Disclaimer: Nope, still don't own any of this. Except possibly the plot of this fic.
Vengeance - Epilogue
Two weeks passed in a hectic blur for Harry. The Order's security measures were hiked up to almost impossible levels and meetings were an almost daily event. Everyone seemed especially concerned about finding out just how the death eaters were able to bypass the protection that was supposed to be surrounding the Dursley residence. Harry spent hours retelling what had occurred there, even though he was certain that by about the tenth telling everyone must've known it by heart.
He fondly remembered the first time he had told the tale, sitting in the kitchen of 12 Grimmauld Place, surrounded by almost the entire Order of the Phoenix. If Mr. Weasley had not been there to confirm his words, Harry was sure by the looks on their faces that no one would've believed him.
When he mentioned the arrival of Lucius Malfoy and the death eaters, there were gasps around the room. Moody then accused Snape of being a traitor and a lousy spy. Snape, of course didn't take kindly to the accusation. It had taken Dumbledore's special brand of magic to calm the two men down enough for Harry to continue.
When he told how Lucius had killed his uncle Vernon, there were murmurs of sympathy from his audience. Except for Ron, who said "Good riddance" instead and promptly got smacked upside the head from his mother and received a harsh glare from Hermione.
Naturally, the entire Order had been shocked when he told them what Petunia had done. At the part where Ethan came barging in through the wall (Harry still hadn't figured that one out even with Hermione's help), Tonks had protested: "But I checked him out myself, he's a muggle!" Snape then sneered something about auror incompetence, which offended Moody, who said that Snape should've known about the attack in the first place. . . Once again, Dumbledore had had to step in.
Snape's sneer turned into a thoughtful expression when he heard the wish Petunia had made to the Vengeance Demon Lord. When he practically skipped into 12 Grimmauld Place with a malicious smile on his face two days later, it didn't take a genius to figure out what had happened.
After he finished, Harry knew he was witnessing a once-in-a-lifetime moment when even Professor Dumbledore admitted to being completely baffled by what had happened: why Petunia was able to do what she had done and who the people that had shown up afterwards were.
Now, two weeks later, the senior Order members had finally come to the unanimous decision that it was high time they got some answers. And it seemed the only person who could provide them with some, was Harry's aunt. So Harry, accompanied by Snape and Lupin and the Weasley twins, went to 4 Privite Dr. to visit the house Harry had hoped he'd never have to see again.
The group apparated to the nearby park, figuring that Harry's aunt might not want them suddenly appearing in the middle of her living room. uninvited. If she was too angry, she might not answer any of their questions.
The closer Harry got to his aunt's house, the more confused he got. There was a crowd of people standing on the front lawn, chatting idly, as if waiting for something. And judging by the cracks in the neighbours' curtains, he wasn't the only one who had noticed and was curious about the commotion.
"Mr. Potter," Professor Snape asked in a low tone as they approached, "do you know any of these people?"
"No sir, I don't. . . oh wait!" Harry suddenly got a clear view of the group by the stairs.
"Over there, that's the redhead who stopped my aunt and I'm pretty sure that brunette's the one who carried Mad-eye into the house."
"Harry, are you sure about that?" Lupin asked cautiously. "She doesn't seem to be a witch, let alone one with the kind of power you described. I can't feel a wand on her."
Harry thought about that for a moment.
"You know, I don't ever remember seeing her with a wand. Come to think of it, my aunt didn't use one either and neither did Ethan, though I didn't actually see him do any magic. . ."
"Merlin help us!" Snape suddenly interrupted him. "She looks like a Weasley!"
"Then it's certain. . ." said Fred, he was sure it was Fred, because he remembered that Fred was on his left and George was on his right.
"She's not someone we want to mess with. . ." continued George.
"Especially because she's a girl." Fred finished.
No one argued with them. Instead they turned onto the white stone path that led up to 4 Privite Dr. Harry had never felt nervous walking up that path before. With a dozen or so girls eyeing him warily out of the corners of their eyes, he certainly was now. What unnerved him the most was that none of them stopped their conversations. It was as if the group, which he suddenly realized was entirely made up of girls, was simply making note of the intrusion and watching him in case he decided to become dangerous.
