Email address: email@example.com
Rating: R to be safe, some swearing
Pairings: none really
Status: done and short!
Disclaimers: do I actually have to point out that I'm not anyone who has any claim on these people? Have you seen me in the press recently?
Summary: short vignettes in the life of two cousins.
Warnings: Here Be Spoilers! For BOTH Fandoms! Up through Season Seven, and Book 4
If one had looked out across the field, they would have seen a beautiful woman, sweating and panting as she tried to pull her mind together, facing off against two beings in black. Pure black. Hoods, robes, shoes, all black, and she obviously knew what they were. She tried one last time to get away from them, knowing that it was her cursed family name that had brought her to this point. The Dark Lord wanted to send a message to her younger brother, Lucius, for being such an arrogant prick. So he had chosen her to be the message.
No one was immune from his powers.
She knew that if she didn't manage to get out of there, she'd die in that field. Her body might not lay there for long, but she would be dead. Everything she and her family had ever stood for was a lie. And now she was a message waiting to be delivered if she couldn't apparate out of there. She gathered her meager powers one last time and focused on finding the biggest spot of energy she could, as far away as possible. She felt some power touch hers and it soothed her. It was dark, but not the Dark Lord. She could go there. She apparated away without a second's hesitation. Anywhere was better than here.
It took so long to get there, the scenery she passed amazing her. She was crossing an ocean now, she could barely see it outside of her travel field. It ended in a small city, then moved on to cover plains and mountains, landing her in the middle of a deserted building. She fell to her knees as the pain hit her, gasping for breath, hoping and praying that nothing there would attack her yet. She could hear things moving around below her, but that was all right, she could handle herself. She still had her wand and she could probably pull off enough magic to do an obscurity charm. As soon as the pain subsided, she forced herself to stand up and look around. She was in a library. A deserted and crumbly looking one, but a library nonetheless. She touched the essence of magic that had helped her and mentally swore. No wonder it had been so dark.
"A Hellmouth, how wonderful," she said in derision. She checked around, she couldn't feel any other magic in the area. Not even her own. She had found the perfect cover. Now all she needed to do was to set up a place to hide and establish an identity here while she recovered. Hopefully she would be able to go back home someday, if the Dark Lord didn't destroy her family for her daring to escape. She pulled her robes around her and walked out of the school, unaware that she had left some blood there.
It was pulled through the floor, sucked in by the sentient beast that had helped bring her there. The one she carried would be its, it would make sure of it. The Hellmouth extended enough power to tell the other magic users in the area to beware of her and to leave her alone, casting a spell around her to insulate her from the majority of the creatures living there. Yes, the one she carried would do wonderfully. Someday, it would have a guardian and it would have a champion. Possibly not in the way it wanted, it knew that humans were unpredictable, but the child would at least keep the balance and possibly even work in its favor. It settled in to wait, keeping her unaware of her new child until her seventh month. When she finally had to drop the illusion spell on her and realized what had happened. She screamed and ranted, but the Hellmouth simply smiled and settled in to wait. In the meantime, it decided to spiff up itself, make itself more attractive so more creatures and humans would want to come and live in its influence, feeding it their emotions and personal energy for however long it lived in its proximity.
Life was good.
*** Eighteen Years Later, Summer Before Her Son's Last Year of School ***
The woman looked down at her poor son, stroking his hand as the blood ran into his body, trying hard not to look at the bandages on his arms and throat. She didn't want to think how many vampires there had been, nor did she want to think about how her son had gotten free. It mystified her sometimes. Her son's energy was so warped that the only place he could function magically was here. She had tried to leave once, but her Alexander had gotten deathly ill so she had brought him back, understanding now why she had been allowed to escape to this pretty prison. Her son was tainted by the Hellmouth and there wasn't anything she could do to protect him. Not even his friends could protect him now.
Imagine that, her son and a Slayer. She nearly snorted in disgust. How very common. She noticed her son coming around and smiled down at him as soon as his eyes were opened. "Son, I'm going to give you a short vacation," she whispered. He shook his head slowly. "There's nothing you can do this summer. The powers have vacuumed themselves into a hole, which you helped solve. I'm very proud of you, but I think you'll want to talk to someone about the questions you'll need answered.
"Mom," Xander groaned. "I hate traveling. I always get sick."
"I know, Xander. This time will be different. I've talked to your uncle. He'll have special potions for you to take and I'll be sending you with the key ingredient that he'll need to help you." She brushed some of his dark hair, his father's only legacy on him, out of his face. "Just for the summer. I know you won't be able to attend school in the normal way, even though I still am pissed at you for falling behind."
"Mom!" he whined.
"I know, son, everything." He flinched. "I'm not mad. Surprised, as I'm sure my family will be, but not mad at you for it. How else would a force of chaos live on a Hellmouth but to keep it balanced?" She smiled sadly. "You'll be leaving as soon as you get out. I'll make the appropriate excuses to Willow."
"Can I ask about her?"
His mother frowned. She had no idea what was going on with that girl, and knew that there were serious issues that her son hadn't shared with her once she had said she didn't have any idea about how a new witch was formed here without being tainted by the power. "If you must," she agreed finally. "Be careful though. You cannot trust my brother or his wife. His son I'm not sure of either." Xander nodded slowly, wincing the whole time. "You rest and get better, I'll pack for you." She stood up and kissed him on the forehead. "I'm proud, even if you do die from all this hunting rubbish." She swept out of the room, leaving him in peace until his friends got there.
As soon as she got home, she fired up the fireplace, ignoring her husband's calls. She hated him. He was mere camouflage, but he thought he was more. The times he got drunk and demanding were getting more frequent and she despised them even more than she did him. She would have to obliviate him again soon she knew, just to make sure he didn't realize what he had in her. Her brother's face filled the fireplace. "Lucius, I need to send my son to you for a few weeks," she said quietly.
"Why? Is he in trouble?"
"He needs to talk with knowledgeable people about certain matters. Plus there's the matter of why he's fallen behind in his schoolwork."
"Why can't he attend school like everyone else?" he sneered.
"Because he's part of the Hellmouth's energy," she admitted finally. Her brother blanched paler than he had ever been in his life. "That's why we had to set up the correspondence classes. His taint is such that you'll need to prepare a lot of healing potion and I'll be sending some native soil with him to make sure he'll be fine." She leaned closer. "If you do not take care of my son and help him with what he needs, and possibly convince him to stop his bad habits, I will make *sure* that everyone knows exactly how you got Narcissa pregnant and how far the taint of the Dark goes in you. Are we clear?" Her brother nodded, that wasn't something he wanted to be put around. "Can you suggest someone like Severus Snape to talk to him without arousing undo suspicion?"
"I can and will immediately. When is he coming over? How old is he by the way?"
"He's just now eighteen, by a few weeks." She smiled. "He'll be graduating next year."
"Hopefully from his magical education as well," he sneered. "Why did you put him into the muggle school system there anyway? It's very unseemly for a wizard, even an odd and unusual one, to not go to *our* sort of schools! Lucretia, you had no business sending him to a *muggle* institution!"
"The Hellmouth is under his present school," she said quietly. "It enrolled him, not me."
"Does it talk now?" he sneered.
"No, it has minions who fill out paperwork and mail things for it," she said coldly. He flinched again. "My son was attacked by at least six vampires last night, Lucius, and I want him safe while he heals. Will you or will you not do so? If not, I'm sure Headmaster Dumbledore would *adore* seeing my boy for a few weeks."
"I will," he said grudgingly. "I can use the boy to test my own son's outlook on life."
"Whatever," she said, cutting the connection. She would have to do something about her brother some day, preferably soon so she could go back to civilization. This town was not for her, even with her son's protection. The minute he died, she would no longer be safe and would have to run for home. Hopefully to take over the family house after her brother died. She sat herself down to watch the night flow past, thinking those happy thoughts. Her husband called out again and she pulled her wand, sending a painful wash of power his way. Yes, the Hellmouth was useful for covering up what she did, but it was more deadly than the Dark Lord if it got pissed.
*** Five Days Later ***
Xander dropped the portkey as soon as he landed, shaking out the numbness in his hand. "That sucks ass," he decided, walking up to knock on the door. A small thing with big ears, big feet, and a funny face opened the door. "Are you demonic?" he asked it. The house elf shook it's head slowly. "Then can you please show me to where my Uncle is supposed to be waiting on me? I'm Xander."
"This way," it squeaked. The Master had been in a frightful temper over this one. She would go into hiding until the boy left, staying out of the way as much as possible. She opened the study's door and ran away.
Xander walked in and looked around, whistling. "And I thought the Watcher's library was extensive." The woman on the couch gave him a disgusted look. "Oh, buck up, I'm only here for a short visit," he sneered at her. She rolled her eyes and sipped at whatever was in her tea cup.
"Crucio," Lucius muttered, but nothing happened.
"Oh, yeah, mom said to tell you that none of those pain-type spells work on me, Uncle Lucius. Something about the taint and the Hellmouth not liking them. It thinks that they're juvenile and useless or something." He shrugged and grinned. Then he pulled out a small baggie and handed it over. "Mom said you need the soil from as close to the Hellmouth as possible so here you go. Hopefully I don't have to ingest it this year." Lucius stood there stunned. "Did it backfire?" he asked worriedly. "I've had a few spells bounce off me recently and I *know* it can't be pleasant. Though it was kinda funny seeing one of us as a vamp since the A-K he sent at me didn't work all that well and it kept flashing back at him, which only served to piss his demon off further, so we went round and round for nearly an hour until I got tired of it and summoned up a small dust storm to pick up some broken shards of wood, which of course dusted him and made his friends *really* pissy, hence me being here after being attacked." He took a deep breath. "Can I go rest? I'm really sick from the trip over. That portkey crap is annoying."
Narcissa stood up and looked up at the boy. "You talk too much," she chided, giving him a short and cold hug.
"Yay, that's me." He grinned at her. "Be thankful I'm not *your* relative."
She nodded. "I am. Your mentor will be here tomorrow. I can show you to your room so you can get settled in while Lucius settles down." She led him up the stairs, noticing he only had the one bag. "She didn't send you with much."
"I outgrew everything this year. She sent me with money if you'd agree to take me shopping," he offered. "No robes though, I can't wear them at home."
"I understand," she said quietly. "What is living on a Hellmouth like?"
"Constant danger of being eaten, killed, slayed, or icked by something, not to mention boring in classes, fighting for your life most nights, and then there's the ever-so-fun world of dating for me. I don't know how the adults do it yet," he said with a shrug.
She nodded. "I see. Do calm yourself. There's no need for you to be so hyper."
"Sorry, I had Cocoa Puffs for breakfast."
"It's nearly dinner," she said with a frown.
"Ten hour time difference," he reminded her.
"Ah, yes, I had forgotten about that," she said with a cold smirk. "Draco!" He reopened his door, she had caught sight of him peeking out. "This is your cousin, Alexander."
"Xander," he corrected, shaking the boy's hand. "How's it hangin'?"
"Fine," Draco said with an obviously confused look. "We have American relatives?"
"Your daddy's sister escaped some idiot Death Eaters with the help of my Hellmouth," Xander told him with a shrug. "She realized she was carrying me around seven months." He grinned. "What do you do for fun?"
"Not much around here," Draco told him. He looked at his mother, who nodded. "I can show you around the grounds once you're settled if you want."
"Coolness. I never get to wander around outside these days. It sucks to be me sometimes." His aunt showed him to a nice guest suite, decorated in early 'don't touch that' and lace. He was quickly settled in and walked back out to meet his cousin. "So, what's your name again?"
Draco looked him over. "Where are your robes?"
"I can't wear them in Sunnydale so my mother doesn't buy me any," Xander told him.
"How odd. Isn't it a wizarding town?"
Xander snorted. "Oh, do you have a lot to learn about Sunnydale. Tell you what, you show me around, I'll tell you about my town of Hell. Maybe you can visit next summer or something."
"Absolutely not!" Lucius called up the stairs.
Xander and Draco walked down together. "Why not?" Xander asked. "We make it safe enough and we'll gladly watch out for him."
"He has other things to accomplish next summer," Lucius said with a frown. "You can tell your mother I said that."
"Okay, I will. Would you mind calming down before you burst a vein or something? You look like you're about to stroke out." He tugged on Draco's sleeve. "Show me around the gardens. I could use some fresh air."
Draco walked him outside, still looking quite confused. "I didn't know I had an aunt," he said as an opener.
"Lucretia is your dad's older sister," Xander explained. He nodded at a small path. "That way?"
"If you'd like. It leads to the more formal gardens. Or we could head through the woods to the better walking path if you wanted more solitude to tell me what's going on."
Xander grinned at him. "Any creatures in the woods?"
"Merlin, no!" he said in disgust. "What sort of wizards do you take us for?"
Xander chuckled. "Dude, I'm living on a Hellmouth, expect me to ask that question a lot." He followed his cousin down the walking path, smiling at the solitude and comfort he felt. "Someone loved in these woods once."
"How can you tell?"
