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Of Power and Responsibility

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Summary: An experiment goes wrong. Dr. Cole finds himself in other dimensions meeting, working with, and fighting people that can't possibly exist. His first encounter is with three vampires, then with a young blonde Slayer. It only gets more bizarre from there.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Multiple Crossings > Buffy-CenteredCaptainPeroxideFR18531,452093,40524 Sep 059 Nov 05No

Ambush

I didn't like chapter 4 too much, either. I hope this one makes up for it.

All characters in this fiction are, in fact, fiction. Any resemblance between these characters and real people is completely accidental. Unless it serves the story to be on purpose...


All references to characters or places from the Buffyverse belong to Joss Whedon and/or Mutant Enemy. All characters and places from the Potterverse belong to JK Rowling. All characters from Marvel belong to Marvel Entertainment. Any other verses that get involved will be dealt with later.


I should also mention that the story, so far, takes place mid-Season 7, BtVS.


Dr. Ronald Cole is the ONLY character in chapter 1 that is mine.


Reviews? Please? If you like it, let me know. If you don't, tell me why.


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Chapter 5

Ambush




After a deep, though brief sleep, I showered, dressed, and went to breakfast. Professor Dumbledore entered the Great Hall as I finished eating.

"Good morning, Professor Dumbledore." I said as he approached.

"Good morning, Professor Cole. May I sit with you for a few minutes?"

"Certainly."

After taking a seat, Dumbledore began to speak. "I have a message from Anya. She sends her regrets, but she cannot join you on your trip to Hogsmeade. She was called away on business."

"Business." I said flatly.

He smiled. "I learned long ago not to question Anyanka about her business."

"It's just as well." I said. "I don't think I'd be able to go anyway."

Dumbledore continued. "We are still awaiting word as to the status of the men who attacked you yesterday. Meanwhile, when the students arrive, you will be introduced as guests and observers of the school who also will assist the instructional staff when possible."

I nodded. "Of course. I'd be happy to do whatever I can to help."

"Thank you, Dr. Cole. Any assistance will be very much appreciated. Considering your experience as a University professor, I only wish I could take advantage of your expertise. Alas, this is a school of magic, and quantum physics is not deeply covered."

Dumbledore asked, "Is there anything you require to maintain proficiency in any of your other skills?"

"Yes." I replied. "Xander - one of Buffy's associates - obtained some weapons for me on short notice. I haven't even had the opportunity to sight them in. Is there somewhere near where I can practice without disturbing anyone?"

Dumbledore nodded. "Of course. I shall have Hagrid arrange it immediately. Do you require supplies?"

"Yes, thanks. I'll make a list."

"Excellent."

"Professor?" I said inquiringly. "I had a couple of ideas I wanted to run past you."

Dumbledore and I talked for another fifteen minutes or so. He concluded, "I assumed your education would have hindered your acceptance of magic. It seems I was mistaken. I shall see to it that your requests are fulfilled." He paused, briefly. "I hope your insight will be able to assist us in what is to come."

A couple hours later, Hagrid found me sitting on the front steps of the castle. "Dr. Ron, would yeh follow me, please? I got somethin' for you."

I walked with him southward, away from the castle, to a secluded clearing just inside the woods. Several targets had been prepared and set up to use a small hill just southwest of the clearing as a backstop. A stack of ammo boxes, earmuffs, and additional targets were resting on a table.

Pointing to the arrangement with a big grin, Hagrid said. "If yeh need anythin' else, jus' ask. Oh, I took the liberty a' gettin' yer weapons and gear from yer room. I hope you don' mind."

"No, that's great, Hagrid. Thanks."

Hagrid added, "Oh, and that other stuff yeh asked for? I left that in yer room."

"Thanks."

Hagrid left as I examined the ammo. The three types fit in their respective weapons as well as ammo from the guns' world of origin. How was that possible? Never mind.

After about 40 minutes of practice, I removed the earmuffs to reload again. A voice from behind me said, "So, you haven't shot yourself yet?"

I looked behind me. Buffy was watching. "Hi." I said lamely. "Not yet."

"Well, as long as you can point those things in the right direction, they may be helpful, yet."

