction to the idea of their maybe being unusual things and people in the world. He'd had no intention, however, of fully telling her what he was. He'd just wanted to know if Dawn might, in his Uncle's words, "pitch him" or not when he could finally tell her. (Whenever that
would have been).
And now, here he was, standing with Dawn and two other Muggles who now not only knew pretty much what he was, but oddly, weren't even unbelieving, or that overwhelmingly shocked about it.
If Fudge didn't lock him up in Azkaban and throw away the key - or at least expel him from Hogwarts - it would be a miracle.
Dawn looked around. "Where's Buffy?" she asked.
"Oh, she's taking care of the rest of those M'Fashnik guys. She told us to come and find you. This way, Xander's with her," Willow noted, turning and heading out of the alley at a quickened pace.
"Taking care of them?" Harry asked Dawn, as he ran up beside her, following Willow and Giles out of the alley.
Dawn just gave him a look as they hurried along, and said in a knowing-but-dry voice, "You'll see."
* * *
Charing Cross Road looked like a war zone in its aftermath. Almost the whole front wall of the Leaky Cauldron was now destroyed and, from what Harry could see inside the pub though it's demolished outer wall, the inside didn't look any better. The shops around the pub and across from it had windows and doors broken, and there was an overturned and half crushed car in the middle of the road.
The Death Eaters had all finally Disapparated, but there were still Aurors on the street, some still battling the remaining demons. Although the demons now all looked as if they were trying to find a way to flee any way they could, instead of trying to cause any more havoc.
Some of the remaining Aurors were helping their wounded comrades, while others were staring in disbelief at the same sight that Harry was; the sight of the small blonde girl Harry knew to be Dawn's older sister Buffy Summers, skillfully pummeling three of the remaining demons . . . all by herself.
As he watched the petite blonde girl spin, kick and punch with speed, grace and skill he'd never witnessed in anyone before, Harry began to realize that maybe Dawn and her friends weren't just simply Muggles, as he'd thought they were.
Harry continued to watch in amazement as Xander threw what looked like a wicked cool ax type weapon - with what looked to be a wooden point at one end - over to Buffy, who caught it without looking and beheaded the last demon with it, all in one fluid motion.
"Buffy! Xander! We found them!" Willow called out to her friends, getting their attention.
"Dawn!" Buffy exclaimed as she caught sight of her younger sister. Weapon still in hand, she rushed over to where Dawn stood next to Harry and gave her a huge, enveloping hug. "Are you alright?" Buffy asked, pulling back a little to look at Dawn.
"Yeah, I'm okay" Dawn nodded.
Buffy. Really. Just a few scratches and splinters, that's all."
Buffy gave her a small grin as she released her. A grin which disappeared as quickly as it had come as she turned to Harry, and the look she gave him was as far away from pleasant as one could get. Harry suddenly felt just as he did when he'd first realized that they'd been spotted by the Death Eaters earlier.
"Okay. Give me one
good reason why I shouldn't break your neck. And when I say one, I mean you better tell me with the first thing that comes out of your mouth, or else," she said in a deadly tone, one told him she wasn't kidding in the slightest either.
"I second that threat of death," Xander said, coming up behind Buffy, another very large crossbow - like the type Mr. Giles was still holding - slung over one of his shoulders.
Before Harry could say anything, Willow jumped in. "Guys, I don't think Harry had anything to do with Dawn being in danger. At least, from the way that M'Fashink guy was chocking him when we showed up, I don't think so."
"And he saved my life too, Buffy. More than once," Dawn added.
Buffy was still glaring at him, and although it was a little less intense than before, Harry suddenly felt angry and defensive because of her look. "I didn't know this was going to happen when I brought Dawn here!" he said in frustration; refusing to let his gaze falter under hers, no matter how intimidating she was being. "Honestly!"
Buffy folded her arms. "What's with the magic stick then?"
Harry blinked at her. "What?"
She sighed, exasperated. "That!"
she said, pointing at his wand, which he was still holding in his right hand.
Before Harry or anyone else could answer her, a deep male voice called out from behind them.
"Are you alright?" another voice, female this time, asked.
Harry turned and smiled ruefully as the form of Aurors - and Order of the Phoenix members - Nymphadora Tonks and Kingsley Shacklebolt rushed over to where they were all standing.