"Easy. It's the feel of the magic here." He looked at his cousin. "Back to the hard stuff. Your dad decided to be a shit to his Lord and Master before I was born. I was probably about three months along by then if it matters to the story. Anyway, my mother was going to be the warning to your father, a straighten up or end up like her sort of warning. She said she was fighting two Death Eaters and was desperate because she was tired, about out of spells to cast, and she was never very powerful to begin with. So she did a last ditch effort to apparate out of harm's way. My Hellmouth called out to her *all* the way from California and helped her join it. Once we were there, it decided it liked me so it tainted me. I'm not a true wizard like you." Draco stopped and looked at him so Xander stopped and grinned at him. "I'm a little bit too chaotic to be a normal wizard. My powers don't work all that well when I'm not at home. I'm allowed to tell you this because I know that I can still kick your ass, one way or another."
"How would you do that?" Draco asked carefully.
"See, I work with a Slayer." Draco paled. "I see you get my point?" The other boy nodded and Xander smiled. "Good. Saves me some trouble later on. Oh, before you get bright ideas like your father, I should warn you that magic warps around me. Pain spells don't work on me. Healing spells don't really work on me. And things start going wonky if I'm in the same place for over a month and it's not home."
"That's why you weren't sent back to attend school?" Draco asked, stepping closer.
Xander nodded. "I'm taking correspondence courses. I'm a year behind," he admitted with a sigh, "but that's not really my fault. I'm doing the normal muggle education thing, plus those studies, plus slaying since last year. I'm just happy to be able to sleep some days." He snorted. "Anyway, I'm over here to ask some pertinent questions of someone who'd know the answers, get my school stuff straightened out, and to heal from my last attack."
"You were attacked?"
Xander pulled off his jacket and turtleneck, showing off his multitude of new scars. "Yeah, I was attacked. Vampire wizard and his buddies, who got a bit pissed at me because I wouldn't die." Draco reached out but drew his hand back. "You can touch. They replaced almost all my blood that night." One warm finger touched a deep red bite mark. "That was the worst one," Xander said quietly, looking into his silver eyes. "That was a frustration bite when I wouldn't die from a curse. A-King me doesn't work at all." He stepped back and put on his shirt. "End of the whole sorry tale. You?"
"I'm not more than I seem," Draco told him. "Only heir to the family name. Son number one and only. I play quidditch. You do know what that is?"
"My mother told me about it," Xander said with a shrug. "I'm not very sports-like and I don't have great balance. She tried to put me on her broom once but I fell off a number of times and she's never had the greatest amount of patience with me." He grinned. "What do you play?"
"Seeker. Captain of my house team. Were you sorted?"
"Nope. No real reason to since I can't attend school without it falling in on all our heads." He shrugged. "It works well enough I guess. It'd be nice to have other students to help me when I get stuck in Charms, or in Transfiguration, or even Potions, but I manage to muddle through under my mother's watchful gaze and all the stuff I send back to your school."
"Why aren't you going somewhere closer?"
"Because the top school in the US is for girls, and the rest won't accept a Malfoy," Xander said simply. "Your daddy ruined it for many of us."
"I see." Draco mentally shrugged. "What do you do with this Slayer?"
"Buffy? I guess it depends on the day. I fight, poorly, I follow. I hunt. I help. I get into trouble and need help." He shook his head. "My life's not fun, but I've learned to accept some of the worst strangeness in it. I helped send a vampire to hell the other day. Buffy wasn't going to be able to do it herself so I messed with the message. He went with his soul intact. Another one of the questions I need to ask. I really should be making a list."
"If you think it'd help," Draco said, looking at him funnily. He reached over and stopped his cousin. "Are you having me on?"
Xander shook his head. "Nope. I wish I was, but I'm not. You can ask your father if you want, my mom gave him some information, but I'm not sure how much."
"You work with a slayer?"
"I've actually worked with two slayers. One of them came back to life, but there was a second on the way. Kendra was pretty cool."
"Was she before or after this Buffy?"
"During. Buffy came back from the dead."
"Oh." He blinked a few times. "How?"
"CPR. You breath for them until they do it on their own. You make their hearts work until theirs start working again. She drowned and I brought her back."
"Do you use a wand?" Draco asked. Xander grimaced. "I ask because you're not exactly like anything I've ever met before."
Xander snickered as he pulled his wand. "Ebony wood, nine inches, with a dragon scale core."
Draco took it to look at it. Then he looked at his cousin, frowning. "You let me take your wand. Don't you know how stupid that was?"
Xander stretched out a hand and a tree branch came down, hitting his cousin in the head. "The Hellmouth protects me," he said dryly. "I'm not the alpha you are, Draco, but I'm not the bitch of the pack either. I have my own pack and I play by different rules. You're not that scary and neither is your father compared to some of the creatures we've run into."
Draco handed back the wand. "Thank you for being honest at least," he said with a trademark family smirk. Xander matched him. "Why do you have dark hair?"
"Because my father had it."
"Who was he?"
"Damned if I know. Mom won't say. All I know is that my stepfather is an annoyance and this little trip is keeping me from kicking his ass this summer." He shrugged and grinned again. "So, what's it like actually studying magic in a classroom? The kitchen table probably isn't the same."
"No, it's probably not," Draco said, filing away all the information he had learned. Maybe something in there would help him someday soon, maybe not, but this was a fascinating case. The boy was a pure-blood, and wasn't right in the head obviously, but he was strong. The magic surrounding him felt like a shield. He'd have to ask his father some very careful questions later.
Xander slugged back the potion with a grimace. "Eww, hellmouth dirt," he said in disgust. "Can't I be over that need already?"
"Your mother said you weren't," Lucius told him, looking over his clothes. "Why aren't you wearing a robe?"
"Because I can't wear them at home and mom doesn't buy them for me," Xander explained yet again. "Remember, I have to live and hide among muggles. That means I get to adopt muggle fashions and hide in them."
"That shirt is blinding," Draco said from the other side of the table. His father looked at him so he shoveled food into his mouth.
"Yeah, well, mom says it's a problem that some wizards have with muggle clothes. We go for the bright and the gaudy for some reason. She's never said why." He dished himself out some eggs. "Am I meeting with my advisor today?"
"He'll be here this afternoon," Lucius agreed. He looked at his wife, who was watching the strange boy. She sent him a silent command to ask the boy. "Xander, I noticed last night at dinner that you don't use your wand."
Xander put down the plate of ham and looked at his uncle. "My wand is with me, but I've learned not to rely on it outside of my Hellmouth. Things go funny when I use my magic off my home turf."
"Such as?" Narcissa asked.
"Such as, when I went to Hogwarts to be checked over for attendance as a ten-year-old, the dungeons shook on their foundations. Such as all the animals in the pens for Care of Magical Creatures started to panic because I was blowing bubble gum and not using any magic at all." She nodded slowly. "It's not dangerous, I promise. I can control it better now. I usually take a week off to go practice outside of town somewhere safe. It only gets worse after a month's time and I'm not planning on being here that long. I left my Hellmouth with a missing slayer and a newly awakened witch as a guardian. I'm going back as soon as I get some questions answered and get some of my classwork straightened out."
"How are you sending assignments back?" Draco asked.
"The Headmaster set up a system so I overnight them to the Watcher's Council and someone there sends them on to the school by whatever means you guys use."
"No owls then?" Draco asked.
"Mom's got eaten within a year. She tried to buy a new one but it basically ran away and never came back. It's easier and faster this way."
"I see," Lucius said. "Why haven't I heard of this before?"
"Because my mother thinks you're the biggest prat this side of Voldemort and she wants you dead, rotting, and cut up into tiny pieces so she can roast you?" Xander suggested in his most pleasant tone. "You nearly got the both of us killed, she really doesn't like you anymore, if she ever did."
"Xander," Narcissa warned. "We do not say his name in this house."
Xander smiled at her. "What makes you think he'd want me anyway? I'm more of a danger to him than I am to you guys since the chaos only increases when I get pissed, scared, or angry."
"I'll be sure to remember that," Lucius said dryly. "Eat, boy."
"I'm not a dog, but I am hungry, thank you, Uncle Lucius." He dug in, only pausing to pour himself some milk. He noticed one of the little creatures running on the other side of the table to refill a bowl. "Are they demonic or dangerous?"
"House elves?" Draco asked. He frowned and thought about it. "I'm not sure where they came from originally so they may well be demonic, but they're not dangerous. They're scared of us."
"Which means that they'll jump when a better offer comes along," Xander pointed out.
"Yes, but they *need* us," Draco told him. "Don't you have servants?"
"We're supposedly middle class and your father only trickles my mother's trust fund to her every now and then." He smiled coldly at his uncle. "The next time you make me go without food, I'm coming back and bringing my mother." Lucius shuddered. "She did ask me to ask you nicely to release her trust fund. Would you mind terribly doing so?" he asked in his best Bond accent.
Lucius growled at him. "We'll see. She is married to a muggle."
"For cover," Xander agreed. "She has to obliviate him often because he gets drunk and demanding. Those are some really spectacular fights by the way." He ate some more of his breakfast.
Narcissa coughed. "Why does your mother hate him so, Xander?"
"Because she was going to be a 'straighten up or die too' message from his Lord and Master," Xander said, pointing his fork at her husband. "She was attacked by a few Death Eaters so her lifeless body could be dropped on your doorstep. Fortunately, my Hellmouth decided that she'd be perfect. It says something when she'd rather join forces with a mystical convergence of chaos energy than to come to her own family. Or at least it does to me."
Narcissa lifted her chin. "You don't approve?"
"I have no idea how you are, but your husband and I will one day have words," he said with a smile. "After all, if it wasn't for him and his desire to screw the Dark Lord's mistress, I might have been a normal wizard being raised by my real father, who I still don't know." Narcissa nodded, she could understand that. "The way I see it, I'm supposed to be equal to your son and I'm not." Draco snorted. "How old are you?" he asked his cousin.
"I'll be eighteen in a few weeks," Draco told him stiffly.
"I turned eighteen five weeks ago," Xander pointed out. "And my mother is the oldest child."
Draco glared at his father, who shrugged it off. "Life happens to the best of us," Draco said glibly.
"Hmm, it does, doesn't it," Xander said, smiling as a tray flew up and hit his cousin on the head. "Sorry. Lost my temper."
"Boys," Narcissa said gently. "Stop it." Xander shoveled more food into his mouth. "Thank you. Xander, you are quite correct. Should my husband offer to take you in and treat you as the heir you are, would you release your hatred of him?"
Xander laughed bitterly. "How would he do that, Aunt Narcissa? By me taking that healing potion every day? It only works for a three-month span! I'm forever trapped on my Hellmouth because of your husband and his reckless disregard of other people's things. I could care less about him. Frankly, I see in Draco some of my own sterling qualities so I might spare him, but if it *ever* came down to a fight between me and your husband, you're going to be a widow for all the *shit* I've been through because of him."
"Xander!" Lucius said hotly.
"Oh, fucking yay," he said in that same bitter, cold tone. "Do you know what it's like to stake your best friend? Or how about to be the target of bullies because some mystical energy thinks it's funny? Or even how about this one, how about you get tortured by vampires for the sake of them trying to get your energy apart, but also because they can drag your limp body back home and be forgiven and reaccepted supposedly. I may not be the best fighter or the most gifted in magic, but I am the most stubborn and the most willing to die to see everything you hold dear shattered and crumbled under my feet. So please stay out of my way and I'll be leaving as soon as possible. If you can't do that, then please send me to someone who can put me up for a few weeks or send me to an inn so I can plan and talk in peace and safety." He sneered at him, making his uncle flinch. "By the way, if you had planned on a surprise visit from your Lord and Master, don't. Because I will lose my temper and kill someone who's not made his choice yet." He pointed at Draco. "And I know you'd hate to have everything go to my mother and I."
"Why didn't she have more children?" Draco asked, blatantly changing the subject. He was uneasy and unsettled at the moment and he wanted time to examine his feelings. He had never seen his father be scared of anyone before, and the fact that he was related to this boy, this unstable wizard, was disturbing his sense of normalcy.
"She tried. The Hellmouth sent a few creatures after her both times to attack her. It only wanted me and the other three or four wizards hiding on it are to leave my mother alone because of me. They know this. Even the good guy hiding out," he sighed. "It's depressing in so many ways. My mother had to give up *everything*, Draco. Can you even imagine that?" His cousin shook his head. "Until you can imagine it, or until you know, you have no idea why I'm so mad at your father and you never will."
"I'll release her trust to her," Lucius told him.
"Yay, money. And she'll do what with it?" Xander asked him. "Buy a bigger house? Bring attention to herself? Get captured and still die because of your boss?" He shrugged. "Bring it on. I'm sure she's more than ready to give up instead of living this way." He pushed back his chair. "I'm going to head out to the woods and enjoy there being no creatures around that I have to try and kill. Send Draco to come get me when my advisor comes, please." He walked off, looking dejected and depressed.
Narcissa saw the pain in her son's eyes. "He'll never fit in here," she said quietly. "Not even if we could compensate for his warping. He's spent too long over there."
"Maybe that's the problem," Draco told her. "He had to spend all that time over there among *them*. Did you know why he was sent over?" His mother nodded. "How the vampires who had him tortured him for nearly sixteen hours before deciding that they were frustrated because *nothing* they did worked to hurt him?" She dropped her fork. "That's when they decided to try and kill him, because it would get their master back here and supposedly forgiven. All because he was born. And he doesn't know why except for who his mother is." He looked at his father. "You know who his father is?" Lucius nodded. "Would him knowing hurt him more?"