The only male presence on the lawn was a tall, nicely tanned young man with dark hair and an eye patch, who was talking with the redhead and brunette that Harry recognized from before.
The three of them were engrossed in conversation and hadn't even seemed to have noticed the strangers approaching them. The brunette was casually leaning against the side of the house, smoking a cigarette.
Just then the front door opened and Ethan strode out with a large plate of cookies. They smelt wonderful. He turned to the group by the door and offered them one.
"Are you trying to insult my intelligence here?" the man with the eye-patch asked. "'Cause you know, I remember very well what happened the last time Giles let you buy him a drink."
"Hey, I don't think I've heard this story yet," the brunette said, "what happened?"
"He got turned into a demon."
The brunette laughed.
"It wasn't funny, Buffy nearly killed him!" the redhead exclaimed.
"Wait, you turned someone into a demon?" George asked in awe.
"Yes, I did," Ethan turned to the Weasley twins with a wide grin on his face, "not all that difficult really. Just a simple potion, added it to his drink and voila! Ripper wakes up the next morning as a Fyarl demon, by which time, I am nowhere in sight."
Harry could almost feel the wheels turning inside the Weasley twins' heads as they absorbed this piece of information.
"Oh, but please, where are my manners. I'm Ethan Rayne and do help yourselves to a cookie. They're freshly baked."
Fred and George looked at each other and then shrugged. They each grabbed a cookie. Everyone watched them intently, waiting.
When nothing happened they both looked at Ethan.
"Well, I never said I baked them did I?" he smirked and held out the plate for everyone to take one. His smile widened when he noticed Harry.
"Aaahh, Harry, hello. You know, your aunt gave the impression we'd never see you again. It's good to know that the saviour of the Wizarding World still has time for his friends and neighbours in between fighting evil snake charmers."
"Neighbours?" George asked.
"As in the next door neighbour who came in through the wall?" Fred asked.
Ethan looked confused, so Harry decided to come to his rescue.
"When aunt Petunia was talking to that demon, you somehow managed to come in through the wall. I've actually been wondering about that myself. I looked through all the books on magic I could find and I couldn't find any sort of spell that would just make the wall become passable. At least nothing that wouldn't need hours of preparation or very complicated spellwork or. . ."
"Why would it be that hard?" the redhead asked with a frown.
"Who knows," Ethan shrugged, obviously amused by Harry's rant, "honestly Harry, it's just a matter of changing the structure of the wall. Of altering reality if you will."
"You can do that?" asked Lupin, startling Harry, who had forgotten he was even there.
"Yes, of course I can, I'm not a chaos mage for nothing after all."
"Chaos mage?!" the Weasley twins looked stunned.
"Isn't that dark magic?" Lupin frowned. Ethan raised an eyebrow.
"And isn't that a mite hypocritic coming from a dark creature?" he countered.
Snape chuckled darkly. But whatever he was about to add to the conversation was lost when the front door banged open again and two figures shot out of it.
"Ethan Rayne, how dare you leave the house with fresh cookies without offering us some?!" Harry thought he recognized the girl speaking as one of the ones who had tied up the death eaters. He definitely recognized the blond boy who slowly came to stand beside her, staring at the five wizards from the Order.
"Professor Snape? What are you doing here?" Draco Malfoy asked.
"Professor?" the girl looked at Malfoy in surprise, then turned to Harry's group. "Which one's a professor? Of the two that it could possibly be, I mean."
Draco passed between Ethan and Dawn and motioned to Snape.
"Dawn, this is the Potions Master at Hogwarts, Professor Severus Snape. Professor, this is Dawn Summers."
"Oh, and what am I hypogriff feed?" Harry spat out.
"And that four-eyed Neanderthal over there is Harry Potter."
"And I am Remus Lupin and the two redheads are. . ."
"We are the proud owners. . ."
". . .of Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes."
"Really?" Harry wasn't sure if the glint in Ethan's eyes reminded him more of Dumbledore or Tom Riddle. "I've been to that store. You two sound like just my kind of people."
