Here is the next chapter. It is a full twenty pages of meetings, explanations and a bit of the slayage… and man am I exhausted! LOL!
Previous disclaimer applies, I don’t own anything.
If anyone has any questions, please feel free to ask! And thanks to everyone who read and replied!
On with the story! Please let me know what you think!
Buffy and Faith banged their way through the double doors into the library of the new Watcher’s Council. It was the new command central of the Scooby gang and oddly enough, sometimes reminded them of the old school library… times like this one.
Giles, Willow, Xander and Dawn were sitting at various spots around the large table in the center of the room. Each of them had a large pile of books in front of them. They were all studying something intently, with matching serious expressions on their faces.
All four of them looked up as the slayers made their way noisily into the room. Three looks were reproachful, only one seemed really happy to see them.
“Buffy! Faith!” Xander exclaimed happily, before mouthing, ‘Help me!
“Whoa!” Buffy said, momentarily ignoring Xander’s plea. “Why are we in research mode?”
Things had been very quiet on the ‘big bad’ side of things lately. Sure, there were just as many lower demons and vampires about causing havoc… but that was just what demons did. The ‘big bads’, however, had seemed to go on sabbatical for a while after Buffy, Faith, Spike, Willow and the gang of slayers had taken down The First.
Giles cleared his throat. “I have been receiving some vague reports about missing girls ever since we got here. At first I was under the impression that it was a human problem, therefore beyond our jurisdiction. However, that opinion has changed with this latest report.” He held up a sheet of paper. “The last in a series of five disappearances. She was found last night, horribly beaten and violated. Willow broke into the coroner’s computer, and the autopsy report lists cause of death as unknown… And in reading over the report, it is clear that the coroner can find nothing that points to cause of death. Her heart seems to have just… stopped.”
“So you’re thinking evil beastie?”
“Or some kind of mystical death…”
“So evil… War…” Buffy paused, the word she was looking for just not coming to her. Damn! She hated it when that happened! “Uh, War-thingies… you know, male witches?”
“Warlocks,” Giles supplied helpfully.
“Yeah, that,” Buffy said.
“Certainly a likely possibility,” Giles said.
“So Wills is on patrol with us tonight,” Buffy said.
“Good deal,” Faith said with a nod. “Never know when you might need some white witch mojo.”
“Ooh! Can I go?” Dawn asked excitedly.
“Um, not this time Dawn,” Buffy said. “Let us scout this out a bit first, okay?””
Dawn looked disappointed, but reluctantly agreed. “See what else you can find,” Buffy said, nodding to the stuff on the table. “Willow, Faith and I will map out our search area based on the disappearances and where the bodies were discovered.”
“Good,” Giles said turning his attention back to his book only to look up again as Xander stood. “Where are you going?”
“Donuts, G-man… Wait; can you get donuts in England? Or do I have to go get scones?” Xander shrugged. “Either way, I am snackage bound… It’s what I do.”
“Oh, quite,” Giles said. “And don’t call me that.”
“Like that’ll happen,” Xander said as he made his way out the library doors. “You know you love it.”
Giles sighed as he looked back at his book. “Well, yes,” he said with an exasperated sigh, ignoring the giggles that erupted around him. Yes, he definitely needed to meet some people closer to his own age. This was getting simply ridiculous.
Harry rolled his eyes at the sound of his cousin thumping down the stairs and out of the house. Dudley’d had another row with his parents. It had been happening a lot this summer. Harry wasn’t quite sure what had prompted this change in household dynamics, but he was eternally grateful. They paid a heck of a lot less attention to him when they were all worried about what Dudley might be doing.
Like now, he didn’t have to worry that they’d be all in his face about how he was spending his summer on spellwork… or at least, researching spells. He wasn’t about to be dragged into The Ministry again for underage use of magic… Not without a very good reason, anyway.
Harry had spent this day in particular going through books of highly advanced spells and wards… and had found to his amazement that he knew
some of them. Knew them in the way that he knew how to fly. Knew them in the way he knew his own reflection.
And that knowledge sent a shiver of dread up his spine. Because of how
he must have come to know them. The same way that he had come to understand snake speech.
That knowledge could only be there because of Voldemort.
Of course, there were a lot of spells in the book that he couldn’t do to save his life… Spells that he was sure that Voldemort had probably used on more than one occasion.