"Yeah. I was ever so much help when you needed me yesterday."

"You helped. You stayed outta my way while I went all Uma Thurman on 'em."

"I was lying in a fetal position."

Buffy, trying not to laugh, said, "Yeah, but that was a big help."

"Next time, I'd just as soon not be so helpful."

"It coulda been worse."

"Sure. Could've died."

"See? Not so bad. And you're still around to help again."

"Oh, joy. Maybe next time I can crawl out of the way."

Buffy grinned at me, and then changed the subject. "Dumbledore sent me to get you. He's called a meeting in about an hour. Said it's urgent."

"Okay." I finished reloading and put the guns back in their holsters. Buffy looked from one holster to the other. The shotgun, which I had dismantled for cleaning, was lying on a box next to the table.

"So, you gonna fill me in on whatcha brought?" She asked.

"Thought you hated guns?" I queried.

"I do. But it'd be nice to know what you've got - just in case." She said.

I nodded. "Yeah. Makes sense. Xander did a nice job. I'm not sure how he got this stuff on such short notice, but he brought me exactly what I asked for."

"That's our Xander." Buffy smiled.

"From what I've been told about slayers, you'd probably outshoot me the first time you picked one up."

"Maybe."

"Xander picked up three weapons for me. They're kind of a compromise between being easily carried, somewhat concealable, and still powerful enough to do something. This one," I pulled the Glock out of its holster, "is a high capacity 9mm. Holds 17 rounds. It's not very potent, but it's good for close up firefights." I opened the action and held it out to her.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

As Buffy reached for the small, dark gray, plastic pistol, she heard a sound that didn't belong. She stood still and focused on her surroundings. Two men were approaching from the south, opposite the direction to Hogwarts.

Ron felt the change in her attitude and stopped moving. He opened his mouth to say something. "Shhh!" Buffy whispered. "There are two men in the woods to the south behind you, and four more behind me." She said.

The four men behind the Slayer were moving slowly into strategic positions; they were in a semi-circle to cut off an escape to the castle. The two men at the south side of the clearing suddenly advanced quickly, purposefully. They were no longer trying to conceal themselves.

After six years of nearly constant combat, Buffy instantly recognized the threat and the strategy the attackers were using. The four men behind her were the 'net'; the two men in front were going to try to drive them backwards into the net, where they would be ambushed as they retreated.

She hesitated for only a second as her mind raced through options. The only way out of the trap was to do the unexpected. A potent offense would be best, but these adversaries could attack from a distance, and she needed to be closer.

Unfortunately, Ron was an unknown quantity. If only she had Willow, or Xander, or Spike with her. She'd know they could handle themselves if she left them to face the two men while drawing the other four away.

She had no choice - she had to chance it. Buffy yelled at Ron, "DUCK!" and sprinted at top slayer speed eastward toward the forest. Just before she reached the edge of the clearing, she cut 45 degrees toward the southeast and disappeared into the trees. Too late, Buffy remembered that they had weapons that could strike at a distance: Ron's guns.






As Buffy ran into the woods, Ron jumped into a forward roll and ducked behind the table, overturning it as he moved. The overturned table blocked the glittering flashes of magic spells.

Looking around, Ron found himself alone facing two attacking wizards. As he cautiously looked around the edge of the table, the Death Eaters fired spells at him. One shouted, "Stupify!" as Ron ducked behind the table. The table blocked the shimmering magical energy. The second curse slammed the table like a shotgun blast, tearing pieces off the edge.

An instant later, one of the men shouted, "Wingardium leviosa!" The table rose upwards exposing Ron to the attacking men.






The four ambush wizards immediately moved eastward to intercept the fleeing girl. The closest of the four saw Buffy change direction away from him as she moved between the trees, and he gave chase. He followed the crashing sounds the girl made as she ran through brush and forest litter.

Despite sprinting as fast as the cloaked wizard was able, the young muggle girl quickly opened distance between them. "Bloody hell!" he muttered between labored breaths. "How can... anyone... run so fast?"