"Hey Kingsley. Tonks," Harry said, putting his wand back in his back pocket as they approached, relief clearly visible on both of their faces. Tonks' appearance was relatively tame for a change - though her hair was blonde with distinctive pink steaks running through it. "Fletcher find you?" he asked as they came up.
"Yes he did," Kingsley said. "We couldn't believe it when he told us you were here and what was happening."
"I think Lupin and Moody were ready to hang him when he'd said he'd left you here all alone, too," Tonks added as she visibly checked him over to make sure he was all right.
"Oh, he wasn't alone," Dawn's voice spoke up, and Harry watched as Kingsley and Tonks finally seemed to notice the group of people Harry was standing with.
And that, for the most part, they all appeared to be Muggles.
"Uh - heh. Cause, you know, I was there too," Dawn finished, and gave a slight wave to indicate herself. "Hi."
Tonks actually began to return Dawn's small wave of hello, then shook her head. "Um, Harry? Who -?"
"We were just about to ask Harry here the same thing about all of you guys," Buffy noted, her arms still folded, weapon still in hand. "And the deal with all the magic sticks he and everyone else around here seem to have."
"You," Kingsley said, peering closer at Buffy and the weapon she was holding. "I saw you. You were the one fighting those demons, all by yourself."
Tonks, however, wasn't taking much notice of Buffy herself, but more of what Buffy'd just said. She rounded on Harry, a look of utter disbelief on her face. "Harry Potter! Don't tell me you actually brought Muggles -!"
At this point, Giles spoke up, cutting everyone off.
"They're Wand Wielders," he said, answering Buffy's question.
Everyone, including Harry, Kingsley and Tonks, turned and looked at Giles in surprise. "What wielders?" Xander said, asking the question he and his friends were obviously thinking.
"Wand Wielders," Giles said evenly. "It's a term used to describe a person born with innate magical power and ability, that is then, uh, channeled out through a conduit with a magical substance in its core - or, uh, wand."
"Oh!" Willow said with excitement. "So you're saying they're born
with magic in them?"
"Wow. That's so cool," Dawn noted, looking at Harry.
Harry, Kingsley and Tonks, however, were still staring at Giles. Kingsley and Tonks looked none to pleased by what Giles had just informed Buffy and the others of, and Harry saw Kingsley, discreetly as he could make it, pull out his wand from his robes, his gaze fixed now on Giles.
"How do you know this?" Kingsley asked evenly. "You don't look like a wizard."
Giles had taken off his glasses and placed them in his pocked. "That's because I'm not. A wizard I mean," Giles replied, just as evenly. He held out his hand to the tall black wizard across from him. "Rupert Giles - Head of the International Watcher's Council."
Kingsley took the offered hand with great astonishment. "The
Watcher's Council? Really!"
Harry though he'd heard the name before somewhere, but couldn't remember where. "The Watcher's Council?" he asked.
"They're the ones who watch over The Vampire Slayer," Tonks said with that same note of astonishment that Kingsley had. "The guardians of the entire legacy."
Now Harry remembered where he'd heard about the Watcher's Council. "Oh, yeh. I read about them, and the slayer, in my Defense Against the Dark Arts class a few years ago." Harry's gaze slid from Giles over to Buffy, widening as everything he'd just watched her do began clicking into place.
It had for Kingsley as well, as he looked at Buffy with even more astonishment. "So you're -"
Buffy grinned and gave a bow. "One Vampire Slayer - protecting the world on a nightly basis."
"Amazing," Tonks said with a shake of her head, as if she couldn't quite believe it. "I don't believe anyone
in our world has ever had the fortune to meet a Vampire Slayer before."
"There are some who even argue - and have for decades - that you don't exist, and the Watcher's Council made you up for one reason or another," Kingsley told Buffy.
"Really?" Buffy asked, smiling wider. "So I'm like, mythic?"
Harry saw Dawn roll her eyes.
By now, a few other Aurors, who were unhurt and had also witnessed Buffy's skill fighting the last of the demons, had come over and heard most of what had just been revealed. They were also registering the same surprise and astonishment at the news about who she was that Tonks and Kingsley were, and were now buzzing with it.
"But what are you doing here?" a young male Auror, who looked to be about Tonks' age, asked.
"We came to find my sister," Buffy said, indicating Dawn who was standing next to her. "She and Harry were out on a date when she called me to say there were a bunch of demons attacking people where they were."