So the question was, why these spells? Why the Memoriae
, the Cruciatus
, the Imperius
and heaven help him, Avada Kedavra
? And it didn’t end there… While he had tried the Cruciatus
in the past without it working… he somehow knew that if he tried it now, it would work easily. Knew somehow that all
of them would work easily.
There was only one explanation that he could think of.
These were spells that Voldemort had used recently.
The connection was stronger… and the very thought of that was terrifying.
Harry was suddenly overwhelmed by a burning desire to destroy that connection forever. He needed
it to be destroyed, more than he had ever needed anything. That was the only way that he would ever have peace of mind.
“Reckon I’d better start trying to learn Occlumency on my own,” he muttered bitterly to himself. For there was no one around to teach him, and he had no way of knowing when he would be able to leave the Dursley’s and rejoin the Wizarding world.
“Time to get some more books…”
He was shaken out of his thoughts by the sound of Hedwig alighting on his windowsill. She hooted softly at him and he smiled as he got to his feet and went over to her. He ruffled her feathers gently and then untied the piece of parchment from her proffered leg. “Thank you Hedwig,” He said softly. “Why don’t you have a bite and a rest while I read this and get a reply ready?”
Hedwig hooted in agreement and flew over to her perch. She ate some owl treats and drank some water before tucking her head under her wing for a snooze.
Harry opened the letter and sighed. “Blah, blah blippety blah,” he muttered softly to himself. So what else was new?
Ron and Hermione’s letters had been almost identical to the ones that they’d written him last year. Lot’s of pleasantries and ‘how are you’s?’ but little information. Lupin’s had been just about the same, though he’d spent a lot more time on the ‘how are you’s?’ than he did on the pleasantries.
Only this year, Harry found that he didn’t care quite so much.
Where had being angry gotten him anyway?
He knew where. It had made him miserable and Sirius dead.
He shrugged slightly and jotted down a quick note consisting mainly of ‘I’m fine, how are you?’ and ‘summer’s been okay, can’t wait to see you again’. Finished quickly, he folded it up, ready to send it as soon as Hedwig felt up to it.
Frankly, he had other things that he needed to worry about… His own secrets to keep this year.
Besides, he knew very well how unsafe it was to send things by owl post. You could never know who might intercept it.
Harry sighed and turned his attention back to his book. “And miles to go…”
London, 7 PM…
They had found trouble almost as soon as they had made their way into London. A little back alley had been teaming with large, ugly demons who seemed quite intent on murder and mayhem.
Buffy and Faith had waded in gamely, slicing and dicing with practiced ease. Willow had made her way to a sidewall, content to watch until she was needed.
She knew that she wasn’t likely to be necessary. Buffy and Faith were making short order of the demons, who for all their size, didn’t seem to have much going for them when it came to fighting slayers.
It was all over in a matter of minutes.
“Oh ick! Squishy!” Buffy exclaimed as a rain of demon guts covered her. “What the hell was that?”
Faith had been looking around as her sister slayer took down the last demon. “A damned distraction, that’s what!” She exclaimed, cursing the 100 yards or so that now separated them from Willow.
“What?” Buffy said, spinning around.
A group of people in dark cloaks was surrounding Willow. Their heads were hooded and their faces were masked. Willow had managed to send a few of them tumbling, but there were far too many of them. One of them pointed a long wooden stick at her and yelled something. A red light shot from his wand and struck her in the chest. She fell to the ground, screaming in pain.
“They’re hurting her!” Buffy yelled, charging forward.
“Like hell!” Faith exclaimed, joining Buffy in her mad dash to defend the redheaded witch.
They were there before the group had a chance to turn and face them. They made their way through the crowd, knocking people aside in their haste.
Willow was struggling to her feet even as the same man sent another jet of light her way… And this time when she fell, she didn’t move.
Buffy ducked a stream of light as she fought desperately to reach her friend’s side. “Willow!” She cried desperately. She grabbed the cloaked figure next to her and pulled him in front of her as another shaft of light came her way. He fell to the ground in a heap. She grabbed another one and threw him at the group that was making its way towards her, sending them all tumbling to the ground.
Faith was using similar methods, but there were just so many of them. They watched helplessly as a man made his way over to the fallen witch.
“Touch her and die!” Faith hissed, throwing another person out of her way.
He didn’t seem inclined to believe her.
“Aurors! Aurors are coming!”