As the rising table exposed him, Ron rolled sideways and quickly assessed the two men. One was concentrating on the table, the second pointed his wand at Ron. Taking no time for thought, the physicist and former army marksman took quick aim at the second hooded wizard.

With his wand pointed at the troublesome muggle, the Death Eater began a new curse. "AVADA KEDA..."

His curse was cut off as Ron fired two rounds at him in quick succession - a double-tap - from the Glock. The startled wizard cried out, grabbed his shoulder, and slumped to the ground.

The remaining wizard jumped sideways in response to the gunfire. His concentration shattered, the table fell to the ground. Dr. Cole jumped up and sprinted for the trees. The uninjured black-cloaked wizard pointed his wand at the swiftly retreating man and shouted, "EXPELLIARMUS!" The spell arrived too late as the running man ducked behind a tree.






Two muffled gunshots rang out from the clearing behind her. Buffy almost turned around, but knew her plan was now their only hope. Her thoughts were racing. Two shots - God, I hope that's a good sign. But there was no time to worry about Ron.

As Buffy sprinted through the trees, she watched carefully for the right place to make her first stand. She passed a large oak, still crashing through brush and making as much noise as possible. She then turned and quietly crept back to the old tree. She jumped onto a low branch and quickly scurried higher, stopping only when she felt adequately concealed by foliage.

As the dark wizard chased the blonde girl, he suddenly realized he could no longer hear her crashing through the forest. He stopped, tried to calm his ragged breathing, and listened. She wasn't running anymore.

He smiled knowing his quarry was near and hiding. A revealing spell would find the girl quickly enough when he was a bit closer. Voldemort would reward him handsomely for capturing the muggle girl.

Buffy could hear that the closest pursuer, having slowed to a walk, was drawing near. The other three were too far away to help him. Hopefully, they were too far away to hear what would happen when she greeted him.

Taking a moment, Buffy concentrated, and called out silently to her red-headed friend. Willow! Willow can you hear me?

Willow answered immediately. Buffy, what's wrong?

Tell Dumbledore we're under attack again. More Death Eaters. South of the castle, in the clearing. Send help fast. I had to leave Ron, and I don't know if he's...

I'm coming!

Buffy silently screamed, NO! Wils, it's you they're after. Willow!

Willow didn't answer. "Damn!" Buffy swore to herself.

Again, she refocused, not allowing her concern for Willow to keep her from executing her plan, or improvising as necessary. Her pursuer was almost here, but she still had another minute or so.

Buffy looked around carefully noting details of her surroundings. The forest was old and dense. Most of the canopy was formed by overlapping branches. She smiled. Things were going her way. She could travel a considerable distance within this forest without touching the ground.

The pursuing wizard slipped between two tree trunks and started past Buffy's oak tree. She moved silently into position. As the Death Eater passed beneath her tree, Buffy dropped toward him, swung once completely around a branch to pick up speed, and slammed into man's upper back with her feet. Her momentum and strength threw him to the ground as though he'd been hit by a car.

"Boy are you gonna need a neck brace." She muttered as she quickly looked him over. "Can you say, 'whiplash'?" The unconscious Death Eater still clutched his wand. Buffy grabbed the wand, broke it into several pieces, and threw it away.






Once concealed by the trees, Ron continued to move away from his assailants. After moving a few trees farther from the clearing, he circled quietly, cautiously to his right into a position where he could try to ambush his pursuer.

After momentarily checking on his wounded cohort, the remaining Death Eater, enraged that a muggle had attacked them, followed his target into the forest. With his eyes fixed on the tree behind which his prey had ducked, the wizard circled around to the left.

Without hesitation, the black-cloaked man stepped around the tree and aimed his wand where he expected the worthless muggle to be cowering. But his target wasn't there. An eerily calm voice from behind him said, "Drop the wand."

The Death Eater realized he had foolishly underestimated his prey. He tensed up, slowly raised his wand higher, and prepared to attack.

A sudden, deafening noise came from behind him. A single shot from the Glock shattered his wand. Grabbing his ears in pain, the wizard dropped to his knees and twisted around to look at his adversary.

Ron held the Glock pointed at the wizard's face with his left hand. He pulled the big revolver out of its holster with his right hand as he moved close behind the vanquished attacker.