"Probably. His father wouldn't want to recognize him," Lucius told his son. "Tolerate him but do not get close to him."
"Father, you're missing the point. I could have been him if Voldemort hadn't been nearly killed when he did," Draco pointed out calmly. His father tried to hit him. "Don't. You lost that right a long time ago." He stood up. "I'll finish my breakfast in my rooms." He walked off.
Narcissa looked at her husband. "He is right, Lucius. If Voldemort hadn't died, he would have tortured me and I would have had to escape the same way. They're close enough to have Draco been called by the Hellmouth as well." He shook his head. "They are. Ask Severus when he comes later today if you don't believe me. Your nephew was right on a great many things. Possibly even the desire to kill you for all you've put him through."
"I couldn't have stopped him from being born there," Lucius said coldly.
"The Dark Lord was dead by then, Lucius, you could have called her back. It might have made the boy a credit to the family name instead of him having a desire to wipe the family from the Earth." He stood up and stormed off. "How much power could that boy have had if he had been born normal?" she mused. "He might have been the only thing that would have stabilized my son at an early enough age for him to make a good name for himself." She sipped her pumpkin juice. "Then again, he could have still gotten in Draco's way and been a threat to him."
Draco walked back in. "No, he wouldn't have. He might have been close to me, been a friend." He grabbed his plate. "The house elves are all hiding. None came at my bell." He walked away again, leaving his mother to her 'what ifs'. They depressed him and he'd have to make due with this new knowledge and plan how to use it to his own gain. It was all he knew.
Severus Snape stood up as the boy was brought in, looking him over as he was looked over himself. "Alexander?"
Xander nodded. "Xander is what I usually go by." He shook the man's hand. "Can we move this to a less populated room? My mother said I was to ask you a lot of questions about things going on in my life that I'm unsure of."
"Such as, what do I do with an awakening witch on the hellmouth who's my best friend and just stuck a soul the other day," he said quietly.
Severus thought about it. "Yes, this would better be done in private."
"May I listen?" Draco asked. "This is fascinating and one never knows when I might end up there since my cousin has so graciously offered to threaten my life next summer by inviting me for a visit."
"When we get down to school stuff," Xander told him, giving him a smirk. "Until then, there's some things that have to be said among those who already know the problems of Hellmouths."
"Fine," Draco sighed, leaving the room. His mother and father followed him and shut the door.
"Anti-listening charm?" Xander suggested, sitting down across from him.
Severus waved his wand, putting up a barrier to keep Lucius from spying. "Describe this witch to me," he demanded.
"Wiccan." The teacher looked confused. "Earth magic without a wand. Some meditation, a Goddess and a God, some incredible powers on her part. Willow is my best friend, but my mother's had to obliviate her so many times she's sure it's going to stop working soon. Plus there's the problem of she went from levitating a pencil one day to using Gypsy magic to stick a soul back into its vampire."
"Vampire. Angelus. She restuck his soul after he lost it."
"Then you work with the current slayer?"
Xander smiled. "Both of them actually." The teacher looked confused. "Buffy died for a few minutes but I brought her back with CPR. It called a second one into being but Buffy's still alive. Kendra was really nice. A little more goal and task oriented than I'm comfy with, but fairly nice and sweet as long as she's not fighting you."
"What do you do in this group?"
"I hunt. I'm the bait. I also get into trouble and occasionally save the day." He grinned sadly. "It's not much of a life, sir."
"You may call me Professor Snape."
"Ah-ha! Then you are the guy who sends me nasty notes about my potions," Xander said happily. "Is part of that because where we have to ship it? I notice that most of them complain about old ingredients."
"It could be," he admitted. "I hadn't thought of that." He sipped his tea. "Is this slaying why you fell behind?" Xander nodded as he reached for his glass of milk on the tray. "You trust them?"
"I'm immune to most poisons because of the Hellmouth," Xander said with a one-sided shrug. "Spells bounce off me, they go wrong, and I continue to survive."
"How do they bounce off you?"
"The most stunning example was a love spell gone wrong," Xander sighed, taking a sip. "What is this?"
"Milk from the cow. It hasn't gone through all those processes you Americans find so necessary," he said with a smirk.
"So the bitter taste is cow hair?"
"Probably a poison," Snape told him.
"Huh. Another mark against my uncle. I'll remember that when I kill him some day." He took another sip. "The love spell was supposed to get my girlfriend to come back to me so I could dump her this time. She dumped me on Valentine's Day after I had blown a lot of money for a present. Instead it got everyone but her and I was running for my life because most of the women grabbed weapons when I wouldn't choose." He finished off his milk and set the glass down. "I've also managed to set a book on fire by reading from it in tenth grade."
"Interesting. Do you cause damage?" Xander chuckled and nodded. "Extreme damage?"
"I've got some control. Mom sends me away for a week each summer so I have to practice my magic outside of town, just in case I have to run for a few months. The worst comes when I lose emotional control."
"That's wise of her," Snape said begrudgingly. "What sort of problems are you having beyond this witch?"
"A few," Xander sighed. "I'm a demon magnet and I don't know why. All the spells bouncing off me in odd and strange ways. The problem of what to do about Willow. I think she's even spelled me a few times."
"Who's teaching her?"
"The Watcher assigned to Buffy is the one who introduced her to magic, and he's trying so hard to rein her in, but she's already stealing books that he thinks he's hidden."
"I see." Severus put down his cup. "What do you want to do about her?"
"She's my best friend. I'd like not to have to fight her some day, but she's the sort to wrap herself up in anything that gives her an identity. I'm afraid that magic will be one of those things. Without any training and without anyone there to smack her around when she starts moving off the path, she's in real danger of becoming a danger, Professor Snape. Beside my mother and two or three other wizards, I'm it in town."
"Does she work with the Slayer as well?" Xander nodded. "Then why would she go bad?"
Xander pulled an envelope out. "From my mother. She said you'd ask that question and it has stuff she said I don't need to know." He handed it over, watching as it was read.
Severus kept in his anger. Was this woman totally irresponsible? "Very well. I will send you back with some book recommendations to help you deal with her. It may also help your control issues."
"Can you find a way for me to leave town without having to drink the native soil in a healing potion?"
The Potion's Master looked surprised. "Why would you have to?"
"I get atrociously sick otherwise."
"That's odd." He pulled his wand. "May I check you over?"
"If you can fix it, I'm almost willing to die or procreate. I know damn well I can't do either as it stands."
"No, it probably wouldn't be wise. You might have a child that is the embodiment of the Hellmouth you serve," Severus agreed. He ran his wand across the boy's body, frowning at the results. "The Hellmouth has been opened?"
"Um, yeah. That's one of the first spells Willow did, to close it."
"It's done more than warp you, Alexander. It's poisoned you. That is why none of the other poisons work on you, and why all those spells went wrong," he said quietly, in awe of what he could see.
"Can it be fixed so I'm more normal?"
"I have no idea," Severus admitted. "I can't, I know that much. There is one who might be able to, but I'll have to talk to him when I go back to the school."
"Can I come with you?" Xander pleaded. "I promise not to make it fall in this time."
Severus gave him a rare smile. "I remember your last trip in. Are you and your uncle having problems?"
"Every time I see him I remember why I'm like this and everything that got taken away from me and my mom because of his stupidity. He slept with the Dark Lord's mistress. Hello! Did he not expect bad things to happen? Why do I have to suffer because he's a stupid bastard?"
"Life is often unfair," Snape advised calmly.
"Yeah, but I'm sick and tired of being the buttmonkey of the joke." Xander stood up and started to pace. "I'd really like to be normal some day. Just for a short time. A normal wizard if possible, but I'd even take being a muggle right about now! Do you know what it's like to have to hunt almost every single night for two years?" He stopped and ran his hands through his hair. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't dump this on you. You're my advisor, not my counselor." He turned around. "I'm sorry for my rudeness, Professor Snape, I'll try to keep it inside in the future."
"Maybe that's why things keep going wrong," Snape said carefully.
Xander shook his head. "I don't feel any different now than I did when I found out I was coming here. All I feel is this murderous rage and the desire to kill. I'm one of the good guys, I'm not supposed to have that."
"We all have it, yours has a good reason," Snape pointed out.
Xander gave him that same bitter smile. "You think?" he asked dryly.
Snape pointed at the couch. "Sit. Pacing about won't make it any better." The boy sat down again. "For now, let me think on the problem of your best friend." Xander nodded. "I want you to warn your cousin about her. I don't think that your uncle will do much, but I can foresee the day when she will need help. As you can." Xander nodded again. "When that time comes, you must not hesitate. You might be able to save her without harming her, but if not, help may not get there in time if you dawdle."
"I don't plan on it," Xander said tiredly. "She's an asset and a good girl, but I can already see this warping her."
"Then warn your cousin. He'll be in a position to get you the help you need someday. His father isn't liked by most of his associates and may well be dead by then."
"Can I kick the corpse if Voldemort does it?"
Snape shook his head. "Only if you come over to kill him as well."
"That might be arrangeable," Xander noted with a slight smirk. "I'd be willing to give up my life so no one else has to go through what I have. Especially not the torture."
"You don't know what you're saying," Snape snapped.
"Bet me," Xander said, moving his shirt. "Sixteen hours, seven vamps. One of them like you." He let his shirt fall again. "They wanted forgiven."
"The Slayer saved you?"
"No, they ended up trying to A-K me a few times and it kept bouncing back. So they tortured me, tried to drain me, and then I got desperate and let my powers loose. It ripped the roof off the building in the middle of the afternoon. The paramedics found me under the rubble and said that I had gotten pierced by the rubble. Mom got yelled at for letting me play in such an unsafe building." He grinned. "She said it wasn't her fault, that I was meeting a lover there."
"Do you have one?"
"Technically?" Xander asked. Snape nodded. "Yes and no. Yes on the girlfriend part. No on the lover part. Mom said it might be dangerous if I lose control. No one's sure what'll happen."
"You are a mess," Draco said from the doorway. He smiled. "Mother wanted to know if you were dead yet."
"No, most poisons don't work on me," Xander told him. "You can come in now. We're back to the more routine hellmouthy matters and I got told to tell you about my best friend."
"Really?" Draco asked, shutting and locking the door. "What is she?"
"A nature witch who doesn't use a wand," Xander told him. Draco stopped and stared at him, making him nod. "Yeah, you heard right. A powerful wiccan who isn't being formally trained."
"There is a worry that she'll go bad," Snape told him quietly. Draco sat down and stared at them. "If she does, you will be in the most advantageous position to help her."
"Could she become dangerous?"
Xander snorted. "She's the sort who will wrap herself up in anything that will give her an identity. Magic is already warping her. Just before I came, she put a soul in a vampire."
"Holy Merlin," Draco breathed. "Powerful and untutored."
"Hence the problem," Snape told him.
"You want me to tutor her?" Draco asked.
"No, dolt, I want you to watch out for her," Snape said sharply. "This young woman may well be the one creature who can defeat all of us." Draco nodded quickly.
"So if I send a desperate scream for help, I'll really need it," Xander told him.
Draco looked at him. "How do you put up with all this nonsense?"
"Willow's been my best friend since we started school, Draco. She's like my sister. I have a duty to try and protect her, and to protect things from her. I'd love not to have to, but I do." He looked at Snape. "Did you get the rest of the list I wrote out last night?"
"Your aunt gave them to me. They were originally sealed?"
"Only by a blot of wax. I figured I wouldn't cause her too many troubles with opening it," he said with a faint smirk. "Can you help?"
"I can try," Snape agreed. "I make no promises."
"Hey, that's honest, I like honest," Xander assured him. "I've had too many comforting lies over my life already. By the way, do you know who my father is? I'd like to at least see a picture of him."
Snape shifted uncomfortably. "I do not. You were conceived during a large Death Eater party. Your uncle brought your mother and handed her over to a paramour she had her eye on, but there were others that evening who took advantage of her drunken and drugged state. Including a few of the prisoners since your uncle was so very displeased with her."
Xander hung his head. "Thank you for the honesty. I guess I know why my mother never told me."
"But you said that your dark hair was directly from him," Draco pointed out. "Would that narrow it down any?"
"To two other victims, six Death Eaters, and myself," Snape told him. "I can assure you you're not mine as I'm infertile, but I have no idea about the others. If it was one of the other victims, then they're dead, as are their families. If it's one of the other Death Eaters, you're better off not knowing," he said with his most gentle reasoning. It still came out harsh, but you could tell he was trying to soften the blow.
Xander straightened up and looked at him. "Were you one of the ones who attacked my mother?"
Snape shook his head. "No, I wasn't. I had no idea. I thought it was rather stupid personally. A waste of a pure-blood witch who might have had other uses. She might have made an alliance marriage or even become more useful to the cause. I was still rather dumb back then." He slumped. "If you're asking if one of the people who attacked her might have been your father, there's every chance. The Dark Lord would do something like that if he realized she was pregnant. Then he would have gloated about it and made the Death Eater ashamed of himself for impregnating someone who the Dark Lord found inferior, for whatever reason."
Xander nodded. "I understand. Thank you, Professor Snape."
"You had the right to know, Alexander." He gave the boy a short smirk. "You have managed to overcome a great deal because of it. You should be proud of that fact alone."
"Oh, I am. I'm nothing if not a survivor," he pointed out. He looked at his cousin. "My wonderful advisor said he wanted you to help me catch up if I'm staying here."
