Severus looked up as his aunt walked up to where he was waiting, frowning at her. "What are you doing back in the country?" he asked.
"I came to see you, Severus," she said gently, looking around. She looked into his eyes. "It's time to bring him back, Severus."
"He's got a life, Aunt."
"He may, but his normal life has just ended. The Hellmouth is no more." She kissed him on the cheek then smiled at him. "Be safe and protect him. Remember, he hasn't had your extensive training, even though he isn't the squib your father once thought." She saw someone coming their way and walked off again. "Be safe, Professor Snape."
"You as well," he muttered, glaring at her back. This was not a good idea and he had no idea how to implement it with the current state of the wizarding world. His contact came up to him with a smirk. "My aunt." There was no use lying about it, the bastard would tell of his meeting someone if he didn't explain it away.
"Oh. I thought you had finally chosen a woman," he said dryly, smirking at him. "She is very pretty. Mind if I date her?"
"You are not worthy to touch the hem of her cloak, much less her hand," he said coldly. "Do try however. I'm sure she can protect herself quite well." He straightened up. "Are we ready?"
"Yes," he said, shaking his head once Severus had turned away. "Did she bring you bad news? You're in a worse mood than usual."
"My mood is none of your business," he said coldly. "We'll be late."
"Fine. Be that way. I'll simply have to report your meeting."
Severus looked back at him, then turned around. "It was a chance meeting on the street with a relative. If you wish to report that, then do so if you think the Dark Lord would like that information. I doubt she'd be of much interest to him at this point. Especially as she doesn't live in this country." He turned and walked off. "We are keeping him waiting because you were late."
"Coming," he said glumly.
Severus walked into the current meeting area, the back of a shop that the Dark Lord had taken over and made his own. He was now in the upstairs living areas waiting on them. He walked in and knelt in front of him. "Hail, Voldemort," he hissed.
"Severus. Is there a reason you were late?"
"My compatriot decided to be late," he said dryly. "My aunt saw me and came to share some news on her way past. So he waited."
"Ah. You have family?"
"She's here shopping, Lord. She's presently residing in Russia."
"Pity. We won't be there for years. What news of your family?"
Severus considered it quickly, then looked up. "One of my family members lives near the Hellmouth and she said that they were fine after the Hellmouth was closed for good."
"Interesting. I have no news of what went on over there. Would your relative be willing to tell us?"
"He is not like me, Lord. I could ask him, but he would not willingly serve you. My father sent him away for such weakness."
"This still interests me. Whatever took down the Hellmouth must have been quite powerful. I want information on what happened there. Find it for me."
"Yes, Lord. As soon as possible I'll contact him. May I have your permission to leave if necessary?"
"Yes, Severus, I would like that," he agreed. "See if you can find that creature and bring it to me."
"Yes, Lord." He put his head down again. "Did you have something for me to do for you today?"
"Yes, I had, but this needs to take precedence. I cannot allow such strong things near me. I know I am invulnerable, but it is wise not to take chances. Leave tonight."
"Yes, Lord." He stood up and backed out, head still bowed. Once he was in the hallway, he turned and strode out muttering. This was not good. It was so very not good. His brother was a squib, that's why he had been sent to safety with one of the family's human servants. His brother was odd and he would want to help with Voldemort. He couldn't let his last close relative die from this war. He went back to the school, telling his Headmaster that he had to leave immediately but that he should be back before the school year started again. He packed a small bag and pulled out a portkey keyed to his brother's signature, then closed his eyes and activated it. A few hours later, he opened his eyes and looked around the ruined town. "He came back?" he asked in amazement. "Why?" He looked around. The rumors of the battle was nothing compared to the devastation he could see around him. "Alexander!" he called.
"Coming, dad!" Xander Harris, member of the Slayer's squad, came out of a hole, giving him a look. "Sorry, there was still a vampire enclave. We've just finished dealing with it." He dusted his pants off and gave his big brother a look. Severus was sixteen years his senior, but he didn't mind. He liked his big brother. "Why are you here? The battle was last month, bro."
Severus looked over the boy. The eyepatch was new. The harder look in the eye he could see was also new. So were all the muscles and a bit of the height. The boy looked exactly like his mother, only he had the Snape hair and hands. "No odd greeting?" he asked dryly.
"Hey, if you want, I can try," he said with a grin. "Wanna do it?"
"Xander!" Buffy yelled. "Where did you run off to now?"
"One of my relatives just showed up and it's one I like," he called back. He looked at his big brother. "Caritas. It's a demon bar with a neutrality clause. Meet me there, tomorrow night." Severus nodded. Xander grinned. "I'll expect the traditional greeting then, big brother." He strode back into the hole, heading down to help his slayer. "What? I was shooing off the mundanes."
"Fine, hold Dawnie so she can't help while I find the other two who managed to hide. I can feel them." She handed over her little sister. "Stay."
"Oh, whine. I can stake a vampire," Dawn pointed out.
"Tough," Buffy said coldly. "No staking vampires until you're an adult. Xander, take her up to the car, please?" she pleaded. He nodded and led her up to the open area. "Thank you," she called after them, hunting the last few vampires.
Xander grinned at her. "It smelled down there anyway. Too many unwashed people down there made the stench that may not come out of your clothes." She sniffed and grimaced, shuddering. "So therefore I will help you febreeze everything and add some to the wash. This is better anyway. No little, cramped tunnels where you're on your knees." He looked around but his brother was still there. "Excuse me, sir, is there a problem?" he called with a smug look.
Severus looked up, noticing the new girl with him. He frowned at the girl's back, noticing the power flowing off her body in waves. Then he looked at his brother, who showed signs of power he hadn't seen before. He walked over. "I was looking for a fellow wizard. Is he not here?" he asked.
"Nope, all the wizards and sorcerers scrambled out of town a few weeks ago," Dawn said with a grin. "Hi. I'm Dawn Summers," she said, holding out a hand. "Are you a good guy or a bad guy?"
"That depends on who you ask," he admitted, shaking her hand. "Severus Snape."
"Cool." She grinned and leaned against Xander's side. "Who were you looking for?"
"Alexander Snape, my brother."
"LA," Xander told him. "As a matter of fact, I hear he's been staying at the Excelsior hotel. That's in a section full of people like yourself." Severus nodded, taking that advice. He hadn't known that there was a wizarding section to LA. "I hope to see you again, sir. Please excuse us, I need to guard her for her sister, Buffy."
Snape's eyes went wide. "Summers?" Dawn nodded. "Then yes, I will go, before she feels the need to strain herself more by talking to me." He disappeared, having finally reset his portkey. He had met the irritating blonde once before, but she didn't remember him nor would she as long as his memory charm had worked on her. He had warned his brother to get away from her, that she was dangerous to his existence, but he hadn't listened. Now look at him. His home was destroyed. His eye was damaged or injured. He was a babysitter for the irritating creature known as Buffy. Plus, he had been watching a witch of enormous powers that no one had seen or heard of. How did that happen? Simple power attraction or something more sinister on Miss Summer's behalf? If she did remember him, then she would know that he was Xander's brother and that he was a wizard. In which case she could be keeping his brother there to teach her sister. He could not allow such things to continue. He would have to bring his brother back with him after all. His aunt had been right, Xander's life was over with. It was time to move on.
Xander looked up as a dark cloud walked up to him, smirking at him. "You couldn't lose the robe for a night?" he asked with a grin.
"No, I couldn't. I needed the pockets." He drug his brother to an empty booth against the wall, sitting him down. "Here, take this," he said, handing over a potion. "It's to heal your eye."
"It'll regrow it?" Xander asked. Severus blinked a few times, then his mouth slowly opened. "Hold on. It was the First's minion. Do not start on Buffy. She'll hear and show up again. Sit." Severus sat. "I'm figuring you're here to find out what happened?" Severus nodded. "Why?"
"Because the Dark Lord wanted to know and I am what I am," he noted. His brother knew he was a spy.
"Okay then. Have this." He pulled out an envelope and pushed it across the table. "From my point of view, as the only true wizard there. Yes, Dawn has powers. Yes, Willow managed to live through it. She's heading to Cleveland with Buffy at the moment. Dawn is still here until they figure out how safe the town is." Snape gave him an odd look. "It's got another one," he said with a slight shrug. He sipped his beer. "Now. We've got to talk. I can't leave Dawn here. I don't want to stay here. I'm tired of fighting and I'll gladly give it one last shot to get you free, but I'm sick and tired of fighting, getting injured, and no one giving a damn. My eye was popped and they visited me once."
Severus swallowed. "What happened, Alex?" he asked quietly. "Tell me."
Xander slumped a bit. "Since your last visit, things have gotten worse and odder. Yeah, you saw me after the possessions. Since then, our resident slayer was nearly killed by the military, who was trying to make demons work for them. We called the First Slayer. She tried to kill us in our dreams. She tried to retire and have fun, but kept getting called back. I went on to work construction. Dawn came into being. Tara died, you wouldn't know her but she's the reason that Willow went insane. I had to learn how to do a shield spell by instinct when Willow tried to end the world. She nearly killed me six or seven times with the same curse. Pretty green lights," he said, taking another, longer drink. "Then we came to the time of the First trying to come out of the Hellmouth. Her minion popped my eye and would have had my second one if not for a vampire. We ended up fighting inside of it to kill them all." His brother shuddered and clutched at his hand to comfort him. "So yeah, I'm damn tired of the fighting. I will if I have to. I just want peace for a bit, Sev. I don't really care how I get it. I'll even train your hero for you. I've had to help often enough with Buffy's training to see where she was clueless and not looking. He'll need a wider viewpoint anyway. Your bad guy can pull some of our bad guys."
Severus swallowed then put the healing potion back into his pocket. "I'll make you something to regenerate that eye, then a healing potion should cure you," he said quietly. "Until then, you will be coming back with me. You may stay at the family house, I know you liked it when you saw it last. What is Miss Summers? I noticed the power and you said she's not as old as she seemed."
"No, she's older, just changed forms."
"Demonic?" His brother leaned over to whisper in his ear, making him shudder. "Then it would be best to not bring her anywhere near us, Alex. She'd be in greater danger."
"Than being here and having her spirit killed?"
"Even than that," he agreed. "As soon as the danger is over with, you can bring her over if you wish. I'll even talk to Dumbledore about this. You'll need trained as well if you did manifest."
"Not until I was ten, and I was already over here," Xander said bitterly. "I expected an owl, but none ever came. I eventually figured out the Hellmouth was making me invisible, especially since you never saw it. I need a wand. I've been doing it wandless and I don't want to end up like Wills. Sorry for hiding it from you, but I thought it would ease your worries at the time."
He gave him a little smile, understanding the reasoning very well. "Yes, you do," he agreed firmly. He stood up. "Finish that swill and come with me."
"I need to go back to the Hyperion and get my things, plus tell Dawnie that I'm going." He finished his beer and stood up, blinking a few times until he caught his balance. "I think I'll sleep for a few weeks before I do anything."
"That's acceptable," he agreed softly, following him out. They walked back to the hotel together, blending into the shadows.
They ran into a vampire on the way and Xander gave him a long look. "I'm too tired to deal with it, Angel. This is my brother, he needs me back at home."
"You have a brother?" he asked, looking shocked. "I thought you were an only child."
"No, I'm adopted," he said with a diffident shrug. "I've known for a while now and Sev's my only remaining relative."
"Not exactly true, I have aunts left on my mother's side and they would probably allow you to become family as well," Severus offered. "It would keep them from bothering me about children."
"Yay, just what I need," Xander said bitterly. "With my luck, it'll be a slayer." He rolled his eyes. "I'm gonna go pack and tell Dawnie. Make sure she hears the part that I'm coming back in a month, a single month, to check on her, all right?" Angel nodded, understanding that the girl would be crying and not listening. "Thanks, man. Happy hunting and all that rot." He strolled on, heading into the hotel and up the stairs. "Dawn?" She came running. "We've got to talk, little one." He let her into his room with Snape. Then he closed and locked the door, letting his brother do an anti-eavesdropping charm since Fred and Cordy were like that. "He's my big brother. They're at war. They need me." She opened her mouth. "I know. It's too soon, I'm still tired, but I've got to go. I'll be back in *a* month and you cannot tell Buffy. Their bad guy would kill her from a distance and take you to use you. That's why you're staying here until I can make you a safe place to hide. That way you don't have to go to Cleveland." He grimaced. "It's rogue from what they said. Even when she first got to ours, it was calm, not rogue." She slumped and nodded, looking at her shoes. He tipped her chin up. "I'll be back in a month, Dawnie. Trust me on this, okay? I'm gonna be asking some very powerful people over there to help me guard you."
"Did you want to learn to use your innate gifts?" Severus asked. "I noticed that you glow with it."
"No," she said, shaking her head. "I don't want to learn magic. I don't want to be Willow."
"Our ways are not like that."
"Still, I know I don't have the control or the focus necessary. I'd be miserable."
"Hey, then I'll introduce you to some cute boys when I bring you over," Xander said with a grin. "You're a magical creature in human form. You're more than eligible to date." He kissed her on the cheek. "Stay safe. Angel knows I had to leave. Watch for me." She nodded, giving him a hug. "I mean it," he whispered. "Stay very safe."
"I will. You too." She let him go and glared at Snape, making him smirk. "You will watch out for him or I will become your worst nightmare. Your bad guy has nothing on a female teenager with PMS and a desire to harm your life." She stomped off, going to her room to cry.
"That went better than I thought," Xander said sadly. "She's too used to being left." He packed his few things, then grabbed his bags and allowed his brother to use his portkey. "You did pick up that envelope, right?"
"It's in my pocket," he agreed, taking his hand so he could activate the portkey. "Just like last time." He switched it on and they went flying backwards into the universe, heading toward his classroom. Once they arrived, he got his brother settled in on his couch and went to tell his boss they were back. He found him in his office looking worried. "I'm back," he announced. "Have things gone worse?"
"We can't find Harry," he said, looking at him. "We think the Dursleys sent him away. We can't be sure and he's not made it to the Leaky Cauldron yet."
"That's because he came directly here," Harry said as he came up the stairs. "It's a longer hike than I remembered," he complained. "It used to be much less of a hike back from town." He flopped into a chair, putting his crutches aside. "It's broken before you ask. Yes, I'm in pain, no I don't care, yes I did send Hedwig to Ron telling him I was coming here. No, I didn't run away. Yes, I am staying if at all possible or I'll take a room in town. That should cover most of them. Can I find one of the guest rooms now after seeing Poppy?"
Dumbledore blinked at his former student, then smiled. "How did that happen?"
"Really?" Snape asked. "Why?"
"Because he's a bastard of the highest level. He thought it was fun." He stood up, grabbing his crutches again. "Are we having a meeting?"
"No, Harry, not since you're safe. Severus, did you need anything else?"
"I brought my brother back. He's about Potter's age," he said with a nod at the younger man. "He agreed to help him wherever he could. He's got years of experience on the Hellmouth."
"Does he know what happened to it?" Harry asked. "Ron's boss is going nuts trying to figure it out."
Severus nodded. "Yes, he was in the middle of the battle with the First." Dumbledore shuddered and looked his age for a moment. "I need to work on a regeneration potion for him and I need to let him sleep and heal. He's emotionally and physically tired."
"That's fine," Dumbledore agreed. "Do you have an account ready?"
"I have it in letter format, but I'm not sure how or if he charmed it. The Hellmouth hid him, even when I was standing next to him." He coughed. "There is another problem. The current head slayer is presently in possession of a great artifact in human form. A teenage, female form. She's leaking magic."
"She can't come here, it'll be too dangerous," Harry pointed out.
"That was his thought as well," Snape agreed grudgingly. "He said he'd see her in a month. Until then he has agreed to help you however he can."
"Thanks, I'll get with him when he finally wakes up," Harry agreed with a small grin. "I didn't know you had family left, Professor."
"He was hidden by my father. He's a year and a few months older than you are." Harry nodded, understanding that. "I'm going back to my rooms now. Is there anything else?"
"No, thank you, Severus. I would appreciate a copy of the account for our records."
"Of course. I'll have it copied if possible," he noted, heading out and back down to his rooms. He found his brother on the floor, tangled in his blankets, and still asleep. He tossed down his pillows, trying to make him comfortable, then went to his bedroom to read without waking him. He started with the account, copying it magically since it was simply written on notebook paper. Then he sent one copy upstairs with a house elf, kept one for his personal records, and made a better copy for his Master. He definitely wouldn't appreciate the notebook paper the muggles used. The original was tucked away in a book and hidden, just in case someone needed it some day. He heard movement and looked out toward the couch, but his brother hadn't shifted, so he grabbed his wand as he stood up. He found the nurse staring just out of where he could have seen her watching the young man. "He's my younger brother."
"I figured as much, he looks exactly like your stepmother," she agreed, smiling gently at him. "He's exhausted. What has he been doing?"
"Fighting beside the Slayer."
She pursed her lips, tapping her wand with them. "Very well. What major injuries does he have?"
"He's missing an eye. He's magically active without being trained. He's got burnout from that probably, and he's been in a physical battle recently."
"Very well. I'll let him stay down here. Try to put him on the couch, Severus."
"I did. He slid off, the floor was apparently his choice," he said dryly, giving her an odd look. "I wouldn't normally make a relative sleep on the floor, Poppy."
"I know, but it is odd."
"Quit talking about me please?" Xander mumbled. "I can't sleep with the noise."
"Sorry, dear. I'm Madam Pomfrey, the school's medi-witch. The headmaster sent me to look you over for a bit. May I or would you rather wait for the morning?"
Xander turned his head to look at her. "I don't care, as long as I get to sleep."
"That's fine. It won't hurt a bit," she promised, using her wand to cast a simple checking charm. She came up with a few spells, some injuries, and a worrisome result. "Severus, he's been magically active this long without a wand?"
"I've been doing it wandless since I wasn't found," Xander admitted, putting his head back down. "Do you have anything for the pain in my head?"
"I have some decent pain killers. A headache or your eye, young man?"
"Xander," he corrected. "And it's my eye. It's throbbing." She nodded and Severus retrieved something for her, handing it over. "Thank you," he said lightly, gulping the potion. "Eww."
"It is medicine," Snape said with a small smirk. "You could stay on the couch."
"I'll fall off again, and this is nice enough. Thanks though." He closed his eyes and let himself drift off again once the pain eased. He felt the wand go across him again. "Spells?" he mumbled.
"Yes, dear. Very strong ones."
"Gonna kill me a Willow," he muttered, falling fully asleep quickly after that.
"What is a Willow? The tree? How could a tree perform spells, even on a Hellmouth?"
"No, a wandless witch. The one who he stopped from destroying us all."
She growled. "A wandless did this to him!" she demanded, pointing at the boy.
"Only the spells. The eye was a minion of the First, who they just recently fought. Have you seen Potter yet? He's hobbling around on crutches."
"I have and he's in the infirmary at the moment. His leg's broken in two places." She grimaced. "I will deal with his uncle myself," she announced.
"Have at it then," Snape suggested, walking around to lead her back out of his apartment. "Tell me if you need anything for my brother." He locked her out and went back to his reading. The boy could tell stories very well. He would work on those spells later. When he wasn't tired. He gasped as a pain started in his arm, grabbing it to hold on until it eased. Then he grabbed the good copy and headed off to his Master's new abode. He landed in front of him, looking around the woods. "Yes, Lord? I just returned."
"I noticed. You were coming to me when?"
"When I had finished copying this as it was in his handwriting on muggle paper. He was out of parchment." He handed over the account. "I'm afraid I wasn't able to find the creature who finished it. It was a Slayer and she had moved cities already. My relative was injured so I brought him back immediately to allow him some time to recuperate in peace. I just got done with the medi-witch."
Voldemort stared in his eyes. "You're telling me a *Slayer*, a muggle girl with demonic powers, did that?" Severus nodded. "How?" he asked conversationally.
"My relative is one of her helpers, Lord. The First came out and she walked into it. According to the account, which I was reading, the witch working with her had activated a great many other Slayers at the same time. They all fought together." Voldemort blinked a few times. "It was against the First Evil, Lord. It was necessary. Even the demonic were afraid of her. The Slayer's pet vampire was missing from what I saw when I glanced ahead."
Voldemort sighed. "Where is that slayer now?"
"Cleveland, in the States, sire."
"There's another Hellmouth there that she's went to deal with, leaving my injured relative behind. Which is why I brought him back."
"I understand that, and I also understand that is why you are not being as deferential as usual," he said grimly. "Is he in mortal danger?"
"He took a great number of curses and he's missing an eye at the moment."
"Very well, you are dismissed to take care of him. When he is ready, you will bring him before me to explain this in person."
"Sire, I must caution you. He has fought with the Slayer since she came to his town. He will not serve as I do. I have approached him on the matter and he said he'd rather strap a bomb to his chest to blow us all up along with himself." That at least was the truth. Xander had said that he would not serve, that he'd die instead. Then he had come up with a few ways of making sure of it. "He said he'd rather be turned into the vampire's version of a slave for minions."
Voldemort laughed. "My, he's got a good imagination. How old is he?"
"Nearly the same as your nemesis. He was born a few months later. My father sent him away."
Voldemort gave him a long look. "Then we shall manage to talk the boy onto our side, Severus. That is your duty. He will serve as you do, or we will have to have a discussion with him."
Severus shuddered. "As you wish, Lord, but again, he is not what he seems. He seems nearly muggle."
"He was raised among them and his education was abandoned," he said quickly. "They never caught onto him because of his living on the Hellmouth almost his entire life. None of the American schools found him. He's been self-taught."
Voldemort blinked a few times. "Really? How is that possible?"
"There's a wizarding section in LA, Lord. About two hours from him. Plus, the Hellmouth has attracted any number of wizards and witches over the years. Beyond that, he was working alongside one of those wandless cretins. She was also working with the Slayer of his."
Voldemort considered it. "Get him well, then I will meet him," he decided. "If he will not serve, we will find a good place for him to serve without knowing it. That way you can keep an eye on him. If he fouls up, it is your job to correct him."
"Of course, Lord. Thank you, Lord." He hurried off, wincing mentally. His brother was going to throw a bloody fit over that.
Voldemort looked at his minions. "Someone find a way to watch this young man. I want to test him." Lucius raised a hand. "Yes?"
"My son, Lord?"
"Is not in the school, Lucius."
"No, but he does still have spies and the students are coming back in a few weeks."
"True. Any of you with students in the school, have them report to you on the matter of this young man. I want to know about him."
"Yes, Lord," a number of voices agreed.
"What of Potter, Lord? He's back there as well," one female voice asked. "He was reported as injured and on those muggle walking devices. The house elf who told me said that he had abandoned his protections."
"Then we will deal with them for daring to keep the boy from me," he sneered. "See that it is done, Lucius. Have Severus do it. He seemed a bit stressed and the boy's always been a thorn in his side. It would be good for him to release it on them."
"Yes, Lord. I'll contact him immediately," Lucius agreed smugly. "To your pleasure, Lord, or simply eliminated?"
"To my pleasure. Let the muggles fear," he said brightly. "Make sure of it."
"Yes, Lord." He hurried off to head home, relieved to be gone for the night and so he could tell Severus and his son. His son would be going with him. Their Master hadn't said otherwise.
Severus looked up as his floo discharged a head early the next morning. "What?" he asked briskly. "I'm rather busy."
"Severus," Draco purred. "Our Master has ordered that we are to relieve Potter of the burden of his adoring relatives, to his glory of course. Tomorrow night good for you?"
"No, it is not," he said firmly. "He also ordered me to help my relative and doing a regeneration potion is quite difficult when you have to take hours off to destroy some muggles!"
"He ordered you to do it," Draco said smugly. "Are you going to refuse?"
Xander wobbled in, glaring at the head in the fireplace. "Why are you bothering him? Can't you do it on your own?" He looked at his big brother, giving him an odd look. "The house elf woke me," he said dryly.
"Go back to sleep, Alex. You need it."
"Unfortunately, the Headmaster called for me and you. So get rid of the prat and let's go. That can simmer for a bit." He sniffed the potion then shuddered. "Eww. What is that for?"
"Your eye. It will smell better by the end," he assured him. "Leave, Draco. I'll call later."
"Fine, Severus. Just remember to call." He turned off the floo.
"Do not get into it with him," he advised quietly. "He plays obedient servant because he enjoys it."
"Of course he does. Malfoys are always like that and they're also the only ones with that hair color." Severus gave him a long look. "I ran into his daddy or someone in LA once. He very rudely tried to shove me out of the way so I dropped my marbles when he did so," he said smugly. "It was quite a pretty fall and everyone laughed. Shall we?"
"Yes, of course." He pulled the potion away from the fire and walked upstairs with his younger brother. "I wish you had been able to go here. You might have been able to keep Draco from turning."
"More than likely I would have kicked his ass routinely and made him cry," Xander pointed out gently. He looked at the gargoyle they were approaching. "Um, the elf said it was Sherbert Lollies today." The gargoyle opened and he quickened to hop onto the stairs as they rolled upward, liking this not having to walk more thing. He walked in and gave the old man behind the desk a bland look. "You had me woken up?" he asked, holding out a hand. "Alexander Snape."
"Albus Dumbledore," he said with a fond smile. "Sit, please. I realize you're tired. I've just gotten through your account. Would you happen to know where your slayer is now?"
"Cleveland. Most of them are. I have her mailing address in my bag if you wanted it."
"No, not right at the moment. That Hellmouth over there is quite strong and I don't want to split her attention. What do you know of our current situation?"
"What I've read and been told by my big brother."
"Ah," he said wisely, smiling at Severus as he finally came up the stairs. "Was that Poppy?"
"Yes, and she's just released Potter to a guestroom." He closed the door behind him. "Albus, Voldemort has ordered me to take out Potter's family. Draco told me."
"Oh, dear," he sighed, shaking his head. "Those poor muggles. Can we protect them?"
"We have to; even if they're like the Manson family, they're still unable to protect themselves," Xander said firmly. "Even if we have to kill the blond booger ourselves."
"Most of the time, if he's that insistent, I can only make sure the carnage is minimal," Snape said bitterly.
"Well, this time you've got me and I don't play that way," Xander said as he stood up. "So, we're going where tonight?"
"You're going to go back to bed," Severus told him. "You're in no shape....."
"I went into the Hellmouth missing this eye, barely a week after losing it and without pain medicine, I can beat that insignificant little brat without it too," Xander said overtop of him. "The faster this shit is destroyed, the faster everyone can move on. You do what you do, I'm not. Like I said, I don't play that way. I tend to take a side-attack approach instead of a head-on one, but I will not let people suffer through being dark marked and played with. That's not who I am, Severus."
"Very well then," Dumbledore agreed. "We should tell Harry."
"If they're his relatives, he'll be emotional. Being emotional during a battle is not good," Xander said dryly.
"He doesn't like them," Dumbledore assured him. "They're the ones who just broke his leg in two places on purpose." Snape glared at him. "No, they're not the nicest of people, Severus. As I'm sure you'll find out. Let me talk with the boy?"
"The time for talking is past," Xander told him. "Action is always preferable to talking. This war has gone on my whole life. I'm sure everyone would really like for it to end permanently." Dumbledore looked shocked. "Sorry, we didn't really get the time to plan in advance in Sunnydale, Headmaster. Usually, when someone wants to end the world, they want to do it that day. At most, we only ever got a month of warning." He looked at his big brother. "Go back to the potion if you want. Or you can take me shopping. I'll need some stuff."
"Alex, were you possessed again?" Severus asked.
Xander nodded and grinned. "Well, yeah. Why?" He smirked at him. "I drove him off. I'm fine now, but the memories are really nice. Now, I need a wand, and someone's coming up the stairs, I can hear them moving."
Dumbledore straightened and pointed at the chair. "Sit. Please." Xander sprawled in the chair, looking quite comfortable. He gave him a long look. "Who possessed you last?"
"Some idiot wizard who managed to off himself while practicing his curses. It was a few weeks ago," Xander told him. He looked back as the door opened, identifying the person behind him then turning his attention back to the headmaster. "I thank you for letting me stay with Severus while I heal."
"It's not a problem. You seem quite...interesting," he noted. "Yes, Lucius?"
"Headmaster, we need to talk about the upcoming year," he said smoothly. "The board has been told that you were bringing in two defense teachers?"
"Yes, they have individual specialities and they'll be co-teaching," he said blandly. "They voted on that months ago," he reminded him.
"Yes, well, I was indisposed at the time," Lucius said with a sneer. Xander coughed. "Sorry, am I interrupting something important?" he said as he turned his sneer on the person who dared interrupt him.
Xander shrugged. "It depends. My relative was telling me all about your family, Malfoy, and how I should probably not destroy you on first sight. Since I find you mannerless, lacking in fashion sense, and openly a flaming queer, why should I spare you?"
"I am not!" he shouted, turning to glare at the boy. "Who are you?"
"Alexander." He gave him a smug look. "Only my enemies whisper my full name, and usually in horror or longing for the taste of my abilities. Making yourself one now?"
Lucius' eyes narrowed and he noticed Snape was in the room. "One of your relatives?" Snape smirked and nodded. "Really? Can you not control him?"
"No," he said simply. "He wasn't raised within the family. Why would he fear you? I don't."
Xander chuckled, making Lucius shudder. "Good one, Severus." He stood up and stalked over to the older man, looking him in the eye. "Go away. We were discussing things before you rudely barged in here without knocking."
"I can easily kill you."