"What in the bloody hell are you?" The Death Eater shouted.

"Annoyed." Ron said as he swung the butt of his heavy revolver downward onto the back of the wizard's head. The Death Eater quietly collapsed in a heap.






Buffy heard a third gunshot, muffled by the dense forest. She smiled briefly. He must still be alive - maybe, anyway. She started to worry, then closed it off, again focusing on the task at hand.

She climbed quickly back into the oak. Instead of finding a hiding place, the blonde Slayer crept along the large branches as she moved from tree to tree northwards toward her attackers. The game had changed - the hunters were now the hunted. And what made it the most fun was that they didn't know.

The other three men moved as quickly as they could, hindered by the dense forest. The young muggle girl was their target. The leader of the group originally had no doubt that their remaining partners back in the clearing could handle one lone muggle.

However, the three gunshots were quite worrisome. The muggle should have been neutralized in the first minute of the operation. Still, whether that muggle lived or died was of no consequence. Only the girl mattered.

The three men moved separately as they advanced toward their intended prey. The leading wizard was far ahead of the other two. He lost track of the girl, but continued in the direction he last heard movement.

The two trailing Death Eaters had been positioned west of the clearing and were taking longer to catch up. Though they remained separated, they were now close enough to see each other.

The leader's confidence waned further as he thought about the girl. She should have been captured by now. Voldemort had said she was no ordinary muggle, but she could not escape the six wizards that had been sent to retrieve her. Still, that she remained at large did not bode well. Taking cues from each other, both trailing wizards slowed down as their initial arrogance gave way to caution.

As Buffy stood on a large branch that spanned the distance between two trees, she watched the next Death Eater approach. The man was unaware he was being watched.

Having lost track of the girl and a cohort, he had slowed his pursuit and was carefully looking around all sides of every tree and bush he passed. The silence of the forest was unnerving. Rapidly losing confidence and beginning to doubt the wisdom of their attempted kidnapping, the wizard grew more anxious with each passing minute.

With the stealth of a cat, the Slayer crossed over to a tree behind her would-be assailant. Silently slipping to the ground, she crept closer. Just a few feet behind the hooded wizard, she stepped on a twig. The noise echoed in the silent forest. The startled man spun about and found himself face to face with a pretty, petite, blonde girl. His nerves quickly calmed, his fear started to evaporate. How could he possibly be afraid of this diminutive little girl? She had no magic; she was just a muggle.

A malicious grin spread across the Death Eater's face - at least until his eyes met hers. His grin faded as he stared into steely blue eyes so cold they sent a chill down his spine.

"Looking for me?" With a front kick to the upper part of the wizard's right arm, which was far too swift for his all-too-human reflexes, Buffy disarmed her opponent, shattered his upper arm, and dislocated his shoulder. A solid punch to his belly silenced his scream before it escaped his lips. A final side-kick to his chest threw the now unconscious Death Eater into an adjacent tree trunk with a sickening thud. She picked up his wand, broke it apart, and discarded the remnants.

Then she swiftly climbed back into the forest canopy. After a moment of silent concentration straining her senses to locate her adversaries, Buffy realized they were very near, much closer than she thought. She quickly moved along the canopy branches away from them.

"The muggle bitch is up in the trees!" One of them shouted. He yelled something unintelligible as he fired a blasting curse at the Slayer. Buffy spun behind a large tree trunk as the magical energy scattered shredded bark in all directions. She could hear the second man moving around the other side of the tree. They were trying to pin her with crossfire.

Buffy ran along a large branch away from the two men as she tried to put a tree or two between her and the Death Eaters. A stream of magical energy barely missed as she ducked behind the next tree. Buffy looked for a path to take her farther away, but there were no usable branches on the shielded side of the tree.

Switching tactics, the Slayer scrambled down through the branches. She hit the ground running quickly away from her attackers. Ducking behind a tree, Buffy spotted a baseball-sized rock. Holding it in her right hand, she stepped out and looked around the left side of the trunk.

