“Why do I have to sleep in the basement?”
“Because Harry’s sleeping in Xander’s room. And you didn’t tell us you were coming. So you have to sleep in the basement.”
“But I’ve been here longer! He should have to sleep in the basement!”
“Andrew he’s my brother!”
“You don’t know that.” Andrew pouted. “What if he’s a monster? Or a robot in boy skin that’s trying to take over the world? You’re all screwed because you wouldn’t listen to me and put him in the basement.” He glared crossly.
“The basement’s dark! It’s scary and the water heater makes rumbling noises. I don’t like it.”
Willow patted him on the head comfortingly, “I can do something about the dark.”
Andrew just pouted some more. “My life sucks.”
After he was settled, Harry looked around the room. It was nice and plain. The walls were beige; there were two beds, a computer, and numerous bookshelves. The room had its own bathroom, which was nice. And the window overlooked the spacious backyard. The room was nice. The house was nice. Buffy’s friends had been nice. The cookies Willow had baked him were nice. Harry had never felt so normal
Buffy knocked before she went in.
“Hey, do you want dinner? Willow’s been cooking up a storm down there.”
Harry smiled. “Sounds great.”’
“Oh, don’t listen to Andrew. He’s going to ask you all these bogus questions about whether you’re a robot or an alien or some sort of tree person. He’s just mad because we’re making him sleep in the basement.”
He liked normal life.
The dinner conversation had been pleasantly awkward. Willow was bubbling at the surface with all sorts of magical questions about the wizarding world that Buffy wouldn’t let her ask.
She kept kicking her under the table.
Buffy wanted Harry to have one night of normal. One night where he was a normal teenage boy eating dinner with his family, watching movies with his sister, sleeping in a bedroom, not having to worry about saving the world. God knows Buffy would have given up a lot for that.
Andrew shoveled food into his mouth, staring unblinkingly at Harry. Willow threw a dinner roll at him.
“Andrew that’s made of air. There’s no way that hurt.”
“A curse on you! On all of you!”
Buffy kicked him.
She smiled at Harry, “You’ll meet Xander later. He’s working right now, but he’ll be back in a couple of hours.”
“What does he do?”
“Carpenter. He fixes houses and windows and desks.” Willow smiled brightly. “You’ll like him.”
Harry sure hoped so. He’d be sharing a room for the whole summer with him.
“Hey Wills, where’s Giles?”
She blinked. “Oh gosh, I don’t even know. He was here right before you got here, but I didn’t seem to notice him leaving.”
Buffy frowned. Giles didn’t just disappear with no warning. Even when he stormed out in exasperation he left a note.
“Giles is British, you’ll definitely like him.” Andrew added, helping himself to seconds.
“Yes, he likes tea and crumpets and says dear lord a lot.” The door swung open.
Harry was taken aback at the sight of Xander. He was tall and muscular, which he had expected from him being a carpenter. He wore sweaty plaid and had a hard hat in his hand. And he had one eye.
Harry tried not to stare. Xander had a bandanna that circled his head and covered his left eye completely.
“What else is British?”
Xander grinned. “So you’re the little Buffy bot. Nice to meet you. I’d hug ya but I smell like sawdust.”
Harry grinned back.
“Go shower.” Xander threw up his hands in surrender and walked up the stairs.
Suddenly Andrew appeared by Harry's shoulder with his arms crossed. He stomped his foot, “Why can’t he sleep in the basement? He’s big and strong!”
Willow cooed. “You’re strong too. Who’s my big strong guy?” She gushed.
“I hate you!” Andrew stormed off.
The three inhabitants of the dinner table laughed quietly. Buffy put her hand on Harry’s shoulder as she went back to her seat, and Harry felt warm inside. He looked at her eating and couldn’t help but see his mother’s face in Buffy’s. He hadn’t really noticed it before, but from the side, Buffy’s nose was clearly the nose of Lily Potter. And when she pursed her lips, Harry saw Lily's face from the photo album Hagrid had given him.
He loved normal life.
The door opened again to reveal a very wet Rupert Giles. He walked inside, attempting to wipe his glasses with an already soaked handkerchief.
“Buffy?” He scrunched up his nose and squinted.
“Oh there you are. I do believe the world is ending again.”