"The hosts of hell couldn't, what makes you think you can?" Xander retorted. "I can give you vampire references of the few who managed to escape my wrath if you want." The man stepped back, running into the edge of the desk. "Now then," he said with a small grin. "You're making me even more tired. You seem to suck all the oxygen out of the room along with all the life, the fun, and the happiness. I'm recovering from an intense battle to kill the First Evil. You're bothering me. It can wait since the Headmaster said you took a vote on that *months* ago. Next time don't blow off meetings that way, you miss shit." Lucius whimpered. "Leave. Unless you have a real concern?" The man shook his head and ran off. Xander rolled his eyes. "People like that make me annoyed," he called after him.
"I didn't know you were that good," Severus said dryly.
"All his was attitude and bad hair. If he had cast, I would have turned him inside out. I figured out how to do that while mispronouncing a movement spell." He flopped down again, looking at the stunned older man. "Sorry, but people like him annoy the hell out of me. I'm too tired to put up with that. Where am I going to kill his son tonight?"
"I'll show you on the way into Diagon," Severus said, taking him with him. "What did you think you were doing?" he hissed. "You're showing off."
"I'm not. I'm providing a speedy end to this crap so you can move on," Xander said dryly. "It's been going on now over twenty-five years, Sev, it's time to end this so people can have a bit of peace." He noticed a man slowly walking toward them. "And he is?"
Xander walked up to him, holding out a hand. "You'd be Potter then?" Harry looked stunned, then nodded and shook his hand. "Good. If you heard someone was going to torture and kill your relatives, are you going to throw fits?"
"No. Why? Is there an attack planned?" Harry asked him. Xander nodded. Harry considered it. "Then I'd probably call in the aurors to guard them since they wouldn't want my help and would probably be killed to spite me."
"Wanna go anyway?"
"Sure, why not," Harry agreed, having a strange feeling. It was like he was talking to a darker version of Ron somehow. "Who are you?"
"I didn't know Professor Snape was bringing you back."
"Neither did I," Snape admitted dryly as he joined them. "Alex, you are much too injured to go into another battle. Draco is no lightweight and you've been doing that wandless crap."
"Yes, and I've managed to help defeat Hell Goddesses, the First Evil, and a great number of vampires. Even while injured." Harry gave him a stunned look so he shrugged. "I worked with a Slayer, her witch, and on and on. Most recently I've been working with her pet vampire."
"Why would a slayer keep a vampire as a pet?" Harry asked.
"Because he was helpless. We took him in and forced him to help us," Xander said with a small smirk. He looked behind his brother when he caught sight of the white-blond hair. "Oooh, look, it's the flaming queen. Are you going to interrupt this conversation now?"
Lucius turned and went the other way.
"You have a problem with gays?" Harry asked.
"Only the flaming ones. I have no trouble with the average gay guys or girls. It's the ones who come out with the screaming, flaming attitude that bug the shit out of me. I always want to tell them, 'dude, just settle down and people will like you,' but I'm not the sort to do that," he admitted with a grin. "But no, the average gay guys I have no problem with. I've known a few of them and they're all good to me. It's just where they come out like that with the attitude and the sneering at the rest of them. They're usually really insecure and once they've found someone decent, at least for a while, they'll calm down." He kissed Harry then drug his brother on. "Vault key?"
Snape sighed and dug out his key, handing it over. "Do you need help getting there?"
"Why would I? Can't you apparate into Diagon these days?"
"Well, yes, but it's been nearly ten years since you were there, Alex."
"So I look for the biggest bunch of chaotic strands of magic woven together and go there. Besides, I went three years ago. I was running an errand for Giles."
"Do not tell me you've been using the family fortune to buy books on that shite," he demanded.
"No," he corrected with a grin. "I've been using it to buy comic books and Star Trek memorabilia. I was helping a slayer and her watcher, not to mention a wandless witch of immense powers. I got all the books I wanted whenever I wanted and for however long I wanted. I even got to request some since they were referenced and Giles didn't have them. Though, he never suspected a thing so I'm guessing his watching was limited to her."
"You borrowed their books? You didn't keep any references?"
"I did have notes, but the not-my-mother burned them when I went on my roadtrip." He shrugged. "So I'm going to restock today, do the wand thing finally, and all that good stuff." He waved and trotted out of the school, heading for the barrier he could sense. He walked past it and went searching toward London for the nearest source of magic woven together. He found a few smaller places, like houses and things, but he found Diagon easily enough. There was a great flare of darkness down there as well. He headed for that because he always had an easier time teleporting into darker magic than into lighter magic. He landed and shook his head, steadying himself. "Whoa, long trip," he sighed, holding his eye patch. "Gotta remember that on the way home." He looked around and found a familiar face staring at him. "Hey, Ethan. No Ripper?"
"No. Where did he go?"
"Rogue Hellmouth in Cleveland with Buffy, Willow, and most of the potentials." He looked at the man, then worked on the lock, freeing him from the iron collar. "There, disappear, little boy." He strolled up the stairs, heading for the bank. He walked up to the goblin at the end, handing over his key. "Alexander Allusius Snape needs into the family vault."
"This is your brother's key," the goblin said, looking at him. "Where is yours?"
"The Hellmouth sucked it in, along with my whole town." He grinned. "Would you rather we let the First Evil out?"
The goblin gave him an odd look. "Very well then. Your brother gave this to you?"
"Yuppers. Straight from his robe to my pocket." He followed the goblin to the carts, taking his key back. "Thanks." He got in and they rode down the long, winding, twisting tracks to a bottom vault. "I always liked that ride," he said in fondness. "Tell me, how much are robes running these days?"
"You can take about fifty to fully kit out a new student in the most recent and most expensive fashions," the goblin said, looking at him. "Light please." Xander handed it over. "Key please." He handed that over as well, letting the goblin open the vault. "There you go."
Xander walked in and looked around. "Hey, this is not the one in LA!"
"That one is off to the side. An antechamber was added last year, sir," the goblin said patiently.
"Oh, good." He walked into the one he had been using, he had put his name on it to claim it in case Severus had any doubts he had been in it. He put his head back out. "Got any bags?" The goblin nodded and went to get him one, handing it over. "Thanks, man." He ducked back inside, scooping gold into it. Once it was full he walked out and the door shut, then the main door shut behind him. "Ah, better now," he decided. "That should last me for a few weeks at least." The goblin gave him a funny look. "I was in Sunnydale."
"Oh." He nodded wisely and they went back to the surface. The goblin handed back the key once they were up there and watched him leave with the heavy bag. That was one strange wizard. He hadn't even seen his wand.
Xander walked into Ollivander's first, startling the older man. "Yes, you're finally seeing me. I've been doing wandless since I was eleven."
Ollivander blinked. "My, I do remember your parents and your brother coming in here. I must say, you glow brighter than either of them."
"Sorry, the vaults occasionally snap on an automatic glow." He concentrated, muting his aura until it was invisible again. "Better?"
"Much," he said happily. "Come this way, Mr. Snape." He got his tape measure and started it going, looking the young man over. "Do you practice the honorable art of potion making?"
"No, I follow the honorable path of beating demonic butt," Xander said with a grin. "I'm also a water person if it helps."
"It may at that," he agreed, going to find him something. The whole family used a dragon of some sort, except for Severus. He used a drake's tail scale, so he went to the dragon section to look. He found a few possible ones and brought the boxes out, laying them on the desk. He opened the first one, uncovering the delicate wand inside. Then he looked at the young man, handing it over. "Try that one."
Xander gave it a gentle swish and the stand behind him lit on fire. Xander glared and concentrated, starting a gentle rain until it stopped. He handed it back. "Sorry."
"No, it's not a problem. I have that sort of thing all the time," he noted. "Do you associate with any creatures or woods?"
"I like oak."
"Oak?" He pulled down an oak one with a dragon core, handing it over. "Try that." He tried it and it started a wind, just not the right kind of one. He took it back and handed over a different one. "Yew, with a dragon core."
"Hmm." He looked at it, then handed it back. "It's got a crack where the wood's dried," he noted, pointing it out. "Sorry, I spent the last few years as a carpenter too."
"Interesting." He went into the back and came out with a dusty, dirty box. "Try this one. It's maple and dragon tail."
Xander tried it, giving it a quick flick at a candle but nothing happened. "It feels really heavy," he said as he handed it back.
"Most interesting. Let's see, your mother had one that was maple, but your father had yew. Severus has tiger maple with drake. Let's work with the water dragon ones then." He pulled down one, handing it over. "Tiger maple and water dragon." Xander flicked it and it sent a shot of water out, making Ollivander duck. "Curious." He took that one back, then went to pull out an early attempt at his. "Here, try this one. It's ice dragon and iron wood." Xander took it and he glowed for a moment. "Ah, that's the one. I'm glad to be rid of it. It's a fussy wand, likes the cold quite a lot. You may end up putting it in the ice box now and then."
"Or I could just charm it to stay cold," Xander noted. "Can I get it tipped?" Ollivander nodded and went to tip it in silver, just a delicate dot on the end. "Thanks." He cast the cold charm on it then stuffed it into his back pocket. "How much?"
"Seven galleons, six sickles," he said with a smile. "You're still going to use wandless?"
"Until I can get fully switched over, yeah," he admitted with a grin. "It's easier at the moment. Bookstore?" Ollivander pointed. "Thanks." He took his bag of money that way, going to find a helpful salesclerk. He found her dusting in the romances. "Hey. I just lost my *entire* library in the carnage that became Sunnydale. Help?"
She gave him a smile. "Schoolbooks and all?"
"Sure, why not. The most compact set you can give me for reference. I don't remember much of the early lessons. Plus I'm going to be moving them again shortly."
"Well, there's Madam Wilkin's set," she said thoughtfully, leading him to the refresher section of the store. She noticed Xander fingering a three volume set. "Those are full of dark curses and things," she said, glancing around.
"That brings up another point," he sighed. "One of my best friend's sons was blackmailed into joining the big idiot because of his taste in boys." She looked horrified. "I know he'd change sides if possible. Do we have anything on that particular tattoo to break it?" She quickly shook her head, eyes wide. "You're sure?"
"I'll ask, there might be something in the back. You're not the first to have asked, sir. Try these," she said, pulling down a five volume set. "They're charms, potions, and Defense in one," she said, handing them over. "They're made by Willin-Court, and she's always been excellent." She went to talk to her manager, whispering in his ear. He gave her an odd look. "He's wearing a t-shirt, it's not on him," she offered. "He's nice too."
"Fine. There is that three book set that Snape's been wanting."
Xander came out from between the shelves. "My relative wanted what?" he asked with a charming grin. The manager's eyes went wide and he wiggled his fingers. "More than anyone, I would *love* to get a bunch of people free. Will it help?"
"I know you. You're from ...there," he gasped, swallowing hard. "That one witch, she's not here, right?" He shook his head and the man relaxed. "Thank the Gods. Why are you here?"
Xander held up the books. "Learning it the other way. Why else?" He grinned. "Can I? I promise to give them to Severus when I'm done."
"Fine. We can do that."
"You didn't go to a school?"
"No, I was living on the hellmouth and they couldn't see me so I was self-taught through the wandless stuff and now I'm learning the other way." He called a book over, handing it to her. "I believe the woman back there wanted that one."
She smiled and pinched him on the cheek. "You naughty thing."
"Hey, it helped defend me against that witch," he said with a shrug. He looked at the manager as she moved away. "Let me guess, our pictures made the news after Rosenburg went dark?" He nodded. "Figures. Talk about hitting hard. It's a good thing I've got very good instinctive magic most of the time. Those curses hurt a lot." He shook his head. "This set?"
"That set and the blue one," he said, pointing at another bookshelf.
"Cool. Thanks. Got any comics?"
"A few," he said with a chuckle, coming around to help him as well.
Xander pulled out his bag of money to pay for everything, including a nice tip with a wink. Then he took his books and left. They had nicely packed all his books into a single bottomless bag for him. It made carrying things much easier at times. He walked into Madam Malkin's, making her gasp. "Chill, I'm here to finish my education and to help a few people fight. Remember, I'm the good guy," he said patiently. She nodded, swallowing hard. "I'm also rejoining my illustrious family, the Snapes. Help?"
"Of course. You'll want things to fight in?" He nodded so she led him to the private room, going to get him some clothes.
Xander put his bag down, lounging as he looked at the pictures on the walls. He grimaced at a few of the fashion statements made, but then moved onto the others. He tapped one when the door opened. "I like this one."
"That one is for people who brawl in the streets like common muggles," Draco Malfoy said as he strolled in, closing the door behind him. "You are?"
"Alexander, as I told your father." He shrugged. "I know who you are. You've got that hair that's not only bad, but needs dyed to match the rest of you." Draco raised an eyebrow but continued to smirk. "You needed something?"
"Actually, I came to shop. My father seems to be throwing fits about you."
"Wonderful for him. I like that sort of attitude. It makes my stay easier. You?"
"I don't care; if he dies, I inherit anyway." He grinned smugly. "Why don't you join me for lunch, Alex?"
"My name is Alexander. Only my lovers and my family call me different. Secondly, I wouldn't dine with you, I'd hate to have to kill you when you tried to poison me. Thirdly, I'm here to fight your boss," he said smugly. "And if I need to, I can call on Rosenburg to come help me fight your boss. He's not worse than both of us combined." Draco gaped then regained his composure. "Yes, I do know her," he said smugly. "We grew up together." He smiled warmly as Madam Malkin came in. "Would that one look good on me?" he asked, pointing at the picture. "The big dweeb here was not being very helpful. I'm hoping you don't employ him."
"No, he's not in my employ," she said dryly. "You could wear that, but that's more for curse breakers."
Xander shrugged. "Oh, well. Let's see what you've found. I miss having more than three sets of clothes." He grinned at her. "If you can possibly avoid it, try really, really hard to never have your whole house sucked into a Hellmouth as it dies." She gasped and he shrugged, grinning at her. "It sucks. I had to go book shopping and everything. I only managed to get out some of my comics and a few things of clothes." He went into the changing room to try things on. "Oh, darling, if you wanted to stay to watch me change, that's your thing, but do not bother the very nice young woman. Women with fashion sense should be hailed, not reviled, and should obviously help you because black is *not* your color." He came out in the first outfit, finding the shopmistress alone. "He left?"
"He stormed out with a red face and pouting," she said. "You do know who that was, correct?" He nodded, smirking at her. "What that intentional?" He nodded, grinning harder. "Oh, dear. You really are fighting *him* aren't you?" He nodded again, bursting out into giggles. "Oh, well. Hopefully you and Mr. Potter will win. Because if the older ones die, that one will want to take over."
"That one needs a good lover to fuck him up the ass constantly until his attitude changes," he told her grimly, losing his sunny nature. "He'll need a strong handler and keeper or else he'll always be in trouble. Then again, if he's that power hungry then he'll probably die in the battle. That means no more problems and no more Malfoys to blight the world like pustules on the rectum of humanity."
She burst out in giggles, blushing a bit. "You are quite naughty, Alexander. Who are you really? I only saw your picture."
He held out a hand. "Alexander Snape." She smiled and shook it. "Now, this?"
She looked at him then shook her head and went to find something else. "Put that and the rest in the chair, Alexander."
"Yes, ma'am." He went to change out of them, putting them on the chair in the private room. She came back with something softer, slinkier, and totally not his color. "Black?"
"It is the family's color."
"But I'll look like a vampire."
"Try it, dear. Then we'll work on colors. You'd look wonderful in wines and burgundies."
"That, midnight blue, most blues really, some greens too." He tried it on and she considered him, making him look in the mirror. "I look like a slinky version of Sev." He looked at her, giving her an odd look. "Have you tried to get him into this outfit?" She giggled but shook her head. "Well, I won't, but give it to me in his size so I can give him a prezzie. He'll have to wear it or insult me," he said with a wink. She burst out into giggles, going to do that for him, finding him some wonderful things for his body that wouldn't hinder his movement. He ended up in simple pants, colored shirts, and a long overrobe, and a few vests in case he wanted to go monochrome at times. He paid her and went to the shoe store, finding a few good pairs of boots and had the ever-wear charm put on them. That should make them last, even if he did get demon slime on them. He also found a pair of sneakers and a pair of loafers he liked, having the charm put on them as an afterthought. One never knew when one was going to run into slime. He checked his mental list, patting his interior pocket to make sure he still had his wand, then he shrugged and went to get an ice cream cone before he sent himself back to the castle. His brother met him at the door as he strolled in so he handed over the gift bag. "For you. I thought it was simply adorable." He grinned and held out his ice cream cone. "Want a bite?"
"No, thank you," he said dryly, looking at the outfit. "No black outfits?"
"A few, with vests. I look like a vampire in black, Sev. Think how bad that'll look when Buffy sees me next. She'll try to stake me. Again." He licked the dripping off his cone as he followed his big brother downstairs. "The bottomless bag has my books, including three I promised to hand to you once I was done reading them. It's also got a refresher set or two, plus some fun reading. Oh, I ran into the littler Malfoy twat in the clothing store. He ran away in shame." His brother gave him an odd look. "We chatted," he defended.
"What did you do to him?"
"I told him that his outfit looked bad on him. Really, most blonds can wear black, but not those two. They look washed out in them." He shrugged and continued to eat his ice cream, even when an older woman in green stopped to look at him. "Hi, Professor McGonagall. I'm Alex in for a visit and some healing." He waved his ice cream cone. "I hope to see you at dinner." He continued on, grinning at his brother. "You described her perfectly, bro."
"Thank you." He let him into his rooms, taking the bags to go through them. He noticed the bag of money and gave him a look. "Planning on staying?"
"And bringing Dawnie with me," he reminded him. "That way she's got a real home with real people who like her to be around and like to teach her things." He got comfortable, sucking the last of the ice cream out of the cone before nibbling on it. "Her sister treats her like she's two most of the time."
Severus let it go at that and went on examining the books his little brother had bought. "Had help?"
"Do they know you?"
"Only that I'm a relative. I introduced myself to Madam Malkin and Ollivander knew." He tossed over his wand. "Ice dragon and iron wood. I had him tip it a bit so I could put the chilly spell on it."
Snape looked at it, then at him. "How odd are you?" he demanded.
"With my life, you want me to answer that?"
"No, not really," he agreed, tossing it back. "Hopefully the refresher books will go fast enough for you."
"I'm still going to go wandless until I'm up to snuff, then I'll integrate them," Xander said lightly. "Then we'll see where I want to go next."
"Fine," he sighed. "At least you appear to be a proper wizard now." He flipped through the extra books, finding the ones Alex had gotten for him. "Where!" He looked at him. "How did you get these?"
"I told her I wanted them for a friend whose kid was blackmailed into it. She went to ask her manager, her manager admitted that they had been watching out for them for you. I appeared and noted that we were relatives and as soon as I was done with them I was going to give them to you. He was very nice and generous. He even found me my comics."
"You are a funny little boy," Snape said dryly, putting down the books to look at the present he had been handed. "What was this?"
"Clothes I thought were cute."
Severus carefully opened the bag and looked inside, then at his brother. "These would never stand up to my classes."
"So wear them now and for more fun events, things where the kids aren't brewing horrible items for your pleasure."
"Very well. Did she fit them to me?" Xander nodded. "Thank you, Alex."
"You're welcome," he said cheerfully. "Now, I'm for a nap before the battle, and dinner. I do need to eat dinner. Gotta remember that eating stuff sometimes."
"Yes that is generally helpful," Snape agreed dryly. "I'll wake you for dinner."
"Good, wear your new clothes and I will too," he said happily, lying down on the couch. "If the person trying to get into the room is Madam Pomfrey, let her knock me out before she does anything too intense."
He looked over his shoulder as the doorway opened, grimacing at the Headmaster. "Did you need something else?"
"No, I came to check on your brother," he said happily. "Harry was quite impressed with him." Xander waved a hand but kept his eyes closed. "Was it noisy today?"
"No, I'm still tired. I haven't had much sleep since Sunnydale. Angel had just dealt with something trying to end the world from LA so we were his cleanup crew for a few weeks." He yawned for show. "I'm fine, I'll see everyone at dinner."
"That's fine, Alexander," Dumbledore said gently, smiling at Snape. "Would you like to play some chess, Severus?"
"Not right now. It's about time to add more to the regeneration potion," he said calmly. The headmaster nodded and left them alone.
Severus gave his little brother an odd look, but he did get up to work on his potion. The headmaster wouldn't bother him while he was working, potions were an exact science and he knew that.
Draco walked into his family's living room, giving his father an odd look. "I have news from some of my contacts, who put me in touch with someone in the colonies," he announced as he sat down. "Alexander is not exactly who he says he is."
"I want to know who that boy really is," his father said grimly. "There must be a way to beat him. I know I know him from somewhere."
"Well, first of all, he's a Snape. Your description was spot on and I saw him going into Madam Malkins so I went to introduce myself. He was not pleased to see me." Lucius sighed in disgust. "He got onto me about my clothes. You?"
"He called me a flaming queen," he said with a touch of outrage. "Seriously, me. I have any woman I want."
"Unless I have them first," Draco said smoothly, breaking into the tirade. He got comfortable by stretching out and putting one arm across the back of the couch. "Anyway, it's clear he's a Snape. He looks just like the old man. Perhaps you haven't stared at him recently but I did just graduate from looking at him for seven years straight." Lucius shrugged to show that was fine. "He introduced himself as Alexander Snape to Madam Malkin."
"Alexander?" Lucius asked, sitting up. "That was the name of Severus' younger brother. They figured out he was a squib so they sent him away when he was months old."
"Apparently not. He was carrying a wand. He was quite skilled and the bookstore clerk was whispering about how he moved books without touching them." He smirked at his father. "My contacts that knew someone in the colonies said that there's two reputations going around about him. On one hand, he's never announced himself. He has been in battles though. He was always seen to be not that great, then suddenly, a few years ago, he came out as a major player on the Hellmouth. Without his slayer friend knowing about it and without his witch friend knowing about it. It seems he was using wandless there for a while." Lucius blinked a few times. "That's right, he's part of the people who just destroyed a city."
"I saw the account of the battle," Lucius said grimly. "They were fighting the First Evil with a bunch of newly made slayers." He held his head. "Is he unstoppable?"
"He's not immortal, therefore he can be killed. It simply seems he can't be killed by demons, vampires, or other nasties. They tried, they lost, and he's now stronger and smarter than ever. From what I understand, it was almost like he sucked up someone and then became them."
Lucius raised his head. "Stolen power?"
"Possibly. For years no one knew anything other than he was fully human and helping that slayer Summers." He smirked as he waved a hand around a bit. "Then suddenly he's powerful? Granted, the witch came out at the same time or so, but that still doesn't account for his reputation only growing steadily darker as time went on. Alexander, or Xander as he was known there, is not the nicest of people if he catches you alone. He's not an excellent physical brawler, but he is good enough to beat vampires. That's where the rumors get confused. Some of them have him as Rosenburg. Some of them have them as separate and working separately. Sometimes they're said to be a group and him an integral part and sometimes he's a hanger-on they can't get rid of. The rumors are not clear and the only one who could tell you the truth would be someone who was there. That means a slayer or one of those blights of a wandless person."
Lucius shook his head. "How sure were they?"
"They were certain he was there. Each and every part of the rumors were certain. So it looks like dear little Snape had some problems I would guess. Then again, look at what he was fighting. Not many wizards of either sort. Mostly demons."
"Yes, but that's not a reason to not fear him, Draco. He's still powerful and strong. You must be careful tonight. If he opposes us, he'll do it then."
"Oh, I have no doubt of that. Goyle's house elf snitch, the one he bribes with liquor, has said he's injured, tired, and talked to Potter about going with him tonight. Potter had a broken leg." He flipped some of his hair back. "What would you like me to do, father?"
"Destroy those muggles and try to test him if possible. If he is that good, then survive. Otherwise I'll have the trouble of raising a new heir." He stood up and went to report that. Draco wasn't allowed in the Dark Lord's presence yet unless he was personally sent for. He hadn't gained that right yet. "Lord, I have information from my son for you," he said quietly. Voldemort's head appeared in the floo, giving him a long look. "My son took the liberty of talking to a few friends who have contacts in the States. The boy is Severus' younger brother, not just a mere relative."
"I thought he was a squib."
"Draco heard that he had done magic today and saw his wand, Lord. The rumors over there are mixed, but do have him being feared and a wizard. He's expected tonight at the Potter's and he'll be testing him then unless you want him to do otherwise."
"No, do so. I would like a report from the boy after that. Any information is helpful."
"What of Severus, Lord?"
"He would not strike his brother if he cares enough to bring him back. If he will not join, then we will use him to ensure that Severus toes the line always," he said simply.
"Yes, Lord. Thank you, Lord. I'll give Draco your orders." He waited until the connection was cut then went to tell his son the good news. He finally had a meeting in person.
Xander lounged outside the house, looking around as the muggles retired for the night. He and Potter were the only ones here, though he had made sure that his buddy, the auror Ron, knew what was going on and that he'd be showing up as soon as he was called. Xander looked up as he felt the magic coming in, grinning at the two wizards in hoods. "That is such a dumb fashion statement," he said in awe. "How can they see out of that?" He tracked them up the street, right up to the front door. They knocked, the door opened, and he attacked the wizards, making the muggle scream. He grinned at her. "They're here to kill you, ma'am, may I use your house to torture them?" She fainted so he shoved the conscious one inside. His brother would be fine and Potter would bring him back to the school. He got Draco against the stairs, ripping off the hood. "That is such a bad fashion statement. It's not scary, it's pathetic. Why follow him?"
"He is powerful," he hissed.
"So am I." He shrugged and stepped back. "There is more power to be had than his sort." He looked up as two lumbering bodies came down the stairs. "Sorry, dealing with the people who wanted to torture and kill you. Do you mind?" They rushed back up the stairs so Xander looked at the other young man again, giving him a bland look. "Do you really want to die for this man?"
"No," he spat, giving him an odd look. "You hurt your own brother?"
"Said who? I only knocked him out. I was fairly easy on him all told," Xander said brightly, grinning at him. "Besides, he'll understand. It's more you that I'm worried about." He tipped Draco's chin a bit, smirking at his shocked look. "You are much too pretty to waste on a demented, deformed little man with illusions of grandeur. I know wandless people who could make him shit himself. I know a great many of them. I know demons who can do the same thing. Yet you presently follow someone who is weaker than most children."
"He is Powerful!" Draco shouted.
"No, he's not. He knows a few select curses. He has others who are powerful working for him, doing his job for him, Draco Malfoy. People like you. Why enhance someone else's reputation when you could serve a real master who liked you and wanted your help?"
Draco's automatic reaction was stopped. This was starting to get interesting. "And serve who instead? You?"
"No. How about yourself?" he asked.
"I can easily take over when the Dark Lord dies."
"Sweetheart, when Voldemort dies they won't follow you. You're too young. You haven't proven yourself. The old guard won't ever follow someone younger. They would follow Severus. They would follow your father, but let's face it your father can't see past his reflection in the mirror most days. That leaves Severus and you as the more powerful people in the group. Who do you think will win?" he asked smoothly.
Draco swallowed. "And if I chose your brother?"
"Then he would probably be very grateful," Xander said with a small look at him. He stepped back, having noticed Draco's reaction. "There's another point to consider. I could care less what happens for the most part after your present boss is gone. Voldemort is a bastard and I'm tired of fighting. I want to make a nice, safe place for myself and the young woman who is like my sister. She's quite powerful but unwilling to use it for her own benefit. That means that my brother and I would have to find her a guardian, someone to protect her. Right now, I believe he's leaning toward a Weasley. I'm supposing that's because he knows she'll be safe." Draco scowled at that. "On the other hand," he said as he pulled out his wallet. "This is a few years old." He showed him her picture - a pretty girl had motivated more than one warrior to turn sides. "This is Dawn."
"She's pretty," he agreed. "She looks muggle."
"No, she's a storehouse of energy." He grinned as he tucked his wallet away again. "Getting the point, Draco? There's more reason to turn sides than to stay. There's having to fight me, there's women like Dawn. There's the fact that you'll never be in charge until you're at least your father's age. You'll be a lackey for a very long time. Do you really want to do that with the power you exude so strongly?"
Draco considered it. "I could make my name faster. I've figured out how to get Dumbledore."
"Which would make Severus more powerful, not you," he pointed out. "That puts him one step closer to the head of the school. While that would make your name, it would also make sure that you're hunted. Doing great things like that gets you killed by aurors. That's the move of someone who wants to serve others."
Draco's eyes narrowed. "What do you get out of it?"
"Voldemort being gone," he said simply. "Half of his minions aren't worthy of my brother helping. If that many." He glanced behind him at the groan, then looked at Draco again. "Think about it, Draco. Severus could name you his heir. Or you could work for yourself. Either one is possible, but not if you take lessons from this wimp of a wannabe. I learned more from reading stories of Ghengis Khan and Caesar than I have from watching you guys. They were muggles who took over a greater portion of the world and you're more powerful than them combined!" he hissed. "Why follow when you can lead? Even if you do get behind Severus' banner, then he'll let you do a lot of the leading. He can't *appear* to be leading a new movement," he pointed out with a smug look. "I'd hate to have to break him out of prison, Draco, but you wouldn't have that problem and you could lead most everything on a day-to-day basis. Then you can take over once he's tired of it all and wants to retire. You'll have everything you wanted without nearly any work. And all you have to do is switch off the blasted bugger's side. I even have something to help him figure out what to do about the marks." He kissed him gently, then pulled back. "Consider it as soon as you leave this place. The aurors are on their way and you're too pretty when you try to die that way." Malfoy nodded and left, leaving Xander there.