In one swift motion, Buffy ducked behind the tree to avoid the blasting curse fired by the Death Eater, spun about, and stepped briefly from behind the right side of the tree. She threw the rock at the Death Eater. Her missile struck its target with unerring accuracy. When the rock bounced off his head, it made a wet, hollow sound, like a melon dropped on concrete. The hapless wizard collapsed instantly and bonelessly into an unmoving heap.

Three down, one to go. Buffy thought. Unless the two from the clearing are here, too. She saw motion out of the corner of her eye. It was another Death Eater. As Buffy threw herself to the other side of the tree trunk and out of harm's way, a loud gunshot sounded nearby.

Oh, shit! She thought. Now they're using Ron's guns against me! Buffy held her position for only a few seconds. Cautiously, she looked around the trunk to assess the situation. She was greeted with the unexpected. The last of the four Death Eaters was lying on the ground, holding his hip and moaning loudly.

Before Buffy understood what had happened, the Big Surprise walked over to the downed wizard, took away his wand, and broke it. Ron stood over the fallen wizard holding a large revolver in his hand. He glanced briefly at the bewildered girl and holstered the gun. As Buffy walked towards the two men, Ron tore a piece of cloth from the wizard's robes, folded it, and pressed it down onto the bleeding wound on the Death Eater's hip.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"Okay. You can keep them." She said as she approached.

"What?" I asked, a bit confused. She pointed to the holstered revolver. "Oh."

Buffy walked over to the man she had beaned and pulled him over next to the only conscious Death Eater. He was moaning in pain, but he watched us intently.

"Buffy." I said. "You need to go for help. I'm trying to control his bleeding, but he needs medical attention. Oh, one of the two in the clearing is in pretty bad shape, too. Not to mention the Death Eaters back that way that were run over by a truck."

Buffy grinned. Then she raised her eyebrows in sudden realization and asked, "You took out the two guys in the clearing?"

"Yeah."

Buffy seemed to be deep in thought. After a minute, she started to leave, then turned to me and said, "Just so you know - there was only one left, and I would've taken him, no problem. Your cavalry charge wasn't needed."

I thought she was reprimanding me for acting too hastily.

"On the other hand, I'm glad to know you'll be handy in a pinch." She paused for second. "I thought I was gonna go back to the clearing and find you... well, not you anymore."

Buffy turned and walked towards the clearing.

As I held the compress to the defeated wizard's wound, I decided it was time for a few answers. "Okay. You came, you saw, you definitely didn't conquer. Why did you attack us?"

No response. "Listen, chump. I could just let go of the wound and let you bleed to death."

There was still no response. "You know, it's been years since I watched somebody bleed to death." He groaned quietly, didn't answer, but kept watching me. "As your blood drains, you'll start to get cold." I pulled his hood off. "Your vision'll dim."

He said nothing. "As the cold seeps into your bones and joints, you'll shiver, you'll shiver hard, and the pain in your wound will intensify." He moaned softly and closed his eyes. Of course, I didn't know whether his pain would intensify, but I was betting he didn't know either.

"After your vision fades, you won't be aware of much anymore. Well, except for the pain. Did I mention how much it'll hurt?"

Finally, he said, "I failed. Let me die. I dare not face Him."

"Who? Who can't you face?" I demanded, even though I knew the answer.

"Him. Please. Let me die."

I changed tactics. "I'll tell you what. You tell me everything, and I'll help you die quickly. You don't tell me, I'll make sure you survive, and I'll deliver you to Voldemort gift-wrapped."

The sudden fear in his eyes stirred mixed feelings to me. I'd never seen anyone afraid of me before. Well, maybe once. But that was a special circumstance. I also felt a tiny bit of sympathy for this miserable excuse for a man as his life slowly seeped out between my fingers.

"No! Please! Let me die! He... He wanted us to capture the blonde girl. To bring her to him. I... I don't know why."

"Sure you don't. What about me?" I asked.

"You were... nothing. Just kill you if you... if you got in our way." He said.

I could hear people running towards us. I looked up to see Snape, Madam Pomfrey, and two other professors.

Snape arrived first. "It would seem, Dr. Cole, that you're not quite as helpless as you would seem, unfortunately for this man." He said. He turned to the approaching healer. "Madam Pomfrey, this man needs immediate attention."