"So, in rode the cavalry," Xander noted with a flourish of his crossbow.
Everyone began talking again - mostly about how Buffy had skillfully dispatched the demons. Tonks, however, remained mostly quiet, giving Harry the strangest look.
"What is it?" he finally asked her after a minute.
"You were on a date
with the sister
of the Vampire Slayer?" she asked incredulously.
"Well, I didn't know her sister was the slayer," Harry said off-handedly, then felt his face grow a little warm. "And it was just sort-of a date. I mean, it didn't start out as us planning it as such, not really, but she said she didn't mind - and I
didn't mind . . . ."
Somehow, in one night, he'd seemed to have picked up Dawn's ability to babble.
Tonks didn't seem to notice. "Hmm. And how did you two just happen to be here
of all places?"
He was in for it now.
Mercifully - or just by damn luck - he was saved from answering when one of the Aurors, who Harry recognized as Williamson said, rather loudly, "Oh save us. Kingsley, Miller's here."
Kingsley groaned, and Harry looked in the direction Williamson had just pointed. A slightly average sized and rigid looking man, with equally rigid-looking brown hair - not one was out of place - was making his way around the wounded Aurors and dead demons. He was steadily heading in the direction where Harry, and the now slightly large group he was with, were still standing in the middle of the street. He walked as if he had a rod down his back that made him stand in the straightest way possible. The look on his face was one of complete no-nonsense.
A short, mousy faced man with glasses was following after him, holding a brown satchel.
"Who's Miller?" Harry asked Tonks.
Tonks pursed her lips and wrinkled her nose, as if she'd just tasted a boogey-flavored bean.
"Regnum Miller," she said with barley disguised distain. "Head of Security and the Obliviation Department at the Ministry of Magic. Never met a rule book he didn't immediately commit to memory, or send a memo out about if it was broken."
"That man's a complete stuff shirt, especially about Muggles," Kingsley noted, not even bothering to hide his disdain. "Oh, he's not a supporter of You-Know-Who," he said noting Harry's look. "He just thinks any Muggle knowledge of our world is dangerous. He was a supporter of that blasted bill a few years ago that wanted to Obliviate the memories of all immediate family members of Muggle-borns after they come of age. As if such a thing wouldn't cause a load
"Wait a minute . . . Obliviate?" Buffy asked, suspicious. She and her friends had been listening.
"You mean, like, changing peoples memories?" Willow asked.
"More like erasing them," Tonks said. "He's the one who was put in charge of your security watch - on Fudge's orders," she told Harry.
"Why do you need security?" Dawn asked him, but Harry was still back on the news that the Ministry of Magic had been the ones guarding him all this time, and looked at Tonks in disbelief.
"But I thought the Order was -"
"Shh!" Kingsley cut him off, quieting him as Miller came up, looking Harry over as he did.
"So, I see Mr. Potter's alright then?" he said to Kingsley. His voice was just as dry and rigid as the man himself looked.
"I'm fine," Harry told him, not liking the fact that Miller hadn't just asked Harry himself if he were alright.
Miller took no notice of what Harry had said and was still waiting for Kingsley to answer.
Kingsley rolled his eyes. "You heard
him Miller, he's fine."
Miller just nodded in a no-nonsense way. He looked over at the mousy man beside him. "And these are the Muggle witnesses then?" he asked with a nod in the direction Buffy, Dawn and their friends.
The shorter man nodded, his eyes shifting between his boss and the group of Muggles. "Y-yes. Bu-but sir -!"
"Have you been taking statements from them?" Miller addressed Kingsley again.
"Not really," Kingsley said dryly.
Miller frowned. "Then why are they still here? Are you saying you haven't modified their memories yet?"
Harry could see that Miller's way of treating and referring to Buffy and her friends as if they weren't even there was starting to annoy Buffy greatly.
"Yeah, Miller, that's what I'm sayin'," Kingsley said again in that same dry voice.
Miller's frown deepened and he shook his head. "Mr. Shacklebolt, you know quite well what the regulation on Muggle eye-witnesses to Dark Magic are. Section 23, paragraph six clearly states -"
Kingsley looked as if he were about to strangle the guy, when Tonks broke in.
"Oh for goodness sakes
Miller! We all know what it says," she said with exasperation.