He glared at the woman on the floor. "You gave away your only protection. Do you realize this? Otherwise you would have been killed shortly after Lilly and James were." He crossed his arms, glaring at the men coming down the stairs. "You have no idea what you've done or how you've made it so much harder for your world to end along with ours. For that, we'd like to thank you but blowing you up wouldn't solve anything. Neither would letting Harry have you to torture the same way you did him. So therefore I'll do it for him. You, Dursleys, will become the house elves of someone else." He concentrated on the curse. "As soon as possible, you will find someone who you can and will serve in whatever way they deem. You see, I know what you put Harry through. So does Dumbledore. Those of us on both sides of the battle know what you've done and how you've made it extremely easy for the dark to win this time. So therefore you will become your beloved nephew." He waved a hand and disappeared in the night. He found Harry waiting on him and his big brother. "Expect a visitor, Severus," he said with a grin. "Shall we go?"
"What visitor?" Harry asked.
Xander grinned. "You'll see." He took his brother's arm and apparated in tandem with him, landing back outside the school's barrier. He yawned. "Okay, I'm tired now." He trudged up to his brother's rooms, going to sleep on his couch.
Harry looked up as the aurors appeared, giving Ron an odd look. "Malfoy and Snape were here. That new one, Alexander, drug Malfoy off and kept him from killing my relatives." Ron gave him an odd look. "Seriously. Not a single curse thrown with a wand, but I did feel some wandless stuff going off."
"Alexander, like the one you were telling me about?" Ron asked. Harry nodded quickly. "How did he stop him?"
"I have no idea. He hit them as the door opened. He drug Malfoy inside, making my aunt shriek and pass out. Then he..." He shrugged, licking his lips. "I'm guessing they talked maybe? I have no idea. I was dealing with Snape."
Ron shrugged and looked at his boss, who had been listening a bit away. "Okay then. Who is this guy, Harry?"
"Snape's younger brother. He's from Sunnydale." Ron gaped at him and his boss did too. "By the way, he gave Albus an account of what happened over there. You might ask him for one yourself. I know he was working with the slayer."
Ron's boss came over to gently take his arm. "Tell me more, Mr. Potter," he said smoothly, smiling at him as they walked away. "What were you doing?"
"Dealing with the second death eater."
"Yes, you said Snape. Professor Snape?" Harry gave him an odd look, then glanced back at Ron. "He told me," he assured him with a small smirk. "In confidence and I'm the only one who knows. Said he felt some sort of duty to save him at least once since the man had saved his life. Who was the other one?"
"Snape. His younger brother."
"Oh." He suddenly smiled quite brightly. "That makes so much more sense with the rumors we heard earlier. What did they do?"
"I'm supposing they talked. I saw him pull his wallet at one point in time but nothing else. All I know is that Draco Malfoy left under his own power, without his hood on, and he looked thoughtful. Like they had a serious discussion."
Severus woke his brother up with a rude shove. "What did you say to Malfoy?" he demanded.
Xander yawned and flipped onto his other side. "We talked about serving a different side. How he was being wasted there." He yawned again. "What time is it?"
"Get your bloody arse up, Alex, or I won't make that potion for you."
"Sev, I can live without it," Xander said, flipping over again to look at him. "I expected to live without it."
"I would have made it anyway if you had told me," he said stiffly.
"Which I would have done, if I could have figured out how to find you." Severus deflated some. Xander hadn't had a way to tell him of these matters. "What happened?"
"Mr. Malfoy came to me to talk about mystical stains and spot removal."
Xander nodded. "Good. That's what I wanted him to do. Did you talk to him?" Severus gave him an odd look but eventually nodded. "Good, that's even better. Now, get him to change and then to kill the nasty bugger. Anyone who can figure out how to kill your boss is good enough to do that."
Severus blinked a few times then blindly sought a chair. "He knows what?"
"How to kill Dumbledore. He was bragging a bit after I showed him Dawn's picture as an incentive. He seemed to think she was pretty and that being your second in command in the new movement you could head would be quite charming. All the fun without all the work." He smirked at his big brother. "Getting the idea?"
"I had it before," he admitted, staring at his brother in shock. "That's not right. He'll die."
"He won't die. Malfoys are like the fish that feed off other fish, Sev. He'll do whatever he has to so he survives. And only so that he survives. The rest of the world could go to hell as long as he survives and someone stayed to cook his meals, do his laundry, and help him buy new clothes." Severus nodded, that did describe him fairy well. "So, therefore, you have an alternative that will give him greater power quicker, that will ensure his continued existence, and that has the opportunity to meet many exciting young women who might like him. What you make him do is up to you." He smirked at him. "You could probably even make him do charity work, as long as it looked like he was putting the poor muggleborns down and back into their places."
Severus burst out laughing. "That is the most insane idea I've ever heard of."
"Try it, see if it works. If not, I'll help you with an all-out assault of the bastard's headquarters. I'm guessing that a rocket launcher will once again work quite well for me."
Severus scowled. "What did you use one of those on?"
"The Judge," he repeated flatly.
"Big, blue demon, wanted to destroy humanity for having emotions, things like that? Sounding familiar?"
"Quite. When did this happen?"
Severus moaned and shook his head. "Fine. It is a good idea and I will help you with this idea, Alex. For now, go back to sleep for a few minutes. I'm assuming there will be aurors coming soon."
"I don't talk to them or the press," Xander said smugly. "Give them that message and an account if they simply must have it."
"Very well then. Go back to your rest." He got up and walked out, going to talk to Dumbledore about this new twist. Draco would lead the other young, smart ones with him. That would be quite a coup. He walked into the office and paused at the auror sitting in the chair. "Weasley."
"Professor. My boss wanted an account and he couldn't keep himself from drooling long enough so he sent me. Have an extra copy laying around?"
"In my office," he admitted. He looked at Dumbledore. "Did you know that Mr. Malfoy has figured out how to kill you?" Dumbledore looked stunned. "Then again he also was told that I may be starting my own movement if we could simply get rid of the Dark Lord."
"There's a scary thought, you taking over the world. The entire school would be one big potions lesson," Ron quipped.
Severus glared at him. "Most likely I would only expel those who could not manage the basics, such as most of your house in your year."
"I got enough of the basics to make myself something to help me sleep, kill my pains and aches, and to do a contraceptive. What else was I going to need in daily use?" Ron asked seriously. "I've often thought there should be special lessons for those who had the skills and the basics only taught to the rest of us. I would have excelled in that."
Snape gave him an odd look. "This is the day for odd young men," he decided, looking at Dumbledore again. "Should I take Alex up on his generous offer? If not he's offered to find us a rocket launcher to take out wherever the headquarters are that night."
Dumbledore's mouth was still open in shock. "Severus?"
"Let's let him recover," Ron decided as he stood up. "Let me get that copy then you can fill him in. I don't need to know as long as you're not going to go on a rampage through London or somewhere." Snape shook his head, heading back down to his office to get a copy of the account for him. Ron waved it. "Thanks, mate. My boss'll quit drooling soon. Have fun with him, your brother seems quit odd and mental, but I guess that happens in some families, even the good ones. After all, we had the twins." He laughed at the shocked look then disappeared out to head back to the office. His boss snatched the envelope from his fingers, making him grin. "Alexander has a new plot. I found out what they talked about. He wanted Draco to follow Severus instead."
The head of the aurors looked at Ron, mouth gaping. "He what?" he asked finally.
"He wanted him to follow Severus instead. Acting as his second in command and the open leader I'm supposing. He also told Alexander that he knew how to kill Dumbledore."
The head of the aurors nodded once, then pulled him into his office. "Give, Ron, now."
Ron sat down to repeat it for him.
Xander strolled around the grounds, stopping to look at the squid playing in the lake. He smiled at a mermaid, then continued on. He only had three weeks until he had to go get Dawn. The plan was going great so far and he had already written her a long letter. He couldn't wait to get her over here. He had mentioned showing her picture to Draco, but pointed out that she had the total right to only meet him and then brush him off if she wanted to. Plus, he could provide a demon-free environment and a good school near the house. Even if she didn't want to train her skills, there were some excellent muggle schools within a few hours drive of the house, one within an hour. By then his muggle identity would be set up as well and he would tell the authorities that he was adopting her because her mother was dead and her sister had a dangerous profession. It would be enough for them and Giles would agree to help him. He had also sent a letter to Buffy telling her what he wanted to do, but nothing about the magic part. He continued on, heading out toward the pitch, where he could see someone was flying. He smirked when he saw who it was. "They let you come back?"
"Only when school's not in," Draco admitted as he landed. "Then the school's pitch is open to anyone who wants to play a pickup game." He gave him a long look. "How is your younger sister? Dawn wasn't it?"
"I just got done writing her. I'm going back in a month to see her. She should be fine. I left her in the custody of a souled vampire and a former Watcher."
"A souled vampire?" Draco asked. "Who would waste energy on that sort of thing?"
"Oh." He shook his head. "I'm sure they had their reasons but that is a waste of energy."
"Well, yeah, but it kept him from destroying the world. I know the witch who restuck it when he lost it." He smirked. "He was a bit of a grouch."
"I'd think so," Draco agreed. "Why not just kill him?"
"He was the boyfriend of the slayer."
"Oh. I see. Did we finally fix him?"
"Yeah, after he came back from hell. The soul spell actually worked right before then but she still had to send him anyway since he had just opened a portal with his blood. So she blamed me for forcing her hand and not telling her that they were trying again."
Draco rolled his eyes. "Interesting friends you have, Alexander. Or should I say Xander?"
"As I told you, only my lovers and my family get to call me that."
"Fine. We can stay on the more formal level. Want to go for a fly?"
"I don't fly actually. Never learned. They didn't really have a book on that and since I was self-taught," he said with a shrug. "I learned many interesting things, including how to turn people inside out, but not how to fly."
Draco gave him an odd look. "How did you not attend a school?"
"The Hellmouth hid me and Willow."
"Oh, dear. The one who nearly destroyed the world?" He nodded, grinning at him. "You know her?"
"She's one of my best friends. We grew up together." He smirked at him. "Living my life means you have many odd friends, including vampires and demons."
"I'd say." He shook himself to force himself to regain his composure. "Do you have a broom?" Xander shook his head. "You really should get one."
"With me not knowing how to fly, it's kinda pointless."
"Well, you could be taught. How is your balance?"
"Fairly off right now since I'm still aching from having my eye popped."
"Popped?" he squeaked.
"Yeah, a minion of the First decided I should see differently so he popped it with his thumbnail. Hurt like hell too," he said conversationally.
Draco swallowed. "No wonder Severus has been in the lab so often recently. Here, try mine," he said, handing over his broom. "Straddle it like I did." Xander gave him an odd look but did try to do what he had done. The broom felt subtly wrong between his thighs. "Go on, kick off the ground." Xander did and he hovered a bit then tried to turn and the broom tried to roll. "No, turn the handle, not shift your weight." Xander corrected himself with a squeak but he did make the turn. "Good, now try the other way." Xander tried it the other way. "Now, lean slightly forward so the broom moves. Yes, that's good. Now tip it down to land." Xander landed and he was grinning. "Good job. Your first time was fairly decent. You didn't take off uncontrollably at all."
"Thank you, Draco."
"You're welcome. I could help you shop for one of your own," he offered.
Xander grimaced. "We'll see." He looked behind them. "I believe someone's looking for me again so I had better go. Thank you for the lesson. I hope to see you again soon." He smiled and left, heading back to the school. "Yes, bro?" he said when he met him at the doorway.
"What were you doing?"
"Mr. Malfoy taught me the basics of how to sit on a broom and hover as a favor to you." He grinned. "It was kinda neat, but it felt really odd to be on a broomstick."
Snape led him inside. "He is currying favor."
"I know that. Remember, I'm the one who sent him to you." He smiled at him, then winked. "It was still nice to be able to fly for a few minutes."
"How did you get around in the muggle world?"
"I drove. Which I will be doing again once Dawn appears over here, plus I'll be making sure she drives."
"She won't be attending?"
"No, she's got the horrible example of Willow and is scared of her gifts. That's why I want her with someone very protective. You saw how powerful she was." Severus nodded, letting out a tired sigh. "Besides, I'd rather have her somewhere we can protect her from the magical attacks that will be coming her way. She's about to become legal age." Severus looked at him. "Seriously."
"That is a good idea," he admitted. "Dumbledore was not enamored of your plan."
"With what?" he taunted. "He said it wasn't as foolproof as you think."
Xander leaned closer. "Don't tell anyone this, but I'm not infallible either, I'm just damn good," he hissed. Severus gave him a startled look, then cracked a true smile. "Do you think it will work?"
"I do," he agreed. They continued to walk to dinner. "Good evening," he greeted as he joined the staff at the table.
"Good evening, Severus, Alexander," McGonagall said cheerfully. "Did you have fun on the pitch?"
"I did actually, and it proved once again that I am not athletic in the least. I'll eventually learn how to fully compensate, even if Sev does give me my eye back." He sat down, tucking his napkin onto his lap. "So, brother, are you going to take me out pubbing when I'm finally legal?"
Severus looked at him. "I suppose it is a right of passage," he admitted dryly. "Do you really want to expose yourself to that sort of people?"
"Like you said, it is a ritual," Xander said with a bright grin. "Come on, it'll be fun. We can make fun of all the people's clothes. All those people who look like they come from a Dicken's tale and the bar wenches that are wearing spandex."
"We'll see," he said dryly. "You may be back in the states by then."
"Eww, do not curse me to going back to Buffy's side. I like having people who talk to me. Besides, if I go back, then you have to carry on the family name when she gets me dead."
Snape quickly shuddered at that thought. "Fine, you can have the East wing of the family home for yourself and Dawn, should she come over with you," he said finally. "You may have to get a second house elf, there's only one at the moment."
"Sure, I can do that," Xander said brightly, grinning at McGonagall. "You know, transfiguration is a lot harder when you do it on purpose?" She laughed, nodding smugly for his benefit. "I mean, I've done it by accident, but never really on purpose. I was working on it today and gave myself a throbbing headache."
"You're trying too hard," she said wisely.
He grimaced. "Most of the time, I have to concentrate really hard though."
"Yes, but it should be easier with your wand, not harder," she advised.
"I'm guessing where I'm more used to one than the other," he said lightly. "If not, I'll eventually figure it out. I have this habit of going backwards until an emergency happens. Then I usually find out that the backwards thing is something else entirely and it's usually something pretty neat. I'm lucky I guess."
"You're lucky you didn't blow yourself up," Severus said bitterly. "I wish you had been found when you were younger."
"Me too, bro, but it wasn't happening. They couldn't see me or Willow." He gave him a long look. "Besides, I would have been trained over there and you'd still be complaining about them."
"Perhaps, but it would have made your powers more stable, Alex."
"How did you find out you were related?" McGonagall asked, changing the subject before the elder Snape could get morose.
"Sev was over there hunting some three-horned creature that was supposedly in our zoo. I ran into him then. I thought he looked familiar and he looked at me oddly. I thought he might have been a distant relative there to hurt my immediate family, not an unheard of occurrence so it was reasonable enough. Severus stared for a moment, then told me to meet him later that night. I, of course," he said with a bright grin and a hand on his chest, "had to quip and say that I wasn't that sort of boy. He growled and said that he knew something I didn't, especially about the strange scar on my chest. I figured he wasn't a vampire since it was daylight and he was one of the better dressed demons I'd ever seen if he was one of them, so I agreed to meet him later that night. He basically fed me dinner, walked me outside into the moonlight and told me to take off my shirt."
"Then he tried his subhuman wit on me again and I had to force the issue, when his markings were exposed," Severus finished, frowning at his brother for being so show- offish. "He mentioned he had known about it already and all I had to do was ask. So I told him about my brother, asking him some pertinent details."
"Then again, it's also when I learned to hate a man named after one of my favorite treats. Where might he be at this moment?" he asked sweetly, grinning at her to show how innocent he was.
"He's the Minister of Magic," she said bitterly. "A bigger idiot I've never met, but there he is." She waved a hand toward London. "I'm sure many would praise you if you took him down."
"Oh, he'll get his," he said with a small wink.
"Subtly," Severus warned. "The less intelligent among the wizards like him for whatever reason."
"Then I'm sure he'll love me. Isn't there some sort of...lawsuit?" Xander asked, staring at his brother. Severus blinked a few times, then went paler. "Yes?"
"It would be horribly embarrassing."
"It may be but it'd be better than letting him exist this way."
"We'll discuss that later," Severus decided. "When we're alone."
"Just a thought I had, I'm all for beating his ass instead."
Severus smirked at him. "Even if you tried, the aurors would have to step in and then you'd be arrested."
"Then I'd get to tell them why. I doubt anyone would support him sending me to the Hellmouth to die."
"He knew where your parents lived?" McGonagall shrieked.
"He had to have, they both grew up there and hadn't moved their whole lives," Xander told her dryly. He smirked at her. "He is not my favorite person and I'd love to see him publically humiliated, begging and pleading for mercy, and bleeding and bloody."
She patted his hand, smiling slightly at him. "If you do, please take pictures. That would please Albus to no end." He nodded, grinning at her. "Ah, there they are," she said happily. "Hagrid, Professor Flitwick. This is Alexander, Severus' brother."
"Hi," he said, grinning and waving.
"Oh, it is good to meet you," Professor Flitwick said, shaking his hand. "Albus said you had to teach yourself. It's a tragedy but he said you were quite good."
"Not with my wand," he admitted dryly. "I learned the other way first." He grinned at Hagrid. "Hi."
"Hello there," he said happily, shaking his hand. "How're you?"
"Just great." He smiled at the diminutive professor again, giving him a little wink. "I'm much better than some who have used that stuff."
"I'm sure you must be if you're Severus' brother," he agreed as he took his usual seat next to McGonagall. "Are you in for a long visit or simply a short one?"
"Actually, I've given up on my adopted life and I'm moving back to the family home right before school starts, plus I'm going to be bringing over a friend's sister to protect her. I'd rather have her nearby in case her innate gifts come out and she suddenly decides to train them."
"Another wandless one?" McGonagall asked.
Xander grinned and gave her a little wink. "Something like that. She's scared of her powers so she doesn't want to train it. Hey, Hagrid, was the dog outside yours?"
"Sure is," he agreed as he shook himself free and sat down. "Fang's a little guy, but he's nice."
"Fang wasn't the one he saw," Severus said, frowning at him. "Nor is he tiny."
"He's not that big," Hagrid said with a grin. "What dog did ya see then, Alexander?"
"There was a beagle outside."
"Could it have been an animagus?" McGonagall asked.
"Possibly," Xander admitted. "It looked like a normal dog to me, but they probably would. Speaking of normal animals, is Filch aware he's using a demonic cat?" Everyone nodded. "Good. I don't have to deal with it," he said happily. "Hey, Sev, if I *must*, which part of the basement should I stick Buffy in?"
"The part with the chains," he said bitterly. "Or at some inn if possible."
"Not an issue," Xander assured him. "I didn't figure you'd want her in the main parts of the house."
"No, I'd rather not have the senior slayer in my home," he agreed.
"You know 'er?" Hagrid asked. "The senior slayer?"
"I trained with her and fought with her. That's how I lost the eye," Xander said with a grin. "I'm also the one who stopped Rosenburg."
"Please, if at all possible, don't bring her," McGonagall hissed. "We don't need that sort of darkness."
"It was grief," he explained. "She had just lost her soulmate and she was recovering from addiction to overusing her magic." The woman looked stunned. "She's not like that most of the time. She was much better after losing her second girlfriend. She's in Cleveland now with Buffy. If necessary, I'll keep her on a short leash and away from the school."
"That would be appreciated as well," Dumbledore agreed as he walked in. "As for the beagle, he's not such a bad dog, but he's someone's familiar and he got lost." He took his usual seat. "How are we this evening?"
"Fine," most of the people agreed.
"Just wonderful," Xander said happily. "Mr. Malfoy was nice enough to just teach me some of the basics of flying."
"I saw," Dumbledore agreed. "Did you enjoy your time with him?"
Xander smirked at him. "Very much, Headmaster. He was quite polite. Didn't even groan when I nearly fell off."
Snape snorted. "He's still sucking up to you, Alex."
"Perhaps, but that's fine too," Xander said smugly. "It'll happen as it does." He smiled and handed McGonagall the bowl that appeared before him. "I believe the tradition is still ladies first?"
She smiled and nodded a bit as she took it from his hands. "Thank you, Alexander. You're very charming. I would have loved to see you go here."
"So would Sev," he agreed happily. "Can't you imagine what sort of hell that would have caused?"
"Only if you weren't a Slytherin," Snape suggested.
"After living on the Hellmouth? I wasn't fighting by that age, but still," Xander suggested.
"True, you probably would have been one of mine, and therefore much better behaved." Xander burst out in giggles. "Don't think I could have controlled you?"
"Sev, my best friends and I had the run of Sunnydale at that age. When we were ten, there were not only shopkeepers, but librarians and police officers that hated to see us coming. Jesse and I were pranking little bastards and Willow was just that nice, sweet, innocent little girl that got drug into our capers. Since her parents weren't home all the time and mine weren't mentally there all the time, we pretty well did whatever we wanted and raised each other."
"Then you probably would have come to be one of mine," McGonagall assured him. "We get all the little pranking darlings. That's why we've had all the Weasleys since time immemorial."
"Better you than me," Flitwick said happily. "One more to go for this generation!" He and McGonagall clinked glasses. "Just think, Severus, there'll be at least eleven years before there's another Weasley as soon as Virginia's graduated."
Severus let out a small, satisfied smirk. "That is a wonderful thought. Perhaps even longer since none of the boys seem interested in breeding yet."
"Are they really that bad?"
"I'll tell you later," McGonagall assured him.
"You know, it's odd, but James should have had a Weasley as part of his crew," Professor Flitwick noted. "Arthur and Molly were both around back then."
"That would have been a fate worse than death," Severus told him dryly. "The Weasleys and the Marauding Idiots?"
"Then we should all be thankful that Mr. Potter and Miss Weasley are not together," McGonagall said happily. "She's just bad enough to match him you know."
The other teachers said a silent prayer in thanks for that one. Those would be horrible children. The only worse thought would be Harry having kids with the Weasley twins.
Late the next morning, Xander walked out of the school and down to the local town, going to do a bit more shopping. He was tired of practicing and he was had a headache. His brother was busy in his lab. The teachers were getting ready for the horde of students coming back. The headmaster was being a bit more paranoid so he was on his own again. He sent a small postcard to Dawn at the post office, then walked down to look at the sweets shop. He found a few things he wanted to try and got them, then headed down toward the local joke shop. He liked pranks a bit, as long as he wasn't the victim. Besides, he'd had them come in handy in the past during battles. He was walking that way when he saw a flicker of movement from the corner of his eye. He looked that way, noticing a group of people all in black robes. He sneered as he walked that way. "I didn't know the wizarding world had gangs!" he said, sounding shocked.
"Alexander!" Draco shouted, "get him!" The others started to pull wands and he managed to get his minion behind his back. He needed his bodyguard for now. He wanted to see how Alex went against wizards in a battle.
Xander immediately reached for a stake, but that wasn't the right move, he wasn't fighting vampires. It was daytime. He started a quick chant, coming up with a good one off the top of his head. One person nearly got off a curse as they all screamed and turned into little fluffy white rabbits. He smiled and waved down at them. "Hi, guys. Did you want to fuck with me?" He smirked at Draco. "Interesting test. Your girlfriend?" he asked, pointing behind Draco's back.
Draco looked and shoved Pansy away. "Eww, no! I have much better taste than that! I meant to put my bodyguard behind me. Can you switch him back? Goyle?"
"What's a Goyle? Sounds like a Jewish disease of some sort."
Draco gave him an odd look, then he shook his head. "Never mind, you've never met him or his family since you were raised over here." He searched the rabbits, finding his guard. "Him. Can you change him back?"
Xander scratched his head. "I'm not sure," he admitted finally. "I never really took the time to learn the spell to change them back." He concentrated, silently chanting something he thought should work. The rabbit howled and grew, then shifted to a less furry state. It still had ears and a tail, and his nose was a bit more rabbit-like than it had been. But he was mostly human. "The best I can do, sorry." He looked at Pansy, then over her body, then sneered. "He's right, you're not worthy to be near him. My friend's sister is prettier, smarter, and more powerful." He smirked at Draco again. "Get what you wanted?"
"Quite," he said quietly, staring at him. This was one dangerous wizard. "Perhaps we should bring them with us, Pansy. Pansy!" he said, hitting her on the arm. "Gather them up so we can change them back."
"That's fine, I'm sure Professor McGonagall will be better able to help me return them if you want them back," he offered. He sent a call out to her, making her look quite confused as she joined them a few minutes later. "I'm sorry to disturb you, Professor, I know you're awfully busy, but Mr. Malfoy's friends mistook me for someone they could beat and I did it my way, but I don't quite have the spell to change them back. He *really* wanted Mr. Goyle, was it, back and I did the best I could. I thought maybe you could figure out why I couldn't return him from a fluffy, harmless bunny," he said in a rush, giving her a helpless look.
She looked from him to the rabbits, then back. Finally she smirked at him. "Bring them up to the school, Alexander. We'll work on it together."
"Thank you, Professor, ma'am. I know you're really busy."
"Yes, but it's been a very long time since I had such an interesting challenge. I'm sure your brother would *adore* helping us as well. You as well, Mr. Malfoy."
"Of course, Professor," he agreed smoothly, sending Pansy off with a kick at her shin. "Let her tell my lunch date that I'll be a bit later than I thought," he offered. "Come, Goyle. We'll get you some nice carrot sticks." Goyle's nose twitched and he helped gather up the rest of the rabbits. Draco had to summon one of them since they were hiding, but he really didn't mind. It was fascinating to watch this young man work. Alexander was nearly as smooth as he was.
Severus walked into the Transfiguration classroom, frown already in place. "You did what?" he demanded.
"They tried to attack me. Apparently they thought I'd be an easy target," Xander said dryly, shrugging. "Mr. Malfoy was smart enough not to attempt to get between us and he even tried to save the bigger rabbit over there, but got an unfortunate woman instead. Are you sure she's not a victim of some sort of horrible curse, Draco?"
"No, Pansy's always been that ugly," he noted dryly. "He really did try his best on Mr. Goyle, Professor Snape. Quite nice of him, but he said he's never really seen the need to learn the whole cure."
"No, I'd assume it was of less value than the original curse was to him in his former life," McGonagall said dryly, smirking at Xander for being so audacious. "I believe I know what's going on. Let me get Mr. Goyle back. Mr. Malfoy, if you'll freeze him?" Draco nodded and petrified his friend casually. "Thank you." She worked on that one, sending him back into a rabbit then back into human form. He came back naked, but that was something she would correct on the others. "There, now unfreeze him." Draco let him go with a lazy swish of his wand. "Mr. Goyle. How do you feel?" she asked quietly.
He looked at her and burst out in tears. "Thank you!" he sobbed, hugging her. "I love you. You're a nice witch. I want to marry a witch just like you. I'll never do bad things again," he promised. "Draco, never again."
"It's fine. I had him try to switch you back," Draco said calmly. "Unfortunately Pansy shoved you in the way. Get off her, let her uncurse the others." He nodded, coming over to sit beside him. Draco manifested a sheet and handed it over. "There, cover yourself."
"Thank you." He looked at Alex. "I swear, upon my magic, that I will never try to attack you again, sir. I don't know who you are, but I won't. I swear I won't."
"Thanks, kid," he said with a grin for him. "I didn't mean to be that mean to you." Goyle nodded and cowered beside Draco, hoping to be out of sight of the evil wizard. He looked at Draco and shrugged. "I didn't. I only wanted to change them into rabbits. It was Hagrid who asked if they were meant for dinner."
Snape winced. "Those would probably be some very odd tasting rabbits," he noted. He looked at Malfoy and his outfit, then at Goyle's outfit. He pulled his wand as his fellow teacher worked her magic on the others, freezing them when their robes appeared.
"Death Eaters?" she asked in shock, looking at Malfoy. "What were you playing at?"
"It was not me," he assured her. "I didn't change clothes. I didn't participate. I didn't do anything to harm Alexander. You know I wouldn't. His brother would kill me." He waved a hand at the others. "That was their thing. Have them if you can prove it." He gathered Goyle and walked away. He'd let his mother sooth the traumatized young man while he made his report. The Dark Lord and his father would adore this one.
McGonagall looked at Xander. "You never said they were Death Eaters."
"They are?" She pointed at the robe. "Oh, okay. I'll watch out for those things. I'm sorry if this made you uncomfortable. If you want, I can change them back so we can send them into the woods to be eaten."
She pursed her lips then shook her head. "Not necessary. It's easy enough to get one of the aurors up here, Alexander." She patted him on the cheek. "You simply must be more careful. We all expected Severus to explain these things to you."
"He has, some, but I may have spaced out. Lectures are not my best form of educational stuff," he admitted sheepishly. "I'm sorry, Professor."
"No, dear, it's a good thing that you got them first," she assured him. "Otherwise they may have tried to hurt you."
"They were trying, that's why I turned them into rabbits," he said dryly, making her smirk at him. "I really should sit down and learn the counter to those things, shouldn't I?"
She nodded. "Yes, you probably should. Then again, your education in transfiguration would help that if you would apply yourself."
"I've been trying." He pointed at a piece of paper on the table. "Mutato," he hissed, struggling as the wand fought him.
"It's the wand," she said, snatching it from his hand. "How did Ollivander misfit you?"
"It's possible that his shop is warded against the wandless twits," Snape said, freezing someone who was still a rabbit when it tried to get out the door. "Fang will eat you," he warned the other missing one. It reappeared and he froze it as well. "Let someone call for the aurors while you change them back. I'll call Ollivander." He went to make that call from his office so he could laugh in peace and not get caught. His brother was so bad.
Xander helpfully picked up a bunny to pet. "Hello. You're soft. I should give you to my Dawnie. She'd love you so much. She'd build you a little cage and feed you all sorts of salad stuff. She'd brush and pet you bald, but you'd be really loved." She took the rabbit from him and changed them back, freezing that one as well. "Hey!"