He turned to the unconscious Death Eater. "And this one may be even worse." He muttered after a quick examination. He pulled out his wand and used a spell to bind both men. "Hagrid will be here soon to pick them up. Collect the rest of your things and return to the school."

"There're two back in that direction," I pointed, "And two others in the clearing."

"We found them." Answered one of the other wizards.

I started to leave when the Death Eater called out to me. "No! No! You promised you'd kill me!"

As Snape looked at me with an unreadable expression, I said to the wounded man, "And you promised you'd tell me everything. You didn't, so you get to live." I could feel three sets of eyes boring into me as I walked back to the clearing.

The other two Death Eaters had been removed from the clearing. The table had been righted, and most of my gear was gone. Only a small pack remained. Buffy was waiting for me at the table. "We need to get back. Want some company?" She asked.

I nodded. Then I stopped and sat at the table. "Give me a minute." I said. I was shaking.

"Your first combat?" Buffy asked as she watched me closely.

I shook my head. "No. I was in the first Gulf War. Didn't like it then, don't like it now."

She looked at me differently than before. "I didn't know you were in the military." She said. "Or that you'd been to war."

"Only briefly. Long enough to shoot and get shot. Then I went home. Got out, went back to school. I've been buried in my work ever since. End of life story." I said.

"So, you're not just Clark Kent after all." She said with a small smile. "You ready?"

"Sure. Let's go." I picked up my pack and we started walking.

"You hungry? 'Cause I'm famished." She said as we started out. "Anytime I make with the slayage, I get hungry and... and hungry."

I looked over at her and felt suddenly uneasy. Her expression was somewhat disconcerting. She didn't look like a sweet, innocent young college girl. She looked distinctly predatory. She made me nervous, though I didn't know why.

Out of the corner of my eye, I could still see her watching me. She clearly loved what she did - the slaying, the violence. Maybe Anya wasn't so scary after all.

"I, uh, think we can grab something to eat after the meeting." I said with a stuttering lack of confidence.

Buffy nodded and took a deep breath. After a minute of silence, she said, "Yeah. Okay."

As we approached the castle, Willow came running out to meet us. "Buffy! You're okay!" She threw her arms around the Slayer in a big hug.

As they pulled apart, Buffy said. "Wils, you scared me. I thought you were gonna come flying out and get all revengy."

Willow said, "Well, I was, but Dumbledore wouldn't let me."

"Dumbledore stopped you?" Asked Buffy incredulously.

"He can be very persuasive." Then she turned to me, wrapped her arms around me, and gave me tight hug. Speaking into my ear, she said, "So I hear you didn't play victim very well this time." Willow released me and moved a step away.

"Uh, no. I'll try harder next time."

"You better not, Mister. I'm gettin' kinda used to you being around." She said with a big grin and sparkling green eyes.






The meeting took place in a small room. Small, that is, by Hogwarts standards.

After everyone was seated, Dumbledore began. "I asked you here to apprise you of events that may profoundly affect the welfare of Hogwarts and the future of the Wizarding community. After today, I wish I could delay the start of school. Alas, it is too late. The students will begin to arrive in a scant few hours.

"Most of you have already met our guests. If you have not, please introduce yourselves at your earliest convenience.

"Miss Rosenberg, Miss Summers, Dr. Cole, and Miss Jenkins" he gestured in our direction. "Arrived yesterday. Miss Jenkins is not presently at Hogwarts but is expected to return soon.

"Immediately upon their arrival, a dozen Death Eaters ambushed them. More to the point, the Death Eaters knew who was coming, when they would arrive, and where. We believe we know how they obtained this knowledge, but we do not wish to discuss it until we are certain.

"Despite using the Cruciatus curse on Dr. Cole and Miss Summers, their attack failed. Our guests countered and incapacitated the attackers. We took them into custody and turned them over to the Ministry of Magic."

"These three muggl... people stopped a dozen Death Eaters?" Someone asked.

"That is correct."

"More like two." I mumbled to myself. A sharp elbow in my ribs shut me up. I looked over at Buffy, who acted as if nothing had happened.