The sound of muffled curses filled the alley and the men who had been attacking Faith and Buffy turned away, suddenly disappearing from the alley.
The man who had been about to grab Willow looked at the two Slayers now racing, unimpeded, towards him. “This isn’t over!” He snarled darkly. “He desires her, so he shall have her!” Then, with a loud pop, he disappeared.
“What the hell!?” Faith exclaimed as another series of pops filled the alleyway, the rest of the people in masks disappearing and a large group of people in robes appearing.
“In the name of Cornelius Fudge and The Ministry of Magic I order you to cease and desist!” The words came from the man who was standing closest to them. Another of them had quickly knelt by Willow’s side and seemed to be checking her over for injuries.
They were all holding long, pointed sticks.
And none of them looked all that friendly.
“Hey!” Buffy exclaimed, pushing her way over to the man who was crouched near her friend. “What are you doing?”
Kingsley looked up at the young woman in surprise. “I’m just checking to make sure she’s all right miss… That was quite the curse she was hit with.”
“Oh,” Buffy said. “Well, that’s all right then…”
The man who had first spoken continued a very rehearsed sounding spiel. “You are to be remanded into custody while your status is determined. This matter shall be investigated promptly and without prejudice. Once the facts are determined you will face any and all charges that are warranted. Do you have any questions?”
“Yeah,” Faith said, stalking up to him. “Who the hell are you and why the hell should we go anywhere
“Faith!” Buffy exclaimed, knowing that the other slayer wasn’t helping the situation any… Though she was inclined to agree with her.
The man, however just started sputtering indignantly and Faith ignored her. Buffy sighed as her sister slayer continued to rail at him angrily.
“You’d better explain yourself fast mister, cause we don’t have a hell of a lot of patience left!”
That did it. The man turned purple with anger. “I will not be threatened by a muggle!” He exclaimed, reaching out a hand to grab her. “Come along now!”
“Take your filthy hands off me!” Faith exclaimed, quickly breaking his hold and throwing him across the alley.
Another Auror had tried to grab Buffy at the same time, with similar results… only he didn’t get off quite so easily. Buffy looked down at the man and dropped his now useless wand next to him. “Next time I break something you really
can’t afford to lose!” She snarled. “Will someone please tell me what the hell is going on?”
“Aurors Sampson and Willard! Stand down! We do not
attack muggles!” The voice came from a woman with the pinkest hair that any of them had ever seen. She looked over the scene before her and sighed with annoyance. “Apparently finesse is something that you two sorely lack. Let me handle this, will you?”
The two Aurors shot reproachful looks first at Buffy and Faith and then at the witch before nodding their consent and leaving.
“Sorry about that,” The woman said. She held out her hand. “Auror Tonks. Nice to meet you both!”
Faith and Buffy exchanged a look. Odd, but not at all threatening. They both shrugged. When in Rome… or England as the case may be… They each shook her hand.
“Good,” Tonks said, nodding decisively. “Now, this is a delicate situation… Very delicate. You were attacked by a large group of men in masks, correct?” The slayers exchanged another look and then nodded. “Any idea what they were after?”
“Nope,“ Buffy said, shaking her head. She wasn’t about to tell these wand-waving nutjobs that the other wand-waving nutjobs had been after her Willow.
Tonks studied the young woman carefully. Oh, she knew all right. She just wasn’t about to tell them… No trust, not that Tonks blamed her. Damn, she wished Dumbledore were here.
“You’re not witches, are you?” Tonks asked. Faith and Buffy exchanged another look. This conversation was going from weird to, well, weirder. “No, I didn’t think so.” But they had thrown grown men around like they were two-year olds… Not that she wanted to think about anyone throwing around two-year olds… Tonks shook her head. Not
the thing to be concentrating on now…
Something from Defense Against the Dark Arts began tickling at the back of her mind. Nighttime, young girls, incredible strength and agility. Fighting… Fighting the darkness…
“But there’s only supposed to be one…” She whispered softly.
Buffy and Faith exchanged yet another look, this one tinged with panic.
“Uh, one what?” Buffy asked.
“Vampire Slayer,” Tonks said. They were fidgeting. She couldn’t be right, could she? “How?”
Buffy rolled her eyes. “There was this whole thing where I died.”
“Oh,” Tonks said. Yeah, now did not seem like the time to be exploring that statement further. “And her?” She asked, pointing to Willow, whom Kingsley Shacklebolt had just revived. He had been listening silently to the conversation, not wanted to interrupt the flow of information.