"That would be mean, Alex," she said, smirking at him. "Truly didn't know?"
"Well, okay, I kinda knew, but then again I also expected them to try me," he admitted, glancing around. "Draco was kinda sent to see if I wanted to join and to test me. The Dark Lord has not a chance against me."
She looked awed. "You're that powerful?"
"No, I'm that resourceful," he said honestly. "A little explosives, a little bit of magic, a little bit of weapons play, and a lot of good, old fashioned slayer-trained fighting." He winked. "So we're working on demoralizing his lines. I had no thought when they attacked me but defending myself, but I did figure out that they were probably death eaters by the time I was done."
She nodded. "Oh, they are. Recent graduates. All in the last few years." An auror rushed in and she waved a hand. "Hold on, there's one more to be changed back. They attacked Alexander and he thoughtfully changed them into rabbits." She worked on the last one, freezing her as well, even though her robe was turned inside out. "Check her robe first."
The auror moved closer, checking her robe. Then he nodded and grinned at Xander. "Got a report?" he asked happily.
Xander shrugged. "I don't know, do I?" he asked.
Ron Weasley burst out laughing. "You're evil," he assured him.
"No, actually I'm a good guy, but I learned to fight by taking on vampires." He slid off the front of the desk. "Need more help? She had to counter-curse them. I never learned most of them."
Ron snickered, shaking his head. "No, I think we can handle them. Let me call in some others to carry them back." He went to the local floo port and called his boss. "Some of them jumped Alexander. Professor McGonagall just turned them back from bunnies."
"Yeah, he said he never learned the counter-curse," Ron said dryly. "All in death eater robes but one, and hers is inside out."
"I'll be right there," he promised smugly.
"There's seven or eight of 'em. You might want to bring some cuffs and stuff." He went back to the classroom, looking at each of them. He knew who most of them were. "Who's this one, Professor?"
"That one is Miss Greny. She was a Ravenclaw three years ago I believe," she admitted.
"Oh, goody," Ron said happily. "Gretel was on our wanted list." He looked around but the other young man had left. "Where did he go? My boss wanted a report."
"He may, but I believe they went to work on his wand problem. He was misfitted due to his wandless usage."
"Oh." He looked impressed. "Cool. He did this wandless?" She nodded, smirking at him. "Better him than me to be that powerful. I'd have blown myself and Harry up," he said dryly. His boss and a few others came in. "Sir, she's done with them and Alexander has managed to disappear again. The good professor said his wand was misfitted."
"Well," he said, frowning at her. "You couldn't keep him?" he pouted.
She shook her head. "I'm sorry, but I couldn't. Severus had to take him to see about his wand. He did this wandless you know." The auror's boss whimpered and let out a subvocal moan of longing. "You'd have to talk to him. He's learning it our way now," she said proudly.
"I'll tutor him myself," Ron said patiently. "He need help?"
"Probably," she agreed happily. "We'll see, Mr. Weasley. How are your parents?"
"Tolerable. Worried sick about my job, but mostly fine," he admitted with a grin. "How's your sister, professor?"
"Quite well. Her house had a leak this spring but we managed to fix it recently." She unfroze the lot of them, letting the aurors lead them away. "I always liked happy endings."
"Oh, it's only a beginning," he said with a wink. "I have a feeling about him." He strolled after his prisoners, giving one a shove when they tried to slow down. "Don't even. You're wandless and you're not Alexander."
One further up the line started to cry. "Why was I this dumb?" she sobbed.
"We'll help you figure that out," the head auror said cheerfully. He stood back with Ron, watching as the others led the people out to portkey off with them. "Find this one for me, Ronald. I want him to be one of you."
Ron looked at him. "Harry said he's tired of fighting."
His boss slumped. "I thought he might be, but I want to check. Maybe we can help each other?"
"I'll see if Harry can find him and get him to talk to me, sir," he promised. "Can I have the day off?"
"Go," he said happily. "You'll have paperwork to sign tomorrow."
"I'll bring in the reports," he promised. "It'll be short. I only walked into it and they were already exposed." He trotted off, heading for the apparation barrier so he could send himself back to his mother's house to change clothes. He found Alex down there looking at his wand. "Hey." The other man jumped and spun to look at him. "I'm not a threat. My boss wanted me to talk to you about joining us."
"I'm tired of fighting."
"I told him as much, like you told Harry. Maybe just for this war?"
"We'll see," he promised.
"Thanks. Care for a beer? You're pretty neat and decent enough to be around. You've got a sense of humor that doesn't involve hexing me. I like that in a being."
Xander grimaced. "I got enough of that sort of thing in high school. I hate being the butt of the joke." He shrugged. "We'll see. Not tonight but maybe soon. I'm bringing a little sister back."
"You've got a sister?"
"A friend's sister who might as well be mine."
"Cool," Ron said happily. "We could use some new witches around here to look at. Call me or have Harry call me." He winked and sent himself off.
Xander let out a goofy grin. "I could learn to like him."
"That's because he's exactly like your former persona," Snape said as he appeared. "Are you done?"
Xander nodded. "Yuppers." They headed for Diagon together. That way Xander wouldn't land in Knockturn this time. He didn't think they'd be so welcoming this time.
"Oh, dear," Ollivander said as Alexander was led back into his store. "I'm so sorry, my boy. I had forgotten about that dratted ward I have up. I've only had to fit one other wizard with dual powers and I remember we had the worst time with hers as well. At least you've managed to fix that one wand for me." He took it back. "How did that one feel?"
"Like pushing a feather through concrete," Xander admitted dryly. "It's not your fault. I didn't expect to be an easy fit, Mr. Ollivander. Why would I suddenly do things the easy way?"
He gave him a gentle smile. "Thank you, Alexander. Many would have started to scream at me." He went into his work area, pulling out a large pile of boxes. "So far I believe these might give me the best chance of fitting you." He saw the elder Snape's comical look at the stack of boxes. "I must have something, Severus. He is able to use a wand, correct?"
"I've used his to light a candle," Xander agreed with a small smirk for him. "I lit most of the wall on fire, which is saying something considering it was stone, but I did get the candle on my second try."
"Hmm. There's some power in you then," he noted. "Where did they stick you again?"
"The Hellmouth in California." Ollivander gave him a long look, then nodded and went back to pull out a few different boxes. "I'm not bad."
"I know, but that must have tainted you a bit," he pointed out gently, handing over the first one. "Foxfire and bamboo. Most unusual." Xander waved it, giving it an odd look. "No, I didn't think so, I'm still waiting on someone for that one."
"Ever consider sending it to an Asian shop?" Xander suggested.
"I had, but I don't know many of them over there." He handed over the next one he unwrapped with a smile. "Veelas tears and rosewood." Xander swished it and he grimaced at the total lack of attraction it showed. "Interesting. Had a lot of trouble finding someone decent to date?"
"All I ever seem to draw are demonic women," Xander sighed, leaning on the counter as he handed that one back. "The last time a normal girl was attracted to me, it was Willow and she was confused and panicking because things were changing." He shrugged at Severus' dirty look. "Sorry, but it was. That was a few years back. While she was with Oz, long before Tara."
"You'd like the little funny-haired werewolf. He's a pretty neat, smart, quiet guy. Got bitten by a nephew he was babysitting."
"An infant werewolf?"
"I guess. He said his nephew was about two." He shrugged and took the next one, smiling when it felt comfortable. "This is looking promising." He swished it through the air and no sparkles happened. "Hmm. It's comfy in my hand."
"Then let's check another one like that one," he suggested, going up his ladder to find a new wand for the boy. He pulled down the only other wand with the same core, and one with the same wood. He handed the similar core over, watching as nothing happened. Then he handed over the wood. "Interesting." He went to get another with a similar core, coming back with one that was black. Pure black. "Try this one, I'm immensely proud of this one." Xander tried it and he whooped. It was finally leaving his store. "One of my finest wands," he told Severus, who was looking at it skeptically. "It's chaos crystal, from the caves where the stone was kept, and driftwood from the sea." Xander grinned at him. "Now step outside and try it again." Xander stepped out of the shop and tried it again, getting a spike of energy from the tip. "Quite powerful."
"Yes, he is. Is that the one?" Severus asked.
"Quite. It's the same cost." He gave him a slight smile. "Try to keep him from getting *too* happy with it, Severus. He's crafty, but he's also quite gentle underneath it all."
"I have been trying," he said grimly, taking his brother back to the school. He refused to let him head into Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes. He would not tolerate being pranked by his own brother.
"But Ron was kinda neat and I'm betting his family would be too," Xander complained as he was drug off.
"Perhaps, but not until you're living at the house, Xander. I loathe those two creatures who call themselves Weasleys."
"Fine," he pouted, following his brother back up the alleyway. "No other stops? Like for ingredients?"
"No, I'm doing well on that front," he admitted. He paused when a woman stepped in front of him. "What do *you* want?" he sneered.
"I've been sent to talk to young Alexander," the witch said, smirking at him.
Xander looked at her outfit, then at his brother. "Not even I was that bad at my worst," he assured him. "I had better fashion sense."
Severus smirked at him. "I would hope so, Alexander. I'll get you into pure black yet."
"You two are close. Are you together?" she asked slyly.
"With my brother?" Snape asked dryly. "I think not. I am not that sort of wizard." He nodded and Xander followed him toward the exit again.
"Minister Fudge would like to see you, Alexander, to thank you for the incident this morning," she called, turning to watch them.
Xander turned back to look at her, a sneer in place. "I refuse to be in the same city as that man and you can tell him I said that." She looked stunned. "For that matter, as a reporter, you have it in your hands to find out why. You can remind him for me if you want." He waved and disappeared from the spot he was standing on.
Snape looked at her. "Don't piss him off. You don't want the consequences." He stomped out, going back to the castle. Damn it, that was not going to be a happy pout his brother would have when he finally found him.
The reporter slunk back to her office to tell her editor what he had said. "He said I could find it."
"Research is part of your job," the editor reminded her dryly. "Go to the archives. Search by both names, starting with his."
"That's a good idea." She went to the library of former papers, using the magical index to pull out anything on the boy's name. Only two articles appeared, both ancient ones. She sat down to read through them, frowning at the announcement of his birth, and the report of an attack on Snape Manor. Her eyes narrowed so she went forward through the next few weeks' papers, finally finding why the boy hated him. She gasped and backed away from the table. "Oh, Merlin," she whispered. She took the paper back upstairs, right to her editor. "I'm not that cruel," she told him. "Give it to Rita." He looked up from reading the article. "One of those has to be Alexander Snape."
He put down the paper, then stood up and opened the door. "Where is Rita?" he called.
"Get her in here, now. I've got a story for her." He looked at the other woman. "You're sure?" She nodded quickly. "Absolutely sure?"
"I don't want to be hexed when they finally run into each other," she noted. "I have no idea where he's been, but that was his second trip to Ollivanders in a week."
"Go find out why," he ordered. "Track the kid's history. I want to know how he managed to get eight Death Eaters today without seeming to be worried or upset at seeing them." She nodded, satisfied with that. Rita Skeeter, his most determined reporter walked in. "Rita, in here," he called, holding the door until she walked in. He shut the door behind her. "We've just uncovered some information. Alexander, that new wizard, is Snape's little brother." Her eyes went wide. "You know something?"
"I've heard other rumors," she admitted. "He's a warrior for the Light."
"He is?" the editor asked, his eyes bulging. "Where?"
"I don't know," she told him, grabbing him by the arm. "Draco Malfoy let some information slip. All he said was that he was a warrior for the Light with an interesting past. He wanted me to research the kid for him and not put it into the paper. He seemed to think he was joining Potter's side."
"Quite interesting. I've got Doris looking into his past. He just said he didn't want to be in the same city as Fudge. Figure out why."
"Deal," she agreed, heading out. First she called the irritating little twit who slipped her some of the information she already had. "Mr. Malfoy," she said at her most charming. "I accept your offer, but I'm not the only one working on this story. Alexander just made a statement that he wanted to not be in the same city as Minister Fudge."
Draco raised an eyebrow. "That's odd. He hasn't been here long enough to realize what a buffoon he is." He cut the connection and went back to his reading. Then he called Snape's office, thinking the boy might be in there alone. Instead he got Snape. "Snape, old chap," he said happily. "Fair warning. The Prophet has latched onto your brother like a leach." Snape growled and cut the connection. Draco went down to the archives they kept at the house of the papers. He had often found little things in there to blackmail people with. He went back to the boxes for the year of his birth, knowing Alexander had to be about his age. He found the birth announcement and scanned each paper after that until he got to the attack. Then he took it to his father's study, not bothering to knock. He held up the announcement. "Why is this something that makes Alexander hate Fudge?"
His father looked stunned, then burst out laughing. "Fudge gave him away without even bothering to talk to Severus." He stood up and took the paper, leading his son over to the settee. "Severus and I were in school when the attack happened. It was his last year. He was a year younger than I was of course, but he'd just gotten official word that his Mastery had passed. No one had even told him there had been an attack. He found out by coming home at the end of the summer and finding the home completely empty. He called the Ministry and of course they came up. It seems our beloved Minister Fudge had adopted the child out before even finding out who his family was or who the child was."
"To muggles living on the Hellmouth," Draco told him. Lucius looked stunned. Draco nodded. "I've been able to find that much out. Also, the paper is trying to find something to do on him right now." He crossed his legs. "So he's got reason to wish Fudge dead?"
"No, my boy, he's got reason to wish Fudge tortured for eternity."
"Father, if he's being honest about the demons he knows, then he can easily ask for a favor." His father's eyes bulged out a bit. "Seriously. When he got me at Potter's relatives' house, he said he knew wandless people and demons who were more powerful than our Dark Lord. Plural in both cases and he didn't sound like he was bragging, just smug about the fact." Lucius got up to pace. "He's not joining us." His father stopped to look at him. "He's a warrior for the Light, father. I've found more than that out. The Powers that watch over the slayers and them, they're watching over him as well. His little sister, the reason he's setting up a home over here, she's powerful and doesn't want to be. He's powerful to protect her. He's a guardian sort."
His father continued to pace. "Surely we can use that trait to our advantage."
"Father, he's more powerful than I am," Draco said bitterly.
"It's good that you finally figured out you're not the most powerful wizard, son," he said bitterly, glaring at him.
"Father," he retorted with a touch of humor, "that thing he did to Greg and others this morning he did wandless. Without sweating or anything." His father stopped to stare at him. "He acted like it was nothing to him and it may have been nothing to him. He did them all at once. He *intentionally* left me alone." His father swallowed. "And he said he knows people who are more powerful. People like Rosenburg, who rumor says he grew up with. They're best friends."
"Then why hasn't he brought her into this?" Lucius sneered.
"Because he doesn't think he bloody well needs her," Draco snapped. "He told me he's more powerful than our Dark Lord, Father." Lucius sat down hard, staring at him and he nodded calmly. "He does. He knows he's more powerful. He told me he wants to end this so he can retire. He's bringing this sister over so he can retire."
Lucius considered it. "So he wants to end all this and then do what? Live at Snape Manor with the girl?" Draco nodded. "How long have you known this?"
"All along, and I warned the Dark Lord when he interviewed me that he wasn't going to join. That he wasn't looking to take part in the war. That if pushed he would be taking Potter's side due to his upbringing. Which apparently is directly the fault of Fudge." He shifted. "I cannot beat him. I'm not even going to try. I saw how he reacted. His first thought was to go for a weapon. He has no qualms at all about killing us, where Potter still might. To him, we're another set of demons apparently, and ones who are in the way of what he truly wants. To retire from fighting."
Lucius looked at his son. "You can't back down, son. He won't let you."
"I'm not going to, but I'm not going to throw away my life on Alexander Snape either," he offered. "We need to make sure Severus stays on our side, father. If Alexander's this powerful and *self-taught*, then how powerful is his older brother?"
Lucius stood up. "Self taught?"
"The Hellmouth masked his signature. None of the schools there saw him and Severus didn't petition to get him in over here for whatever reason. Perhaps he thought the boy was a squib. Unless he's doing something I can't tell. His aura's strong and powerful, but it's swirling and nasty in places too. Perhaps Severus thought it better, or perhaps he thought he was still a squib. I have no idea, but the boy is powerful. Him working with his brother would get us all turned into crispy little piles of ashes. Especially if he calls in his friends to help him."
Lucius moaned. "Fine. I will tell the Dark Lord myself that you've been trying to make friends with him and what you've heard."
"Oh, I have no doubt we could become friends," Draco said smugly. "After all, he didn't curse me today. So either he thinks I'm decent enough to get to know, or he believes I'm useful."
"Then I'll talk to Severus myself," Lucius decided. "Continue your pursuit of this wizard. He may yet be able to be used without his knowing."
Draco smirked. "Well, he certainly got rid of a lot of imbeciles this morning. Is Greg going to be all right? He tried to turn him back. Said he hadn't bothered learning the counter curses."
Lucius moaned. That meant the boy had a dark streak to rival their Lord's as well as being as powerful as, if not more powerful than, him. "We'll see, son. Let me talk to our Dark Lord." He took his cloak off his chair and headed outside to apparate off.
Draco smirked. "Good, do just what I had planned," he said smugly. He got up to pour himself a sherry, noticing the floo was on. He waved at the open spot. "I hope you heard as well," he said smugly. "He said he was considering calling her." The floo cut off and he went to take his drink back to his book. Yes, he was happy being in the middle of web he was weaving. It was rather amusing to watch the others panic.
Severus looked up as his office was invaded, sneering at the man standing there. "What?" His attention drifted back to his book.
"I came to talk to you about your brother, Severus."
Severus smirked, but continued to read. "What of him?"
"He's truly a warrior for the Light?"
"He doesn't have a medal, but yes I do believe he is." He closed his book, his finger in his place. "He's quite good, as I'm sure some parents are finding out at the moment."
"Draco said he told the Dark Lord he wouldn't join."
"I warned him," Severus said dryly, shrugging a bit. "He can't blame me for my brother being sent by his minion to live over there."
"Then Fudge did send him?" Severus nodded, looking a bit disgusted at his continued presence. "Severus, consider this carefully. Your brother and you are a formidable team."
"I'm not the hero my brother is, nor do I want to be," he retorted, standing up. "If there isn't anything else?"
"Severus, your brother has been making motions that he wanted to destroy our Lord so he could retire."
"Yes, I do believe that was an idea he was finding amusing. I also know that he was thinking that someone better would fill in."
"Draco?" Lucius breathed, looking hopeful.
Snape sneered at him. "Draco doesn't have the experience. Any of the older ones left wouldn't follow him. He's thinking Draco would be an excellent second to someone however."
"You?" Lucius asked, staring at him. "He wants you to?"
"Then he would be safe," Severus said dryly, smirking at him. "I haven't told him one way or another yet. I'm waiting to see how the battle turns out. As your son pointed out, he's quite good and quite powerful. Speaking of, did you know that your son had an interest in poisons?"
Lucius backed away from him. "No, I hadn't," he noted, hurrying from the room to find an antidote. He was the primary block between his son and power. He would be going before anyone else. His son was ruthless and determined, a true Malfoy. Snape's laughter followed him up the halls. That bastard! Unfortunately, turning him in to Voldemort would get Severus tortured and then his brother would react by fighting the Dark Lord and possibly winning, which would give his son everything he had always wanted. He couldn't do that, his son couldn't handle that sort of power. The world would end if he had it.
Back in the office, Xander removed the illusion and sat down again, going back to his book. That had been fun. It had been a good thing he had put warnings on he hallway. Draco would get a bit of challenge trying to poison his father now, but not that much of one. He knew very well that there were plenty of things to poison someone that didn't have an antidote. He smiled at his brother as he came back from his staff meeting. "Lucius was just here. He wanted to make sure of the information I've had people feeding back to Draco. That yes, I am a warrior for the light, and that yes, I'm not joining his pitiful party of bastards. I also hinted that I was suggesting that a new order might have to be formed, but that you're still undecided. I also told him that Draco was starting to dabble in poisons."
Severus's eyes bugged out then he let out a small chuckle of amusement. "He's probably still trying to find a good general antidote. Good job. How did he react?"
"He ran out of here like his really nasty hair was on fire." Xander got out of the chair, letting his brother have it. "I've been feeling Willow trying to summon me so I'd better go back there." He handed over the book, open to the spot he had been reading. "I've gotten to the part where the link is formed. Maybe it'll make more sense to you or someone like Ethan." He shrugged and went to finish getting dressed, then headed out to the apparation barrier. Willow's summoning had quit so he could only get to LA, which shocked Angel so much he screamed like a little girl. "Hey, calm down," he complained, wiggling a finger in his ear. "That was really loud after the quiet halls of the school. Do we have any good quality pictures of Cleveland?"
"Not yet," Angel said, giving him an odd look. "Why?"
"Because I can't get there if I can't see there," he noted dryly. "Sorry, deadboy, but really. Common sense. Good things for the world." He picked up the nearest phone and dialed over there. "Hey, you summoned? No, fax me a good quality color photo to Angel's place. Yeah, I'm back here for the moment. No, I was with my brother. Yes, Buffy, I'll explain all of that when I get there. No, I'm not flying. Ask Willow. Just send me a picture, okay?" He hung up before she could complain, then hopped up onto the counter to sit, smirking at Gunn as he came in. "Hey. Only back for a visit. Is Dawnie back here or there?"
"There," he said, looking the boy over. "That is not the usual Harris fashion statement."
"No, but my brother wanted me to look decent so I don't embarrass him." He looked at Angel, then frowned. "Hey, Angel. Why are there *two* Warrior's necklaces around at the moment?"
Angel frowned, considering it. "For the slayers?"
"Yeah, but Faith wasn't one. Not when you brought up the second pendant."
"That's a good point," Gunn admitted. "If Spike had gotten one for Buffy, then who does the other one belong to?"
"I don't know, but I can ask," Angel offered. "Speaking of which, the owl? Don't do that again."
"Sorry, it's our mail birds," he said with a small shrug. "If I could figure out how to charm a computer and magic up a satellite connection at will, I would." He slid off the desk as the fax machine started, moving over to grab his picture. It was good enough so he took off, leaving it there for future reference. He landed and gave Willow a long look. "Sorry, the summoning thing doesn't work when I'm inside a warded domicile."
"Did you eat a dictionary?" Buffy asked, her nose wrinkling.
"Nope, just spending a lot of time with my really smart brother. He's a potions master." He grinned at them. "So, you called?"
"Magic?" Willow asked, looking him over. "Robe?"
"Local fashion statement and I've been doing magic since before you did," he pointed out gently. "It's in my blood, Willow. My brother's a wizard. Oooh, look what I get to learn next," he said, pulling out his wand. "They all use them over there. They're really all sneering and growling about the wandless things. I've never heard my brother put down anything but a Gryffindor as badly as he has the wandless stuff recently." He hugged them both. "Okay, let's chat. I'm setting up things so Dawnie can at least come over and look the place over," he told Buffy. "There's good schools. In about a month the present war will be done with, or I'm taking a flamethrower and a grenade launcher to the idiot's home base. I can stay at my brother's place until I can build one on the other side of the property for the both of us, and it's a huge house so we've got more than enough room for Dawnie and me, plus the few servants."
"Servants?" Willow squeaked. "How did you get to Sunnydale?"
"Someone attacked my parents and the auror, the cop-like guys, didn't even think to look for my big brother. So they had me adopted without his permission. I finally met him when I was ten and he explained everything to me. That's why I should have gotten a letter to go to a magic academy, but the Hellmouth blocked the both of us."
"Me too?" Willow asked, her eyes lighting up. He nodded. "Wow."
"Very wow. Then you'd have a wand too," he assured her, putting it onto the table. "Don't touch that please. Ollivander had the worst time fitting me with the thing." He looked at Buffy. "I want to protect her. There's some guys around, but they already know she has the right of refusal. I gave them permission to meet her, nothing else."
Buffy smirked at him. "Start slower, Xander. Home?"
"You're a Brit?"
"By birth," he said smugly. "Me and Giles both. I think I'm a bit further up the country than he is, but yeah. My family's an old, pureblood line."
"Why didn't you tell us!" she whined, hitting him on the shoulder.
"You found out once, but we took it from your memories," he said honestly. "If you had known," he said, overriding her complaint, "you could have been in much worse danger. The present bad guy wants my big brother to stay on his side." She frowned at him. "He's a dark wizard who only likes purebloods. He'll be gone within a month. Either the war will be over with or I'm going to do something to make sure it's over with. It's been going on a bit longer than I've been alive, counting the truce in the center."
"Wow," Willow said. "What dark wizard?"
Her eyes bulged. "I've heard of him. He's horrible! He tortures people for fun!"
"No, he has people torture people for his fun," Xander corrected bitterly. "My bro's wrapped up in that mess because of past mistakes. He's not on their side really. There are others like that too. So we're working to end it."
"How did you learn magic?" Buffy asked.
"In case you hadn't realized, Sunnydale's public library has a lot of books on magic, Buff. I took some of those out, and when Rupert showed up I borrowed a few of his too. He never noticed and neither did you two. I've done it on and off since I was twelve. I should have gotten a letter around eleven, but the Hellmouth blocked us. I figured that out when I figured out what Rupert was. The Hellmouth made so much more sense. So I practiced my ass off and I got really good at some of the combative magics. Which I'm still good at. I turned a bunch of bad guys today into bunny rabbits."
Willow snickered, shaking her head. "Good old Xander," she sighed.
Buffy rolled her eyes. "Yeah, the same as always. So, what can you offer Dawn that I can't?"
"Good schools that get most of their students into college. A home without a vampire in sight. Magic training from an accredited school if she wants to learn that side of her gifts. Tutors if she needs it because my brother doesn't want her to explode in rage and take out the school. Cute guys to date who do the magic thing if she likes them. Cute normal guys if not. A much easier life at home because you won't have to scrimp to make ends meet. No more fighting about her fighting because there won't be any fighting. Plus, good colleges if she wanted to go to one. The thrill of being in Europe and learning new things."
"I get it," Buffy sighed. "It is nice. What if she doesn't want to go?"
"Hey, I only want her to give it a try for a month," Xander promised. "If she doesn't like it, she comes back and you send her when there's an apocalypse."
"And if I do like it?" Dawn asked as she came down the back stairs.
"Then you'll have a room next to mine and a lot of boys who'll drool to get next to you," he said with a grin. "Plus decent schools with icky uniforms. Magic night and day if you want to train that part of you. Protective guys who do magic around you if you don't. No demons, no vampires, no fighting nightly to save all our asses. A big house. No pool, yet, but I'm going to bet that we have a pond somewhere on the property. The home is a relic from long ago."
"What was that owl?" Dawn asked.
"Our version of the mailman. Once I figure out how to do it, I'll build a small house with a computer and things so you can email the guys back here. Plus we can always get you back and forth, Dawnie. It'll be much safer. Kinda boring at times since we're in the middle of nowhere, but calm and peaceful. There's an older pony if I remember right, and if not, I'm sure I can find one of those. The school may even have a few. I'm thinking that a day- school instead of a boarding school. There's a good one about an hour away from the house and you'd be eligible to go there. Or if you wanted more prestigious there are a few excellent boarding academies in the country. You could come home most weekends and all the holidays. Again, your choice, not mine."
"For this I'd have to help you retire and deal with your brother?"
"Sev's a nice guy when you know him really well," he offered.
"Sev?" Willow demanded. "Snape? You're related to Snape? To that broody, nasty, greasy, perverted, sick, dark, nasty, evil bastard who put me down?"
Xander grinned at her and nodded. "He's my big brother. Let me guess, he was on your tribunal?" She grimaced, nodding. "That's fine. When you pulled your thing with the temple, we all got our pictures in the local papers. There's some people who saw me that first day and ran." She deflated, pouting at him. "Hey, I understood. Sev's a big, bad guy when it comes to things like that. He's down on everyone who's bad because he had his own moment of youthful stupidity that's still haunting and hunting him. But he has agreed that Dawn could live at the house with me. Half the family's fortunes are mine so I could find a house elsewhere. Plus, hey, vacation spot during the school year. He'd never put up with you guys when he was home, but during the rest of the year it'd be fine."
"I like it," Buffy admitted, looking at her sister. "You'd be safe. You'd get a good education. There's cute guys by the boatload from what the tv's said about British guys."
Xander pulled a photo out of his pocket, handing it over. "The graduating class last year. Touch any house and it'll expand."
Dawn touched the houses in turn, smiling at all the cute guys. She laughed and pointed at one, showing him to Xander. "Who's he? He's winking at me!"
"That would be Ron Weasley. The dark-haired guy next to him is the resident hero, Harry. Ron's kinda like a funner me. Harry's kinda like a darker Xander in some ways. He just had his leg fixed from where his uncle broke it." She nodded, smiling as he took the picture and pointed at the house, enlarging Draco's picture. "This is the guy I said could speak to you, but that you could brush off," he said, letting her see.
"Wow. He's pretty," Buffy said. "Very gay male."
Xander snickered. "He's not actually. A lady's man in the making, but not gay." He let Dawn have the picture. "I've met those three personally, and Ron's got a huge family. He invited me out for a beer some night."
Dawn smirked at him. "Hitting on the Ron person?" He shook his head. "No?" she asked, smirking harder.
He shook his head. "I'm not even considering the dating thing until after this battle is done with. The guy irks the world and the world wants to expel the kidney stone of idiocy."
"Ah, there you are," Giles said as he came down the stairs. He stopped to look at Xander. "Why are you here and why are you wearing a robe?"