"He's in the middle of the last month's worth of fifth year studies," Snape told Draco. "He does need to keep up, but we understand about his unique circumstances. We can make sure that you know what has to be done if you're willing to work with him."
"I wouldn't care to," Draco told him. "Would it make him less dangerous?"
Snape shrugged. "No one's sure. It would certainly not threaten you."
Draco considered the implied statement. "Or my mother?"
"Not if I can help it," Xander agreed. "She's against me only because she has you. It's her duty to look out for you."
"That's fine, I can work with him," Draco agreed.
Snape stood up. "I'll send you that list tomorrow when I send Xander back his answers. That one will probably take a few more days since the Headmaster is out of town."
"Whatever is fine with me," Xander pointed out. He watched as the older man left them alone. "You're burning with the urge to ask something so let it out," Xander said, relaxing on the couch.
"You're an odd wizard. Does it bother you being here?"
"Only having to look at your father," Xander said honestly. "You weren't born when all this stuff started so I can't blame you for looking like your father." He smiled gently. "I'm waiting to see how much of a dirtbag you become before I make my judgement. I will assure you that I don't routinely harm family unless it gets to the point where you become like him or you harm the rest of us."
"Missing your family made you desire having one?" Draco asked, relaxing. His life wasn't in danger. He knew better than to double-cross his cousin.
"That and being possessed by a hyena," Xander agreed. Draco looked stunned. "That was my second one. No one really remembers my first. I was only six weeks old from what I was told. A letter was left in my care until I got old enough to read it. I read it last year and it was very enlightening. Have you taken the idiot's mark?"
Draco shook his head. "None of us students may while we're in school. There are wards set up to reveal us if we do," Draco said quietly. "I haven't decided for myself yet."
"See that you decide for yourself and not for your father," Xander warned, standing up. "Following in his footsteps will probably get you dead and I think you're pretty neat. Or at least cool enough to hang around with." He left the drawing room, heading up to his room for a short nap. He found his dose of potion beside the bed and sniffed it. "You forgot the dirt!" he called.
Narcissa opened his door. "Did you scream something?" she asked dryly.
"Whoever did the potion forgot the dirt," he told her, holding up the small vial. "It'll only make me puke later and I'm trying to spare your rugs that fate."
She laughed. "Thank you for that much consideration." She walked in and closed the door. "Xander, may I speak with you?" He waved a hand as he flopped onto the bed. "You are not the nicest of young men."
"Aunt Narcissa, I fight on a daily basis with things that give people nightmares. Besides, I can't stand your husband. I was against this trip in the first place but no one wanted to listen to me. I will gladly go to an inn and stay there for the rest of my time over here if you want."
She shook her head. "No, that's not the answer." She sat beside him. "If I came up with a spell to show me how bad it has been, would you allow me to do it?"
"Only myself, unless you want your cousin involved. You seem to have gotten a bit close."
Xander snorted. "I like Draco. I can see what I might have been in him."
Her face lit up. "You're envious?"
"Of having a family that gives a damn about your state of existence? Yeah, it'd be nice," he admitted quietly. "Of having someone there for you? I'd adore it usually. The same as I would being normal." He looked at her. "I've done my best to be kind and gentle with you, Auntie, but I will always loathe your husband and what he's done to make me the man I am today. I won't ever let that go. I can't."
"I understand. You will let me see?"
"Sure, why not."
"Thank you. Spare me some time tonight after dinner and I'll do the spell myself. We'll lock ourselves in my chambers." He nodded. "Thank you, Xander."
He put a hand on her arm to stop her from moving. "I'm not going to be held responsible for any nightmares, Auntie. If you want to see, then you'd better realize it's not that pretty of a sight."
"I understand. I've seen many horrible things over my lifetime." She stood up. "You rest before dinner. I'll have my son wake you up." She gave him one of her cold smiles. "Were you planning on coming back next year?"
"Only if your husband is dead and my mother comes back as the heiress to the house and property," Xander told her.
"I understand, Xander. I wish my own son had the desire to protect me like you do yours." She left him alone, going to think. If it was as horrible as the boy thought, it might give her a way around him and his mother to protect what was her and her son's. She smiled at his son as she passed him in the halls. "What did Professor Snape say?"
"That I'm to help Xander catch up a bit more." She looked interested. "He's fallen behind due to his slaying duties." He leaned against the wall. "Mother, as a technicality, if father died and we were left, who would get the house and lands?"
"Half of the money would be split between our family and his family. The house would technically go to her or you, I'm no sure which. Would that matter?"
"Not if he can't live in it full time," Draco pointed out. His mother's face brightened.
"Yes, he might sign it over to any heirs," she said thoughtfully.
"While I was eavesdropping, I heard Xander and Snape say that he might not have an heir some day. That it might be dangerous because of the taint he carries."
"Indeed?" she asked. Her son nodded. "That would be tragic. The end of that branch of the family."
Draco looked at his mother. "If you harm him," he said quietly, "I'll lose you too." She looked at him. "He's protective of all his family and will fight back."
"Thank you, son." She gave his face a short pat. "Go play until it's dinner. Your cousin is resting."
"Fine." He went to his suite and pulled down a book to read, wondering about possessions. This visit had sparked a new interest in studying for him, just so he could understand all the currents going on around him. He found a letter on his desk and sat down to open it, smirking when he read what was on it. "Well," he told himself. "Perhaps my cousin isn't that odd of a wizard after all." He put the letter aside. He'd have think about his friends meeting his wayward relative before he would let them meet. Xander might be a danger to them. Or possibly would cause Xander to be a danger to his family. Though he did wonder what Xander would do to his friends. He settled in to read up on possessions. They hadn't been covered in Defense and it was interesting.
Narcissa let the boy out of her room, crowing inside. What she had seen had been horrible. She'd seen the boy start down the path to the darkside while working for the light. She had seen him kill and maim without a word of protest. He wouldn't bother them though. Maybe an alliance would be to both their benefits. It would keep her alive if and when her husband died and it would provide an anchor for her dear, sweet nephew when he finally went insane. She could see it in his mind, that spark of insanity that started off as a random thought here and there. She allowed herself to smile once the boy had disappeared back into the main hallway, closing her bedroom door. She found her husband at their adjoining door and immediately lost her smile. "I thought I had locked that against you," she told him.
"It was a flimsy attempt at a lock spell, and you know it," he sneered. "What did you see?"
"The overall desire for your demise is stronger than you think, husband. He will get you, even if he has to go through legal means." He straightened up just a bit more. "I also saw his mother. For having to do without everything we hold dear, she's very beautiful. She could do well with a bit of encouragement to settle herself down in a respectable relationship. It might even ease the boy's rage toward you."
He walked over and grabbed her by the arm, forcing her to sit down beside him. "How was his mind? Intact? Whole?"
"It was a blaze of rage and energy," she admitted. "He does fight. He's keeping the worst at bay on his Hellmouth and it appreciates it." She considered it. "He's already fought longer and harder than you have, Lucius. And he doesn't enjoy it." He smirked, looking triumphant. "You do know all that has forged steel in his blood?"
Lucius waved a hand. "That does not matter to me. The boy will not threaten my position." He smiled at her. "I've got a meeting tonight."
"If you go, he may follow you to humiliate you in front of your friends," she warned.
"Have our son keep him here. I'm awaiting the results of my own test tonight." He left, skulking back to his own domain.
She slammed and relocked the door, using more and better locks this time. She could understand why that boy's mother had chosen exile and a loveless muggle relationship over her brother, she really could.
Lucius looked at his sister's head. "No, he's been mostly decent," he told her. "Was a bit threatening there at the beginning, but he seems to have calmed down."
"Why would he threaten?" Willow piped in.
Xander's mother groaned. "I'll tell you later, Willow." She looked at her brother. "Hopefully the method he sent me back will work."
"If not, send her over here and I'll gladly deal with her," he said smoothly.
"I bet you will." Lucretia sneered at him. "Where is my son? I want to talk to him."
Lucius rang the bell on his desk, bringing a house elf. "Find my nephew and bring him here. His mother wants to talk to him," he told it. He knew that only a good reason would get the boy into his study. He looked down at his sister. "I will release your trust to you this afternoon."
"I'll await the owl with the good news," she said, looking him over. "I see you're still living high on the hog, Lucius. Still flaunting Father's wealth I see." He smirked at her. "Remember, it's only my son who's forced to stay here," she said smoothly as the door opened to admit the boys. She smiled at her own son. "Did you threaten him?"
"Many times," Xander admitted. He picked up the poker and smiled at his Uncle. "Can I do him now, mother?"
"No, son. Wait for the perfect time, a time when no one can say anything against you," she reminded him. She looked at the other boy, then at her brother. "You had to use the Parabassala?" she taunted. "Didn't give yourself the right way to the dark?"
"Mom, chill. I like Draco. He's decent enough and he's staying out of it."
"Until the family money is threatened, son, then I'm sure he and his mother will both become very active."
"Hmm." Xander smiled at her. "Aunt Narcissa read my memories last night. I heard her crying out with nightmares, screaming at Angelus." He smirked at his cousin. "Has she come down this morning? I wanted to check on her."
"She's been down and went back to rest for the day," Lucius said, frowning at the boy. "What was she seeing?"
"A vampire who was named the Scourge of Europe by others?" Xander suggested. "Angelus and I had a few very interesting run-ins. I wonder which one she saw."
"Hopefully nothing damaging," Draco put in dutifully. His father had glanced over at him. "Are you often tortured?"
"If he is, we'll be talking soon," Lucretia offered. She smiled at her son. "Have they taken you shopping yet?"
"No, not yet, Mom. I talked to Professor Snape, as you know, and he assigned Draco to help me catch up a bit more. We've been working on charms all morning and I'm starting to go wonky now. How much longer do I have?"
"Perhaps another week," his mother admitted. She looked at her brother. "Can he stay for that long?"
"If he wishes," Lucius said mock-gracefully. "I'm sure the family home can accommodate him for that long."
"Wonderful," Xander purred, startling his uncle. "I can figure out how I'm going to redecorate some places once you're gone. I think I'll start by turning your dungeon into a mini strip club." He waved at his mother and walked out.
Lucius snapped his mouth shut at the laughter. "Leave." His son wisely left him there. "Do not think you'll win," he hissed at his sister. "I am stronger."
"Than him?" she asked with a smirk. She cut the connection and went to try and obliviate Willow again. Hopefully it still worked somewhat.
Lucius picked up a delicate statue of a tortured figure, a person he transfigured himself, and threw it at the wall, shattering it. He calmed himself. She would get what was coming to her. Perhaps the Dark Lord would like to know about her and the boy. He flinched as every window in the room had its shutters close and the doors seemed to disappear. He felt the darkness creep in and flinched away from it. Who was this? "What do you want!" he demanded.
Xander walked in through a door he had sworn had disappeared. "Did you scream something in terror?" he asked. His uncle stared at him. "I do deal with demons. You'd be surprised at who and what I know, Uncle." He smiled. "Should I bother following you to your puny and pitiful meeting of the single brain cell tonight? Last night's wasn't that entertaining and I got bored after I let the poor victims go."
"How dare you," he hissed, moving closer. He picked up his walking stick but Xander stood up to him. "You *released* them?"
"Yeah. Right after I made it seem like the father had set his house on fire in fear of you. He was really happy to be let go." He smirked. "Another point to me." Then he left.
Lucius looked around his office, seeing everything as it should be. "That boy," he growled.
"It wasn't me," Xander called. "You owe someone." He strolled casually out to where he and his cousin were working. "Your father's gone 'round the bend as you guys say." He sat down. "Apparently his sacrifice of his soul is starting to wear out." Draco looked at him. "I asked another chaos sorcerer, another of the wandless ones, about stuff like that. He was very informative so I let him leave with his life. The marks are fairly obvious if you know what you're looking for. His are on the ribbon around his ponytail. The demon had him mark himself and wear its symbol. Fairly stupid so it must have been young."
"You're a font of all things wicked and nasty," Draco said in appreciation.
"Only the interesting things. People who offer themselves for power often end up being my problem so I thought I'd ask. They always seem to come to my Hellmouth and try to use it for some reason."
"It's a center of mystical energy," Draco pointed out.
"Bad energy, Draco. Anyone who thinks they can harness it is stupid. There is no harnessing the Hellmouth or even using it unless it wants to be used."
"Is it sentient?"
"Yeah, and it's got minions who check up on me and my mom. They can get a little pissed if we're not working for the good of the big sucking hole in the ground." He grinned. "But they're generally decent about warning me. One of them buys me Snicker bars all the time."
"Your mother was very pretty."
"She was prettier when I was younger. The vampire bait she uses for cover is wearing on her again, I could tell." Draco looked interested. "He thinks he's entitled to making her do things that she'd rather not do. So he's feels thwarted and gets drunk. They fight. Mom ends up obliviating him eventually and peace reigns again for another six months or so." He shrugged. "It sucks, but he provides a decent enough cover." He felt a shiver of dread run through him. "Something's going to happen soon." He closed his eyes and touched the earth in front of him, calling up his hellmouth to check it. Nothing there. He used it to check on his mother and winced. Bright lights. Lots of noise. He shot up and hurried into the house. "That shitbag just got my mother," he announced as he walked into the study. He activated the floo and sent himself home, closing his eyes tightly as he spun and wove around the world. This ride sucked almost as much as the portkey did, but it was fastest right now. He landed in his living room and saw his mother lying on the carpet. He looked at his stepfather and sneered. "Never mess with a man's mother," he told him, pulling his wand. "Excruciate!" His father fell to his knees screaming in pain. Xander could hear things moving outside and sneered at him, canceling the spell. He stepped over as his cousin came out of the fireplace and marked his stepfather. Then he sent a call out to all the residents of the hellmouth, offering them a tasty little treat.