“Willow,” Buffy exclaimed, dropping to her knees beside her friend. “Are you all right?”
“Woozy-like,” Willow said softly. “Damn, what the hell was that they hit me with…? And hello! Rude much!”
“Death Eaters are not known for their manners,” Tonks said quietly.
“Okay, so not liking the sounds of that name,” Faith said with a scowl.
“Death Eaters?” Willow questioned. She sighed rather loudly. “Why us? You’d think that closing the Hellmouth would prompt The Powers to give us a little down time, but no
, we have to face Death Eaters
Tonks gaped at her for a second. “Closing the… You
closed the Hellmouth? You… That spell last month! It was you
“Uh…” Willow started, looking like she was about to panic.
“Don’t worry,” Tonks said, stopping her own babble. “We can’t talk about this now.” She looked around nervously and was relieved that everyone but Kingsley was still out of hearing range. These could be some great allies, but she couldn’t very well take them into custody… Vampire Slayers! “Due to Wizarding law in regards to the Vampire Slayers and all those connected to them, you are all to be released without hindrance. I’m sorry for any inconvenience or discomfort that any of us have caused you.”
“Whoa! That’s it?” Faith asked, surprised by the sudden turn in conversation. They had just been getting to the interesting stuff!
“You’re not going to explain about these Death Eater guys and what they want with us?” Buffy asked. She huffed softly. Annoying, much!
Tonks looked around her again before she spoke, lowering her voice. “The Ministry is in shambles right now. The best way to fight this evil is not
through official channels… And I am here in my official
capacity at the moment. Give me a way to reach you and I will ensure that everything is explained!”
Buffy nodded, certain things suddenly making more sense. Yeah, she’d never had much luck with official channels herself. “Willow?”
Willow pulled a small business card from her pocket and handed it to Tonks. “That’s our address and phone number. You can reach us there.”
Tonks nodded and then turned to face the other Aurors in the alley. Her voice rang through the alleyway. “They are to leave now without hindrance as is the decree of Wizarding law, article 18-24, Vampire Slayers and their kith and kin.” The Aurors looked surprised at this statement, but none of them protested. They weren’t about to anger a Vampire Slayer… at least not without a hell of a lot more backup than they had at the moment.
Tonks turned and nodded to the Slayers and Willow that they could leave. The three looked at each other and then quickly made their way out of the alley, the two slayers supporting Willow between them.
Kingsley stood and made his way to Tonks’ side. “I’ll cover for you,” he whispered. “Go find Dumbledore.”
Tonks nodded and disapparated from the alley. “All right everyone,” Kingsley said, taking charge. “Let’s get this place cleaned up! Sampson, go inform The Ministry that there was an attack on the Slayer by Death Eaters.”
“Where’s Tonks off too?” Willard asked suspiciously.
“To check with the American Ministry that the girls are on the up and up,” Kingsley lied blithely. “Now move quickly! We don’t want any muggles to stumble on this!”
The Watcher’s Council…
“Giles!” Buffy screamed as she banged through the door into the entryway of the Watcher’s Council. “Giles! Xander!”
“Honestly Buffy, I’m fine,” Willow said, though she looked a little green. “Oh, just tell the room to stop spinning…”
Faith and Buffy lowered her gently into a sitting position as Giles, Xander and Dawn charged into the entryway.
“Dear lord,” Giles exclaimed, kneeling next to Willow. “What happened?”
“Attacked by a very annoying group of hooded and masked people with sharp little sticks,” Buffy said. “They threw spells at us. I didn’t like them much.”
Giles looked at them in shock. “What did they want?”
Buffy looked over at Willow pointedly.
“Seemed that way to me,” Faith said, moving to the side so that Dawn could kneel on Willow’s other side. “They set up this nice little demon trap to separate me and B from Red. Then they started shooting little streams of light at her. One of them knocked her out. They were about to take her when another
group of annoying people with sharp little sticks showed up and scared them off. Didn’t like them
“Except for that Tonks woman,” Buffy said. “She was alright. She made the grabby ones go away before we had to do any serious damage. Then she said something about Death Eaters and how he best way to fight this evil was not through official channels… I don’t know, it was all very confusing. We gave her the address and she said she’d come by and explain things…”
“They’re coming here?” Xander exclaimed. “Why did you tell them to come here?”