And without so much as a word to anyone else, Ethan led the twins to the side, where they began whispering amongst one another.
"Umm. . . should I be preparing to leave the country right now?" the man with the eye patch asked, watching them.
"That depends on how bad the other two are," his redheaded friend giggled.
"Well, they're certainly a handful," Lupin chuckled.
"Wonderful. Anyway, I'm Xander, this is Faith and that's Willow." Willow smiled at the wizards and Faith semi-saluted with her cigarette.
"Now, in as much as we've figured out who and what you are. . . what do you want?" Xander asked.
"Yeah, and don't even try to feed us any crap about coming to visit your relatives," Faith added, flicking ashes from the end of her cigarette.
"Well," Lupin began, "we are part of an organization fighting You-Know-Who and . . ."
"They mean Big V," translated Draco.
"Big V?" asked Harry.
"Yeah, you know, the big bad wizard you guys are fighting," Dawn explained.
"Lord Voldimore, or whatever his name is, was too much of a mouthful, so we shortened it to Big V," Xander grinned proudly.
"Besides, Dragon Boy here was too chicken to say the full name." Faith smirked as
Malfoy glared at her.
Harry chuckled. "He was, was he?"
"Well if you plebians are done with making fun of me, I think they're here," Malfoy said, pointing at the street.
"Well, it's about fuckin' time!" Faith said and threw her cigarette to the ground. Then in one fluid motion, she easily flipped herself over the railing on the front steps.
She opened the door and hollered: "Hey, jo people, they're here!"
Harry looked to the street in time to see a huge moving van beginning to ease into the Dursley's driveway. When it stopped, the girls on the lawn sprang into action. A group of them went into the house and another headed for the garage, which Harry now noticed was full of packing crates and boxes of all shapes and sizes.
'Is Aunt Petunia moving?' Harry wondered.
"Woah, he really doesn't go for the subtle approach, does he?" Harry heard Xander exclaim.
He looked back to the street and saw a big blue van parking out on the street in front of the house. By the back window there was a full moon painted on it with several small wolves howling at it with one large one that seemed to be running away from it so that its head was by the passenger-side window.
"Yeah, you'd never guess the driver's a werewolf," Willow added sarcastically.
"The driver's a what?" Lupin spun around to face the redhead. Meanwhile, Harry saw the back door of the van open and a short man with bright red, spiked hair step out. He was wearing a pair of faded jeans and a loose, orange shirt with a bunch of chains around his neck that Harry couldn't see very well.
"Hey Wolfman," yelled Xander and the stranger looked up, "nice wheels!"
"Thanks man!" the apparent werewolf answered, "Got them cheap and a buddy of mine did the paint job."
"Hi Oz," Willow waved shyly.
"Hey Wills, been a while. Heard you went and got all superpowerful."
"I'm not that
"Ah, yeah you are," Xander argued.
"No, I'm really not. . ."
"Willow," Draco began, "when the Dark Lord has a temper tantrum, a few people end up seriously hurt. When you had a temper tantrum, the whole bloody world nearly got destroyed. So yes, you are definitely that
The three remaining wizards were shocked. They looked at one another, and Harry knew they were all thinking the same thing: this girl could be useful against Voldemort.
"Hey, enough with the talking. Get your asses over here and start helping!" Faith yelled down at the group from an open window.
"You know, this would be so much faster, not to mention easier if I could just use my wand," Draco commented.
"Oh no you don't, Mr," Willow wiggled a finger at Draco in warning, "You're completely dependent on magic. It's high time you learned to live without it!"
"Besides, if you have any aspirations of coming even close to the rest of us, you're going to have to grow some muscles on those bones of yours," Dawn added, pinching Malfoy's biceps, just to prove there was no muscle there.
"Ouch! Stop abusing me!"
"Oh, you haven't even seen abusing yet!" Xander laughed. "Come on Dragon Boy, pick a box, any box and let's get them loaded into the vans."
Surprisingly enough, Draco allowed himself to be herded into the house. Although he did grumble the entire way.