"What are you doing?" Draco demanded.
Xander looked back at him. "Teaching him not to mess with a person's mother."
"You pitiful *boy*!" his stepfather spat. "I raised you."
Xander bent down to get in his face. "My mother raised me. You're the reason she was miserable. I'm about to fix that for her." He pulled his stepfather up and walked him to the door, opening it. Outside were some vampires, all looking antsy. "Here, have him," he said, shoving him out the door. His stepfather continued to sneer. "Go ahead, boys, vamp out. He just killed his wife, my mom." The fledglings vamped out first, making his stepfather scream. "Play with him for a while. Leave a big sign saying he did this to himself after killing his wife. I'll give you ten before I call the cops." He slammed the door and turned to find his stepfather's brother in the hallway, looking stunned. "What? You thought I couldn't use this thing?" he asked, waving his wand. The man shrieked and ran out. "Never come back!" He slammed the door and glared at it, then kicked it. "How long has it been?" he asked quietly.
"About five minutes. The screams have tapered off," Draco told him. He moved a few steps closer carefully, not wanting to set the unstable wizard off. "Sit, Xander." He led him over to his mother's side. "Say your goodbyes now. I'll call my father to have her buried in the family cemetery." Xander nodded, falling to his knees. He closed his mother's eyes and avoided the blood from the bullet hole. Draco called his father. "The muggle killed her," he told him. "Xander's about destroyed."
"I'm not going back," Xander whispered. "I can't leave now." He looked up. "Have my things packed please." Draco nodded and looked back at his father, who was sneering. "Wipe it now, Lucius, or you're next," Xander said without looking at him.
Draco noticed the smirk was gone from his father's face, and that he looked scared of his cousin. "Can you arrange for her to be buried in the family cemetery?" he asked his father. Lucius nodded quickly. "I'll be back after those muggle Law people leave, father."
"That would be fine. Try not to pick up anything."
Draco looked back at his cousin then back at his father. "He hurt him, marked him, and tossed him outside to the vampires." Lucius looked surprised. "I think you should worry." He closed the connection and turned to look at him, checking the time piece he had checked when he had walked out. "Call them, Xander. It's nearly time."
Xander picked up the phone and dialed the emergency number. "My stepfather just killed my mother," he said quietly. "He's outside screaming and my mother's lying here." Draco took the phone from him and put it down, not hanging it up because he didn't know how to. Xander let himself be moved and held as the cops rushed in. "Is he still out there?"
"Who's this?" one officer demanded.
"He's my cousin. He came home with me. I was out of town visiting his family and he came to see Sunnydale for a few days," Xander told him. "My father was standing over her with the gun," he said, pointing at the gun lying on the floor. The cops efficiently bagged up his mother and filled out a report, stopping to get the body off the front lawn. One cop threw up at the condition of the body lying on the grass, but his buddies had it.
Draco sat down, pulling Xander with him. "What will you do now?"
"I'll continue on my life," Xander said quietly. "I have to." He looked around the house and then at his wand. He swished it gently and cleaned up the living room. He saw the surprised look. "I'm the only one who can really use a wand in town," he admitted with a sad smile. "That's why so many wandless magics show up here." He sighed and looked around. "I'm going to have to do some major problem fixing I think. The house is in my mother's name but with community property it could go to his relatives and me."
"You could make them move," Draco offered.
Xander snorted. "You don't know much about the legal system, do you?" he said with a fond pat to his cousin's knee. "You should probably go before you get warped and funny from the random energy surges. You won't be able to use your wand for days if it hits you."
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah, I have Willow." Xander looked at him. "Would you please tell Professor Snape that I'm back here? So he can send information. Oh, and remind him not to use an owl he likes. It'll only get eaten."
"I'll inform him as soon as I can," Draco assured him. Someone knocked on the door. "Shall I get that?"
"No, I've got it. You might want to disappear." Xander gave him a grateful look. "I'll write as soon as I can, Draco. Make sure your father does release Mom's trust fund. Otherwise I'll have to work and slay and do my other school work. I'll never get anything done."
"I'll do my best." Draco disappeared, heading back through the floo.
Xander got up and answered the door, giving a surprised look to the pair on the other side. "Spike, Dru, shouldn't you have already left?"
"We were on our way out when we heard the call."
Dru leaned on Spike's shoulder. "I heard you, naughty one," she teased, reaching over to touch his bottom lip. "You're the powerful one."
"Well, damn!" Xander sighed. He pulled his wand and pointed it at her. "Do you really want to die, Dru?" She whimpered and shook her head.
"Hey, no, no call for that," Spike complained, trying to back up. Dru wouldn't move though. "You're a good guy, you can't harm us when we're not doing anything."
"I wasn't going to, dufus." He zapped Dru, making her squeal. "Remember, if you let on what I can do, more bigger and badder humans will come. Ones who can stake you from across the street, like Willow can. Only evil."
Spike smirked at him. "Wouldn't bother us much."
"Spike, to people like that, *you're* a minion because you're easier to kill. If you can float a stake at someone from across a room, you're not as vulnerable."
"Good point," Spike said happily. "We're leaving now."
"Good. Forget," Xander said, casting the spell. They blinked and he slammed the door in their faces. He went back to sit on the couch, looking around the empty house. "What am I going to do now?"
Draco came out of the floo, nauseous and reeling. "Oh, that's bad," he moaned, seeking a seat immediately. "Father, your sister is truly dead. Killed by a muggle. You'd be proud of your nephew's response. He caused him pain, marked him, and called up all the beasts on the Hellmouth to have his stepfather." Lucius looked sickened. "He gave them ten minutes with him and then let those other muggles come get her."
"We'll have to remove her from their care," Narcissa said from the doorway. "How is the nephew?"
"Destroyed." Draco looked at his mother. "He apparently loved her quite a lot. He asks that we send his things back since he says he can no longer leave." Lucius perked up. "It won't save you, Father. He said he'll pick a better time than now." He stood up. "I'm going up to my room and bathe. The very air there felt filthy and slimy." He walked away, going to write out the quick message to his mentor and then take a long bath. His mother walked in while he was undressing, surprising him. "You needed something more?"
"Were you tainted?"
"He sent me away before it could," he admitted. "He said if anything touched me, I might have some trouble with my wand for a few days, but nothing serious." She sighed in relief. "It's a small house, fairly tidy except for the blood on the floor. There was an illusion on the furniture to make it look shabbier. She camouflaged herself very well. The house reeked of power, hers. Not my cousin's. He is powerful on his own area. He cleaned the house with the same cleaning spell and it was amazing. The very air danced with his powers."
"You like him?"
"I find him interesting and I figured I should find a way to get along with him. He is my cousin and this is the reason why I'll live when he kills Father." She nodded. "May I bathe now? I feel nasty."
"Of course. Did you write Professor Snape?"
"Xander asked me to."
"Good boy, Draco. Stay up here tomorrow and recuperate. Your father is in a snit of epic proportions." He nodded and she left him alone, going to hide in her own rooms as well. Unfortunately, her husband was in there already. "Leave."
"He will not bother us," Lucius assured her, moving closer.
"Lucius, if you had seen into his mind, you'd know how wrong you are. He will kill you. He won't touch Draco or I, but you will die by his hand. He has taken every cruel thing he has ever seen and experienced and is going to use it on you." She smiled at him. "Your heir is fine. I made sure none of the energy tainted him during his short trip. If he takes his cousin up on his offer, I'll make sure he has a charm to protect him from the energy flowing there." Lucius looked stunned. "Xander did invite him over."
"He will not be going!" he ordered.
"I don't believe he wants to, but it may be necessary to send him somewhere safe someday. Otherwise Xander is the last male of the family and he may not breed due to his taint. Then what will happen to everything your family has hoarded for centuries?"
"I have a few cousins," Lucius admitted. "It will go to them."
"Your own father's will divides everything up between you and your sister, Lucius. Half of the family fortune is his." He slapped her and she laughed bitterly. "You may protest, but he does know. He will be filing," she sneered. "Then we'll see where your pride and lack of understanding leaves you." She pointed at the door. "Leave. I don't want you in my rooms."
He stepped closer. "My rooms," he hissed. "Everything here is mine, including your life. Remember that in the future."
She smiled coldly. "I've made arrangements for just such a time, Lucius. Do beware of your temper." She pointed again. "Get out of my rooms." He stormed out and she listened, but he didn't stop at her son's door. She slumped down onto her couch and shielded her rooms. It would take a stronger wizard than her husband to get through those. Her son might be able to, and her nephew definitely, but not her husband.
*** A Few Months Later ***
Xander looked at the legal documents in front of him, then at the lawyer. "Would you like to translate this into human?" The lawyers laughed. "Really. I just lost my parents. I don't have the energy to translate it personally. If you won't, I'll hire my own attorney."
The lawyer leaned forward. "All it says is that your mother left you everything and her husband is the reason for her death." Xander nodded. "Is that how it happened?"
"He shot her," Xander told him.
"I see." The lawyer looked at the papers. "It mentions a trust on here but I don't have anything on that."
Xander looked over his shoulder as the door opened, smiling at the man standing there. "Come in, Professor." He shifted over so Professor Dumbledore could sit beside him. "Can you please help me through this?"
"Your advisor asked me to intervene because he's heard about your uncle trying to cut you out of the family." Xander nodded, looking serene. "May I see those?" The lawyer handed them over. "Are these the original?"
"No." The lawyer looked startled and he got up to get the real will. "I don't know what came over me. Some blond man gave me that. I don't know why I brought that one out."
"That would be my uncle," Xander said calmly. "You'll want to run when you see him. He means to kill me as well." The lawyer looked at him. "He didn't instigate it, he's the reason my mother was stranded here."
"I see." The lawyer handed over the will, which was in much simpler language. "Your father didn't have one."
"My father didn't own anything except his truck."
"Was bought by my mother and I had better not see anything from my stepfather's family."
"Anything?" Dumbledore asked.
"If you knew them, you'd understand," Xander agreed. He looked over the will and handed it over. "How much is that?"
"More than Lucius is comfortable in giving," Dumbledore told him. He read and nodded. "This is the correct one."
The lawyer signed the forms and clipped that to it. "Thank you for your help. I'm sorry for your loss, Mr. Harris."
"I only lost my mother," Xander said quietly. "My stepfather can rot." He stood up. "You're handling everything?"
"I'm doing as your mother demanded and handing this to a specially picked lawyer who will finish everything for you." Xander looked surprised. "I think it's a family one." Xander nodded. "Thank you for trusting me, even through all this." He shook their hands and watched them leave. The false will was shredded by his helper.
Xander looked at his headmaster. "You came all this way to help me with that simple task?"
"No," Dumbledore said with a smile. "I came to look at your friend."
Xander put a hand on his arm. "Mom tried to obliviate her and it didn't work," he said, glancing around. "I'll take you over there, but you're going to have to be very careful, sir."
"I understand, Alexander. I think I can fix some of it for her." He smiled warmly. "Are you going to continue going by your stepfather's name?"
"Only in this town. Outside it, I'm going to use my mother's maiden name." He grinned. "Uncle Lucius will shit funny colors."
"Yes, I suppose he might." He walked with the boy, going back to his house. He nodded at the people waiting around. "I see you have some very strong friends."
"Yeah." Xander grinned at him. "Guys, this is the guy who's helping me with some of the more mundane matters about my mother's death. Mr. Dumbledore, this is Rupert Giles, Buffy Summers, and Willow Rosenberg. No Oz?"
"He's out of town tonight playing," Willow told him. She shook the man's hand and looked at Xander. "It's very nice to meet you. Would you like something to eat? I just made some lasagna."
"Thank you, but I'm fine." He smiled at them then at Xander. "Were you going out tonight?"
"No, I think I'm going to stay in," Xander told him. Buffy frowned at him. "Sorry, but I don't feel like dealing with all this, Buffy. Give me a few more days."
"Fine," she sighed, standing up. "I'll stake a vamp and laugh at it like you would." She gave him a hug and left with her Watcher.
Willow looked at the old man. "Why are you here? Is Xander in trouble?"
"No, dear, Xander isn't in trouble. I fully understand why Xander does what he does. I'm here to look you over." She looked stunned. "It was reported that you were very strong, so I am looking you over to see if some formal training might help you."
"But.... Giles is helping me."
"Willow, I know about the books you stole," Xander told her, sitting down. He shrugged at the hurt look. "He's the guy who's over my school."
"Oh." She sat down and looked at him. "Do you want to help me do something?"
"More watch you," he said with a fond smile. "I can't guarantee that you'll end up in a school of magic, but I can probably pass you on to someone so you can be watched over in case you have any problems."
"Of course, if you show real aptitude, there are colleges of magic," Xander offered. "That would mean you'd have to give up your type and be able to do mine though."