“Well, we have to figure out what’s going on,” Buffy said. “We need to know who’s after Willow in order to stop them! Besides, the masked ones felt evil, Tonks did not.”
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry…
Dumbledore looked up in bemusement as a bright pink head appeared in his office fireplace. The head was soon followed by the remainder of a young witch. She got to her feet and beat at her robes, knocking some of the soot from them. “Wotcher Professor Dumbledore,” she said brightly.
“Why hello, Auror Tonks,” Dumbledore said. “I must say that I wasn’t expecting to see you here.”
“Well, there’s been a bit of an incident, sir,” Tonks said. “Some Death Eaters attacked some muggles in London.”
“Oh dear,” Dumbledore said, getting to his feet. “I trust that no one was hurt.”
“Well, I imagine that the Death Eaters didn’t come out of it so well,” Tonks said, thinking back to the way the two slayers had tossed about Sampson and Willard.
“Oh really?” Dumbledore said, raising his eyebrows.
“Slayers,” Tonks said.
“Slayers?” Dumbledore questioned. “Plural?”
“There was this whole thing where one of them died… I didn’t quite understand it sir and it didn’t seem to be the right time to ask.”
“Quite right,” Dumbledore said. “Please continue.”
“Well, it seems that it wasn’t the Slayers they were after. I’d bet good money it was the witch. Wiccan, sir. Do you remember the incident on the Sunnydale Hellmouth last month?”
“The collapse, you mean? Why yes, of course I remember. The magical emanations from that place… Still haven’t figured out what spell the witch cast, have you?”
Tonks shook her head. “But tonight, I think I met the witch that cast it.”
“And you didn’t question her?” Dumbledore asked, surprised. Tonks wasn’t officially on the case of the Sunnydale collapse, it was an American problem after all, but she had become somewhat obsessed with finding out what had happened.
Tonks shook her head again. “Couldn’t. She’s under the protection of the Vampire Slayers.”
“Of course,” Dumbledore said. “As you had said. So why are you here, Tonks? They were released, were they not?”
“Of course!” Tonks exclaimed. “But with Death Eaters after them and their strength… They’d be grand allies, don’t you think?”
“Of course,” Dumbledore said. “Do they seem open to the possibility?”
“I told them that we’d come see them and explain things,” Tonks said. “That official channels were a bit… problematic at the moment. They gave me this.” She held out the card to Dumbledore. “So that we could find them.”
“Very well,” Dumbledore said. “Anything else that I need before we go meet them?”
Tonks thought for a moment. “Not that I can think of. I don’t know much more about them.”
Dumbledore nodded and picked up an object from his desk. He waved his wand over it. “Portus!
” Tonks looked at him in surprise. “Saves time,” he said, by way of explanation. “Shall we?” Tonks nodded and the two of them grasped the portkey and were transported instantly to the entryway of The Watcher’s Council.
The Watcher’s Council…
Everyone was huddled around Willow, arguing in hushed voices when Buffy and Faith suddenly spun around, dropping into fighting stances. There were two people in the hallway that hadn’t been there moments before… and they seemed to have appeared out of thin air.
“Well, hello!” Dumbledore said with a bright smile, ignoring the fact that two of the people he was now faced with seemed about to attack him. “Professor Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.” He held out his hand to them.
“Huh?” Buffy said, looking confused. “Oh Tonks!” She exclaimed, catching sight of the young woman.
“Hullo Buffy,” Tonks said with a slight wave. She nodded towards Dumbledore.
“What?” Buffy said, then noticed that the old man was still holding his hand out in greeting. “Right,” she said, holding her own hand out and shaking his. He repeated the process with the rest of the Scooby gang. They all shook his hand readily, giving their names as they did so… confusion clear on their faces.
“I do say that things like that will take a bit of getting used to,” Giles said. “The whole, uh… appearing out of nowhere thing… Quite disturbing actually.”
“I do apologize,” Dumbledore said, his eyes twinkling. “Tonks told me the story and I thought that it was best to make haste. There is much to be discussed.”
“You know who those people were?” Dawn asked. “The ones that attacked Willow?”
“Yes, indeed I do,” Dumbledore said gravely. “They are the dark cloud that is hanging over the Wizarding Community.”
“Ah, Wizarding community?” Xander asked.
“Yes, it is a community that exists quite separate from your own, where magic is a way of life. We are now involved in a great struggle to prevent a Dark Lord from taking over the Wizarding World… and your world as well.”