"Mr. Malfoy," Snape called after him. The blond Slytherin turned around. "Will you be returning to school in September?"
"What, so the Ministry can come collect me and cart me off to Azkaban?" Draco smirked.
"No, sir, I don't think I'll be stepping foot in the Wizarding World again for quite some time. Besides, it would interfere with my Watcher training."
"Watcher training?" Harry repeated, confused. "Professor, what's a watcher?"
"A watcher is the person who teaches, guides and helps the Slayer," Willow explained, reminding Harry a lot of Hermione, only red haired and American. "Or, well, in our case, a slayer anyway, 'cause we changed all the rules a couple of years ago and there's more than one slayer now. Although, really there has been more than one slayer for a while now, ever since Buffy died the first time, so that rules really a bit outdated anyway. . ."
She smiled at them sheepishly.
"Sorry, I tend to babble sometimes. So, what was it that you needed anyway?"
"Well, really we just wanted to ask Mrs. Dursley some questions," Lupin explained.
"Oh, well, Petunia's right. . ."
". . .careful with those boxes, the dishes inside are very expensive. They were a wedding gift from. . ."
". . . there."
Harry watched as the other brunette who had arrived with Willow, Dawn and Ripper after Lucius's attack walked out the door and hold it open while several others walked out carrying big boxes marked "Fragile" in bold red letters.
"Do those boxes have charms on them?" Snape asked Willow. "They seem very heavy and yet those girls are carrying them as if they weighed nothing."
"That's one of the perks of being a Slayer!" the girl holding the door called. She noticed Harry and waved shyly. "Oh hi, I remember you. The wizards who attacked the house were after you, right? I don't know if you remember me, but I came here after Petunia kicked their, well, you know. I'm Amanda, by the way."
"Um, hello Amanda," Harry answered, "I'm, uh, Harry. And I do remember you."
"Cool! Nice to meet you Harry!" And with that, she slipped back into the house.
"Umm, Willow," Lupin began slowly, "we've heard this "slayer" mentioned several times. What is a slayer?"
"Oh, well. . . um. . . oooh! How 'bout I get our newest watcher-in-training to tell you. Hey Draco! Your friends want to know what a slayer is."
Malfoy passed the box he was carrying (which was considerably smaller than the one the girls were carrying) to the van's werewolf driver and made his way back to Harry's group.
"What?" he asked, coming to stand beside Willow.
"The spiel, Draco the spiel," she motioned for him to get on with it. He rolled his eyes.
"A slayer is a girl chosen by the Powers That Be, and given special powers, to fight vampires and the forces of darkness and to stop the spread of evil until the day she dies, however many times that may be."
"Hey, that's not the right spiel!"
"The old one's out-dated, so I modified it and made my own." Malfoy smirked. "Now if you'll excuse me, I believe there's a box somewhere in there with my name on it. And if my name's not on it then I shall go write my name on it."
"Smartass," Willow grumbled.
"Willow," Lupin said, obviously choosing his words carefully, "as we said before, the Wizarding World is in the middle of a war and if you're really as powerful as everyone says you are -"
"I'm sorry, but I can't help you," Willow cut him off.
Harry stared at her in disbelief.
"People are dying," he said, "Voldemort is gaining more and more strength by the day and if he's not stopped then. . ."
"He'll take over the world?" Dawn finished for him. Harry spun around. He hadn't heard her approach. "Newflash, Harry: there's always someone out there who wants to either take over or destroy the world. Voldemort's not the first and he sure as hell won't be the last."
"You have to understand, ever since I was 15, I've gone from one battle with evil to another." Willow paused. "We're all glad that there's someone else fighting this one. That it's one less battle we have to fight."
"Besides, we fight vampires and demons on a regular basis," Faith added, having just deposited her own load into the van, "but when it comes to the magic mojo, we're like totally out of our element."
"But, what about you Willow, you're a witch and a powerful one at that!" Lupin tried once more to make his point.
"Yeah, I'm a witch, but. . . oh how can I explain this. . . ooh, I know! When someone becomes an alcoholic, they become addicted to alcohol for life. They never stop being an alcoholic. You get that right?"