"Oh," she repeated. She stood up again. "Would you like to come to my house, Mr. Dumbledore? All my working things are set up over there since my parents are gone."
"If you wish," he agreed. He looked outside, then at Xander, who shook his head. "You can't guard us?"
"I can try, but the Hellmouth is being courted by someone else right now. It's tickled with the new attention."
"How do you know?" Willow asked.
"I'll explain that once we get to your house," Dumbledore assured her, leading her out the door. The few vampires out there ran away screaming. "That was odd." He looked back and saw Xander in the doorway. "Thank you."
"It agreed, it wants you to deal with Willow as well," he said with a grin. "It's a tad bit pissed at her." He closed the door.
*** Graduation Day, For Both Wizards ***
Xander stumbled in from his graduation, tired, sore, and bloody. "I ache," he told the empty house. It answered him with a groan from the couch. "Who..." he said, starting that way. He saw a shock of blond hair surrounded by blood. "Draco!" He walked over and gently turned his cousin over, making him wince and cry out. "What the hell happened to you! You weren't even at my graduation!"
"Ours," Draco said, reaching out. "Voldemort."
"Shh. Let me get you cleaned up." He forgot his own pains to get the first aid kit and some water. He knelt beside the couch and stripped off his cousin's clothes. He winced at the mottled flesh and the cuts and tears. "Voldemort?"
"Potter," Draco groaned. "Attacked on our leaving day."
"Stupid git!" Xander said derisively. He got him cleaned and bandaged, then worked on himself. He saw the quizzical look. "An Ascension during my graduation. We blew up the school and fought for our lives. The Hellmouth was really pissed that we stopped it."
"Oh." Draco pointed at a spot he had missed. "Blood." Xander looked and wiped off the splatter. "No injury?"
"It wasn't mine." Draco looked sick. "Throw up into the water bowl if you have to. We have more bowls." He bandaged his arms and chest, then relaxed on the couch. "Want some food? I can't cook but I can microwave something."
"No," Draco said, waving a hand. "Mother's dead."
"And the fucker?"
"Arrested." He swallowed. "You know about Potter?" Xander nodded. "Voldemort decided to prove it was his innocence that had saved him the first time. He attacked as we were leaving the school for the last time." He stretched and winced. "He lost."
"Very big fight. Most of the senior Death Eaters were there. My father got captured." Draco coughed. "They killed a quarter of those who were going to join in a few days."
"Indiscriminate slaughter is so wasteful," Xander agreed. "The train?"
"Six cars were destroyed and the engine was knocked off the tracks. Potter lived and Voldemort ran away before he could be caught."
"Missing," Draco said, starting to tear up. "They can't find his body at all."
"I'm sorry." Xander pulled him closer, holding him like his cousin had held him a year ago. "I'm coming back with you tonight. I'll help you however I can," he promised.
"But you'll get sick."
"With how pissed the Hellmouth is, it'll either entice me back or let me go." He grinned. "Either way I'll be fine. I've got three months, I'm sure I can do a lot in that time." He stood up and wobbled. "Ow."
"Sit, you prat," Draco told him, pulling him back down. "What's an Ascension?"
"The mayor wanted to become a higher level demon. He's been planning it for over a hundred years. Today he turned into the demon and we blew him up with the school."
"Wow." Draco looked impressed. "I kept myself from destroying my school."
"Yeah, but you never faced a twenty-five-foot snake demon either."
"The whole graduating class. Twenty deaths, sixty serious injuries, everyone else was at least injured. My friends are fine and I lived."
"Good for you." Draco looked at his hands. "My mother stuck up for me. He killed her before going to the battle. He was planning on getting me."
"Did you try to kick his ass?"
"No, I guarded the Slytherin flank as they tried to retreat and regroup. I got knocked out by Crabbe Senior."
"At least you tried."
"Yes, I did." Draco looked at him. "You're coming back?"
"Yeah. I know paperwork was filed. I'm going to assert my claim to kill your father." He stood up again and wobbled less. "Let me get something to eat and we'll head back." Draco nodded. "You're sure?"
"I'll only get sick. I can always get food later."
"Coolness." Xander wobbled into the kitchen, going to make himself some pizza bites. He nibbled quickly and used his wand to pack a small bag and lock up the house. By the time he was done eating, everything was ready for him. "Come on, Draco," he said as he walked back into the living room. His cousin was asleep on the couch, making him smile. "Okay, you stay. I'll send for you tomorrow." He found his portkey to the school and headed there, smiling at the welcoming committee that met him. "Hello. I need to see Professor Dumbledore," he said pleasantly.
"Who're you?" Ron Weasley demanded.
"Xander Harris, correspondence student. He'll be expecting me." He lifted his chin and looked at the boy who looked so stunned. "Buck up, Harry, it gets worse." Potter looked at him. "I lost twenty of my graduating class of one hundred today because of one man and a few vampires. You guys had more even odds."
"That's fairly offensive," McGonagall told him. She looked him over. "Malfoy."
"Technically," Xander agreed. "Speaking of, my cousin's napping on my couch." Ron glared at him. "Sorry, but my patience is at an end. I fought earlier too, just in another sort of battle."
"Death Eaters?" Ron asked.
"One wizard wanting to be a demon," Xander said with a shrug. "He tried to eat my graduating class." They looked sick. "So yeah, I understand, but I have to go punish my uncle now. He's mine."
"Yours?" Ron sneered. "Are you going to let him go?"
"He had my mother all but killed, Weasley, I'm going to return the favor a few times before he dies a horrible death." Harry got sick in the bushes. "Sorry to be so graphic. The Headmaster?"
"He's resting," McGonagall told him, softening her tone. "You really want to harm him?"
"No, I really want to kill him. He's the reason I didn't get to attend school normally." He smiled at her. "Can you please help me get to whomever I put in my demands with?"
"They're doing trials tomorrow. Did you need a place to stay?"
"I could stay at the family home," he assured her.
"They're doing the trials here tomorrow. You may stay."
"Thank you." Xander smiled and shook her hand. "I'm sorry I fell so far behind over the last year. The Ascension kinda got in the way again. But I promise to get some things done this summer."
She nodded, smiling slightly. "I did enjoy your candy bar changed into a gerbil." He grinned brighter.
"He did that?" Ron asked. "A Malfoy?"
"Yeah, a Malfoy," Xander agreed. "One whose mother had to run for her life from the same people you fought earlier. The one who got tainted by his Hellmouth and who is supposed to be staying there." He shook his hand. "Sorry to have waited so long to meet you. My cousin swore about you often in our infrequent letters." Ron laughed. "Harry." He nodded. He swayed a bit. "Ow." He blinked a few times and noticed the worried looks. "I'm fine, just a little battered. Nothing a pain potion and a nap won't cure."
"Right this way, Mr. Malfoy," she said, leading him to a room. She found the Headmaster waiting. "What are you doing out of bed!" she shrieked.
"I came to see what Xander has planned," Dumbledore said gently. He tapped the top of a bottle. "Take this before you lose control."
"Thanks. Pain?" Dumbledore smiled. "You're a blessed man, Albus Dumbledore, and you deserve to have many kids who drive you insane." He swallowed the potion and grimaced. "Eww, hellmouth dirt again."
McGonagall smiled at him. "It is probably necessary." She left them alone.
"Sit, Xander, before you fall. Where is your cousin?"
"Sleeping on my couch," Xander said as he sat on the bed. "Can I have him?"
"I'll let you address his sentencing committee. It will be up to them." Xander nodded, relaxing. "Do you know what you want to do to him?"
Xander stretched out on his side. "I want to torture him for a bit and then kill him. I want it to last for a few years as well," he said thoughtfully. "Maybe give him nightmares straight out of my Hellmouth and make him live with them for a few years with a rotating series of pain and humiliation spells. Eventually I'll let him beg for mercy and kill him."
"I'll pass that on," Dumbledore said with a faint smile. "There are some who will enjoy the irony of a victim getting their own back." Someone knocked on the door. "Enter, Ron." Ron walked in and looked at them. "Are your parents here?"
"No, but Dad just called. He said things are going funny at the Ministry and they wanted you to show up. All the official messengers are heading for the other somewhat important people so I got deputized."
"You've got to watch out for people who volunteer you," Xander said with a small smirk. "That way ends up making you demon bait."
Ron looked at him. "You sound like you know."
"Very well," Xander agreed.
Ron shook his head. "At least you're an interesting evil bastard."
"Actually, I'm a force of chaos and one of the better good guys," Xander told him. "Uncle Lucius tried to have me killed because of it."
"Wow." Ron looked impressed. "Do you get along with your cousin?"
"Yeah. Most of the time. We're not close, but we can get along well enough not to kill each other. I left him sleeping on my couch, recovering from the loss of his mother."
"Oh." Ron looked pissed. "Was she there?" Xander shook his head. "Then how did she die?"
"His father got pissed at her for sticking up for her son. A natural instinct that he would never understand."
"Wow." Ron smiled at him. "I guess not all of you guys are so bad." He looked at his headmaster. "They really need you, sir. They're about out of common sense."
"I'll leave in a few moments, Ron. Thank you." Ron nodded and left them alone. "As you can see, life goes on."
"As always," Xander agreed. "Tomorrow?"
"I'll send someone for you," Dumbledore agreed, heaving himself up. "Rest, Xander, and we'll talk tomorrow about you finishing up your education this summer."
"Cool. I locked up the house and left him a note." He waited until the headmaster was gone to slump down in pain. "Ow." His Hellmouth was *really* pissed at him for ruining it's fun. He decided to sit down and meditate with it, hoping to make it not be so pissed. After all, humans needed to exist too and he would be bruised until the Hellmouth was done being pissed at him.
Xander looked at the board. "I know you don't know me, trust me, or really want me here, but I do have a prior claim that is stronger. Plus, I can promise he'll suffer for a damn good long time."
"Young man, swift justice is always better," the judge told him.
Xander focused on him. "I've suffered for nineteen years. My mother suffered for eighteen years. Both of us because of him and his stupidity."
"Explain," a member of the three-person panel demanded.
"I am Alexander Lavelle Lorentis Malfoy." The board shuddered. "I see some of you realize who I am?" he asked with some humor.
"You're the one who is bound to his Hellmouth." Xander nodded. "Why do you think he had anything to do with your...predicament?"
"Because my mother was meant to be a message to him not to fuck up again. She was to be killed and dropped on Lucius' doorstep. Because of him bringing her to that revel, I came to be and Voldemort got pissed or scared, no one's sure which. So he decided she was the perfect messenger." He sat down and stretched out. "Sorry, I had my own battle yesterday."
"That is fine," the judge said. "What did you fight?"
"Ow, damn," the questioning member breathed.
Xander nodded. "Basically." He looked at them again. "Because my mother knew she was going to be killed, she escaped by accepting the help of the friendly Sunnydale Hellmouth. Which then bound itself to me."
"Yes, but *why* was your uncle involved?"
"Because he slept with Voldemort's mistress," Xander told him. They all gasped. "Seeing the point now? If he had learned to keep his dick to himself, then my mother wouldn't have been put in danger. For that matter, he wouldn't have brought her to that revel most likely since that's where they were caught together. Hence her running to the Hellmouth and me being bound to it."
"She didn't ask for it?" the judge asked.
Xander shook his head, but he was smiling. "My mother hated that thing more than her camouflage husband."
"You speak in the past tense," the last member said.
"She died last year by the hand of her camouflage husband. He died by mine." The judges looked stunned. "I am first and foremost a protector of my family. I can't let either evil go without trying to get in on the punishment myself." He stood back up. "So I'm asking that his punishment be handed over to me. I guarantee that it won't last over five years, but it won't be over soon either."
"How will you do that?" the first questioning member asked gently. "We know of your control problems. I'm one of the Regents who authorized your study."
Xander lifted a hand and created a small portal. "My Hellmouth travels with me," he said simply. They gasped. "It's shielded, calm down. I wouldn't do to anyone what I've had done to me." He looked at them. "I plan on drawing on the memories of all the death and destruction it's seen and have it warp my *beloved* uncle's memories so it all happens to him. Then I'll put on this neat rotating spell that I found through a chaos sorcerer so he'll be in pain or humiliated whenever the mood of my Hellmouth strikes. By the time he's begging for mercy, I'll be more than happy to let him go, with my cousin by my side if he wants to be there."
"Still. That is a bit extreme," the judge pointed out. "Can you please unsummon it?"
"Sure." Xander let it creep back into his hand and looked at them again. "Do you need him to make an example of?" They shook their heads. "Do you have the space?" They nodded. "Are you hoping that I won't start a call for their victims to punish them?"
"Mostly," the judge agreed with a faint smile. "You are smart."
"I borrow it on occasion," Xander said with a small smirk. He looked down at his hand. "Oops, my cousin's finally awake." He looked over his shoulder and the Headmaster nodded, leaving to call him. "This is a unique situation. My mother lived. Most of their victims haven't. For that matter, most of them will be more than happy to watch them be Kissed, probably. I'm asking for revenge for the crimes he committed against his blood. You can have him once I'm done with him. I'll turn him over to the Dementors for a smooch and a cuddle as soon as he's begging for mercy and bleeding when he does it. Is a few years really going to make that much of a difference?"