“So what are we waiting for?” Buffy asked. “Point me to him. I slay, we party.”
Dumbledore laughed slightly. He liked this girl. “I’m afraid it’s not that simple. This evil is not for you, any of you, to defeat. There is only one…” Dumbledore paused, shaking himself out of his thoughts. He had almost said too much. “Tonks and I are part of a secret organization dedicated to fighting Lord Voldemort, as he is called. I was hoping that you would join us for a meeting? I do tire of telling the whole story myself… And I’m sure that The Order would delight in the chance to meet you all. Quite the legend in these parts, the Slayer is.”
Buffy looked at the others. So sudden, but at the same time she trusted this guy. He just had that feeling about him…
“I vote we go,” Faith said.
“Well I don’t,” Xander said darkly.
“Oh Xander, zip it,” Willow said, getting to her feet. “He’s not evil.”
“Well, how do you know?” Xander asked petulantly.
“I, unlike you, can sense these things,” Willow said, smirking at her best friend. “I think it’s a good idea to go. Giles?”
“All right,” Giles said uncertainly. “If you’re sure.”
“B?” Faith asked.
Buffy sighed. “Why not? I don’t think that I’ve had quite enough excitement for the night.”
“Excellent!“ Dumbledore exclaimed. He paused for a moment, something worrisome occurring to him. “However, I do have one final question for you all… How do you feel on the subject of werewolves?”
Buffy looked at him suspiciously. Well that was random… “What do you mean?”
“Of course,” Dumbledore said. “Let me rephrase. On the subject of slaying
“Well, they’re people,” Buffy said. “We know that they can’t control what they become… And that’s what tranquillizer guns are for.”
Dumbledore turned to Faith and she held up her hands. “Hey, as long as they don’t embrace the wolf and kill people for fun, I’m five by five.”
Dumbledore looked puzzled, Giles clarified. “The slayers are both accepting of werewolves as long as they take the proper precautions when dealing with their affliction.”
Dumbledore nodded. “Very good. You will be meeting Remus Lupin, who is a werewolf, which is why I asked the question. I couldn’t very well have anyone slaying a member of The Order, now could I?” He held out a bag of sweets. “Lemon drop?”
“Again with the huh?” Buffy asked.
“He just likes lemon drops,” Tonks said, waving her hand dismissively. “Ready to go?”
“Sure,” Buffy said.
“Um, Buff, you might want to rethink that,” Xander said, studying the petite slayer. “You’ve got demon guts on you.”
“Damn,” Buffy said, looking down at herself. “And I liked this shirt too…” She looked at Dumbledore and Tonks. “Five minutes.” She then turned and ran up the stairs, heading for her apartment.
Dumbledore chuckled merrily. “Quite the occupational hazard, I imagine. Demon guts.”
Faith snorted. “And blood and dust and brains…”
“That’s quite enough, Faith,” Giles said reproachfully.
Faith just grinned and started humming, ‘We’re off to see the Wizard,’ under her breath. Giles sighed softly and ignored her. It was fast becoming his favorite course of action…
Ron and Hermione were sitting in Hermione and Ginny’s bedroom. They had just received Harry’s reply from Hedwig and had separated themselves from Ron’s siblings in order to read it.
Hermione finished reading the letter and handed it to Ron, a somewhat concerned look on her face.
Ron scanned it quickly, concern shading his face for a moment. Then something occurred to him. “You know what, Hermione? I reckon Harry’s up to something!”
“What do you mean?” Hermione exclaimed, grabbing the letter back from Ron. Had she missed something? Nope, it was exactly how it was the first time she’d read it. “There’s nothing in the that gives the impression that he’s up to anything
“That’s just it!” Ron said. “This is Harry we’re talking about! Hotheaded, impatient Harry who just lost someone very close to him… and there are no demands for information. No pleas for us to let him know when he’s coming here. I’m telling you, there’s something going on!”
Hermione had paled as Ron’s words had begun to make more and more sense. “Oh, Ron, you don’t suppose he’d do anything stupid, do you? I mean, and The Order’s watching him, right?”
“Well, yeah,” Ron said, not sounding too convincing… or too convinced. “I don’t know…”
He stopped as one of the twins burst into the room. “Dumbledore’s back and he’s brought some people with him!”