There was a low murmur from the assembled staff.

"But that was yesterday. Only minutes ago, Death Eaters again attacked Miss Summers and Dr. Cole, this time on Hogwarts grounds not 300 meters from the castle. There were six attackers. One has been imprisoned at the school. The remaining five are in the care of Madam Pomfrey recovering from their injuries."

Everyone turned to look at us. Most seemed curious. A few seemed afraid.

"We know very little about the attacks. We know that Miss Rosenberg was the target of the first assault. We know the second was much better coordinated and that Miss Summers was the target. We know kidnapping was the purpose of each, though we do not, as yet, know the reason.

"To make matters worse, the integrity of the Ministry appears to have been compromised by Voldemort or by a new ally. The Ministry released the first group of captured Death Eaters without charges."

Loud grumbling erupted in the room. Dumbledore held up his hand, and the noise subsided.

"The Ministry's reasoning is convoluted and indefensible. They do not yet know about the second assault. They claim the first 'incident', as they are calling it, was not actually on Hogwarts grounds, so we should not have taken the Death Eaters into custody. As muggles were involved and no one was harmed, the Ministry did not believe there was sufficient evidence of wrongdoing to charge them.

Willow spoke up. "No one was harmed? They assaulted us. They used the Cruciatus Curse against us. They tried to kidnap me."

"Those were arguments I used as well, Miss Rosenberg, but to no avail. This is a grave turn of events indeed. I am certain the released Death Eaters are even now informing Voldemort about the details of your arrival. Voldemort may already be aware that his second kidnapping attempt has failed. It is likely he will grow more dangerous with each attempt."

Dumbledore stopped for a moment and looked around the room. All eyes were on him. "Miss Rosenberg and her companions are here as our guests. We are working out the means to restore balance to our world before our guests continue their journey. For now, that is all we can discuss."

Professor McGonagall spoke up. "Albus, they used the Cruciatus Curse. And they used it against muggles. How can the Ministry ignore that?"

"Ah, yes." Replied Dumbledore. "An unforgivable curse. The Ministry must have forgiven them." Dumbledore just shook his head. "They said there was no proof it was actually used."

McGonagall sat in shocked silence. Snape's expression grew darker. Dumbledore continued. "We will discuss this more as we can. Meanwhile, we must all be more vigilant than ever. In light of this second attack, it is uncertain what will happen next. Voldemort may move quickly, or he may wait. But move, he will."

The rustle of clothing was all that could be heard after Dumbledore's last statement. The tension in the room was palpable.

Finally, Willow broke the silence. "I think sooner, not later."

Snape nodded his head and added, "I concur, Headmaster. He will not wait for us to improve our defenses. That these three," indicating us, "Have managed to repel two attacks without our assistance will not go unnoticed. He will not underestimate them again."

"I fear you are correct, Severus."

Buffy stood up. All eyes in the room shifted toward her. "Sitting and waiting for Walmart..."

Willow corrected her, "Voldemort"

"Whatever. It's time we stop playing by his rules. We need to take the fight to him."

"I am in agreement with you, Miss Summers." Said Dumbledore. "And we will. But for reasons I cannot yet discuss, we must wait just a little longer."

Buffy looked like she had more to say. Instead, she crossed her arms and sat down.

Again, the room went silent. Willow spoke. "Professor Dumbledore, as soon as Anya returns, I need to send a message home."

"Certainly, Miss Rosenberg. I shall notify the staff to inform you immediately upon her arrival." Dumbledore answered.

He turned towards the three of us. "There is yet one more issue we must mention before the students arrive." Dumbledore spoke directly to Willow. "Miss Rosenberg. The leader of the first group of Death Eaters interacted with you directly. As you likely recall, his name was Lucius Malfoy.

"He has a son at Hogwarts. Draco Malfoy will almost certainly be familiar with some version of recent events, heavily edited though it may be. As young Draco may be following in his father's footsteps, he will bear close watching."

The End?

You have reached the end of "Of Power and Responsibility" – so far. This story is incomplete and the last chapter was posted on 9 Nov 05.

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