Miller glanced at Tonks, then shrugged. "Well, this is easy to rectify, at any rate," he said with a nod, taking out his wand.
Miller's assistant seemed to grow more agitated, and he was eyeing Buffy rather worriedly. "Sir, remember what I -"
But Miller paid the man no mind as he leveled his wand right at Buffy . . .
. . . and suddenly found his wand pushed roughly toward the ground, just as he said "Obliviate!"
The spell was deflected uselessly onto the ground.
try that again," Buffy said in a voice that was much more no-nonsense than Miller's, and way more threatening.
Miller was staring at her as if he couldn't quite believe what had just happened.
"I - I told you she was The Slayer sir," the mousy assistant said sadly.
Miller shook his head, looking quite perturbed at his assistant. "And again I say - nonsense. The Slayer's a made-up fallacy."
"Huh. You look pretty solid for someone who's made-up Buff," Xander commented wryly to his friend.
Miller - for the first time - looked at Buffy's friends, and then just stared at Xander for a few moments, as if the young American man were something quite alien looking to him.
"I'd believe the slayer thing if I were you Miller - because she is,
" Kingsley said, with an absolutely smug attitude.
Miller shook his head again. "Impossible," he said with a sniff. After a moment, he lifted his wand again, pointing it at Xander this time -
And Buffy knocked the wand away again - much harder and faster than she had the first time - and this time it went flying out of Miller's hand onto the ground. "Point that stick at any of my friends again, and I will stick it in you someplace where it will take them days
to find it!" she snapped.
Miller was now clutching his wrist, staring at her in unveiled shock, and his assistant shook his head again, sadly. "She - she is
The Slayer sir!" the man exclaimed. "More than over a dozen Aurors saw what she did to those demons. They say it's because of her that the demons were stopped from . . . doing anymore damage. She - she doesn't have
the normal physical strength or speed of an ordinary Muggle sir."
"Or any witch or wizard either, for that matter," Tonks said evenly. She glanced at Buffy, who was still busy staring Miller down. "And which - I'd say - would technically classify her as a . . . Magical Creature?" Tonks looked at Kingsley, a mischievous smile on her face.
Kingsley, quickly picking up her line of thought, nodded in agreement. "Which would mean she would fall under the statute of permitted knowledge of our world," he added with a grin. He was obviously enjoying rubbing Miller about the situation at hand.
There was a pause as Miller looked at Kingsley and Tonks, and then over at Dawn, Giles, Willow and Xander. "There are still the others," he noted, trying again to sound authoritative and in charge of the situation again. "They're
not Magical Creatures - only Muggles."
"They're with me," Buffy said evenly, in a tone that indicated that was all that needed to be said. "So the no-memory wipe thing goes double
Miller may have been a stuff shirt, but even he could tell that there was no getting around her on this point either. "Fine!" he finally exclaimed angrily, still rubbing his obviously sore wrist. "But you all will have to fill out all the necessary forms and documents pertaining not only to what each of you have witnessed here tonight, but also -"
"Miller, cool it. They can do all of that later, alright?" Kingsley said.
Tonks nodded. "Yes. Besides, we should really escort Harry home now. It may still not be safe for him out here," she noted in a serious tone, though her eyes were dancing. She placed a hand on Harry's shoulder.
Miller barely glanced at Harry, his focus still on Buffy and her friends. "See that he gets home safely then," he said absently.
"Will do," Tonks said pleasantly. "Come along Harry."
Harry, however, didn't move, but glanced over at Dawn, and then at her sister. "But -" he hesitated. He had no idea if Buffy was still angry at him for having put Dawn in danger . . . and if he should apologize - no matter how silly it would be, under the circumstances, if she was.
Dawn gave him a quiet smile. "I had a nice time Harry. You know, even with the avoiding-of-death and running-for-our-lives stuff at the end there," she said with bemusement.
Buffy also gave him a small grin. "You and Dawn can see each other tomorrow," she told him, no hint of anger coming from her at him. "And thanks for keeping her safe."
"It was nothing," Harry said quietly. If I hadn't been trying to bend the rules, she wouldn't have even been here in the first place,
he thought to himself, darkly.
Kingsley interrupted whatever other guilty thoughts Harry was starting to have, as he took Harry by the shoulder and steered him over to a Ministry car that Harry hadn't even noticed had arrived.
"Come on. Let's get you home."