Harry and the others nodded. Willow took a deep breath, as if drawing in courage. Dawn stepped to her side and put her hand on the redhead's shoulder, as if lending her support to go on.
"Well, I'm a dark magic-aholic. They weren't joking when they said I nearly destroyed the world. Something happened and I lost control. I managed to stop myself before I went too far, but what if next time I don't stop? And, you know what, my friends say I'm probably the most powerful witch in the world. What scares me the most is that maybe they're right: what if I am the most powerful. If I loose control, what if there really is no one in the world powerful enough to stop me? I can do normal spells, but being surrounded by that much dark magic. . . I don't know if I could do it."
Willow stopped, embarrassed that she had said so much and pleading with the three wizards in front of her not to push the argument any further.
"Very well, Miss. Willow," Snape said, "I understand. It is a pity you can not help us, but there is nothing we can do about that. We thank you for your honesty."
Harry turned to look at his potion's professor in surprise.
"Thank you Professor Snape," she answered, relief evident in her voice, "oh and Petunia's probably in the kitchen with Giles if you wanted to go talk to her."
The conversation with Petunia went better than Harry had imagined it. As in she didn't try to throw them out of the house the minute she saw them.
"I thought you weren't coming back," she said. Then her eyes scanned the group, stopping when she got to Snape. "You I've never seen before."
She put down the wet rag she was using to clean the cupboards and walked up to the potion's professor, eyeing him up and down.
"I feel dark magic on you," she continued, "but I didn't think the Wizarding World approved of such things."
"We don't," stated Lupin. Petunia eyed him curiously and then threw her head back and laughed.
"Don't tell me you've come to arrest me?! I'm a muggle, you have no authority over me."
"Clearly, you're not as much of a muggle as you'd have us believe," Harry said, his eyes narrowing into slits. The reality of his aunt's hypocrisy was suddenly hitting him full force and he was furious.
"Well, I never labelled myself a muggle."
"No, but you spent years lying to me, telling me magic wasn't real, that I was a freak. You not only knew magic was real, you could actually do magic!"
"Yes, and I knew what it could do! I've seen what it can do, felt it! You lot walk around waving your little sticks about like toys. You don't fully realize what raw power magic is! Go ahead, go ask Ripper about the mark on his arm. . . I'd send you after Ethan, but he burned his off."
Harry remembered his aunt grabbing Ethan's arm when he first came to introduce himself.
"What kind of mark is it?"
"It doesn't matter, the point is that they got in over their heads, tried to harness more power than they could control." Petunia seemed to be making an effort to calm down.
"And so did I." She added quietly.
"Mrs. Dursley," said Lupin, "how exactly do you know Ethan and Ripper?"
"Oh, we met when we were all very young, long before I met Vernon." She stared into the distance for a moment. "I was so jealous of Lily, of how 'special' everyone kept saying she was. I wanted to be better than her so much that I didn't even hesitate when Ethan brought some old musty books. I worked so hard to become powerful, but in the end I couldn't control it. And then. . . well, something happened and I left. I closed those books and gave them back to Ethan. I vowed never to have anything to do with magic ever again. A few months later I met Vernon."
A little light went off inside Harry's head.
"Oh, so that's why you've always hated me," he said. Petunia shot him a dirty look.
"Yes, of course that's why I hate you, you ungrateful brat!"
Lupin cleared his throat.
"Yes, well, I think that's pretty much answered all of our questions, we really should be heading back to headquarters now."
"That is providing we can find the twins," Snape added.
"We're. . ."
Fred and George came waltzing through the kitchen door, grinning madly. Harry's first thought was that perhaps Xander was right in wanting to move out of the country.
Harry said a quite good-bye to his aunt and then the Order of the Phoenix delegation weaved their way through the people and boxes cluttering the hallway. On their way out the front door, Harry noticed that the slayers had been joined by his cousin and some of his friends.
Dudley nodded to Harry as they passed each other.
As the Boy-Who-Lived walked with Snape, Lupin and the Weasley twins back to the park where they originally apparated to, he wondered whether he'd ever seen his relatives again. And whether he'd ever want to.