Albus Dumbledore looked at each person in turn, his gaze moving over the gathered members of the Order of the Phoenix, quietly gauging their reactions to his announcement. He knew that he need not look to Remus Lupin for his opinion of the proceedings, for it had been his idea in the first place.
"It is a rather odd development, Albus," Kingsley Shacklebolt stated in his ringing voice, a small frown on his face. "It has been years since any witches and wizards have asked for the aid of the Watcher's Council."
"And as I recall, they turned us down when we asked for help twenty years ago," Arthur Weasley put in, and that much was true. It had been several years before Voldemort's reign of terror had ended when they had gone to the man that had been the head of the Council at the time, asking for the Slayer's help. They had been quickly and unceremoniously turned down.
"But that was then... This is now," Remus Lupin put in, shifting a bit nervously when all attention turned to him.
"What do you mean?" Sirius wanted to know, and Remus sighed.
"Well, for one thing, Quentin Travers is not the head of the Watcher's Council any longer. He hasn't been for awhile. Ever since... Well, ever since he was blown up."
"Blown up?" Molly Weasley sputtered, and Albus Dumbledore nodded slowly.
"Yes, Molly, blown up. It seems that a rather dangerous entity decided to do away with the Watcher's Council. It blew up the Council's home office and went after most of the Potential Slayers."
"Then why in the world would they help us? It sounds like they've got enough problems of their own," Arthur said, and Remus cleared his throat, clearly calling for attention. The werewolf fumbled with the glass in his hand for a few seconds before speaking.
"Actually, it seems that they've managed to take care of this entity. Apparently it referred to itself as the First, meaning the First Evil."
"A bit presumptuous, wouldn't you say?" Severus Snape interrupted with a snort, and Remus arched a brow as he looked over at the Potions Master.
"Perhaps. But whatever this First was, it was particularly convincing. At least, it was convincing enough to have quite a few followers to do its bidding. The followers went after and killed many of the Watchers and their Potential Slayers. The goal was to kill the entire Slayer line, but they failed. A mere handful of Watchers are left, leaving Rupert Giles at the helm-"
"Rupert Giles? I've heard of him. He's not the most trustworthy of men from what I recall. I've heard tales of things he did-"
"That was twenty years ago, Severus. I imagine we've got quite a few tales on you from that long ago," Remus tossed back, gazing steadily at Snape, a smirk of sorts on his face. "Rupert Giles is trustworthy. At least as trustworthy as you."
Snape sent Lupin a nasty glare, and Dumbledore spoke up before the two men could get into a full argument. Usually it was Sirius and Severus that could be counted on to break into an all-out argument, but while Sirius was behaving himself as of yet, it seemed that Remus was ready to pick up the slack for his friend.
"People are capable of changing, Severus. You of all people should realize that," Dumbledore said quietly. "From what I understand, Rupert Giles was the Watcher of one Buffy Summers for several years. The Council would have never put him in charge of an active Slayer if they thought he was in danger of joining the Dark."
"Very true," Lupin said agreeably, then sighed. "Rupert allowed his Slayer to work a bit more... His methods were not exactly normal for the Council. He allowed Buffy to work with her friends, including a rather strong witch. This witch was apparently very instrumental in defeating the First. Not by any magics she did against the First, but by something she did for the Slayer line."
"And what, exactly, is that?" Severus asked with a sneer, and it was Dumbledore that answered.
"She activated them. Every Potential Slayer that was still alive, all through the world, was activated by a spell she did. There are quite possibly over a hundred Slayers alive today; there may even be far more. They're working on finding them all, but they've agreed to uh, spare a group of them to help us in our fight."
"Ah, yes. A group of teenage girls that are recently activated Slayers, some of whom have probably never been trained before. Sounds more like a sacrifice than any actual help," Severus sneered, and Molly Weasley frowned.
"Teenage girls? Is it really fair to ask for help from them, when they have no clue what it is that they're up against? They are just girls-"
"Rupert is coming himself, and his Slayer, Buffy, is coming as well. She's been a Slayer since she was fifteen, and that was several years ago. She's in her early twenties now, perhaps twenty-three years old. We're getting the inner circle of sorts. The oldest of the group - or, at least, the most experienced. They are going to be the ones that are sent to help us. Including the witch that activated the Slayers in the first place," Remus informed them all, picking at a particularly worn spot in his robes. "I believe her name is Willow."
"It's still not very fair, is it? To ask them to take part in this fight that is not theirs?" Shacklebolt wanted to know, and Sirius was the one to speak up this time.
"But in a way it is. Technically, most of them are Muggles, except for that Willow girl, of course, but... Voldemort isn't just the worry of the wizarding world, not really. He goes after Muggles as well. These particular Muggles just happen to be more well-equipped to fight than most. And if that witch is strong enough to actually activate Slayers on her own, then we might could use her help as well."
Dumbledore nodded. "My thoughts exactly. And as some of them aren't much past school age, we can station some of them at Hogwarts. Muggles or not, they are Slayers, which makes them something beyond the typical Muggle. They're mystical beings, so they can see Hogwarts," the elderly wizard said, then turned to look at Sirius. "Can the rest stay here at Grimmauld Place?"
Sirius shrugged. "I don't see why not. I could certainly use the company. When will they be here?" he asked, and Dumbledore smiled. He hadn't thought Sirius would mind having the houseguests.