"Because I got called back," he said, pointing at Willow, "and because it's the fashion statement in the wizarding world, which I belong to." He picked up his wand and used it to give Giles a sudden tan. "There, you look better now." He looked at Dawn again, grinning at her. "No pressure, but I'd like it if you came over to check it out."
"I can do that," she agreed. "A month over there would be kinda neat," she agreed. "Does Draco really brag?"
"Oh, honey, you have no idea. He's a rich boy from a pure family. He's also slightly evil and snarky. He brags worse than Spike ever did."
Giles coughed overtop of Dawn's laughs. "I don't believe she needs to go over there. Your kind are at war."
"My kind have been at war since before I was born," Xander pointed out grimly. "And I'm helping stop it. I got eight of the little bastards today and turned them into bunny rabbits." Giles took a step back, eyes wide. "I'm fine, just tired of fighting. I'm retiring and I'm offering Dawn a safe place to live and finish high school. Sev seemed to think she was okay when they met that once."
"Snape?" he asked in horror. "He's 'okay'?"
"He's my big brother, Giles, get over it already," Xander said dryly, sneering at him. "Or don't you recognize me?"
"Oh, holy mother of god," he hissed, backing away further. "How long have you known?"
"Since I was ten. Then I figured out why I didn't get a letter, it was the Hellmouth. I've been doing it wandless, mostly from your books, since I was twelve."
"Really?" he asked. "Where do you stand?"
"On the combat and distraction side," he admitted smugly. "Earlier today I got eight death eaters and turned them into rabbits." He shuddered, backing away again. "I'm the same Xander I have been, Giles, chill already. I'm not a different Xander or even an evil Xander, simply my full self. Right now, I'm helping stop the war. I want to retire and I want to do it comfortably. That and I'm learning how to use my wand."
"What is it made of?" Willow asked.
"Crystals from the cave where the chaos stone was stored and driftwood." He smirked at her. "He tried one with veela tears, which are like sirens, and it did *nothing*. Most guys react a little to the sight of one, but I didn't have a thing happen when I touched the wand. He said that was because of all the demons I dated. Which reminds me, no demons there. I can find a real little girl to date," he said happily. "Ron's kinda nice so maybe I'll try to chat up the sister everyone was talking about. She's a prankster."
"I want to see this house before Dawnie agrees," Buffy told him.
"Sure. It's big, drafty, and pretty empty," he promised her with a grin. "It's also got a lot of marble, wood, and rooms."
"It's also a place where darkness seems to come a bit more readily," Giles said firmly.
"Not really. There's a difference between dark and evil, Giles. Learn it, it'll help you." He stood up. "So I'm gonna head back, it's nearly dinner over there. As soon as the battles are done with, within a month, I'll be back to pick her up. I'll call first somehow."
"You left your cell," Dawn said, running to get it for him. She handed it over with a grin. "This way I can get you."
"If you can't, leave a message. Techno stuff doesn't work inside the school." She nodded, accepting that. "I'm going back now. Wills, mark a spot for me to appear. Like you would for yourself, but make it a 'Xander' spot." She nodded. "Buffy, don't get dead. I don't want to be her big brother and big sister." He kissed Dawn on the cheek. "Relax, Giles. She won't be hurt with me around. You know that." He waved and disappeared, heading back to the school. He landed and looked up, shaking his head. "Why did I put up with that?" he complained. "Giles looked at me like I was a freak," he said when he noticed Hagrid staring at him.
"My mentor and the one I borrowed books off of." He shrugged. "I guess it happens, but it sucks." He walked into the school, waving at McGonagall. "Sevvie?"
"His office, Xander. Do you have a moment?"
"Sure." He trotted over to her side, grinning at her. "I just got done talking Dawnie into agreeing to a month trial of living over here."
"Congratulations." She gave him a bright smile. "I'd like you to formally meet Harry and talk with him for a bit, all right?"
"Sure." He followed her into the classroom, looking around. "Where is he? I only see an old guy who growls and spits in disguise."
She laughed and canceled it. "Very good. We were wondering if you were that strong."
"Of course I am. I'm a Snape," he said proudly, smirking at her. He grinned at the other guy. "I don't make too much work for you, right?" He growled again. "Okay, never mind. Oh, hey, you've got the demonic cat. I've noticed her. She came up to me and rubbed on my leg. Nothing personal or anything, but most demons seem to like me a lot." He looked at McGonagall again. "Anything else on the agenda before dinner?"
"No, dear, just a simple test. When did you start being followed by a small spell?" she asked, pointing at it.
He grabbed it and put it into his pocket. "I have no idea, but I'm sure it's a Willow thing." He grinned and headed down the stairs. "Oh, brother dear," he called as he got nearer. "I have talked Dawnie into giving it a try for a month. So I'll be heading home in a few days." He handed over the portal, earning a frown so he put it into his pocket. "From Wills," he said with a grin. "She and Giles both thought you were really scary."
"As they should," he agreed smugly. "How was the United States?"
"Didn't see much of it. LA offices, then Cleveland shop." He shrugged and sat on top of one of the student desk. "Giles flinched each and every time I said something so I got a bit bummed and came back sooner. Isn't it nearly dinner?"
"It is," he agreed. "Get off the desk." Xander slid down, leaning against it instead. "Thank you. We really should work on your elementary potions skills."
Xander looked at his big brother, seeing the shimmer of illusion he could feel, and then checked underneath it. He was using a better one than McGonagall had, but it was still Draco. "Did you kidnap my brother or what?" he asked dryly.
"No, he's safe. Simply playing chess at the moment," Draco admitted, canceling his illusion with a smirk. "How was Dawn?"
"Pretty, bouncy, and happy to see me," he said smugly. "Just like usual."
"Do I still have permission to date her?"
"Ah! I only gave you permission to chat her up, not to date her. That can only come from Dawn." Draco grimaced, then nodded to show that he accepted that. "Sorry, thought you had understood."
"I do, but I'm always pushing my luck, just ask my father," he said smugly. "Speaking of, how are the ladies?"
Xander felt something hit his back and turned, picking it up. "Here, see for yourself. Today." He handed the picture over, making Draco's mouth hang open. "See? I wasn't making her up."
"Who's the redhead? Another Weasley?"
"*That's* Rosenburg?" He looked stunned. "She looks so...."
"Sweet? Kind? Gentle? She usually is."
"I was going to say normal. She looks nothing like our dark lord," he said dryly, handing it back. "Who's the blonde?"
"Summers, the slayer."
"Oh." He blinked a few times. "Did you date her?"
"Not for lack of trying, but no," he admitted with a small sigh. "I had the worst crush on her for the longest time." He pointed at Dawn. "That's Dawnie."
"I figured as much. She's only a bit older than the last picture you showed me." He grimaced. "My father's running for his life."
"Good!" Xander agreed happily. "I told him you were dabbling in poisons."
Draco smirked at him. "Good job. I figured it had to be you since Severus burst out laughing when he saw me."
"He was in a staff meeting," Xander admitted with a grin and a wink. "It was fun. I like yanking his chain. He reacts so *beautifully* to it."
"Like I do?"
"No. You react like I would, by thinking. Your father reacts by wanting it, wanting to destroy it, or being afraid of it."
"Hm. Good point," Draco admitted, then he moved closer. "He hasn't decided?"
"He needs a bit of convincing. He's keeping the option open in case things go wrong," he said gently. "Wouldn't you?"
"Well, yes," Draco agreed. "As I am now." He moved back again. "That is an interesting book he had on his desk."
"Mine, all mine," Xander said happily. "He's borrowing it."
"Fine, it's an interesting book *you* have," Draco decided with a small sneer. "Think it'll work?"
"Right now, we're looking at the information. We're not sure if the books hold a cure or not, but knowing how it was done would give us a better chance of breaking it. You know, I miss Druscilla," he announced. "Her and Miss Edith."
"Oh, an insane vampiress and her doll, which was a conduit for her visions from the stars."
"Another loony prophet?"
"No, she had some real visions, it was translating that got you. See, she was driven a bit insane when she was turned. Angelus was like that. Before that she had visions and she still has them, but now she treats her doll like it's alive and the stars talk directly to her. I miss her, she was a fun opponent. It was always *interesting* with her around. Spike would be the bad guy and Dru would go from trying to mother you to trying to eat you in five seconds. Or trying to screw you, she did that one to me a few times." Draco gave him a horrified look. "Never any follow through on my part, dude, but she made herself really plain. You would have liked Dru and Spike. See, you look a lot like Spike. Without the leather and jeans, or cigarette, but you do look a lot like him and you act like him too. He was probably one of my favorite vampires."
"Did you kill him?"
"No, he was the one we took in because he was made helpless. He helped us until he died during the battle of the First."
"Oh." He blinked a few times. "He's not the souled one, right?"
"Nope, later Buffy boyfriend than that one. That was Angel, Angelus with a soul." He smirked at him. "Nice guy in both phases. Hated me because I didn't like him in the least. Then again, he taunted me often enough about nearly marrying a former vengeance demon."
"Why?" Draco asked, tilting his head a bit to the side, like it would clear a thought path.
"Easy, I thought I loved her when she lost her powers." He shrugged. "I saw the future and it wasn't pretty. I'm sure she and Spike are playing strip poker right now somewhere in the afterlife." He shifted, crossing his feet and his arms. "So, why are you down here? Besides to jump me?"
"You're not really my type, Alexander," Draco said dryly. "I prefer softer bodies, ones with breasts who kiss well and know that their pleasure and my pleasure are supposed to coincide."
"Well, with Dawn, you might be doing a lot more oral sex than not," Xander admitted. "But she's a pretty girl who likes the good things in life, including a good boyfriend. You'd have to ask her about what she prefers. I'm not that far into her life. She never told me about that stuff."
"That's probably a good idea if you're taking on the role of parent in her life," Severus said as he walked in. "Mr. Malfoy, do you have a reason for this visit and chat?"
"I came to see what your brother had done to my father this time."
"Ah. Now that you know?"
"I'm mentally cackling and trying to figure out if I can borrow a book or three. Just to continue on with the trend," he said happily. "Not that I need them, I have something that would work quite well in that regard."
"As long as it's not my encyclopedia," Snape agreed. Draco pulled down three small books, letting him see them. "I will get them back?"
"If not, I'll get you new copies," he promised. "Thank you for the amusing information, Alexander. Have a nice evening." He left, heading back to his house.
Xander showed off the picture happily. "They took it for me."
"I see the one you were coddling in Sunnydale, Dawn. I see that *witch* Rosenburg. Who's the other?"
"Dawn's sister Buffy."
"Her? She's tiny! I thought she would have grown more after I met her that time."
"Yeah, and she's strong," Xander told him. "I've seen her lift up a couch so Tara could find her earring." He put the picture away. "I put the viewing portal Willow started in his pocket."
"Good," he said dryly. "We don't need such things here." He sat down behind his desk. "Anything else of note?"
"Dawn said she'd give it a try for a month. Buffy said that was fine. I scared the shit out of Giles so when did you two meet?"
Snape chuckled. "Back when he went bad, Alex. The same as I met your other friend. Have you ever met Ethan?"
"Once or twice. He's the reason I got possessed once and the reason Giles went back to being sixteen and shagged Buffy and Dawn's mom on the hood of a police car. Plus the reason Giles turned into a demon for a day. I really should visit him. Any idea where he is?" His brother handed over a letter. "Ahh, that was so nice of him. I'll have to go now." He waved and jogged out, heading for the barrier so he could go visiting again. He loved that guy. He appeared on the front steps of a house, knocking politely while he looked around. No one was paying any attention to him and they'd think that they were seeing things if they were. Ethan opened the door, giving him an odd look. "You invited me for tea?"
"I did," he agreed, letting him inside. "Ripper just gave me the most distressed call. You're a Snape?" Xander nodded. "Well. Shows how much I paid attention to the wrong one. Sit, Xander, please."
"Sure." Xander sat across from him. "You'd be happy and proud of me, Ethan. I turned eight people into bunnies today."
"Then I'm quite impressed. Who taught you?"
"Me." He smiled as he brought out the whistling pot he could hear. "This one?"
"That one as well," he agreed, taking it into the kitchen to finish assembling the tray. He came back with it and found Xander lounging on his couch. "Comfy?"
"Quite. Willow's doing her summoning thing again, only not on me. I think she wants Draco for some reason."
"Hmm, sowing chaos is usually my job," he said dryly, handing over a cup of tea. "There you go. Don't spill it. That's not my couch."
"I'll try," he agreed, getting a bit less comfortable. "So, what's the real reason behind the tea? Making sure I'm not going to bother you? Wanting to see what I'm made of? Waiting to see if I request books or teaching? I wouldn't mind having a few of them on a loaner basis but I can find copies elsewhere probably."
"A bit of all three, plus the chance to thank you for getting me out of there. Some of those people were quite hostile." He sipped his own tea, watching the younger man as the potion reacted to him. "Not used to your brother's arts?"
"No, I tasted it," he admitted, putting the cup down. "It wasn't necessary. You know I'm not like that, Ethan."
"I do," he agreed cheerfully. "This way I don't have to put up with the annoying banter like I did Miss Summers'."
"I only quip to be kind and cute," he said with a grin. "What did you need to know?" He held in the 'Master' that wanted to come out by sheer force of will. He'd be killing Ethan later for this and taking all his books back with him.
"For starters, rank yourself on the Bergman scale," he ordered calmly, getting comfortable.
"I'm not on that scale," Xander told him honestly. "I'm on the new meteor scale. I'm a marker actually. Gotta love the theoretical people out there."
Ethan got up to get a copy of that book, flipping through it until he came to the point he needed, then he skimmed it quickly. He put it down and looked at the boy. "Are you going to get into my way?"
"That depends. Are you supporting Voldemort or are you going to hinder my ability to retire and help Dawn find peace and security?"
Ethan blinked a few times. "It wasn't among my plans," he admitted. "I'd never support the imbecile either. You're against him?" He nodded. "Your brother isn't."
"Are you so sure of that?"
"Well, no," Ethan admitted. "I don't suppose you'll willingly tell me about that, will you?" Xander shook his head. "Fine. I'm sure I'll hear about it later." He looked the boy over. "You're going to their side?"
"I'm going to do both, Ethan. I started out wandless and I aim to continue. But I'm also going to learn my new side. It's time I think."
"I think so too," he agreed, staring at the boy. "You remind me so much of a younger me, Alexander."
"I should, we're related," he snorted. "Anything in the cookies?" Ethan nodded. "Why?"
"I had to be sure. You know that. My personal safety is too important to me at the moment." He smirked a bit, then let it drift into a sad smile. "The antidote's in the cream." Xander poured a cup of it and drank it with a grimace. Ethan waited until he could see the antidote had taken hold of him. "Now, what books did you want to borrow?"
"I'm up to the Rituals of the Damned but my copy, and the library's copy, got lost in Sunnydale high. I'd like to finish that and see if you had anything on the Dark Mark. I'm looking for one last miracle before I retire. Speaking of, do you know who the second warrior's medal belongs to?"
Ethan shook his head. "Not a clue, Xander. As for the books, I do have that one you mentioned but I'm not sure about the other. How is it formed?"
"Powerful pain into the arm that creates a tattoo-like thing, which is a link back to the creator."
"Then is it part of his soul?"
"Possibly," Xander admitted. "I hadn't been considering that. That would be dangerous."
"Yes, but he's not exactly sane if he's turned himself into a snake, now is he?" He got up and led the way into the library, waving a hand around. "Rituals of the Damned is on the third shelf toward the back. The follow-up, Rituals of the Dead, is beside it. Quite good thrillers. Then there's the others you might want to look at. Including some teaching journals I've found useful as I've moved up the ranks," he offered. "I'm done with them."
"I don't only do chaos."
"Yes, but it loves you," Ethan reminded him. He went to find them for the boy while he found his novels. "I wish I had known you were learning before. I would have sent you some things sooner, Xander." He pulled down a few more and added them to the stack. "There, that should do for now." He turned and found Xander looking at a book he had laid out. "Ah!" Xander withdrew from it. "Water magic. Not touchable or borrowable at the moment."
"Yeah, but he's got it all out of whack," Xander protested, running a finger down the page again. "Mermaids are more powerful than that." He looked up at him. "I should know. Mermaids are very powerful beings, Ethan, and this is sadly out of proportion. Maybe you and Sev should talk before you try this."
"No need," he said with a smile. There went that hope. "By any chance, you wouldn't know the proper one?"
"I know the steam that infected me was about one ounce to one gallon of steam. Something like a bit of blood or skin mixed into the water before it was heated." Ethan started to pant. "Sunnydale swim team."
"Oh, my," Ethan moaned. "I could use you as a potions ingredient."
Xander beamed at him. "Uncle Ethan, my former mother would be quite pissed if she heard you say that."
"Fine," he sighed, shaking his head. "I won't even think about it. Think I could get you to copy that and bring it to your brother? Maybe he could help me? I *really* want to pay Ripper back for sending me to Knockturn."
"Oh, I don't know. He doesn't seem to like Ripper at all," Xander said fondly. "I'm not sure how he feels about you."
"I wasn't part of the people who got caught after the Eyghon thing," Ethan said grimly. "He never saw me, only heard my name sworn by the others."
"Then copy it and write a note," he said with a shrug. "At the very worst you'll give him some amusement for a few minutes." He smirked at him. "All those?"
"All those," he agreed. "I want them all back as well, nephew."
"Yes, Uncle Ethan." He grabbed the stack, putting his novels on top. "Anything else?" The copy and note were handed to him. "Bless you kindly. Nothing else?"
"No. Here, your wand came out." He stuffed it back into the boy's pocket, buttoning it overtop of the thing. "Very nice by the way."
"If you break it, you make me a new one," Xander warned. "It took two trips for him to fit me." He headed to the entryway, deciding to go from there. "Later, Unc." He disappeared, heading back to the school. He made it all the way inside before the books started to wobble, and that's when he noticed the headmaster giving him funny looks. "Ethan thought my education was lacking," he said with a grin. "Some of it's for Sev." He toddled that way, hoping the books wouldn't fall. He kicked at the doorway since the portrait was open but the door closed. "Sev!" The door opened. "Help. The letter on top's for you. The others Ethan sent." The stack was taken and put down, letting him see who was in there. "Oh, thanks, Lucius." He looked at Sev. "Uncle Ethan wanted to know if you could figure out what the right proportion of mermaid was in that potion. He wants to get Ripper back for sticking him in Knockturn." He took the books back to the apartment, sitting down to get into the thriller he had been missing.
Severus opened the letter, reading it. Then he burst out laughing. "He wants to do what?" he laughed. Lucius tried to snatch it. "Oh, that little twit will pay," he said happily.
"Uncle Ethan?" Lucius asked.
"My stepmother's brother," Severus said with a wave of his hand. "Leave, Lucius. I have work to do."
"Yes, and we still have a meeting tonight and I was charged with bringing you."
"Then sit in Longbottom's seat since you're about as good in here as he was," pointing at it. "Do not touch anything, breathe on anything, or think about anything, which shouldn't be hard for you," he said with a sneer. He went back to his brother's couch, taking his book from him. "He wanted what?"
"He wanted to inflict it on Ripper but I noticed the mermaid was out of proportion based on what was used on me in high school. So he wanted to know if you could help him with that. Oh, and he gave me some sort of truth potion, and the antidote. So don't ask the personal stuff tonight, okay?" He grinned and took his book back. "Thanks, I've been wanting to finish this one for two years now."
"Fine." He went back to his classroom, noticing what had been touched. "What did you do to the regeneration potion?"
"I stirred it a bit. It looked like oatmeal," he defended.
Severus came over to look at it, grimacing at the texture. He put it back over the heat, making the flames go higher. Once it was warm again he would be able to tell if anything extra was added. He wouldn't put it past either Malfoy. The headmaster came in with a book, already in full grimace. "Ethan decided his education needed some additional input. He lent him some books." He took it and put it onto his desk, intending to give it back later on.
"Is he doing chaos magic, Severus?" Dumbledore asked.
"No, he does combative magic, Headmaster. Whatever works to win the battle is his motto about such matters. Though chaos seems to follow him around. I've often wondered if her side of the family had some sort of claim on him already." He smirked at his boss' long look. "He is perfectly fine, Albus," he said calmly. "He'll be leaving for the family home in a few weeks."
"Severus, who are the girls in that picture on your desk?" Lucius asked smugly from his seat. "He made me sit back here. I'm taking him to dinner you see."
"Ah." The headmaster nodded. "A good idea. He has been a bit busy."
Severus picked it up and looked at it. "Rosenburg, Dawn, and Summers." He blinked as the picture was taken from his fingers by his boss. "They're his friends."
"So I can see. They're smiling at him," Dumbledore agreed. "Which is which?" Severus got closer and pointed, murmuring each one's name. "Ah, she's a pretty young lady." He handed it back. "Another wandless?"
"No, someone who an artifact was entrusted to," he said quietly, glancing at Lucius. "You can meet her when she comes up."
"Fine. Thank you, Severus. Where is he now?"
"Reading some mystery novel about rituals and demons from the title."
"Ah! That wasn't a magic text. I'm quite happy about that," Dumbledore said as he left.
"No, I don't believe necromancy is his thing," Severus agreed dryly. The headmaster waved back at him. He turned to glare at Lucius. "I suppose we could make an exception for you however."
Lucius gave him a hurt look. "After all we've done together, Severus? You'd let him do things like that to me?"
"I'd hand him the scalpel or the ritual dagger," he said fondly, sneering at his nemesis. "I hear Draco's poisoning you. I knew he's asked to borrow a few books in the past." Lucius went pale. "Feeling a bit ill?"
"Not yet," he said grimly. "Even if he does, I'll get him before it works."
"Really? So sure of that? There are some *fascinating* ones that work on the nervous system. It's like you're having a stroke and a seizure at the same time," he said happily, smirking at him. "I've been looking forward to an exhibition of the thing. There's no antidote of course, works too fast you know." Lucius whimpered and moved his chair back some. "Then again, there are others that are more damaging and take much longer to kill you. They work by shutting down your speech centers first. No screaming I'm afraid, but horrible pain. Worse than any curse as it pops your cells one by one."
Lucius ran from the room to be sick.
"Good," Snape sneered, heading back to his rooms so he could disappear. "Going out for the evening. Be sure to eat, don't touch the regeneration potion. Lucius may have tampered with it." Xander listlessly waved a hand, engrossed in his story. Severus gave him a slight smile before disappearing to his secondary lab, well hidden in the school. Fortunately he had a second batch of the potion up here brewing in case something had happened down there, like Potter. Or Weasley. Or even a return of Longbottom for some odd reason. He sat down to work on it some more, smiling at the beauty of the complex thing. He summoned the paper Ethan had sent to work on it while he stirred. It was an ... amusing proposition. Perhaps he would be able to get Rupert Giles for being such a stuck- up prick. After all, the man hadn't helped his brother and he consorted with demons. His brother had probably learned to consort with demons from the man. He was definitely not the role model he'd want for such a young and impressionable girl like Dawn.
Xander strolled into the clearing the meeting was being held in, propelled by Lucius. "What part of 'no thanks' didn't you understand?"
"Where is your brother?"
"Fuck if I know, I was reading," Xander said dryly. "There are some fascinating post- death rituals that have been found by muggles and used as plots for books." He grinned his most irritating and goofy grin. "So, you wanted to see little old me?"
"Yes, Alexander, I did," Voldemort said, looking him over. "You're very young to be so strong."
"I grew up on the Hellmouth, dude, it's nothing compared to some of us."
"What did you call me?"
"Dude. It's a common term of address when you don't know someone's name or don't wish to use it. It's also surfer slang for when you're talking to another male surfer. Usually used as either a direct address noun or an additional pronoun, though I have seen it used on females in the past in the all-inclusive sense of 'we're all brothers of the waves'."
"Whine." He smirked and laughed. "You have no idea who and what you're messing with."
"Actually, I do," Voldemort sneered. "You're not that good, boy."
Xander burst out in giggles. "Oh, Gods, are you trying to be *scary*!" he laughed. "Dude, I've seen it done *so* much better, especially on a demon who made the whole *town* sing."
"Sing?" Lucius asked. "Why?"
"It's his power," Xander said with a shrug. "We all sang for about a day and a half. Some people were so distracted by the stuff that they died, but some of us faced him down while singing, or doing some limited dance numbers with our partner at the time." He looked at Voldemort again, smirking at him. "Again, the rumors weren't everything. Why would I want to expose my comfy life to the scorn of my friends, who couldn't even see me working magic when I appeared in front of them today." He stepped forward. "I've seen worse toads, Voldie, and I'm sure you're gonna try something, but it won't work."
"The Cruciatus works on everyone," he sneered, pulling his wand.
"Really? Well then go ahead and try it, sparky."
"Sparky?" Voldemort asked flatly. "Is that another thing?"
"No, it's a derogative name meaning that you're not that bright. A dim bulb. How do they say it over here? Not a loose nut, it's not loony or anything like that, it's stupid. That's good enough I guess. Stupid." He looked right at the dark lord when he said that last one.
"Crucio," he cast. Xander yelped, then rubbed a hand on his rear, before yawning and shrugging. "Why aren't you screaming!" he demanded.
"Because you're weak. Do you have any idea what it's like to be hit in the middle of the chest with a troll hammer?" Voldemort looked confused but slowly shook his head. "I do. It wasn't that much fun either. There were two of me and that was kinda fun once we figured it out, but otherwise it kinda hurt a bit. Having my eye popped hurt a bit too. That's right up there with having something trying to mummify you to save herself I guess. Getting your energy sucked out hurt a lot, but having an eye popped hurt more." He lifted up his eye patch. "See?" The Dark Lord backed away a step as the gruesome sight was exposed. "Eww, is it infected again? That I so do not need!" He shook his head as he resettled his eye patch. "There, better." He grinned again. "So your little curse, while effective on most, I just bled it back into the ground. I seem to be able to warp energy for some reason." He tapped his finger on his chin, considering it. "Oh, yeah, I learned magic on the Hellmouth. My whole body burned each and every spell I did." The others started to back away as he smirked at him. "So, you wanted to chat, Tom?"
"No, I do not want to chat. One spell will still kill you."
"If you say so," Xander said dryly. "Is that like your spell to cause pain that was basically a pinch to the ass?"
Voldemort glared at him. "You are not stronger. I can't see any magic in your aura at all."
"Really? Then let's do something minor." He looked around and then walked over to a stone, whispering at it. Then he stepped back. "Anytime now if possible," he called, walking away again. "Give him a minute, he was naked and torturing someone." Behind him the rock grew into a demon, an impressive, naked thing that towered over the humans. "Hey, Belch, they think I'm puny, man. Can you ...educate them a bit?"
Belch, the rock that looked like a demon, laughed, showing his broken teeth. "You know I'm not allowed on the mortal plane, Xander. You'd have to send them to me."
"Oops, forgot about that. What if I inscribe a pentagram? That help?"
"Quite a lot," he said in a different voice as he morphed into another demon. This time a real one. "Mr. Harris."
"Now, now, it's rightfully Snape and we both know that," Xander said, smirking at him. "Good to see you again, dear. How's the wife?"
"Oh, tolerable. They yours?"
"No, they're trying to torture me into joining their side of bad guys. I'm thinking a Rosenburg would be *real* helpful at the moment since I'm kinda tired with all the traveling I did today. You?"
"I could get her, for a fee," he said smugly.
Xander waved a hand. "Not an issue. Hey, if you feel like eating something, start with snakey there." He walked over to where Draco was, patting him down until he found the portal. "Sorry," he said with a grin. "Good for you?"
"Bloody wonderful. I love carrying around a portal from your pet psycho witch all day," he said dryly. "You should have told me you were summoning demons."
Xander winked. "Why? Where's the fun in that." Draco looked astounded but cleared it away quickly. "Good boy, Draco. We'll see. I showed Dawn your piccie. She thought you were kinda cute. Asked if you bragged a lot. Then again, she thought Ron might be fun too. Possibly some competition there."
"I can beat Weasley any day," he sneered smugly. "Especially when it comes to women."
"Hmm, but she's younger," Xander reminded him. He walked the portal back to where he had been, tapping on it before hanging it in midair. "Hey, Wills, look at where I am," he called. "It's a Voldie."
There was a shriek and the portal flared. "Demons now, Xander? Are you turning into Ethan?" she asked bitterly.
He looked at the demon, then smirked. "Wanna have some fun later?"
"Um, no, thanks. You've got a reputation for being bad for us, Alexander. You tend to get us killed and the wife might not like that overly much. Do have fun though," he said, disappearing quickly.
Willow looked back at him. "Jackass," she muttered, but she was smirking. "Bad Xander! Naughty! Go sit in a corner!"
"But where's the fun in that," he whined. "Just help me with the snakey guy so we can all go party later."
"Sure." She took his hand and they turned but Voldemort was running. "Hey, I'm not that scary....today," she called after him. "I don't have PMS or anything!"
"Actually, I believe you're that scary all the time now, love," Draco said fondly, stepping forward. "It's apparent the meeting is over with," he called. The others tried to move but they were frozen in place by a wave of Willow's hands. "That's not nice," he said smugly.
"Who said I wanted to be nice?" she asked with a snort. "You really want him to date Dawnie?"
"I said he could talk to her, but dating her was up to her," Xander reminded her. "He's powerful. He's protective of what's his. He's got money so he can spoil her with all the Gucci she wants. Plus, he's kinda cute if you go in for the too-pale to be human look. I thought that the whole liking vampires thing ran in the family with the way she liked Spike."
"He does kinda look like Spike," Willow agreed. She shrugged. "If she doesn't like you and you treat her badly, I'll kick your ass later," she said with a grin. "Fair enough?"
"More than," Draco agreed. "Why didn't you two date?"