"No," the judge said, "it won't." He looked at the others, who shrugged. "Fine. You may do both spells tonight, but he will stay in our jail."
"It's not like I want him wandering around my town," Xander assured them. "Then I'd have to hurt him physically as well once he was eaten and turned."
The judge nodded. "I understand. Are you prepared to do them before he is taken away?"
"Sure. I can do them both now with someone watching over my shoulder." The judge looked impressed. "I help a Slayer. I'm as prepared for any engagement as possible."
The Regent looked at him. "When are you going to finish up your studies?"
"This summer I hope," Xander told him. "I don't have anything to do and my friends know I'm disappearing for the summer. As long as I can get back and forth, it shouldn't be a problem. I've made up a bit more time than I thought possible this last year with everything going on. According to the syllabi I have, I only have a few more month's work left."
Draco stormed in. "How dare you!"
"Oh, shut up! They'll get to kill him after I'm done with him!" Draco looked hurt. "I'll get in some for your mom as well."
Draco stiffened. "My mother was a wonderful woman."
"I know," Xander agreed. "That's why I left the conniving and planning woman alone. For that matter, I leave you alone because she asked me to." He could see the humor in the silver eyes and shrugged. "You thought I really liked you?"
"Well, yes. I am quite brilliant."
"Good, then you can help me finish everything this summer," Xander told him. "That way I can finally graduate and not have to worry about people from your Ministry knocking on my door at two in the morning again."
Draco glared at him. "You greedy prat. The family fortune isn't enough?"
"Half of it's already mine," Xander reminded him. Draco shook his head and groaned. "Need something for that?"
"I should beat your arse," Draco assured him.
Xander grinned. "But you love me too much right?"
"Or something like that," Draco said dryly. "I wanted to be here."
"You needed the rest more. Just like I did last year, Draco. Now sit down and relax. These semi-nice people were going to let me torture your father for both our mothers for a few years before we allow him to be Kissed."
"Brilliant of them I suppose," Draco agreed, sitting down. "You're bleeding again."
"Shit happens," Xander reminded him. He looked back at the panel and smiled. "Sorry. I left him on my couch at home. Willow probably woke him up." Draco nodded.
"Did she remember you?" Dumbledore asked.
"Barely. As his cousin or some such, nothing more," Draco said with a wave of his hand. "I want to ask the board if they're going to put a financial judgement against our family. It's going to take most of the fortune to rebuild the family name."
"Plus, I still have to find a suitable girlfriend for him," Xander pointed out. The Regent tried hard to hide his laughter.
"Not one for yourself?" Draco asked.
"I was warned that any kid I had might be the embodiment of my Hellmouth. Do you really want that walking around?"
"Well, no," Draco said, thinking about it. "It might be interesting, but not particularly fun I suppose."
"Enough," the judge said, smiling at them. "No, no one has put forward a claim against the family name or titles. Please put that spell on under the Auror's watchful gaze, Alexander." Xander nodded. "Also finish your schooling."
"Hey, I tried. Slaying got in the way," Xander complained. "I'm doing your stuff, the muggle stuff, and slaying. It's tiring." He bowed to them. "Thank you." He tugged on Draco's sleeve, making him follow him to the other room. He pulled his wand and said a small curse, touching his wand to his Uncle's head. Lucius sneered at him. "Remember, it's worst in the middle of the night. Unless you switch sleeping patterns." He smirked back. "You knew better, Lucius, and it's come back to bite you now. You should have never tried to harm my mother." He stepped back and looked at the aurors. "Done."
"Thank you, Mr. Malfoy." The lead auror watched as the boys walked out. "He's a Malfoy?"
"My sister's son," Lucius sneered. "A worthless excuse for one of us." His head slowly inflated, making the people around him laugh. "Stop it!" he demanded.
The auror smiled at him. "Your nephew was granted the right to punish you before you die. It looks like we'll have some fun from it at least." The extra air came out of Lucius' ear, making him scream in pain.
"Huh," another auror said, smiling at his boss. "Looks like we'll have a lot of fun from it."
Lucius slumped to the ground, gritting his teeth at the pain as his head deflated rapidly. "My Lord will save me," he assured them.
*** Sometime In September ***
Xander watched as his cousin danced with a nice young woman and finished his beer. It was time for him to go. He put his keys into an envelope and wrote out a short 'I'll be back sometime' note, then left them on the table. He walked away, using a small portal to get back home. "Much nicer way to travel," he said happily as he walked out into his kitchen. He found one of his stepfather's girlfriend's in the kitchen. "How in the hell did you get in here?"
"Rob let us in."
"Rob! Get your lazy, drugged-up ass out of my house!" Xander screamed, heading for his room. His cousin was found and dragged down the stairs by his arm, then tossed out into the nice afternoon sunlight. "You too. All of you. This is my house. Not my stepfather's and you don't have any right to be here."
"But he left it to us."
"His name wasn't on it anywhere," Xander pointed out. "The judge told you that. Out!" They ran screaming out the back door and Xander turned to find his cousin standing on his doorstep. "Hey, Draco. Weren't you with someone!"
"You arrogant bastard!" he shouted, walking in and slamming the door. "You leave me there surrounded by greedy bitches who only like me for my name and decide I'm having fun!"
"I thought the girl you were with was nice," Xander defended. "She wasn't?"
"No, I suppose she was," Draco said thoughtfully, then he shook his head. "That's not the point. You are a Malfoy."
"Who still has a duty to perform here and a three-month furlough," Xander pointed out. "I said I'd be back."
"When would that be?" he sneered. "At my wedding?"
Xander nodded. "Yeah, definitely. Sooner if you had called over and asked politely or nicely." Draco raised an eyebrow. "I'm coming back! I may have to make it more rare since the slaying is starting to pick up again, but I'm going to be around. Speaking of," he said, glancing out the window. "That's a Buffy." Draco looked and his mouth dropped open. "Tiny, isn't she?" he asked with a grin. "Tough, strong, and nearly unstoppable. I suppose she's looking for me." He opened the curtains, but turned and found his cousin gone. "Bitch," he decided. He'd send something horrible and nasty to his cousin in a few days. Once things slowed back down. "Hey, Buffy," he said with a grin as he answered the door. "Why didn't you kick the step-relative's butts?"
"Oh, I don't know, they're human?" she suggested, giving him a hug. "Are you back?"
"Yuppers. I was going to pop around tonight and take my lovely women out for a stroll and a bit of dancing." She grinned and giggled. "Think the other female-type person would enjoy that?"
"I think she'd adore that," Buffy agreed, giving him a second hug. "Hey, who's the blond?"
Xander looked over his shoulder. "Where did you go?"
"You forgot your clothes, dumbass," Draco snorted. "I was retrieving them for you. Be thankful, I didn't harm any of them."
"Thanks. That's so sweet," he cooed, making his cousin shudder. "Buffy, this is my cousin Draco. His father and my mother were siblings."
"Oh, so you're from the *good* side of the family?"
"Not exactly," Draco said, shaking her hand. "Xander, dinner?"
"Tomorrow so I can catch up with Willow and Buffy?" Draco nodded. "Go back to that nice girl. She was pretty and smart."
"She was also lesbian and told me she was using me to make her girlfriend jealous," Draco told him.
"Sorry, man, I thought it'd be all right and maybe even work out." Xander shrugged. "I tried." He looked at Buffy. "Want to date her? She's very nice if you're not an asshole." Draco lifted an eyebrow. "No, huh?" Draco shook his head, pressing his lips together. "Fine. Maybe Willow?"
"She's still taken," Buffy pointed out, looking back and forth between them. "You two get along?"
"Most of the time," Draco agreed. "It was nice meeting you. Dinner, eight sharp, Xander. Wear decent clothes please." He walked away, heading for the convenient portal that his cousin had opened for him. He walked out in his study and looked around, coughing. "Air out this place!" he ordered. A tired laugh came from the couch, making him spin around and look at the frail body. "Severus!" He hurried over, checking him over. "I have some pain potion downstairs. I made it myself. Come, let me get you to a bedroom. No one need know you're here." He helped his former Head of House up to his mother's room and put him into the bed, hurrying to get him something for his pain. He came back and found the man asleep. "What happened to you?" he whispered, putting the vial down on the bedside table. He saw a house elf and motioned it closer. "I want him watched. As soon as he is awake, I want him bathed and I want to be notified." The elf nodded, looking scared. "I also want a soothing broth made for him and clean bandages brought up in case we need them." The elf nodded and scurried away. Draco pulled over a chair to sit and wait until one of them came back to watch over the older man for him.
*** Two Years Later (Season Six Buffy Time) ***
Xander hated to do it, but he had to. He could feel her going bad. It had been almost six months since he had talked to his cousin, and over a year since they had been close, but he needed his help now. Unfortunately, his cousin was being a brat the last time they had talked. He tossed in some floo powder. "Draco Malfoy." His cousin's head appeared and he looked upset. "Sorry, cousin, but I need some help pronto."
"What's wrong now?" Draco snorted. "Too many demons?"
"No, Willow." Draco lost half of his sneer. "She lost her bonded lover."
"They were soul-bound, Draco! She's lost it! She's presently sucking dark magic out of some books so she can destroy the world." His cousin rolled his eyes. "You think I'm kidding, but I'm not. Willow is more than strong enough to do that. It's bad enough she got hooked into a magic pusher last year. Now she's lost the one thing that was holding her together. She's gone off the deep end and there's nothing I can do to stop her."
"So you called me," he said dryly. "How pleasant."
"I figured that since you live in the world and would probably like to continue that condition that you might want to help me since my own powers are on the blink right now thanks to Willow." Draco looked alarmed. "She did something last month and it's been irritating my magic. I can't cast anything without some sort of whiplash-like reaction. I've got marks from earlier when I tried to float over some toast." He showed off the cuts to his arms. "Please. Come help me stop her. I'm begging here, man, and you're the only one I know who has sufficient dark knowledge to affect her if necessary."
"I'll be over as soon as I can. I'll portikey in."
"Find the biggest source of the disturbance, I'm heading out to fight her now." He signed off and stood up, grabbing his nearly-useless wand. He tried to call out to the hellmouth, but it was still clogged up. Something bad was going to happen and it wasn't happy either. He could feel it fighting its way free of the blockage. He hoped it'd be in time. He felt her kill Warren and flinched, starting to cry. "Willow, no!" he begged, hurrying out to find her. By the time he did, the world was already starting to go to hell and there still wasn't any sign of his cousin. He steeled himself and pulled what little magic he had around him, stepping up to her. "Hey, Black- Eyed Girl. Whatcha doin'?"
When Draco finally got there, he found the girl sobbing in his cousin's arms, the statue still erect, and the magic practically throbbing. "Xander?" Xander looked up at him, his eyes haunted. "Come. We'll take her back with us."
"We can't. I'm trapped here," Xander whispered. "So is she now." Draco looked stunned. "Giles is coming."
"Then let me help you back to your house."
"I'm staying with Buffy now. They needed me when she died and came back." He stood up, wincing in pain. "Come on, Willow. Let's get together with everyone else. We'll deal, we always have."
Willow looked at Draco. "I know you," she told him.
"Yes, you probably do," he agreed. "I was sent to help you and more help is on the way. They'll help you, Willow Rosenberg." She nodded and let them lead her off. Draco gave the temple a last look and then she waved a hand, causing it to sink again. He felt fear for the first time since he had graduated and looked at his cousin. "How long?"
"A few days since Tara died," Xander told him. "Since it's been like this? Nearly a year." He looked at his cousin. "I tried to tell you, Draco, you refused to listen. You were too tied up in your partying." He got Willow into his car and started it. "Buckle up, Draco." The other man nodded and they were off, heading to regroup. Buffy and Dawn both gave them a wide berth, Dawn running up to cry in her room. Giles came in and stopped to look at them. "She's letting it go," he said quietly.
Draco cleared his throat. "I'm bringing her back with me if you can get her free." Willow made a protesting noise. "No more from you," he said harshly. "Dumbledore wants you to explain yourself. He'll help you so you can't do it again." She nodded, still sobbing. Draco looked at the Watcher again. "It's for the best and your own kind can watch over her after we've talked with her."
"That would be fine," Giles agreed. "I'll make arrangements." Xander passed out and he barely caught him. "What happened?"
"I hit him!" she sobbed.
"He's got magic poisoning," Draco told him. "I'm taking him as well. I'll need a few ounces of dirt from as close to the hellmouth as possible."
"I'll do what I can," Giles agreed, but Buffy stormed out. "H...how long?"
"Him? A few days at the least. Maybe a month." He shrugged. "However long it takes." Giles nodded. "Willow is going to be interviewed and then they'll make a decision. I'll send word tonight." He gathered them together and accepted the dirt when Buffy came back. "Give me a few days." She nodded, tearing up. "It will be fine." He took them back to his house, letting Snape get Xander and put him down. "He's been poisoned by his Hellmouth. It thinks he's getting old or some such." He knocked Willow out. "Such a fragile package for all that power," he noted.
"She'll do well against *him*," Snape reminded him.
Draco looked at him. "When is the Headmaster coming?"
"He'll be here any minute now. Let me mix something for the boy." Draco handed over the dirt. "Is that wise?"
"In case we need it," he pointed out. "It may be the only thing that saves him." Snape nodded and disappeared. He had hidden in the house since the day he had shown up, nearly two years earlier. Draco waited until the Headmaster got there. "She lost her bonded mate according to my cousin," he reported. "It was her."