Ron and Hermione were on their feet instantly. It wasn’t often that Dumbledore was around now and for him to have brought guests…
They hurried out of the room and joined the twins and Ginny on the landing just as Dumbledore and Tonks led the guests into the entryway. He noticed the group on the stairs immediately
“Ah, excellent!” He said. “Ron, Hermione and Ginny! Fred and George! I would be most appreciative if you could entertain our guests for a moment while I check with Molly about dinner!”
“Sure professor!” Hermione said. The group of five made their way down the stairs to join the group in the hall.
“I do believe that the parlor is free,” Dumbledore said, indicating that they should go ahead. “I trust that you are all more than capable of handling introductions on your own.”
They all nodded and made their way into the parlor. The two groups looked at each other for a while before Hermione took it upon herself to speak.
“Well, I’m Hermione Granger. The twins are Fred and George Weasley and that’s Ginny Weasley and Ron Weasley.” Each one nodded or waved as their name was said.
“Well, I’m Dawn Summers,” Dawn said, bouncing slightly on her feet. “And it was just the coolest thing ever how the house appeared when that professor guy told us its name…” She stopped suddenly as she felt all eyes on her. “And I’ll just stop with the babbling now…”
Buffy laughed. “I’m Dawn’s sister, Buffy,” she said. “And the rest of the group is Xander Harris, Willow Rosenberg, Rupert Giles (you can just call him Giles) and Faith.” She pointed to each in turn, ignoring Giles’ muttering about ‘oh, yes, never can let me escape that, not even when I’m back home in England…’
“So all of you live here?” Dawn asked. “That is so cool… Um, why
do you all live here?”
Ron laughed and Hermione glared at him. ‘What?” He mouthed innocently.
“For protection mainly,” Ginny said, answering the girl’s question. “We all have connections to people or family that make us targets. My parents. Harry.”
“Harry?” Willow asked.
“Yeah,” Hermione said. “He’ll be coming to stay here sometime around the end of the month.” She studied the group carefully for their reaction.
“Harry?” Buffy asked repeating Willow‘s question.
“Harry Potter,” Hermione clarified.
“Oh,” Buffy said. She said the name like it was supposed to mean something. “And who’s he?”
Hermione watched the group carefully for any sign that they recognized Harry’s name, but not one of them seemed to have any idea who he was. That was very interesting… and informative.
“You don’t know who Harry is?” Ron asked, his voice shocked.
“You’re muggles,” Hermione said, a puzzled expression on her face. “But what help does Dumbledore think that he’s going to get from American muggles
“Wait a minute,” Faith said, annoyed at the direction the conversation was going. The girl was obviously fishing for information and being less than upfront about that fact. “What the hell is a muggle? And why does us not knowing who Harry Potter is automatically make us one of these mug things?”
“Muggle is what the Wizarding world calls non wizarding folk,” Hermione said. “It’s not an insult, I promise!”
“And if you don’t know who Harry Potter is, then you’re not from a Wizarding community,“ Ron said, answering the rest of her question. “Everyone in the Wizarding world knows who Harry is. I mean, it’s like… like…” He paused, at a loss for a proper analogy. “Oy, Hermione! I need a muggle reference here!”
Hermione sighed, shaking her head at Ron. “It would be like someone saying that Brad Pitt or… or Tom Cruise…”
“Ooh, Orlando Bloom!” Dawn exclaimed. “Can it be Orlando Bloom?”
Hermione looked at the girl with surprise and uncertainty but nodded. “Um, sure.” She shook her head and continued her thought. “Like someone saying Orlando Bloom
was coming to dinner and having no one react. Love them or hate them, you know who they are and you’re going to say something.”
“So Harry’s some kind of movie star?” Faith asked. “Cool.”
Hermione laughed. “No. He’s just that
famous. By the age of two he was as famous in the Wizarding world as any actor or public figure in the muggle world.” She paused for a moment, then shrugged. “He’s the Boy-Who-Lived.”
Buffy raised her eyebrows. “He’s famous for living?” Interesting…
“Hermione, please stop baiting them for information and show them into the dining room.”
Hermione started with embarrassment as Molly Weasley’s annoyed voice interrupted them. “Sorry,” she said softly, flushing slightly. “I was just curious.”
“Professor Dumbledore will explain it all at dinner,” Molly said crossly. And that was her final word on the subject.
“Come with us?” Hermione said, motioning for the Scooby gang to follow them into the dining room.