"We tried, but we were cheating on our mates," Xander shared. "It nearly got some of them dead. My girlfriend was not a happy camper."
"My Oz either," Willow sighed. "Besides, we're like brother and sister, Draco. Where's the fun in that?" She looked behind her as people started to appear. "Hmm. It's a Weasley."
"Yeah, Ron seems to show up whenever I have to do something big," Xander agreed, leaning on her shoulder. "Hey, Ron, come meet Willow." Ron's head popped up and he gulped air. "She's behaving. Come here." He walked over, walking around the frozen bodies. "I thought she might like some stress relief and she created a neat little portal that let her see what the stupid idiot was like. Which Draco so very nicely hid for me all day without knowing what it was for," he admitted. He poked Willow, making her frown and swat him, but she grinned when he did. "So, this is Ron Weasley. His brothers run a prank shop that Sevvie wouldn't let me go into."
"Wow. He managed to keep you away from pranks? Did he keep you from the sweet shop too?"
"No, I visited there before I turned some death eaters into bunnies," he shared. "Ron, this is Willow, one of my bestest buddies. She was helping me scare him today."
"It was my pleasure," she said with a grin. "I hate things like him. You'd think he wouldn't want to be a vampire of the spirit, but *no* the man has to suck that badly." She looked at Draco again. "Remember, I can kill you if you bother Dawnie. Her sister will let me and cheer me on like the cheerleader she once was." Draco nodded quickly and firmly, before wandering off. She smiled at Ron and held out a hand. "Willow Rosenburg, witch to the slayer. Here to help if necessary."
Ron shook his hand. "Ron Weasley, Junior Auror. Hey, boss!" he yelled when he felt him pop in. "C'mere please? We've got a new warrior on our side." He looked at Willow. "Who was the second medal for? Xander included it in his report."
"You know, I asked Angel that and he said he didn't know either. Neither did Ethan. Oh, he's working on something since Ripper gave him away as a slave again."
"We'll be on the lookout for it," Willow said cheerfully. "Oh, hey, it's you!" she said, letting Xander go to run over and hug the head auror. "You were so nice when I was over here to be fixed. Thank you for that. I would've written out a note or something but I didn't know how to send it. So thank you for helping me with my grief and depression. I'm much better now. I helped close the Cleveland hellmouth the other day and I didn't have a bit of problems."
Ron stepped closer to Xander. "Is she barmy?"
"No, that's a Willow," he sighed. "A normal Willow."
Ron looked at him. "Are you sure you're both right in the head?"
Xander grinned at him. "I don't know. They say that the insane are the last to realize it. And isn't that a matter of opinion usually?"
"Yeah, it is," Ron agreed with a grin. He walked Xander back to his boss. "They sent the Dark Lord screaming."
"Actually he went for a run," Willow corrected with a grin. "It was kinda fun. I haven't gotten to play taunt-the-vampire in a while."
"That always was a fun game," Xander agreed with a wistful sigh. "I should probably get back to the school before Sev realizes I'm gone. She stuck them if you've got a problem with them being frozen."
"No, not in the least," the head auror said with a smile. "Were they here with the dark lord?"
"Each and every one of them," Xander said proudly. "Lucius brought me. I've been kinda using Draco to hide a portal for Willow all day without his knowledge so when his daddy drug him too, she was free to get a good look at him so she could help me with my plans for him. Hey, Ron, wanna get a beer tomorrow night? I'm a great battle planner and someone said you were too."
"Sure, mate," Ron agreed happily. "Only leave Willow in the colonies, 'kay?"
"Sure, Ron," Willow sighed, rolling her eyes. "All men are afraid of powerful women. I don't know why. Anyway, I've got to get back to Buffy's side. We're doing pedicures." She waved and trotted off, heading back through her portal and closing it.
Xander made sure the frozen ones stayed frozen. "Double dose of it," he told Ron. "Just in case. Come get me tomorrow after dinner. Let's see what I can do for you guys." He winked as he strolled off, sending himself home. He appeared with a yawn, deciding to walk back up to the school. He walked in the front door, noticing the worried teachers. "What?"
"We felt a power surge," McGonagall said worriedly.
"Oh, that was probably Willow. She wanted to see the Dark Lord for himself so we sneered at him together. She's home now." He grinned at them. "She was fully sane, fully charged, and really happy and bouncy. She's just closed the Cleveland hellmouth and that always makes her happy and giddy while the powers work through her." He grinned at the headmaster. "Good news, Voldemort took off away from her."
He smirked at him. "You are a dangerous man, Alexander. It's a good thing you're on our side."
"Hmm, more on Sev's side," he noted. "Besides, I want to retire. I'm having beers with Ron tomorrow to see what I can do about some battle plans. We'll have to wait and see how many of the frozen people tonight stay in custody." He headed down to his brother's rooms, and back to his book. He was really liking this book. He had missed things before that he was catching now.
Severus looked up from his reading. "Where were you?"
"Out for a stroll. I called to talk with Willow." He laid down on the couch to go back to his book, smirking behind it. "She got to threaten Draco. Ron thought she was pretty neat if I read his face right."
"Rosenburg was here!" he shouted, jumping up. "Why?"
Xander lowered his book. "Because your master decided to be a dim bulb and get Lucius to try and take me. She wanted to get a good look at him, and we did laugh." He grinned, going back to his reading. "It's fine, he's running and there's a lot of people in custody."
Snape moaned, sitting down to stare at his little brother. "How did you do that?" he asked finally.
"I used what worked on vampires. I was a mouthy, smart ass and then I proved it by conjuring a small illusion demon, which was taken over by another but he decided to go home so I wouldn't make fun of him again. He's an old buddy of ours. Very helpful to Angel." He turned the page, getting lost again while his brother mumbled.
"I am going to kill Fudge for what he forced you to become," Severus vowed. "I will make it horrible and last for eternity if possible!" He noticed his brother wasn't listening and forced himself to calm down. Being that upset wouldn't do him any good, but planning and cunning would. Yes, he could count on those things and they would help him fix his brother as well. Before he died doing such stupid things.
Ron looked at his boss once everyone else was gone. "Still want him on the team?" he asked dryly.
The head of the aurors shook his head. "No. Not in the least. Let him retire in peace, Ron. Definitely go have beers with him tomorrow night. He might have an idea or six, but do not let him suck you into his world. He's more insane than your twin brothers after Percy tried to torture them." His eyes went wide as he felt more magic coming in. "Oh, no, what now?"
The demon popped up. "Is he gone? I need to find a few oak leaves for the wife. She's expecting you know."
Ron held up a hand and used his wand to sever a large branch, floating it over. "How's that?" he asked with a grin.
"Thanks, kiddo. The future offspring will love you and so will Angel because I can go back to helping him." He took the branch and disappeared again.
Ron looked at his boss. "Angel?"
"Long story," he moaned. "Oh, Gods, long story." He took him back to the office and let him have the book. Since Alexander liked him so much, he should probably know the whole story. That was what they had gotten off Willow during some questioning about her friends. She had never said that her friend Xander was that powerful or that dangerous, but maybe she was blinded by her own power. Or at least he hoped the boy couldn't hide himself that well. He sat down to put his head down on his desk. At least until someone knocked on his door and then he jumped and screamed.
His underling stepped in and looked around. "All right, sir?"
"Yeah, nightmares, that's all," he said weakly. "The people we brought in?"
"All had the Mark and all are crying or pleading for mercy at the moment, but one. He's gone all stony and silent. What happened to Mr. Goyle today, sir?"
"Oh, Alexander got him earlier. Let him go. Tell him to go back to Malfoy Manor and to stay there, never doing another bad thing again." He nodded and went to do that. The boy hugged and kissed him before trotting off, crying happily as he walked. The boss flooed home, going to have a stiff drink while he turned off his floo, put back up his 'keep out' wards, and locked every single lock in the house. Even the one on the bathroom door. It was going to keep something out, he was sure of it. Then he curled up on his bed to sleep, clutching his old teddy bear like it was his lifeline. "It's all right, Teddy. He won't get us here. Alexander can't make us like him and he can't get us because we're aurors. We'll be safe," he promised the worn ear. Fortunately his bear didn't talk back to him.
Severus looked up as his daily paper came flying in, then at the teachers around them w ho were watching him. He knew what this was about. He had heard it all last night from Draco. He took the paper and calmly unrolled it, looking at the headlines. Nothing. He smirked and turned the page, going back to the classifieds. Last month he had found a set of his books in there that he still had in his possession. Such scamming was beneath most of his house, but one of his had tried. He looked at McGonagall when she coughed. "Yes?"
"Severus, there was an attack last night," she said calmly.
"Yes, I heard my brother got drug off the school's grounds and taken before him. He also mentioned that Willow said hello," he said, going back to his reading. "Nothing unusual there. She's an irritating twit."
"You don't find it odd that your brother managed to make him run?" McGonagall asked gently.
He sneered at her. "Why wouldn't he? He's a powerful wizard. At least as powerful as Rosenburg. I probably would have enjoyed watching it if I hadn't been in the lab." He went back to his reading, smirking at his brother when he walked in wearing a t-shirt and a new pair of pants. "I thought you threw all those out, Alex."
"So did I, but it's comfy and the house elves said I can't wear my new shirts, that one of them accidentally cursed them," he said with a shrug as he sat down. "So I'm back to t- shirts for a day." He grinned at the other teachers. "Good morning," he said cheerfully. "How are things looking for today?"
"Just fine, Alexander, thank you," McGonagall said with a smile. "And yourself?"
"Quite lovely. I had the most wonderful dreams last night. I put a huge pool out behind the manor and spent most of the day tanning and reading my comics."
"Not on your bloody life," Snape said dryly, turning the page again. "We have a pond, Alex. You and Dawn may both use it."
"The other side of Mother's garden."
"Ah. Thanks. I was going to move most of my stuff up there today. Have the goblins gotten me a new key yet?"
"No, not yet. I'll call them today to make sure of where it is." He folded his paper and looked at him again. "The Prophet seems to think you're interesting and insane."
"Did they talk to Ron or Draco?" he asked smugly.
"Probably Mr. Malfoy," he agreed. "However, they think you're insane because you're apparently not scared."
"After facing Glory, the Gucci wearing hell goddess who wanted us all dead, why would I be scared of that snake faced little bastard?"
"Good point," McGonagall agreed quickly. "Was she nasty as well?"
"Blonde, stuck up, bad attitude. Thought she ruled the bloody world," Xander said with a small smirk. "Taunted Buffy over having to have a real job. She sucked the sanity out of people to keep her own."
"Did she get you?" Severus asked.
"Funny, but no," he sighed with a smirk for his big brother. "I'm like this because I've been doing this for much too long."
"Then you're retiring as soon as this fiasco is done with," Severus noted. "Perhaps your children will be saner."
"Kids? Now? When I'm a carefree, wealthy, *wanted* bachelor?"
"When you do find a woman who will put up with your carefree insanity, there will have to be children. I doubt I could stand a toddler," Severus reminded him dryly.
"Sure. But that's in the *future*, bro, not right now. In Sunnydale I couldn't get a girl to look my way. In LA I was still a bit too geeky and earthy around all the model wannabes. Unless I went to a gay club or a street-level bar. Then I got hit on because I looked tough. Which I'm not really, but the eyepatch makes them think that. But over here, well, I'm nearly Adonis so I'm going to take advantage of that." He smirked at them and wiggled his eyebrows. "I'm going to be a good boy while I date a lot of women."
"I doubt most witches would sleep with you," Snape noted. "At least not on the first date. Probably not even on the fifth."
"You mean real dates? Like where I don't have to buy the damn world to hand it to her each payday?"
"I'm going to dig up your ex and chop her into bits," Severus said grimly.
"At least she was an 'ex' demon."
"True. That is a nice change in your life," Severus agreed.
"You dated demons?" McGonagall asked.
"Never intentionally. They seemed to be drawn to me though." He grimaced. "It's like I had a bit 'I'm tasty' sign in my aura back in Sunnydale. A former mummy who killed to save her own life. A giant praying mantis looking for sperm. A few vampiresses. A few vampires too. A cheerleader, though she was only a demon in attitude. Then my former demon honey. She wasn't too bad, but she died after we broke up. That whole First thing got her in the end. She was in vengeance."
"Oh. Interesting. What about in LA?"
"There, I got almost no one. A few more vamps now and then who wanted me because of who I was working with. I still miss Dru," he sighed. "You would have loved her. Sweet as hell, until she got hungry or the stars told her something. She had a direct line to them after Angelus got through with her. It came through her doll." She winced. "She's not too bad. Proven to be right time and time again, just barmy and not all there." He shrugged. "She said she was going to make me hers but we kinda had to get rid of her."
"Thankfully she's dead." Severus sent a small prayer for that fact.
"No she's not, she went back to her slime demon," Xander told him. "She's back in Brazil."
Severus looked at him, eyes narrowed. "I will kill you if she becomes your mate."
Xander burst out in giggles. "Sev, I don't miss her for that. She was damn handy to have around. Plus, Spike and Draco could have been brothers. She'd adore the little carpet muncher. She'd probably have Lucius as a snack or three, but she and Draco would get along great."
"See that they don't meet," he hissed. "Draco would kill you."
"Oh, I've already told him about Dru," Xander admitted with a grin. "He walked away shaking his head. Don't worry, I have special Dru sensing abilities. She'll never get near Dawn."
Severus shook his head, one hand drifting up to cover his eyes. "Alex, you're not right in the head," he complained. "Mr. Malfoy would be a very dangerous vampire."
"Why? He can't fight physically, he's cunning but he's not the sort who could take over the world from an armchair, and he doesn't know that much about demons or demonic magic. It'd take a long time for him to become a Master vampire." He frowned. "You know, the most powerful vampire I ever heard of was a self-help guru. He was running a vampire empowerment program. If Angel hadn't stopped him, he probably would have at least taken over a country."
"A self-help guru?" Snape demanded. "Why?"
"Because he was running a 'bring three, eat one' program and teaching fledges how to get past being a fledge. He was making them feel good about themselves and what they could do, making them see how powerful they were, things like that. Some of his people are still around. Including the most brainless vampire in the universe, Harmony." He grimaced. "We're talking no worries about anything that's not her clothes, her nails, or her next meal. Even when she was human. She was not a deep well in the least."
McGonagall snickered. "I've known a few around here too," she promised. "I'd hate to see them turned."
Snape looked at her. "Do not tempt him, he might have someone come do that."
"No, I don't miss Harmony in the least," Xander said happily. "I hated Harmony. She was an annoying bitch most of the time who decided I was less than worthy to be in the same city as she was. Let's just say she didn't have a clue."
"Good. We don't need more of them tracking you down," Severus said grimly. "If this Dru person shows up, stake her on sight, Alex."
"She'll probably be bringing me a message so I'll run her off if I can't."
"Fine, whatever, do not let her into the family home."
"I'd never do that. I'd take her out to a park at night. Or maybe over to Pansy or Draco's," he said smugly. "She really did look like she was the victim of an unfortunate curse."
"It's called inbreeding," McGonagall assured him.
"How are we this morning?" Dumbledore asked as he walked into the room with Ron behind him. "Alex, he wanted to see you today."
"Sure. Morning, Ron."
"Morning, Alex. Would you happen to know how a vampire got into Diagon singing about you?"
Severus looked at Alex. "Is part of this early warning system perhaps thinking about her a lot?"
"Possibly. The last time she showed up I got dreams a few nights before. Then again she was sending them at me." He grinned at Ron. "Did you stake her?"
"No, we couldn't! She's bloody powerful!"
"That's Dru," he agreed happily. "Wanna see her freak, bring Draco in front of her." Ron gave him an awed look. "Her special one, her knight, was Spike. William the Bloody pain in my ass could have been Draco's older brother."
"Hmm, might have to try that," Ron said fondly. "Maybe she'll eat him and he'll quit being a blight." He grinned at Xander again. "Eaten yet?"
"Not quite. We were chatting about why demons loved to try and date me."
"Because you're powerful and you're insane," Ron told him, sounding kind of fond of him. Snape burst out in snickers, trying to hide them. "Good morning, Professor Snape. How are you this morning? May we borrow your brother for a bit?"
"Have him," he said with a wave of his hand. "Before I have to worry about pools at my house."
Xander made himself a sandwich from the things on the table and grabbed a glass of juice. "Let me change. C'mon." He headed down the hall, eating as he went. He walked in and found a house elf working on his clothes. "Got anything done yet? I'm needed at the Ministry." She held up a full outfit. "Thanks. I could do without the pants, I'm already wearing some." He patted her on the head with a grin. "You're so great."
"Thank you," she said happily, taking the glass from him as soon as it was empty and leaving him to change.
"She charmed some of my clothes by accident," he shared, taking the all-black outfit into the bathroom to change. "Find me a vest, Ron."
"Sure, Alex." He found one with crimson stitched swirls, and a bit of silver here and there, handing it over when Xander came out. "Shoes?"
"Boots. I need to break them in some more." He stepped into them then bent to pull them up. When he was done he grabbed his robe, his wand, and a book in case there was a wait, following Ron out and to the Ministry through the floos. He waved at the head auror, who had just squeaked at the sight of him. "Morning, guys," he called as he walked past them.
"Isn't that Alexander?" one auror hissed to another. The other nodded. "Why is he here?"
"That vampire bitch wanted him," he hissed back. "She's not right in the head either."
"No she's not," Xander called back without looking. They shuddered and decided they had some sudden field work they *had* to do right then, running away from the strange wizard. Xander nodded politely at the guards outside of a room. "The vampire?" They grimaced and then shuddered when he opened the door. "Hey, pookie?" he called, sounding fond. "I'm not the daddy, why did you come here?" Dru spun to look at him, then broke out in a smile. "Hi, Dru. Is there a reason you tracked me down?"
"The daddy said I had to," she said with a small pout. "He said you're being mean to the darkness."
"Well, yeah, it's kinda a calling of mine," he agreed, sitting down and patting the table next to him. "Come sit, Dru, tell me what the stars tell you." She smiled and drifted over, acting like Ron wasn't even in the room. She settled in his lap, smiling at him. "What do they whisper?" he asked in a beguiling voice.
"That you're a naughty boy, Alexander. That you take out our kind." He nodded. "That you want to retire from service. They whisper that what should be yours isn't yet." She stroked his cheek gently. "Miss Edith says that if you retire, you'll have the next warrior for the Light, that you should be able to pass on a medal that way." He gasped, staring into her eyes. She gave him a gentle smile. "Miss Edith says that you're being very naughty and that you know someone who would spank her horribly. Do you think they would? She's been a naughty girl again."
He kissed her on the cheek. "Possibly. I know someone who looks so much like Spike he could be his brother." She purred and grinned at him. "Are there any other messages?" She leaned closer to kiss him on the forehead. "Who was that from?"
"My Spikey. He's around you know. He likes your new toy as well." She got closer to his face. "Do not trap him and then try to destroy him, he will eat you," she whispered. "He can get free of the worst things, he has experience with traps. You must trap him and let him lie, then he'll finally fade away. Otherwise the dark brother will have to destroy his light side and there won't be any more nasty sun." She stood up, smiling down at him. "Can I go play now?"
"It's light outside, princess," Ron told her. She pouted at him. "You'd burn, it'd hurt."
"It'd leave Miss Edith without a mommy," Xander pointed out. "Disappear after the sun goes down. Sleep now, Dru. Rest so the stars can sing and cry for you." She nodded, wandering over to a corner to lie down. He followed Ron out of the room, looking at the guards. "Let her sleep then escort her away from Diagon. Leave her in a park."
"Sir, we don't take orders from you," one of them noted dryly.
"Yeah, but if you don't, she'll eat you," Xander said sarcastically. "That's Druscilla, one of the Four Scourges of Europe. Her father was the vampire I was working with in LA."
"Oh, shit," Ron said, backing away from him. "I saw that book!"
Xander gave him a sideways look, then grinned at him. "Willow?" He nodded. "She get past when he got back his soul and left? He's been cheesing off LA now for a few years."
"Yeah, she did," he admitted. He looked at the guards. "I'll drop her off if you won't. I don't want her anywhere near us."
"Fine, if the boss agrees," the other guard agreed. "Is she going to need anything?"
"A nap," Xander told him. "If that door opens, duck and scuttle. She will attack. She will laugh while she turns you. She's also one of those who likes to fuck with your mind. I learned it from watching her." They shuddered and he grinned. "Be safe. Night, Dru."
"Night, my prince," she whispered from the open door. Both guards scuttled off, making her laugh. "They are good toy soldiers," she told him, smiling at Ron. "You're not a nice man. Would you like to have tea?"
"No thanks. Don't drink the stuff usually," Ron admitted. "I've got to take Alex away now."
She laughed. "Take him all the way home now. He's needed at home. The witches call for his blood and the shiny one is very needy. She needs to be held like my dolls do." She closed the door and went back to her corner.
"Welcome to my life, Ron," Alex said as he clapped him on the back. "Pretty soon we'll have you in a loud shirt, cracking bad jokes, and filling in the poignant warrior hero roll." He strolled off, letting Ron have the time to shake his head and groan.
"I thought I already did that job," Ron called, jogging to catch up to him. "Except for the loud clothes. We don't do much of that around here." They walked outside, heading for the outer muggle world. "Hey, Alex, can I ask you something?"
"Weren't you scared?"
"Hell yes," he snorted. "Each and every fucking battle. It's a sign of intelligence to be scared when you're facing someone powerful and more trained. Or even just a lot of vampires or demons." He looked at Ron. "It's the ability to push past it that makes the difference in how the world turns out. I could have run away after we didn't save Jesse that first fight. I had ample opportunities to grow up a normal, brassed off, asshole of a teenager. I could have let Buffy drift into a life of 'do I wear the nailpolish and outfit that hides demon blood or the one that hides vampire blood' and Willow with her. She's already partially there. Then again, if I hadn't fought, they would have had to deal with me at least once. I'm a medium."
"You look like an extra-large," Ron joked.
Xander gave him a shove. "Not that sort, and actually it depends on the cut of the clothes. Most of the times my pants are extra-extra large," he said smugly, smirking at him. A sudden thought hit him and he understood Dru's words. "We've got to go to my uncle's. C'mon." He jogged out of the alley, Ron behind him, and finally found Ethan's house the muggle way. He pounded on the door, walking in with a shove for Ethan. "That's Ron, we need into your library," he said succinctly.
Ethan gaped at his back. "Why?"
"Because Dru gave me a hint. We can trap his spirit and powers, but we have to use something that can't be destroyed right off or it'll only let him go," he called back. "I need to suck him out and funnel him into something that can be safely stored."
Ethan shut the door with a sigh. "Red book, fifth shelf from the window, second shelf from the floor," he called as he walked. He found Xander looking and pulled it out, handing it over. "Are you sure?"
"Yeah, I'm sure," Xander said absently. "Dru said I could suck him out but to be careful because he could eat me. I'm a medium, it all makes sense."
Ethan looked at Ron, who shrugged. "I thought he looked like an extra-large myself," he joked.
Ethan rolled his eyes. "He's like a you from back in that part of hell," he said bitterly. "That book and the black one done in hide would have what you need. You may *not* borrow them. They are not part of my lending library."
"Not an issue," Xander admitted, finding some clean paper and sitting down to copy verbatim what the book said. He didn't want to miss anything. "Sit, Ron, it'll take me a few minutes. I'm trained in this from the Slayer corps."
"Sure. Can I help?"
"It depends, can you use chaos magic?" Ethan asked.
Ron shuddered. "No thanks." He got up and wandered back toward the kitchen. "Should I put on some tea?"
"Thank you, Mr. Weasley," Ethan called. He sat down, taking Xander's pen from his fingers. "You can't."
"I can, I just can't use myself as an anchor." He took the pen back, playing with it. "It'll make him more than weak enough to kill him. We can store the box or whatever somewhere safer. Dru said to let him die before we tried to destroy it, but maybe there's something?" he blatantly asked. "I don't want to keep fighting this stupid ass war, Unc."
"I understand, Xander. This has been going on too long. The ravings of one mad man are more than dumb. He should have been stopped long ago, but that was the duty of his own people."
"They would have had to of taken him out of the school," Ron said as he returned with most of the tea tray. "We can't do that until he's an adult. Truthfully, there were a few times that they could have captured him but the aurors failed to do so."
"Why?" Ethan asked.
Ron shrugged. "I don't know. We only have accounts that they failed, not who failed or why they failed. Otherwise, there'd be some damn sorry aurors." He watched Xander copy, then looked at Ethan again. "So, do your sort have schools?"
"No," he snorted. "I wish at times that we did. Then again, it would be a thing of chaos so I might have to teach there," he said dryly, smirking at Ron. "I was nearly one of your kind but my parents decided they couldn't afford to send us both. They made Dumbledore decide and he chose my sister." He glanced at Xander, meeting his eyes. "I'm not sure if you were a prophecy baby or not," he admitted quietly. Xander shook his head. "No?"
"Nope. Just an inconvenience to the dark." He smirked at his uncle, then at Ron. "See, his sister is my mother, and she married Snape's dad when he was a seventh year." Ron shuddered. "Exactly. Dad had money, mom was a whore at times."
"Your brother called her a tavern wench," Ethan admitted with a grin. "I was at the wedding. He was not a happy camper as you Yanks say."
Xander snorted. "I'm not sure Sev's ever been a happy little camper. Maybe I should do something about that," he mused as he went back to his copying. "So, Unc, did you decide to do wandless because you wanted to show them up or just to create hell on earth?"
"A bit of both," he sighed. "I wanted to be the special one. Everyone knew I had the gifts but they all studiously ignored it." His fingers tapped on the table. "So one year I found a book on the wiccan magic in the library and I studied it. I levitated a pencil. Then at one holiday dinner, I called the turkey down to me. My parents about died," he admitted with a grin.
Xander looked up at him again. "You know, Willow started out with a pencil too, then she moved right to Hellmouths and souls."
Ethan smirked at him. "I made a deal with Janus and moved to demonic magic. You really should try that one sometime, Xander."
"Why? I can already summon and unsummon. Wes was not that impressed when I pulled his ass out of the magical fire a few months back. Yelled at me for hiding the fact that I can do things," he snorted. "Like he's one to talk."
"Wesley isn't that powerless," Ethan admitted. "He simply decided to pretend he was so the Watchers would leave him alone. As did I when I was sucked into that ignoble organization."
Ron looked shocked. "You?"
"Yup, him," Xander said fondly. "That's how he met Ripper. That's also why he likes to play with Ripper's head."
"They used me to help the girls train," Ethan told Ron. "Summoning this and that thing to make them better and able to handle them all. It was boring, tiring, and they never let me into the library. I was a useful tool to them, the same as the girls are. Though I don't know how the world would have gone on without a few of them."
"Hey, I brought Buffy back to life," Xander reminded him. "I'm just as guilty as you are of keeping them in perpetual slavery to the old system." He glanced up again. "Now they're going military style."
"Bloody wonderful. You know that the power of evil is equal to the amount of good, correct?" Xander nodded, grimacing. "So what's coming?"
"I'm hoping like hell it's a demon who kills by making them have bad hair," Xander admitted. "Most of those girls would die for that. Especially after some of the examples they've had. Hey, if you can manage that one instead of the singing demon, go for it," he encouraged. "Just let me get Dawn safely away."
"Singing demon?" Ethan asked dryly. Xander nodded, giving him an odd look. "How?"
"Dawn. Accidentally on purpose. She wanted attention." He went back to his notes. "I need to learn a copying charm."
"Not on those books you don't," Ethan cautioned. "There's no telling what might come out."
"I thought Dawn didn't do magic," Ron said, still looking a bit confused.
"She actually doesn't usually but she was playing with the talisman and wishing someone would give her some attention. So the show-tunes demon showed up to take her as his consort. Covering for her put me fairly low on Buffy's list of likes. I think I'm right under thong underwear still. That's after I saved her ass again though, so I have no idea how far down below plaid I was before that."
"Maybe we should get her to come up for a lecture," Ron suggested lightly. "Let her talk to the Defense classes. I'm sure Dumbledore would *love* to meet her. Plus she could check up on Dawn."
Xander had to put down his pen, he was laughing too hard and he didn't want to accidentally write on the books. "Oh, Gods, I can see Sev's face," he snickered.
Ethan tried to choke it in, but couldn't. He ended up laughing out loud and leaning on the table for support. "Dear Gods Below, he would kill her. Can we?"
"I'll suggest it to Harry," Ron said with a bright grin. "He'll suggest it to the Headmaster and the Headmaster is more likely to implement it if Harry suggests it. Just give me pictures or let me be there when she meets Snape."
"Big bro would kill me if he knew I was even thinking about that. He has met Buffy but she doesn't remember him. There's a reason why he hardly ever came to Sunnydale."
"I needed that," Ethan admitted, wiping the moisture off his cheeks. "Ronald, if you ever decide to study magic, come to me first," he suggested smugly. "I'm sure I can find a place for you on Janus' side."
"Yeah, bedside," Xander taunted. "How is your lover, Ethan?"
"I don't see him as much anymore," he admitted. "Only two or three times a month now. He thinks I'm not as fun any more."
"Hey, I can always give you ideas," Xander said smugly. "Here's an idea, switch Willow and Buffy's body, have Willow want to take hers for a test drive, and have Buffy have to cast something to save her body."
"Only if I can make sure that Miss Summer's body only goes for Ripper," he said smugly.
"Sure, what do I care?" Xander asked with a grin. "I'm all for fun. Don't tell her I said that, but hey. It's payment for letting me use your books," he promised with an evil smirk.
"Xander, when you said you brought Buffy back, did you mean a spell?" Ron asked suddenly.