"I see." Albus woke Willow up. "Come, young lady, let's get you cleaned up and then we'll have a long talk."
"Yes, Mr. Dumbledore," Willow said in a tiny, weak voice. "I'm sorry. I just wanted it all to end! All the pain and suffering! I couldn't take it anymore."
"I know." He soothed her even as he got her moving. "What's wrong with your cousin?"
"He said something about his term coming to an end because he was getting old or some rot," Draco said coldly. "I didn't listen."
"I'm sure you can fix it." He led the girl away, helping wick some of the power floating around her to a safer place.
Draco rang for some supplies, accepting them so he could clean his cousin up. "Full circle, Xander." His cousin didn't answer and it worried him, but he knew he'd survive. He had survived his mother's poisoning attempt when he was younger, he could survive a few scratches and a power drain now.
Dumbledore looked at Willow, sipping his tea. "It is very important that you understand the conditions, Willow. We can't allow you to do something similar again."
"I know." She looked at her hands. "I'm willing to take him on." She looked at him. "If I win?"
"Then you'll be taught control of what magic you have left. If you die, of course both problems would be solved." She nodded. "If you don't succeed in defeating him, then at least he'll be weakened and we'll be able to finish him off after you." She nodded again. "Do not think about going in to die, because if you do you will destroy your best friend."
"I already did," she pointed out. "I brought her back and ripped her from heaven."
"The other one," Draco said from his perch. "The male one?" he said when she looked at him.
"Xander will live without me," she told him. "He's got you."
"Yes, well, he can't live here, remember?" She slumped. "Besides, you've known him for a great deal longer than I have. It will destroy him to lose you, much more than it did to lose his mother. Consider that incentive enough to kill Voldemort and not yourself."
"I'll do my best," she sighed, standing up. "Now?"
"Would you like a bit of a rest?" Dumbledore asked kindly. She shook her head. "Are you sure?"
"I can't sleep. The nightmares keep coming back." She slumped a little. "Even if I live, I might never be able to sleep again. All I see is death."
"Then put your gift to good use and rid the world of the worst evil since you," Draco told her. She nodded and Dumbledore took her away. Draco went to be with his cousin, who still hadn't woken up yet. "Anything?"
"Nothing is working. We need to cut his connection to the blasted hole."
"Wouldn't that kill him?"
"Yes, but if we can bring him back afterwards, he'll be able to live a normal life."
Snape looked at him. "I don't know," he said honestly.
Draco slumped down into a chair. "He's said often enough that he'd take being muggle over being like this."
"Fine, I'll get started. Do you know this CPR he talks about?" Draco nodded. "Really?"
"He sent me a first aid book for my birthday two years ago," Draco admitted. "The note said it might come in handy while Voldemort was still around." He stood up. "I'll get the book to refresh my memory." He headed for his study, retrieving the small book. He turned and found one of his friends standing there. "I thought I sent you home last night," he said quietly.
"You did. I want to know what's going on," she said, smiling at him. "A new lover?"
"My cousin's been poisoned while stopping the witch who tried to destroy the world last night. We'll need the privacy to heal him."
"Wouldn't a warm body help that?"
"No. He's not like that. He's got a duty," he said, starting to sneer.
"I'm sure he hates it as much as you." She waved a hand. "I forgot one of my bags." Draco rang a bell and a house elf ran in. "I want my bag," she demanded. Another one came running and handed it over. "It had better all be here."
"Leave!" Draco said, more firmly. She looked him over and snorted, but she did leave. He looked at the elves. "Turn off all the floos and do not admit anyone other than Dumbledore. I'll be in the living room." He walked away, trusting them to do as they were told. He found a strange wizard in his living room. "Who the bloody hell are you?" he demanded.
"Ethan Rayne, one of the people who helps teach him chaos magic," Ethan said with a smirk. "His hellmouth sent me." He haded over a small vial. "From it."
"Severus?" Snape stormed back in. "The Hellmouth sent him."
"Because it wants him back. Something bigger and worse than Rosenberg is coming for it and it's actually scared," Ethan said, sitting down. "It sent that with its minion. I'm assuming it's a healing potion of some sort."
Severus sniffed it then shook his head. "It will kill the boy." Ethan looked shocked. "Perhaps it has a new guardian in mind," he suggested.
"There's no one else. No children have been born in the last year," Ethan told him. "The First is coming and he'll have to help defeat it." Snape sucked in a breath. "Where is the redhead by the way?"
"Taking on our evil," Draco told him, frowning. "I've heard him mention you."
"Wonderful for you," Ethan said with a smirk. "I could care less. I was sent to help the boy, not you." He looked at Snape. "How may I help?"
"Come with me. I assume your own skills lie in wandless magic?"
"And demonic magic," Ethan agreed, standing up to follow him.
Draco sat down and held his head. How had all this gone so horribly wrong?
*** End Of Season Seven, Buffy Time ***
Xander took one last look around the hole that had been his town and nearly clicked his heels together. He hugged Buffy and Dawn. "Come see me if you're near the family home," he told them, then he hurried off. His wand created a portal without effort, and without the former chaos energy, so he landed on his doorstep. He opened the door and found his cousin standing on the stairs kissing some girl. "I'm back!" he shouted.
Draco stopped his kissing to look at his cousin. "Dear Merlin, what happened to your face!" he shouted, walking down to look at Xander's eyepatch and new scars. "You feel odd."
"I'm fine now," Xander said with a grin. "The eye is gone, courtesy of a fanatic preacher serving the First, but the Hellmouth is dead." He grinned. "I'm *normal*!"
"Congratulations," the woman said. "Draco, who is this?"
"This is my cousin, Xander," Draco said, smirking at her. "He owns half the house and is the other family heir." He looked at his cousin. "Are you staying?"
"I finally *can* stay," Xander said happily. "Want to show me around so I don't get lost in London? Oh, and help me find decent clothes since I won't have to live among the muggles anymore?"
"You lived among muggles?" the woman asked, walking down to join them. "Why?"
"Because I was a guardian of my hellmouth," he told her, sneering at her. "You are?"
"Sorry, this is my present girlfriend. Allice. Xander." He waved back and forth. "Excuse us, Allice." He drug Xander to his study and slammed the door. "You're free and the hellmouth is dead?"
"Yeah, you missed the hugest of huge battles. Willow activated every Slayer that had potential. We climbed into the sucker and fought the First Evil in there. It was one hell of a fight, Draco."
Draco's mouth hung open. "Then how are you free?"
"It's dead. Fully dead. All gone," he said with great happiness and a goofy grin. "No more Hellmouth for the Xan-man and no more needing the dirt problem, and no more sickness. So I thought I'd come bug you for a few years while I finish recuperating and calming down."
"It is half your house," Draco agreed. He smiled. "No more needing that blasted potion?" Xander shook his head. "What about your house there?"
"Well, you see.... The town sort of got sucked into the hole as well. We got everyone out, but the entire town is gone. Oh, Anya died."
"Your ex?" Xander nodded. "Didn't she go back to being a vengeance demon?"
"And then she gave it up because her conscience got her. She died during the battle."
"Well." Draco sat down. "Welcome home. Did you need to write to anyone?"
"Nope, not really. Buffy and Dawn are on the run now, heading for a new trouble spot. I'm free!" He bounced excitedly. "And my magic still works! I can do *normal* stuff now."
"I'm happy for you. We should throw a celebration."
"Cool. Are we inviting the bitch?"
Draco snickered. "She's not that bad."
"Bet me. She's demonic, Draco." Draco raised an eyebrow. "She is. I can still feel it." His cousin opened his mouth. "Hey, it was how I was trained. Between Ethan and Giles, I learned a lot about demonic women. Okay, and the occasional succubus, but otherwise mostly demonic women. They were attracted to me because of my stunning former taint."
"I'll have to ask her later," Draco mused. He smiled. "First we'll have to get you appropriately attired. Those pants are distressingly dirty and muggle."
"That happens when you walk into a Hellmouth to fight. Feel thankful that I'm not covered in slime."
Draco noticed that Xander hadn't reoriented to face him when he shifted. So he stood up and waved a hand in front of Xander's face. "You can't see with the other eye?" he breathed.
"I cast a sight spell. I'm basically using bat sonar." He shrugged. "It's okay, I can deal with it. It's still attached."
"Your other isn't?"
"No, the guy pretty well popped it with his thumbnail. The doctors had to remove what was left."
"Yeah, pretty sick, but Spike saved me."
"Where is your favorite pet vampire?"
"Dead. He got returned to life and walked back into the hellmouth." Draco pulled him in for a crushing hug. "Thanks, Draco. So, can I stay?"
"You're more than welcome to stay," Draco assured him. "We'll cut a hellishly fun path through the eligible ladies." Xander chuckled. "That is if you still like them."
"Well, yeah. I'm not as indiscriminate as I used to be, but I could use some soft cuddling action. It'd make me feel a lot better about everything that went on."
"Then we'll start with dressing you," Draco decided, walking his cousin back to the entryway. His girlfriend was looking out a window. "My cousin seems to think that you're demonic, Allice. Are you?"
"That's a rude question," she snorted.
Xander held out his hand. "Xander Harris/Malfoy, depending on the community. Former boytoy of Anyanka." She hissed and stepped away from him. "Don't fuck with my cousin. She may be dead, but there's plenty more where she came from and I know the one for what you're doing." She shrieked and disappeared in a flash of light. "Stupid of her, taking you on of her own free will and not because of an assignment. Shopping?"
"Shopping," Draco agreed, his head reeling. "I wasn't an assignment?"
"No, then she would have stayed. She'd have had a claim to fix you if it was an assignment and wouldn't have scurried off back to her masters. She was fucking with your life for fun. But I'm here now and that's my job," he said with a fond punch to his cousin's shoulder. "Bring on the ladies, Draco."
Draco shook his head and groaned. "First, let's get you checked over. You look frightful." He led him back down to the basement apartment. "Severus?" Snape opened his door. "Look who finally got free."
"It was odd, but the hellmouth sort of choked and died," Xander said, shrugging. "It wanted me back enough to fix the taint in the first place and then it fully let me go with a hellacious charge of energy and a set of well-wishes. Oh, can you see if you can regenerate this eye?" he asked, pointing at the remaining one. "I'd like to have partial sight."
"Why was it damaged?" Snape asked as he let them into his apartment.
"A minion of the First Evil." Xander felt Snape freeze. "It's okay, he's dead too. My town is gone. The Slayer lives. There's a number of them now. And I'm finally a nice, normal wizard who *really* wants to find a girl and settle down so I can have someone to tell stories to."
Snape hummed but he was smiling. "I'm sure your cousin can introduce you to many suitable women." He looked over Xander's face. "That last eye isn't too injured. I may be able to get that fixed at least." He walked over to his bench. "Will I have to mix that potion with the dirt?"
"Nope, the hellmouth died, Professor Snape. It is no more."
Snape laughed. "Congratulations then, young man." He quickly mixed together a standard healing drought and handed it over. "Try this and I'll work on something for your eye." He watched as Xander swallowed it, smiling at him. "Well. You still trust me?"
"No, but I'm still immune to most poisons," Xander said, handing back the small bottle. He grinned. "Don't try it with me. I like you and I don't want to have to hurt you." He patted the man on the chest, shocking him. "Really."
"Xander," Draco said calmly. "He is here as my guest."
"Cool. I appreciate that. Just setting my stance. Don't try and poison me and don't try to hurt me. I'm just back from the long-term war and I'm still jumpy." Snape laughed again. "That was a healing potion?"
"A new one. Fairly effective. Can you see anything?"
Xander shook his head. "Not yet." He yawned. "Stupid time difference. Portal lag." He slumped a little and his cousin caught him. "Nap before shopping?"
"Of course. I'll put you in my former room." He led Xander up to his new room and settled him into it, watching as his cousin fell asleep. He turned and found his guest behind him. "Were you trying to poison him?"
"One of the ingredients is poisonous when used alone," Snape told him.
"He's still sensitive to it, I wonder what else he kept," Draco mused. "I'd like to keep him around for now. At least until he ruins another girlfriend for me." Snape looked amused. "Drove her off. Though I do admit that he was correct in her being demonic." He smirked. "I'll leave him in your care while I make all the necessary arrangements for a party tomorrow night." Snape gave him a look. "I think you two will understand each other better than I ever could him," he said with a smirk. "He's injured from the dark, as are you. You've both fought and lost. I think you two may well end up friends." He strolled away, going to call in his other girlfriend. He had some time before he had to start preparations for the small party. She walked out of the floo and smiled at him, sliding into his lap when he patted it. "My cousin is back for good," he told her, then he kissed her.
"Surely you're not going to try and share me," she teased.
"No, I think you're much too sweet for his tastes. He's fought too long to go for anyone too nice." He stood up, walking her up to his room, which had been his mother's. "I need to celebrate in my own way," he told her, closing the door. She shivered and let him undress her.
Down the hall, Xander had grabbed Snape and was holding on tightly, like he was a teddy bear. "Good you," he whispered. "Nice and not-sweet. I like that," he growled. Snape looked alarmed but managed to keep himself from hurting the young man. He would let him go eventually.
Little did he know that Xander wasn't one to let go, and that he liked the hunt.