“Dumbledore, do you believe that it was quite wise bringing them here!?” It had been a long time since Dumbledore had seen Snape quite so incensed… “We know nothing about these people! Are you sure they’re to be trusted?”
“Of course they’re to be trusted, Severus! We are speaking of the Vampire Slayers and their friends! And they were attacked for a reason! Voldemort wants Willow Rosenberg. It is up to us to ensure that he doesn’t get her!”
“Slayers!? Vampire slayers? As in plural? Well there you have it! Impossible!”
“As Buffy, the elder of the two slayers, so quaintly informed me on the way here, ‘there was this whole thing where she died.’”
“Oh,” Severus said. Well that did explain some things…
“All I ask is that you sit down at a table with them. Listen to their story. Help us tell ours.”
Snape was quiet for a moment and then nodded his head in consent.
“Good,” Dumbledore said. “Come along Severus.” He led the way into the dining room, a grumbling Snape trailing after him.
“Ah good, everyone is here,” Dumbledore said as he took his place at the table. “First, I want to introduce our guests properly. Faith and Buffy are Vampire Slayers. Mr. Giles is their Watcher. Dawn is Buffy’s younger sister. Willow is a wandless witch and Xander is…” Dumbledore paused, he hadn’t quite gotten the story on who Xander was.
“Carpenter and best friend extraordinaire,” Xander supplied helpfully with a crisp salute. “I fix things.”
Dumbledore caught the double meaning to that, though no one else seemed to. “Indeed,” he said with an amused twinkle in his eyes. “And this,” he said, motioning to the table. “Is The Order of the Phoenix… plus the children of The Order of the Phoenix. Now, I’m sure you’re all wondering why we’re here. We are here to share our story with these fine warriors and ask for their assistance in our fight. At the same time, we are to offer our assistance in the new problem that they are facing. Any questions?” A number of people began speaking at once, but Dumbledore ignored them. “Good,” he said. “I shall begin. It all started when a Dark Wizard by the name of Voldemort began to gain power and support…”
The stories and explanations lasted far longer than the food. And once everyone was done and all the questions had been answered as best as was possible, a thick silence fell over the group.
Xander was the first one to put the whole thing into words.
“Wow,” he said simply.
“You’re telling me!” Buffy said. “So what do you think we can do for you, professor? And what can you do for us?”
“Fight with us,” Dumbledore said. “And we will give you, Willow especially, all the protection that we can. He will keep coming until he finds her, you see. There is no safe place, not in London, not in America. With us, you can be provided with a certain amount of cloaking. We will hide you all, so to speak.”
“Whoa!” Faith exclaimed. “We all have to hide? Why do we all have to hide?”
“I can’t just hide out,” Buffy said. “I have too much to do! Watchers and Slayers… Besides, he’s just after Willow, right? We’ll hide her.” She looked over at Willow, mouthing ‘Sorry Wills.’
Willow just shrugged. It was the way Buffy had to do things. She understood that. You couldn’t just hide away when you were a mystical warrior.
“And when he can’t find her? What do you think that he will do then? How much of an impetus would it take for her to turn to the dark magics again, Miss. Summers? Your life? Your sister’s? Miss Faith’s? Mr. Giles’? Xander’s? All of them? Or only one?”
“Okay, so you have a point,” Buffy said wincing. “But what do you propose we do in the meantime?”
“Lay low for now, fight with us. I’m sure that a fitting solution will present itself in time. And you don’t have to stop your activities at The Watcher’s Council. You will just have to be far more careful. I would, however, suggest that Willow stay here until a suitable alternative presents itself.”
Well, that didn’t sound too bad… but it wasn’t really her decision to make. “Willow?” Buffy asked, looking over at her friend.
“I’ll stay,” Willow said. “I don’t want to put you guys in any danger.”
“Well, if she stays, then I’m staying,” Xander said.
“Me too!” Dawn said.
“Faith, Buffy, I believe that you should stay as well,” Giles said somberly. “I will keep you advised of what’s happening at The Council. Learn what you can from them and about this Dark Lord of theirs. The battle we must face is here.” He looked at Buffy pleadingly. “Do this, Buffy. It is the safest way for all of you.”
Buffy and Faith looked at each other uncertainly, but then nodded their consent.
“Good,” Dumbledore said, clapping his hands together. “It’s all decided. Anyone for some desert?”