"Not a clue. I thought it was only CPR, but then again I do have some very strong instinctive magic. That's why I survived so long. That and the fact that I can run and hide with the best of them. Speaking of spells, did anyone ever figure out what Willow hit me with all those times? It hurt like hell!"
"I know at least one of them was the killing curse," Ethan noted. "It's still flashing around in your aura."
"Are you sure we're not related to some form of Death, Unc?"
"I used to be until you became the dealer for him." Xander beamed at him for that compliment. "Copy faster, Alex. I had things I wanted to do today."
"Sev did look over that potion," Xander admitted. "I'm not sure if he's helping or not."
"Oh, I've decided to add to it. He'll be a merboy by the time I'm done with him," Ethan said smugly.
"You defeated the killing curse?" Ron asked, very serious now. "How?"
"Instinctively," Xander said with a shrug. "Not a clue otherwise. All I know was that it was painful and I got hit seven or eight times with curses from her. What they all were, I have not a clue. Speaking of clues, Ethan, why can I resist the cruciatus?" Ethan had a momentary shocked look before shaking his head and going for another book. "It felt like someone had slapped me on the ass instead of making me hurt. I don't know how in the hell I did it, but it wasn't that neat. Pissed the demon wannabe off, but I don't like to be spanked."
"How did you excuse it?" Ron asked.
"Troll hammer to the chest. Eye popped a while back. Multiple injuries in my life, all seemingly less worse than they should have been."
"Troll hammer?" Ethan asked.
"Toth. Anya's ex. Split me in two for a bit," he said, going back to his copying.
"Xander, if I asked, could I have some of your blood to see if I could distill a pure syrup of chaos?" Ethan asked dryly.
"Sure, but you have to share any and all good potion parts from me with Sev. Or else he'll attack you over me."
"I think he'd mind if Ethan cut you up."
"Not if he got parts," Xander said with a small shrug. "I'm realistic. Severus and I are close, but we're not exactly what you would expect brothers to be, and not that close. Since I grew up over there and I'm from a reference point well outside his normal world he doesn't understand me very well. Then again, neither do a lot of people I guess. Remember, you can't give Willow any of me, Ethan."
"Of course not, Xander. Once you're dead from saving the world, we'll be sure to make you quite useful again to stop the apocalypse after that," he said as he read. He sat back down again, not drawing his attention from the book. "If I die, you've got to promise to send my balls to Ripper of course. He used to love playing with them and has since decided he took them off once or twice. That way he can keep the only parts of me he loved." He turned the page, staying in his book.
"Sure, Unc. Make sure Ripper knows that you're my revenge for not finding me and helping train me too."
Ron looked sick by now. "Can we change the subject before I have nightmares?"
"Of course," the men said together.
Ron stared at them both. They were both crazy. They were saving the world and they were insane. Shit, they were doomed.
Xander walked into the school, holding the vial and the note for his big brother. "Here, Sev." Severus looked up from his writing, giving him an odd look. "From Ethan. He said he found it and he can't use it because it was blessed."
Severus took the vial, sniffing it gently. "What is it?"
"Blood of a mohr demon, which heals." He handed over the note. "There, from him. You're welcome. I'm moving my clothes back to the house today."
"No, stay," he ordered. "You can move back after the final battle." He stood up, looking at his brother. "What were you thinking for that?"
Xander pulled out a folded bunch of papers. "Doing something spectacular so you can hit him," he said with a grin. "Dru told me."
"You're taking the word of an insane vampire?"
"No, I'm taking the word of a seer who reminded me not to put myself directly in the way of the soul sucking. Dru's a great seer, it's just the rest of her that's not quite right. So I've got to find an orb of thessulah according to the spell." Severus mouthed that word and then moaned. "Sorry. I was going to do that later since I just dropped Ron back at the office so he could take something for his headache." He gave him a slight grin. "I introduced him to Ethan. Uncle Ethan offered to teach him."
"I doubt any Weasley needs help in learning chaos," he said dryly. "Are you sure you can find one of those?"
"Willow always seems to be able to find at least two of them."
Severus raised an eyebrow. "Why?"
"It's also part of the soul sticking spell. We keep one on hand at all times in case Angel goes bad again."
Severus walked away shaking his head. "I'll call around for you," he offered. It would save a lot of people exposure to his brother, which would save their sanity. The fact that Alex and Ron had been hanging out together was a scary thought. The world might end anyway.
Willow looked up as Xander appeared in the shop, grinning at him. "What's up on your side of the pond?"
"It's more like a lake and I need an orb." She looked stunned. "We're going to do a reverse of the soul spell on Voldie and trap it." She squealed and hugged him, squeezing him as hard as she could. "Thanks, Willow." He kissed her on the forehead. "I couldn't find a damn one in London."
She let him go and grinned at him. "Of course not. It's an American thing more than a Brit thing." She led him back to the case that held the shop's three balls. "Ours, the spare, and one someone sold to us."
Xander looked them over, checking the extra one carefully. "It's got some scratches."
"I noticed. The spare is better, the other needs to be sandblasted or something until it's smooth again." She leaned on the counter. "How's your brother?"
"Sev's good," he admitted absently. "Ethan's working on something." She giggled so he looked up then behind him as Ron staggered in. "Missed?"
"Yup," he admitted, holding his head. "This is damn far away."
"Sit," Xander ordered. "I'm almost done." He pulled out the spare, laying it on the counter to test the balance. "This one," he decided. He pulled out his money bag and handed it over. "There, take it from there."
She opened it and looked inside, then at him. "Xan, that's little gold coins," she pointed out.
"He's got cash in his back pocket," Ron assured her with a hand wave. "Are you safe?"
"Mostly," she agreed, giving him a look. "I haven't had a surge since I got past Tara's death. Once I grieved, I was better."
"Good. Don't make us help you again," Ron advised. "Next time his brother's going to push harder for you to be confined."
"Oh, it won't come to that," Buffy noted as she walked in. "Hi, you are?"
"Ron Weasley," he said, shaking her hand. "I'm watching Alex to make sure he doesn't take over the world after he kills our nasty so he can retire."
She grinned at Xander. "You?"
"Hey, it can happen," Xander said dryly. "How's Dawnie?"
"Tired. She got the flu last night." She shrugged. "It's going through the city right now. Why do you need an orb?" she asked with a nose wrinkle.
"Because we're doing a reverse of the soul sticking spell," he said proudly. "Dru gave me the idea."
"Dru. Spike's Dru?" Willow squeaked. Xander and Ron both nodded. "Damn it! We wondered where she went!"
"Well, she went to our world to find him," Ron said with a grin. "I got to pull him away from breakfast to talk to him and then we went to Ethan's."
"Ethan?" Buffy asked flatly.
Xander grinned at her, barely catching the orb before it rolled off. "He's my mother's brother, Buffy. His sister married Sev's dad when he was about seventeen and she was about the same age. Speaking of, Ethan suggested that we let you come over to lecture sometime this year at the school."
"I wouldn't mind," she admitted. "I'd have to bring Giles though."
"Good point. If you can arrange it, we'll go. Even if Ethan did suggest it."
"Suggest what?" Rupert said as he came out of the back workroom. "Xander!" he said happily. "Have you been having trouble with Ethan?"
"No, he's been a great store of information recently," he admitted. "He suggested that we see if Buffy could come over to give a talk to our Defense classes."
"That would be a nice vacation," he agreed. "Do kick Ethan a few times for me."
"Sure, once the war's done with." He looked at Willow as she counted the money. "You learned that tongue thing from Anya," he taunted with a grin.
"Well, yeah," she said once her tongue was back inside her mouth. "Are we giving him the discount, Giles?"
"I stupidly forgot to change some from galleons."
"Little gold coins," Willow said, handing over the bag.
Giles took out four of them and handed Xander back his cash. "Bag it carefully, Willow." She nodded, going to get a box and a bag for it. "Be careful with that. What are you doing?" he asked quietly.
"The reverse of what we usually do," Xander said, glancing around. He heard a squeal and handed the orb over, that way Dawn couldn't make him drop it. "Hey, Dawnie." He gave her a squeeze, making her laugh. "Look, I brought Ron with me this time." She squealed and went to hug him as well.
"Wow, an actual cute guy from over there where he wants me to live. I thought he was making you up," she babbled, grinning at him.
"No, I'm totally real," he assured her with a smug grin. "Ron Weasley."
"Dawn Summers," she said, shaking his hand. "Are you watching him for oddness?" Ron nodded. "Figures." She smirked at Xander. "How much longer?"
"I'm attacking in a few days," Xander told her.
"We're facing another big bad then too," Buffy told him. "He wants Dawn for her purity."
"The cure for that is for her to find a willing boy," Xander pointed out.
"Not that sort and eww," Buffy noted. "If you're going to think like that, I won't let her go."
"You will so," she snorted. "I'll be safer over there, there's tons of cute guys who'll think I'm exotic, and I'll pout."
"That's a good reason," Ron admitted. "Some of the boys may not like you because you're a Yank, but most of them will be sure that you're pretty. Some of our women are a bit pale now and then. More like Rosenburg. The fact that you have a real tan will awe them."
Buffy shook her head. "Fine." She looked at Xander. "We'll be yelling if we need to evacuate her. Do you have somewhere to hide her?"
"Probably," he admitted. "I can't promise, but at the worst I can protect her at the house. She'll be safe and the wannabe won't get her."
"Good, I like that idea," Buffy agreed. "I'll have her packed and waiting in case. If not, call first." She pinched him on the arm. "Check your voice mail too."
"Crap. I forgot," he admitted sheepishly. "Sorry, girls. Ron, let's go. Dawn, expect it to be less than two weeks."
"Yes, Xander." They disappeared and she grinned at her sister, sticking out her tongue. "See, he does really want me."
"Yeah, he does," Buffy sighed, shaking her head. "I don't think you should stay, Dawnie. It's a lot of work and he's a carefree bachelor."
"So? I'm not going to be living in his room. I'm not going to be going on dates with him and the house will be safe. All the bad guys will be on the run and if what Ron was hinting at was true, then Xan's pretty scary to them."
"He should be," Willow agreed. "He's a bit powerful." Buffy looked at him. "Ron said he was making sure Xan didn't take over."
"Xander?" she asked in derision. "Taking over the world?"
"Yeah, I didn't think so either but they're paranoid," she said with a shrug.
"Fine. We'll be checking on you, Dawn, and he had better have a phone in there by the time you go." She nodded patiently. "If not, you'll have a cell that'll work over there." She went back to the training room. "Go back to your packing."
"Fine." She headed back to her room to do some more napping. The flu was really nasty.
Xander was waiting patiently for the war to start when his brother pulled him into his office. "Already?"
"No, the potion," he said, handing over a glass. "Drink it all and brace yourself for pain."
"Shouldn't we do a sweep of the socket?"
Severus lifted the eyepatch off carefully and looked inside the hole, then nodded. "You should," he agreed. He took the glass back. "Let's go to the infirmary." He led the boy upstairs. "Poppy, we're doing the regeneration." She hugged his brother, cooing at him. "He'll need the spot cleaned first."
"Of course." She knocked him out and went to get a bottle of sterile water. She carefully cleaned the hole and then stepped back so Severus could pour the potion down his brother's throat. The boy's body flinched and shifted, but he only let out a little moan. "Is it painful?"
"It's supposed to be," he agreed dryly. They watched as the eye socket filled back in slowly and Xander woke up. "Stay lying down. It's working."
"Do not touch it," Madam Pomfrey ordered. She held the boy's hands down. He shifted and gave her a long look. "I'm not going to tie you down unless you need it," she promised. He nodded and forced himself to stay calm while it worked. "Can you see out of it?"
"No," he admitted. "Not yet."
"It should take a few hours to work," Severus noted. "I didn't find a need for a spell with it."
"There shouldn't be one," she agreed. She gently sent Xander back to sleep. "He doesn't have to be awake, right?" He shook his head. "Then let's let him sleep. Sit beside him to watch over him." She left him there, going back to her copying forms for the new year. They'd need a bunch of them for the new students when they came in. She glanced up now and then, watching the dour potions master stare at his younger brother like he was going to disappear.
Xander walked into breakfast the next morning, eye patch still on, and noticed the teachers giving him a sad look. "It's too bright and the eye's too new," he explained as he sat next to McGonagall. "Can I bug you later?"
"Of course, Alex," she said with a smile. "Having problems with some transfiguration?"
"Well, yeah, but that's a usual thing. I needed ideas on how best to prank Willow." She looked stunned for a moment then burst out laughing. "I see you know the reason why."
"She can be a bit uptight," she agreed gently, patting him on the hand. "Does the new eye work?"
"Not a clue," Xander admitted. "I'm supposing so but I haven't been able to keep the lid open without it watering a lot and hurting. So I'll leave it covered for now." He shrugged and dug into the breakfast. "What day are the kids coming back?"
"In another six days," Professsor Flitwick said. "Why?"
"Because that was the day I was going to move back to the house," Xander admitted dryly. "I remember being in school perfectly well, I don't want to have a flashback to making mine explode very prettily."
"You did what?" Severus asked sharply.
"We blew up the seventy-foot snake demon that had been the mayor during his ascension by luring it into the school for a taste of Buffy and then blew it with him inside." The teachers gaped at him and he grinned. "It worked and the new one's gone now too. That's what happens when you build the school *over* the Hellmouth."
"It was under the school?" McGonagall asked. Xander grinned and nodded. "Where?"
"The library where we used to gather. It's a good thing most California teens are kinda shallow and allergic to books, huh?" She rolled her eyes but patted him on the hand again. "Seriously, Giles checked out all of six total books in four years as the librarian. Four of those to one person." Everyone stared at him again. "Honest. I had one of them, that's how I found the horror books."
"Why do you read those when you've lived it?" Hagrid asked bluntly.
Xander grinned at him. "Because you can learn all sorts of nasty things in them," he said honestly. "The present series that I'm hooked on is basically a how-to manual for making undead servants and how to return someone to a half-life if you want them bad enough. I did the research on the first book and whoever this guy is, he knows what he's about. He got the ritual down near-perfect, except how many candles there's supposed to be and I found his version in a book too. If you read between the lines, you can make yourself your own undead servants. This newest one is about necromancy and how to use it to gain power over the realm of the dead. So either he's got plans or he just knows his shit on that subject. Besides, this way I can stop them when someone else figures this out. He's also got the counters and the precautions built into the stories. We've got a bad guy with a plan, a hero with knowledge, and a plot that can suck even me into it. And I grew up as one of those kids who shunned books as evil creatures of hell."
"Then why did Ethan have them?" Severus asked.
"Ripper I would suppose," he said dryly. "Either that or he's learning from them too. The first book was how I learned to cast a mirror charm. I even learned how to set them so vampires could do their hair eventually. I lived with two kings of hair angst and atrocity. It's really hard to have perfect hair when you can't see yourself."
"Two?" Flitwick asked. "You've lived with two vampires?"
"One wasn't my choice, it was Buffy's. She stuck Spike in my apartment and told him to be a good dog. The other was Angel, who we were helping. We all lived together in a converted hotel. His hair obsession added to his usual levels of angst. Tell him he had bad hair and watch the vampire start to fuss with it," he assured him with a grin. "Spike got to dye his and gel it all the time. It was really pathetic in a few ways. Him and his gel and his leather trench coat, and the women liked him for it. I never could figure out why."
Dumbledore walked in and looked at Xander. "There seems to be a vampire in town who's menacing a few shops by living in their basements. Would you happen to know a vampire who wears red velvet and hums?"
"How did she get up here? I was always careful to apparate or teleport or whatever you call the other way of moving quickly. Unless she danced across the country, which isn't impossible considering it's probably Dru. But why here?" he complained as he got up and wiped his mouth. "I'll deal with it. If it's her, I'll get her to go away. If not, I'll either soul it or send it on to the afterlife." He went to grab a stake and head down to the village. The first villager who saw him pointed at a shop, already tapping her foot. "Chill, lady, I just got up and heard." He went into the shop, waving the stake. "Vamp?"
"Downstairs." The woman watched him go, then cooed at the other girls in the shop about his butt. He could hear her doing it. He flipped on the light with a flick of his wand and proceeded into the deeper shadows, where he could hear the humming. He coughed when he noticed it a pale blond boy, making him squeak, jump, and turn around. "Hi. You are?"
"The dread vampire Neville," he said with a practiced coo. "Aren't I pretty? My mummy said I was."
"Is Dru your mommy?" he asked dryly. Neville's eyes went wide and he nodded. "Well, damn it. Fine. That's it, you're getting your soul back, Neville. There are no such things as dread vampires. There's scourges, and I've lived with two of them, but not dread ones. Only dead ones." Neville started to babble so he frowned, making the boy quit. He checked his pulse, it was missing. So he called down the orb and started on the spell Willow had forced him to memorize.
"Anyone know this kid?" Alex called as he walked into the school, shoving the cloaked figure in front of him. McGonagall gasped, covering her mouth. "Relax, I put a soul back into him," he said tiredly. "He's a whimpering vampire now." He handed the boy over. "Dru decided she wanted a new daddy. Said he was the dread vampire Neville?"
"He's always been such a gentle boy," she said miserably.
"Well, now he's a gentle vampire with a soul," he reported, heading for Sev's rooms. "Find some way for him to redeem himself. It'll make him feel better." He went to check his things again, making sure the orb was still in good working order. They'd need it whole for this one. He found his brother reading. "It was Dru's new daddy person. The dread vampire Neville."
"Longbottom?" he asked, dropping his book. "He's a vampire?"
"With a soul now," he said smugly. "She made me memorize the spell. It's easier after the second time." He sat down to check his orb. "Can you find a good day for the attack, Sev?"
"The day the students return. That way most of his people can't attack the train."
"Decent. That's what I was thinking too," he admitted. He looked up and grinned. "Now all we need is a location."
"He's moving constantly."
"Then pick a ground, tell me so I can tell the others, and tell him that I said so." He shrugged at the shocked look his brother still had. "It'd be easier to call him out. We all know this."
"It would," he agreed bitterly. "He won't come. He'll try to attack sooner."
"Then he'll die faster," he pointed out. "My plan works anywhere but a null spot." He pulled up the maps he had bought in Diagon, finding the one he wanted. "Here, bring him here," he said, pointing at the battlefield Arthur had lost his life on. "It's symbolic. It's where the last real king died. If he wants to be king, he'd better pick it up there."
Severus swallowed. "We'd have to get permission. It's considered a protected field, Alex."
"Then pick another one."
Severus took the maps, finding the one he was thinking of. "There," he decided, pointing at it. "No muggles. Nowhere near the train. The only people nearby are those watcher twits."
"They were mostly blown up before the First thing," Xander said, considering the field. "I want to look at it first."
"We'll go later," he agreed. "For now, I believe I need some headache potion. The very thought of Longbottom as a vampire is giving me a cramp in the brain." He got up to take the potion, then went to lie down for a bit to allow it to work. His brother was odd and strange. He was almost afraid of him. Perhaps he was a Weasley after all since he got on so well with Ron? No, he had seen the baby being born. He had dark hair, not red hair, and not even the twins would have put a soul into a vampire or let a vampire Longbottom survive. Yes, he had to get his brother fixed and watch any offspring very carefully.
"Hey, Alex," Ron said as he joined him at the table in the pub for the promised beer. "Thanks for fixing Neville. He's a school friend of mine," he said quietly.
"Not a big. Once Willow translated it, it was a lot easier. Then again, after the second time you know what to expect so it's really easier and you can pull up some earth magic to help you hold it in place while it sticks. At one point in time she wanted to do it to all the vamps in town but decided it might be too hard." He shrugged. "Besides, this way it's like home for me. We'll have one atoning and guilty guy who I can occasional troubleshoot for if necessary." Ron grinned at him. "Not fooling you at all, am I?"
"Not a bit," Ron agreed happily. "Still, you're a nice guy, even for being from your family. We appreciate the hell outta you, mate." He pushed over one of the beers. "No potions."
"That's fine. I'm good against most of them," he admitted, taking a sip. "Hmm, much stronger than at home." He pushed over a folded piece of paper. "Call it there, for the first. Do not announce it to the parents. This way the train's safe and the kids can come in to good news." Ron looked stunned but he unfolded the paper to look at it, then looked back at him, whimpering a bit. "We're calling it for then and there. Say eleven?"
"Noon," Ron ordered, tucking it into his pocket. "Does he know yet?"
"No, not yet. Sev and I figured it out earlier. That night's feast will be happier for it being done. Hopefully it won't go too long either."
"That's fine," Ron agreed. "I'll bring it back to my boss. Do you know what you're doing yet?"
"The reverse of what I did earlier," he admitted quietly, glancing around. Ron's mouth dropped open. "Ron!" He closed it, swallowing a good few gulps of his beer before he regained his composure. "Now do you see what I do?"
"I do," Ron admitted. "I had hopes you were talking about something else."
"I am, but I'm kinda not. I think I can take him that way and then keep him that way for a very long time. It'll ease the battle he'll be pushing on the kids. It'll also weaken his side considerably."
"Well, as a strategy goes, it's a brilliant one," Ron admitted finally, "but it's got some holes."
"Yeah, but any war is like that. You've got to do some of the planning as it happens. You can't expect to plan every little detail in a war up front. Sometimes things happen in a war during the fighting that have to be taken into account. I'd rather have a few open holes than to consider anything else." The waitress walked by, giving them an odd look. He grinned at her. "Sorry, we war game." She nodded once and left them alone. Geeks didn't tip that well. He looked at Ron again. "I'll introduce you to that later."
"After being in a real one you still do that?" Ron asked dryly. He finished his beer.
"Yeah. I like role playing. I get to be all powerful and neat in a game like that. I even get to have the chicks falling over their tongues at me."
"They already are, Alex," Ron said, shaking his head. "You need a shot of self confidence."
"Ron, I grew up with Rosenberg."
"Never mind, you probably come by it honestly enough then," he agreed happily. "Want another?"
"No, I limit myself to one now and then. I refuse to turn into my parents. Go ahead and get yourself one if you want." Ron nodded and went to get another while Xander sipped his beer and watched Ron. Someone tried to pickpocket him but he smacked their hands. He smirked and called over the paper, saluting the guy with his mug when he got stared at. "Go away," he mouthed. "We're war gaming." The guy shuddered and left. Ron came back. "Who was he?"
"Flint. Used to be the top dog in Slytherin and their captain," Ron said as he sat down again, taking the paper back. "Thanks, I'll tell my boss this later." He tucked it inside his shirt and took a first sip. "So, how's Dawn?"
"Shit, I didn't call her yet today," he admitted, pulling out his phone to listen to his voice mail first, then to call her. "Hey, Princess. It's your knight. No, I'm here with Ron in a pub. Yes, I said a pub. No, it's not really like a bar, it's full of happy people who are slightly drunk. Somewhere between a club and a bar. Sure." He handed the phone over. "It's Dawn," he said with a grin.
"Hey, Dawn," he said, listening to her, one finger in his free ear. "Yeah, that's not a problem. No, he's being good. Nah, I've had a long day. He just had to deal with a new person needing some treatment. Sure." He grinned and hung up. "Her friend just beeped in and she said she'd talk to you tomorrow night."
"Fine with me," Xander agreed, tucking the phone away again.
"So, give. What's with the rumors of your brother taking over the old order's place?"
"Well, there'll be some left. You won't catch them all, for whatever reason. They'll be looking for a leader. It makes sense when you think about it. He can do what they need and be a stronger leader, one who helps control things. Besides, it'll keep him and me safe, along with Dawn."
"Yeah, but that'll get him lynched," Ron pointed out bitterly.
"Not if he doesn't *appear* to be leading it," Xander said smugly, smirking at him. He knew the instant that Ron got it, he passed out. "Huh." He finished his beer and watched Ron until he woke up. "You okay?"
"Fine," he said weakly. "I think the beers got to me. I'm gonna go back to the office.
"Sure, say hi to your boss for me," he agreed happily. Ron nodded, wandering out, and Xander cleaned up their table for the waitress, heading back to the school. Halfway there his phone rang so he stopped to answer it, listening to Dawn babble. "Hold on, slow down. Dance? When is this dance?" She gave him a date, a few days prior to the planned trip. "That's cool then. I had plans of around the fifth maybe." He grinned. "Sure, Dawnie. You behave. I'll call tomorrow and remember to look so hot that the boys get burned if they try to touch you." He chuckled at her bitter remark. "I don't care if they do, as long as you want them to, but I believe Buffy would." She snorted something odd then hung up. "Fine, love you too, munchkin." He hung up and looked around. "How did I get to be Glinda? I'm not that sparkly." He shook his head and continued to his temporary home, going to nap on the couch again. It was safer until this had all ended.
Xander looked around the battlefield. It was nearly time. The others were starting to win and Voldie was backed against his line. He felt the summons and swore. "Ron!" he shouted. "Willow's incoming!" He helped her open the portal, looking at Dawn, who was sitting on a suitcase. "Now isn't the best time, dear, we're in the middle of a battle."
"She's got a psycho stalker who broke in last night," Willow offered. Xander waved behind him. "Hell. I'll bring her with me, she can be on the sidelines and I'll help," she promised. The portal closed and Xander went back to fighting until she got there. She pulled the first person she recognized over, putting Dawn next to him. "Watch her. Carefully. Or else." She stomped off, going to find Xander. "She's here. Two suitcases, two bags, and a backpack." She looked at the orb he was holding out and the paper. "What's this for?"
"The giant plan," he said with a grin. "You do it so much better."
"Fine," she agreed, grinning at him. That freed him up to fight the other way. She watched him for a moment, then shrugged and unfolded it, slapping him on the shoulder. "This is mean!"
"It's useful, Rosenberg, get it straight," Ron called. "Do it now, please! Before we lose ground again!"
"Fine," she agreed. She started the chant, holding the orb in her hands. She felt people moving closer to protect her and someone putting a something at her feet that looks like it would hold something. She kept chanting the soul-sucking spell, concentrating on that. She felt it come loose and draw toward her, and worked harder to create the channel for it. He was soon flowing through the orb and down to her feet, but she had missed the box. She kicked at the wisps of power, working on getting them into the box. Someone helpfully kicked it back some for her and the soul fell into it with a nice plop of mist. She handed off the orb once the box was closed and moved forward in the line, Xander beside her. "We are so through with you," she sneered at the other line. "There's nowhere to run or hide. Give up or become toasty."
Xander put away his wand, concentrating on his other gifts. He stared at the line, on Willow's left, and called up fireballs, sending them at the majority of people he could see. Willow looked at him but she helped by freezing some of the others. "Not him," he hissed. "That's Sev."
"Deal," she agreed, freeing him. She freed the one that felt like Xander had somehow marked himself on the boy too. The rest went down hard.
"Not him!" someone called, rushing for one of the bodies. "He was dragged into this. He's not competent to do more than stand there. That's all they did with him."
"Fine," Willow agreed, releasing him too. "Anyone else want mercy?" She fell when someone knocked her out.
Xander turned, shaking his head. "Feel better now?"
"You're bloody amazing," Ron noted dryly. "Harry, he's down, do your thing now, please?" he yelled. Harry stumbled over and cast the single killing curse, falling to his knees once it was done, panting hard. "Sorry, he needs me. Be right back."
"Sure, find me later," Xander called with a grin for him. He walked back to where Draco and Dawn were chatting.
"You know, I don't talk to scary guys in masks," she said as Xander came over. "You look like one of the bad guys and I *so* do not go for bad boys." He pulled off his hood and ran his hands through his hair, then shucked off his robe. "Okay, so you're cute enough," she admitted. "Why are you chatting me up?"
"Because your big brother said I could," he said smugly. "Xander."
"Draco. Dawn, this is Draco Malfoy. I gave him the right to chat with you, nothing more."
"I remember," she sighed, rolling her eyes. "Fine." She looked at Draco, then kissed him, licking her lips. He stood there stunned, then fell to his knees, staring up at her. "Oops, am I leaking again?"
Xander looked her over, then nodded. "Yuppers." He heard a shout and barely turned in time to be pounced by someone. "Dawn? Help, maybe?"
"I don't do magic anymore!" she complained. But she saw that Xander wasn't going to win this one when the guy pulled out a knife. She kicked the knife and pulled up some of her skills, shooting him hard enough to send him flying across the field. "Take that, slimy guy! No one said you could grope Xander!"
"Gee, thanks," Xander said, staring up at her. "You're glowing again." She concentrated, her face screwing up, until she was back to normal.
"No wonder you wanted someone who could protect her," Draco said in awe. "You're the bloody key!"
Dawn frowned at him. "That's not polite, blondy."
"Sorry," he said, getting up and kissing the back of her hand. "Forgive me, the stresses of this morning have warped my usual manners. You need have no fear from me, for any reason. Even should I go bad, I would not attempt to use your skills. They'd kill me anyway," he assured her. He looked down at the smug big brother, helping him off the ground. "Keep her away from Potter. He won't know or understand what she is and can do. He won't protect her. Weasley is a decent enough choice, if poor, dirty, and ill- mannered. She should be adored and worshiped, not touched by someone like him."
"I'd rather have someone who wanted to be with the girl I am now, not the thing I used to be," she said stiffly.
"Dawn, among our kind, you're like a Goddess because our greatest wizard ever, Merlin, used you to save us all," he instructed. "Within weeks you'll have so many invitations to any event that may ever be going on that you won't be able to sleep for all the merry making they'll want you to bless just by being there. You'll be asked to every wedding, every christening or naming, and ever single formal event in the country."
"She's underage, no they won't or I'll kill them all," Xander said firmly.
"I didn't come over to join your world, Draco. I don't use my magic."
"You won't train it?" he asked.
She shook her head. "No, I won't. It's not who I am now. If I need it, it's there. I did take lessons from Willow." He started to open his mouth. "That was grief," she said firmly.
He nodded. "Fine, I won't argue over that one." He stared at her. "You're not scared of me, are you?"
She shook her head. "No." She grinned. "Why would I be?"
"I hate it when people aren't scared of me. Alex," he whined.
"Not my fault," Xander said, holding up a hand. "I told her you were a scary bad guy at times." He looked across the field. "Leave Sev alone!" he shouted. "Before I have to come over there and kill you too!" The aurors who had his brother in custody backed off, giving each other worried looks. He stomped off but Ron stepped in to explain some things, which got Sev released with a few hearty pats on the back and a few 'thanks' from the aurors. "You all right?" he asked, looking his big brother over. "You look okay. You're limping, who hurt you!"
"I got hit by a curse, nothing extremely horrifying," he said calmly. "Who is that with Mr. Malfoy?"
"Dawn. Hey, Ron, Dawn's here too," he called. "She just cheesed off Draco by not being scared of him."
"Yeah!" he said happily, cheering her on with a wave. "Don't listen to him, he's full of wind." He went back to helping bind up the living bodies they were taking in. It was his job after all. He could get Malfoy later, if Alex agreed. Apparently he had plans for him of some sort or another.
Xander and Sev started back toward Dawn but another person took a run at her, or at Draco, but he shocked the man so badly he screamed as he lay writhing on the ground. "Good one," Xander said as he joined them. "Now cancel it so he can be arrested." Draco gave a negligent wave of his wand. "Thank you. Sev, this is Dawnie. Dawn, this is my big brother Sev. We'll be living in the family home so you may see him on holidays and over the summer."
She shook his hand. "Hi. Sorry about this but we had a major psycho stalker who started after me because I told his girlfriend to dump him for being scary. He broke in last night and was trying to strangle me. It was either this or my sister was going to commit homicide."
"No, she'd have to leave some for the rest of us," Xander assured her. "Who is this boy?"
"Don't stress, Buffy had him arrested, mostly because Giles called the cops and made her give him up to them, but he's in jail right now and she told them that she was sending me to a friend over here. I've got papers in my backpack for you to have permission to keep me, treat me if I get sick, and to enroll me in school. So basically you're the new dad."
He grinned. "That's my girl," he said proudly. "So do you like Draco?"
"He's not bad. He's still a bit more bad boy than I usually like," Dawn admitted. "Then again, he's not a jock, that's all that needs to be said I think." She smirked at Draco, who smiled at her. "If you're a nice guy who helps carry luggage, I might even be nice enough to have tea with you in the garden or wherever."
"If you wish," he agreed easily enough. "Alexander, what are you doing now? No encore?"
"I'm going to retire, find me a woman to marry, have some kids to tell stories to, and live that way forever."
"Then I got here just in time. Your wardrobe needs help, Xan. What is that you're wearing?"
"A robe. Quite nice in our form of dress," Draco told her. "We'll work on him together while I help his big brother settle things." He looked at Severus. "Yes?"
"Fine," he agreed, seeing the point of the plan now. "Miss Summers, I will expect you to behave while in the family home. No wild parties with muggles. No sleepovers with muggles. No happy, cheerful things with muggles."
"I'm guessing that these muggles are either a neighboring family or someone we don't like?" she asked.
"Muggles are non-magical folk. I expect you'll be joining the school year soon enough."
"Nope." Severus stopped to stare at her. "I'm not training it. I hate using my abilities. It makes me feel odd, like I'm nothing more than a big ball of power. I'm a girl and I plan on being a girl. If I have to, I'll do the wiccan thing now and then, but I'm not planning on using my innate gifts."
Xander nodded. "I'm leaving it up to her. She's got control for most everything and if she's not using it then she can't turn out like Willow did. Is she all right?"
"Fine," Draco agreed. "We'll still need to make sure that whoever she dates is protective instead of possessive."
"And again, I can make those sort of decisions for myself," she interrupted. "Do not become like Buffy."
"Your sister is the slayer?" Draco asked. She nodded. "Good! I want you to have someone who can protect you like she would in case something does happen."
"But someone who isn't generally possessive," Xander assured her. "Just someone who can protect you in case something happens. And hey, if they can't, by the time I'm done with them they will be able to."
Dawn looked up. "Why me?" She walked off, going to hug Ron. "Hi. Save me from the over-protective parent patrol?" she complained.
"What's going on now?" he asked with a grin over at Xander and his big brother. He could ignore Draco again. He kissed her on the forehead. "You're sweaty. Did someone try to attack you?" She nodded. "Did someone kick their ass for you?" She shook her head. "Want me to?"
"No, I got them. I'm not helpless."
"Good! I didn't think you were, but a girl like you shouldn't have to fight. It messes up your clothes and things." He led her back to her big brother's side. "Tell her you don't want her to get needlessly messy by having to fight."
"No, I don't want her having to fight at all. I'd rather she had carefree days of dating, laughing, and someone good to share some lovin' with. I'm simply going to make sure that whoever she ends up with is going to be able to protect her if something happens."
"At least you didn't say when. That's an improvement," Dawn admitted. She looked at Draco. "You know, you remind me of a vampire I know," she admitted. "Spike was blond and kinda a bad boy too. He was the last bad boy I got to know."
"Was he souled?" Draco asked.
"No, that's Angel. He's broody and got dark hair. I think he was Irish, but then again I wouldn't know. He dated my sister for a while."
"Don't worry, you won't miss them too much, I souled one the other day," Xander offered, taking her arm again. "Draco, bags?"
"Of course," he said sarcastically. He floated them after them, making sure he had all of them. "You have a large wardrobe."
"Thanks, I try," she said with a grin. "Want to come along and tell me I look cute in my uniform so I don't think too much about how geeky I'll look?"
"If you want," he agreed happily. Maybe he still had a chance with her after all. He did grow on one if you waited long enough.
"Malfoy!" Ron yelled. "Touch her and I'll break every bone in your body twice!"
Dawn giggled and grinned at him. "You're so bad."
"No, I'm bad, he's a goodie goodie," Draco told her, patting her on the back with a smirk for Ron. "Keep your dirty hands off her, Weasley."
"Enough, children, or I'll make sure neither of you know where the family home is."
"I already know," Draco told him.
"I can take that from you," Snape offered. Draco gave him a hurt look. "You will behave with Miss Summers, Mr. Malfoy. I will not have you terrorizing her with your presence daily."
"I'd never terrorize her with it," he said stiffly. "I do have some manners." He looked around, counting unhooded bodies. "My father's not down there."
"Hmm," Xander said thoughtfully. "Then we'd best find him soon. Your house?"
"Probably," he admitted. He let go of Dawn and went to talk to Ron, letting Snape get the luggage for now. "My father's missing," he reported. Ron blinked a few times. "Want me to kill him and bring him in?" he asked dryly.
"No. That's fine. Is he at your house?"
"Probably. I'm going with Alex to protect Dawn."
"I doubt he needs *your* help," the head auror said bitterly. Why had Alex picked this one to get away?
Draco looked at him. "Look very carefully at his little sister. Does she remind you of anything?"
"Quit being so melodramatic, Malfoy," Ron said coldly. He looked at his boss. "She's the key. He doesn't want most people to know, but I noticed it before. She's also not training herself according to Xander. She wants to be a normal girl."
The head auror gaped. "Is Alexander Merlin incarnate?" he asked breathlessly. "He was the only one who could harness that power before."
"Now she's a teenage female. I doubt there's much harnessing going on," Draco said dryly, shaking the older man out of his shock. "Mostly he's her stand-in father. When did you get to meet her?"
"When I followed him to check on Rosenberg." He walked over to look at the orb, the box, and the paper, kicking the orb a bit. "We need a containment box. He said not to destroy it, but to keep it for a damn long time somewhere it can't get out."
The head auror looked around, then at Ron. "You seem to have this well in hand. Clean up here, join me in the office to gain your new rank," he ordered. He disappeared, going to report on the final battle.
Ron looked stunned, then grinned. "Wow. Okay then. Anyone seen my brother Bill!" he yelled. Someone waved a hand. "Is he walking, I need 'im!" He smirked at Malfoy. "Shoo. Before I arrest you on general principles. I'll go take out your father later."
"Fine," he agreed, walking off. "Leave Goyle alone. He's still in shock."
"I saw. What did Alex do to him?"
"Turned him into a rabbit then tried to fix it," he said dryly, smirking at him. "He can't really undo what he's done sometimes."
"Interesting." Ron turned to look at his limping brother. "You good to handle something nasty?"
"Definitely," he agreed happily. "Why?"
"Alex let Willow do the sucking of the soul. It's in the box," he said, pointing at it. "The paper's the spell. The orb goes with it."
Bill blinked a few times, then nodded. "Let me get something. I'll floo for it." He headed for a nearby fire to floo his boss for supplies. "Rosenberg helped. She sucked the soul out of the nasty git. We need a containment system." His boss blinked a few times then nodded. "Plus a place to put it."
"We have one of those," the goblin offered. "Give us room. We'll be right there."
Bill went back to look at the box. Someone had put him into a cigar box. It was rather...odd, but then again he had heard some about Alex from Ron. He looked forward to meeting his little brother's friend. He seemed like a nice enough guy, if a bit odd. Then again, looking at Ron, how odd could he be?
Dawn looked around her room, then back at Xander. "Can I paint?" The unrelieved dark colors and heavy curtains were going to make her want to go goth, she knew it would.
"Of course," Snape agreed as he led the house elf in. She gave it a look, then him. "This is the house elf we presently have. Put up her things," he ordered. It nodded and ran to do that. "Her name is Torrent. She came with it."
"Okay. Is she demonic?"
"No, they're just like that," Xander told her. "Different species. This is their version of fun and sanity."
"Cool, I can accept that then," Dawn agreed, sitting on the edge of her bed. "What else am I doing today?"
"Settling in. Sev's got to go to work soon and we have an appointment in a few days with the local school. So you can explore, find the pond I haven't been able to yet, and lounge around with Draco and Ron dancing on your patience." She giggled at that and he grinned at his big brother. "Were you heading back tonight?"
"Tomorrow," he said. "That way I miss the happy squealing that's sure to go on tonight." He went to call his Headmaster in case, and found McGonagall. "Do you need me tonight?"
"No, Severus, by tomorrow would be fine," she assured him happily. "Are you all right?"
"A bit sore and tired. Nothing else. Is Rosenberg there?" She nodded. "Good. She did the spell instead of Alex. Miss Summers has also shown up."
"That's fine," she said with a smile. "I'm sure he'll be bringing her up to have lunch with you soon enough."
"Definitely," he agreed. He looked over as Alex walked in. "Is she all right?"
"She's fine, she's bossing Torrent around about how to set out her clothes. So I guess I'll be packing up tonight or tomorrow. I can bring her up then?"
"You should be able to. Salazar didn't like her other form but the school shouldn't react to her," he offered.
"Fine," he agreed happily. "Hi, Mistress Minerva. We won."
"So I've heard. Quite an impressive battle as well. Thank you, Alex. Any luck on finding yourself a nice girl to settle down with?"
"Not yet. Maybe I'll take Dawn's castoff." He shrugged. "I'm open to new things."
She chuckled. "Then we'll happily help you work it out. Any luck with the transfiguration problems you were having?"
"Actually, I think I did figure it out. I was trying too hard. As soon as I quit trying it happened. It was kinda nice that way. Is Neville still there? I promised to introduce Dawnie to him and you might want to get Willow onto his case too."
"I'm sure they'll be meeting. He did like your idea of becoming like your Angel is. I'm sure Miss Rosenberg could help quite well with that. It would keep her out of trouble."
"Willow, trouble?" he asked innocently. "Whyever would she get into trouble?"
She laughed. "You poor thing, and you grew up with her, didn't you?" She smiled as she looked behind her. "Oops, had better go. There's another auror here. Stay there, dear."
"Of course. I'll be back in time for classes." He lowered the floo so they could hear the auror demanding his presence. He looked at his brother, but he was already gone. "He's coming," he hissed, knowing she heard.
Minerva glanced toward the fire, then shook her head. "We all have known that Severus was spying for quite some time," she offered. "Even that imbecile Fudge knew that eventually. You have no reason to bring him in." The door exploded and Xander strolled in, dusting off his sleeves. "Must you destroy things, Alex?"
He shrugged. "Sorry, I put a bit too much power into it. I started in the seventh year books and worked backwards." He looked at the auror, then slowly grinned. "Who sent you?"
"Minister Fudge wants all the traitors turned in, they're all to be tried and if found innocent released."
"Would he actually find someone innocent?" The auror looked stunned. "Better yet, take me to your leader, dear boy. He and I need to have words."
"But, sir, you're Alexander."
"Yes, and he took me away from my family and set me with some horrible muggles who were so bad they're presently burning in hell for it. One of the demons I know made sure of it after finding out." The auror blanched, backing away from him. "Since he took me from my rightful family after an attack and didn't even tell my brother about the attack or that most of his family had died, I think we need to have a talk." The auror nodded quickly. "Let's go." He nodded again, leading the way through the floo. Xander came out on the other side, nodding at the aurors. "Fudge?"
"Upstairs," Ron called. "Holding his usual press conference."
"Excellent," he said coldly, heading up the stairs, aware he had just made a whole room full of trained warriors fear for their lives. He paused outside the door, then pushed them open, banging them against the walls. "We will be talking, *Minister* Fudge," he said coldly. "One of the reasons I came over here was to settle with you for putting me with *them*." The man on the podium frowned, then glared at him. "Oh, you have no reason to glare," he said with an evil smirk. "After all, you stuck a pure blooded wizard, a baby wizard, with drunken muggles who beat him often. You stuck him in an area where you knew he couldn't be found by any schools. For that matter, you put him somewhere that his only remaining family couldn't find him, nor did you tell him where he was when he asked and got a court order. That's worthy of your death. Too bad I'm supposedly a good guy, huh?" The reporters gasped as he moved closer. "There will be hell to pay. I've had it on good authority that the demons I helped over my life so far are making sure of it." Fudge backed up and an auror stepped up. "Back off, this is between us. He tried to kill me." The auror looked stunned so Xander tossed him something. "It's the key to the vault that holds my pensieve. Use it. Now. We'll wait." The auror shook his head. "Now!" He jumped but he did run out to do that. The goblins had been warned so they had it ready for him to use. Xander crossed his arms, tapping his foot. "For those who do not know, I am Alexander Snape. I am one of the Slayer's knights. I'm also the guardian of her remaining sanity, her sister. For those of you who do know, I'm sure you already know why I'm here."
"I do," one witch said, moving to stand between them. "It was not totally his fault, Alex. I had a place in that as well. There was a prophecy stating you would be our hero."
He snorted. "I probably would have been anyway, and I probably would have kept a few people out of the dark too. Think about all that could have happened if we had trained my gifts instead of leaving me to train wandless first." Everyone backed away from him. "That's right, I trained with Rosenberg, only without her help. I trained myself because of where Fudge stuck me. Or was that your idea as well, Aunt Vivian?"
"No, Alex, that was not my idea. My only contribution was that Severus not raise you. You would have ruined him and the war would have claimed more."
"Instead of less?"
"He would have gone during the first round," she said firmly.
"Bullshit." She looked stunned and a few other witched gasped. "Think about it, people, he would have had to of protected me. He might have left the country and helped the war in other ways. Instead you nearly cost me my life, him his life, and the world. I'm tired of saving the world. I'm going for myself now." He looked over as the auror came in, pale and shaking. "Have fun in my past?" He shook his head. "Then it is a legitimate claim?"
"It is," he croaked. "Arrest Minister Fudge for kidnaping and putting the child in danger and into a situation where torture was evident. He saw. Alex didn't see him but I saw him checking on him."
"You can't do this! I pay you! You're mine!" He pulled his wand but Xander lifted a hand and it flew to him, making everyone gasp. "What are you!"
"What you made me," he said coldly. "Feel proud. I've saved the world a few times. I consider it partially mine now and I no longer want you in it. You can do this in the courts or you can face me in a duel. Your choice, Fudge."
"I will not! I'm the Minister for Magic! How dare you..." He squeaked as Willow appeared, wetting himself. "You!" he gasped, pointing.
"Xan, did you want him?" she asked gently.
"He sent me there, Will. He sent me away from Sev. I want him dead."
She nodded. "I can see that. You're still a good guy though. How about punished?" She raised a hand and a glowing ball formed. "The Powers said some people are going to be atoning for life. Fortunately his brother atoned in advance." Fudge gurgled and backed away more, until he fell off the stage. "Pity," she sighed. "He dead?" Someone looked and shook their heads. "Xan, the Powers said I could make him one of theirs or you can go through the courts."
"Please, Alexander, go through the courts," one of the aurors said. "He has much to answer for. Let the others grieving from his mistakes have him too."
Xander gave him a cool look, then looked at Willow, who nodded. "I will see him punished, one way or another," he noted. "He will make a complete and total confession, even if you can't use it in court. Under truth serum if you have to."
"I will make sure of it," Ron's boss said from behind him. Xander glanced back at him. "I've got some in my office from your brother. He said I'd need it." He patted him on the back. "If you weren't going to retire to raise your sister, I'd offer you a spot."
"I'm tired of saving the world. Let someone else do it," he said weakly. "Five times is enough." He walked away, heading back to the house to curl up on his bed. Dawn came in a few minutes later and laid down beside him, hugging him. "Hey, munchkin."
"Hey, Xan. You okay?" He shook his head. "Still in a deathly rage?" He nodded. "He'll pay though. Remember, Anya probably got some sort of job down there after she died and she'll make him pay a lot."
"She was great at making me pay for things," he joked weakly. "Hey, think she and Spike are working together?"
"Sure, why not," she agreed with a small sniffle. "It's really over? No more fighting?"
"Not unless it's another Glory incident," he promised, patting her on the back. "You get to be a normal kid with an extraordinary boyfriend and I'll eventually find someone who wants to do more than coddle me and pat me on the head." He sighed and rolled into her body, holding her against his chest. "I suck."
"You don't suck. You kept your temper wonderfully," she promised. "I would have killed him. A few times probably." He gave her a weak smile and a kiss on the forehead. "Thanks, Xan. Don't worry, you can retire and watch me have babies, how about that? Or I'll take Ron and you take Draco? Or would you rather have Ron?"
He laughed, shaking his head. "I'm not sure I'm ready for that yet, Dawnie. As a joke, sure, but I don't think I'd like man-lovin' as much. There's no softness."
"I don't know, that vampire Neville had some squishiness here and there," she offered with a grin. He groaned and squeezed her. "So we'll find you someone to love and protect. That way I can date and do all sorts of naughty teenager things without you caring too much."
"As long as there's no babies and Buffy don't hear, and you don't end up drunk, stoned, or diseased, what do I care?" he agreed lightly.
"Really? Cool! Does that mean I can finally lose my virginity and not have my sister glaring at the guy?"
"Only if she would never hear you say that," Severus said from the doorway. "Alex, there are aurors here."
"If they try to take you, I'll kill them," he noted bitterly.
"No, they're not here for me. Nor are they were for Draco, even though he's in the study. I've instructed him to treat Dawn with the same courtesy he would my own sister and he's seen the point."
"Wand or stake?" Dawn teased with a grin.
"Wand. Stakes are crude and ineffective for hurling things that hurt you," he said with a small smirk. "As he well knows." He walked in and helped her up. "Come along. He would like to have tea with you. Perhaps you should change?"
"That would require a large ordeal and I'm comfy in this," she offered with a grin. "Lighten up, Big Brother. I won't soil him." She walked out, hopping down the stairs. "Hey, guys. Alex is in a sad mood. Leave him alone, okay?" They gaped at her. "He'll kill you if you even think about soiling me. He said only the guys he approves of get to talk to me."
"Malfoy?" one of them said in disgust.
"I'm protective of her," Draco said from an open doorway. "I agree with Alex." He stepped out. "Come along, Dawn. I've set up tea things."
"Cool. Can we call Ron in?"
"Only if you want me to become violently ill. Or simply violent," he said dryly. He took her hand and kissed the back of it. "Staying in the muggle clothes?"
"Yup, sure am," she said happily. "Robes look odd. They hide my great butt too," she said with a smirk. He nodded, leering at her, so she swatted at him. "Not yours yet, young man. You've still got some competition. I like Ron, he's got a sense of humor and he reminds me of Xander." She leaned closer. "Besides, do you really want *me*, or do you want to help him recover and move on?" she hissed. He looked stunned. "He's upstairs sulking at the moment. This could be your chance to be the hero for a change instead of the villain."
He nodded and headed up the stairs, going to interrupt the pity party. "Come, Alex. It's time you had real tea in the wizarding way. I went to a lot of trouble to order the house elf around," he said with a smug smirk. "Come along. No sulking. Pouting will only bring pitiful witches on the run to cuddle you and you'd be smothered in their ample bosoms." Xander smiled a bit at that. "Come on, I even had the house elf make cookies."
"I never could resist a good cookie," Xander admitted. Draco walked over and helped him up, leading him down the stairs. "Draco, I...."
"Hush, Alex. You'll figure it out later. As soon as we find a woman for that brother of yours. He's hopeless. We've got to get him to release all that pent-up frustration and lust before it stays that way permanently. Seriously, he's no longer in danger, he can be libidinous and party with you," he said as he led the way into the study and shut the door. "We'll work on finding him a nice witch together, shall we?" he asked with a smirk.
"Sure, Draco. I'll help you pick Sev out a woman." He sat down, letting Draco serve the tea. "Cookies?" he asked. Draco handed over the plate with a smile. "Thanks."
"You're quite welcome," he agreed, pouring for Dawn and them himself. They settled in to listen to the quiet. "No Weasley?" he asked finally.
"He's busy," she said with a small shrug and a pout. She jumped when she heard the tapping on the window, pointing at the bird out there. "What is that?"
"It's an owl, the Ministry's owl specifically. It's how we deliver the mail," Draco offered as he got up to answer the summons. He read the note before tossing it into the fire. "They found my father. He was giving my mother one last good bugger before he tried to kill her and take off. She'll live and he won't. She got him," he said smugly. He sat next to Alex this time, using his wand to float over his tea cup and saucer. "Don't like tea?"
Xander looked at him. "You're hitting on me?" Draco nodded. "Are you demonic?" Draco sighed and shook his head. "Are you sure?" Dawn giggled, curling up on her settee. Draco rolled his eyes and shook his head again. "Wow, you're the first non-demonic person who's ever hit on me, outside of Willow."
Draco put down his cup and took Xander's, putting it down as well. Then he pounced him, kissing him hard. "That former life of yours is now at an end, Alex. You're mine now and I am quite gentle with my favorite possessions. I'll rank you up there with my broom and my wand."
"Which is suitable considering how penis-like they are," Dawn chuckled. "Phallic much, Draco?"
He frowned at her. "Hush. Men would understand. Ask Weasley about his wand." He looked at Xander again. "Of course, if you want, I could hunt you down." He stroked the rough cheek. "I know the idea to form a new group was somewhat of a sham and a test," he said with a small smirk. "Severus never had as much of an idea. Though I do like it. We could rule the world of naughtiness. We could tease people all night long and watch out for Dawn together. Plus this means I'd get to study under Sev some more." He smirked at him. "Deal?"
"We'll see," Xander offered quietly, staring at him. "There's a lot you don't know yet, Draco."
"I do so know quite a lot. Who do you think those reporters reported to first?" he asked smugly. "I know everything there is to know about you, Xander." He shifted closer, stealing a kiss. "Payback for the one you stole when we first met." He stroked Xander's cheek again. "The world is going to change now, Xander, and I want to be with you. You always seem to have the most interesting things going on, even when you ignore them. I want to help you beat off the horde of demons who'll pant after your tight bum and massive arms. I want to be there. If you'll let me I'll even give you the eyedrops I made to help you with your new eye." Xander gave him a weak smile. "More than anyone, I know what it's like to suffer for what you believe in. I may believe in purity, but the methods were out of my league. That's why I latched onto you. I'm more knowledge than power and you're more power than knowledge. Together we'd be an unstoppable team, Alex. Let us try?"
"Fine," Xander said weakly. "Cookie?" Draco gave him a grin and handed another one over. "Thanks. Can I sit up now?"
Draco laughed and scooted away a few inches, letting him have some personal space. "There, better?"
"Much. Are you going to be okay with this, Dawnie?"
"As long as you don't turn Ron gay," she said with a smirk. "Then I get him all to myself," she said wickedly.
Xander nudged Draco. "See, you can be wicked in the service to the queen instead of against the queen."
Draco nodded. "I'm seeing whole new levels of evil in her." Severus walked in and Draco smirked at him. "Good news, old man. I'm taking your brother off your hands for you and we'll be finding you a woman so you can carry on the family name. Before they're all like him." He stroked Xander's thigh, earning a swat for it. "You, behave," he chastised gently. "I get to touch my man if I want to."
"I don't want you to feel me up in front of my brother! He already thinks I'm odd," Xander pouted.
"There's no think about it, Xan, we've known for a while now," Dawn assured him. "The fact that every demon in a thirty-mile radius wanted a piece of you proved that."
"Ick," Draco assured her.
"Sorry, but truth. There's a whole list of demons who want to date Xander. I think they're keeping an appointment book or something. Maybe Anya did it." She shrugged and grinned at Sev. "Would it majorly cramp your style if I dated Ron?"
"I don't like him but it is your mental welfare," Severus noted. "Alex, did you leave the pouting aurors in the entry?" Xander nodded, sighing in defeat. "I sent them away." He poured himself a cup of tea and sat down to relax. "Are you settled in, Dawn?"
"Sure am, thanks, Severus. Or can I call you Sev?"
"Never in public," he warned. "In private we'll have to work out such matters."
"Okay," she agreed happily. "So, Xan, are you gonna stay here and have Draco move in or are you going to go to his place?"
"My place is bigger," Draco said smugly.
"It's also only six miles up the road," Severus reminded him. "Alex can live here while you two date. He can move in with you after you marry him." He sipped his tea, smirking at his former student. "I'm sure you wouldn't dream of harming my younger brother."
"No, not a thought had crossed my mind," Draco agreed quickly. He had seen Severus torture people, he knew what he could do to him.
"Gee, Xan, what's that Fudge guy gonna do now?" Dawn asked smugly. "His rep's in ruins. His life's in the crapper. He's got you for an enemy, which means that Willow will be hunting him down for making you upset. Should we find clothes for a funeral? Like hot pink or something?"
Severus coughed, hiding his smirk behind his hand. "I believe he took the option of a court trial instead of honorable combat," he said once he had himself under control again.
She leaned against his arm. "Smile, you'll get frown wrinkles if you don't," she shared. Then she grinned. "See?"
"Hmm, a Hufflepuff by nature," Draco noted.
Snape shook his head. "You are terrible, Draco."
"Sorry, but I'm a Gryff at heart," she retorted smugly, sticking her tongue out at him. "I'm very brave. I've fought vampires and demons too you know. I even nearly died at the hands of a Hell Goddess." The two wizards looked stunned. "She wanted my blood but I think she just wanted to be kinky. She liked to tie me up and sneer at me while touching herself."
"If she hadn't been so hard to defeat the last time, I'd call her up and kill her again," Xander said casually. "Wanna help, Draco?"
"What could a hell god do against us?" he noted. "We're all powerful." He smirked at his boyfriend then gave him the first real kiss of their relationship.
"Must you do that in front of the impressionable young woman?" Severus demanded.
"I used to watch Willow and Tara kiss," Dawn offered. "Lesbians are much more passionate."
"Fine, I'm the impressionable one," Severus said, swatting at Draco. "Stop that. My mother would throw fits if you molested him in here."
"Severus, your mother was dead before he was born," Draco said, pulling himself away with a sated look for his mentor. He leaned against Xander's side and this time there wasn't any protest.
Vivian, Snape's maternal aunt, shrieked and stared at Fudge. "You made him gay!" she yelled. "My nephew is gay! Those horrible people you put him with did this to him! I only told you to have him live apart from Sev, not to go all the way over there!" He flinched back and the reporters babbled. "I will get you for this, Cornelius Fudge! Mark my words, the Snape family will be your undoing!" She stomped off to sulk in peace.
"How could you!" one woman in the crowd yelled. "You took our hope of strong children with him and ruined it!" A lot of other women nodded, starting to look like a mob.
Fudge noticed this and started to babble, backing away from them. He knew he was going to die soon. They would rip him apart. He saw Rosenberg. "Would you please save me?"
"No," she said with a small shrug. "I have no reason to. I liked having Xan with us, but that was kinda mean. I mean seriously, the boy never had a relationship with a real person, only demons in the past. Man, is Draco in for a surprise when he gets Xander undressed the first time. Anya bragged about him *all* the time."
"Get him! He was well-hung too!" one witch yelled, surging forward to start the rush on Fudge's soon-to-be-dead body. He tried to run but the women got there first.
Willow looked at the person sneaking up next to her. "Hey. How are you today?"
"I'm better, Miss Rosenberg, thank you for the help," Neville said gently. "Do you think I could go back with you? I haven't done much to atone for, but I really don't want to stay here. I might get staked by accident."
"Hey, Buffy would appreciate having a vamp around again and we could teach you all about how to be a grr-scary sort of vampire. Plus, Giles would love to have someone there who would be like him. He's a Brit too and he hates it that we don't appreciate his upbringing. Most of the time we don't get him."
"Don't you drink tea?" Neville asked.
"I do, but I drink a different blend than he does. I drink herbal teas for remedies. He has his straight up for tea." He snuggled up to her and she gave him a long look, but let it happen. Maybe Buffy had the right idea dating Angel and Spike. For a vampire, Neville was quite soft and gentle. Almost as nice as a girl was.